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Richard Marx And How Not To Act In The Internet Era

from the crazy-crazy-crazy dept

A year ago, Mike presented at Midem, discussing how being more open, honest and awesome to the public and to your fans is a recipe for musical success in the internet era. It sounds like an easy concept, but it's one that few do really well. It means connecting with your fans and your public, engaging them positively, responding honestly to inquiries, and generally putting the ego aside and embracing a certain amount of humility.

Or, alternatively, you could go the Richard Marx route, which basically means acting like a self-important psychopath. That's what Edward McClelland at Salon discovered when he did a piece that made a joking reference about Marx.
As I wrote in a story last week on the Morning News, Marx – the Chicago-born singer best known for the 1980s soft-rock hits “Hold On to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting” – demanded a sit-down with me after I called him “shameless” in a blog post for a local TV station’s news site.
“Would you say that to my face?” he emailed me. “Let’s find out. I’ll meet you anywhere in the city, any time. I don’t travel again until the end of the week. Let’s hash this out like men.”
Now, if you think it's a bit on the crazy side for 1980's ballad singers to go rushing around Chicago to meet up with people who said not nice things on the internet, you're not alone. Even stranger, it would appear that monitoring the interwebz and local papers for critics to respond to is something of a habit for Marx. He referred to one radio producer as a "coward", "jerk" and "douchebag" after he failed to show up for a radio appearance. The producer criticizing him for this qualified as a "pussy move" with Marx. He also was quite public in being upset at WGN-TV for not giving him more air time and told them essentially to go elsewhere if they needed a musical artist for their show in the future. These are but a few examples and, in the age of the internet where these stories will never die, they represent the best way to torpedo any possible chance an artist might have at a career in the future. Then there was his email exchange with a writer for Chicagoist, which was memorialized in a YouTube video:

There's just no reason to behave like this in any case, nevermind in an era where the harm done is multiplied and then refuses to disappear.

Now, in case you should think that my labeling Marx as "crazy" is unfair, take a look at a few samples from the email he sent to McClelland and dared him to post online.

-First, your editor, who’s not named but whose identity I can easily find, is a liar. I’ve never tipped less than 20% in my adult life, and you’re more than invited to call any establishments you think I may patronize to check it out.

-Second, to assume you can crawl inside my head and know what my motivation is for writing a song is arrogance reserved for the likes of Hitler and Stalin.

-The big question is why I give a shit about people like you or the things you write. Even my wife and some friends ask me why I don’t just let certain things go. Here’s my explanation. The internet, Twitter and blogs particularly, are a Utopian breeding ground for cowards. A place for small, frustrated people to spew vile, bitter shit without fearing true retribution. Today, you became the poster-boy for Chickenshit-itis. And for you, as well as anyone else who thinks this is as simple as me being “thin-skinned,” let me make a clear distinction, again…and for the last time: Mock or belittle my music all day long? Go for it. You’re entitled to your opinion. But disparage or call into question my character, and I’ll demand you answer for it.
I have to admit that last one is my favorite. Sadly, it is about being thin-skinned when you feel the need to drive your car from the suburbs into Chicago to meet face to face with some guy you don't know who said something you don't like on the internet -- especially when that "something you don't like" is the barely offensive claim that you are "shameless." More importantly, it shines a light on a psyche that is so desperate for attention and praise that it demands action from those he does not know. I can't take Marx up on his offer to critique his music because, frankly, I've never heard it. Nor have I heard of him prior to this piece coming out.

And that's really the point. For the sake of longevity, acting childish can do amazing things to your career and future opportunities. And I mean amazing the same way that Chernobyl was amazing. While the consequences in the internet era for being awesome are significant, so is the opposite true.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Josh S. Maiyer, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Bring it on.

    Richard Marx is a has-been pinhead with bad music and worse body odor.

    Let's go, big boy, let's go.

