can't remember how the magic object came into my hands,
but it was sometime in November of 1967 that I saw
the first issue of Rolling Stone. There
it was—perfect in every way—as if some
alchemist of the Zeitgeist had x-rayed our sleeping
brains and overnight come up with a self-portrait
of a generation.
dowser of the Zeitgeist was Jann Wenner. While it
is true, as Jann often says, that he would never have
begun Rolling Stone without the guiding
hand of the visionary San Francisco columnist Ralph
Gleason, Rolling Stone was clearly Jann's
baby from the start. Gleason, by the way, is the one
who came up with the name. Jann wanted to call it
Electric Newspaper. (Maybe it is Jann,
not Al Gore, who should take credit for the Internet.)
genius was to use the contradictions within himself—youthful
rebellion and a passion for order—to put a frame
around the roiling, tumultuous '60s. Rolling Stone
was to become our Domesday Book, a record of what
was happening and what should happen, a blueprint.
look of Rolling Stone, as much as anything,
separated it instantly from any countercultural newspaper
that had gone before. It was designed with a fine
italic hand by Robert Kingsbury. Neat nested borders
and Oxford rules, sometimes two sets of them, ran
like graphic watchmen around pages of Times Roman
text. To contain the unruly content, but also to say,
Look! Take this seriously! Except for
the Rick Griffin Hell's-Angel-on-acid logo, there
was barely a whiff of the underground paper to it.
It was classic, elegant, readable and tight.
had a sensibility about doing things clean and neat
and orderly and well designed and presentable,"
says Jann. "The look of these underground papers
didn't appeal to me at all." The subject of an
article in Rolling Stone might have
been mad hyenas howling in the interstellar night,
but the writing was (generally) clean, clear and expository—hippie
journalism without the rant, rhetoric and occult trappings.
This was understandable, when you consider that Jann's
background was in straight journalism. "My real
interest and background was more in reading the daily
newspapers and working for real news organizations
like NBC News and Ramparts, which was
a pretty slick operation."
was an enthusiastic and inspiring editor, often plunging
along with his writers into some wild cause or passion
of the moment. An article I presented to him on Charles
Manson shortly after Manson's arrest (cowritten with
the criminal procrastinator David Felton) was a case
in point. Buoyed by my initial (and deluded) assertion
that Manson was a fellow hippie being railroaded by
the fascist Los Angeles Police Department, Jann at
first wanted the cover to read: "MANSON INNOCENT."
In recent years, Jann has played down his more radical
impulses, perhaps in the service of making himself
seem more savvy or adult, and perhaps to close the
gap between his current fat-cat status and the former
after I had seen that first issue, I called Jann and
said I'd like to do something for Rolling Stone.
"What do you do?" he asked. I told him I
was a photographer—one of three acceptably hip
occupations in the 1960s (rock star and drug dealer
being the other two). A month later I was in England.
I took photographs of Yoko Ono's exhibit in the basement
of the Indica bookshop, the show John Lennon came
to see. I sent the photos to Jann, and they were published
in the second or third issue of Rolling Stone.
I then shot some photographs of Stevie Winwood, Chris
Wood and Jim Capaldi at Traffic's rustic cottage in
pictures are great, man, but we need a story to go
with them. Do you think you could pull something together?"
asked Jann. He had that supreme hippie faith that
you could do anything you set your mind to. And so
I began writing for Rolling Stone. My
photographs, in any case, weren't all that great.
And the captions were getting longer and longer, viz:
"You'll never guess what happened thirty seconds
before I took this picture."
of the great things about the old days at Rolling
Stone was that articles could go on at
epic lengths. Small books unfurled between those crinkly
pages. Once, when I'd interviewed Little Richard at
great length, Jann asked, "Can you get more?"
I did, and, at some point, running out of questions,
I asked Richard some of the same questions again (how
did you write "Long Tall Sally," etc.) to
which he gave completely different answers. When the
editor at Rolling Stone asked which
answers to include, I answered, "Both."
