Thomm Quackenbush, author

11.02.05 1:40 p.m.

No two men ever judged alike of the same thing, and it is impossible to find two opinions exactly similar, not only in different men but in the same men at different times.  

-Michel Montaigne

 



Previously in Xenology: Xen did not like Xoch's stage show.

First Xoch

email: passthebowl420@******

subject: Everything's Xen - I don't think so..........

message: Nice biased article regarding the Cubbyhole Coffee House. A bit drawn out, excessively verbose and completely one sided. Please note the intended sarcasm as I think you will be a huge "BlogStar".

Now, here are my issues. One, it is not an article, it is my opinion. She acknowledges derisively that this is a blog. Therefore, you are damned right it is biased. I see nowhere where I state that I am unbiased. Quite the opposite, in fact. Nor should I feel any need to be unbiased toward her, though, again, I do admit that she has a pleasant voice. Her dramatics just detract from it, something that apparently extends to her written interactions as well. It is clear to me that she fired off her angry e-mail as quickly as she could, which tends to be a mistake.

As an issue of personal taste, if one has to point out that one is using sarcasm, one isn't very good at it and should employ a different rhetorical device. Stating exactly what you mean, rather than the opposite in hyperbole, isn't sarcasm. My saying, "I feel that Xoch's sending me hate mail was a wise and elegant move" would be sarcasm and I would feel no need to point out that it was sarcasm in normal discourse. If she had said "That was sarcasm" AFTER the BlogStar comment (which wasn't a very strong insult anyway), it would have made more sense though I still would have felt she shouldn't use sarcasm if she needed to point it out.

I think that, had I gushed over her, the entry would not have been called "drawn out," "verbose," or "one sided." It is all of these things, of course. Therefore, as she is just trying to attack me to get revenge for hurting her feelings and because I agree with her, I don't take it too personally. I've heard and deserved worse, taking it as constructive criticism.

Finally, if this is how Xoch reacts to someone who said on their website that she has a pleasant voice but a disarming stage presence, I shudder to imagine how she will react when confronted with actual music critics. It is the nature of humanity that not everyone will like or agree with everything you do. I did not like Xoch's stage show and, judging from the reactions I heard around me, I was and am not alone in this opinion. Does that mean she should change her act in the least? No, it doesn't. Why should she respect my opinion, since it is clear she wants to discredit me as a critic? She should do whatever she wants to do. If she has a fan base that sticks with her despite or because of it, good for her. However, reactions like the letter above do not help her seem professional in my opinion.

Were I here, however, this is not the public face I would want to put forth. Never put anything in writing that you cannot deal with your worst enemy finding.

Vince Ripped

email: xochmusic@****

realname: Vince Ripper

message: Hi, this is VInce Ripper, Xoch's guitarist and partner. Read your 9/16/05 journal. Just want to say that we would not be upset if you never again came to a Xoch show. Your comments seem malicious, and are in no way an accurate portrayal of her performance, abilities, or appearance. Your journal is highly remiss in failing to acknowledge the stellar crowd reaction of the 40 other people at the Cubbyhole that particular evening (besides Kevin's 5 friends) regarding her performance, which is the norm for all of her performances, and why she is acknowledged by all regional press, media, and radio sources as the best singer in the Hudson Valley. Xoch is recognized internationally for her talents, and the fact that 6 of her songs have appeared in television and movies over the last 12 months speaks volumes in opposition to your critical opinion. Your self-important journal seems like nothing more than an overly indulgent exercise in insulting people who have far more talent than you have ever dreamed of, and to those who have a more attractive appearance than you do, which is the norm for immature, unattractive, and obviously jealous people such as yourself who resent those that are better than you. You also fail to acknowledge that Kevin was an invited guest of Xoch to perform that night, done out of kindness toward a fellow artist and a wish to expose Kevin to a crowd as he directly requested from us in a desire to ride Xoch's coattails and get free exposure to her crowd. Thanks to Xoch's graciousness and support of fellow musicians, she gave to him (with no obligation whatsoever to do so) his first public performance ever on guitar, and the lack of respect from Kevin's friends, such as yourself, and your malicious and hurtful attempt to insult Xoch has just guaranteed that Kevin will never again share a stage with Xoch. I find it appropriate to your skewed views that you fail to acknowledge the truth of Kevin's performance (such as the fact that he was not able to complete 2 of his 4 songs for stopping in the middle of them due to poor playing skills) yet wish to contrive imagined flaws in Xoch's performance, flaws that do not exist, so your only way to insult her is to focus on her hair and your imagined and innapropriate statements about her sexuality during her performance. Just know that you are responsible for the fact that Kevin will not be invited to perform with us again. In fact, he had asked, and we were going to have him play with us again in December, but now we will withdraw that invitation. When he asks why, we will refer him to your journal and your insults, and let him know that if this is the kind of support his friends give to us, then we have no need for either him or his friends to be at our performances. Had you not decided in your overblown self importance to subversively and publicly insult Xoch in your journal without letting her know the existance of same, this would not be the case, but your need to expound your useless, insulting, and inaccurate opinion has just lost Kevin the only opportunity he has had to expose his talent. Xoch could have given Kevin some great exposure with the number of venues she plays locally, and the fact that she has wide discretion is inviting opening acts to play with her, without prior permission from the club due to her immense success at these venues, this could have been a great opportunity for Kevin to bypass the normal "initiation" that new artists have to go through to get in with the venues. However, you have now blown that for him. Why you ask? Well, we showed Kevin a lot of respect by allowing him to perform with us. If this kind of commentary from his friends is what is to be expected when we did nothing but show him graciousness and give him an opportunity, then we will pass on supporting him. We simply don't need his friends coming to our show, after we did him a favor, only to insult us unjustifiably. Lastly, you have not been given any kind of permission to reproduce Xoch's image by posting her picture, so it would be appreciated if you would remove her image voluntarily. If you chose not to do so, we will pursue legal means to compel your response and compliance. Thank you.

