To make matters even more complicated, Christgau himself, whose Consumer Guide was recently picked up by MSN, has voted in both polls. "I have told people who've asked to do what they wish," he e-mailed me, adding that Eddy, now at Billboard, is not voting in P&J.
Yet other aboveboard and down-low boycotts of P&J abound, Matos said. ExVoice staffer and current Pop Conference organizer Eric Weisbard is skipping the poll because, the former P&J pooh-bah e-mailed, "participating in Pazz & Jop validates the New Times neanderthals who now run Village Voice Media. They may want to keep alive a poll that generates more Web hits than anything else they do, but in all other ways, they hate and are trying to eradicate everything that the Village Voice music section stood for: intellectual discussion of popular music and popular culture."
"A number of people who aren't voting in the Voice poll are older and better established," added Matos, describing an argument he recently had with a friend. "I heatedly called it a labor issue, and my friend said, 'If I vote in the Voice poll, am I a scab?' It's probably not that cut-and-dried.... Everyone in New York knows how bad the Voice has gotten, but for a lot of people, the Voice still represents a decent paycheck. It's a hard thing to argue with. People who don't want to piss off the Village Voice, and frankly, till this poll came along, I was one of them."
Vote in both, don't vote in P&J, or vote in P&J and pen protest too? I've always internally chafed against the voice of critical authority, inclusive yet contentious, implied with P&J. Perhaps that sense of center is a bastion of the past, along with traditional music industry models. Yet even the first P&J Matos ever read from 1990, with De La Soul on the cover included an essay by a writer who refused to participate in the group grope. The gathering was that quirky and open to dissent.
An alien concert in the new order of NT-VV? "Good going, champions of the free press!" Idolator crowed after announcing the NT-VV response, excerpting a supposed example e-mail from a NT-VV music editor to writer. "To get revenge, we plan to not patronize the porn ads in the back of your magazines for the next week. You have no idea how much that's gonna cost you."
One long-tenured P&J pooh-bah continues to watch over the proceedings, if from afar. "I look forward with considerable curiosity to both polls," Christgau wrote to me. "I very much doubt either will be as good as the last PJ, but we shall see." Nonetheless, it seems unlikely the boycotted and participation-by-dictate P&J will, as Matos put it, "open things up for you," as good critics and past polls have. *