I was going to say something about how sad I am that Slaminsky’s chucked in the towel, but then I thought, hey, it’s her call, it’s not like she’s dead or anything.
Then I found out that Steven Wells (aka Seething Wells/Swells/Susan Williams) had lost his three-year battle with cancer.
I never met Swells. I did occasionally exchange e-mails, and once had a bit of a phone barney with him. (I called him a plagiarist; he called me a whinger; we both agreed that the idea of reviving the musical Hair in the 1990s was an affront to good taste.)
But at the same time, I knew him intimately, first because of my teenage obsession with performance poetry; and later because for several years he was the cleverest, funniest writer in the NME, in that late-80s/early 90s phase when it was past its best but still the best thing going. What was great about him was that even if you disagreed utterly with what he said (he loathed the Smiths, and I’m sure it was he who argued that Sonia had made a greater contribution to pop history than Morrissey ever could), he was still more readable that a dozen hacks who just regurgitated your own prejudices and served them back to you. Which is why, presumably, there was no longer a place for him at the NME, and he plied his trade instead at The Guardian, the Philadelphia Weekly and online spaces such as Quietus (where this gorgeous pisstake of Radiohead comes from).
He died on Tuesday, the same day that the editor of the NME was appointed to take over at Top Gear magazine. Little more needs to be said. (Although Betty says it.)
PS: Everett’s collated some of the many tributes; another from Akira the Don; and here’s the man himself on sport and blogging and stuff.