Ettes In Feud w/Miami Herald Blogger

 

Newspaper blogger
decides to take out a hit on one of our favorite bands.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Yesterday at BLURT we published the latest “Look at Life”
blog entry from Coco Hames, frontwoman of The Ettes, who have notched more than
a little acclaim for themselves over the past few years, in the process
probably putting at least as many miles on their van as any other working group
in the country. This particular blog was a direct response to a “Miami Music
Matters” blog entry published on Nov. 26 by the Miami Herald in Florida in which a
Herald blogger laid into the Ettes
for cancelling a pair of South Florida gigs
over the Thanksgiving holiday, the reason for the cancellation being a “family
emergency.”

 

Read the Herald blog entry first – essentially, it speculated that the Ettes actually cancelled
the Nov. 26 gig because they didn’t want to make a 200 mile drive, and strongly
inferred that the “family emergency” claim was bogus, and that it was too vague
a statement. It’s significant that this was written in a snarky, accusatory,
demeaning tone – essentially an ad
hominem
 approach – and that there
was apparently no attempt made by the Herald blogger to contact the band, its booker or anyone associated with the band to
verify the actual facts.

 

Coco’s response in her BLURT blog was written in an angry
and sarcastic tone, which if you’ve read the Herald blog entry you’ll probably understand why, because that
basically amounted to a personal attack on her and her band. “Get your facts
straight before you prattle on like a monkey in a tree,” she wrote. “You sound
like an idiot who got a B+ in writing at school, got in a bad enough mood… I
agree that ‘family emergency’ is too vague and blanket a statement, so I won’t
take it personally that you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

Full disclosure #1: Coco is
my friend, so I’m a tad biased in her favor. But she’s also one of my writers,
and we look after our own here. Nor does that doesn’t prevent me from
observing, quite objectively, that (a) over the years tons of bands have
canceled shows and entire tours using “vague” reasons such as “family/band emergency”
or simply “illness,” and while sometimes it’s turned out to be due to drugs,
booze, laziness or one of the members disappearing on the side of the highway,
other times the reasons have been quite legitimate and reasonable; and (b) it’s
actually nobody’s business but the band’s when you get down to it, and they are
not required to be more specific if they choose not to. I should add that it
strikes me as highly unusual the Ettes would be singled out for what’s a very
common occurrence in the music business – the tone of the Herald blog entry has all the hallmarks of some personal axe being
ground against the band.

 

Full disclosure #2: I actually was not going to write
anything about this on the BLURT site. In the comments section of the Herald piece I posted the link to Coco’s blog so readers would be able to see her side of
the story, and I additionally suggested that since the entry bore no byline, it
was a cowardly and unprofessional thing for the Herald to sanction for publication. I also sent an email to the Herald saying the same thing. The
blogger who actually did write the
original piece responded to my comment at the blog, then emailed me directly –
his name is Tom Bowker. At the blog and in the email he accused me of having
poor vision, then in a followup email backpedaled and admitted that due to some
unspecified technical glitch on the website his byline had indeed not been published. He also indicated
that he stood by his original comments, and that he had not thought it was
worth the time and effort to attempt to get the full story on the Ettes’
concert cancellations in time for him to post his blog. (I’m paraphrasing
here.)

 

So we essentially agreed to disagree on the matter. Which is
fair enough; he expressed his opinion on his blog, and Coco
did likewise on hers. Tit for tat.

 

Subsequently, though, a few things happened to resurrect the
matter, hence this writing: (1) Bowker’s online response to my online comment
was altered at some point yesterday afternoon, and the stuff about me needing
glasses was deleted; (2) Coco and at least one other individual attempted to
post their own online comments, yet those posts were either blocked or deleted;
and (3) today ALL the comments were deleted, either by Bowker or the Herald, and replaced by an update
apparently penned by Bowker – there is still no byline – in which he resumes
his anti-Ettes screed. The link to Coco’s blog has been removed as well,
although there is a note indicating that Coco
“responded to this post with a vitriolic [sic], profanity-laced, non-denial on hipster webzine Blurt.”

 

(Emphasis mine – why thank you,
Tom!) [Editorial note: Bowker is, in addition to a writer, a member
of profanity-laced comedy/funk/rapper Blowfly’s band. Apparently, several years
ago he approached Managing Editor Mills with repeated requests to write about
Blowfly.
]

 

All of this is apropos of nothing,
other than to just offer a kind of snapshot tutorial on how to behave
unprofessionally under the guise of “music journalism” in the digital era. If
you’re going to have a blog with a comments section, you should have the guts
to allow readers comments to be published, whether or not you agree with them,
unless it’s an instance of inappropriate or offensive language. And deleting them after the fact is beyond the pale. Plus, if you
alter your own text, that needs to be indicated as such.

 

And the Miami Herald – which I know for a fact is a very
professional organization; a relative of mine was until recently one of the
editors there – should be ashamed
about sanctioning this sort of behavior.

 

 

 

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