Thursday, October 8, 2009

Response to article by Martin Cizmar

Martin Cizmar's recent column spelling out the death of Downtown Phoenix is so far off the mark I have felt the need to write a response addressing the statements made regarding Modern Art Records:

Amongst the vast buffet of negative mis-informed statements made in the story, Cizmar writes that Modern Art is leaving Phoenix.  

This statement could not be further from the truth.  We are expanding our operation in order to bring MORE resources to the scene. We are simply splitting our operations between Phoenix and NYC.  Modern Art has forged a new LOCALLY BASED alliance (of which I will reveal at a later time) all the while striking a national distribution deal with the Warner Music Group.  An office in NYC is imperative to facilitate proper attention and funding (as this is where our Warner team is based) with the hopes of shedding light on the very scene we are supposedly abandoning.  

We will continue to sign bands from Arizona and give them a platform to make careers for themselves in music. We will also continue to keep our spending local as often as possible. (such as manufacturing our advance CD's, merchandising, promotional posters, freelance graphic design, etc.)

In the world of major label politics and funding, you have to  constantly fight for EVERYTHING! And that means being in the faces of these suits on a daily basis!  I will fight for the cause of Phoenix until I cease to exist!!!

I don't know how that hurts the 15 year old kid in Gilbert who wonders how he's going to get a break in music?

For Martin to claim that our city is dead, is like writing a review of a movie he only saw half of.  Where was Martin when Roosevelt Row was NOTHING 5 years ago? What did Martin think about Grand Ave when it was a ghost town?  I wonder what he would have thought about First Fridays when we were struggling 10 years ago to get 150 people out on the circuit? He's been here 2 years and now fancies himself an expert. For the life of me, I can't figure out how anyone that has seen the rise of our city could conclude that our scene is dying today.

He imagines a return to the glory days of Tempe when the Refreshments ruled the roost. (Excuse me while I throw up) How would he even know what life was like back then!??? 

The transformation of Modified does demonstrate that we have challenges ahead of ourselves.  But we are not dead, we have simply outgrown the clothes of our youth and it's time we get some new threads.....and Kimber Lanning is doing us all a real favor by forcing the issue.  Sometimes the medicine doesn't taste good, but it is much needed for our development.  

"Well Sub Pop stayed in Seattle...why can't you?" Martin reasons.....the answer is, I simply can't afford to fly back and forth between to make the wheels turn on a national level for our artists. I have spent more money the last year and a half on travel expenses then my own rent in Phoenix...and all this is cash that could be better spent on our artists! 

If I had a deeper pockets or a larger travel expense account, I would gladly stay at home with my beloved family, 90 year old grandparents, best friends, etc.   I GUARANTEE you that the heads of other indies have traveled extensively to Los Angeles and NYC to ensure their artists and business are getting their proper due.  

To me, the music editor of a weekly in a major city has journalistic responsibilities. He is not there to be a cheerleader, but a professional reporter should check his facts and do their best to get an idea of the context of the information being relayed.  

In the final paragraph of the story, Cizmar writes "the scene didn't develop fast enough for a guy like Collins to stick around" .  This is the statement that irks me the most as it's complete speculation and TOTALLY untrue as it implies that I'm turning my back on Phoenix.

This move to set up a 2nd office is motivated by the drive to improve my hometown and like I wrote above, to garner more resources and attention to the music scene in Arizona. 

Martin wrote to me, "Everything in my story is accurate Ben, enjoy Brooklyn". This writer is so arrogant, he thinks HE determines what is fact and what is fiction. Without speaking to anyone he went ahead and drew his own conclusions and when called out, has the audacity to claim that he knows my intentions better then I do. Apparently the job of music editor gives one god-like status.

Myself and the rest of the Modern Art crew will have nothing to do with this paper until these sensationalist, factually untrue statements are retracted.  Our longtime weekly's music section is better suited for the checkout line next to The National Enquirer now that credible reporting has taken a backseat to rumor and inuendo.  

Martin, the next time you or one of your reporters wants to call me at 11pm on a Sunday to address the scene rumors you hear at Bikini Lounge, think of another source.  I love that you take the time to fact check silly bar talk and then abandon that practice when it comes to writing a hate piece about the scene that keeps you fed.

I look forward to the day when Phoenix can have a legit weekly to accompany and appropriately document the historic rise of our community....the good and the bad (using FACTS not opinion based on incomplete experience).  

Phoenix you are not dead, do not let uninspired/uninformed outsiders like Martin Cizmar shape our story for their own jaded benefit.

Here is a link to the original article for reference: