A while back I sent a pitch for a piece about the new John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy release to Consequence of Sound, an online venue that "has accrued a devoted readership in the millions for its reliability, precision, and character with regards to music, television, and film. It’s a voice that wants to pat one’s shoulders, not stand on them," according to them. I hadn't heard of this venue, which is unusual. Note those three claims--especially the last one, character.
I've published hundreds of pieces on jazz, of course, in what would think of as "fancy" venues, though as we've seen, what does that really mean? For other people, it means that someone hooked them up. For me, who has always been entirely on my own, with many people against me, it means I made something happen because of my work, and there was someone who wasn't dead set against me, locking down the fort and getting others to help with that locking down. So that does mean something, because it has never been cronyism. But yes, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The American Scholar, Rolling Stone, DownBeat, and a decade and a half with JazzTimes, for those jazz pieces, among other venues. Even jazz op-eds in the highest circulation newspapers in the United States. You think anyone else is doing that?
Something like this--a piece in Consequence of Sound--is a slam dunk if I had some reason for wanting to do it--which, admittedly, would seem highly improbable, given what I've done and do--unless someone is up to blatant no-good.
By way of comparison, this is the bio of a typical Consequence of Sound writer:
"So and so has embarked on a foolish lifelong quest to 'do it all'; this includes being a writer, a drummer, an actor, a music festival enthusiast, a film and television lover and a person with a generally positive attitude. When not making TikToks for Consequence, interviewing indie bands, and contributing to lists and features, he enjoys watching English Premier League Football and putting too many exclamation points after all of his sentences!!!!"
No, I didn't invent that. It's really a thing. You could go to their site and see it yourself.
Kind of different than what you'd get from me, right? As in, obviously no comparison. Amateur hour. And this is before we get into the writing, where the gap is not measurable.
The editor in chief of Consequence of Sound is named Alex Young. I sent him the following email:
How are you? Wanted to see if you might be up for a piece on the forthcoming John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy set, which is a rather significant discovery. My work has appeared just about everywhere. It needs updating, but my site could fill you in, and there are thousands of things out there on Google. I was JazzTimes' main feature writer for fifteen years, and my jazz stuff is all around. Eric Dolphy is my favorite jazz musician. I'm also writing a novel based on someone who is Dolphy-esque. I don't think anyone changed modern jazz more than he. Not even Coltrane. Dolphy had Coltrane's ear, and I'd maintain that the latter wouldn't have done a lot of what he did in the 1960s minus Dolphy's influence. He was the jazz giant whisperer, and also a titan himself. Dolphy also had a knack for turning up whenever jazz history was being made, which was no coincidence. He is the hero of that era, in my view, though he doesn't get the credit he should. I'll tell the story of this music, set the context, plumb the significance. Appreciate the time. Best, Colin
Alex Young, who never has anyone like this approach him at this venue--no one with the slightest fraction of my track record, so this is noteworthy and a major surprise, like, "What is he doing coming to us?"--forwards my email to Consequence of Sound's feature editor, one Wren Young, who sends me this, and the nonsense starts immediately:
Hi Colin, I'm the Features Editor at Consequence. What kind of rate were you looking for with this pitch? Thanks,
There isn't some sliding-scale. There's a rate. It's a low rate.
You may also be confused because this person doesn't know how the proposition "for" works. You probably should if you're a features editor, but you are very rarely dealing with a scintilla of competence with these people.
It's going to be someone bad at what they do to the point of helplessness, and that's before we mix in the bigotry that is typically present. More on that momentarily. Because we are coming to it.
I'm not looking to be paid for a pitch. I'm looking to have the piece assigned, to write it, and then be paid, which would be their rate, and not very much money.
I write up to 10,000 words a day. I want to do this piece to have it as part of my body of work. The situation is the situation right now. It will not always be, but for right now, I can take the two hours and do the feature. It will simply be one other great thing I wrote on that given day.
