For decades now, feh. For the music reporting and reviewing, for the attitude toward music, for bad taste and poor judgment, for selling out their culture-changing original ethos. They still have some outstanding contributors but they are occasional now, rather than collectively the gold standard of music journalism they once were. But RS does have a saving grace.

It’s yet one more thing that has faded from our modern, new and improved world and, this may seem silly to you, but I say we are the poorer for it: rock music magazines. (Which were often tabloid-sized newsprint in their first issues.)

Oh, grow up Charles. You’re not in college anymore and who really cares about music now anyway? Exactly the point. I care, and I know a lot of people who care, and more people would care if we still had those magazines that treated it as vital. My people go to live shows and listen on their various devices to rich worlds of diverse music.

Their numbers may be smaller than when I was a kid, but as long as there are kids coming up they will find their music in their own modern way. They’ll find crappy clipped, compressed MP3 versions of their music, but they’ll still be able to sing along. And hopefully, some day stumble upon high definition music files, or even get hooked on vinyl. Now we have YouTube and all manner of worldwide Internet music sites that can be as useful as the great FM radio stations and enlightened DJs of my youth.

But the great music magazines of yore – Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, CREEM (you have to spell it all caps, even though the magazine cover itself did not) are gone or corporately co-opted. In their layout, subject matter, photos, their rebellion and willingness to take chances but within a credible journalistic arena, and especially in their attitude of respect for the music driving this emerging youth counter culture, they changed the landscape.

I was a young student sitting in the middle of New Mexico (nowhere, man), energized by my fascination with and love for great music that moved me, this rock and roll that hit me, as a little kid, when I saw Elvis on TV (pre-censorship), but not considering it more than a personal, youthful indulgence. And the whole thing was drenched in the drug culture, so, can’t be legit, right?

But here in these pages were highly intelligent, sophisticated observers, around my age (but living in golden music cities like San Francisco, LA and New York), outstanding writers and thinkers, dissecting it in a timeless, universal perspective of history and the changes taking place in the arts, culture and politics.

It did matter. Even though the world had not seen its like before, it was art. I understood. I related. They gave voice to a generational instinct, and I wanted to be one of those people.

Thus was I launched on a lifelong career path of music journalism that kept most of that handful of us, impassioned and cursed with just a drop enough of talent, in poverty. Nobody warned us about that. But I had great seats to all the best shows, stories for a lifetime and rooms full of vinyl. (See “Almost Famous.”) No regrets.

The saving grace? Read Rolling Stone for its politics, for its investigative journalism. Especially, read Matt Taibbi, anything he writes, wherever he is published. If journalism is dying Taibbi doesn’t know it or show it.

Pretty ironic: here I am, as a music-loving journalist, dissing the Rolling Stone I say inspired me in our respective youths, and some kid is out there reading RS and becoming inspired to be a straight (not music) journalist. Dr. Hook, I think there’s a song there.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL MY FRIENDS – the perfect present?

I spent most of my life having a lot of really good friends whom I rarely saw. When we did get together it was great, as though no time had passed since the last time.

But when I traveled for a year in Europe and North Africa three years ago, I saw a different way. I observed many people who made the effort to make arrangements, get out of their house and get together with friends.

I resolved to do that, and have since returning, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Not just old friends, but newer ones, mostly in Santa Monica, whom I only occasionally bump into but never for more than a few minutes.

So I’ve been trying to schedule coffee, or lunch, or drinks with a lot of people. I saw recently that a friend was having a birthday so I offered to buy her a coffee and she responded that she would love to, that she was even thinking just then of posting to Facebook that her perfect present from friends would be to spend a little time with them.

Our time at a local fancy coffeehouse flew, more than an hour. I kept my eye on my watch, to feed the meter, and did feed it once but got back into conversation. When we finally got up to leave it couldn’t have been more than two minutes past meter expiration (I thought I was early), but there was a big fat ticket on my car. I think I probably said a bad word. Maybe twice.

My friend immediately stepped forward and swiped the dire document from the windshield and shoved it deep into her purse. “It was my fault,” she said, which of course it wasn’t. “I kept you talking.” It was obvious I was not going to get that ticket back, so I thanked her copiously, if awkwardly.

Then I realized, before I even pulled away from the curb, that her generous, spontaneous act of kindness changed my entire day. I could feel good about our get together, as I had just before spotting that damnable ducat, whereas otherwise I would likely be muttering and cursing and feeling dark and having trouble holding on to any good feelings. My smile got even bigger.

Why am I telling you this? Several lessons for me. You? – who ya gonna call?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at

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