Dying Scene, a stupid name, and a piece of shit website.
How do I know? Well, let me break this down. Back on April 29, 2010, Dying Scene posted an ad for a Punk News, and Review Editor.
Now, those of you who know me know I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. I don’t have time to be a Punk News, and Review Editor. Between family, job, writing my Mike Check column, and fighting crime under the cover of darkness – I’m busy. But I dig being involved with anything punk related. Be it writing about it, listening to it, and socializing with fellow punks from the old days.
So, like a bonehead I emailed them, and asked for details. The ad made it seem like the position was in New York, so I checked on that. A guy named Dave (he writes on the site as Johnny X), wrote me back, giving me his phone number, and had this to say:
“Hey Mike, I dig your column. Being in LA is not a problem – I run the site and I’m in LA. Give me a call when you get a chance and I can fill you in a bit more on our site and what we’re looking for. I’m around all weekend.
So far, so good, right? I write him back, and tell him, it’s going to be a few days before I can call him, and I’ve been running ragged with my Son. He writes back and says:
“No worries, Mike. Give me a call whenever you get a chance. Dave”
Cool. I finally touch base with him, we talk for a few, and I explain my background, what I’ve written.
Then he explains that the position pays nothing, but demands at least four hours a day. I’m bummed, there’s no way I can do this. I leave the house everyday at 6:30 am (5:30 every other Wednesday), and return at 6:00 pm, and try to get in time with my family, I can’t tack on another four hours. So, I apologize, and tell him this, he says no problem, suggests I write some reviews, and then, maybe, we can create a column similar to what I write at Strange Reaction.
Again, it seems cool. Again, those of you who know me know that I don’t write the typical Robert Hilburn review. All my punk music is memories, it’s linked to where I was, who I was around when I listened to a certain band or album. Misfits Walk Among Us, I obtained it through a trade with a guy named Al for a denim jacket. It was engineered by Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters, who I hung out with at the Valley West in Tarzana in 1981 (or was it 1982?) You see, anyone can listen to the album, and make their own judgment, but for me . . . each album goes way beyond the music. The albums are a part of the fabric of my life. So, good review, bad review – it’s irrelevant. It’s like saying “your life sucks.” How do you gauge that?
So that I wouldn’t bog myself down, I decided to write a few reviews, and hold off on trying to create a new column. I was given a few instructions, first anything I review – be prepared to give any, and all albums you review four or five stars. I ask why (as I have slagged many, many albums in the past), Dave says if we don’t have anything nice to say, we don’t review it. OK . . . I guess. And secondly, make sure the band is already mentioned on the site, and has a bio. The second thing isn’t a huge problem. My taste in bands isn’t horribly obscure.
So, I get down to writing. I write a brief review on one of my favorite bands, Everybody Out. They have a very brief and very outdated bio on the site, at least they’re mentioned, and I give the album five stars. Everything’s in order. I email the review to Dave/Johnny X. I hear nothing for a couple of weeks. I get an email saying that I need to set-up an account with Dying Scene, and then upload my reviews; it will be proofed, and then posted. Fine, I type in all my information, and another week goes by, no account confirmation, no password. I email Dave again. He says he will get one of the techs on it. Finally, I get the article up. On May 14, 2010, the review is simultaneously on their site, and their Facebook page. Not much in the way of comments, but that’s OK.
So, I get to work on the second article I wrote about the Dear Landlords album Dream Homes. May 20, 2010, the review is posted, on their website, and their Facebook page. I reviewed it like I do all my reviews, who referred it me, if it was good driving music, etc. So, at the bottom of the review I mention I dig working out to it, that’s it. Dave or Johnny X leaves an anonymous comment on the article, saying something about being glad that I work out, and I’m “jacked,” but I should actually “review” the album. I wrote the Administrator on their Facebook page, and asked if it was possible for someone to leave an anonymous comment, he replied that no, it’s not possible, only someone who works there, and that has admin access can do it.
So, I replied back to “anonymous” to read the whole review, and stop being a douche. He replied back that it is my job to entice him, and make want to purchase the album.
Here’s where I get annoyed. In this day, and age, I don’t need reviews. A friend tells me he likes a group, I can stream their stuff on the band’s website, their My Space page, on You Tube, and then if I chose to be a cheap-ass download it free off of dozens of blog sites (but not this one). So, what I’m saying is: what’s a review going to do? Who gives a shit about a review unless it matches your own opinion?
So, I logged onto their admin, and marked Johnny’s email as spam, and his comments were gone. I wrote Dave, and asked him why his “staff” was writing ignorant (no offense to those that are truly ignorant) shit on my review. He said: “It’s nobody working for DS, it’s just regular users and they talk a lot of shit – you should see the comments on the Against Me! review. Pay them no mind.”
