Thursday, 2 July 2009

Reminisce on the Love we Had

My adolescent self has taken a battering over the last week. Learning of the demise of one of my favourite Charlie’s Angel (RIP Farrah), and then the shock death of Michael Jackson a few hours later… Believe me when I say that the tragic events of that day will be forever etched in my memory. Then yesterday when I logged onto my Twitter account (which has become somewhat of a digitalised grim reaper) I noticed that Vibe magazine was one of the hottest trend topics. The talk in Twitterville was that the magazine had folded. Jeez... Hasn't my fragile, tween-aged self suffered enough over the last 7 days? 

Vibe magazine inspired me to pursue a career in magazine journalism. I can remember clear as day the first time I became acquainted with what was to become my holy grail of the magazine world. I was living at home with my folks, swotting for my exams with my college friend Aretha. After a few hours of studying, Aretha (who was a lot trendier than me) pulls out a copy of this new magazine called Vibe that she claimed was the mutts nuts. Instantly I was mesmerized. The mag had a stylish black and white cover of Naughty By Nature‘s Treach, not to mention, breathtaking photography, provocative features and candid insights into the lives of our favourite celebs. 

Subsequent to the launch issue I bought virtually every issue during the mid to late 90’s. Vibe spoke to me like no other magazine had. The magazine not only concerned itself with matters of celebrity but it also tackled pertinent socio-political issues of concern to young black adults such as Aids & HIV, crime, domestic violence and sexuality. It represented my young adult self, and was perfectly packaged in this big, bold glossy bound magazine that dominated the space on every newsstand that it graced. I’d get lost in the bylines of writers such as Danyel Smith, Asha Bandele, Karen R Good and Emil Wilbekin like a pupil in training. Needless to say my ultimate goal was to become a staff writer there.

When I travelled to New York one summer with my friend I visted the offices of Vibe and recall feeling as if I was standing on sacred land. I decided to casually drop by to introduce myself and left my CV with the guy at the reception desk. At the time the offices were virtually empty but I couldn’t care less. I was so giddy with excitement that I wanted to document the moment by taking a picture. As I rummaged through my bag to find my camera my friend who was with me at the time shot me a look and told me to put it away. When we left the building I asked her why she acted that way, and I’ll never forget her reply. “Well if you’re intending to work there one day, don’t you think it would have come across as quite unprofessional if you’re standing there taking pictures.” Point taken. But still…

So where does my relationship with Vibe stand in 2009? Ironically I was reading a brilliant book on feng shui at the start of the year which urges budding practitioners to get rid of things that no longer serve them emotionally, intellectually, spiritually or otherwise. I thought long and hard about my shelf full of Vibes taking up my book/magazine space. Do they still serve me? The answer was I hadn’t even flicked through any of them for the whole time I’d been living in my flat which is coming up to 10 years. Nuff said. So off I went to the recycling station on the main road to dump them. I kept hold of a few issues that I thought were priceless gems. The cover with Lisa ‘Left Eye’ posing as a fire woman when she was in the midst of a real life arson trial. The strange one of Biggie snuggling up to Faith, their opposite complexions colliding like day and night. *Clears her throat and sings in a Barbara Streisand voice* Memories. Of the way we were. 

I stopped buying Vibe around the early noughties I’d say. I’m not sure whether it was mainly to do with me just getting older and being concerned with more pressing matters than 50 Cents latest beef. Or whether Vibe had merely lost its soul. Probably a combination of both in all honesty. But now the shock has worn off, I take solace in the principles of feng shui that espouses that whenever we let go of things we shouldn’t pine over it as we’re simply making way for new things, new thoughts, ideas and creativity. Onwards and upwards peeps. 

Night night Vibe. 


Millytilly said...

Hmmmm! Good post - funnily, I think I mentioned on Flickr that, like you, Vibe was once the ultimate career goal...I remember I sent them a package of my stuff so I could do an internship there when I 19 or 20 (I think?)...I got a silent response (lol) but I eventually got as far as doing something for about Jesse Jackson coming to the UK, and MAN! I was pleased as punch.

But yep - I actually stopped buying into Vibe after editor Emil Wilbekin left as the mag had somehow lost its edge...I guess my blossoming maturity probably had its role too, and yet, I still have about 50 back copies in my house which, I now wonder if I should put the less memorable issues on Ebay :P

But long live Vibe and it's pivotal influence on black youth shall be missed.

Ondo Lady said...

I am a great follower of Feng Shu and feel that I get a lot out of it. Now onto Vibe, it was truly a pioneering magazine when it first came out in the 90s and I think it deserved to be dubbed the Black Rolling Stone. The covers were amazing, fresh and funky and the writing exceptional. But as you say it did lose its way and kind of lost it's soul. To me Vibe's legacy is bringing the urban culture into the mainstream. Also we are half way through the year and we have seen numerous magazines fold but Vibe is the only one that has received all this fanfare. I think that says it all.

Ondo Lady said...

PS I also went tripping into their office looking for a job but alas I did not make it past reception. LOL

MsQuiche said...

That's so funny how we've all tried a ting, lol. Big ups Milly Tilly for getting your work published there.

Kwana said...

Wonderful post. I'm sorry to see Vibe go. This has been a tough week.

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