A matter of scale

From “Barry Blitt’s Sketchbook” on the Air Mail site on 9/23:

The players here: Blitt is the (politically engaged) New Yorker cover artist (who is, among other things, a whiz at caricature); Jann Wenner is co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine and author of the 2023 book The Masters: Conversations with Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen (a book of his personal enthusiasms, which consequently included no female or black masters); and Joni Mitchell is, as Wikipedia has it, “one of the most influential singer-songwriters to emerge from the 1960s folk music circuit, …  known for her starkly personal lyrics and unconventional compositions which grew to incorporate pop and jazz elements”

Some critics believe that Blitt didn’t get the scale right: to scale, Wennner should be considerably smaller than this. I am sympathetic to this criticism, but then I’ve always found Wenner to be repellent and admired Mitchell enormously.

Having idolized six Men of Rock in his newly released book, Wenner just doubled down on the narrowness and idiosyncrasy of his enthusiasms in an interview with David Marchese in the New York Times (on-line on 9/15), under the heading:

Jann Wenner Defends His Legacy, and His Generation’s: The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine on the legacy of boomers and why he chose only white men for his book on rock’s “masters”

(On ages: Wenner is 77, Mitchell 79, early boomers both. For the record, I am 83, technically in between the greatest-generation folk and the boomers, but certainly culturally allied with the boomers.)

A bit of the NYT interview:

JW: Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.

DM: Oh, stop it. You’re telling me Joni Mitchell is not articulate enough on an intellectual level?

JW: Hold on a second.

DM: I’ll let you rephrase that.

JW: All right, thank you. It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. It’s not that they’re inarticulate, although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please, be my guest. [AZ: a truly slimy gratuitous aside.] You know, Joni was not a philosopher of rock ’n’ roll. She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test. Not by her work, not by other interviews she did. The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock.

Once stuff like this got out, the shit really did hit the fan, and JW was removed from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. No doubt this story will lumber on grotesquely as JW licks his wounds and lashes out at his critics.


One Response to “A matter of scale”

  1. Bill Stewart Says:

    Is Wenner just a “Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm”? Seems like it.

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