What a year it was for news! And not just for news, but for the people reporting the news; people like, well, me: your basic, blue-collar reporter, your average guy, your Joe Shmoe, getting closer and closer to stories that weren’t even all that interesting the first time with my swarthy, in-your-face style of hard-edged local music journalism.
Sure, I rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but most of them deserved it. This was the year I really let the chips fall where they may: if I heard a record that really stunk, no matter how many of my close friends played on it, I said a lot fewer nice things about it than if it had been good. And this is my pledge to you, my constantly growing, changing, seething, roiling readership, for the future: if I hear something really bad, you’ll know it right away by the virtually noticeable faintness of my praise.
2002 was also the year that the Cape Codder embarked on a bold, new experiment when we decided to expand our local music coverage to keep up with the public’s increasing appetite for sensational, outlandish, muck-raking stories about local semi-celebrities and their foibles. Originally, I came to you once every two weeks; now, because of your near-constant clamoring (and probably hectoring, too), I’m in there every week, bringing you twice as much news about the exact same amount of actual events.
In other words, the same things happened again, as they tend to, but this year you probably heard a lot more about them. For one thing, now we have a van, the “Cape Codder Rocket News Van”, that we’re always zooming around in, trying to catch people doing something. Well, no we don’t, but that would be cool, wouldn’t it?
Looking back over the big stories of the past year, you can see that many of them were fake substitutes for stories that couldn’t, and therefore didn’t, exist. My challenge: not many things happened; how could I make them more involving?
Before I answer that question, I’d like to say a word or two about year-end issues of magazines, where they purportedly sum up the major stories of the year past and attempt to put them all in perspective; like the Rolling Stone Yearbook issues, in which we get to re-live what color Madonna’s hair was last February. What a scam! It’s a way to get a whole issue out without anyone actually having to do anything- a way to make nothing last longer. Let’s take a crack at it!
The subject that tended to pop up the most was failure -usually my own failure to accomplish one task or another. Though this path had been fairly well trodden in previous years, I think the variety and scope of things I failed to do this year was much more impressive. I had problems getting celebrities on the phone for interviews (even people like Jonathan Richman and Bill Staines; I chased Bill around for three weeks before finally giving up.) Sometimes, when I found them, the result was even worse: I wrote two pieces on singer Lori McKenna that were so bad even I was embarrassed.
(By the way, is there anything more embarrassing than not being able to spell the word “embarrassing”, despite having used it so often? I’d be completely sunk on that one without the spell checker.)
I also had no luck whatsoever picking the Oscars, and got in trouble for trying to sneak illicit clam chowder into a restaurant. At one point, I even retired, only to un-retire a week later when the money ran out.
When I wasn’t apologizing for one debacle or another, the column bristled with lively stories about Liam Hogg sitting in with NRBQ, Dan Cormier (the guy who does the phone messages for the Wellfleet Cinemas), and the Fred Fried scandal (I did a two-part series on Fred using more strings than all the other guitar players, and yet he’s still being allowed to roam free.)
I warned you about the Asian restaurant in the mall that changed overnight into a Cajun restaurant without changing any of the food; confessed to bouts of open sobbing at oldies shows; detailed some interesting new ways of torturing june bugs; and explained why the new James Taylor CD is like a rectal exam, except even better. In what can now be seen as a desperate attempt to attract a younger, hipper demographic, I even briefly changed my name to Jocko.
It was an exciting year; thank god it’s over!