Stomp and Stammer's Jeff Clark may be the most hated man in Atlanta today - Daily Agenda - Atlanta Magazine
 
 
 

Stomp and Stammer's Jeff Clark may be the most hated man in Atlanta today

Ria's Bluebird fans organize a boycott after the local 'zine publishes criticism of Ria Pell's memorial

On a day with a -5 wind chill, the temperature throughout the city managed to plunge even further south on Tuesday once Atlantans got a look at the January issue of Stomp and Stammer magazine. The 17-year-old monthly ‘zine published and edited by veteran Atlanta writer Jeff Clark, is a self-described hodgepodge of “news, music, noise, opinion and garbage.” Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr posts, friends, family and fans of Atlanta chef and restaurant owner Ria Pell are using the latter term to describe Clark’s 2013 In Review wrap up in the new issue.

The columnist categorized the larger-than-life Ria’s Bluebird café owner’s Nov 30 home-going as the year’s “Most Overdone Memorial.” He went on to write: “The ongoing posthumous deification of Ria Pell. She was a nice woman who opened a restaurant that helped revitalize a stretch of Memorial Drive. She was also unhealthy and met with an early death. Had she not been a lesbian, had she been a straight woman or man we would have seen a fraction of the reaction. Instead, she was unrealistically elevated into something she wasn’t: a symbolic figure.” After a Pell fan snapped an Instagram image of the paragraph and posted it, the more than 5,500 fans of the chef’s Remembering Ria Facebook page mobilized. Since Pell’s death, friends and fans of the chef have used the page to post new bluebird tattoos they’ve gotten in honor of Pell and to spread the word about a Krog Street tunnel graffiti community project in Pell’s memory.

After Pell fan Arturo Rodriguez shared the paragraph on Facebook, Pell’s supporters began speaking out. Posted Jenny Williams: “Stunningly homophobic douchebaggery on bold display here, Stomp and Stammer.” On her Twitter account, Atlanta DJ/mixtape artist Speakerfoxx tweeted: “@stompandstammer Jeff Clark may have singlehandedly destroyed your business. Mocking the death of Ria & her loved ones is an all time low.”

Overnight, Star Community Bar mainstay and Pell pal Tom Jersawitz created the Facebook group Boycott Stomp And Stammer And All Who Advertise There. By daylight Wednesday, the page had 684 members. The Remembering Ria Facebook page, meanwhile, posted a note with all of Stomp & Stammer’s advertisers and their phone numbers, along with the message: “He has every right to say what he wants. But you have the right to let his advertisers know how you feel about him as well.”

An administrator for the Drunken Unicorn nightclub Facebook page posted this below the note: “The Drunken Unicorn has decided to pull our monthly ad. . .Stomp and Stammer has printed opinions that we have not agreed with over the years and we have respected the writers’ rights to their opinions. However, we think what was written about Ria is not appropriate in any context and we are right in pulling our advertising for such malicious language.” Responding to listener Libsy Smith, a rep for WMLB AM 1690 The Voice of the Arts where Clark hosts the weekly Stomp and Stammer Radio Hour wrote: “We’ll make an official announcement [Wednesday] that will hopefully be satisfactory to everyone. On a side note, we were all big fans and supporters of Ria and understand completely that she was a wonderful spirit, chef, friend and mentor to a lot of people in Atlanta. We do not at all condone what Jeff wrote in his magazine.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with Clark’s work, he has steadfastly covered Atlanta’s music scene for more than 25 years and first developed a readership as a music critic for Creative Loafing. Over the years, Clark’s unvarnished critiques have earned him both respect and the occasional punch in the face. An unflattering Clark review also inspired “Stomp and Stammer,” a song written by now-defunct Atlanta rock act Attractive Eighties Women. While lyrics to 98 percent of the song cannot be reprinted here, here’s a tiny lyrical sampling: “Jeff Clark is a **head. He’s an **hole. He’s a **damn son of a bitch. He don’t like our band. And guess what? We don’t like HIM!”

As of this posting, Clark hadn’t responded to an Atlanta magazine request for comment. But longtime Atlanta critic and Stomp and Stammer Caught on Film columnist David T. Lindsay is defending Clark’s right to publish his opinion. Wrote Lindsay in a post on Clark’s Facebook page: “There you go again, giving an opposing opinion (I knew Ria and loved her). Now the intolerant ***holes want you to pay to play! Funny thing is, Ria would have probably agreed with you and she’d certainly have agreed with your right to voice an opinion.”

Longtime Slim Chance and the Convicts singer James Kelly (who is also a clinical psychologist) attempted to put the controversy into perspective on Clark’s Facebook page: “I knew Ria from the old days at the Point [rock club in Little Five Points]. Her sexual orientation was never a point of discussion, never used as any type of affirmative action point. The reason she was so admired and so profoundly grieved by so many people was because she was a wonderful human being and an incredible community activist. What Jeff said was completely wrong. I, too, defend his right to print whatever he wants in his own magazine, however, he needs to be willing to accept the consequences for what he says, especially when it’s false. In this case, he was simply wrong.”

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  1. bellamomma posted on 01/08/2014 11:33 AM
    It is a given that Jeff Clark knew his comments would create this frenzy. It is certain that his supporters and other haters will rally and call "Free Speech" and play the role of the victim. That is all expected. He has done this before and will most likely do it again. I would like to think that there might be an ounce of regret in his heart and consider that he has done this one to many times. This community and the people that live here are tired of his hateful tactics and are just done. He has every right to speak his mind and he has and will continue to, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about that. But at some point, we say enough. We use our own voices to stand up and say there are consequences to your hate. People are hurt and angry and disappointed. I'm very disappointed in Jeff. I used to call him friend, but this person isn't the friend I knew many many years ago. This person has allowed anger and regret to fill his mind and heart and we all see that now. It's very sad to see a man have such darkness come from his pen. I'm grieving my friend, Ria, but I'm also grieving that someone I once called friend has chosen to isolate himself with hate.
  2. amyhalo posted on 01/08/2014 01:46 PM
    Mr. Lindsay,

    I do not doubt Ria, along with almost everyone else, would support Mr. Clark's right to express his opinion. That is not what the outrage is about and it is disingenuous of you, but understandable, that you would attempt to suggest this.

    The outrage stems from Mr. Clark diverting a community's response to loss in order to explore a topic he doesn't have the spine to discuss on it's own merits.

    He used her death to troll.

    No one would support that.
  3. John Gault posted on 01/09/2014 12:51 AM
    Guilty of poor taste? probably. But if you actually read what he said, beyond the poor timing and taste aspect of the comments. What did he write that was factually inaccurate or even remotely homophobic? NOTHING! But sadly, in this day and age, all you have to do is write or say something inflammatory, twist it to fit your own agenda, and then proceed to "socially and financially" lynch the person. It amazes me that people who consider themselves accepting, progressive, diverse, they sure are quick to spew vitriolic insults, and make physical threats as well as crusade to defund the person's livelihood via boycotts and threatening advertisers. Very nice, very nice indeed.
  4. Tina Trent posted on 01/09/2014 03:54 PM
    So it's OK to blithely publish the term "d*****bag" -- a deeply misogynistic slur -- without a second thought while hyperventilating over Jeff Clark's characteristically acerbic observation?

    Thank goodness women aren't gay people, or else expressing outrage over alleged homophobia by way of crudely demeaning the female body would really be wrong.

    Also, stay classy, Atlanta Magazine.
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