last night i went to a party for “The World’s Perfect Zine,” which is a zine that was just put out by a guy called “David Shapiro,” but who is actually named something else. a zine is like a self-made magazine. the party was at a downtown record store called Other Music, and it was sponsored by Tumblr, because David Shapiro writes a well-known Tumblr called “pitchfork reviews reviews,” on which he used to post comments, every day, on the five record reviews featured on the music website Pitchfork. for a while, people read the blog to see his commentary on what pitchfork said, because it was good commentary, and often funny, and really earnestly engaged with the records and the writing Shapiro was talking about. then gradually he started writing more pieces that weren’t just commentary on pitchfork, and more people read them (because they were good — this is all just about a year and a half ago, by the way), and they moved away from just being “thoughts on music” and toward more personal narratives about shapiro and his relationship with music and also about nightlife, narratives about things he went and did. a lot of them were about what it was like to go to cool shows, or attend parties where there were well-known people, or DJ the kinds of events where people feel like they need to hire someone to DJ. usually he would say he was “brought” to the party by a friend with a media job, and then he would write from the position of an amused or nervous outsider watching what people did in these environments, or trying to get them to answer questions about music. the parties and events got noticeably more high-powered as the site grew. shapiro started writing the same sorts of things for a great website called the awl, and the awl filed them under the category “nightlife reporting.”
shapiro’s stuff was always good at capturing feeling and also much better written than lots of people wanted to admit, with really tight structures and running themes of use of little dramatic images, though that stuff was hidden by having a very strong voice that acted more unkempt and run-on and personal. this blog post is written in a vague imitation or affectionate parody of the voice in question, but i’m not really committing to making it a great imitation, because the point is not really to be “funny” or just make an obvious joke. it’s meant to be mildly depressing. the main fixation of the writing, all along, was the main thing that most young new yorkers tend to get obsessive about, which is basically status. you know that there are certain people in the city who do things you find “cool” and might want to do yourself, like maybe playing in bands or working in media, and you know they’re walking around you, or drinking at the same bars as you, and when you are young you cannot really tell if you will ever slide across into their circle, whatever it may be, and become one of those people, or what you have to do to get there, or what it would be like anyway. shapiro’s writing had a close eye for that set of concerns, as is probably natural when you are a young person thinking about what it’s like to stand at a party with famous or hip people or models or whatever, but is maybe more special when you’re just at an exclusive Yeah Yeah Yeahs gig and thinking about the people who work the door, and who they are, and what their place is in the whole realm of status and power and cultural capital and so on. there was a really interesting period when i think Shapiro’s writing was sort of equally about music and status at the same time, which i liked, and then it became more just about the social part, and then eventually he stopped writing as much online because someone hired him to write a film, which he told me at the party is set to begin shooting soon.