But straight away, I know there is trouble with this person in Wren Young.
Now, you might be asking, "Why does he refer to Wren as this person? Obviously that's a woman."
No. Wren is a man. When I saw that name, I thought, "Here we go. Here comes the madness."
I knew, also straight away, that we were likely headed towards these pages. Or that Wren was, anyway, and the subsequent documentation.
But I am always professional. All I'm trying to do is give you work that blows away anything else you've ever ran, which you get to run for what's likely very little money for the time being.
This is what I wrote back:
How are you? I guess I figured there was a standard going rate? I would guess--and I am often incorrect--that funds aren't super plentiful. I'd say (dollar figure), but maybe all you can budget is (dollar figure)? I'd like to do it because the artist and the subject means a lot to me and it'll be a strong piece. I'm trusting that you'd be fair with me. If you could pay me X you'd pay me X, and if you couldn't you'd pay me Y.
I'm not often incorrect. It's exceedingly rare that I am. I'm being polite. I'm dealing with a Mickey Mouse editor, who I have a strong sense already is up to something out of envy, because I am not like him, I'm not broken, I'm not talentless, but I'm showing respect. What am I supposed to say? Why are you asking me how much money I want for a pitch? Why don't you know how this works? Do you think that's a good response to me?
I don't say any of that. I make it look like I may be at fault, as if I omitted something--which I didn't do--and that I'm simply someone who wants to do this work and do a great job. I show how flexible I am, and, frankly, laid back.
I even show a degree of trust and act on that trust, because I basically gave someone the opportunity to take advantage of me by paying even less than they normally do. And I've understated things. It's not going to be just a "strong" piece, obviously. It's going to be on a totally different level.
But he doesn't say anything. I know why. It's bigotry. This is a bigot. This is someone who looked at me, who looked at what I do, and realized I am not the kind of talentless, broken freak that he is. I'm not like him. His boss sent him my email, and what Wren Graves was going to do was go through the motions with no intention--because he thought he had the power here to extract some form of preemptive revenge. That's always how these people are. "You're better than me? I'll show you! Watch what I can do nanna nanna boo boo."
I know exactly what is happening. And they're so stupid. He thinks he'll be covered, and, further, that I won't know what is really happening. There's no intelligence, no practicality, not a clue with people like this. They're just dumb. And odious. And bigoted. Want to see what we're dealing with here? Because someone might say, "Colin, I don't think 'broken freak' is the best term. Maybe find a more uplifting one."
That's the thing--the term is an accurate catch-all. You are, unfortunately, dealing with broken freaks. The dregs of the dregs. These are the most messed up, unqualified, insane people there are. Usually. If you're an exception, that's wonderful. But I am shackled to these people. This is Consequence of Sound, which is just a tacky, stupid venue. Doesn't mean anything. But what I'm saying is that it's someone like a Wren Graves--and, to be fair, usually much, much worse--that I'm taking a "Fitty" to, a "Dot," a "Best Present Ever," a Cheer Pack, a Beatles book.
You are dependent on them not being like this and being things like competent, not a moron, not a bigot, not a broken, envious freak. You need them to not be like this. You're always going to them. And it's almost always a case--this is what it all comes down to--of how bad and crazy and helpless and unintelligent and visionless and up to no good are they going to be? It's never the work, except insofar they want to suppress the person who can do the work that they can't and none of their kind can do. But lest anyone think the "broken freak" label isn't applicable, here's Wren Graves' bio:
That's right, he's a self-professed cat dad. Here's the profile picture he went with, in which he even poses as a cat:
Oh. That's normal. I'm sure when someone like this sees the likes of me, it'll go fine.
Here's how he writes, so you can see how basic and bad that is. My seven-year-old niece could do better.
So you know what I'm going to do now in this situation? I'm going to prove it even more. I'm going to prove what I know. I'm going to carry it through. Because, again, I know what's going to happen. This isn't about work. It's not qualifications. You want another bio from someone at Consequence of Sounds? Okay--I'm going to the site right now and I'll pick the first one I see. Sound good? We'll see what we get.