So, I figure the colostomy bag just needed to vent. I let it go, and then wrote a review on Cobra Skulls American Rubicon album. If you notice, I’m doing reviews of very nice, calm, non-hardcore stuff. I was trying to stay within the boundaries of their “obtainable” music. May 25, 2010, the review is posted, on their website, and their Facebook page. It received four comments, and four “thumbs-up.” Not bad.
So, with all the hassle getting the articles posted, the “staff’s” comments, I figured I weathered the worst, and I go on writing. So, I wrote another review of a band called Whatever, they are out of Ohio, and record for, the previously interviewed, Dr. Strange Records. I wrote this article on May 26, 2010. But I notice that neither Whatever or Dr. Strange Records are listed on the site, so I write Dave: “There was a band that I was looking to write about called Whatever, they are on Dr. Strange Records. But I don’t see a listing for Whatever or Dr. Strange. Can I still submit?”
He writes me back: “Yeah, Mike. Go ahead and submit it and I’ll create profiles for both. Don’t check any boxes or anything else on the Edit Post page. Just save as a draft and I’ll take care of the rest. Give me a call later tonight and we can go over some admin stuff.”
Sounds good right?
June 1, 2010, come around and my review never pops up, so I write Johnny X again: “My review of Whatever is still in the queue.”
I get a, somewhat, vague and/or distant reply: “Thanks, Mike. I see it in there, just holding off on publishing it until a slower news day.”
Me being stupid here take him at his word, and figure it will pop up soon, so I start writing again. On Wednesday, June 2, 2010, I write a glowing review of Rancid’s Out Come The Wolves. I combine every bit of trivia I know about these guys, and give a real honest review. I mail it to Dave/Johnny: “I just uploaded a review on an old Rancid album.” Mind you, the Whatever review has yet to be posted.
Dave sends me a weird response: “Hey Mike, I haven’t forgotten about your reviews, but after some feedback from users and other editors I’d like to see more analysis about the music and tracks vs. the story behind how you found the album and where it was recorded, etc. I think your stories are entertaining, but from what I’m hearing from our readers they want a more in depth break down of what they can expect to hear compared to other albums, bands, sounds, etc. Hope that makes sense. If it’s not your bag to get that in depth, no worries. Thanks, dude. Dave”
As I have displayed, there were no negative comments, other than the anonymous guy whose comments were almost verbatim Dave’s email.
In my original review I write this: “The cover art is a tribute to Minor Threat; they originally used the image of Alex MacKaye (Ian’s Brother) with his head on his knees on the steps on their self-titled EP.” So, both of my articles are now sitting on their server. imagine my surprise when I see this posted: http://dyingscene.com/news/fun-factoid-friday-and-out-come-the-cool-cover-art/
So, again I write Dave: “A bit surprised to read this, especially after reading the little article yesterday that plucked all the Rancid trivia from my review.
On June 5, 2010, He writes back: “It was a great trivia fact. Hope you don’t mind that it was used. I definitely appreciate your contributions so far, whether we use them or not. Would you be interested in writing some of our trivia posts vs. the reviews? Like I said, I’m still open to publishing your reviews if you want to take the time to dig a little more into the musical comparisons/descriptions. If writing, trivia posts seems like it would be more fun for you I would gladly publish those for you as well. Let me know. Thanks, Dave “
I stewed over it for a bit, and then I logged onto their admin, and removed my articles. Then on July 7, 2010, I left this comment on their site in regards to their new trivia-based Rancid article: “Kind of a shame that you’d gut somebody’s article, and just steal the trivia. The TMZ of punk rock . . .”
Under his Johnny X identity Dave writes: “Hey Mike, sorry we didn’t publish your Rancid review, but you have to write more than “It’s a great album to work out too.” An album review should go a little bit deeper into what makes the album good or bad. How it sounds compared to the band’s earlier releases or compared to other bands where influences are drawn from. You did throw in the tidbit about the cover art being a tribute to Minor Threat, which was cool, and I’ll give you full credit for the inspiration to this fun factoid post. However, again, I must emphasize that for us to publish an album review you actually have to talk about the music. I’m sorry you are so offended by us not publishing your review submission, but as I mentioned in my email to you, if in depth album review writing is not your thing, we would gladly publish shorter trivia type posts for you.”
This cracks me up. Dave had previously denied writing the anonymous comments, but now is back to quoting the “working-out” shit. If you can’t trust a “punk,” who can you trust?
So, later that same day I add another comment: “Never said I was offended. Just a cheesy move pick the bones of the review, and then not credit me.
You knew my writing style, I have a year’s worth of stuff on Strange Reaction (www.strangereaction.com), so you knew what to expect. I don’t do the type of Us Weekly puff pieces produced here.”
Petty? Maybe, but I got to tag Strange Reaction. In gang-slang I threw up my neighborhood.
I haven’t heard from Dave or Johnny X since. Joke ‘em if they can’t take a fuck.
Born Frustrated is coming, Summer 2015: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb