This Is My Last Day at SF Weekly. Here's My Gushy Goodbye.
|This is what I looked like when I started at SF Weekly. I had a great fake ID.|
Well folks, this is it. After four years of working as SF Weekly's music editor, today is my last day at the paper. And since I've inherited all of my mother's sentimental genes, I'm gonna gush out a little goodbye here.
I've had a really great run at SF Weekly, with far too many "can't believe I'm being paid to do this" moments. That feeling was especially sharp when I walked into a hotel hosting a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp and reverted to my 13-year-old blushing self in the face of my childhood hair metal idol, Kip Winger.
But I'd say my best memories were the months I spent with the musicians I wrote about for cover stories, when I was able to really explore their personalities, philosophies, and histories. I'll never forget the long evenings I spent with extreme acid enthusiast/13th Floor Elevators founder Tommy Hall as he expounded on the importance of psychedelic rock being truly revelatory (and some other stuff about the Roman Empire that I'll admit I only pretended to understand). Or the 3 a.m. drive Wallpaper.'s Eric Frederic and I took back from a Sacramento show where his band was treated like pop royalty; Eric told me about getting pissed on by the record industry when he was a kid, only to come back stronger (and much funnier). The Rosenthals are one of the most inspiring clans I have ever met. Each member of that family was a different tangent into a world of visual art, music, and film that you could spend days unpacking. I spent months, and that embedding impressed upon me the importance of putting as many creative accents on your waking hours as possible. (If only I hadn't given up aping Keith Haring after high school.)
These last couple of years have ushered in so many changes within the local music landscape -- among the biggest was the development of two giant destination music festivals in San Francisco, Treasure Island and Outside Lands. When Treasure Island was still in the planning stages, it was exciting going behind the scenes with the nervous promoters in Noise Pop and Another Planet. They took an underused patch of land with an incredible view of San Francisco, added a temporary Ferris wheel, and delivered one of the best weekends for indie/electronic music I've seen on such a large scale. Treasure Island Music Festival is still one of my favorite local music events. (And I can pretend to like Wilco a little more after seeing the band, a favorite of Noise Pop's Jordan Kurland and Kevin Arnold, with those two as part of my reporting for the article.)
For all of those cover stories, SF Weekly expected magazine-level writing and reporting, and it was a luxury to be able to spend so much time with people who are so uniquely creative. It wasn't easy, especially when you're the kind of person who has to transcribe every last interview until your collation of quotes has felled an entire forest. But I really love digging into storytelling -- both the musicians' and attempting my own -- especially at a time when music journalism is so often breaking down into bite-sized bits of rapid-fired and blogged information.
One of my favorite quotes about writing is something I read recently: "The way to write is to throw your body at the mark when all your arrows are spent." Of course, that's easier said than done, but my editors at SF Weekly helped me throw myself at my work. It's important to go deep from time to time, even when the process is difficult. I felt genuinely conflicted about that Tommy Hall article when he started spewing racist and homophobic banter, talk I not only found offensive, but also forced me to justify why I was writing about this artist at all.
On a more personal level, I'm generally uncomfortable writing about the intimate ways music affects me, even though it hits different nerves all the time. But one of the most challenging, and eventually cathartic articles I published here was a column about Elliott Smith. I got Smith's posthumous New Moon disc in the mail at work, and when I started playing it, I suddenly burst into tears. The music reminded me too much of a boyfriend I'd loved most of my adult life, and I tried to make peace with that ex in that column in ways I never could in person.