The Rip Post




   A. Nother Writer
    (Oct. 22, 2003)
    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 silver.'"
        That's me! That's me! I'm "another writer!"
        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 Yorker."
        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 and subtlety."
        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 problem.
        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 lines.)
       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.
        Guess not.
        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." (Cough.)         
        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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