Thursday, September 21, 2006

Brick

For the past several days I’ve been meaning to mention ‘Brick,’ or, as I like to call it: ‘Punchline Plus’ – the plus of course being the corporate backing of Media General and all of the money that implies. If you hadn’t heard, this magazine is the new “alternative” weekly that hit the streets a couple of weeks ago. My reaction to it so far has varied between tepid appreciation and distinct disappointment.

Positives:
- Cartoons. I love Tom Tomorrow and Ted Rall, in particular.
- Snarky side comments. Editor-in-chief/Punchline vet Peter Humes has a nice way with the funny aside and will stick one just about anywhere. Tucked at the bottom of last week’s banner: “Once you are finished reading Brick, you may choose to create funny hats or origami swans.”
- Interesting interviews. In last week’s edition, I enjoyed the interview with VCU History Prof. Emilie Raymond on Charton Heston, a fave of mine since “Bowling for Columbine.”

Negatives:
- Bashing of Style (and all other weeklies). I know I write for Style but even so, I am very well aware of some of Style’s limitations and problems. So I welcome a new free weekly as much as the next guy. But Brick printing a letter that fawns all over the new mag (after only one issue) and says, “finally a REAL weekly publication for Richmond” is a slam against all sorts of people, not to mention people who could actually end up big Brick fans. Is it really necessary to “go negative” so early in the game?
- Disingenuousness at who they are. “Richmond’s PLUCKY weekly”? How plucky are they going to be with a $900 million corporation behind them?
- No website. Yet? Ever?
- Not quite as funny as they think they are. I laugh out loud at Jon Stewart and The Onion and this particularly hilarious post from Eliza Skinner. I chuckled a couple of times reading through Brick.

And of course, my biggest peeve about Brick is NO THEATER! What’s up with that? Granted, I haven’t seen this week’s issue so maybe this point is already moot, but in the two issues I’ve seen there’s no mention of live theater, no calendar of shows, nada. Instead, we get articles on Zach Branff and “The Wire.” That’s plucky?

Theater is an integral part of this town from Theatre-VCU to Theatre IV’s kid’s shows to Bifocals Theater Company. You aren’t covering Richmond, Brick, if you aren’t covering theater.

2 comments:

Joe Pabst said...

Perhaps their decision not to cover theatre is because their parent company, RTD, also chooses not to do so. Today's "Weekender" section had TWO FULL PAGES devoted to movies -- new ones, still playing -- with summaries, ratings, even ratings from other sources! Oh and of course TONS of coverage on the national music scene. Less than 1/2 a page was devoted to theatre... I guess it's true: The acorn never falls far from the oak!

bopst said...

You know, Pete is looking for writers. If one of you fine folks would like to write about the theater, send him some samples of your work.

You can e-mail him at: phumes@brickweekly.com

Also, everything is painful at first so don’t judge Brick too harshly just yet. I know that nobody is looking over Pete’s shoulder telling him what to do so, as long as the paper makes money (a big, “if”), he’ll continue to enjoy complete and total autonomy to do the paper as he sees fit. Also, he needs help. I think the only reason he doesn’t have a theater section is, quite simply, nobody has submitted anything for him to consider. He’s a busy man so, if you truly believe in exposing the public to the virtues of local theater, send him something.

I may be biased (I write the music column, “Sound Advice”), but I have complete faith in Pete and what he has set out to do. I think it is genius that he talked Media General into starting a weekly and, if he can take money from the proverbial “man” to start a left of center weekly, more power to him.

So help the brother out. He’s one of the good ones...