My cats are playing a game I call Laundrosplat. By virtue of its name, you can figure out how it’s played; said felines regurgitate, urinate and/or defecate in the laundry and talk about it in their arcane cat vernacular. Last night, after spending two hours of my life in the basement testing spray bottles of Nature’s Miracle (and my personal gag reflex), I went back upstairs fuming. I haven’t had to endure so much crap in one day since I got the advance copy of the first BrokenCYDE album. I went upstairs and yelled at my wife about I’ve entirely renounced Cat Nation, even going as far to paraphrase my friend Jeff referring to dogs as “real animals, ones who know the dignity of using the earth as a toilet.” After that rant, I turned the television to Countdown With Keith Olbermann and listened as the host made fun of his usual rogues gallery of reactionary types. Then I realized: cat poop plus shit-stirring divided by music scene equals blog entry!

As much as I love Olbermann, there’s one thing he’s kinda touchy about. He’s always at the ready when a conservative pinger hints at committing an act of violence toward a public figure, be they politician, activist, or member of Nickelback. (Okay, I threw that in there. You and I both know there’s simply no defending that.) I think Olbermann’s stance might come out of self-preservation, but I think any troubled right-winger (or person who patently hates sports) would know that by attacking the old KO, he’s unwittingly legitimizing the MSNBC wag’s existence. Nobody tries to accost Ann Coulter, but that’s probably because said interlopers would freeze when the snakes in her hair spied them first.

This got me to thinking about the history of run-ins between musicians and critics that went beyond verbal jousting and into the realm of the physical. Remember Perez Hilton’s sucker-punching by someone in the Black Eyed Peas entourage?  Further back in time, Marilyn Manson’s security detail showed former Spin editor Craig Marks a demonstration of “tough love,” and as a result, a judge allowed Marks to secure a few months’ worth of NYC rent from the Manson camp. Whatever happened with that late ’80s lawsuit rock scribe Chuck Eddy served the Beastie Boys for “assault” in the rappers’ longform home video? Although I have yet to be given a total physical beatdown from any artist in the last 78 years I’ve been at AP, I have been publicly called out. Like the time a good friend of my wife asked me (at our wedding reception, no less) why Trent Reznor told a sold-out crowd in Detroit on The Downward Spiral tour that “if Jason Pettigrew is in the room, I wish you’d fucking die, already.” Aah, good times…

I get a perverse glee out of seeing rock critics called out publicly by bands, the whole Alleged Great Artists vs. Unwashed Critics Unable To Understand Bold New Cultural Concepts. I think it’s great when dudes in bands mistakenly overcompensate for their own mediocre work by having to rationalize it in public. Likewise, I strongly feel that if you’re going to be a cultural critic, you better be prepared to take as much grief—mental and physical—your fragile little psyche can handle. One of my favorite pieces of rock journalism is the classic exchange between Lou Reed and the late Lester Bangs. Both men are in Reed’s hotel room, with copious amounts of both chemicals and hangers-on, and they are just tearing into each other: Bangs talking smack on Reed’s creative laurel-resting and the singer firing back with just as much venom about the writer’s shortcomings. These days, such summit meetings never happen because many bands have a coterie of enablers whose job is to keep them away from such brutal honesty.

You don’t see a lot of that in today’s contemporary punk scene. Is it because it’s easier to bitch online about something than it is to face your accuser? Are bands trying to protect their career in some passive-aggressive way? Don’t rockers have better attorneys than bloggers so they can walk on technicalities, anyway? These days, bands who reach certain levels prefer to do what my colleague Tim Karan calls “building an army.” Tear-Stained Hanky will have their 4,000 Facebook friends bombard a writer who posted a bad review of their latest rock opera about a dude, his flat iron and his addiction to Jolt gum. Which is functional, I guess. (If the cash-strapped fans are gonna grab the disc off the ‘net for free, they might as well show some support somehow, right?) But who wants to fight a winged-monkey drone when you want to see the wicked witch feel the heat up-close? Hell, I remember years ago when a bunch of faceless post-hardcore opportunists got in Scott Heisel’s face about his negative review of their highly derivative “masterpiece.” Not a fist was raised, but Scott got called fat. Wow. The 21st century equivalent to “your mother wears combat boots.” (By the way, Scott responded, “Cool. Your band still sucks,” and walked away.)

So come on, bands: Defend your art attacks with vigor! Don’t hide behind paid professional handlers and faceless message-board pawns with screen names like “TokioHotelGuest” (although that person obviously needs smacked repeatedly with a pillowcase filled with oranges). And bloggers: Deep down, wouldn't you feel positively validated seeing a skull-ring-laden fist making its way toward your cheekbones at an accelerated rate, thanks to something you wrote? I don't know. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned…

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