Why was no one able to report on George Harrison being stabbed without compulsively mentioning that John Lennon had been shot 19 years earlier? As if the two were unequivocally connected? Apparently, with no Y2K catastrophe to report on, the media had to fill column inches with some sort of Beatle psycho-attacker conspiracy. Across the country, radio DJs will be playing the White Album backward in search of answers.

And the Sampler will be searching for its own answers to questions like, "Why do lunatics attack the Beatles, instead of truly deserving targets such as music critics?"

"For today's tuned in New Yorkers, if a restaurant, bar or boutique doesn't immediately dazzle with its soundtrack, half of us will turn up our noses and try the next store." -- Paper, trying desperately to make Manhattan an ultra-chic mecca where every corner store needs its own DJ to attract the discriminating hipster. Personally, I think I could survive buying a Rolling Rock from someone who doesn't know the difference between house and jungle without turning up my nose and fleeing to a hipper enclave.

"If congas could talk, which they do under the steady stroke of young conguero Johnny Blas, you might hear sweaty rumors of courtyard dances in Puerto Rico, with bare bulbs swinging in the breeze, and slick mustachioed playboys watching their marks from under the eaves." -- Silke Tudor, in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, writing in sweaty clichés as bare stereotypes swing in the breeze.

Eric Weisbard, in The Village Voice, starts off his Jan 18 column by saying, "What follows is extraneous." If only all music critics could be so honest. The extraneousness that follows reads, "outtakes and threads from my DMX feature in the new GQ." Amazing. Not only does Weisbard avoid writing his Voice column by piecing together a few table scraps from a "real" article, he manages to own up to his lack of effort while plugging the higher-paying gig, all in a one-sentence disclaimer. Now that's writing.

And if he can pull that off, why does Rolling Stone hire writers who file stories like they're writing a sixth-grade book report?:

"American rock & roll was the shot heard round the world. What else has even come close to its pervasive, widespread influence? Television and the movies have had a tremendous impact, to be sure, but more so than Elvis Presley? Think about it. The early rock pioneers caught the ear of the four young men in Liverpool who would become the Beatles and launch a cultural revolution more encompassing than any seen before or since." -- Anthony DeCurtis, writing at a seventh-grade level, oversimplifying as if his life depended on it. If Elvis had more impact than the movies, then where do Elvis movies fit in? And the '60s cultural revolution? Forget about the Beats and rockabilly -- it all started with Ringo! And there's more....

"African American blues musicians inspired the Rolling Stones and, by extension, the thousands of bands in dozens of countries who were influenced by them." -- Interesting to note that none of the blues musicians inspired anyone else directly. Good thing Mick and the boys stepped in to play cultural ambassador. It's embarrassing that any American, let alone one who writes for the largest music magazine in the country, is this ignorant. But it doesn't stop here....

"More important, however, rock & roll's impact has extended well beyond culture. Its sound of freedom, specifically embodied in the bold work of the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa, inspired Eastern European revolutionaries like Vaclav Havel, now the leader of the Czech Republic, during the Cold War. That helped smash the Berlin Wall and melt the Iron Curtain." -- Again, failed ideologies and Soviet-supported fascism had little to do with Havel's fight against Communism. He just put on Weasels Ripped My Flesh and let freedom ring! MIKE VAGO