Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Less Reason to Read the City Pages

I just learned that the food critic at the Twin Cities' weekly City Pages, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, is moving on. She was, as a friend observed, often the only reason to read the City Pages. Rumor is she's quitting to write books.

Reminds me of when Chuck Klosterman stopped doing the back page of Spin. That juvenalia-filled music rag was just barely holding on with him; without him, there was nothing left.

I still don't know when or where the City Pages went wrong. Did it have to do with the Village Voice parent company? For me, it was the columns and the reviews that stunk the most. And the blogs were (and mostly remain) incomprehensible stream-of-consciousness abstract expressionistic ramblings.

The new, less readable City Pages gave rise to the irrepressible Diablo Cody -- the student turned stripper turned memoirist turned columnist turned screenwriter. How bewildered and resentful we all are of her success.

It should tell you something that the City Pages' most popular articles are by a syndicated columnist (Dan Savage) and by Dara Moskowitz. The rest of the website is so messy and full of useless content that it's not worth the effort anymore to hunt for readable articles.

That said, what I used to enjoy most about the City Pages was the investigative reporting. They wrote about subjects the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune didn't bother to dig into anymore.

Speaking of the local papers, I remember when the Pioneer Press lost its first-rate music columnist Jim Walsh to the City Pages, which spelled the end of the St. Paul paper's usefullness for me. But once Walsh got to the City Pages, it's as if the free reign given him was too much. His column turned into a disorganized, overly personal bore that left me wanting for the days of genuine local music criticism.

And they really need to make more of their arts coverage. Theater, book and art critics should be more prominent, especially with all the cuts daily papers have been making with critics.

The Star Tribune still has Mary Abbe, though, and she's one of the better regional art critics I've read. The City Pages should be giving her some healthy competition.

Now would be the perfect time for a group like Gothamist to swoop in and take over the Twin Cities web scene.

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