The city is not only diminished when it loses a great buidling or a classic restaurant. It also slips a notch when a great byline is snuffed out.
New Times Media, the bare-knuckled knuckleheads out of Phoenix who have taken over the alt weekly of alk weeklies, The Village Voice (or, "The Village Fucking Voice," as Mark Jacobson puts it in his current colorful New York magazine feature), have axed another eight staffers. And, to show once more that they're big men and not afraid of kicking Voice legends down the stairs, they have axed Robert Christgau, one of the more distinctive rock critics in history and a Voice presence since 1969. His capsule reviews are veritable haikus of critical concision. Few people are so skilled at nailing an artist just right in under 50 words.
With Christgau gone, it's hard to imagine there's anyone else left from the Old Voice that the Phoenix boys consider sacred. Even Nat Hentoff must be freshening up his resume. It's all a dirty shame. I'm not a Voice lover—not in recent years, anyway—but it was one of the last places in American journalism where the writer and his/her individual voice was still important.