Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Graphic

As of  April 18th, Dirt City Chronicles will have been up and running for two years. What a difference a year makes! at this point in 2011, DCC had 8,000 views, today the ticker sits at 48,000. The only real difference I've seen is that I keep getting these prompts from Blogger "You're really racking up those page views, have you considered signing up for AdServe?" The overall numbers are modest, but the feedback from both musicians and readers has been positive and encouraging.

My plan one year ago was to give this silly endeavor twelve more months and then move on to something else. I was fooling myself of course, there is nothing else. My goal from the start has been to publish a blog that emulates the great fanzines of the 1970's. Goldmine, Bomp, Trouser Press (before they went glossy) and even Creem & Crawdaddy (who began as fanzines) On the pages of those 'zines, the most obscure of bands came to life, thanks to detailed bios, reviews and discography's. 

It's debatable whether I've accomplished that goal or not. With an IBM Selectric or a daisy wheel Smith-Corona, I pounded out reviews and stories that I would then mail off in hope of having them published. (your only real option before the internet) It never happened, although a couple of my letters to the editor were published in Creem. I like to think that Lester Bangs, Air Wreck Weisenheimer or even Barry Kramer, approved them, but it was probably just some intern.

What drove me to start up Dirt City Chronicles (I called it Dirt City Radio, until I discovered that a local band was already using that name) was the dearth of information available on local bands. There was The Weekly Alibi's archives, the Journal archives and  Wig Wam Bam (plus Capt. America's numerous abandoned MySpace pages) Let's not forget Mitch's New Mexico bands website.  Mitch had a great idea, the only problem was that he updated at a snail's pace and relied on musicians to provide the biographical information.

If there's one thing I've learned over the past two years, it's that most rock musicians don't want to rehash the past. Those funky little downtown bands that they played in, while near and dear to our hearts were just youthful follies. Now with college degrees in hand, they'd rather not be reminded of their musical missteps. My e-mail requests for band info and interviews went unanswered, so I quit sending them. How do you write about a band if all you have is a jewel case insert to go by?

My solution to the problem was simple, "take whatever scraps of information I could dig up on the internet, add local color (while staying within the lines as much as possible) stir in enough cynical, smart ass bullshit to keep readers riveted... and publish." On a side note, if you quote a musician and he calls you on it, they're bluffing. Nobody remembers what they said ten years ago, that's wishful fucking thinking. The truth is that nobody out there knows any more or any less than I do.

Dirt City Chronicles is a labor of love and nothing else. It's a time capsule stuffed full of useless information, supposed to drive your imagination. It'll linger on the web long after I'm gone and that in fact is what drives my efforts. The one thing that still bothers me is the Albuquerque angle. I focus on Albuquerque music, but it's been ten years since I relocated to Southern New Mexico. This charade can only continue for so long.

Over the past few months, I've tried to re-direct the focus of Dirt City Chronicles more towards the SoCal and national music scenes. The reason is quite simple, I have far more readers outside of New Mexico than I do within the state. I can write about iconic local bands like The Ant Farmers, Saddlesores, Oh, Ranger!, The Raggies etc. and get fewer than 100 views or I can write about Layne Staley decaying on a living room couch and get over a thousand views.

As attention spans diminish, writers start to realize that they have far more time to write then their readers have to read. While it's not fame and fortune that I seek, I'm also not some social outcast with furrowed brow firing off missives into a dark void. "I'm no schoolboy but you know what I like" Cynicism has set in, I'm a grown ass man writing about rock music. I am your Legs McNeil, older, balder, paunchier but no less devoted to keeping rock and roll alive.

The myth is debunked, the most important thing for me to remember while writing this blog (and for the reader to keep in mind) is that it's only rock and roll. You can't take this shit serious and if you do, then you're missing the point. I start with a blank page and I fill in the blank spaces. That was Ring Lardner's formula for sanity & success, I've adopted it as my own. Lardner drank himself to death, burdened by his genius, I'm determined not to do the same.