Monday, May 24, 2010

Burning Wood

I have a vague memory of seeing George Burns on television, possibly on Johnny Carson, or maybe it was David Susskind. He was explaining how just one word can be funny. "Lettuce is funny," he deadpanned, "Wednesday is not." I still find that funny. Some of you may not.

Many things upset me, but there is little that offends me. There is a difference. My friend Charlie, at various times, has poked fun at my musical tastes, my Jazz Fest hat, my use of the word "albeit," my height and lack thereof, and my occasional habit of overreacting. I don't ever remember not laughing or being offended. He's even apologized, mid-punchline, anticipating a bad reaction from me. But there has never been. I think the key here is that Charlie is never mean-spirited. There is thought, (some) intelligence, and a giant sense of humor behind Charlie's ribbing.

I don't see how it is helpful to anyone reading Burning Wood, for me to like everything and everyone. And moreover, it couldn't possibly be entertaining to read commentary that isn't peppered with sarcasm, humor, and straightforwardness. You can buy an issue of Billboard if you're looking for some industry ass-kissing. If I get a bit mean-spirited towards Vampire Weekend or The Hold Steady, I don't think either band would mind so much. They still get paid, you know? I do it partially to vent my frustration over the hype, which seems to have finally overpowered talent. And of course, to hopefully get a laugh. I guess that type of writing is "lettuce" to some, and "Wednesday" to others. (Though, if anyone wants to pay me to hurl hurtful comments my way, I can certainly use the money. I think there's a $200 "Emotional Rescue" box on the horizon.)

It is rare when I don't post comments. It's not like I get hundreds. (I'd like to, but I don't.) Even the mean-spirited comments get air time on Burning Wood. You have something to say, however insulting or mean-spirited, I'll post it. In most cases, I post those comments in the hopes of seeing some friendly sparring between readers, or, to get more personal, some back-up from those who appreciate what I do here. Props feel good. I won't apologize for my intensity. And anyone who says, "Calm down" or "Relax," can suck on it.

Recent comments on these pages seemed intentionally designed to push my buttons. Easy to do, I guess, when my heart is perched so comfortably on my sleeve in my reviews and opinions. Those comments, almost all of which I posted, were mean-spirited, misguided, and monumentally out of line. Those comments weren't written to enlighten. They were written to enrage. They were completely void of humor, unlike the comment, my comment, which started it all. And with each attempt to ameliorate the situation, I seem to have been trumped with more vitriol. I don't often take the high road, so when I do and it leads to a dead end, I implode. Only I, and now you, know how many "Go fuck yourselves" I suppressed. 39, easily! In retrospect, it would have been better handled with complete lack of acknowledgement. Instead, it turned ugly and it became a distraction for all of us. Bad judgement on my part. (I believe the terrorists may have won.)

I will continue to do what I do here. If you think it's easy, you try it. But considering it generates about $3.26 a year, you need to understand, it's a labor of love. So if you're going to be asshole, go be an asshole somewhere else. There's only room for one asshole here.


"Todd Rundgren Mondays" will resume in June.


jeff said...

"One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, bro."

Chris Swartout said...

I love your unflattering comments about the Hold Steady! And I love that band.

But you hipped me to Kristina Train so I will forever be in your debt. If you recommend something, I will certainly give it a go. Our tastes don't always dovetail, but nobody's do.

Keep writing. I learn more about what music to get from this blog than anywhere on the interwebs.

Noam Sane said...

As Amy Winehouse once asked, what kind of fuckery is this?

Shout out to Sal! Woot!

DeepKarma said...

This post was more tension-filled then the Lost finale. I was afraid you were gonna pack it in! Keep doing what your doing, because your posts are some of the best things on the far.

I rarely follow the comments sections of your posts, so I missed all the drama. My own pitiful little corner of the web rarely gets any comments at all. If someone dropped in and started pushing my buttons, I would have probably gone right to the "go fuck yourself"s, since my total income for 18 months of blogging has been $.77. This is not an estimate, but my exact "earnings".

Why do I keep it up? Like you, its a labor of love. When I dig up some unknown rock/pop gem and spread the word about it, it makes me feel good. If I get a thanks for the effort, I feel even better. And if I ever get a button-pusher, well, I think I know what my response will be.

misospecial said...

well said, sal *and* funny. looks a whole lot like the high road to me.

Gene Oberto said...

There's a standard that I like to keep whenever I comment on other people's blogs. If I were invited to their house, how would I act?

I would act the way my mother taught me to act in other people's homes. Wipe your feet, say please and thank you, use a napkin and pick up after myself.

When my acceptance level moved into familiar, and then went into the realm of you don't have to knock, then I might not use a coaster or I might put my feet up on the coffee table during the game.

However, my mother's voice inside my head would never allow me to be disrespectful or hurtful. The "If you can't say anything nice…" rule always prevailed.

I think the same holds true on yours, mine or anyone's blog. That when I don't like what someone says, well, I can wait another day to say something nice. I think that's how everyone should be. I'm not saying you can't be controversial or to not disagree with a position, or to not point out factual errors. Just be polite about it.

If I have any regrets over the weekend's incident on Burning Wood, it's that I didn't step in and ask for a time out…the fact is, that it did get personal and somebody should have said that's enough.

