OldStand: Spin, April 1993 – A-Z Of Alternative Culture

By Stereogum / January 21, 2008 - 6:22 pm

Take our ink-stained hands and join us at the OldStand, where Jon McMillan goes to remind everyone what an honest-to-goodness music magazine is supposed to look like.

Spin’s 8th Anniversary Issue gets off to a hot start, with Evan Dando (doing his best Anthony Kiedis impression) lip-locked with Adrienne Shelly. The mercurial (read: so-crazy-he’s-boring) Lemonhead frontman gets a profile, but things quickly shift to a hip-hop vibe. Naughty By Nature receives some much-deserved feature ink (“They’re a bridge between the daisy age and the gangsta era”), Basehead’s “Not in Kansas Anymore” gets the lead review, and “radical feminist scholar” Bell Hooks interviews a Straight-outta-NWA Ice Cube about identity politics, black capitalism, and crappy, family-based comedy.

But let’s get right to the good stuff: Spin’s sorta-definitive, mildly misguided, totally-hilarious-in-retrospect “A-Z of Alternative Culture” list. Craig Marks, in his introduction to the list, starts out by taking on boomer hegemony, but ends up mired in sheepish qualifiers (“The items we’ve selected, when added together, do not equal [italics his] your thoughts, feelings, fears, and aspirations”). Because, like, Spin would never try to tell you what’s cool, no way man!

The list includes words (“like,” “whatever,” “not”), movies (Heathers, Blade Runner), Clintons (Chelsea), and Nirvana. Level One wtfs include “Incest,” “Butts,” and “Sassyism” (which, by unspecified means, could “breed the strongest batch of young women the world has ever known.” Consider me retroactively terrified.). “G” is for The Gap, which is only slightly more alternative than “M” for “Money Machines.” Or, as we in the future know them, ATMs. Major bonus points if you can reconstruct the entire 77-point manifesto from memory. Did Arsenio make the cut? You’ll just have to take the jump.

Also included: Some As and a few Ms, a bold prediction about the year 2000, and political pundit Dave Pirner’s insightful take on the old New Clintonism.


And on my right: these are people who thought Arsenio Hall was alternative! Give it up! Whooo whooo whooo!


Still ironic after all these years.


“It’s the first time I ever voted for a winner,” [Soul Asylum frontman Dave] Pirner says, “and now I am just sort of waiting with bated breath to see if he’s going to come through for us and represent us the way we want to be represented. Everybody’s talking about change, change, change. I want to see it happen, you know.”


Spin’s rating system would be more helpful if they hadn’t given green lights to both Exile in Guyville and Ten Summoner’s Tales.


“John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends, predicts that by the year 2000, 45 percent of U.S. households will have some kind of interactive television.” Megatrends my ass! This guy was off by like 45 percent.


Macs, money machines, and monster trucks. This list is the alternative of everything that’s not on the list.


Recognize the foppish gentleman on the left? (Hint: he’s a firestarter, twisted firestarter!)