Thursday, October 27, 2011

WHO IS JEFFREY WELLS AND WHY IS HE SAYING THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT ME?


Last week I passed along heartfelt appreciation for my inclusion on a short list of film bloggers mentioned by critic Charles Taylor as being among the best at what they do. Taylor was writing in Dissent magazine and felt moved to mention me alongside true heavy-hitters like Farran Nehme Smith and Kim Morgan, and believe me, that mention has fueled me for the past two weeks and given my writing batteries (and my confidence) a real charge. Taylor has never been one to suffer fools in print, and to know that someone with a brain and talent like his finds value in the writing of a self-started film blogger like me is rich encouragement indeed.

But for every giddy, delirium-inducing peak, there must be a corresponding valley, right? Here I was tonight, still buzzing over Taylor’s comments (to myself-- I’ve driven enough people to distraction over my excitement already to know that it’s high time to just shut up) and getting ready to go to sleep after a thrilling World Series Game 6 in which the Cardinals staved off the end of their season twice, both times down to their final strike, David Freese delivering a triple to tie the game in the ninth and then a walk-off home run to win it in the 11th. Then came the text message from a close friend. “Did you see this?” it said. “Check out Hollywood Elsewhere!” So I clicked on the link, Hollywood Elsewhere not being prominent on my “Favorites” tab, and there it was. Jeffrey Wells runs the entirety of the paragraph I quoted from Taylor’s piece last week and then ends with this:

“I love Morgan and Smith but who the hell is Cozzalio? I haven't been to Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule once in my life. Not once.”

Did I say “valley”? Not exactly. I’m as giddy about this as I was being mentioned by Charles Taylor. Maybe more! What better radar to not be on than that of Jeffrey Wells? Never have I been so happy to toil in obscurity. And I love Wells’s emphatic, self-serious “Not once,” especially as it is preceded by a link to my home page. Could this be the exposure I need to really hit the big time?!

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24 comments:

Craig Kennedy said...

2nd best to being praised by the best is being ignored by the worst. Congratulations on both counts!

(the irony here is you don't know who I am either, but that's a whole other story)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I have never talked to Craig Kennedy. Not once. And thanks for the words and the tweets, Craig!You're all right for someone I've never heard of.

Anonymous said...

Awesome mention, Dennis!

I am actually a regular Hollywood-Elsewhere reader, so just know that Wells is a snob and exactly the opposite of what Taylor says makes a good film blogger.

And Kennedy (of Living in Cinema fame) is a pretty big deal, too!

So in the end, you've come out on top!

Larry Aydlette said...

WHO THE HELL IS COZZALIO? is...

A. An AIP double-bill drive-in pic from '76 starring Bruce Dern
B. An Italian giallo about Dennis and convent schoolgirls with an Ennio Morricone score
C. The original title of Freebie and The Bean

Fred said...

Be proud to be ignored by an awful, petty, hateful old man. Jefrrey Wells WAS a great writer about movies. He's been unreadable for years, trolling his own blog to rile up the sickos who still enjoy him.

Star Wars Modern said...

Irony. He was clearly sending people to your blog as well, that is why I visited. Once...

Greg said...

Dennis, my friend, you've already hit the big time. If Jeffrey doesn't know you, it's his fault, not yours. I don't read Wells, but I know of him (from Glenn Kenny alone), so I can't say one way or the other whether you should be happy that he doesn't know you, just that he should if he's read Farran and Kim because your name has been prominently mentioned on their blogs many times (well, definitely on Farran's) and Jim Emerson mentions you constantly. Hell, Emerson is how I discovered you back in 2007. So that would mean Wells isn't reading Emerson and if you're in the biz, and you're not reading Scanners, well, you're not being as thorough as you should.

I hope Jeffrey does start reading you soon. I think he will be as pleased as anyone else who starts reading you.

And congrats on the original mention from Taylor, Dennis, that's awesome.

Greg said...

Dennis, I just read Wells' piece and he certainly doesn't seem to be dissing you in any way, just saying he hadn't heard of you and now he has. He says he hasn't visited the site once, "before this evening, I mean." I don't know, that makes it sound like he's happy to know about you now. Kind of a "hey, I'll start visiting here now." I mean, the fact that he put up the short piece on Taylor's mention would indicate he's possibly trying to call attention to you.

Like I said, I don't read Wells and don't know much about him but his piece certainly doesn't come off as anything bad, quite the contrary. Well, that's what I thought, at least.

Roark said...

Gee, what a lovely eff you to Wells, timed perfectly for any readers of his coming over here for the first time. Classy...

Anonymous said...