     

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  2.  
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    S. T. Stone, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    Richard Marx shows up in the comments in 54321

     

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  3.  
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    crade (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    Re:

    Missed the mark.

    Still, you gotta admit, he does sound pretty shameless.

     

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  4.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    Uwe Boll (director of horrendous films such as Bloodrayne and In the Name of the King) did the same thing, but instead invited his critics to into a boxing match.

     

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  5.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    Not bad for a guy who hasn't had a hit in 20 years. Still, if I had a choice, I'd rather meet Richard and call him a c**t to his face than meet Prince full stop! If I met Prince, I might do something I won't regret (but regret getting caught for!)

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Honestly, I don't have a problem with asking an online critic to discuss things in person.

    People (myself included) are all too quick to fire off insults from the safety of their keyboards that they wouldn't dare to utter in person.

     

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  7.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Marx

    The guy playing Marx is great.

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    Re:

    "Honestly, I don't have a problem with asking an online critic to discuss things in person."

    REALLY?!?!?!? Why not just discuss in the forum of the conversation? If Richard Marx showed up in the comments and wanted to explain why he thought this wasn't strange behavior, or perhaps some details of the story that were previously untold, I'd sure as shit listen. I have a hard time thinking anything would sway me to believe zipping around to random bars because of internet words is a good idea, but I'd listen. What does being "in person" have to do w/anything?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

    Re:

    "Honestly, I don't have a problem with asking an online critic to discuss things in person.

    People (myself included) are all too quick to fire off insults from the safety of their keyboards that they wouldn't dare to utter in person."

    He didn't "ask to discuss things in person". He "flew off the handle like a goddamn madman".

     

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  10.  
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    Richard Marx, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Tim,

    I'll see you behind the monkey bars after class.

    Love,
    Richard Marx

     

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  11.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Fails to live up to the Marx name.

    He isn't nearly as funny as Harpo and Chico.

     

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  12.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re:

    But if you care that much about what just ANYBODY says about you -- strangers, passers-by -- you actually must have a pretty highly-developed sense of shame... one that goads you into threats, intimidation and childish name-calling. He's not shameless, he's shame-fearing.

     

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  13.  
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    F!, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Marx is a child

    If I were McClelland, I'd be sure to have a bodyguard (or at least a couple of friends with blackbelt skills) along for that meeting. Marx sounds like, yes, a psychopath.

    I mean, "Let抯 hash this out like men"!? Really Marx? This is the equivalant of a 9-year-old saying "You called me a name, meet me by the bike racks after school and I'll kick your butt!"

    Never grow up, Marx. This is kind of entertaining - sad, but entertaining nonetheless. It'll never make your shitty music-like-product worth listening to though. And I pity your wife, who apparently has more sense than you.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re:

    "What does being "in person" have to do w/anything?"

    Some people think that people won't criticize them in person. Sadly, that is not the case.

    If Richard Marx, whose music I vaguely remember as a child born in 1985, asked me to say it in person I'd probably call him worse. But I'm a huge fan of button pushing. The easier it is to tick someone off the harder it is for me to resist doing so and the more hilarious I find it to be as I watch their blood slowly boil and their sense of reason slowly melt away as a result. (Which I'm not going to lie, watching a guy with a mullet... does he still have that? In the year 2013?... get pissed and basically say, in no uncertain or eloquent terms, the equivalent of "Come at me, brah." Oh man, I'd pay to see that and I'd gladly criticize Marx for the opportunity to have him ask me that. But only if he pays for airfare and hotel accommodations for me to get to Chicago and stay the day while I await to see him "in person". Him and his mullet, which is dare I say as amazing as Billy Ray Cyrus' ever was in it's "Achy Breaky Heart" glory days.)

     

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  15.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    Soft Rock Equals Limp Dick Rock !
    Now, how is that for an insult Marx !

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'd also like to add the following.

    Richard, if by chance you ever read this, yes I insulted your mullet and essentially you. But, and let me make this clear, there's a fine line between having what is essentially a joke of a career and yourself becoming a joke. You crossed that line with your actions.

    Since I mentioned Billy Ray Cyrus, let me just show you what an adult does.

    He goes from this (and I'm sorry to everyone for having to post that, as a Texan who was a child when that song hit the air and was forced to learn to dance to it in gym many, many excruciatingly long and numerous times, I am so, so sorry):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byQIPdHMpjc

    To this:

    Damnit, I can't find a clip. So I'm just going to copy/paste what's in the Wikipedia entry for what I was hoping to find/put.

    "In "The Way We Almost Weren't," Jackson and Miley experience a flashback to June 2, 1987 where they meet Robby in a New Mexico cafe. He is trying to write "Achy Breaky Heart," but is struggling with the right adjectives, first trying "itchy twitchy" and "herky jerky." When Jackson suggests "achy breaky," Robby dismisses it as "the dumbest thing I've ever heard.""

    That's a man who can at least laugh along with everyone else. And also, is now lacking a mullet. IT'S 2013!!! Mullets, to not quite quote Robert Muldoon from Jurassic Park, they should all be destroyed.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

    "'The internet, Twitter and blogs particularly, are a Utopian breeding ground for cowards. A place for small, frustrated people to spew vile, bitter shit without fearing true retribution.'"

    Because the 1st Amendment wasn't around before the internet, Twitter, or blogs.

     

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  18.  
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    Nigel (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Richard Marx has drunken one-man Twitter party

    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/29/entertainment/la-et-ms-richard-marx-has-drunken-twitter-part y-20121129


    Unless the guy in the pic has secret ninja skills he should probably keep his ass behind the keyboard before someone kindly takes him up on his offer.

    that is all,

    Nigel

     

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  19.  
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    Viktor, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Marx

    I don't think the quote from the email to McClelland sounded that unreasonable. I think it's a journalistic trait to put things in print that you may not say to someones face. This website often takes the side of the little guy being harangued by the man! and in some respects no different to Marx trying to hold people with more power to account. I doubt a polite letter would even be noteworthy.

     

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  20.  
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    Viktor, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Marx

    I don't think the quote from the email to McClelland sounded that unreasonable. I think it's a journalistic trait to put things in print that you may not say to someones face. This website often takes the side of the little guy being harangued by the man! and in some respects no different to Marx trying to hold people with more power to account. I doubt a polite letter would even be noteworthy.

     

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  21.  
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    pdub, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Richard Marx is Great

    Richard Marx is a very talented song writer. He was popular during an era when it was cool to be tough - not sure that's a bad thing considering the current state of the world and music. Anyway, I don't think it's a big deal that he challenges people who insult him.

     

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  22.  
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    Nigel (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    So is Elvis... oh... wait...

    Nigel

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Richard Marx has drunken one-man Twitter party

    Christ, the guy's like a chihuahua, isn't he? Little bitty guy thinking he's a beast, barking at everything that walks past his yard, and you just keep hoping that eventually he breaks free and gets after a pitbull so there's one less annoying ankle biter making annoying sounds.

     

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  24.  
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    Patrick, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    Response to: Lowestofthekeys on Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    Yeah... Poor Lowtax

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    He was popular during an era when it was cool to be tough


    Yep, and even then he was about as tough as Hello Kitty.

     

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  26.  
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    Hambone, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, ...

    Oh yeah...

    Richard!

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Richard Marx is Great

    That's no fair. My wife likes Hello Kitty, and she'd kick his ass.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    Karl?

     

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  29.  
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    arrgster (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:58pm

    Well

    If we take in account the actions of lindsay lohan and all the crazy stuff she's been doing, only to be offered 500k to appear somewhere. I would say acting like an ass probably may help more than hurt a persons career. Seriously, the most popular thing I hear about these days is honey boo boo. Come to think of it, I would say Richards only problem is he's not being ridiculous enough...

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    You mean the era of the power ballad? The same decade that brought us Wham, Culture Club and New Kids on the Block? I don't know where you were in the 80's but I never considered them as tough and definitely not Marx.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    Re:

    It appears that he also doesn't consider emails as related to the internet. That or he has some serious double standards! :)

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't think these are mutually exclusive options.

    "What does being "in person" have to do w/anything?"

    Have you not observed the phenomenon that online commentary more easily/quickly devolves into crude insults than in person communication?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm just going off the quotes in the article:

    He "demanded a sit-down with me"

    揥ould you say that to my face? he emailed me. 揕et抯 find out. I抣l meet you anywhere in the city, any time. I don抰 travel again until the end of the week. Let抯 hash this out like men.

    I don't think any of that qualifies as flying on the handle like a mad man.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:56pm

    Careful everybody -- He is making a list right now. Mr. Marx, if you are reading this, I tried to stop them.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Marx is a child

    "I'd be sure to have a bodyguard (or at least a couple of friends with blackbelt skills"

    Really? It's Richard Marx! I'm sure making a loud noise (like vigorously shaking coins in a can)will be more than enough to scare him and his mullet away.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    "He was popular during an era when it was cool to be tough"

    As tough as he tried to portray himself, he was certainly no Michael Bolton. Now there was a bad ass entertainer!

    I celebrate the man's entire catalog.

     

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  37.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:15pm

    Richard Marx?? Never heard of him.

    .

    But now I have and what I know boils down to this:

    "Richard Marx is thin-skinned petulant ass looking for a fight."

    Has this piqued my interest?

    Not one damned bit.

    Rot in obscurity Mr. Marx, rot in obscurity.

    .

     

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  38.  
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    Milton Freewater, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    Wise words from a long-ago hero of mine

    "It don't mean nothin'
    The words that they say
    No it don't mean nothin'
    These games that people play
    No it don't mean nothin'
    No victim, no crime"
    - Richard Marx

     

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  39.  
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    Milton Freewater, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    "He was popular during an era when it was cool to be tough - not sure that's a bad thing considering the current state of the world and music."

    I think you're confusing him with Karl Marx.

    Or maybe Groucho Marx.

     

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  40.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I do. The "shameless" comment wasn't inflammatory. It was pretty mild. Reacting by demanding a sit-down and wondering if he'd say that to his face is pretty extreme compared to the comment he's reacting to.

    A normal, sane person would have shrugged it off and gone on with his day.

     

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  41.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    This isn't an example of that, though. Calling someone "shameless" is very civil compared to a lot of in-person interactions I've seen.

     

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  42.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Maybe he just wants to reinvent himself as a shock rocker... but I think he's doing it wrong.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Richard Marx is Great

    You never considered NKOTB to be tough? C'mon! As I recall, they were always Hangin' Tough!

     

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  44.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:15pm

    I don't say this about major-label singers often, but I actually liked Richard Marx's stuff back in the day. He was pretty good as far as late-'80s soft rock/pop goes.

    Having said that, yeah, it seems like he's being kind of a douche.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:34pm

    Re:

    You forgot the detail.

    He invited all of them and didn't tell them it was not a publicity stunt, because those that showed up thought it was.

    Those that didn't think and were refused were the ones younger and stronger than Mr. Boll's :)

    See this is why all those drugs in the 80's were so bad they created a whole generation of idiots, that as they get old they get crazier and crazier.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:38pm

    Re:

    People say it in other ways.

    "You have a temper", "You are colorful" or any other euphemism available to describe someone.

     

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  47.  
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    Steph (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:29pm

    How old *are* you?

    "I can't take Marx up on his offer to critique his music because, frankly, I've never heard it. Nor have I heard of him prior to this piece coming out."

    I feel so sad that you missed out on the teen angst that is Richard Marx. How horrible your upbringing must have been! That, or you're younger than I thought.

