Cover Rocks a Conservative JournalMagazines
February 23, 1989|GARRY ABRAMS | Times Staff Writer
National Review readers didn't expect to see him there, either.
They've been writing letters in much greater than normal volume to protest the cover--usually reserved for such beacons of right political light as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher--and the accompanying article, "That Old Devil Music" by Los Angeles writer Stuart Goldman.
The story in the Feb. 24 issue has been noticed in other quarters too. Editors at Rolling Stone magazine Wednesday were pondering whether to publish a response to the diatribe against current rock music and its support systems, including MTV and the magazines Rolling Stone, Spin, Rip and Heavy Metal.
Furthermore, a rebuttal by national GOP Chairman Lee Atwater, a guitar player, has been rumored. But a spokesman at the Republican National Committee said that Atwater hadn't been asked to write a reply. National Review staffers were keeping quiet about their plans and whether they involved Atwater.
Meanwhile, author Goldman boarded an eastbound jet Wednesday, headed for the Secaucus, N.J., studio of insult television impresario Morton Downey Jr. Goldman will be taping a program to be aired March 1, a Downey spokesman said.
Before he took off, Goldman, who once free-lanced at the Los Angeles Times, said reaction to the story has surprised him. "It's gone cuckoo," he said, estimating that he has been interviewed by about 20 radio stations--and a Rolling Stone writer investigating the possible counterstrike.
Goldman, a former country and rock musician, confessed that he is out of step with many, perhaps most, of his contemporaries. "One of the reasons I quit being a musician is because I hate nightclubs and I don't like to go out," he said.
But the central point of his National Review article isn't an attack on dissipation and odd hours. Rather, Goldman argues that rock music has lost every shred of creativity. Rock "died in 1977 with its first god, Elvis Presley," Goldman writes. "What exists today is something else--a cheap imitation of the original model. In place of the musical vitality that inspired the pioneers, there is now merely the debased desire to shock and titillate," he writes.
Condensing his theme, Goldman said, "I'm just saying basically . . . I listen to what's out there and it's garbage."
Old rockers take a shot from Goldman too. Noting that George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne recently teamed to form a group called the Traveling Wilburys, Goldman writes, "Fortunately for the band, which is decidedly mediocre, Orbison expired last month, giving it some much-needed cachet."
This and similar comments have prompted more mail--about 25 letters--on a single article than National Review associate editor Geoffrey Morris has seen in the 14 months he has been dealing with the magazine's letters. Morris said the letters, which are still coming in, are "mostly con" regarding the cover and Goldman's essay. "They just thought (the cover) was grotesque," Morris said. Other readers criticized Goldman on the grounds that "watching MTV is not the way to go about judging the whole music industry," he added.