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April 1990

I looked at her, sleeping now. Her skinny body looked formless in her disheveled sweatshirt. Her mouth was slightly open, her large, beautiful brown eyes shut away. Her hair was flat and lifeless from traveling, lying in the darkened compartment in the pale, colorless illumination of the unseen station lights.

Well, this is it. It’s over. For the past six months, I’ve been writing these nostalgic, semi-fond, Ken Burns-ian reexaminations of old issues of Spin, but this is the last one. This is the last one, and it’s because I don’t think I will ever be able to find another edition of Spin as bizarre as this April 1990 “Fifth Anniversary Issue.” The paragraph you just read — the one about the doe-eyed woman sleeping in an East German train station — is the verbatim introduction to this particular issue. For some reason, Spin founder Bob Guccione Jr. elected to use his editor’s letter to explain why his marriage had failed. And dude comes hard with the darkness. “I have failed at everything I have ever done,” Guccione writes. “We all have. Success is more than ephemeral, it’s mythological: It doesn’t, finally, exist.” That’s some heavy shit, brother. Thanks for the bum-out. What ever happened to asking us if we were ready to rock?

The Internet has made people boring. I really, truly believe that. We all like to pretend that the world keeps getting crazier, but we’re fooling ourselves (and this issue proves it). Kanye West mentions that George Bush doesn’t care about black people, and everyone acts like he punched a puppy to death on Sesame Street. However, look at what ex-Public Enemy figurehead Professor Griff said in the April 1990 issue, in an allegedly apologetic Q&A titled “Repentant Professor.” Remember, this is his apology: “I said that the Jews are responsible for the majority of wickedness in the world, which is untrue. There are certain Jews and certain isolated incidents, but definitely not the majority of the wickedness in the world. This is a big earth.” C’mon, Mr. Griff, what’s with all the flip-flopping?

There are pages upon pages of piping-hot talk in this anniversary joint. It makes me long for the days when people besides Ron Artest were publicly insane. “Fuck that black power shit: We don’t give a fuck,” quoth the oft-candid N.W.A’s Eazy-Muthafuckin’-E on page 34. “Free South Africa? We don’t give a fuck. I bet there ain’t anybody in South Africa wearing a button saying, free compton or free california. They don’t give a damn about us, so why should we give a damn about them?” It was, as they say, a different era. Even the most earnest of rock ‘n’ roll fellows were temporarily infused with an abject sense of nihilism. “The problem with voting,” a popular singer quips on page 42, “is that no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.” The artist who said that was Bono, who is quite possibly in your hometown right this very moment, canvassing the neighborhood for his upcoming run for city alderman. Was this really what life was like in 1990? Who knows? Maybe.

I was a senior in high school in April 1990. It was, as they say, a simpler time. Actually, that’s not true; being in high school was 1,000 times more complicated than my life is now, despite that it was about 10,000 times more boring. It sucked. But perhaps you’re in high school right now; perhaps you are reading this column instead of listening to your physics teacher. And maybe you will pick up some other magazine 16 years from now, and it will describe the cultural landscape of 2006, and you will read about how your entire generation was defined by the music of the Killers and the vapidity of Lindsay Lohan and the popularity of American Idol, and it will rhetorically ask if you remember blogging about all those fight clubs that you started. This is the bad news about your personal future. But here’s the good news: You won’t relate to any of it. Because no one ever does.

Oh yeah…and then you’ll get a divorce.