City Pages, I wasn’t ready to be heartbroken

The news that Jim Walsh has been let go from City Pages has left me. . . I don’t think there’s an adjective that describes a weird sort of inappropriate sadness mixed with fear of not knowing when you’ll read him again and a dash of wonder.

It’s hard for me to put into words my respect, admiration, and outright idolization of Walsh. How can you quantify the significance of the single person who had more influence on your musical tastes than anyone else?

I know, it’s a bold claim but it is the truth. Even more shocking? I was in love with Jim Walsh way before I even knew who Paul Westerberg was. Granted, Walsh only beats St. Paul by a year or so, but he still came first.

My love affair with Walsh’s words started way back in the 1990s, when I was a journalism student at UW-Eau Claire. I would buy the Pioneer Press at the newsstand in Davies Center everyday and paw through it eagerly looking for Walsh’s byline.

My nerdy-newspaper friends would tease me mercilessly about my PiPress allegiance. We would argue all the time over which of the Twin Cities newspaper was better. I think we were supposed to like the Strib better, but I always voted for the PiPress because of Walsh. Whenever my profs would ask me what I wanted to do in my journalism career I would tell them, “be Jim Walsh.”

So what does this have to do with musical influence? Well, I would read Walsh who was a rock critic at the PiPress and be so moved or curious by his words that I would have to buy the CD of the artist he was writing about. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of some of the bands he turned me on to, and the only thing that is coming to mind Westerberg’s alter-ego Grandpaboy.

That was way back in the infancy of my Replacements-festish and I remember thinking I was in on some big Grandpaboy-secret.

But more than being a musical influence, I think Walsh has influenced my writing. At least the way I write about music.

My friend Monkey and I have argued about my Walshaphilia. Monkey argues that Walsh’s rock criticism is more Walsh than rock. Which is, of course, the exact reason that I love Walsh. I think it’s hard to put objective, impersonal words around music. The beauty of music is that it makes you think and feel things, and this is personal. The beauty of Walsh is that he’s so good at making his personal reactions to the music feel universal. When I read Walsh, I think “Wow that song did that to him, I need to check that out.” It is the kind of thing I long to be able to do.

So tonight I am saddened that I won’t get to see his words in City Pages anymore. I will miss him, and I hope it won’t be too long before I get to read him again somewhere else.

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  1. betsy 01.Feb.07 at 10:17 am

    I liked his writing too, but yesterday when I followed the link on his column and saw the most gruesome photos I have ever seen, I became physically sick.

    I think I understand his point. But with so much negativity in the world do we need more?

    My life is nothing as hard as that of those who live in Iraq, I am horrified by what has happened to them. But we all have our problems and none of us is getting off easy in the world, I’m just thinking why he had to do that to people who agreed with him, who were in his ballpark, who appreciated what he had to say.

    I don’t know if you saw those photos, but they are still disturbing. What do you think? I know you are ferverently in favor of freedom of the press, but even I think he probably stepped over the line.

  2. betsy 01.Feb.07 at 10:30 am

    Afterthought: the Dalai Lama says “do no harm”, even if you can’t be around someone because they irritate you, and you can’t stand them, do no harm.

    I know that people opposed to abortion are reacting to what is in their minds as babies being killed, but when they go and bomb planned parenthood clinics, they are doing exactly what they are objecting to.

    I think Jim Walsh’s final statement is similar. I wish him well in the future, because I think he has a good heart and good intentions. We all learn from mistakes, they’re the best teachers, so I really hope he continues to learn and grow.

  3. Jodi 01.Feb.07 at 10:38 am

    Betsy, I didn’t follow the link. I moused over it and saw it was something like Iraqi warpics and I knew I wouldn’t want to see that.

    So I don’t know how grusome the pictures are.

    However, I think (and this all just guessing) that Walsh was making a bold statement on the direction that City Pages is going and what is really hiding behind the fluff.

    I think you’d have to be following the whole City Pages saga to get it.

  4. betsy 01.Feb.07 at 10:45 am

    probably so, I just wish I hadn’t looked, it was terrible, and you probably shouldn’t look. Some of us are really sensitive and when the news is bad and things happen, we get even more depressed. We have to learn to not take on the burdens of compassion if it means it will drive us crazy or to suicide. Yesterday was one of those days, not just from the column, but from personal travails and the piling up of a number of things. If he wanted to be effective, he was, but I really feel betrayed and depressed. But I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said no one can make you feel bad unless you let them, so I guess I’ve got to figure that things will change and if not, we all die, just some not so graphically.

  5. Kathy 01.Feb.07 at 2:46 pm

    As a veteran of being laid off, I completely understand the almost irresistble urge to leave with a grand gesture that makes a big statement. Oh boy, do I.

    Looking at that post and link makes me thank my lucky stars I never followed thru on any of those impluses. Decision-making skills are not at 100% when you’ve just been fired, they aren’t even at 50%. It’s a real shock to the system and one of the most stressful experiences you can have.

    So I understand the rationale behind what he did and I understand that it was posted during a stressful time. That said, that post showed a severe lapse in judgement. “American Idol” is hugely popular with kids and it’s an absolute certainty that kids are going to come across that link and click on it. I hate when anti-abortion activists expose children to pictures of mutilated fetuses, in the name of their “righteous” cause. I don’t hate this any less.


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