More hate mail from a professional musician, this time from Xoch's guitarist partner, stating that paying members of the public should not to express anything less than glowing opinions about a performance. They had songs on the TV and therefore I should agree that they are a quality act. Blink-182 has had many of their songs on television. I saw them once as an opening band and they were horrid. They seemed not to want to be there in the least and the fans knew. Does anyone think I am going to get a letter from them, resorting to personal insults because I wrote about not liking their performance? Why do you think that might be? Several columnists on this site have expressed their dislike of Tori Amos and her fans, yet Ms. Amos has not sent a single word our way. I am an amateur writer (in that I have yet to get anything published, aside from a lame poem when I was eleven) and I have yet to feel the need to insult people because they did not like something I wrote, and they most certainly have. I listen to the criticism constructively, if I give it any merit. And if I do not give the person or their opinion merit (such as having once been told in writing, and I quote, "big words are dumb"), I don't feel the need to respond. As long as they spell my name right, it is good press. Perhaps that is their intentions in attacking critics, but I choose to think better of them.
The pig can play!  
Rock on!

My words are not malicious. They are my opinions and, as subjective measures, are not meant to be factual. I don't wish the slightest harm to Xoch, which would be the very definition of malice. Does anyone believe what I wrote damages Xoch? Can anyone give this website that much credence? Vince claims that there was a stellar crowd reaction to their music. That is his opinion, but not one I remember having seen. Is that to say that it did not happen? No, merely that I either left before this happened or didn't notice it. It is subjective. I am not remiss for neglecting to state on my site something I don't recall seeing. To whit, an opinion cannot be "inaccurate." All opinions are perfectly true as opinions. If I happened to of the opinion that a rock was sentient, my opinions would be correct; in my opinion, the rock is sentient. Others may disagree and point out the qualifications for sentience, but my opinions stands as truthful; this is what I believe.

I googled "best singer," "Hudson valley" and "Xoch" together and the only valid result I got did not combine the three phrases in any proximal way. If this is indeed a fact, it is an underreported one. But, again, talking of who the best is brings in subjective opinions, which are individual and will not always be positive. And, of course, I never said Xoch wasn't a good singer. I only said that her stage show seemed over the top to me and therefore detracted from my enjoyment of her singing.

My journal is self-important. Very good observation. It is my journal detailing my thoughts and opinions. It is important to me and the hundred to two hundred people who read it daily. I hope this is clear now and I will not have to elucidate it yet again. If he had bothered to read beyond the sentences that mention Xoch by name, he might hold a different opinion of the intention of my writing. I assume he was just too angry and eager to fire this letter off and so did not give this consideration, and who could blame him?

