Readers of the Chronicle and the Sunday pink pages may have noticed the absence of a certain byline recently, that of pop music critic Michael Snyder, who has been writing there in some capacity since 1980. Rumors were flying that he was fired or, strangely, demoted to fashion writer (fall fashion tip: berets!) but his departure was a resignation of sorts.
“I got pneumonia and was laid up for a month,” Snyder says. “I've been doing this for 10 years. I'm just exhausted; I've got burnout.” He says management balked, though, at his request for a six-month leave of absence starting in January. According to fellow Chronicle critic Joel Selvin, editors were unhappy that the paper missed a “breaking story” about the rescheduled Pearl Jam shows.
“I was in Cleveland covering the Hall of Fame,” Selvin says, “and Michael was on sick leave. An editor said, 'Well, I heard Michael do his movie reviews on Live 105 this morning.' The Chronicle made a generous offer to continue his benefits if he resigned. He left voluntarily.”
“He was doing great, valuable work,” Selvin continues. “I consider him a close friend. But I watched him struggle with the backbreaking stress of daily journalism. He really was not happy in the job and wasn't rising to the challenge.” Snyder served as a vacation replacement for Selvin for a decade, but became full-time 2 1/2 years ago and a ubiquitous figure at alternative rock shows and the club-opening feeding trough.
Selvin, who has been on staff since 1970, says that the Chronicle has begun a national search for a replacement. Readers' oft-repeated refrain that fresh blood is sorely needed became even more apparent after a recent pink pages cover package titled “The Pitiful Pop of the '90s,” which said more about the jadedness of the two fortysomething writers than about a youth movement that has allegedly “failed to materialize in any substantial numbers.” Ironically, though, Snyder was the more forward-minded of the duo. Selvin, returning last week to the Lively Arts column that he penned for 17 years before Snyder took over, gave warhorses like Steve Miller, Eric Clapton, Gregg Allman, and Iron Butterfly the bold-faced treatment. And, of course, Pearl Jam.
Gone, but certainly not forgotten, the recently deceased Diet Popstitute will be honored at the Memorialstitute potluck at the Women's Building, 3543 18th St, on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. As befitting the beloved Klubstitute founder, musician, impresario, and Playstitute honcho, he who married the punk aesthetic to all-out drag glamour, “fancy and/or complicated outfits” are encouraged. Meaning, don't wear black. Call 826-5358 for info.
By Sia Michel