So, there's about to be big, big changes at the Village Voice, the Queen of the Alt Weeklies.
Yes, the Voice has been, well, the voice of way-lefty politics in New York City, and the change to "more original reporting and “magazine-style journalism”" is going to hit the political reporters hardest--but, quite frankly, it might not be such a bad thing to change the Voice up a bit.
As an NYC club kid in the early '80's (before the term club kid was actually coined) I recall that the Voice stood for more than lefty politics. The reviews of clubs, of avant-garde movies, its easy-to-follow listings and huge ads for odd-ball retro movie houses, and its great coverage of the punk/new wave music scene made it a great read.
That hasn't been the Voice for quite awhile now. How, or why might that be the case?
Well, let's face a small fact about clublife (and creative life) in NYC--the AIDS epidemic killed a lot of the wonderful spirit that propelled so much innovation in art, music, movies and clubbing.
The times have changed. The issues have changed. What used to shock--gay men running around in chaps, hardhats and little else; and drag queens headlining wild stage shows, John Sex and Katy K?-- either doesn't exist any more or doesn't shock. The retro houses (with the exception of Cinema Village) have been bulldozed or regentrified. It's all so ho-hum, been-there-done-that...
...The last time I was in New York to partake of the "night life" I was stunned by the Abercrombie and Fitch-style of dress among the young, and when the two over-the-hill folks ( me and my escort--a former NY nightclub owner) were the flashiest people in the place, I realized something had definitely gone wrong in Clubland.
Not to mention the rampant Disney-fication of midtown under Rudy Guliani (the only man ever to openly cheat on his wife, try to humiliate her in a divorce, and come out smelling like a rose)...
Yes, the times have changed. There's no "scene" like The Scene before AIDS and Rudy--The Scene that spawned CBGB's, and Rent and the Ramones and Basquiat and Keith Harring, and all that other great stuff that made even a bridge-and-tunnel kid feel like she was part of the demi-monde.
So, after a time, the Voice lost its voice. There was nothing really to report on any more--or at least nothing truly alternative to report on any more except, perhpas, the politics.
So, of course these new changes are going to make people freak--it's like being forced to acknowledge something so grand is definitely gone for good. Nat Hentoff sounds like he's having a hemorrhage, and I can't blame him--he's been a Voice stalwart and really shouldn't go. Yet even if Nat stays, the rest of the paper has to change, has to find its life's blood again.
Otherwise, it might end up more tattered and more faded--an ageing showgirl with no sparkle. And, eventually, like Joey Ramone, only a fond memory....
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