At the end of festival road trips, I often wind up with a file full of random notes and observations that didn’t fit into my dispatches; and, if I’m not too exhausted on the trip home, I compile them into lists. If you read the last four posts, I know what you're thinking: “A lot of your tangents didn’t fit, but you forced them on us anyway.” I know – but this right here is the real Montreal dumpster. Some of it is obvious junk that can be applied to any non-U.S. city, and other items are just useless or irrelevant. But if you put those rubber gloves on and dive in to your elbows, you might just find some tasty kernels.
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I hope you didn’t think I’d bounce without an epilogue. I’m sure the hawks at Columbia Journalism Review are about to expose me anyway, but since I’m heading home I might as well reveal that the Montreal Jazz Fest paid for my hotel room. We’re not exactly living in times when news organizations are bubbling with dough, so I’m not ashamed to let festivals grease me if it means courtesy amenities, but I figured that my readers might be interested in how it compromised my coverage.
It didn’t. In case you didn’t notice, I covered the Montreal Jazz Fest without really hitting any jazz shows. You could argue that I fulfilled my purpose by telling readers how fun the city is at this time of year, but there are definitely no jazz fans sitting at home reading this and saying, “Oh – yeah – we have got to be there next summer.”
I felt it was important to illustrate the scene beyond Jazz Fest; not simply the lawless status quo around Montreal, but the other shit that pops off when the festival consumes downtown. On my final night, I hit a party billed as the “Anti-Jazz Fest” at Saint; and while at first I felt badly for betraying the Jazz Fest folks who had been so hospitable, I realized how necessary it was to paint the bigger picture, as no 10-day party happens in a vacuum.
Furthermore, if organizers plan on having more and more hip-hop every year, they must expect to deal with an increased number of people wearing baggy pants and fitted hats. They should embrace this; more than one jazz critic told me that there’s not much exciting new blood pumping through his genre, and that Public Enemy trumped many of the aging legends they had to cover.
Looking back, I hope that everyone enjoyed having me, because I most definitely enjoyed sort of being there. And despite the moral dilemmas that doing so might pose, I’ll be putting in for my complimentary room again next summer.