Pop Culture
Sep 15, 2008, 05:46AM

Bars & Galleries: Equally Tough Crowds

After five years of looking for an identity, the City Paper's "Show & Tell" column gets deep sixed, and in the process reveals meaty insight to DC's art and booze scenes.

Lalasz, who originated the column in 2003, noticed signs of S&T’s identity crisis early on. “The perennial problem for Show & Tell is trying to build the arts beat,” he says. “D.C. has these massive institutional arts forces that I found very difficult to penetrate—very few of them took the City Paper seriously—and then these smaller galleries and collectives who did take the paper seriously—often too seriously.”

Though Show & Tell lavished the arts scene with attention, its relationship was tumultuous. “One aspect of the arts community that made us think the column could be successful was that arts people are just as petty as anyone else,” says Lalasz. “The City Paper trades in absurdities, and the D.C. art world is full of those little absurdities.” That petty absurdity often turned its attention to the S&T column itself. “Getting the confidence of people to open up and talk to me wasn’t impossible, but it was difficult,” says Lalasz. “Local artists tended to take the snarky coverage as injurious to their careers.”

When Lalasz left Show & Tell, four months later, the column turned to booze. “The decision was made to cover clubs a lot more closely, and for better or for worse, that became the meat and potatoes of Show & Tell,” says Lalasz. Shott, a former bartender, assumed S&T duties. Shott, who recalls the column as “fun,” “interesting,” and “grueling,” found similar difficulties covering D.C.’s arts beat. “I think that a lot of the arts community lacks a sense of humor about themselves, which makes S&T’s life a little difficult,” says Shott. “Sometimes it’s not what you write but the fact that you write anything at all. People get pissed.”


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