Richard was so pleased with the cover story—"Little
Richard: Child of God"—that he papered
his living room wall with it.
original editorial offices were in an old printing
loft, a huge space in a grungy area of San Francisco
(just down the road from the seedy Mars Hotel). At
the center of the loft was the art department, presided
over by the benign presence of Robert Kingsbury and
the sarcastic British badinage of Jon Goodchild. Around
this Copernican center the magazine revolved, people
smoking joints, blasting music, gossiping, musing,
trading pataphysical jokes and somehow getting the
issues out. Jann was the boss, but it wasn't a role
he insisted on. He encouraged his employees to spar
with him. He was a good negotiator in other people's
disputes, and many arguments were settled over a peace
pipe of local weed. But he was hardly the unchanging
voice of sweet reason. He could just as easily be
willful, capricious and sarcastic. He fired and re-hired
people, often the same day. During interviews with
job applicants, he would characteristically ask, "Have
you taken acid?" (The correct answer, in case
you're ever asked, is "Yes, but I don't do it
anymore.") Jann, in short, was young and impulsive.
In fact, none of us had grown up.
long as Rolling Stone remained in San
Francisco, it retained its independent character.
But outside the gates of Eden, things began to go
awry. Among purists, the move to New York is often
thought of as the beginning of Rolling Stone's
fall from grace. But for me, the descent began long
before that. The first hint of loss came when, one
day, at the poky New York branch office, I happened
across a pile of reader questionnaires. "What
is your annual income? What make of stereo system
do you own? How much do you spend on clothes, eating
out, movies? What make of car do you own?" There
was not one question about attitude toward drugs,
the government, social conditions. It was clearly
all consumer information geared for the benefit of
advertisers. It was naive of me—this is what
mainstream magazines do—but I was shocked. I
hadn't noticed that Rolling Stone had
become a mainstream magazine. To me, the straight
press was the evil empire. What would be the difference
now between Rolling Stone and any other
the time Jann moved Rolling Stone to
New York in the mid-'70s, I was writing books and
contributing fewer and fewer articles to the magazine.
Eventually my name was struck from the masthead. When
I happened to pick up Rolling Stone
in the intervening years, I reacted more and more
grumpily. What had become of our youthful ideals?
The content and fervor seemed to shrink as the magazine
grew glossier and plumper with advertising. In place
of (as I remembered) half a dozen articles of Homeric
length and utopian passion, there were now, generally,
two rather skimpy and elementary pieces, one of them
a shamelessly undisguised puff piece about some undeserving
flavor of the month. The bulk of the magazine seemed
to be taken up with half-page gossipy items about
people I'd never heard of or music biz events at which
celebrities were seen swanning in foolishly inventive
ways. Even the level of literacy seemed to have declined.
You can imagine, enlightened reader, my horror at
finding "Jane Austin" spelled thus. Where
was Charles Perry now that we needed him?
notable exceptions, the quality and drive of the writing
had gone, along with any trace of irony. Except for
P. J. O'Rourke's pieces—the kind of articles
labeled "humor" in magazines like Playboy—the
edge had been blunted. The skeptical attitude toward
the doltish cavortings of late capitalism and its
follies seemed to have vanished entirely. Such banalities
were now embraced with the sweaty clasp of a PR flack.
A cover story on Britney Spears that in the past would
have been treated with Nabokovian wit (not at the
expense of Britney herself, of course, but of a massive,
multimillion-dollar industry turning out such frothy
teen pornography). Come to think of it, the video
for Britney's "Baby, One More Time" seemed
to make more fun of itself than the Rolling Stone
just when you're about to dismiss the whole sorry
business, Rolling Stone utterly surprises
you. Following the frivolous lads cavorting in khakis
and tight swimsuits among the whiskey and Diesel jeans
ads comes "The Sadness at the Heart of the World,"
a wonderfully moving piece on the forgotten tribes
of the Brazilian rain forest. The next issue's profile
of the petulant little Ecstasy eater Eminem seemed
disturbingly objective—yo! this is shock rap,
dude—and devoid of any passion or quirky flash
of insight. But the article on AIDS researcher Dr.
David Ho and the great (and suspenseful) piece by
Jon Katz that follows two Internet nerds as they escape
from a stultifying Idaho town to find jobs in Chicago
provide a glimpse of the old Rolling Stone,
a magazine in which the writer really gets involved.
And, to be fair, in almost every issue of Rolling
Stone is at least one article that would
fit quite seamlessly into the original magazine.
if anyone ever asked me what I thought of the current
Rolling Stone, I'd say it was so glossy
I didn't know whether to read it or Turtle Wax it.
