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03/25/2010

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COMTE

Joe was always an interesting, frustrating enigma. He seemed to be a genuinely nice person, interested in what you were doing, and generally very supportive of the community, particularly the fringe community, to a degree that Misha has never been. But at the same time, his writing was infuriatingly dissonant; his signature style of alternating positive/negative adjectives ("the play was long and short, loud and soft, funny and sad") and general inability to form complete sentences rendered him an object of derision within the community.

Granted, some of this can be placed squarely on the shoulders of his editors, who apparently cared so little for the content he produced that they would literally print what were essentially his on-the-scene notes without demanding any sort of compositional or stylistic standards (having sat directly behind him on numerous occasions, I can attest to this - what he jotted down on the back of his press packet envelope during a performance frequently wound up as "finished copy" in the print editions of the PI).

So, it wasn't necessarily that people dismissed Joe because he was a bad person. And, after more than 20 years reading his often incomprehensible reviews, it was clear to anyone paying attention that he wasn't even necessarily a bad writer, but quite simply a very lazy one. This was made even more maddeningly obvious on those rare occasions when he WOULD pen a decent, even insightful, write-up. All you could do was slap your forehead and wonder, "why can't he be bothered to try to write like that more often?"

Paul Mullin

Hah! I can personally vouch for suffering from that annoying, clunky trope of Joe's to punch the opposites in an almost Jesse-Jacksonian way (without the charm). This is from the script of the video clip itself.

PAUL: You called my AMERICAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, “interesting and dull, intriguing and frustrating, amusing and confusing.” I mean, what does that even mean?

JOE: It was, all of those things, I remember.

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