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It's sad that the reviewers with a true love for the medium are more likely to do what you've done and get while the gettin's good, and the burned-out bitter ones are more likely to stay on and get crankier and more inscrutable in their tastes as the years wear on. I think it's called the Peter Principle -- the least qualified are the most likely to retain a position.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do instead.

Posted by flamingbanjo | April 9, 2007 6:04 PM

Awww, I miss DeRoche.

Posted by Paulus | April 9, 2007 10:53 PM

I love comment #1 because whoever left it thinks Jeff Deroche JUST quit the Stranger. Goes to show you no one really knows or cares who the music editors and music critics are at this paper or anywhere else. It's the artists that matter. Not the critics or editors or writers, no matter what kind of big egos they have.

Posted by hah | April 10, 2007 2:26 AM

who IS the music editor of the Stranger?

Posted by BR | April 10, 2007 9:27 AM

Where's Hannah Levin's resignation letter?

Posted by Richard | April 10, 2007 9:33 AM

Excellent, thanks for posting this. That's some great and honest insight. Best thing I've read in the stranger for some time.

Posted by David | April 10, 2007 10:41 AM

Ooooh - I want to channel Mudede!

The critic occupies a strange nether realm between the artist and the listener - the critic is, at his best, a conduit for the artist to reach the listener via rave reviews, etc.

But the critic also falls prey to the phenomenon of critical distance - the need to distance one's self from the passion for art because it is seen as a job requirement. The critic is not allowed to love a piece of art unequivocally (though I admire and attempt to emulate those who do) because his job is to analyze, to critique, to obfuscate and judge. A critic must remain objective while prostrating himself before a subjective audience, who are as likely to dismiss his opinions as the rantings of a bitter, cynical hack as they are to be moved by the writing.

Criticism can also get far too meta - I have found myself reading record reviews and not remarking about the record but the review itself - a badly written review is an object of derision, while an excellent review is both rare and inspiring.

There are those out there (I particularly recommend that maintain their passion for music while still producing piece of writing that I would read for the writing alone. A good critic must be a good writer - there is no other option. Ideal critics should keep their passions and biases as obvious as they can. No critic, no matter how talented or cranky, can maintain complete critical objectivity. Love what you love, let people know that you love it. But it's your damn opinion, and although the paycheck for doing it does elevate you above the common blogger, it should be noted that your talent as a critic lies not in your ability to pick apart musical notes but in your ability to assemble words.

Posted by Jeff | April 10, 2007 11:17 AM

Richard @ 5: You only write resignation letters when you resign.

Posted by just sayin' | April 10, 2007 1:04 PM

i miss jeff.

Posted by kerri harrop | April 10, 2007 1:45 PM

why did Hannah Levin leave? They need to get her back. All I really read the weekly for is her. Seems like she would be much more at home w/ the stranger.

Posted by hmmm | April 10, 2007 1:48 PM

I think Hannah Levin was fired. Reader's loss.

Posted by Sanjaya | April 10, 2007 2:33 PM

Most music editors at weeklys don't do it long because the money sucks. DeRoche's reason for leaving was refreshing.

Posted by In the Know | April 10, 2007 3:17 PM

Being a critic seems to be one of those jobs that sound more rewarding than they actually are. You get to see all these show, or movies, or listen to all these records, only to realize that you see/listen to more crap than gold.

When I was a kid and wanted to be a DJ, but when I grew up and actually was one (for four years), I learned I couldn't play whatever I wanted, even on community radio. There were play lists and you couldn't deviate from them.

I thought working in a record store would be great and with an employee discount I would be able to buy all the music I wanted. But then I found out the job only paid minimum wage and the discount was only 15% (this was to discourage us from buying records for our friends).

Posted by elswinger | April 10, 2007 3:26 PM

if you like music, staying busy as a music critic will make you depressed/crazy. this is a fact. i thought seling posted that because she was leaving. glad i was wrong.

Posted by ndrwmtsn | April 10, 2007 5:29 PM

to hah- actually, the writers are just important as the musicians, and are more important when shaping the public's perception of what's going on locally.

for example, when jeff was the editor, the stranger's music focus was a little more indie-rock / songwriter- similar to what i think megan seleng's style is. with jennifer maerz, the music section took on a completely different approach, and the focus was way more on punk/garage -- some of this is up for debate on how much styles change and how much the paper follows those changes, but there's no doubt that the music the writers follow and write about have a huge impact on what people perceive as "happening" in town.

Posted by graig markel | April 11, 2007 10:42 AM

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