In short, I had worked myself up to a nice lather
of righteous indignation about Rolling Stone,
and Jann in particular. Without, of course, bothering
myself to think the scaly thing through—all
those confounding questions that inevitably arise
when one confronts a leviathan of pop culture. I just
ranted and sighed. "Jann has betrayed us!"
my self-righteous demon self was yelping. "Sold
us out for a mess of potage!" (Tens of millions
of messes of potage, actually.)
article, if truth be told, began when young Jayson
Whitehead, our fearless editor, wanted, for whatever
reasons, to meet the legendary Jann Wenner of Rolling
Stone in his lair. At the reception desk
we found an astonishing four-foot stonecrete "W"
(for Wenner Media), like something Scrooge McDuck
might have set up. Well, Jann was never one to affect
false modesty, and there is something endearing about
his unblushing embrace of wealth and fame. Just when
did Jann's Napoleonic cult take root? As far back
as the San Francisco days, when "the staff"
dubbed him "Citizen Wenner."
corridor to Jann's lair in New York seemed endless.
It was as if Charles II had built an orangery along
one side of the giant office, but instead of espaliered
miniature orange trees, behind the tasteful little
panes of glass were... people! The offices of the
superdrones. Elsewhere, the atmosphere was as hushed
and genteel as a library, except for the insect-like
clicks and hums that arose from the hive of cyberbees,
pale and fearful in the green light of the terminals.
office was spacious, tasteful and sparse. A sepulchral
light filtered into the room from the frosted windows
looking out onto Sixth Avenue. Jann was charming and
gracious in his perpetual two-day growth of beard
(did he get himself one of those Miami Vice
razors?). He offered us coffee and sweets from a tin.
began with a few generic questions. What were your
favorite interviews? John Lennon, Bill Clinton and
Mick Jagger. What did you want to be when you grew
up? First he wanted to be an architect (shades of
Atlas Shrugged) and then, "I kinda
liked the idea of being President of the United States,
I think I'd do good at that." How had he first
realized that Rolling Stone was going
to be big? "When we got a letter to the editor
from Charlie Watts after the first issue. You know,
right there was an indicator—oh boy, I mean
people are taking it seriously!"
we got this out of way, we moved swiftly on to our
I occasionally rail on about this," I said, "but
at what point did Rolling Stone, which
in the beginning was part of the counterculture, become
purely an entertainment magazine? Maybe I'm just confused
by the glossy paper and all those ads, but Rolling
Stone now looks just like Spin
or Entertainment Weekly."
looked at us with a vaguely pitying squint. He seemed
genuinely perplexed at the stunning naivete of the
question. We were like peasants who, having been handed
magnetic pass-cards by the concierge, ask, "Where
are our room keys?"
"Well, the people who in the early days were
saying we sold out were either very naive or very
disappointed, or people who had been somehow along
the way been rejected by Rolling Stone's
employees or were ex-employees or otherwise, because
maybe they legitimately felt we were selling out.
I think basically it's a kind of sour grapes. But
we are not selling out, we are maintaining our independence
amidst everything and going our own way. It's an outrageous
thing to use expressions like 'hip capitalism' and
'hippie entrepreneur,' which were popular tag words
at the time—I mean, how antique is that as an
idea? Everybody wants to make money."
really, the sour grapes thing is a bit of a red herring.
You don't have to be a disgruntled ex-employee or
rejected writer to be ambivalent about Rolling
Stone. Many of those who deplore the current
state of the magazine are, after all, readers.
A 1970s T-shirt read, "Is Jann Wenner tragically
hip?" But hipness is not Jann's curse. Jann's
curse is promiscuous McLuhanism. Jann is Mr. Zeitgeist,
and when the Zeit changes, Jann shifts gear.
"Times changed and the culture evolved, and as
the culture got broader and more and more popular,
the mainstream media started coming to it. So what
you've got now is a situation where the New York
Times can cover rock and roll and counterculture
events almost with the same authority that we can."
I objected, "while it's true that the New
York Times has drifted towards Rolling
Stone's style, at the same time Rolling
Stone has drifted towards mainstream journalism,
covering things the same way they would."
"But it's not because we sold out. Times changed
and we were responsive to it. Many people imitate
the Rolling Stone style, and not just
the copy-cat magazines—establishment media as
well. I mean, the look of the establishment media
and what they cover today—it's hard to tell
sometimes whether it's news or entertainment."
this point Jann, like some drug dealer, withdrew a
wad of bills—hundreds, fifties, twenties—which
he methodically began to sort and put in his wallet.
For a moment I thought he was going to toss a C note
to Jayson and say, "Here, son, get yourself a
decent tape recorder."
