Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The New York Times runs a condescending feature on Danny Gans and gets it wrong about "hyperventilating bloggers"

"...Although the Clark County Coroner’s Office
has yet to reveal the cause of death

of one Daniel Davies Gans,

hyperventilating bloggers continue to swap

dark speculations about depression, and on and on..."

The New York Times, which ran an obituary for the Las Vegas headliner Danny Gans after his death on May 1, runs with a feature story today on Gans' influence in Las Vegas, before and after his death.

The bippityboppity, bemused, finger-snapping Vegas riffing by writer Dan Barry begins with a wink to hipster New York Times readers by placing Danny Gans squarely in the square, C-level strata of show business losers--

"The dozens of framed photographs that once lined the backstage walls are stacked now on the floor. Danny Gans with Kevin Costner. Danny Gans with Sly Stallone. Danny Gans with Florence Henderson. Danny Gans with Morey Amsterdam. So many celebrities, all wearing that camera-ready grin... Danny Gans, a man famous for not being all that famous..."

--and carries on its condescending, smirking tone before tou
ching on the reality of what his passing at age 52 means to the city and his loved ones:

"He also leaves his wife and three children; more than a dozen employees in need of work; a darkened casino theater in need of acts; and a surreal city struggling with the reality of a hit to its economy and psyche.

"It may seem strange that one man — an impressionist, of all people — could have such an impact, but you have to understand the loss in Vegas terms. This wasn’t just anybody who died; this was Danny Gans.

"The city fairly shouted his name, from massive billboards, from the tops of hundreds of taxis, from the lips of all those cabdrivers and casino workers he courted over the years. When visitors asked what’s a good show to see, 10-to-1 the cabbie would say, Danny Gans."

Dan Barry gets some of it wrong in Vegas's Man of Many Voice Falls Silent, spinning the false report that Danny Gans ended his last show with Bobby Darin's The Curtain Falls into something totally confusing ("Three weeks ago, Mr. Gans closed his show with his Apollo Theater tribute, which threw the band off a little because lately he had been ending by singing 'The Curtain Falls'..."), accepting as fact an apocryphal comment about nonexistent "hyperventilating bloggers swapping dark speculations about depression" (the only depression story was floated by Mike Weatherford of the Las Vegas Review Journal), and in the end, glossing over the most interesting facts of the story in order to gloat over the image of Danny Gans as a show business freak in a story that's more performance piece than thought piece:

"Mr. Gans was a show business anomaly, with no movie or television career to speak of and a long-ago one-man show on Broadway that lasted a week. Still, when he died he was grossing $18 million a year as a sure bet to lure people into the casinos that hired him, which is what it’s all about..."

"Danny Gans soon became more famous in death than in life, as a familiar local story went international: How he turned to entertainment after an injury ended his baseball career; how Las Vegas allowed him to stop traveling; how he was a devout Christian and family man who raised millions for local charities.

"But this is Las Vegas. Although the Clark County Coroner’s Office has yet to reveal the cause of death of one Daniel Davies Gans, hyperventilating bloggers continue to swap dark speculations about depression, and on and on..."

"(Chip) Lightman, Mr. Gans’s manager, cringes at all the gossip and hollow sentiment... These days the manager is trying to find jobs for the band members, the sound and lighting crew, the theater ushers and others who depended on one man for a living. He is also working on getting the book and DVD out, which would be a good thing, because in less than three weeks that once-ubiquitous name has all but disappeared from the Strip."

Tellingly, the Gans feature was not written by the Times Las Vegas stringer Steve Friess, who severely damaged his credibility by participating in spreading false rumours about Gans' death in his effort to stonewall the investigation by this news team.

Unfortunately, in his effort to be cooler-than-thou and paint Las Vegas as a mentally retarded cultural backwater and Danny Gans as a bizarre subcultural entity, the New York Times reporter who did cover the story obviously didn't move much farther than the Encore Hotel for his quotes and observations, and came no closer to explaining why Vegas' own news media has exhibited such a lack of curiosity about the tragedy.

1 comment:


The NYT has cut back dramatically in all areas as it struggles to avert bankruptcy and is not taking any freelance for their arts coverage. I'm in fine stead with the sections of the Times I write for regularly and have several new assignments at this time. Thanks for your heartfelt concern.