Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mitchel Stevens’ Guide to Employment and CMJ!

Editor's Note: The following column is part of an anonymous weekly humor column chronicling the struggle of a new, young journalist out in the working world. You may find the author's previous posts in the archives. --The Ed.

Now that I’m back on my usual schedule, one may think that I’m in fact revealing who I am. After all, I admit I was covering the College Music Journal Film and Music Marathon—or, CMJ!!!!!!!! if you’re totally in the know, like me.

So what is CMJ!!!!!!! ? It’s a five-day “marathon” of hot new bands you’ve never heard of who paid an entrance fee to be given a shitty opening slot at 3 pm or 6 pm for a bigger band that plays at midnight.

The film aspect tends to show some haphazard tie-ins with one or two actually relevant films this year like I’m Not There and Wristcutters: A Love Story. In 2006, it was the New York premiere of the Borat film.

Otherwise, they had an Anderson Cooper Q&A for his Planet in Peril special that aired last week. At the event, Cooper didn’t even realize that the work-print screened was only 40 percent complete. Oh, AC, you’re so lovable even when you’re clueless. There wasn’t much else. I loathed walking around with my badge at all visible—especially since there was a massive snafu the first day.

While the people were nice enough, it wasn’t until I got outside with my luggage and noticed that I worked for a completely different company but had my name spelled a-ok. Idolator ran into the same problem—especially when they were all “WAAAAAAAMBULANCE” about that, no free universal wi-fi and especially NO FREE SWAG ZOMGWTFBBQ.

Basically, CMJ is like any other major press event: people cry and complain when they’re not respected as BIG J JOURNALISTS. Take Idolator contrib. Ryan Catbird, who has THE OLDEST MUSIC BLOG SINCE LAST THURSDAY and you should acknowledge that. He was appalled to find NYU had no wireless for him to liveblog a bunch of panels on. Further, was he aware that there is no free wireless in all of New York City? (I know, totes shocking, amirite?)

Jess Harvel was pissed that he couldn’t get a pair of free Levis and some kicks. And the New York Times bloggers beat all.

Choice excerpts:

“And the location was especially well chosen: Mama’s Food Shop, with a free buffet near the bar. (If this entry gets posted quickly, and if you hurry, there might still be some fried chicken left.)”

“On the ceiling were notices from the afternoon’s alcohol providers, Southern Comfort (“SoCo”) and Budweiser. Another showcase was fueled by Peroni, the Italian beer. One later tonight carries the mark of Skyy vodka. And the series of afternoon events presented by the blog Brooklyn Vegan was sponsored by … I can’t remember.”

By the way, if you can’t figure it out: The New York Times bloggers officially win for best coverage of CMJ and best turn-around posting time. They must have found the OMG SUPER SECRET WIRELESS OF NEW YORK that Mr. Catbirdmanperson couldn’t connect to. Because he has the longest running music blog ever. Man.

Entertainment writers are weird, bloggers are worse. They straddle the great divide between Star Fucker and reporter. Having done my fair share of junket roundtables and red carpets, I can attest that they suck. The junkets, that is.

The writers? They suck a lot too.

Media junkets are the worst when it’s a big thing produced by a studio like Warner Bros. or a network like NBC. The call-time is horrifically early, normally 8 or 9 a.m. They offer free food and coffee, which the Internet Trolls swarm upon and don’t let up until all the sausage, powdered eggs and pastries are gone.

How does this relate to CMJ? Well, the other fun feature CMJ has is the badge system. You either need to buy a $400+ all-access badge, a $50 badge for the film festival or be press. But wait, there’s more. There are a set number of badges allowed in per show. Once that number is reached, you need to purchase a ticket—even if you work for Rolling Stone. Unless you’re a complete mooch and flash your RS ID card claiming to be Gus Wenner. That shit works everytime. IF I was Gus Wenner.

Anywho, this becomes further moot if the show is sold out. Also, remember what I said about getting there early? Kids camp out at the shows in the early afternoon to glimpse a midnight main event. It’s insane. Then there are the differing badges, as a friend of mine told me. His co-workers were given “special access” badges for secret, after-hours shows: mostly involving the hype-based, unsigned Black Kids who were this year’s “ZOMG HAVE YOU HERD THIS BAND!? IT IS TEH SEX ZOMGZOMGZOMGZOMG111.” Eight minutes later, the blogosphere imploded on Black Kids and now they’re so totally over.

And as for me, CMJ only had one bright side: the press badge mix-up. Because for the entire week, I totally worked as a New York Times staff member. So…let’s just say there’s a minor bill coming for a few bottles of gin and whiskey and Other Music.

Until next time.


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