Nick Pinkerton’s new “Bombast” column at SundanceNOW fixates on goodbyes, and with good reason: It’s not only his last for the site, but the last new piece to be published on SundanceNOW in its present form. With the site turning its attention towards its successful Doc Club, a subscription service featuring monthly documentary programs, the plan is to relaunch editorial content in a more complementary/synergistic fashion somewhere down the road, but for now Pinkerton, Michael Atkinson, Anthony Kaufman and cartoonist Don J. Morgan are all out a regular outlet, as is editor Eric Hynes.
All good things come to an end, either by ceasing outright or by losing the spark of greatness, but this hurts more than some, not only because I count many of SundanceNOW’s (former) writers as friends and valued colleagues, but because it was an outpost — an oasis, even — of long-form, non-hook-driven writing on film in an arena where hooks are all and length is just an impediment to getting the next post up. I don’t know enough about why the decision is made, although I do know it came down with only a week’s notice, but then these days, most of us are never more than an out-of-the-blue email away from our two week’s notice. (Have I mentioned recently I like this job? Because I do.) Let’s let Pinkerton play us out:
Through the run of the column, you can trace my slow-dawning realization that the life of a workaday critic that I’d been preparing myself for was no longer an option, at least not in the form that I’d envisioned it, and that I was not a special exception immune to the insidious forces far larger than myself that were at work, spoiling far more than my own petty ambitions. Revisiting my inaugural column, I was already referring to the question of “What the Internet Hath Wrought?,” and more than anything else the search for an answer to this question provides Bombast’s throughline. I still don’t know the answer, precisely, but the column truly took shape as certain other outlets became closed off, and in time Bombast became as much my real job as anything I wrote elsewhere, maybe more. It went from a furtive bit of moonlighting to my favorite gig, and I hope the pleasure hasn’t been entirely my own.