Well kiddies, once again it's time to dip into the old Media Blackout mail bag and see what fresh lettuce the stork has delivered this week!
Dear Mr. Blackout: I want to be a world-famous rock critic like you so I can get tons of free records every day so please tell me how I can do this. Melvin Cowznofski, Potrzebie, N.Y.
Son, you've made the right choice because being a rock critic is just about the most exciting job a boy could have. Well, at least it used to be. Back when I started you got flown all around the world to meet rock stars in faraway lands where the drugs flowed like water and the women flowed like drugs.
And free records? Why, there were more free records than you could ever possibly listen to in a lifetime! In fact, I got so many records in the mail every day that after a while I didn't even bother listening to them anymore. I just took 'em all in to a used record store, unopened, and sold them for cold hard cash. After that, I'd go home and write my album reviews based on whatever hit singles I heard on the radio.
Then one day people stopped buying records and began downloading them for free instead. Well, that changed everything. The days of getting flown and blown were gone. Even worse, the record companies couldn't afford to send out promo copies of their new albums anymore. To tell you the truth, it's been so long that I can't even remember the last time I actually got one in the mail.
So how do I get all the records I review? Simple: I steal them. Why? Because writing record reviews doesn't pay much if they even decide to pay you at all. But at least you should be able to scrape up enough coin to buy a pack of cigarettes or just a couple of lousy beers. Or even a bottle of real cheap wine. 'Cause that's the price you pay to be just another critic in decline.
Jeffrey Morgan is a freelance writer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org