A long long time ago, in a context far far away, I bemoaned the lack of any new and exciting rock and roll magazines. Oh sure, there was the fledgling SPIN, and the eternal Rolling Stone, not to mention a veritable host of limited run 'zines. Still, there was nothing out there like Trouser Press and the original Creem: magazines that combined powerful writing with an intense desire to cover new bands while still aiming for a widespread audience. And I figured it was kind of a moot point. The necessity of aiming for a large circulation and advertiser base automatically meant that the corporate magazines would compromise on passion and discovery - not to mention the fact that rock and roll was fragmenting in a thousand different directions -- and the narrow target audiences and low overhead of the 'zines kept them from being consistent.
That's why Addicted to Noise - veteran rockcrit Michael Goldberg's award-winning online magazine -- is such a goddamned fucking miracle. It's managed to combine the passion and intensity of a 14-year-old kid who's just discovered Pavement or Nirvana with the resources, novelty and most of all, the delivery system of the World Wide Web.
Addicted to Noise is probably my favorite site on the entire Web. It isn't anything fancy, there are very few bells and whistles or scripts or animations or cutting edge web technologies. And I say who needs all that stuff? After all, when people ask me what I like most about the Web, I skip all that crap about interactivity and multimedia and bouncing icons across the screen and aim right for the nut of the matter - the Web's sheer and utter usefulness as a two-way information delivery system. So while they might brag about their downloadable sound and video files, live cellular laptop reports from Lollapalooza, they must know it's all just frosting. In the end, the reason that Addicted to Noise rules is pure and simple - content.
What exactly is that content? Mostly, good old-fashioned, highly subjective rock writing. But fused with the now now now of the World Wide Web, old-school writing takes on a whole new life. This reaches its daily zenith with their daily Music News of the World section, a totally biased hodgepodge of gossip, interviews, reviews, pictures and birthday announcements. It's never less than completely entertaining, and is at the heart of what makes ATN so special. It's a beautiful mongrel hybrid of old-school writing and new technology. Sure, you can probably get the same stuff from newspapers, radio and, of course, MTV. But not whenever you want. Or with previous reports so easily accessible. If you wanna research Courtney Love's legal troubles over the past year, its all right there. On MTV, you'd have to wait for the "Year in Rock" special. But on ATN, it's all sitting out there forever, world without end amen.
Which is part and parcel of the other smart thing about ATN - the fact that it's Web-only. Had they hedged their bets, and put it out simultaneously as hard copy, it would have been diluted -- just another one of a zillion rock/ pop-culture mags out there, albeit with an online connection. But by making it online only, and - equally as important -- using that novelty to dig up a bunch of the best rock music writers on the planet, they made it unique.
Those factors have combined to make it the most exciting rock magazine to come out in at least a decade,. For my money, it's left Rolling Stone, SPIN, Musician, and every other magazine having to do with rock and roll in the deep dark dust. Or left them to the online services, which is where both Rolling Stone (Compuserve) and SPIN (AOL) have chosen to hook their online wagons. For now. That makes sense - on a corporate level, it makes sense to go with established companies rather than aim for the untamed (and unpaid) waters of the Web. Of course, if predictions of cheap Web access hold true, and the online services go in the same direction as the television networks, that could be a decision that they'll regretting before the decade is up.
And by that time, it's entirely possible that Addicted to Noise - with its punky, D.I.Y. attitude, great writing and daily dosage - will be widely recognized as the best rock'n'roll magazine around - on or off-line. I think that if HTML is the punk rock of computer languages - a language that anybody can learn and use -- then Addicted to Noise is The Clash, maybe even Nirvana.
Yes, I wrote this totally brown-nosing piece for one reason: to get their attention. Of course, I meant every word -- ATN is my favorite place on the Web. But nevertheless, I figured that if I got their attention, I could eventually write for them.
It almost worked. I actually got into an email correspondence with one of their editors for a short time, and she -- impressed with the other stuff I had on this site -- actually asked me to write for them, but then, my emails following up disappeared into a black hole. Sigh.
Meanwhile, my best man, Tim Gaskill, ended up writing their England's Dreaming column. Sometimes, things don't exactly work out the way you want, do they?
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This page HTMLized on 6 October 1997
I was listening to Bob Dylan and the Hawks -- The Genuine Basement Tapes Vol 1