[Jandek] Khartoum: Dusted Review vs. Paul Condon vs. All MusicGuide Review

Paul Condon paulgcondon at gmail.com
Wed Feb 8 14:08:38 PST 2006

For a start, Chusid is more than entitled not to like a note of
Jandek's music - this is not why I take issue with him. His insistence
that "Jandek's not about music" allows him to ignore the actual music
and the sticky issue of having to arrive at any understanding of it
(positive OR negative), and is a handy variation of lazily claiming
that it doesn't even qualify as music in the first place. That's fine
for parents confronted with their teen's Wolf Eyes records, but you
expect a bit more from someone making his living off of this stuff.
Some of his comments - "a self-conscious unmarketability, a studied
rejection of any and all musical fashion, and a general disdain for
the protocols of artistic careerism" - could be applied to any number
of underground artists. What he's doing here, as he does in his
chapter on Jandek in his book Songs in the Key of Z, is merely
contrasting Jandek with the Beatles.

The fact that Chusid was instrumental in exposing Jandek's music to a
wider audience is undebatable. But I don't think he's up to much as a
writer in general and I don't think he takes much pleasure in music in
general. His opinions on Jandek would be a lot easier for me to take
if his writing on other musicians wasn't offensive, mocking and
mean-spirited. OK, I suppose you can't write about Wesley Willis or
Shooby Taylor without a bit of irony coming into it, but Syd Barrett
as "the Elvis of the straitjacket set"? Nice. It makes me wonder if
surrounding himself with the music of supposed "oddballs" and
"weirdos" makes Chusid feel better about himself. And (as can be heard
on the Jandek on Corwood DVD) when he runs out of mocking comments on
Jandek, he turns to the supposed legion of "obsessive" fans. Guilty as
charged, if you really need a scapegoat, but I'd personally rather be
passionate about things in this short life than the "cool" guy taking
the piss in the corner.

Irwin Chusid's not about music. Taking his lead re Jandek, I should
insist that I've said all I'm going to say about him. But let me know
if an audio extra is required for the Irwin on WFMU DVD.

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