Hey, if it drives traffic to the site, its a plus. Wells does have that "center of the universe" vibe occasionally, if if you are a small planet not rotating around him you are way, way, way off his map. In all fairness, this site does not appear to be on many radars, but probably should. Hope this gains you new readers.

Also, if you get a chance to talk with Wells, ask him about the cowboy hat and the pear cake.

Anonymous said...

barf. You're important Dennis! Congratulations! - Stuart Smalley

p.s. Jeff Wells is mean :( I'm taking my ball and going home.

Joel Bocko said...

Yeah, I only know of him from Kenny's blogs too where the mentions are mostly pretty ambivalent - the impression I get is that he's a curmudgeon but often a correct curmudgeon which isn't a bad thing to be. Like Greg I'm not 100% sure it was meant as a diss, but either way you're on his radar now!

Anyway I sympathize - I had a video, made as a lark as part of a much bigger project and not intended to be seen widely, picked up by a big site, and while it was cool to get "tweets" (still not sure what those are) and lots of views, the way some people reacted you'd think I ran over their grandmother or something...

brad said...

I think you are taking it the wrong way, although I would agree from reading Jeffrey for a couple years that he can e prickly. However, he also slams movies and then two weeks later says he likes them a lot. All things considered, you have some new readers out of it - like me

lucas mcnelly said...

I only have a vague idea of who this Jeffrey Wells person is, but I know exactly who you are. Different strokes, I guess.

The Mysterious Ad[ri.an B)e;ta]m.a.x. said...

Blogosphere Blogosphere Blogosphere Blogosphere content Blogosphere content Blogosphere Blogosphere Blogosphere content Blogosphere Blogosphere Blogsophere Blogosphere Blogosphere Blogosphere Blogosphere
Can we have some commercials too? Get back to work, you lazy bums!

The Mysterious Ad[ri.an B)e;ta]m.a.x. said...

Your penance is a marathon viewing of The Human Condition Parts 1 - 6 in a single sitting, followed by a 10,000-word review to be posted the same day. Go! =)

Thomas Duke said...

Well, Mr. Wells is missing out on some sweet Harry Kellerman references. His loss.

I mostly know Hollywood Elsewhere because of Glenn Kenny, and will only report that Wells repeatedly bashed Criterion (both for having bad transfers and being "uppity"), only to later admit that he was doing so at least partially because he once interviewed for a job with them (or a related branch; Janus, etc.) and found the interviewer rude. Make of that what you will.

Paul Harrington said...

I've never heard of Jeffrey Wells either. But why did you accompany the post with David Lynch's audition photo for "Elvis - The Movie"? I'm not smart enough to catch all your jokes and references.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Greg, all: It could very well be that Jeffrey Wells mentioning my name and the my blog on Hollywood Elsewhere was intended as a way of suggesting to his readers that they check out my work, and if so I apologize for any rudeness on my part in my response.

The fact is, though I used to habitually obsess about my traffic, after a while both my interest in constantly checking on my hits and visits and the amount of traffic itself leveled off. I had to remember that the writing I do has always been, from the get-go, created with no expectation of any audience at all, so I certainly appreciate the size of my readership, whatever it may be, and the fact that anyone would want to spend any part of their day reading what I’ve written. I’ve never set out to write anything with the express purpose of attracting attention—I always thought that if people did pay attention, then I’d know I had the kind of readers I wanted because they would be interested in the things that I was interested in or, once they began to trust my voice, in hearing about something new to their experience. I’ve never courted the interest of writers or sites whose work I didn’t respect or downright love simply for the sake of upping my exposure. When my site is mentioned, wherever it’s mentioned, I’m proud of the fact that it’s usually about the work, even if the person offering the mention disagrees with my opinion or my approach. And of course I appreciate the eyes of anyone who is directed from elsewhere looking in to check things out, even if they eventually decide (and they usually do, according to the numbers) that my site is not for them.

That’s why I was amused, not offended, when Jeffrey Wells mentioned me. I don’t follow Hollywood Elsewhere regularly because whenever I do I don’t get a perspective on movies that interests or excites me. If I want a dissection of the industry, I find Anne Thompson’s intellect much more reliable, and David Poland, who obsesses over the numbers far too rigorously for my taste, often digs deeper into the issues surrounding the world of making commercial films. Whenever I visit Hollywood Elsewhere it’s usually because of something outrageous or impolitic or otherwise ill-advised that the author has written, or because of some grotesque train wreck in the comments column courtesy of a certain misanthropic “performance artist” who frequents HE and other sites. (I was even moved to drop a couple of comments there myself last year involving this semi-regular’s dust-up with Wells, Glenn Kenny and a couple thousand other people.) Wells’ universe is just not one that I frequent. I of course welcome the attention of anyone with a following as large as his, and though I would never expect that the majority of folks who read and participate in HE would find my site of much interest, I would love to be proved wrong.

