Is SPIN really circling the drain?

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the offensiveness of "Letter to the Editor" is nothing compared to the "Making Out with UltraGrrl". i just want to rip that page out every month and forcibly shove it down the throat ofd the next pseudo-hipster i see.

SPIN was a godsend for me in high school (1990-1994), living out on a farm in the middle of central Illinois. sure it wasn't all that subversive or underground, but to someone raised on country and Top 40 it was a whole new world. i still pick up an issue from time to time, mostly because it's more affordable than the import prices on the decent British mags. but i'm always wondering why.

jonviachicago, Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:05 (10 years ago) Permalink

Hack McInkspot!! Ha Ha, i've got a new nom de plume. thanks, Jeanne!

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:05 (10 years ago) Permalink

It's true that most Letters From the Editor are unbearable, but I don't remember as many celebs-with-editor pictures as the Michel years have produced...maybe the Bobby Jr. years had the same thing but I can't remember anymore.

While we're on the subject of Tracks, I can't believe how lifeless and personality-free it is.

The UltraGrrl thing is awful. I'd forgotten about that.

Gawker calls Details "The gay magazine for straight men" or something like that. Classic.

don weiner, Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:24 (10 years ago) Permalink

Sia does seem especially intent on telegraphing her celeb-compatibility. Still, Guccionne Jr. wasn't that different.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:26 (10 years ago) Permalink

Did Tracks just steal their whole idea for a magazine from Harp?

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

i agree about R.S. Rollong Stone's non-music reporting/coverage has always been its strong suit.

What? You mean the non-music journalism about the NYC guy with the biggest penis in the world or people who make living room speed and eat it until their teeth fall out?

I'd call it the white-trash beat for voyeurs but not hard-hitting or strong.

George Smith, Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:53 (10 years ago) Permalink

Remember when Spin had like 10 features about how HIV and AIDS were not causally related?

Yes, SPIN, supporter of whackos and rubbish science.

George Smith, Thursday, 26 February 2004 16:58 (10 years ago) Permalink

Killer email ady...CompuServe is still going?

Mark (MarkR), Thursday, 26 February 2004 17:10 (10 years ago) Permalink

>>> Remember when Spin had like 10 features about how HIV and AIDS were not causally related?

Remember when Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl were pushing this agenda, playing benefit shows for that wacko group "Alive and Well." That was insane... I wonder if they still support that cause.

That said, I think Spin is perfect. I expect nothing more. Each issue lasts me exactly one lunch break, once a month, where I look at the pretty pictures as I eat some soup.

Ben Boyer (Ben Boyer), Thursday, 26 February 2004 17:40 (10 years ago) Permalink

it really ws better two or three years ago but its still ok

$$, Thursday, 26 February 2004 17:42 (10 years ago) Permalink

is anything in your world as good as it was in 1988, alex? anything? if you love 1988 so much why don't you go live there

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Thursday, 26 February 2004 17:54 (10 years ago) Permalink

What's up your ass?

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:32 (10 years ago) Permalink

George, they've had better stuff than the dude with the big penis in Rolling Stone! Now, come on. I mean all those killer white trash kids! Don't forget about them. They were great. when i was 16 i had a picture of ricky kasso on my bedroom wall right next to a huge piece of paper with the chemical formula for LSD on it.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:45 (10 years ago) Permalink

that sounded harsher than i meant it to, alex, but seriously you go on about how everything's gone downhill since 1988 so often!

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:48 (10 years ago) Permalink

I was speaking strictly in terms of SPIN magazine, Fritz, and it wasn't one of my usual tirades about how stuff was much better then (which isn't categorically true, by the way). SPIN, however, used to be ahead of the curve. Now it struggles to keep up with the curve, panting like an exhausted walrus.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:51 (10 years ago) Permalink

Alex is right Fritz. Except I guess I'd put it a bit later, maybe '90? I dunno, whenever Leland and Kogan and Sheffield and Eddy and Coley and McNiel and so forth stopped writing. I mean, no offense to any ILXors who contribute but the current writing just can't compete with that lineup, no fucking way.

Broheems (diamond), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

i drank a lot of Meister Brau in 1988.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:53 (10 years ago) Permalink

My favorite "letter from the editor" ever was in a Details magazine from its latter "phase one" days. The editor wrote a column talking about this wonderful $3500 leather jacket he purchased, and then weeped about how he was too frightened to wear it out anywhere, lest it get damaged by rain/wind/etc. I hope it's keeping him warm in Central Park at night, haha.

Gear! (Gear!), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:53 (10 years ago) Permalink

a lot of Blatz and Iron City too.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:54 (10 years ago) Permalink

I drank Miller that I would steal from the convenience store I worked at as a stock-boy (16, 1st ever job!) I would go carry some garbage out to the dumpster in back, except I'd carry a six pack out with me and then hide it behind the dumpster. Then after my shift was over I'd drive around back and grab the beer.

