The play starts and so does the familiar dread. Whether I enjoy the play or not, no matter if I have any reaction to it or none at all, I will go home and have to write a review. I’ve done this to myself. Sometime after the first book came out in 2011, I started to get paid for my written opinions. Haven’t been able to stop since.

It’s not just the money, though that’s helpful. Somewhere along the line I convinced myself that sharing my takes with strangers was worthwhile and a valid use of my time. The timeline coincides with the rise of social media, which practically dictates that we all must hold forth on everything and everyone that crosses our eyes, ears, and noses. It’s built in. Hot takes, cold takes, but takes, one way or another. Silence is not an option.

When I was in elementary school the teacher would assign a book to read, then make us write a book report. I resented this beyond all reason. My gut reaction was: Fuck you, read it yourself. These decades later, it feels like that impulse was the right one all along.

In the past fourteen years I’ve amassed enough reviews, essays, etc to fill an entire book but they will likely never be collected or published that way. It’s not that they’re so worthless. There’s the occasional insight, the odd memorable turn of phrase. It’s that there’s no reason to reread one guy’s judgment on a thing that itself is likely long forgotten.

There are a few writers, very few, who make criticism into an actual art. I’m just not one of them. So I will try, not for the first time, to quit. There’s enough money between the bookstore, art sales, the odd bar shift, and the kindness of friends and family, for me to get by okay without rendering my opinion on the latest play, book, or movie. The world will be no less rich without that puff of hot air.

This newsletter, which has been going about fifteen years, won’t last forever either. Some weeks it’s like pulling teeth. I still think there’s some value in keeping it going for now.

I want whatever energy I have left for art rather than opinionating. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop spouting my dumb takes to anyone who asks; only that it won’t be in print.

We’ll see how long I can hold out.

Rainbo show continues through July 27th. Eight pieces sold; eleven still available.