Thursday, May 11, 2006

And Oh! How the mighty did fall!

Going through some old school papers, I found an article that I had saved from many, many years ago (way back in those dark ages known as "the 90's") entitled Working Our Nerves: Those Stupid Frigging Mentos Commercials.

Holy crap! An old article from the back page of Sassy Magazine! JOY!!!

I attribute so much of my individuality to reading Sassy in those formative teenaged years. Sassy, unlike it's fluffy counterparts YM and Seventeen, encouraged political and critical thinking, creativity, and individual style. In the pages of Sassy you could find articles about Gay teens, The Ecology of the Amazonian Rainforests, Reader fiction, the Zine of the month, and so on and so on. I don't ever recall seeing a single diet plan (in fact, one of the most hilarious articles was a staff sampling of various junk foods), or tips on how to win a boyfriend. Sassy treated its readers, us teenaged girls, as intelligent young people capable of thinking of something other than what to wear to prom.

And the music! Don't even get me started. If not for Sassy, I never would have known about The Lemonheads, Superchunk, Juliana Hatfield and Shonen Knife were. I never would have thought of Iggy Pop or Mike D of the Beastie Boys capable of giving sound advice in the "Dear Boy" monthly column, and I never would have picked up a Poppy Z. Brite book (not that I still read Ms. Brite, but I do admit how important her writing was when it came to the way I read) and I would not have known about places like CBGB.

That was until March 1995. I hadn't gotten an issue in 3 months and was starting to get PISSED, I had just renewed my subscription for another year. When it finally arrived, I was at first confused, then crestfallen, then furious. My beloved Sassy was gone forever. Still alive in Name only, the magazine had been sold to a Los Angeles Publishing company who were also to blame for Teen magazine, of which I only ever bought ONE issue in my entire teenage years. Nervous at pressure from advertisers who found Sassy to be a bit too cutting-edge for teenage girls (god forbid we don't have someone telling us how to think) the entire publication was "revamped" from cover to cover. Evan Dando, Sonic Youth and Cowboy Fashion were booted out in favor of Quizzes about which celebrity you were meant to date and how to cure your zits. I still shake my fist over this from time to time, though it's nothing compared to my outrage at the time. The remainder of my subscription would promptly go from mailbox to trash can, and I felt a sick relief when the magazine folded soon after.

To see why Sassy was so great, I suggest checking out Sissy, which is the last issue of Sassy, scrapped when the magazine was sold. Also check out Lisa Jervis' Article on the Death of Sassy and Why Sassy made Irene Dispatch Flush Glamour.

That's my two cents.


Sleep Goblin said...

That's so sad! I read Seventeen, but I think you're older, so Sassy probably didn't exist when I was reading it. I totally missed out. Of course, I also read Rolling Stone, so it wasn't all bad.

kimberlina said...

my friend erika lured me into the ways of YM.

those glossy superficial magazines are just so... alluring. i feel so programmed.

now i subscribe to readymade. crafting is creative!

Michaela said...

I think Sassy may have been just a few years before me...Sounds like a good read though!

kimberlina said...

good luck on your move, chick-a-dee!

ck said...

I stumbled upon your blog post while trying but failing to find a particular Sassy article from the early 90s, and I just wanted to say how much I value what you said about the magazine - it was so different from everything else, and like you expressed, I believe the magazine played a large role in developing my individuality in my formative years. Thank you for your words!