And here we go: "Jo Vito is an Arizona-born journalist and musician who began writing for Consequence in 2023. Vito enjoys Jerry Jeff Walker, public transportation, and the immortal words of will.i.am: Everything around you is changing. Nothing stays the same. This version of myself is not permanent. Tomorrow, I will be different. The Energy Never Dies'".
That's great. Sounds super qualified. Much more than I am. Enjoys public transportation. Good stuff. They have him writing about the Beatles. Note, too, the year: 2023. Remember that. The Beatles piece I just clicked opens with this line: "Who had the release of a new Beatles song on their 2023 Bingo card." Ah, we're doing the bingo card thing. That's some stellar writing right there. But you see how this works? Similar person. You could even go and look at more photos.
But speaking of Beatles...this is what followed next from me. In a way, this was all for this journal after I didn't hear back early on about Dolphy, because that's when I knew with 100% certainty that someone was up to no good. It's impossible for me to not know if you are. Now it's about presenting a case. This was back in the summer. I've written over 100,000 words since then. I have a lot to get to. Sometimes, it takes me a while to get to things and people on here. It can be years. But you will be gotten to. I promise. Because this is not how this is going to be allowed to go. You will be called out and exposed. Everyone will know what you're all about. People will laugh at you, people will know what you're up to, people will know how unqualified you are to do your job, how badly you do your job, what a terrible person you are, and so forth. There's no getting away with it.
And what are you going to do in response? Nothing. You could try to fix it. (Here, it's not even worth it to me; I wouldn't even listen. There's no upside to me; there has to be some upside.) That's your only option. But what happens here with these talentless, evil, bigoted freaks is predicated on no one saying anything. Nothing coming to light. No one putting that person's writing right next to this person's writing. Someone else's qualifications next to this person's qualifications. And every word is true, and everyone who sees an entry like this knows it.
How are you in this summer heat? Checking in on the Coltrane/Dolphy feature idea. I had something else, too, that might be fun after that one. I have a rather large following for my Beatles-related writings. There's even a section featuring some of them on my site.
Anyway, Paul McCartney has a book of photographs from the Beatles side of things, if you will, when they first achieved global fame. The Beatles' music was marked by what I consider the life force of all art: energy. They also had a visual energy, though, and I think it'd be cool to ask the question whether the Beatles would have been nearly what the Beatles were without the visual component. Imagine if they were faceless and people had just gotten these various discs of their music.
McCartney was a deft man with a camera (as his future wife, of course, was considerably skilled in this arena), and there really isn't anything like this, POV-wise. There's this musically imagistic--or imagistically musical--quality to the work.
See how friendly I'm being? The thing about the heat? The exclamation point? Again, I know what this bigot is doing. Now he has to say something. But what to say? Because he's up to no good. But again, it's like he's so dumb that he thinks he can actually fool me or he just can't think of anything. You want to have a go in fooling me? Best of luck with that. I'm pretty sure that won't work out the way you want it to. So he lies.
Hey Colin, these are really cool pitches but I don't think we have the budget right now. Appreciate your reaching out.
You don't think so, huh? Really? I said whatever you pay is whatever you pay, and that's cool. Obviously, the budget has nothing to do with this. I was very clear. But you have money for the public transportation lover, huh? That's interesting. Anyone believe any of this? Of course you don't. So then I just wrapped it up with this.
That’s okay. I can just put you up on the blog. Thanks.
And now here we are. Was it worth it? It's that important to you to be a bigot that we're going to come to this and this is what's going to happen instead? I feel like it's probably not worth it. And all so you could not include the person who writes better than all of the people you treat differently?
Oh, and by the way: right on his Twitter bio it says, "Send pitches to Wren at consequence dot net." So he's actually looking to get them.