I consider Sal a friend. Though I have never personally met him, we have shared some thoughts that are of the kind that friends share. I would like him know that what he does is so beyond the pale, and that I have experienced things I never knew I would, that I, personally, could never repay the generosity.

I know of no other music blog that is as free with music as Burning Wood is. To me, it's like going over his house, having Sal say, listen to this and what do you think? And if you like it, he makes you a copy and let's you take it home. That's a pretty nice guy.

And if some people think I'm being a sycophant, well so be it. That's their thoughts, not mine. I can't control what others think.

I just want to thank Burning Wood for the nice thing that it is and let Sal know that I appreciate what he does.

steves said...

Don't sweat the trolls, Sal! For every one of them, there are a few dozen of us who dig what you do. Thanks for keeping at it.


soundsource said...

Long Live Rock!!!!!!!!!
F--k The Man!
Kick Out The Jams MotherFu-kers
What's Going On
Let's Get It On
Get Up On The Downstroke
Can I Get A Witness
Four Dead In Ohio
Take It To The Bridge
Hit Me
Hit Me Again
Thank you James Joyce

Anonymous said...

Hello Sal, my name is Vito, i love your blog. I have been reading it for the past six months. I live in Montreal with the hope that one day my wife and myself can move to New Orleans.I love the posts you've done on that wonderful city, is there a reason you haven't written anything in a while about New Orleans?
As for the comments don't let them bother you, life is too short. I am a cook up here and i deal with many difficult people in my job and every once in awhile i tell someone to fuck off, i tell it like it is. I will not have a stroke because some prick wants to fuck up my life.
Maybe one day when the wife and me come down to New York City we can go for a drink in your wonderful city.

Vito Bacabella

cmealha said...

The problem is universal because people can vent all of their vitriol without fear of repercussions because they're really anonymous. Just some entity out in the internet cloud. Part of it is also the meanness that pervades any discussion about anything. Debate doesn't exist. It's all a Jerry Springer show. It seems than no one can disagree with any point of view without someone calling him an asshole instead of engaging in a meaningful discussion. It's everywhere unfortunately and it's mostly because these cowardly neanderthals know that there won't be any consequences and it's easier to denigrate someone than to actually think and have a valid point of view.

Leslie said...

Wow, I don't really know where to start! I agree with everything you said and am glad you said it. Burning Wood is one of the two reasons why I turn on my computer everyday. The other reason just got significatly less interesting (ahem!)(...pregnant pause...) so, keep on keeping on and don't let the bullies bring you down! This is YOUR playground!

Grey said...

So, to sum up and still keep this a Todd Monday:

Don't take yourself too seriously
There are precious few things worth hating nowadays
And none of them are me

I read this blog faithfully, and I love it when you make fun of bands I like. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

We got your back Sal.


big bad wolf said...

sal, you run a great place, you point us to interesting stuff, and you give us music. what on earth was that guy harassing you for. thanks for being here and doing so much for us.

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks everybody! Really.

And Vito...

I missed a New Orleans trip this April, so that may be the conspicuous absence of some NOLA-related posts.

Stay tuned. A new mix is coming.

Say hey when you make it down to NYC.

Eric said...

No need Sal to write:"Bad judgement on my part."
BAD JUDGeMENT on the idiots who ruin the daily morning party of reading your non-payola, your cross-generational(i'll leave cross-dressing out) music encyclopedia knowledge and SELF DEPRECATING humor......I once asked a co-worker what type of music she liked--she replied she it she didn't like music--i retorted with she didn't love life then....

i'm sure Todd feels dissed that he was bumped by your "statement"---man, u an ecletic music fan with a gift of written gab.... as Dick Manitoba, among other said:"Fuck em, if they can't take a joke."

FRANCIE said...

Hi Sal, You LOVE what you do and it is shows. Your wealth of music knowledge,kindness and personality is what makes BURNING WOOD so special to me,a fan of all types of music. You supply us daily with your unusual talent,and it"s all done with total CLASS!!!
I believe if someone does not appreciate a special daily event and what it must take to produce it must not value much!!!. I appreciate the memories you let me recall, the laughs I have when you bring back the long forgotten and cherished music from my past.. I look forward to new info I may not come accross.

Paul Curtain said...

You know, most people who respond with vitriol about statements you've made or bands you've slagged are really more jealous than anything else.
Jealous that you have a forum and a following that enjoys your little labor of love.
Jealous that you have the stones to say what you mean, minus sugar-coating and turd-polishing that others feel the need for...
I may not share in the same verdicts as you may (I actually DO like Vampire Weekend), but fuck it... I don't read blogs to have my hand held.

So, nevermind the naysayers...
Keep up the music-journalism integrity, speak your truths, and I will continue loyally reading your posts each day that they appear.

anythingshouldhappen said...

and what's been occuring here Sal?

Have I missed all the fun.

I am ducking when I say, "How dare you postpone Todd Monday, how will I live"

Just because people have been calling you names doesn't mean you can put Todd in a cupboard, unless of course he is playing da blues.

Only kidding of course.

BTW borrowing another Blunstone on Thurs, send it to you ahead.