Monday, January 10, 2005

Rock critic clichés and the shock of recognition

My Oaktown-based friend Tamara sent me Rob Harvilla's "Like Clichés on Acid" from this week's East Bay Express. I think she thought I'd think it was funny. And it is, only I'm laughing at my own embarrassment over the fact that I've used almost all of the lazy rock crit jargon Harvilla talks about. At least I've never used the word "coruscating" in a review. I'm counting on that to get me through the coming sleepless nights in which I try to find a workable substitute for "angular." Jeez, why didn't I go to law school?


Anonymous said...

God knows I use most of these all the time, especially in short pieces. A writer buddy of mine points out that a lot of this stuff serves as shorthand, which has its uses. God knows if I had all the time in the world to craft my stuff I'd avoid most of my use of these phrases, but I don't, and it's sometimes easier to use language we all recognize and understand instead of coming up with a clever but possibly arcane metaphor that no one gets. (I don't know how many reviews I've read by Raoul Hernandez lately and thought, "I don't get it. Did he like it or not?")

Or maybe this is just me doing the self-justification dance to explain lazy writing.

Michael Toland

Anonymous said...

I struggled to kick the rock-writer cliche usage a while back, but still trot out the occasional "lush" or "stuttering." Part of that habit kicking was inspired by Raoul's mentorship, but he does tend to avoid cliches to the point of obfuscation, much as I love him.

Anonymous said...

Of course, upon reading this piece a bit more closely, I realize it's mainly an exercise in self-loathing on the part of the writer. (If he hates his job so much, why keep doing it?) But he brings up a good point nonetheless.

I don't think I've ever used the word "coruscating."