Robert Christgau, whose title, "the dean of American rock critics," was self-bestowed but nonetheless widely accepted, was one of eight staffers let go last week at the Village Voice. In a note posted on Gawker.com, Christgau announced, "Since I have no intention of giving up rock criticism, all reasonable offers [will be] entertained." (HT: Romenesko.)
The 64-year-old Christgau has published two books' worth of essays and, since 1969, a monthly Consumer Guide column, which in its classic form during the 1970s and '80s offered dense-but-readable one-paragraph reviews and A-plus-through-E-minus letter grades for roughly twenty albums per installment.
Christgau's politics, left but not hard-left, often cropped up in his writing. He summarized his leanings a few years ago to RockCritics.com: "I want to see a radical redistribution of wealth and an end to racism, sexism, and homophobia. But that won't make me pretend there's anything inherently communist or socialist about rock and roll -- at its inception, it was an expression of democracy at its American best and capitalism at its entrepreneurial best...Revolutionaries tend to be puritans. Rock and rollers tend not to be. I prefer rock and rollers. And I've always argued that one reason revolutionaries start so few revolutions is that puritans are a pain in the ass."
That was Christgau the thoughtful left-winger, but the dean also was capable of writing politically correct goop, as when, reviewing Bruce Springsteen's The River, he opined that Springsteen was "too white and too male, though he's decent enough to wish he weren't."