(part two after the break...)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Being mentioned by Wells, however, is a lot different than being mentioned by Jim Emerson or Charles Taylor or David Edelstein, and not just because of the wildly disparate levels of respect and affection I have for their work over Wells’. Part of the joy of being a part of the emergence of film bloggers as a force (on the whole) to be reckoned with is the delight in finding another voice beside one’s own who manages to articulate similar passions, or passion itself similarly, or wildly divergent points of view with flair and substance and, yes, passion, and then passing them along with the enthusiastic hope of turning on whatever readership one has to the pleasures of those writers. If that gesture is returned, then it’s probable that one’s own site has been introduced to precisely the audience that will appreciate it and help it grow, not only in terms of traffic but also in terms of maturity and intellect and experience. I’ve met so many people whose acquaintance, friendship and writing I treasure through the natural process of sharing my own writing on this blog, and I know that even after seven years I’ve still barely dipped my toes in. I do remember getting very excited once when IMDb linked to a movie quiz of mine a few years ago as I watched the traffic expand over a period of a single weekend by 10 or 12 times. But after that link grew cold, I retained a bare percentage of that audience. (Hopefully the ones that did stick around longer than a couple of weeks are still here, but who knows?) An experience like that will illustrate quickly, if one has any delusions otherwise, just how big the ocean is—if I thought before that I might be a tuna, it was soon clear that I was much closer to a sardine. Who wouldn’t rather be mentioned in The New York Times?

(Jesus! Part three? It's next...)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Given all this, I felt simply that the way Jeffrey Wells went about his mention was all too typical of his judgment and impatience as a writer. So though it may have read on my part as if I thought he wasn’t acknowledging my obvious importance and stature (believe me, I am well aware of how relatively off the radar my site is, and not just off Wells’), I genuinely found his response amusing for a couple of reasons. First, as you, Greg, mentioned, if Wells says “loves” Farran and Kim and reads them with any regularity, or even if he glanced through the above-mentioned dust-up in his own comments thread, then he ought to have some familiarity with my site, though it is certainly possible that he just didn’t remember. What was most amusing to me though was the rather flip and arrogant manner (which I admit I returned in a similar, perhaps regrettable fashion) of the mention of me and my site in his column. If a writer wants to suggest to his readers to check out a site he’s never heard of before but thinks might be of some interest to his audience, my own personal experience tells me there’s a more cordial way of doing it than huffing about the identity of a mystery blogger who’s being mentioned by some big shot in the company of writers he has heard of, followed by a curious insistence that he’s never visited SLIFR-- not once!-- rather than a link and a invite to “check this out.” The recent kerfluffle over his Carey Mulligan posts ought to illustrate pretty clearly that there’s often a marked disconnect between what Wells thinks he’s communicating and the way that information comes across in print, not to mention his hesitancy to take responsibility for the tone he sets on his site.

As I said in the beginning of this comment, which has now run longer than the initial posts, his and mine, combined, I apologize if I have misread Wells’ intent and I of course welcome any of his readers who have clicked over and found something here to compel them as lovers of the art and pleasures of the movies. But to my eyes his was a rather bull-headed and ill-judged way of making a recommendation, and all too typical, as I’ve been witness to anyway, of Wells’ methods in general.

Laura said...

The fact is, though I used to habitually obsess about my traffic, after a while both my interest in constantly checking on my hits and visits and the amount of traffic itself leveled off.

It's been so long since I checked Cinema Styles stats that when I went to sitemeter about a week ago I found I had forgotten both my user name and password. So I looked at the blogger stats. I can't remember why I even checked now but, yes, after three or four years, seriously, you just stop looking.

Dennis, as always, that was a thorough, engaging and thoughtful response. Thanks.

Greg said...

Ha, Dennis, my wife, Laura was logged in when I left that last comment. Sorry, everyone, that was me.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Just had to share this comment with everyone here. This was left on Jeffrey Wells's site sometime today, by a reader whose handle is DeafEars:

"Dennis Cozzalio has many good things to say, but he is probably the most long-winded bastard I've ever encountered, on or off-line. (Never met the guy, although we both go to the New Beverly a lot.) He'll never pass up a chance to say in ten paragraphs what he could say in two. His whiny treatise on why he chose not to see IRREVERSIBLE was amazing, and not in a good way."

Long-winded? Why, for the first time in my life I'm speechless... but let me say this: DeafEars, I hope you'll introduce yourself at the New Beverly someday so I can shake your hand and bore you in person! ;)