by RIP RENSE
A. Nother Writer
I've hit it big. I've arrived.
I've been quoted in The New Yorker.
It's in the Sept. 29 issue, in
a puff piece---er, I mean, article---with the amazingly banal headline, "Good
Vibrations---Frank Gehry's Disney Hall is a musical pleasure palace," by Paul
Goldberger. You'll find me right in the first paragraph. Here's the excerpt:
"In early September, however, a reporter for the
Los Angeles Times, Scott Timberg, observed---in a piece that consisted of negative
comments about the building---that 'a distinct rumble of Disney Hall disenchantment has
become audible.' A few days later, another writer in the Times remarked that the hall
looked like 'half-torn-up cardboard boxes left out in the rain, spray-painted
That's me! That's me! I'm "another
Yes sir, I've got cachet now. Twenty-nine
years in the business of writing, and I'm somebody. The next time I walk into a cocktail
party, or an L.A. Press Club soiree, people will mumble to one another behind their
martini glasses, "Look---there's 'another writer.'"
Hell, I'm going to put it on my business card:
"Rip Rense. 'Another writer'---The New
Or perhaps I should just change my name
altogether. Who on earth will remember a name like "Rip Rense" after having read
"another writer" in The New Yorker? I mean, I was recently at the
Washington Square Bar and Grill in San Francisco, where columnist P.J. Corkery introduced
me to various movers and shakers of The City---from prosecutors to Aliotos. I must confess
that not one of them gave me more than a polite nod, requisite handshake, and a "nice
to meet ya." But had P.J. introduced me as "Another Writer," well, heh,
heh, that would have been a very different kettle of herring.
Hmm. . .A. Nother Writer. A.
Notherwriter. Anothe R. Writer. Not sure how I'll spell it, but this is a done deal.
Still, it's kind of a lot of trouble---going to court and paying a fee to change your name
and all. Paul Goldberger might have saved me the bother had he just written, "Rip
Rense" instead of "another writer." Gee, it even has five fewer letters!
This got me to thinking. . .
Is it possible that Goldberger deliberately
omitted my name?
He must have really liked my quote, which first
appeared in an L.A. Times "Counterpunch" Sept. 7.
All due respect to Scott Timberg, a fine Times music/arts writer, but "cardboard
boxes left out in the rain" is a lot more fun to read than his clichéd "rumble
of Disney Hall disenchantment." (Does disenchantment rumble?) So gee, why didn't Paul
use my name?
I have a few theories. . .
I hate to suspect people of pettiness,
especially an accomplished writer for The New Yorker, but I have to wonder if
maybe Goldberger deliberately omitted my name because he found my opinion too. . .
plebian. After all, he dismissed Gehry naysayers like me in this perfumey sentence:
"There are those who will never respond to
Gehry's work---who feel that his intensely romantic, emotional forms are
self-indulgent---and those people are missing an architectural experience of immense power
I must protest. I am not one of "those who
will never respond to Gehry's work." I did respond to it. I said it looked
like the wreckage of an industrial refrigerator factory. And that while this is a
perfectly valid architectural stunt, great masses of twisted, cold steel do not seem
appropriate for something as warm and um, intensely romantic as music.
Goldberger, though, says Gehry
created a place that "is not only acoustically suitable for listening to music"
(well, I should hope so!) "but emotionally right for it." Er, well, I say it's
emotionally right for the music of Frank Gehry's titanic ego, and not much else.
But let's not get into tit-for-tat about The
Silver Stunt here. I have other theories as to why Paul seems to have gone out of his way
to hide the name of "another writer." Perhaps, it occurs to me, he does not
think "Rip Rense" is real. This is understandable. I sometimes have the same
Or maybe it's a case of Goldberger being unable
to resist using such a great, stinging phrase---if I do say so myself--- but not wanting
to attach unnecessary weight to such a negative utterance, by naming its author. (Frankly,
Goldberger just seems a wannabe member of Team Gehry. His press release---er, article---pretty
well equates Disney Hall with raising the dead, curing cancer, and eliminating panty
Nah. That would be plain bitchy, and
we writers are never bitchy.
The only other explanation I can imagine is that
Goldberger was the guy on the cell phone in the white BMW who I flipped off a few weeks
ago, after he cut in front of me in a crosswalk.
What independent, lyrical thinkers like you and
me are up against here is simple artifice, and the tyranny of trend. Gehry is
"hot," and his cold work---perfectly okay for an amusement park (or, okay, an
art museum)---has beguiled the pseudo-intellectuals. Thus do massive asymmetrical chunks
of metal become, as Goldberger swooned, "exhilarating stainless steel sails."
Goldberger is a goldbricker,
as far as I'm concerned. His article reads like a mash note to Gehry, not an analysis or
thoughtful commentary worthy of The New Yorker. It's fine if he likes Disney
Hell, but he does not win over skeptics with this mooning opening sentence, "Frank
Gehry is one of the most famous architects in the world, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall
is the most important thing he has built in his home city of Los Angeles. . .so of course
people are complaining about it."
Implication: merely being famous dismisses or
trivializes the worth of criticism. What a laughably shallow ploy.
But then, it really doesn't matter. After all,
Goldberger is just another writer.
READ MAIL responding to Rense's 9/7 L.A. Times "Counterpunch,"
about Disney Hell, HERE.
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