For Posterity’s Sake: The Infamous Ryan S./John Coltrane Pitchfork Review

schribesThis unintentionally racist/hilarious review was originally posted to Pitchfork in the late 1990s by site founder Ryan Schreiber, but was conveniently erased during a recent site revamp (was it coincidence that the deletion came shortly after the review had attracted a significant amount of criticism on Internet forums?).

Regardless of the reason for its removal, whether automatic or deliberate (the latter of which may be indicated by its deletion from both Google’s cache and Internet Archive), here it is, in all its original, unedited glory:

John Coltrane: Live at the Village Vanguard

Review by Ryan Schreiber

The Village Vanguard. New York City. 1961.

We was sittin’ there watchin’ the stage. Waitin’ for the man they called Coltrane to come out and do his thing. It was me and my four droogs. Them bein’ Peter, Georgio and Dim; Dim being really Dim.

‘Round an hour’d passed and the place was packed straight through to the back. I’d just dropped some dollars for ‘Trane’s Giant Steps six months back. Now was the time, this was the place. The Village Vanguard. New York City. 1961.

I was only there for the first night, see, but them cats at Impulse! just made my life complete. They put out four CDs of all that sound ‘Trane put out those nights. But you know my type, man. Can’t afford to eat, let alone spend some heavy cash on music. So I only got the essential. Live at the Village Vanguard: The Master Takes is one disc, makin’ it one-fourth the cost of the box set. And you only get the best stuff.

Man, the opening beauty of “Spiritual…” It’s like a dream I had: I floated on the River Nile, smokin’ some fresh weed, relaxin’. But I ain’t ever gonna see the Nile anyhow. This track’s as close as I come, and it’s close enough. Best of the best, though, has gotta be “India.” It’s only when you listen to a perfect old jazz tune like this that you realize how much drum-n-bass is derived from this music. ‘Trane takes it to heaven and back with some style, man. Some richness, daddy. It’s a sad thing his life was cut short by them jaws o’ death.

Shit, cat. It don’t make a difference. The man produced enough good music to last me a lifetime. This Village Vanguard thing’s just another example of the genius of Coltrane.

Ryan Schreiber

A few notes:

– Has Ryan Schreiber even actually talked to a black person before?

– He mentions himself and his “four droogs,” then proceeds to name three people. This man could not have possibly graduated high school.

– “Shit, cat” might be the best thing I’ve ever read.

– Just what the fuck is “you know my type” supposed to mean? I feel a Robert Downey Jr./Kirk Lazarus moment coming on…

“It’s like a dream I had: I floated on the River Nile, smokin’ some fresh weed, relaxin’. But I ain’t ever gonna see the Nile anyhow.” This distinctly sounds like a really bad Morgan Freeman movie narration.


  1. GPS says

    When you get to "droogs" you think for a moment that he's going for some Burgessian slang, but, nope, it's just shitheaded fantasy patois. I like to think that "jaws o' death" are like an emergency rescue crew's jaws of life tool, set on reverse. You know, maybe 'Trane did die by a robotic vice.

    • says

      Well, yea. But for the rest of the review he does try to talk like "A Black," which begs the question of why – within this review's context as a faux-historical moment-in-time reflection – he decided it would be appropriate to suddenly start referring to Droogs.

  2. Neal says

    There isn't a single thing he wrote that implies the speaker's race. What if he's projecting himself onto the stereotypes of the 60's jazz scene? (hint: he is) Let the little boy with ugly highlights have a dream. You think stupid slang and poverty imply blackness? Maybe in your fantasy world. You, sir, are a racist tool.

  3. D'UjuscallmeCol says

    If you can't spot the references, or the satire, it's not for you. Should writers have to censor themselves just because every dipshit with a dial-up isn't gonna get? This is supposed to be funny, whether it is or not is debatable but it's not racist. Are white rappers racist because they imitate black art and speech? They may suck, save El-P and a few others, but they're not racist. WHITE beatniks used this same slang. Don't criticize what you don't understand.

    • says

      I assure you that we can spot "the references" and "the satire." The point is that it's bad satire. And while people are getting hung up on the "racist" aspect, that's just one of many complaints it usually receives. The biggest complaint generally seems to be that it's entirely miscalculated humour that winds up being rather embarrassing.

  4. fbiFU says

    "Shit, cat" what? Is this pitchdork being really high, or being really retarded?
    Then again, does it matter? The entire Pitchfork staff does have a retarded taste in music 😛

  5. Qizm says

    where did you guys get the idea that this review is written from the perspective of a black person? Seriously, the "It was me and my four droogs. Them bein’ Peter, Georgio and Dim; Dim being really Dim" should have given it away: it's not a black person, it's written from the perspective of Alex DeLarge, from Kubrik's A Clockwork Orange.

    • Qizm = Schreiber says

      Bitch, it ain't Kubrick's Orange. That shit belongs to Anthony Burgess. When would Alex say "Shit, cat."? Never, that's when. You're probably Schreiber, though, because only he would defend this shit.

  6. Dave says

    The guy us trying to write in beatnik slang, not AAVE. It’s pretty racist that you don’t know the difference. And you assume that because the character he’s writing as is poor, he must be black! Which black person says “droog”? You’re an ignorant cracker trying to cause trouble for some other cracker, and I ain’t here for it, chief.


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