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© 2004 The Beast

PUBERTY AND BAD POLITICS

ALT PRESS CRUMBLES UNDER BEAST SANCTIONS

By Al Uthman


Almost two months ago now, The BEAST’s nearest and dearest pet target, Alt Press, published a very special issue. The cover, designed by Ahmad Jordan, was an extremely open letter to publisher Joe Schmidbauer about Jordan’s increasing frustration with what he rightly perceived to be the maddening dullness of the paper. The letter was hilariously personal, revealing that its author was drunk and calling Joe “an old man” who “should retire,” among other things. Naturally, we at The BEAST wondered if the party-line liberals hadn’t ripped a page from our playbook and perpetrated a hoax on the city. Soon enough, however, we remembered how seriously the Alt Pressians take themselves, and realized that the joke was no joke; our former enemy was crumbling from within!

A month later, the next edition of the “biweekly” publication appeared—now there was no cover, but the lead story was a doozy. Entitled “Alt Press Sucks,” it promised to be the most accurate and truthful story of the lugubrious staff’s fourteen-year history. Instead, it was a hate-fest, the manic diatribe of an embarrassed, defensive publisher striking out at everyone else in order to alleviate his own wounds. Instead of acknowledging the obvious truth of Jordan’s assertions, or at least that his is the most poorly copy-edited and visually clunky paper this side of Artefakt, Schmidbauer attacked papers by far better than his in a lame attempt to justify his tedious, ranting rag.

Joe paid special attention to The BEAST, but seems not to have read it for some time. Since nobody reads Alt Press, I’ll synopsize his comments briefly: he called us “white-noise suburban pimply urban wanna-bees [sic],” presenting “bubblegum, beer and ass.”

I found this surprising considering that, after I wrote a two part-feature on nefarious U.S.-sponsored goings-on in Columbia about three years ago for Alt Press, Joe practically begged me to write more for his paper right up until I joined The BEAST’s ranks (incidentally, the reason I never wrote for Alt again was due to the awful butchering of my prose, including the insertion of painfully slanted and grammatically incorrect phrases. In short, Alt made me sound dumb, and I wasn’t into that).

Now, I don’t know; maybe I’m nuts. So you tell me, BEAST reader, are we “bubblegum, beer, and ass,” or is Joe Schmidbauer in a classic state of denial? Are we not providing you with insightful and witty political commentary? Is all our hard work negated because we take desperately needed ad revenue from a titty bar on occasion? Or is Schmidbauer simply a jealous man employing a delusional defense mechanism?

Let’s face it; the reason Joe singles us out for his most scornful derision is that we are the real reason for the turmoil over there. It must have been hard for a young, creative guy like Ahmad Jordan to toil in obscurity and then go to his favorite bar and see a paper that was funny, informative, and well-written, that improved and grew steadily, and that people actually read and talked about. I’m sure we were mentioned more than once during the course of his struggle with Joe to make Alt Press better.

Even worse, in a totally unprovoked attack, Schmidbauer ends his article by listing our phone number as a place to get “free pot.” This unscrupulous, malicious maneuver has led to our receiving at least two calls! We frown against such a juvenile and crude tactic, and are, frankly, shocked. (Honestly, guys, can’t you come up with one joke on your own?)

In addition to his clearly incorrect aspersions about us, Schmidbauer also calls his own paper “dense,” when it is painfully clear that he is constantly straining to fill their measly 16 pages with stretched-out text and font sizes that can be read from adjacent buildings. Joe’s right to cover local political scandals, but wrong in thinking that Buffalonians don’t care. If Alt could print a well-written piece and tease it properly on their cover, someone might read it and thereby become informed. As it is, Alt languishes on its perch, piled high long after other papers have found their way into bathrooms and back seats throughout the city, because the articles are practically impossible to read, poorly constructed, stilted and meandering. Rather than address these issues, however, Joe prefers to blame his reader(s) for not having the patience to force themselves to read his tiresome tirades.

I don’t hate Alt Press. They try to fight the good fight. Joe, Grady, and the kids were all as nice as Asian monks during my brief association with them. But it’s absurd for them to blame their irrelevance on the general public. Yes, people are stupid, and they’re getting stupider, but that’s no excuse for not engaging them. And another thing: there’s nothing wrong with being funny. Being funny is ten times as hard as being right. If Joe Schmidbauer could get over his resentment long enough to see that we are kicking their ass not because we’re infantile, but because we give readers some sugar with their medicine, because we crack people up, and because we can write circles around anyone else in this god-forsaken town, maybe he could start down the road to a readership.

But that’s not going to happen. Just look at the unsigned slam against the Goo Goo Dolls in the last issue. Obviously written by Schmidbauer (it even contains the phrase “suburban white noise,” a bit of poetry so wonderful, apparently, that Joe just can’t resist it), the insanely joyless rant indicts the dolls for “their disengagement from pressing political issues.” The Goo Goo Dolls! Is this guy nuts? He goes on: “Instead of addressing the complete takeover of the city’s democratically elected government by the Control Board, the band lived up to their ‘doll’ moniker by jumping around onstage like a couple of windup dolls on speed.” I swear, I didn’t make that up. That’s really what it says!

This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with Alt Press. Their total inability to see a world beyond their political dogma leaves the good points they make lost in a sea of their own vitriolic “white noise.” Who is ever going to take seriously a guy who can’t even appreciate an outdoor pop concert because the headliners didn’t use the opportunity to bore their audience with a didactic lecture on the intricacies of city finances and our corrupt patronage system? He even cheers on the heavy rain that dampened the festivities, like a spiteful ogre who wasn’t invited to a birthday party.

Who is being infantile here? The Goo Goo Dolls are a rock band. Whatever you think of their music, they shouldn’t be expected to solve the city’s problems with probing political analysis. If they ever attempted such a thing, they’d wind up hospitalized with cranial lacerations from the ensuing barrage of beer cans and chunks of crumbling architecture. Anyone who criticizes them for not doing so is only revealing their own incredible naiveté and a jaw-dropping lack of depth.

Perhaps Joe’s just pissed because he can’t get an ad out of Robby Takac. Or maybe fourteen years of banging his head against a wall have rattled his brains. Either way, he and Alt are just bitching because they’ve been upstaged so handily, and yet so easily. So keep it up, Alt Press; we’re proud to have you as competition. Or maybe just lucky.




 

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