ALT PRESS CRUMBLES UNDER BEAST SANCTIONS
By Al Uthman
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
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.