I grew up with the New Times in Phoenix; I still have a ratty grey T-shirt for "the Valley's News and Arts Journal," which I won in some back-of-book picture-ID contest. I remember enjoying the film critic Michael Burkett, so much livelier than the lead critic at the Arizona Republic. The New Times was my first introduction to the alternative-weekly template: the studied irreverence and contrarianism, uthe ncensored language, the gushing reviews of music I'd never heard of, the "personal" ads. When I first moved to L.A. and picked up the LA Weekly, my head practically exploded with a mere glance at the cultural listings. But I recognized the format.
Little did I know the bitter, incestuous tangle those two media outlets, and another one I'd dimly heard of called simply "the Voice," would one day get into. By the time I arrived in NY last year, I wasn't much of an alt-weekly reader anymore, largely thanks to the Web, and the Village Voice I've encountered since hasn't given me many reasons to change my readings. But with the news that New Times Media, from its base in my swingin' hometown, is gutting the New York staff of the Voice, particularly in the arts department, it may be time to retire that T-shirt.