Above: Me, The Wrens, Indie Cred
This story starts, as all good stories do, with a wannabe hipster trying to write for a pretentious online magazine. The year was 2006, I was a Sophomore in college, and pitchforkmedia announced via its website that it was hiring part-time writers for the news staff in their Chicago office. I decided I had to get full-out hipster if I were to succeed. So, I checked to see what band button I had pinned on my skinny jeans, and prepared my writing sample. Much to my chagrin, I had no button, and my jeans were actually on the slightly baggy side, so I knew I had to blow them away with my writing.
My resume was posted, and I wrote two articles, both of them both short and relatively awkward. However, of the bands I mentioned, one was Ashtray Boy, a half-Chicago, half-Australia band that is virtually unknown in the Indie landscape, and the other was Hominid, a band that is the Indie Rock version of Bigfoot. After releasing 8 tracks from 2003 to 2004, no reference exists of them on the web, save for this single, appropriately blurry, picture of them at one of their few live concerts.
Hominid, or, possibly, Sasquatch.
And, of course, I had to write with smugness and a sense of self-entitlement that would be befitting of pitchfork.
“When back-stories fail you, all you can really count on is the music- in this case, the expansive eight song catalog of the band formerly existing as Hominid. Female vocals lead overpowering guitars with dance-trance-rock instrumentation. Hominid represents how Karen O would sound in a perfect world- slightly punk and quirky, but with vocals that add a higher dimension to the music.”
~Jeff GoodSmith’s Pretention, circa 2006
But a month went by, and with no word from the big site, I figured my hopes for full out hipster douchedom was lost, like a candle in the wind.
No, Not Like The Song, Jackass
A month later, I got a reply to my email. Much to my amazement, my obvious ploy to utilize vague band references and unnecessary large words worked, and I was a finalist for the position.
“So after nearly a month of slogging through more than 150 submissions for our part-time reporter position, we’ve finally narrowed it down to a select few candidates. And we’re happy to say, you are one of them! So now for the next step of the process: We need you to write two sample news stories, in order to better gauge how your writing style might fit with Pitchfork. These stories should be written as though you were writing them specifically for the Pitchfork news page, in a fun, witty, and humorous manner, incorporating all relevant details. Upon receiving these submissions, we’ll narrow our search, American Idol-style, to two or three finalists. Please keep the melisma and vocal histrionics to a minimum!”
~Pitchfork, Offering Me False Hope
My charge was to write a news story using a press release for a Big Star tribute album, and to seek out a news story of my own. I had two days. The hunt had begun.
I’ve come to hunt the most dangerous game of all: Pitchfork’s writing style
I felt that for my first article, I should write about my favorite band, a band who I had met that previous year: The Wrens. Not only did The Wrens have the benefit of being great musicians in their own right, they’re also heavily fawned over by the folks at pitchfork.
Whatever you have to say about pitchfork, they’re at least right about these guys
My Wrens article, meticulously researched using…only the band’s website, proudly boasted
Wrens Tour Europe, Announce Details for New Album, Abbot 1135 Reissue
This was not so much news, as it was…wrong. The Wrens did tour Europe, however, two years later, they still have not begun work on their new album, and the album reissue I mention never happened. Why pitchfork would decided that an un-fact-checked article with blatantly false information wasn’t up to their standards, I’ll never know.
I proceeded to “take a risk” (ie, embarrass myself) with the press release article, making, of all things, a Jiminy Cricket joke. Brace yourselves for some hollow guffaws.
“Advanced warning- I’ve just met, and am about to surpass, my horrible-pun quotient for the day, but here goes nothing. When you wish upon a Big Star, you get one really Big Tribute Album!”
~Me, Committing Career Suicide
Yeeesh… Was…Was that supposed to be funny?
I submitted my articles (a day early!) to the head honchos at pitchfork. Pitchfork, having both the ability to read as well as some degree of common sense, responded to my articles the same way girls I didn’t know in high school respond when I randomly leave creepy voice mail messages for them at 2 in the morning- they didn’t call me back, and most likely set up a restraining order.
So what did we learn from this, America?
That’s right! I shouldn’t be writing and… oh…
…That’s harsh, pitchfork. Real harsh…