Boy Howdy, what a mess
December 2, 2007 8:12 AM   Subscribe

You'd think news of a Creem Magazine retrospective book would be greeted with cries of glee. You'd be wrong. Occasional staff shutterbug Bob Matheu licensed rights to use the name of the beloved, iconoclastic Detroit rock zine years after it ceased to be relevant, but despite occasional "Creem is back" announcements, only produced a website.

But now a Creem book is on the stands, and surviving contributors like Dave Marsh, Sue Whitall, Jaan Uhelszki and publisher's widow Connie Kramer are none too pleased with the contents. Even less happy, the guys who invested most of the money needed to re-secure the rights. But a dust up at a book signing? Lester would approve. More discussion here.
posted by Scram (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting - thanks for posting this. I have virtually every issue of the magazine that I bought starting in 1979, when I was thirteen, until the end in the late 80's (at least the end of the classic small-format magazine. I think there was a later attempt to revive it in a Spin-like size).

I haven't thought much about Creem forever, but it's interesting that I still remember the names of many of the writers and editors - even Matheu's. I just walked down to the basement and picked up a random issue from the mid-80's, and Matheu is listed on the masthead, albeit way down the list and in the long list of "regional photographers."

I'm tempted to take Matheu's side in this strictly because Dave Marsh doesn't like him. With only one exception, his Heart of Rock and Soul book, I hate Marsh and everything he's written. He is the Anti-Bangs, for sure.
posted by JeffL at 8:56 AM on December 2, 2007

I hate Marsh and everything he's written. He is the Anti-Bangs, for sure.

I've met Marsh a few times ( Iset up a signing at the bookstore I was working in at the time) and he's actually a really nice guy. According to Let It Blurt, Marsh & Bangs were very different but actually pretty close. I like both of them a lot.

As far as the Creem book, the whole controversy is a drag. I just bought the book (half-price, working in a secondhand bookshop has it's priviliges) and it's terrific.
posted by jonmc at 9:12 AM on December 2, 2007

This is a pretty sad turn. I was the graphics guy at the shop which started printing the revived Creem Tees in 2001. (My contact was actually one of the defendants listed in the suit.) It was real treat to get the R. Crumb art ready for screen printing. (The web site shows Courtney Love wearing one of the shirts we printed.)
Everyone who knew what Creem was back in the day, was excited that it was coming back. At that early stage, they were looking for investors.
Then 9/11 happened. No one was interested in making new investments. Something as risky as a print magazine must have been an impossible sell. But they seemed to keep plugging away at it.
I saw the book at Borders. As a print job it's a very high-end package. The content looked pretty thin though.
Thanks for the post. I didn't know things had gone so badly.
posted by McLir at 9:17 AM on December 2, 2007

My goodness. That's so....un-Rockish.
posted by sidereal at 9:24 AM on December 2, 2007

Jonmc, check out Marsh's review of the Dictators from the first edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide (from 1979):

"A new low - rock songs about wrestling and contempt, not just for the music and the audience, but even for themselves. Witlessly performed."

He gave each of the records (Manifest Destiny and Go Girl Crazy) a "worthless" rating (no stars).

A minute or so of shuffling through pages of the same book leads me to a review of John Travolta wherein Marsh awards each of Travolta's solo albums TWO stars...

In a subject closer to my heart, he describes Tom Verlaine of Television as a "[lacking] melodic ideas or any emotional sensibility".

What a dumbass.
posted by JeffL at 10:48 AM on December 2, 2007

I don't think jonmc would disagree with you that those are dumbass judgments, he's just saying Marsh struck him as a nice guy, which he probably is. Hell, I was disarmed on meeting the much-despised General Westmoreland to find that he struck me as a nice guy. A war criminal, sure, but a nice guy.
posted by languagehat at 11:12 AM on December 2, 2007

I felt the exact same anger and disappointment when the Jackie retrospective came out.
posted by gatchaman at 11:41 AM on December 2, 2007

he describes Tom Verlaine of Television as a "[lacking] melodic ideas or any emotional sensibility"

Marsh often has highly questionable taste, but that comment is not far off, and it's what I love about Television.
posted by psmealey at 12:58 PM on December 2, 2007

JeffL- there's plenty of people who I admire who I also disagree with sometimes. Marsh's theroies are often on target and the guy can right. The fact that he's wrong about the Dictators just means he has to check into my Re-Education Camp along with millions of others. (and Lester loved the Dics, so between the two of them they have all the bases covered).
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on December 2, 2007

Hey Jonmc, you probably could have predicted the demise of Creem when this issue came out, right ;)
posted by JeffL at 1:55 PM on December 2, 2007

It was the magazine when I was in high school and college (early to late 70s). Rolling Stone was completely out of touch with us, Hit Parader was for kids, but Creem got it. Sad to see it come to this.
posted by Ber at 2:46 PM on December 2, 2007

Creem got it

They sure did, Ber. However often I used to say, "This is the last time I'm buying this rag," I always grit my teeth and buy the next issue anyway. Simply because, as often they infuriated me, you had to admit, they "got it," and nobody else did. (Well, maybe NY Rocker for a time.)

Anyhow, who says you can't like both Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs? What you can't do, is like Dave Marsh, Lester Bangs and Robert Cristgau all at once. That makes your head explode.
posted by Faze at 5:21 PM on December 2, 2007

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