Dear Jann S. Wenner, et al,
What. The. Fuck.
I was an avid Rolling Stone reader for close to 20 years. I even collected the magazines. You try lugging around 15 years of wrapped magazines…this was a source of much consternation with an ex (who eventually took the liberty of throwing them out in my absence). So, I’m not a casual reader who just feels like ripping on you for no good reason. We have a history together, you and I.
But sometime around 2000 I didn’t renew my subscription. I would find myself not reading anything in your magazine. It read more like Highlights for children than an intelligent counterculture magazine. Frankly, it was as counterculture as a Disney show for tweens.
Over the ensuing years I would pick it up every now and again and find I could blow through it in the time it took me to void my bowels…until I discovered Matt Tiabbi. In addition to Tiabbi, the magazine would (still does) run some additional stories equally as interesting. But music? No, your music coverage sucked. Well, it still does.
I just picked up the recent Rolling Stone (Issue 1256). To be clear the ONLY reason I did was Matt Tiabbi. I would argue that is the only reason many people pick it up. He is without question the best writer you have had…well, probably ever. I never dug Hunter and thought the Tom Wolfe stuff a little silly. Tiabbi is truly sublime.
But music coverage? Dear GOD! In this issue you have a piece on Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, an article “The Last Word with Yoko Ono” and a blurb on Phil Collins. OK, do you realize the average age of those four artists is 70.5? 70.5! Fine artists ALL of them…but culturally relevant? Nuh-uh.
An article about how the RIAA just changed the criteria for gold records. Records?!
Your television coverage highlights the James Franco and Stephen King pairing that has something to do with the Kennedy assassination. I don’t care enough to read it, let alone watch it. Of all the great shows currently out there, digital or analog, you pick coverage on a show about…The Kennedy assassination? Good or bad, I could give a shit. That story has been told seven ways from Sunday. I understand Tyler Perry is even developing a black Kennedy assassination movie.
Is all of your magazine shit? No. You have a piece on artificial intelligence. Now while this is a germane topic, it’s not very rock and roll. Frankly, a profile on Polident would probably mean more to your readers then the future of AI…cuz they ain’t gonna be around when the robots take over.
You have a Q&A with marginally talented Pete Wentz (at least he is rock star-ish). You have a review of Trouble Boys, the new Replacements book.
Peter Travers and his film reviews are still relevant.
But Christ, your ratings on albums is dreadfully funny. Not funny ha-ha either…angry, hate fucking kind of funny. Kanye West’s new album, 4.5 stars? Are you kidding me? Oh and any classic rock artist that has weathered their career (basically by not dying I am guessing…although Jimi Hendrix still gets four and five stars on his posthumous releases…and he’s been DEAD FOR OVER 40 YEARS!) those get an automatic four stars (guessing an aggregate). Really? I have listened to every Springsteen release for the past 15 years…once (with the exception of the Seeger Sessions). A fine artist and those albums are OK-ish but certainly not worthy of the stars you anointed them (I’m admittedly too lazy to look those up). And I am a Springsteen fan!
The ads? Oh, this is rich. A full-page ad for AXE? OK, do you think a Baby Boomer or a gen X’er is gonna use that shit? Trust me Jann, millennial’s are not reading your magazine…and I’m not even sure they wear that AXE crap. You’d be better suited running AARP, assisted living or Depends ads. Seriously.
Look, there is no real Rock and Roll magazine anymore. And believe me, I am hyper aware that your industry is in serious turmoil, but I refuse to believe that there are not NEW artists worthy of coverage. Bands that Pitchfork, or whatever digital flavor of the month is touting. I mean, come on! You’re a survivor fer chrissakes! You were a cultural bellweather for years! Now? Not so much…and there is literally NO competition for a rebellious pop culture/music magazine!
I’m not going to say you suck all the time, that would be a statistical anomaly. And you do have Tiabbi…so, yea…there’s that.
It is said that a rolling stone gathers no moss, this Rolling Stone did.
Don’t even get me started on your website…
Keith R. Higgons
(cynics stuff it…I’m not angling for a job there…that’s be like the guy who took the job playing the piano on the Titanic)