The Mars Volta: Reader Mail
I know this may come as a shock and a disappointment to a lot of you, I don’t get a whole lot of good hate mail anymore. I still get as much e-mail as ever, but nowadays it’s mostly people asking questions or relating funny stories about music or telling me what a great guy I am. This is partly because I’m not as inflammatory lately, since there hasn’t been a really delectable sacred cow to feast upon for a while; it’s also because most people who read the columns nowadays have the good sense not to take them too seriously.
To be honest, I miss getting angry letters from thesaurus-abusing teenagers. There’s something immensely satisfying about seeing the digitized results of some frustrated kid beating his poor brain into a lather to find the right words to tell me how much I’ve hurt his feelings. But this isn’t TruthMedia; I don’t write my articles specifically to fish for angry mail, and I never have. I write them to deflate the seriousness of music fans and music critics, and I write them because I’m a solid-gold genius and coming up with something brilliant every two weeks is nothing to me.
Of course, it was inevitable that I’d eventually have to make fun of The Mars Volta, since prog-nerds and hipster doofi alike have been feverishly spilling their seeds over them lately. Metaphorically, I hope. I knew that the best thing about it, though, would be the insane, pretentious hate mail I was bound to get if I made fun of them. And, hot damn, the hate mail is sweet.
I’m not going to claim that Mars Volta fans are worse than Tool fans. If there’s one thing I’ve learned by making fun of bands on the internet for cheap laughs, it’s that Tool fans can generate a greater volume of insane, outraged hate mail than all other music fans combined. In general, fans of The Mars Volta don’t seem to be that bad. Most of the letters I got were from Mars Volta fans who enjoyed the article, and only a small number of Mars Volta fans decided it was their duty to lash out at me like I shit in their milkshakes. But the quality of the Mars Volta hate mail is incredible. These are people who say things like “The Mars Volta is not something to be taken lightly” without a trace of irony (yes, that's an actual quote from an e-mail, but it was mostly pretty boring so I won't print the whole thing here). They’re absolute comedy geniuses and they don’t even know it. You’re just going to have to see for yourselves.
First up, let’s check out a delicious gem from firstname.lastname@example.org:
i'm going to try and put this in the nicest words possible, you are an ignoramus, a M.O.T.H.E.R .F.U.C.K.I.N.G D.I.C.K, or a mother of the higlands of ethiopia, really freaking unstylish kid, intersted namely in grabbing d.i.k's( delta i-oda kappa), interested in creed or kylie minouge. WHAT A LOSER! You are stupid. Every true fan of the Mars Volta would want to kick your posterior end so hard that it would come out your mouth. not everyone can see things from your point of view, they can't reach their heads that far up their butt cracks.
The little trooper really puts in a valiant effort to make that acronym work, I’ll give him that much. Maybe he’s autistic or something and he conceives of everything in nonsensical acronyms. I guess the autism would explain his ability to tolerate The Mars Volta. Well, whereas the autistic kid at least put it in “the nicest words possible,” MaSteRJuice2u@aol.com has some particularly strong accusations to throw around:
Unless you did not know there are several reasons why I need to e-mail you. Your article is genius. NOT. You cannot possibly be a logical thinker and criticize the Mars Volta as you do. If you really think they are so damn terrible, I think you should do one of two things. Make a better album than Frances the Mute and send it me right away or if you do not in fact make music, shut the fuck up, fuck your bullshit slander, you are a coward. Write some articles about the shitty bands you probably listen to like the Killers and press fast forward on the Mars Volta album and quit wasting your time providing entertainment over the internet by writing essays with what you think is wrong with bands like the Mars Volta all on account that you are too fucking ignorant and arrogant to understand what they are doing and appreciate what they are doing. And I hope you e-mail me back telling me you're entitled to your bullshit opinion, in fact, I want you to post my e-mail on your web site and call me a nerd with bad taste, cause you are god and you are right about everything David. You stupid ass. Oh yea, fuck you.
"You are too fucking ignorant and arrogant to understand what they are doing and appreciate what they are doing."
