Southern Californians who love popular music and occasionally find themselves reading about it will be doing the Snoopy dance for days on hearing that Robert Hilburn is finally retiring. I’ve hated that sack of shit for 25 years now. He had the worst attitude towards music, was so predictable that parody was pointless, thought he was important because he was a rock critic, and spent a career Not Getting It but Getting Paid For It.
His classic pattern was to ignore local acts who desperately needed the boost he could give them, because they weren’t at his level. And then, after they’d finally clawed their way up enough to get a good record out and some buzz from people who actually cared, Bob would arrive to bless them and announce that they were a fresh new face and Important, interview them at length, and officially apply his Seal of Rock Quality.
He compared anything good to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and later to U2. He treated music the way a bad high school teacher treats literature: only significant for its social and moral implications. He lived in a racist world where white college kids made social commentary and brown people and foreigners made happy dance music about which he could make social commentary. He took all the budget at the Times for his salary and travel costs, leaving the actual editing to overworked part-timers who were his superiors in every way.
Robert Hilburn was a fucking hack.
We’re gonna tramp the dirt down, Bob.