(This story was removed from online editions of the Boston Phoenix.)
Voice blogger accused of telling the truth
By Carly Carioli and Matt Ashare
The Village Voice yesterday suspended serial fabricator Nick "Riff Raff" Sylvester, after it was revealed that elements of a cover story he wrote this week were actually true.
Allegations of truth in Sylvester's writing sent shockwaves through the blogosphere, where Sylvester, a former Harvard Lampoon staffer and Pitchforkmedia.com editor, was widely loved and loathed for his humorous "fictional" interviews with semi-famous musicians on his blog, "Riff Central." On the basis of these so-called "fake" interviews — and perhaps on the basis of an article or two in the pages of the Boston Phoenix — Sylvester was hired last year as the Voice’s chief music blogger, reprising his schtick under the heading "Riff Raff."
"I wish to apologize to the Voice's readers," Sylvester wrote in a tersely-worded statement published Wednesday on the newspaper's web site. "I invented only about one-third of this week's cover story — which was about how girls won't date some dudes I know because they've already heard all the pickup lines we stole from Neil Strauss's book The Game, which we all bought because we thought it was actually about G-Unit. The other two-thirds of the story were the product of factual reporting. I deeply regret this information."
In what might have been the day's most shocking revelation, Sylvester also admitted that all his past "fake" interviews had in fact been real. It turns out that the Hair Police song "Not Raft But Cage" really is the sound of "two gorillas . . . shitting into their own microphone." The Ying Yang twins really did almost change the words to "Wait (The Whisper Song)" from "Ay bitch, wait’ll you see my dick" to "Hey, where’d my dick go?" And both of Ariel Pink’s parents write for Desperate Housewives.
Several Voice colleagues who wished to remain anonymous hinted that there have been newsroom complaints in recent months that Sylvester was "coasting" — going to actual concerts, conducting verifiable interviews, and writing diligent criticism instead of making funny shit up like he was supposed to.
Indeed, it appears that Sylvester's slide down the slippery slope toward the truth in print began even before he arrived at the Voice. It was assumed by Phoenix editors that the "cult folk singer Vashti Bunyan" was a figment of Sylvester’s fertile satiric imagination. But this week the Phoenix's research department turned up disturbing evidence that not only is Bunyan a real person, but she actually came out of retirement to record with Animal Collective.
Sylvester's editors at the Voice were dumbfounded. "We thought we had a really talented liar on our hands," said Voice music editor Chuck Eddy, "but it turns out the kid just lucked out and had a funny chat with the Game."
"We used to say to ourselves, 'You just can't make stuff like this up,' " said Pazz and Jop grand poobah Robert Christgau. "Turns out we were right."
DOWNLOAD: AC/DC's "Riff Raff" at Buddyhead.