My favorite music columnist ever was Bob Tarte, who never let the fact that it was completely untrue get in the way of weaving an odd story into what should have been a collection of world music reviews. I mean he’d still review the cds, but the reviews wouldbe worked into a strange narrative that sometimes was true and sometimes flat out bullshit. No matter. He wrote well, was funny as hell, and never met a genre he didn’t like.
One Sunday nite I was putting together this week’s column and man what a dead week. It happens. I tried over and over to write a column that didn’t bore me to tears. No go. So I decided this was my Bob Tarte moment. And here was my opening paragraph:
Well, the Jazz Critics Guild had their awards ceremony, perhaps you saw it on TV. Stars galore, and world famous jazz musicians, and Hef and all the girls. Paparazzi and autograph seekers and Joan Rivers on the red carpet, trashing all our clothes. Billy Crystal couldn’t make it, but fill-in Ricky Gervais was sweet as pie. Quite the gentleman. Boney James grooved but unfortunately no one could understand anything he said the jive was so thick. Great hat, though. The presentation went on all night, and every critic went home clutching his Lenny except yours truly. Couldn’t even win the Tallest Jazz Critic award (who knew the NBA had a jazz critic?) All the critics left with their statuettes, Joan Rivers gushing and all the rock writers green with envy. Empty handed, we left for the after party. It was a drag. Kept getting mistaken for the bouncer. Eventually everybody wound up in the recording studio under the pool at the Sunset Marquis laying down “We Are the World” in different time signatures. I couldn’t get into it and split for the Rainbow, got into an argument and was beaten up by Lemmy. This town will break your heart.
I submitted and forgot about it.
A couple days later I get a panicky email from my editor. URGENT!!! Call me ASAP about column!!!!!!! So I called him. He said my first paragraph didn’t make any sense, and the other editors freaked. Apparently they couldn’t tell if it was real or not. Maybe they were freaked out about lawsuits. I have no idea. But he killed the lede. My editor was effusively apologetic. I said no problem, I just made it all up anyway. It was a dull week. He sounded bewildered but relieved.
Hell, I just thought it was funny.
When the issue came out tthe offending paragraph was excised, as I was told. In it’s place was the following:
“It’s awards season and even the Jazz Critics Guild got in on the red-carpet action.”
Which means they believed it.
I can retire now.