"Rolling Stone" Gathers No Moss: A Personal Journey Through Magazine Readership (Part 3)

(This is the third and final part of a three-part article; Part 1; Part 2.)

"Rolling Stone" magazine was a mainstay in my life throughout high school and college. I read every issue virtually cover to cover, used the content of the magazine to guide my music and reading tastes, and even clipped some of the images to decorate my walls. By the mid-1990s, though, after I began graduate school and my life became exponentially busier, "RS" simply fell in significance and became less of a priority.

I still maintained my subscription (and do to this day), but my annual renewals became (at times) due more to tradition and a sense of duty than to a continuing passion for the magazine. I started to read only what really interested me, and the volume and frequency of these interests diminished. In the '90s, the magazine shifted too much towards an obsession with style and fashion for my taste, and also became too similar to editor Jann Wenner's other publication, "Us" magazine. As I grew older (and exited the coveted 18-24 demographic), it seemed like I outgrew "Rolling Stone"'s focus. I still liked music, of course, but not so much the current music of the mid- to late-1990s.

I knew that the place "RS" held in my life had been transformed circa 1997 when the "Great Rolling Stone Purge" took place. Up to that point, I still had every issue I had ever received. Even as the mild pack rat that I am, the crates full of magazines had become too unwieldy to continue to store and move. So, over the course of a few weeks, I weeded ten years worth of "Rolling Stone"s down into a couple of crates of special issues and select issues representative of the ten-year span of my collection. Since then, I've weeded that group down even more, especially after my cat used the spines of one crate of magazines as a scratching post.

Because of the significant place "Rolling Stone" has had in my life, and also because I still often find legitimately interesting articles in the magazine, I will probably be a lifetime reader and subscriber. (Plus, there remain those issues of tradition and duty.) A couple of years ago, I learned of an offer for a lifetime subscription to "RS" for something like $99 (which seems much too low, so it might have been $199--it was a bargain, for sure)--and briefly entertained it, and will probably take it up if I ever see it again and can afford the outlay. After all, if I maintain the tradition, and live for at least another 40 years as I hope, at the higher price I just mentioned it would only come to $5.00 per year!

I guess that my relationship to "Rolling Stone" has become like that of an old married couple: after an extended period of passion and excitement in my youth, there were periods of doubt and dissatisfaction; now, though, twenty years into my "RS" readership (which is far longer than my first marriage and my new marriage combined), I have settled into a comfortable and reliable pattern that is punctuated with moments of renewed passion and excitement. And to be able to describe in such a way the place of a magazine in one's life is pretty interesting indeed.

(Photo source: www.rollingstone.com)

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