I just want to take this opportunity to say goodbye to Spin, a magazine that I have read faithfully for two decades. My subscription lapses in a couple of months, and for the first time in probably that entire two decades, I have no interest in re-upping.
Not because I’ve rejected flesh-and-blood magazines for the pleasures of the online world, either: my life still has plenty of spaces for the physical reading experience, especially that of the magazine. It’s something else entirely. You see, Spin has reinvented itself . . . as Blender 2.0.
There was a huge void in U.S. rock magazines in the mid-1980s: Trouser Press, Creem and Musician had all self-destructed, and Rolling Stone was going through one of its periodical identity crises. Spin came along in 1985 and posited itself as as the first major glossy magazine specificaly aimed the post-Boomer indie rock generation. Kids like me. That was an important difference, because even the best of the mags above had deep roots in the 1960s. Spin didn’t.
And for for 20 years, Spin had the musical backs of our wacky Generation that some called “X”, but no more. Now, in a desperate attempt to go after those crazy sound-bite oriented, Internet-loving kids, they’ve divested themselves of any type of a point of view or editorial stance or anything that might indicate some kind of take on the music world, pop culture, or life itself.
Unless I’m missing something in all of the boxy, bright colors; lists upon lists upon lists and exclamation points. You can, and should, judge for yourself.
Here’s what the new Spin thinks is important for music fans: Beyonce on the cover as the #1 of the “25 Hottest Stars Under 25.” Beyonce. In 2006. Once upon a time (just a couple of months ago), they published actual writers like Chuck Klosterman and Dave Eggers, now they have “America’s 101 Hottest Parties!” on the cover, and feature fluff articles like “What is the best lie you ever told?” with accompaning photos of the super-hot NYC club kids providing the stock, pat answers. Here’s one: “I really love you, too.”
Golly. Yeah. That’s rock ‘n’ roll.
Meanwhile, the actual fucking music coverage is limited to about a half-a-dozen articles, and, of course, 549 album reviews, all of which are under 10 words, and the majority of which are the obligatory three stars out of five, which means absolutely goddamn nothing anymore.
How bad is it? Not even a two-page spread on my homegirl Kristen Bell can make up for the plethora of crap crap crap that now issues from its pages.
Sure, Spin always covered more than music; they took on subjects like violence, drugs and AIDS, as well as the greater popular culture. The monthly Spin 20, in particular, was a smart overview of what was going on, and always contained a couple of great jokes. But no matter what they covered, they always looked at it from the alt-rock perspective.
Those days are gone, and so all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say “c-ya!,” and read things like Harp, Uncut and The Big Takeover which are written by music fans for music fans, not by marketing majors for free products.
There are a couple of artifacts from Spin’s glory days that still exist, which are well worth checking out: The Spin Alternative Record Guide, which came out on its 10 year anniversary, and Spin: 20 Years of Alternative Music: Original Writing on Rock, Hip-Hop, Techno, and Beyond, which came out, just recently. Both are chock full of opinionated, passionate music journalism by great writers like aformentioned Klosterman and Eggers, as well as Ann Powers, Rob Sheffield, Eric Weisbard, Nelson George and a host of others.
I didn’t always agree with everything they wrote (Sheffield, in particular, is much better in Rolling Stone), but I didn’t need to, either.
Their slogan is “Music for Life.” Sure, if music isn’t really all that important to your life.