Broheems (diamond), Thursday, 26 February 2004 18:58 (10 years ago) Permalink

Meister Brau--back when a microbrew was a microbrew. Now there's a thread--microbrews circa the 1980s (or even more fun, the 1970s when I was collecting beer cans as a kid.)

Either way, Alex is right that SPIN was way better back then. Anyone remember the Michael O'Donohue columns? That guy was a scream, the best back page they've ever had. I've got a few of those columns on my hard drive if anyone wants a repost (SPIN used to keep them at their website, back when they first came online.)

Rolling Stone used to have better non-music writers, too. William Grieder I liked even though I never agreed with much of his stuff. PJ O'Rourke is better than anyone they've had in at least five years on staff there.

The more I think about it, the more I think I've been harsh on Sia for putting her mug all over her page. Bobby Jr. was more of a publicity whore, and she's better looking. But the direction of the magazine is still shit.

don weiner, Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:07 (10 years ago) Permalink

i need rolling stone and spin to stick around though cuz i have too much fun complaining about them. what would i have left?

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:15 (10 years ago) Permalink

fair enough. i haven't read spin in ages myself. when i do, i'm always hoping for one of those great sleazy smalltown teen crime or killer drug craze stories but i don't think they do them so much anymore.

I moved recently and actually came across some of the fabled golden age pre'88 issues in a forgotten milk crate at the back of my closet. some of it was pretty great indeed - especially an article on cookie-puss era beastie boys, but a lot of it was pretty thin. there was really LESS in it - huge empty spaces on the pages, big fonts disguising 3 paragraph long stories, fan-ziney articles about nothing and only a couple of pages of record reviews. and legs mcneil was way past his prime by that point too - if you want to get all golden age-y about stuff. he mostly wrote about how shit everything was compared to 1978!

i was into spin more later because - before vibe & the source & rappages, maybe even before Word Up! - they were the only magazine I could find covering hip hop - albeit with a pretty big NYC Def Jam Beasties-PE-Run DMC slant to it but that was fine by me at that point.

I read it pretty much every issue up until the end of the grunge and the beginning of Electronica Fever in the summer of Trainspotting. I have no idea if it's good or bad anymore. Pretty much all music magazines bore me to tears now - but I think that might have as much to do with me as it does with it not being 1988 anymore ;)

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:17 (10 years ago) Permalink

I'd be sad to see SPIN go. I've been reading that magazine since I was 14 or so. It's lame often enough, but every issue has at least a couple things that are either interesting or funny, so I feel like my money's worth. It's a cheap subscription too, which is nice.

Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:21 (10 years ago) Permalink

I used to read Spin almost every month, but it's just so dull now I won't even pick it up to browse it at the store. It doesn't even piss me off like Rolling Stone does, it's just sitting there, boring me silly, telling me that the Strokes are really good.

Gear! (Gear!), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:30 (10 years ago) Permalink

I find the idea that it's "gotten" insular in the last two years sort of mystifying, if only because the typical non-music-geek complaing about Spin is that it's ALWAYS been insular. I mean, five years ago they were writing about turntablism and sound-boys, stuff that, for better or worse, is WAY more insular than rock bands with hooks and attractive frontpeople.

that big sound-boy article in the year end round-up in 97 or 98 was a really great article though, and it made me feel like i wasn't the only one like that in the universe ;-)

lets not forget that they used to also have some great stories about electronic music. There was that one issue with Rage on the cover (ugh) in the mid-90s that had articles on Orbital/Underworld/Chem Brothers, a guide to underground electronic music (mentioning Spooky, Mouse on Mars, Jacob's Optical Stairway) and a list of some of america's best producers (everyone from RZA to Wink) and their best productions. Reynolds also used to write for them, and I would wager that his little sidebar on BC/CR/Maurizio is probably the only account of that music to appear in a major american magazine.

Aaron Grossman (aajjgg), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:30 (10 years ago) Permalink

I remember that issue. I think they were positioning themselves to be there when electronic music broke big in the USA and they kind of lost their way after that failed to happen.

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:43 (10 years ago) Permalink

yeah, leland/mcneil/coley/sheffield/eddy/kogan years best obv. - nick cave, sa-fire covers when rs was still 100% boomer alert, etc. i think the last gasp was 97-98 (?), hirschhorn years, tad friend, reynolds (wasn't he reviews editor briefly?), charles aaron still in, um, fine form, josh clover still hungry enough for work to not let his smugness eat him alive. i think they fucked themselves when they decided to be anti-new pop, and to cater to alt-rock resentments and prerogatives - ol skool spin loved debbie gibson, new skool dissed britney with the same lame jokes you'd hear from a sixthgrade jeanjacket. 100% alan light's fault, who then jumped ship cuz he realized he was never gonna be able to make spin as lame a mag as he wanted. ol spin has cartoon making fun of sting, new spin has editor's departing to start magazines devoted to sting.