"Of course, we also got more professional—slicker,
with better design, better writing, better research—so
it became a more and more professional product. So
maybe what you're responding to isn't so much the
content as the professional product.
real truth about what happened is that the counterculture
became the mainstream culture. Mainstream culture
today has come over to our culture. Rock and roll
is all over every television commercial. I am
sorry we have lost our outsider status, but, on the
other hand, there is a kind of pleasure in hearing
the anthems of my time being played on commercials.
With enough people hearing 'Give peace a chance,'
perhaps it will affect their consciousness.
what, on the other hand, would people rather Rolling
Stone have done? Once something becomes
really popular, let's not cover it anymore? Because
the Stones are in the mainstream, maybe we should
stay away from them? We'll just cover really obscure
phenomena and stay at one hundred thousand [subscribers]?
It was never my charge to myself to remain obscure
and small. I want to operate on a big stage, you know,
and have a voice in public affairs and socialize with
"There's definitely some change, though, between
having John Lennon as Private Gripweed on the cover
and having Jennifer Aniston from Friends."
"Well, one's a television show and one's a movie.
Jennifer Aniston is definitely not John Lennon, that's
for sure, but give me John Lennon today alive and
we will put him on a cover. Friends
is really as relevant today to the way society sees
itself and thinks about itself and discusses itself
as the Beatles were then. It's not as artistic, it's
not as original and daring, but it's how the culture
sees itself today.
Rolling Stone started, music was the
only medium available to young people to express themselves
and share ideas. The jukebox and the radio—that
was the tribal telegraph, you know. A shared community
of values. Now everything is open to young people
and their concerns and values. Television, newspapers,
books, every medium imaginable."
a slippery one, that Jann. But we weren't going to
be sidetracked by this quasi-anthropological pig-in-the-python
sophistry. We've seen enough flashy pop sociological
memes to know one when we see one. Jayson goes for
"Do you feel you somehow diluted your art by
having to pander so much to marketing?"
"That's a loaded word, but actually today you
have to pay a lot more attention to marketing, absolutely.
We take money from these people, and we use this money
to create a magazine quite a few thousand times better
than the magazines put out many years ago without
money. Marketing, production and all that are much more relevant to
what we are doing today. Nobody wants to pick up a
newsprint rock magazine that looks like Rolling
Stone the way it was after its first two
years. Quarter fold, newsprint, black and white. People
don't want that anymore, just like people don't want
scratchy records anymore. Their ears are tuned to
high production, very technologically advanced stuff.
If it still looked now the way it did in 1969, you
wouldn't have very many kids saying, 'Gee, what a
wonderful publication, I must read that.'
bantered on about a number of subjects, such as his
reputation as a shameless celebrity hound. He prevaricated.
"They were more, you know, heroes whom we admired."
But one has to bear in mind that in the early days
of Rolling Stone the truly abasing Babylonian
aspects of celebrity culture had not yet taken hold.
think we all wanted to meet these people," I
said. "They were one of us. I think my ambition,
if I may be so ridiculous at this point in history,
was to be a rock evangelist, to tell the story and
be part of my generation."
thought Jann might find this a little naive. But not
at all. Considering the ruthless old media dragon
he's supposed to be, beneath that corporate epidermis
he's far more nostalgic and idealistic than he is
generally given credit for. He waxed on quite eloquently
in the grand, old hippie pentecostal manner.
"In our opening statement, we decided to quote
the Loving Spoonful song, 'Do You Believe in the Magic?'
That line, 'that's the music that will set you free.'
I mean, that's a very evangelistic proposition. It
certainly tied into the notion of the drug culture
of the time. Everybody was taking LSD or smoking marijuana
and proselytizing for drugs, you know, saying, let's
turn everybody on. Music was everything. It changed
America. It changed me.
just transports you. And back then, you were waking
up with the great social evolution. And it all linked
up with the coming of age of a mass group amidst a
social background we were rebelling against. A grey,
dull, restricting, repressive society that was very
set in its ways. We had rebellion on our minds. Not
just youthful rebellion, but rebellion in general.
Everybody's hopes, dreams, aspirations of freedom.
Kids today are coming of age in a very liberated America.
