[Editor's Note: These are some last words to Ben Wener, the pop critic and music editor for the Orange County Register, who announced he is leaving his post this week. In honor of his lengthy compound sentence structure (lovingly dubbed "sentegraphs" by former music editor Albert Ching, we've done him one better and offered this loving tribute]
It appears that pop critic/music editor Ben Wener's 20-year reign at the OC Register is over by the end of the week, after the veteran scribe has, like so many of his colleagues, announced his departure from the paper and seized the opportunity to flutter down from OC's crumbling mainstream media machine on a golden parachute (a.k.a. contract buyout), marking the end of an era (or maybe two if we're really counting the rings on this longtime journo ,who began writing for the Reg back in '94) and is depriving us all of his…
talents as one of the wordiest wordsmiths to ever work at the paper, a writer who never failed to supply readers with such a plethora of meandering commentary and left-field postulations on the careers of many of the gray-haired classic rockers, pop princesses, Gen-X stalwarts, country crooners, any local bands big enough to play the OC Fair, and whatever music soccer moms are listening to and has done so with one thing in mind: Serving his readers faithfully, honestly, and long (very long) lastingly as a major voice of criticism in pop music in the hopes that mixture of tireless research, wry wit and Havard-caliber $10 words might go a long way in truthfully conveying the thought process, the failures and successes of the many artists he's interviewed during his tenure at the Register, including David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Page & Jack White, Paul Simon (and Art Garfunkel, who apparently was compelled to tell him that Jessica Alba has nice tits), David Byrne, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Ray Davies, Beck, Roger Daltrey, Trent Reznor, Iggy Pop, Paul Weller, Damon Albarn, Chrissie Hynde, Joe Strummer, Yoko Ono, Ozzy Osbourne, Norah Jones, Al Green, Robbie Robertson, Rod Stewart, Sting, Chuck D, Robert Smith, Chris Martin, Andy Partridge, Common, Wayne Coyne, Donald Fagen, Randy Newman, Jeff Lynne, the late great Arthur Lee (batshit crazy at that point, per Wener's farewell note), Paul Stanley, Ben Folds, Butch Vig, Frank Black, Josh Homme, Dave Gahan, Noel Gallagher, Nick Cave, Peter Buck, Jonny Greenwood, Johnny Marr, John Mayer, Bryan Ferry, Joey Ramone, John Lydon, Justin Timberlake when he was still with 'N Sync and so many more that we could go on forever, though that would be beside the point–which is that Wener, in so many bold, often self-referential statements in his reviews and reports, was always at the cutting edge of music coverage for the Register, which was occasionally more than a butter knife, spreading its smooth, malleable, surface level stories across our fair, white-bred county–though he was always ready to stick it to big-time bands like our local darlings of No Doubt (who haven't forgiven him or the Reg to this day for that bad review he gave them that one time–seriously, Gwen, you gotta forgive and forget; at least let the new guy/gal to take Wener's post get a shot at some press passes the next time you guys play here!), U2 (who are probably still licking their wounds after he slammed them in his very first review as a pop critic back in '97), and anyone else he may have skewered in his various appearances as a talking head on KOCE-TV (back when it existed), where he often delivered up-to-the-minute music analysis to public access anchors who pretended to smile, nod and understand his thoughts about Green Day or whoever before delivering a hearty chuckle and commanding him to "go get some sleep, you crazy kid" after all those concert reviews, which he continued to dole out right up until his last days at the paper; though we're certain we'll be seeing more of his wordy sentences again soon, which is why we extend this hearty, longwinded message of good will to Wener who will probably include very few long pauses in his career (much like his writing) as his words continue to leave us enthralled, informed, and always out of breath.