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:43 (10 years ago) Permalink

probably true fritz, and it shows how much has changed that a) they were somewhat ahead of the trend and b) they had writers that actually knew enough about the music to mention underground artists.

Aaron Grossman (aajjgg), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:48 (10 years ago) Permalink

i went on rockcritics.com today and they had a link to jane dark's blog and this is what i saw:

I had zine called sugarhigh! It came out twice, in the mid-Nineties. It also caused me to become employed (note passive
construction; it sure felt that way) by The Village Voice, which caused me to become employed by Spin, which caused me
to become a very predictable kind of boring writer and feel like a whore. Eventually I stopped; quitting is actually a
perturbing story which involves, in more and less obvious ways, a review of The Coup, backstage passes to a U2 concert,
September 11th, being threatened with a lawsuit by Sia Michel, and a shady helicopter rental in Rio. Anyway, I hope to
write some about music on this site, in a way that might be predictable and boring but not whoresque.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:49 (10 years ago) Permalink

he also has a long entry on Nate's Outkast thread. does he post here under another name? Hmmmm...

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:51 (10 years ago) Permalink

more credit to him than, though i recall him having more hustle than neil strauss when he was there so his deciding 'i'm not a ho (no mo)' reeks of american beauty (and hence reeks).

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:54 (10 years ago) Permalink

that jcjd post on nate's outkast thread was 10% good point 90% bs.

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:54 (10 years ago) Permalink

shockah!

Matos W.K. (M Matos), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:56 (10 years ago) Permalink

Is this guy related to ILX's resident dialectical materialist?

Broheems (diamond), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:57 (10 years ago) Permalink

they were seperated at birth. ha ha, i kid sterling.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:58 (10 years ago) Permalink

no! sterl clover's name isn't really sterl clover (i think it's jean dark).

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:58 (10 years ago) Permalink

i thought some of jane/josh's stuff for spin was really funny. it definitely stuck out at the time cuz nothing else was very funny that's fer sure.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 26 February 2004 19:59 (10 years ago) Permalink

think the last gasp was 97-98 (?), hirschhorn years, tad friend, reynolds (wasn't he reviews editor briefly?), charles aaron still in, um, fine form, josh clover still hungry enough for work to not let his smugness eat him alive. i think they fucked themselves when they decided to be anti-new pop, and to cater to alt-rock resentments and prerogatives - ol skool spin loved debbie gibson, new skool dissed britney with the same lame jokes you'd hear from a sixthgrade jeanjacket.

Blount otm, I think this was around time I stopped reading it. I don't know if it has improved much since then, but it still makes a bit sad that it won't be around anymore because it meant a lot to me back in the day.

El Diablo Robotico (Nicole), Thursday, 26 February 2004 20:00 (10 years ago) Permalink

although the first time i saw sterl's byline i though of josh clover, though i think sterl can write circles around him now.


the jane/josh '100 albums in 1000 words' thing seemed like spin house snarkpun style pushed to the snake eating tail absurdity. like a litmus test for their readers - 'if you can stomach this you can stomach spin'.

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 26 February 2004 20:01 (10 years ago) Permalink

Somebody please say somehting about Genius Lessons.

Jasper Patches (Dating Ikea), Thursday, 26 February 2004 20:10 (10 years ago) Permalink

i always liked it!

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 26 February 2004 20:11 (10 years ago) Permalink

I like you blount but I fucking hated Genius Lessons. Never struck me as funny, probably because I was so enthralled by By Michael O’Donoghue.

Here's an old favorite of mine.

--------------------------
Spin magazine presents…NOT MY FAULT!
By Michael O’Donoghue

HELLO FROM HOLLYWOOD
GREETINGS FROM THE LAND OF TWICE-KISSED ASS


"The only difference between an actress and a hooker is the hooker fakes orgasm a little better."


WHILE WAITING IN LINE AT THE BRIAN BOSWORTH FILM Festival, I chanced to overhear a heated discussion about acting and the truly great performances. After listening to the usual names tossed around -Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Marion Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights, Bill Murray in Scrooged—I piped up to nominate two obscure yet electrifying performances that left me, frankly, trembling. The first was Michael Caine's work in a short promotional film for Jaws Ill. If you recall, this sequel to a sequel had only two elements left from the original Spielberg fear-jerker—the shark itself, by then revealed to be little more than a rubber duck with teeth, and Roy Schneider's wife. Presumably, the shark had eaten everyone else. However, consummate pro that he is, Caine looked directly into camera and swore that, in his opinion, Jaws III was actually better than the first one. Genius! Talk about acting!

