Fresh Fish

by Mr. Fish on January 16, 2010 · 13 comments

in Words

Ever since the takeover of the Village Voice Media Company in 2006 by New Times Media, I knew my days were numbered. We all did – by that I mean everybody at the old LA Weekly, where for nearly 6 years I wrote, cartooned and illustrated and produced a shitload of work. That is, up until yesterday.

I was cut as a cost-saving measure.

Once comprised of a sizable and competent staff capable of competing with the other two major metropolitan newspapers in the area, namely the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News, the current personnel who remain to produce the ever diminishing pages of the LA Weekly might best be described as only slightly outnumbering the Osmond Brothers. In fact, there are perhaps as many as 100 office chairs in the Culver City building, where, following a very depressing exodus from Hollywood in 2008, the Weekly now resides, that have never known ass.  Never.

In fact, if you were to compare the old, pre-merger LA Weekly and, while you’re at it, the Village Voice from 5 or 10 or 30 years ago, with today’s versions you’d see how Mr. Fish (not to mention Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Barbara Garson, Katherine Anne Porter, M.S. Cone, James Baldwin, E.E. Cummings, Nat Hentoff, Marc Cooper, Ted Hoagland, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, Allen Ginsberg, Joshua Clover, Jules Feiffer and R. Crumb) no longer fits in with the TMZ/Your-ad-here!/journalism-produced-cheaply-will-produce-cheap-journalism look of the papers.
I recently received a letter from someone bemoaning the obvious drop in quality of the LA Weekly, as evidenced by the paper’s online incarnation, by saying that, “If I knew nothing about LA, I would think all that went on there were Burlesque shows.”

No kidding.

Sure, in response to a shitty economy and a pandemic shift by news junkies from pulp to PC, there have been definite changes in the print media industry over the last five years. And, sure, attempts to restructure the financial model on any business institution that sees its profit margins shrinking will always have some effect on the product that’s being produced, but mustn’t a shift to protect the body of an organization take special care not to jeopardize serious trauma to the head as well?

Does an incoming administration really assert its authority when it rips up the old Constitution so beloved by those it seeks to rule, saying, “This thing is pointless – it was written with a feather! We have Microsoft Office now!” or does it merely demonstrate its own arrogance and self-centeredness and misguided sense of intellectual privilege?

Haven’t we learned anything from the New Coke fiasco from the 1980s, for Christ’s sake?

At one time, and not too long ago in fact, the brain of the Village Voice and the LA Weekly seemed quite capable of contributing to the national conversation about art and politics and literature and popular culture, but now, unless the word diet is affixed to the end of any of those subjects, or unless they are included as part of a movie title or bit of Hollywood gossip or a crime story, the Village Voice Media company seems as if it has absolutely no opinion to offer.

Specifically, to read the Village Voice nowadays is akin to watching somebody who you once respected and whose opinion about the culture you valued receive a lobotomy and then who, desperate not to lose your company, attempts to keep you around by offering to show you what he looks like with his pants off. It’s embarrassing.

So now what? 
 
When will the progressive and egg-heady spirit of the Alternative Press return? When will indie journalism raise its collective acumen above an eighth-grade reading and crouch-grabbing level?
And, getting back to me, where does a radically left-leaning political cartoonist go to piss off powerful people and to document the rage and contempt of liberal-minded loud-mouths and vengeful humanitarians? Where does a court jester, one who endeavors to rob just enough dignity from the king to make dissent seem possible and worthwhile to those most victimized by hierarchy, go?

You tell me.

I’m assuming that the answer, depending on who you are and what you value, is either Hell or High Water.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

RB January 22, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Dude:

You are a radical lefty. You are a realist, right in the middle, call em as you see em type of guy.

You need to hook up with Fox News, maybe get a slot with Bill O’ like Dennis Miller. They could call it “Fish Time”…a little Cartoon of the Day along with a little commentary. You would be a hit.

Sorry about your layoff. Been there done that…..

You will rise again brother to spread the comic truth.

Peace Out

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Keith Tucker January 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Sorry to hear that yet another artist has been cast out due to budget constraints in this new ( since Regan ) free market, trickle down economy lost millions of Americans their livelihoods to cheaper offshore markets that used to have tariffs slapped on them before their products could enter our country. The winner here, the multi-nationals and their cast of corporate ceo vampires who mindlessly suck the lifes blood out of our once free country.
Good luck man, I feel your pain, I’ve lost a few papers to budjet constraints as well, they turn to the syndicates they have contracts with for content already, still have cartoons for cheaper. But good luck getting syndicated, I’ve been offered syndie slots, “IF” I would do more conservative cartoons, otherwise, see ya!
Cheers
http://www.whatnowtoons.com

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Art Kunkin January 18, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Dear Mr. Fish,

I am addressing this to you and all others who would like to see a revival of a genuine alternative press that would report on and encourage the macrocosmic as well as molecular movements toward an improved society. As the former founding publisher and editor of The Los Angeles Free Press, I would like to establish an internet newsletter toward this end. Please email me at artkunkin@gmail.com if you are interested. And good luck to all of you. Thanks. Art

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vera January 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

where is the big mlk day sale on chomsky gear?!!

also, i can’t seem to find mr. fish coupon codes anywhere on the web.

PLEASE ADVISE

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Genevieve January 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Well, you know, when you pick up an L.A. Weekly, it’s 50% ads for plastic surgery, which is just scary and wrong. It’s why I don’t go into Beverly Hills anymore… I feel oddly out of place, where 90% of women have plastic parts and fat taken out of one place and injected in another. It sucks right now, but you’ve got bigger and better things ahead of you, my friend.

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Washington Carrasco January 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

“New Times Media” sounds so nice and New Age, doesn’t it?
Their shareholders probably eat organically ranched beef.

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Lordwanderfleet January 17, 2010 at 5:47 am

Oh, poor you, mr. fish! Sounds as if you’ve been caught by surprise into this helluva “rosebud” kinda media permissiveness… Now, back to my sniffing table!

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psychohistorian January 17, 2010 at 3:51 am

I would suggest you hitch up with the growing “blogs” like huffington post, FDL or anybody else that will give you exposure and a percentage of the ad income. You may even have to do it for free for a while.

Good luck with it or whatever else you find to do.

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mike in brisbane January 17, 2010 at 1:04 am

Come to Australia. We’ve got a tradition of eye-poking over here, and a current drought of decent eye-pokers. You’d be read, reviled, well-fed. It’s ocker-love; that’s how they roll.

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Lord Northcliff January 17, 2010 at 12:16 am

News is something someone wants suppressed, everything else is just advertising.

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Chris G January 16, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Thanks for the essay. I’ve been making my way through Susan Jacoby’s “The Age of American Unreason”. It doesn’t provide any consolation re how things are and where they seem to be headed but… I don’t know… It doesn’t provide any consolation but perhaps it does provide some insight into why American culture is so hostile to people using their heads for more than just hat racks. Maybe understanding what got us here can help get us out? Or not. Bottom line: Writers, artists, etc. (people who make a positive contribution to the culture) need to do what they do because its important, not because anyone else gives a shit.

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mika January 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

LA’s loss is the world’s gain

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Al Fabrizio January 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Fish, I don’t think you are as left as you think, which is a good thing. Independence diminishes at the outer periphery of the spectrum. As for free-thinking and intellectually astute media, maybe the next move is all online.The new generation of book readers (kindle and the like) will be wireless. Pulp is going the way of the dino, and sadly online is currently the new 57 channels and there’s nothing on. With the exception of a few decent online versions of national magazines, it’s a vaccum for people who are looking for critical perspectives on art, culture, society and politics.

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