As they say, what have you got to rebel against? Even
school is cool today."
mid-speech, Jann reached over and pointed to some
scratches on my wrist. "S&M?" he asked
nonchalantly. "Iguana," I replied sheepishly.
music then was about the culture,"
Jann went on. "It was about growing up, but it
also contained ideas about human life and human behavior
and social norms and expectations of the world. When
you heard the music of the Beatles, the Stones or
Bob Dylan—change was a lot of what that music
was talking about. Part of what made that music so
potent was the intellectual, social and emotional
rebellion it was expressing. The music was expressing
all kinds of ideas about values—about what people
want out of life—that went far deeper than the
pre‑1960s teen-love-pop songs that rhyme. So
the music itself gave Rolling Stone
a natural franchise, the drug culture and radical
politics. With issue 15, we wrote about the abuses
at the Chicago Convention, and we happily endorsed
a candidate for president, and by the time 1970 rolled
around, the ecology movement started to flourish around
San Francisco. We were definitely involved in that
kind of stuff, and then you have this war in Vietnam,
which heavily impacted eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds—our
audience—because they were all eligible for
the draft, hence the evolution of protesting. Plus
you had the eighteen-year-olds' franchise to vote
for the first time in 1972, and then in George McGovern
you had a candidate who, although an older man, really
captured the imagination of youth. So, let's cover
that too. I mean, these were vital urgent issues of
the day, and we fell in the middle of that, and it
just kind of went from there."
ambitious he may have been, but the idea that Jann
was a ruthless, manipulative schemer from the beginning
is misguided. Far more surprising than any nefarious
grand plan on Jann's part to co-opt the counterculture
and turn it into a cash cow is the stunning aimlessness
with which Jann went about the whole business, like
a bee on a cloudy day, just bumbling into things.
you trying to create a newspaper that would cover
material for a younger age?" asked Jayson.
"No, not even that. I didn't think about it in
terms of age or demographics or any of those audiences,
just that it was going to be about music—rock
and roll music, rock and roll culture, and politics.
The politics that I was interested in. It was, like,
cover that subject—and I guess whatever happened,
happened. The notion of audience and market came much
later. When I came to New York and started meeting
sophisticated people, I began to pick up a few tricks.
For instance, the idea that what was on the cover
was extremely important didn't dawn on me for something
like a year. I remember Danny Fields saying, 'It's
really important what you choose to put on a cover.'
'Oh really!?' I never studied business. I never looked
at any business textbooks. I learned on the job. I
made a lot of mistakes. I had a very costly business
education. It was all self-taught. But I think a really
successful businessperson is very intuitive, certainly
in this business. How you manage talent, how you lead
people, how you inspire people."
true; he was always extremely receptive, even to the
most hare-brained ideas. He had tremendous energy
and he put that energy into whatever he was doing.
remember that whatever idea I would tell you about—if
I was really into it myself—I could get you
excited about it, too," I said. "There was
a tremendous openness and naivete, not only in you
for starting Rolling Stone but in everybody
involved in the magazine."
"Naivete is a good word. Naivete can keep that
kind of approach of wonder or awe at everything that's
going on in America or the culture alive. Let's take
chances, was part of our philosophy. We were into
anything new or inspiring. The better part of being
at Rolling Stone was the editorial openness,
and a sense of adventure and playing in a field that
nobody else was in. Certainly, at that time, if you
approached the world with a naive, wide-eyed appetite
for learning, the world opened up for you.
course, as the magazine began to make more money,
we all had to be a little more professional, a little
more mature, and for some people that was the hardest
thing. They simply couldn't go along with that. We
were all very young, you know. I was twenty-one or
twenty-two, and the people in the office were in their
early twenties. Rolling Stone was a
very indulgent place to work in that sense, and San
Francisco was an indulgent place to live. There were
so many problems with the staff all the time. I mean,
a naive hippie ethos against hip exploitation. People
were not at this point ready to settle into their
adult lives. They were postponing their adult lives.
There was always some kind of staff revolt going on,
plus you couldn't pay anybody really well. The only
people you were going to attract into an operation
like Rolling Stone—where they
made $25 or $75 a week—were the young and immature!
There was a constant turnover of people, so the managing
act was really difficult.
a completely different world today from when we began
the magazine. The times have changed, and people who
are not imaginative and not open-minded want to stay
in this little cubbyhole that they might feel comfortable
in, but, believe me, those people are a small minority.
Our charter was to cover popular music and popular
culture and what's going on with young people and
politics and all this stuff, and that's what we are
still doing. And yes, the look of it has changed,
because the culture changed."
a minute. Wasn't I, too, once in favor of change?
