Spectrum Check

When I joined the writing staff at Spectrum Culture, I was probably most looking forward to having access to the sorts of small, independent films that either took months to get to my humble mountain town or bypassed our local theaters altogether. While some of the most intriguing titles were held back from screener distribution for fear of piracy, I got to watch my fair share of challenging, fascinating films that I likely would have missed otherwise. For that, I’m certainly grateful. As it turned out, though, my interest in the new was eventually eclipsed by a greater satisfaction in writing about the old, those films, albums and other bits of pop culture that have stirred different levels of obsession in me over the years. These were often the hardest pieces to write as I had a deeply personal investment in getting them right, but that’s also, of course, what made them my clear favorites when they turned out well. To a wider audience than I’d had anywhere else, I had the opportunity to type out sermons to the greatness of the things I loved most.

Arguably the first time I both had that chance and felt I’d totally nailed the piece was in a revisiting of the 1982 Wolverine limited series, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller. I earned me a ridiculous amount of praise from my fellow writers at the time, enough so that I kept rereading it to figure out what I’d done so right. I’m still not quite sure what it was, except writing in clearly my own voice and in a way way that demonstrated genuine knowledge of the material. Truthfully, that’s probably the whole of the explanation. I try to remind myself of that on a regular basis.

During my tenure there I was privileged to write about Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg, Martin Scorsese and Muhammad Ali and the Muppets. I flung some words at one of the college radio pinnacle albums of R.E.M. and used the Spectrum site to disseminate my zealotry over which album by the Replacements is their very best, no matter what the conventional wisdom insists. And I even tapped into Bad Movie Nights of the past, celebrating the misfiring wonders of both Bordello of Blood and Luther the Geek. Search “the missing link between Clint Howard and Ron Howard” and the latter review is the only result. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Once my end date at the site was set, I felt compelled to fill in the missing bits on the stamp I’d affixed to the internet outpost that had offered me a home for so long. One of the last things I wrote for Spectrum Culture was a “Revisit” feature on Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill, a movie that impacted me like no other in my teenage years. It was a fine stealth farewell, but I actually wish my very last offering on the site had been the essay I wrote about the Too Much Joy album Cereal Killers. It was the most personal, heartfelt thing I ever submitted, and I thought it effectively conveyed everything that was special about the band to me and my cohorts. And it even made Tim Quirk tweet, “Wow.” I felt like doffing my figurative cap, taking a gentle bow, and leaving the stage. I had done all I had set out to do, and then some.

And thus this extended eulogy is at an end. It will be strange to reach next Saturday and not affix the multi-colored graphic to the top of a post. I need to find something else other than links to outside work to fill the space. Luckily, I’ve devised a solution that will be nicely mortifying. But that’s fir next week. For this week, let me close with a sentiment that I’m thrilled to have cause to express: Thanks for reading.

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