You can have your Burton in Hamlet, your Murray in Scrooged, your De Niro, your Streep, this was the stuff of Oscars! Unfortunately, I've forgotten the specific names involved in my second example. It occurred on Entertainment Tonight with Leeza Gibbons or whomever interviewing the stars filing out of the premiere of Harlem Nights—a movie so bad it would have to be reshot to be thrown away—when, absolutely straightfaced, every one of them claimed not only to love the picture but went on to burble that Eddie Murphy had proven himself to be a fabulous actor, a talented director, and a wonderful writer. According to them, Eddie was a "triple threat." I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

Or, to put it another way, all actors are lying whores and Hollywood is the world's biggest whorehouse. Keep this in mind when they're yammering about genetically altered milk and the Haitian boat people and the Amanda Foundation and Alar in apples and freeing Tibet and saving the worms. I mean, don't you find it a touch scary that the only thing between us and the end of the oceans is Ted Denson? Think about it. And then think about this: No matter what actors say or do, no matter how many causes they champion, no matter how many ribbons they wear on their lapels, no matter how many Ramlosa bottles they recycle, no matter how quickly they volunteer to sweep up after the LA, riots, any one of them would fuck a trout farm to stay on top. You can test the depth of Hollywood with a blotter. And I'll be cornholed with a Garden-Weasel before I'll sit around and let some brain-damaged sunbunny with Gummy Bears for tits take the moral high ground with me. Or listen to some freak who makes $14 million a pic just because his cheekbones happen to slice the light in a certain way try to make me feel guilty because I'm not driving a goddamned solar car,

Here's a line I caught at Mortons recently "Alan doesn't care about what you and I care about, Alan cares about caring." Wrong. What Alan cares about is, in this order: money, drugs, his name above the title, buggering young boys, his beach house in Maui, his ranch in Ojai, his Lotus Elan, his quarter horses, his Navajo rugs, his hard-true tennis court, his retablo collection, his Patek Philippe wristwatch, about a million other things, and finally, last but least, Alan cares about caring, whatever the fuck that means!

I once heard with my own ears Mandy Patinkin stand up at a meeting of "concerned actors" and say he didn't want to be called an actor anymore. He preferred to be known as a "citizen-performer," Apparently, Mandy thinks he's living in some Greek city-state and not the big shithole I like to call "America." "On look! It's Plato, Pericles, and Mandy Patinkin, the citizen-performer. Let's all go to the marble courtyard and have a meaningful dialogue about Truth and Being." Oh, which reminds me—most of them are real stupid. Someone once wrote, I believe it was me, that "actors are like children, except dumber." How true, Mike. Take for example the dewy-eyed dimbulb I saw on Leno who, between pictures, was using the time to discover herself "as a person," As opposed to what?! Discovering herself "as a lawn chair"? Discovering herself "as a swag lamp"? Discovering herself "as a pen and pencil set"? It's a medical fact that the IQ of the average actress is lower than Dick Van Patten's sperm count.

You understand, of course, none of this applies to those immortals of the screen who gave us the really memorable performances such as Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath or Bill Murray in Scrooged. I'm speaking more of fly-by-night celebrities like Maria McKee who actually said to the audience at a benefit to save the Brazilian rain forest, "Thank you for your commitment to survival." I suppose she stands on river banks and thanks the salmon for swimming upstream. Or professional hand-wringers like Whoopi. Is there a cause on the planet she hasn't hitched a ride on? I think the only one she's missed is the Committee to Provide Massive Plastic Surgery for Whoopi Goldberg because she is one ugly bitch. Her face could stop Big Ben, a sundial, and a free digital watch. If the devil really takes pretty women from the front and ugly women from the back, he'd take Whoopi by airmail. She is so ugly that—uh oh. Gotta run. Late for Bible study.

NEXT MONTH: A Brief History of Urine Retention.

don weiner, Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:02 (10 years ago) Permalink

I mean, the nastiness of that guy was just amazing for a magazine that was in the business of currying favors from publicists.

don weiner, Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:03 (10 years ago) Permalink

How exactly do you fuck a trout farm?

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:11 (10 years ago) Permalink

very carefully.

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:14 (10 years ago) Permalink

Four more Not My Fault! columns here. #4 is the best one.

Phil Freeman (Phil Freeman), Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:45 (10 years ago) Permalink

I was just getting ready to post #4 Phil...hah! that indeed was his best moment.

don fucking weiner, Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:55 (10 years ago) Permalink

This is a fucking MUSIC magazine!! I don't wanna read any shit that's not about music!!

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Thursday, 26 February 2004 22:35 (10 years ago) Permalink

I HEART MICHAEL O'DONOGHUE

dean! (deangulberry), Thursday, 26 February 2004 22:39 (10 years ago) Permalink


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