Change at all costs, change even for the sake
of change? What a fuddy-duddy I'd been! It is now
over thirty years ago that I first started writing
for Rolling Stone, a span of time equivalent
to that between 1910 and 1940. Or 1940 and 1970.
a brutal (and irresistible) trick to juxtapose, as
Salon magazine did recently, a Rolling
Stone cover from the late '60s showing
a beefy, thuggish cop subduing a protester bearing
the headline "American Revolution 1969"
with a recent cover showing Jenny McCarthy in a bikini
squirting a stream of mustard onto a hot dog, a variation
on the perception-reality ads that Rolling Stone
ran in the mid-'80s, one of the more dismaying aspects
of the reactionary phase of Rolling Stone.
The perception-reality ads featured, for example,
a funky-looking hippie on one page (perception) and
a yuppieish dude on the opposite page (reality). The
very nadir of this campaign was the juxtaposition
of a peace sign with a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament.
Such blatant recanting of its original values is natural
fodder for parody. Fishwrap magazine—whose
inspired tweaking of the inane posturings of mainstream
magazines is a heartening sign in the media wasteland—juxtaposed
Rolling Stone's first cover, featuring
John Lennon as Private Gripweed, with a recent cover
featuring "Red Hot Party Girl" Neve Campbell,
and pairing it with an equally vapid Entertainment
the perception-reality advertisements presented a
grisly irony for those of us who labored on Rolling
Stone's original shining obelisk—that
living national treasure of the counterculture. And
that is, of course, what rankles. Rolling Stone
was emblematic of our youthful aspirations. And here
was that fiendish Jayson egging me on to further heights
I was condemning Jann, and for what? For his grasp
of the pop Zeitgeist? For reflecting the nature of
pop culture? Can I really blame Jann for what has
happened to the counterculture, to my youthful ideals?
Or were these mere rationalizations, accommodations
to my fallen state? Pop culture is a notoriously eel-like
entity that has the disturbing habit of turning itself
inside out and becoming its opposite.
was perplexed. I called my old comrade, David Felton,
who now works at MTV, and after we had bewailed the
sorry state of things for some time, he said: "Times
are different and the kind of people that work at
Rolling Stone now are different. They're
nice people, but they're not like us. And there's
a very good reason for that. When you and I were dealing
with Jann, we were dealing with him as colleagues,
friends and equals. Clearly that's not the case today.
Jann, as he got older and more successful, didn't
want to fight anymore. I don't mean to fight the cause,
I mean to fight with us, because we
were very hard to deal with. We represented a series
of unmanageable, immature problems that he doesn't
want to have to deal with anymore. After a while,
he said the revolution is over, I've got a business.
All his other friends had businesses, and they
didn't have to deal with this aggravation. So he hired
a bunch of yes men and got the thing running with
a certain degree of quality. Everybody does their
job, everyone goes home at five. There's no hassle,
no rebellion—and no fun either. For him, the
fun must have gone out of it as far as being a revolutionary
paper, so he probably shares all our disappointments
in how limited we are. The lie about the war on drugs
is one fight he still fights, and that separates him
from almost every other businessman. He might actually
win that one politically.
the beginning, rock and roll has been in bed with
the Devil, and Jann has been a troublesome reminder
of that from the get-go. At the same time, we have
to remember that we were just writers covering the
issues, but Jann was more of an activist than any
of us because he started a magazine to fight the good
fight. Therefore it must have been a bigger disappointment
to him when he realized how much he could fight for
and how much he couldn't fight for."
hippies are bound, sooner or later, to turn into curmudgeons.
I'm disgruntled with a lot of things these days. Just
look what became of my idols the Rolling Stones. Or
Dylan; how could he sell "Blowing in the Wind"
to be used in a bank commercial? What's true of performers
is perhaps also true of magazines that deal with performers.
They have short life cycles during which they reach
their heroic peaks, and then they must re-invent themselves
if they are to survive.
once lamented to the philosophical Felton how sad
it was that those great old days at Rolling Stone
are gone. He said something profound that I've now
forgotten, but the gist of it was that they aren't
gone, they're all still there, in our minds and in
the way Rolling Stone changed our lives.
this is true. The first day I saw Rolling Stone
it was as if a new planet had swum into my ken (to
poach a metaphor from Keats' "On First Looking
into Chapman's Homer") and we "look'd at each
other with a wild surmise—silent, upon a peak