The thing that I like about a lot of these letters is that they give the impression that English isn’t the first language of the writer. Like, for example, look at the opening sentence. “Unless you did not know…” Now, I bet a lot of you sort of auto-piloted over that phrase without noticing it, but that doesn’t even make any fucking sense! There are so many beautiful sentences in this thing that I just want to print it and hang it on my wall. “Shut the fuck up, fuck your bullshit slander, you are a coward.” Bam! This kid writes some really snappy stuff.
Meanwhile, email@example.com has grave concerns about my sex life, or something.
Wow.... You have got to be the biggest loser to ever walk the Earth. I bet you get laid alot!
Well, even though he thinks I’m a loser, at least he has no doubts about my sexual virility. It just goes to show you how subjective out tastes are: I think The Mars Volta are a tornado of pretentious trash-noise, but I can’t deny that they still have a lot of fans, and this guy thinks I’m a big loser but he can’t deny that I most certainly get laid all the goddamn time. Thanks for being rational, Youdall. While Youdall starts with an insult and ends with a compliment, Okaycomputer1222@aol.com does just the opposite:
Dude that was an awesome review of Frances the Mute. I was so completely suprised when this album sold over 100,000 copies in its first week in america alone, that so many people in this country had as quality a taste in music as myself. But thanks to your article im now reassured that with as many people that have bought this amazing album world wide, there's still just as many ignorant morons like yourself to buy britney spears records.
Yeah, well Britney Spears has sold trillions of records, so if we’re bragging about record sales, I totally win this round. Wait, did this guy just confuse me into thinking I listen to Britney Spears?
JoNniehauwyr@aol.com sent one of my personal favorites. This one definitely goes in my hall of fame:
Hello David Thorpe.
You wasted 76 minutes on the Mars Volta review, and I wasted 15 upon reading it. I'd appreciate the same consideration. Firstly, your article lacked not only humor, but substance. Too often did conjure some failingly witty generalization that makes less sense than you (or anyone) liking Mike Jones. If you claim to know good music, then why are you listening to trash like him? Just as well, your rhetoric was much below par. I understand that it is easier to write a bad review and make it funny than it is to write a good one. But yet again, I felt embarassment for you. Not only do you criticize what some may consider the most inventive band in the last decade, but, simply put, you do it badly. Your punctuation is even at a Kindergardener's level. I must ask, did you earn that domain name from something awful? Because that, my dear boy, would be something awful. Your pathetic inner angst towards this band either comes from your apparent lack of intelligence (as seen in your skill as a writer), as you cannot begin to understand the album, or from a jealousy from a rising group of artists. Because, let me guess, being such a connoisseur of music, you must know a thing or two about it right? Hell, you probably play an instrument! So how come I haven't heard of you? Well, I know about you as a writer. And for that anyone should be sorry.
"Beacause that, my dear boy, would be something awful."
Put in the CD, David, and give it another shot. Let me know if you change your mind. Because if not, then there really isn't hope for the primitive music listeners/reviewers of this world, like you.
The only way I'd let you slide is if you were of lesser age than me. But seeing as how you have earned yourself such a prestigious title, doctor, you are probably older than 17. Once again, I am sorry for you, and I hope this e-mail is a worthy substitute to your Aspirin.
It’s letters like that one that make me proud of what I do. My punctuation is “even at a Kindergadener’s[sic] level”? It’s like being kicked in the head by a comedy horse. It’s funny that John comes to the conclusion that I play an instrument, because firstname.lastname@example.org thinks the opposite:
I just wanted to say that I believe that everybody is entitled to their opinion. I just personally believe that your opinon of music is invalid because of the use of the terms " bitchin' Queensryche". Look David, I fully understand that you have an obligation to the "internet community" to put out "shock value" reviews of music, movies, etc. but you've got to understand that as a member of the media you have another obligation to the people of the "internet community" to give them fair news. I am assuming that you do not play a musical instrument so I can understand why you would make the mistake of confusing "shifting textures" with changing time signatures and "mutating structures" as switching back and forth to different keys, something which I am fairly confident Queensrhyche doesn't do too often. Look I am not bashing your writing skills, I was actually very entertained by your little bit about how when the track was switching channels, you thought there were several assholes singing around you, but I am fairly disturbed by the fact that you don't realize talent and musical ability even if you don't enjoy the music, and as a music reviewer that is something that you need to be able to do. Even Pitchfork (who you are obviously not too fond of) has people who actually recognize musical ability and talent. You obviously see none of the two.
"I am sure that this will end up on your website in an attempt to cover up the colors of a possibly bruised ego."
I hope that I have helped you out and maybe next time instead of bashing an album for the sake of bashing it maybe you will give both the good and the bad in order to help the public make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to listen to an album. And by the way, I am sure that this will end up on your website in an attempt to cover up the colors of a possibly bruised ego, so I would just like to let you know that I mean none of this in offense and only wish the best for your "writing career" or lack of.
P.S. Who uses the words "Dang it" anymore? Are you sure you're a doctor?
Wow, I’m a member of the media, and as such I have obligations to give you fair news! And I’ve got to understand that! I’m sorry. I have failed you, my public. I know now that you clicked on the column entitled “Your Band Sucks” on an internet comedy site called “Something Awful” expecting nothing but responsible journalism. In the interest of providing more balanced coverage of the music world, I will now not only make fun of bands, but publish e-mails from literal-minded joke-o-phobes who object to the fact that I pretend to like Queensryche. And speaking of journalistic responsibility, email@example.com wrote an incredibly long treatise on the sanctity of internet comedy reviews. I was just going to quote the best bits and pieces of it in the interest of saving space, but as I went through it I realized not only that it’s all pretty much hilarious and cutting it up just diminishes its impact, but that part of the humor in it is just how long it is. This thing is a solid 900 words of pure indignant overreaction. I should add that the subject of the e-mail was “things your rhet and journalism professors left out.”
Dear Music Expert and Connoisseur Dr. David Thorpe,
Although I have often found myself a fan to some of the music you choose to attack, I have always enjoyed your column with the utmost sincerity of humor, and have been more than readily willing to admit the flaws and grievances voiced by you about the nature of some of the more irritating artists of our times. Your recent article on the Mars Volta troubled me however; as it held neither coherent bits of criticism nor humor save those few tangents where you sacrifice the point of this article for cheap jokes. Let me explain myself: A music reviewer, even one who writes for a humor column, is generally charged with the responsibility to offer sound, or at the very least comical, evidence supporting their hypothesis that, say in this case, the new Mars Volta record blows. That said, your commentary on the first track, stars with “Okay, title is bad.” I dismissed this obviously ignorant rejection of the name of this song as “bad”, without any sort of indication or evidence that you either culled an understanding of this title nor could criticize it on any grounds comically or otherwise. That’s alright I don’t understand the title either, which is why I don’t offer my opinion on it, that would be naïve wouldn’t it?
More than anything throughout this review I noticed that you commented often on the “masturbatory guitar solos” and the “awfully bad sounds” present on this album. Although it is true that guitar work can come under scrutiny, especially from such an advanced player as yourself who I’m sure is well aware of the egregious errors exhibited by Omar Rodriguez Lopez in his simple, elementary, hedonistic style. Despite years of stage experience and album recording, some people just never develop into unique and interesting guitar players, offering a wide variety of sounds and playing styles which are not inherently accepted or necessarily understood by the public, do they? That’s alright because you blatantly contradict yourself later in the review by labeling the guitar soloing at the beginning of L’Via “bitchin’” which of course is a cardinal rule amongst critics, never ever admit you like something that you previously labeled as universally “bad”. Another descriptor you invoke is nonsensical as in the sentence “matter what else is going on in this song, at least it’ll always be anchored by irritating, nonsensical guitar arpeggios in the background, and plenty of cymbal crashes.” I find myself somewhat confused as to how a guitar appegiation can not make sense? Perhaps it is not what you expected to hear in the song? Perhaps you simply don’t like the melody? I was hoping to gain something a little more solid from this review besides “it didn’t sound like something I liked so it’s bad” which isn’t really useful or funny.
"Blah blah blah blah blah"
Speaking of the adjective “bad,” which you often use to describe not just the guitar soloing on this album but also the “awfully bad sounds” and “horrible noises” previously mentioned, I found myself lost as to what exactly you were trying to get at. What do you mean by “bad sounds?” Is it necessarily that the sounds themselves are “bad”? or simply that you do not personally enjoy the songs created for this album. I culled from later in the article that what you were expecting was not so much electronic noises, a throwback to the original concept of avant garde experimental electronic music developed before rock was even an embryo in the womb of blues, but rather, “a chorus, which doesn’t stop it from being irritating noise, but at least it’s throwing a bone to those who bought the album looking for music.” So, what you’re saying is that real music has a chorus and a melody? I think I’m starting to understand why it may be that you hold an adversity towards progressive music. I entirely agree. It’s absolutely terrible to have music without a chorus. In fact any sort of progression in the realm of pop rock n’ roll should be written off as completely bunk. Gone is the historical significance of albums like Sgt. Peppers and Fragile, I too wish music could be uniform and easy to digest.