This brings us to Vince's opinion that I am ugly and therefore my opinion does not count because I am guided only by jealousy. That is a startlingly weak rhetorical argument. One needs think only for a few moments to completely discard it with a thousand exceptions to the rule and I hope this was simply something he said out of anger and not something he actually feels. I certainly do not consider Xoch or him better than me in the least, nor would I be jealous of them. I don't actually care to guess if they are attractive, but they are not my type. Is that an insult to him? I am jealous of Neil Gaiman, the late Douglas Adams, and Christopher Moore. I will acknowledge that Gaiman has a British charm to him, but I am not jealous of them because of their arguable looks but their literary talent. Vince might as well suggest I am jealous of a rock because I am not speckled with mica; singing is so completely a different milieu than anything I would want to do that I cannot fathom being jealous. While we are on the subject, I express my jealousy for writers by calling them geniuses and buying their books so I can dissect what I like about them. I speak negatively only about those who I perceive to be hacks, some of whom sell millions of books despite the fact that there are people on the internet who may not like them, myself included. If I may, it is plain that he does not know me, nor should he. Yet he presumes about my character as an attempt at an ad hominem attack, discounting me as a critic as Xoch tried before.

Vince claims Xoch and he are taking their ball and going home for what I wrote. Since they are attractive in their own subjective eyes and therefore good, they are taking this out on Kevin, who barely knows me. I am surprised Vince would call Kevin his friend to begin with if this is the way he treats him when a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-roommate of his expresses his opinion. Such attitudes quickly become albatrosses around the neck, especially so early into his professional career as a musician (and I am aware he has been trying his hand at this for quite a while when he was with the Fuzzies). Kevin is a good man and deserves far better treatment than this from someone claiming to be his friend. To say that he was "rid[ing] Xoch's coattails" is a dreadful way to treat a friend. He has a career that does not involve playing music, though I think he is good at it. He does not appear to be seeking to use Xoch to get some trickle down sliver of fame because he is not talented enough on his own. If Vince really cared about Kevin, he wouldn't think so lowly of Kevin and his intentions. I give my friends the opportunity to use my website for their columns, yet I would never begin to believe they were riding my coattails to any sort of fame. The very idea is laughable and I love my friends too much to even think that of them. Furthermore, to say that this was Kevin's only opportunity is arrogant at the very least. If Xoch and Vince had enough faith in Kevin to have him play with them, he is certainly talented enough to perform without their assistance. True, they may have given him his first public showing, but that hardly means that he owes them anything more than a hearty thanks for that one opportunity.

He goes on to say he would not have withdrawn the invitation for Kevin had I informed Xoch that I did not like her stage show, an assertion I tend to doubt. If she is a public enough figure that he can brag about her having songs on television, it also means that she is open to criticism and parody. I do not owe Xoch a link to my opinion anymore than Stevehen owes it to Anne Heche that he thinks she is crazy.

As for the picture, it is gone. He was right, I didn't have a right to use that picture. However, since the picture I did have of Xoch was of such a low quality that I deleted it (blurred and light streaked), I posted that one because it was obviously a far better one to put her in a better light. While I feel he only said this in order to attempt to attack me - certain had I only talked about liking her singing and not about her stage presence, I doubt he would ask for this - I see no reason not to comply. However, I do this out of politeness and not his legal threat.

In closing, let me reiterate. If one is going to give shows to the public and charge for them, one should realize that not everyone is going to feel they got their money's worth. If this idea is so galling that one feels critics should be attacked and defamed, public concerts may not be appropriate. Until such a time as Xoch and Vince become recluses, they should learn to live with the fact that not all opinions will be in their favor.


Emily adds:
I've had some free time this evening and so I read a bunch of reviews of her. People in general have nothing but positive things to say, they love her music and her stage presence. Obviously she is considered to be an up-and-coming star, so if there is all this positive stuff, why the trouble over one negative review? 99% of the area seems to like her. Why does she get so stressed out about one negative review? Really! On her website she talks all about girl power and being a good role model for others yet here she is lambasting someone for an opinion. This isn't being a role model or showing power. A powerful person might have said to themselves, "well, bad press is better than no press," or "Huh, obviously this guy doesn't know what he's talking about and look at all these people who love me! Guess I can't please everyone all the time." I don't know, it feels as if one is going to put themselves out there in a vulnerable way - which singing certainly is - one should be prepared for not everyone loving them. You can't please all people all the time, it will make you crazy. Choose your battles, don't stress over the small stuff. This is small stuff. I listened to some of her music and she's really good and definitely seems like someone who will make it in the music industry. One bad review is not a disaster. She should concentrate on the positive things and say fuck it to the negative ones.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush