“We were kind of the last people who were allowed to get away with a lot of that stuff,” Keith Harris told Sean McPherson last night on The Current. “Obviously,” he allowed with a chuckle, “we weren’t totally allowed to get away with it.”
Harris, whose career at City Pages spanned over two decades as a contributor and two discrete spans as music editor, was the final person to hold that title when news came yesterday that the irreverent alt-weekly – one of the last in the country – was shutting down permanently.
(Disclosure: since 2016, in addition to my work at The Current I was a regular freelance contributor to City Pages, covering theater news and reviews.)
“We had no idea the financial situation was at a point where they had to can the entire operation,” City Pages web editor Jay Boller told Cathy Wurzer on MPR News this morning, “and we found out about the same time that the public did.”
“I’m still processing it all,” said Harris. “It’s new news to all of us, and at this point we’re still wrapping everything up and finding a way to say goodbye.”
Harris remembered seeing his first copy of City Pages in 1994, and reminisced with McPherson about the generations of talented Minnesota musicians who earned some of their first press mentions in the paper. Lizzo, sure…but even more recently than that. “I think back over the past few winners of our Picked to Click poll,” said Harris, “like Nur-D, like Gully Boys…and seeing them step up this year as people in the community has been exciting.”
“It was a cultural guide for people who just moved to the city,” said Boller, as well as “people who lived here for 40 years…whether you liked to just kind of playfully say that City Pages has gone to hell and wasn’t like it was 40 years ago, you still looked at it, you still read it.”
Calling City Pages “the pesky little voice that keeps the mainstream institutional outlets in check,” Boller name-checked several other publications covering the Twin Cities arts and music scenes.
“We used to have The Rake, we used to have the Reader, we used to have A.V. Club local, we used to have METRO magazine, we used to have more recently The Growler…they’re gone, and there’s just no way to really replace that.”
Members of the Minnesota music community have been sharing sadness and memories on social media.
— Ana Tuirán (@anatuiranmusic) October 29, 2020
— TITI XOCHIQUETZAL (@iamladymidnight) October 28, 2020
Thank you @citypages for all of the music and film coverage over the years. Thank you also for honoring The Parkway Theater with the title of "Best Music Venue 2020". Lastly, thank you for letting us share some humor through your ads earlier this year when we needed it most. pic.twitter.com/MFU7VgLXoL
— The Parkway Theater (@TheParkwayMPLS) October 28, 2020
I will never forget the moment I woke up to see this.
Walking around to see my face looking back at me at a restaurant or a coffee shop like I was somebody.@citypages Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for my career
You will be missed🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/FQko7Lv6QN
— Nur-Defend The People (@NurDRocks) October 28, 2020
This is such a bummer. Early in my career, @citypages gave me confidence that I was onto something with my music. Since then it’s been a huge help to build awareness of our band. Thank you to the music staff for listening to and writing about our music. You will be missed. https://t.co/6cznA50TdI pic.twitter.com/4HCeuu78oi
— wearethewillows (@wearethewillows) October 28, 2020
Cant lie, the 15 yr old me did backflips every time they covered my shows/album releases….While not perfect, CP was a vital platform for the TC. Tons of cities don’t even have local papers covering local art, music. long story short its a shame to see them go.
— ECID (@ECIDfitb) October 29, 2020
Well said, Laur…and it's just a dang cryin' shame.
— Linda Pitmon (@pitmonster) October 28, 2020
Thank you for everything @citypages ❤️
— SOPHIA ERIS (@SophiaEris) October 28, 2020
— T.G.I.M. (@mujamessiah) October 29, 2020
City Pages!? Hurts to see our local free paper go out of business. HUGE player in supporting the arts and entertainment here in the Twin Cities. Thank you for your hard work for our community. Thank you also for the continued support with my music throughout the many years! 😭Ugh pic.twitter.com/CMudFxaJGT
— Little Man (@littlemanmusic) October 29, 2020
— Chris Michael Jensen (@ChrisMikeJensen) October 28, 2020
Thank you for everything and showing love @citypages .
Hope all the staff and writers come out of this good! Much love
— Dwynell Roland (@DwynellRoland) October 28, 2020
@citypages have been a big, reliable support for us since we first started as a band. we wouldn’t be who we are today without them. does this really have to be goodbye??
— Ghoully Boys 👻 (@gullyboysband) October 28, 2020
.@citypages graciously covered so many FA bands over the years. Picked to Clicks, features, interviews, show reviews…we'll be forever grateful for their support and their dedication to the scene here in the Twin Cities…
— Forged Artifacts (@forgedartifacts) October 28, 2020
Thank you @citypages for the decades of work supporting arts in the Twin Cities. An archive that will never be paralleled. Long live print media.
— Drew Christopherson (@drew_christ) October 28, 2020