Enough of course I don’t mean to question your authority on this subject. Of course you are an expert, a doctor even! But as a critic and regulator of quality internet reading, I merely meant to offer some advice for the future benefit of both your comic novelty and insightful musical knowledge. Keep writing and next time try and attack someone a little easier. Though reviewers have regarded the Mars Volta with many different callous opinions, one even labeling this new disc, “an emo-funk oddessy” (Playboy) whatever that may be, none seem truly able to display a working knowledge of why this music is necessarily bad.
Perhaps they don’t appreciate it due to the arrogance and pretension assumed by all prog rock groups since the beginning of time, or perhaps they are hearing the “nonsensical” and “bad” music in a much more enlightened manner than fans of the band, but as you admittedly not only bought the album but also listened to it and promoted it in some manner by publicizing it on your website, I would say we know who got the better end of the deal from this critic. After all, what’s a few more dollars in the pocket of some lazy talent lacking Mexicans with fro’s?
Wow. I have shamed the internet comedy review writing community with my baseless accusations against The Mars Volta. From now on, Your Band Sucks will contain only objective and well-thought-out arguments as to why bands are shitty. Be sure to check my column out next week, because I’ll write out elaborate logical proofs demonstrating exactly why tacking three minutes of buzzing noise to the end of a song is pretentious and lame. Because apparently nobody is going to fucking lighten up and take my word for it.
firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t mad, he’s disappointed, which hurts so much more:
Dude, if you hate The Mars Volta, then you should be classified as culturally shallow. Your review doesn't go into any true depth of the songs, yet you continue to place them under "Your Band Sucks". Maybe it's stupidity, lack of aural ability, or just charlatanism. I used to love your site, but now I am disappointed in you beyond belief.
Matt "now Ebaum's World has a place in my Mozilla tabs" Fiorvanti
Not only did I place The Mars Volta under “Your Band Sucks,” but I continue to do so! I must be stopped, before I place them there yet again! Well, it’s a shame I disappointed Matt, but at least I know he’s happily surfing Ebaum’s World, away from all the cultural shallowness.
Unkle@aol.com showed that Mars Volta fans, far from being culturally shallow, hold their internet discourse to a higher standard:
your a douchebag, go listen to your standard verse/chorus rock until your head explodes. If you don't understand an album, or don't enjoy it, state it as your opinion. Your review is that of a 4th grader. Go back to your matchbox 20 CD. Nobody can judge someone else's musical tastes, they can either enjoy it, or not. But try not to judge it. Your review of Frances the Mute angered me, because you wrote it as though your trying to impress someone. If's not awful just because YOU don't like it...
By the way, Unkle sucks too. They roped in all the major British rock stars of the 90s to put guest vocals on their record, and they still couldn’t manage to craft a song that didn’t make me wake myself up from snoring too loudly.
email@example.com wrote me this rather confusing plea:
you obviously have no sense of creativity and listen to bland fucking boring music. you definetely have someything wrong with your small fucked up brain as even fans of that music would not write such a long winded boring anf pointless review of a musical genius. Stop wasting your time and get a life of just please us all and end it now fuckhead!!!
So which should I do, get a life or kill myself?
I’d like to thank my readers for producing some of the greatest hate-mail I’ve ever received. If you still don’t understand that you shouldn’t take everything you read seriously, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how disappointed you are in my lack of journalistic integrity. I’m sure you’ll derive some satisfaction knowing that even though I’ll laugh at you and post your letters on the site so that others may laugh at you as well, deep down you will have cut me to the core and made me realize how meaningless my existence is. No, wait, I’ll actually just be laughing at you.
Also, if you feel like it, read my Daily Dirt entry for today. You get to see me ramble incoherently! Click here to read it.