AIMS Calls Out Experimentalist John Maus

“Emerging artist” sticks foot in mouth.


By Fred Mills


It’s no secret that we here at BLURT are big fans of
independent record stores. (Hell, yours truly worked as the indie/import buyer
for one such shop from 1992-2001. Not that I am biased…) So when we got the
latest newsletter from the Alliance of Independent Media Stores, dated August 3,
the following blurb caught our attention:


Greetings, Everybody. When asked by Pitchfork to name his
favorite record shop, an emerging artist had this to say:


“You don’t know how
happy it makes me that the days of the record store are coming to an end. $20
for an LP? Do you remember going to the record store and not getting what you
want because there was no other place to get it? Now we can get it all for
free, and I think that’s wonderful. There was always something really
depressing to me about record stores and music equipment stores. There’s
something oppressive about them, like the guy who looks you up and down and
looks at what you’re buying. You’re bound up in exchange with the snobby clerk.
So I’m glad they all have little ‘closed’ signs on their doors now.”


I’m going to call him
emerging, as I personally wasn’t familiar with him and an AIMS member brought
the above quote to my attention. I went to the floor of the store and found
three copies in stock. I asked one of my staffers, “What’s this all
about?” He replied, “Pitchfork likes him, he played in town last
month, we’ve sold some,” and then promptly returned to his conversation
with a customer.


AIMS missive included some pertinent commentary, including the notation that, “When
we speak to our customers in the aisles of our stores and over the counter, we
will talk to them about what we love. We’ll ignore what we don’t. We all look
forward to working with partners and artists that we want to celebrate and
honor. We want to be tight with them.”



to their credit, they didn’t mention by name the “emerging artist” who
originally made the disparaging remarks in the Pitchfork interview, which was published
today as part of the ‘fork’s generally respected series “Guest List.” Now that’s
classy on the part of AIMS.


don’t worry about being classy around here, though. The musician in question is John
Maus, a nominal Ariel Pink associate who Wikipedia classifies as “experimental.” He’s been around since the early ‘90s, so one would imagine that if he’s an “emerging artist” at this late stage in the game, maybe a position at
Best Buy – that bastion of “emerging artists” – stocking DVDs and video games is a better career fit for this experimentalist.


John, it’s not us – it’s you. Feel free to keep biting the hands of the music
lovers who feed your so-called career by tipping you to their record store customers
and engaging with them on more than a superficial level than your average
blogger. Enjoy the free publicity, too. Dickweed. Meanwhile, gentle BLURT
readers, make up your own mind and choose your side, if you will:









Maus has already posted a mea culpa via a link from his Twitter feed. Too late, bro; it don’t wash, but maybe Pitchfork will publish an audio transcript of the entire interview to back up your out-of-context claims. A lot of us – especially those of us who have put in a FUCK of a lot of sweat equity in indie stores – are deeply offended. So you already revealed your true colors – good luck finding your music at Target or Best Buy. Those “megastores” that you propose you were actually referencing in your screed haven’t put “little ‘closed’ signs” on their doors lately, at least not that we’ve noticed. But a ton of the indie DIY shops sure have over the past few years. You got this much right: the damage HAS been done.

Maus wrote:

I wish everyone who is (rightfully) upset about my Pitchfork �guest
list� would grant me the benefit of the doubt, but I suppose that is too
much to ask seeing as how I did come off so incredibly mean. I can�t
understand why anyone would think I was referring to the small DIY
record shops of the world (the only type that would carry my records in
the first place, and many of which I have played in) and not the
Megastores of the world, but I guess I didn�t make that clear enough.
For whatever it is worth now, the only reason I didn�t make that clear
enough was because I foolishly supposed anyone reading the �guest list�
would grant that I was referring to the latter and not the former. I
mean, what could anyone possibly have against the small DIY record
stores of the world (unless they worked for one of the big ones)? If
anything, by saying �I�m glad to see [big] record stores closing down� I
imagined I was speaking on behalf of small DIY record stores
everywhere! What I�d ask anyone who is (rightfully) upset to remember
is that the �guest list� was torn unrecognizably from its context as a
telephone call. The interviewer asked me what my favorite record store
was, and I jokingly responded �� or something like that,
laughing about how wonderful it is that music and movies are becoming
easier and easier to get for free. I then explained to him that where I
grew up we had none of these little DIY type stores but only the big
chains, and that I once worked in a Megastore and it was very
unpleasant. Finally, I began to go on about the experience, which I
cannot imagine I am alone in having, of being looked up-and-down by a
snobby clerk when purchasing a record, or of not having enough money to
get all the records one wants. I thought all of this would get laughs
of identification, not accusations of my wanting small record store
owners to die penniless! (Why would anyone, especially a musician, want
this?) I hope those little store owners would grant me that I wasn�t
talking about them. But perhaps the damage is done. Finally, I just
want anyone who is (rightfully) upset to know, that whenever I get up on
the �platforms� offered in interviews and so on, I always try to
imagine a world emancipated from interested exchange and the extortion
of surplus. Even if it is a little too naive or too utopian of me, I
don�t see what is wrong with trying imagine a world where we share
everything with each other for free. I always joke with the promoters
and the labels about the contradictions involved in doing this from our
standpoint, and I guess I just thought I could do it with the record
stores as well. If what I said came across as anything other than this
desire then I can only assure you that that was not my intent. The fact
that anyone would react to anything I say is still a novelty to me, and
I�m afraid I�ve made a terrible use of that novelty.


It’s still not us; it’s him. The ripples from Mausgate continue outward. Respected indie archival label Numero Group issued the following missive to its followers via Twitter a few minutes ago:

numerogroup Send in your @JOHNMAUS CD/LP to us (if you can still find a retailer willing to stock it) and we’ll give you 30% off your next mail order.


Meanwhile, scores of music heads have reblogged Maus’ record store quote and added their own observations on the matter. One recurring comment: “Douchebag.”

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