    OMG. That's it, isn't it?

    {hangs 42-yr-old head in shame}

     

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  48.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:26am

    Re: How old *are* you?

    Er, I'm about to be 31. Even so, I was raised to firmly believe that rock and roll and most music died in 1979. Probably why as an adult I tend towards mashup music, electronic music, and particularly video game compositions.

    Well, that and any jazz from the 40's to the 60's, of course...

     

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  49.  
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    trish, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 7:05am

    "And I mean amazing the same way that Chernobyl was amazing."
    Ahhh... Tim

     

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  50.  
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    jsf (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    Crazy Chicago Musicians

    Anyone that lives in Chicago for more than a couple years comes to know that most Chicago musicians are, how shall we say it, um "touched" or maybe bat-shit crazy would be a better term. ;-)

     

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  51.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The easier it is to tick someone off the harder it is for me to resist doing so and the more hilarious I find it to be as I watch their blood slowly boil and their sense of reason slowly melt away as a result.

    I fear you're going to get shot some day...

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Sounds like his home life needs an adjustment.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Richard Marx?? Never heard of him.

    Pride in not knowing anything that happened before one's birth is a trait I have always found perplexing.

     

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  54.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Wrong

    Like the fixation on "violent video games are never bad", the comment:
    "While the consequences in the internet era for being awesome are significant, so is the opposite true."
    is something we would both LIKE to believe, it just isn't true. I would love it if both were unconditionally true, but they aren't.
    In some cases, some violent video games are arguably harmful, and in some cases bad actions have "cachet". Too bad, really, but not something we should ignore "because ..."

     

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  55.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Richard Marx?? Never heard of him.

    Pride in not knowing anything that happened before one's birth is a trait I have always found perplexing.

    Where did he say he was proud to have never heard of him?

     

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  56.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Richard Marx?? Never heard of him.

    "Pride in not knowing anything that happened before one's birth is a trait I have always found perplexing."

    Pride? When did I say anything about being proud? I've just never heard of the guy, is all....

     

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  57.  
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    Steph (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: How old *are* you?

    31?

    That was 11 years ago for me.

    Thanks. Now I feel *really* old!!

    But Richard Marx is still the bomb. I have to say that for two reasons: 1) to stay on-topic and 2) so I don't make his shit list.

     

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  58.  
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    dennis deems, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Richard Marx?? Never heard of him.

    Ok. I misread your tone when you wrote "I can't take Marx up on his offer to critique his music because, frankly, I've never heard it. Nor have I heard of him prior to this piece coming out." This seemed to me like a jab delivered with satisfaction, but I'll take your word. But the "pride" I spoke of was on the part of GeneralEmergency, who is, quite unmistakably I think, wearing his unfamiliarity with the name & work of Richard Marx as a badge of honor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re:

    See, he said he didn't have a problem with you insulting his music, just with insulting him directly...

    You have a limp dick, Marx!

    FTFY :D

    And, yeah... anytime I hear his music my testicles crawl up into my stomach and won't come out if they see their shadow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

    Re: How old *are* you?

    Well, in fairness, I'd never heard of the guy before either, and I'm pushing 50.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    answer, Feb 3rd, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    Richard is not, and never was "tough". I don't believe even he would characterize his self as such. He's a teeny troll with a puffed up attitude and chest (and hair). You missed the whole thing - Richard challenges people because he's desperately insecure and believes that trying to be clever and glib on the net makes him relevant. In reality, he's just your average, run-of-the-mill, angry guy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    lobmo, Apr 7th, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Richard Marx is Great

    He is very talented. What I don't understand is why people keep acting as if he hasn't had a hit in years? He has written several number one songs for Keith Urban. Plus his voice still sounds 100% like it did 25 years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Tom, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    It must kill you that Marx is known around the world. And you're not. Nobody knows you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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