Irony of ironies, Telly Davidson, in the Paleocon American Conservative, pays tribute to the passing, and has kind words for, the red rag Village Voice.
As a respected and accomplished Boomer-era composer recently told me, when he was making it as a young musician in the Big Apple in the early 1970s, he and his set thought of the Voice as â€œthe New York Times for nonconformists.â€ It provided a truly alternative â€œvoiceâ€ to the processed cheese pabulum and establishment headlines of the mainstream media. In its heyday, the Voice was a place where indisputably talented and iconoclastic writers who were too â€œout thereâ€ to get hired at the mainstream spots could not only pick up a paycheck and a byline credit but also have the chance to rub shoulders with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. Where writers who redefined arts criticism like Robert Christgau, Nat Hentoff, Andrew Sarris, and James Wolcott got some of their first and best breaks. Where conservatives and suburban liberals alike could shake their fists at Alexander Cockburnâ€™s near-open communism, or the latest Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit.
The Voice employed to their very last day both new and old greats who did nothing but good by the standards of journalism and their communities. But it also housed writers and editors who were smug caricatures of everything they supposedly despised. Towards the end of the paperâ€™s 63-year lifespan, it became an insular clique rather than a sanctuary for brilliant misfits and rebels. This was a storied institution that had earned respect but slowly lost it, thanks in part to the corporate buyouts and the inevitable dimming of its once strong independent compass.