When I was bored teenager mired in suburban Ohio, I used to pore over the inky mail-order music catalogs, circling bands that sounded interesting based on their names or their 30-word descriptions. (I only ever bought Smiths T-shirts, however.) Not allowed to go to most shows (and hampered by our creaky old modem), I depended on music magazines and the occasional indie-rock show on the radio to hear new music (or imagine how new bands sounded).
Had I grown up in St. Louis, however, my favorite way to find out about my idols would have been to read Jet Lag, the legendary local 'zine co-founded by former RFT freelancer Steve Pick and John "The Mailman" Korst that was published between 1980 and 1991. Nostalgia-hounds or those obsessed with the history that time almost forgot, like me can now view the first five issues of the magazine in their entirety by going to www.jetlagmag.net.
The yellowed scans of each individual issue are charmingly lo-fi. Issue No. 1 features a crudely drawn picture of the Arch and the phrase "St. Louis is really rockin' now!" on the cover, and the copious amount of new-wave CD reviews, interviews and show reviews (Iggy Pop in Kansas!) are in crooked typewriter text. Reading through the issues can be bittersweet (check the ads for Streetside Records, whose Delmar location is due to close this year) or feature startlingly familiar sentiments: When talking about an upcoming 999/Dickies show, the 'zine implores, "We need lots of people to make this show a success so bring along mom and dad and anyone else you can think of."
"When Jet Lag started, there were only a handful of local bands playing original music, with even fewer venues open to them," Pick recalls. "By the sixth issue, there were enough venues to have a full-page feature describing them, and there were at least twice as many bands. Over the next couple years, the scene exploded. Obviously we didn't do this by ourselves part of it was we were of the zeitgeist, part of it was we kicked the zeitgeist in the ass."
Pick had been kicking around undertaking the ambitious project to preserve the 90-plus issues of Jet Lag "off and on for five years, at least, maybe longer," and at first considered retyping all of the text and placing it on a blog. But after longtime RFT contributor Roy Kasten volunteered to help scan each individual page, things started getting serious. Either way, immortalizing the eleven-year print-run online is clearly a labor of love for both men.
"It seems to me that the Internet should be a repository for things like this, historical documents which give a sense of the flavor of what happened," Pick says. "Though the earliest issues are quite primitive, there was some great writing and photography in Jet Lag over the years, and it's not anything that will ever be anthologized. So, I figured it was up to me to make it available again.
"Also, there is the nostalgia factor. I wasn't prepared for how reading these magazines again would bring me back so much to those youthful days when every new St. Louis band was a thrill simply for existing. I'm remembering who I was at that time, and finding out an awful lot about myself."
For more on Jet Lag, please see www.riverfronttimes.com/blogs, where I'll augment this column with links to other retro-minded blogs, archived 'zines and further quotes from Pick.
The competition was fierce at the 2007 RFT DJ Spin-off at Atomic Cowboy on Thursday, March 1 from the first DJ, SlantE, through to the final contestant, Scotty Mac, whose exuberant set featured a nifty drop of Prince's "Erotic City." In between those two men, DJ GXK sporting a nifty Tiösto T-shirt brought out a huge crowd that danced to his booming house-music; DJ Foster was just as enthusiastic spinning a well-paced minimal set that built to a crashing conclusion. In the end, Scotty Mac emerged the winner. Congratulations to him, and to all of the finalists!