Category Archives: Chick Riffs

It’s Time

Here goes:

  1. I’ll be celebrating my fortieth birthday in a few months.
  2. I always wanted to go out like Margo Channing when she turned forty in All About Eve and not like Willie Mays, who hung on well past his prime.
  3. Unlike Margo, I don’t believe that a broad is all washed up when she turns forty, but I’ve always been fond of the idea of going out on top. Kinda like Rocky Marciano. 
  4. If I were a different person, I could point to the fact that the number of visitors to this site has tripled in the past year as evidence that I’m at the top of my game. Fortunately, I’m not an idiot and I know that the reason my numbers have gone up is that the pandemic has forced people to stay at home, giving them more time to browse the Internet. I also know that while the increase in traffic sounds impressive, the traffic heading my way is only .005% of the traffic Pitchfork gets every month. I’ve never been into self-deception for the sake of mental health. 
  5. To me, going out on top isn’t about the numbers, it’s about quality. It’s the realization that you’ve done your best work and the little voice inside your head tells you, “This ain’t going to last forever, honey.” This year I wrote three reviews that I feel represent my best work—American Beauty, Clube Da Esquina and Way to Blue. Rather than risk a bad case of writer’s block, I’d like the record to show that I didn’t limp to the finish line. 
  6. Having quit this blog twice only to come back, I don’t want to say this is final, but I also don’t want to become tiresome like the Stones with their never-ending farewell tours.
  7. So, let’s just say I have no plans to write any new reviews and leave it at that.
  8. I’ll leave open at least until my WordPress renewal date of February 2022. After that . . . who knows? The new-and-improved WordPress is a bug-filled pain in the ass that makes writing more of a chore than a pleasure and site management an absolute drag. It’s a bit unclear at the moment, but it looks like they might require me to update all 500 posts to fit their new format sometime next year. Fuck that.
  9. You will see some changes to the site structure and maybe a few “new reviews” that are not new but rewrites of previous reviews I’m unhappy with. Emphasis on the word “might.” I’ve already started going through every review to replace dead videos with officially licensed versions that won’t leave ugly stains in the middle of my essays. I hate leaving a mess.
  10. After I take some time off to decompress and attend to more urgent life priorities, I might start compiling my favorite reviews in e-book format. Right now I dread the editing and reformatting required to pull it off, but if someday I decide it’s worth my time and energy I will do so.
  11. “Worth my time and energy” does not mean “monetary return on investment.” The e-books (if they come to fruition) will be free downloads . . . somewhere. Writing about music has always been a labour of love for me and I’ve always considered the notion of making money through book sales, monetizing the blog with ads or going to a subscription model completely repulsive. 

The truth is that many threads, influences and events in the past year have led me to a crossroads moment in my life. My partner and have been lucky that our little consulting practice hasn’t suffered much due to the pandemic, but we’re both getting tired of it. I lost both grandmothers in the last year (not to Covid-19, but to natural causes) and those two losses led my parents to re-think retirement. They moved to Nice because it was always the plan to return to my mother’s birthplace where she still had family. Now that her mother has gone, those ties aren’t as strong, and she’s finding the experience of returning home limiting and stifling. My dad’s mother bequeathed him her house in Ireland, so they’ve discussed moving there or setting up a summer home to avoid the tourist swarms and heat of summer in the Côte d’Azur. My parents are also my best friends, so what they decide will have a pretty significant impact on the decisions I make. 

While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of writing about music and have learned a lot in the process, the blog eats up a huge amount of my time. Depending on the complexity of the subject matter and the availability of information, a single review can take anywhere from 20-50 hours a week researching background, repeatedly listening to the music, figuring out the musical structure and methodology, interpreting the lyrics, reading artist bios, writing, re-writing, editing and posting on three sites. Right now I could really use that time to reflect on what I want to do with the rest of my life. I don’t know what that something is but I want that something to be meaningful—meaningful in the sense of bettering the lives of people who haven’t had the breaks fall their way. I have a few ideas, but I need the time and space to flesh them out—and figure out how to integrate my dream with the need to make a living. Fortunately, I’m in great health, as horny as ever and have wonderful people in my life, so I think I have a decent chance of pulling it off.

In the ten years since I started this blog, I’ve written over 500 reviews and riffs containing about three million words. That’s the equivalent of six copies of War and Peace. And unlike Count Tolstoy, I wrote all those words while holding down full-time jobs! I think that’s enough of a contribution for one lifetime, so it’s time to say “nighty-night” and move on to my next adventure.

I want to thank all of you who have visited the site and especially those of you who commented on my work and turned me on to music I might have never considered. Your support meant a lot to me and often kept me going when I wasn’t sure my work mattered all that much. 

Below is the last picture of me taken before the pandemic, in January 2020. It’s a bit out of focus because my partner can’t shoot straight to save her life. I wanted a picture that looked like I was proposing a toast to all of you and the only picture I have with a real cocktail glass containing real booze is a partial nude . . . so I’m afraid you’ll have to do with a fully-leather-clad me and a Diet Coke. 


Ari 1-9-20

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