The first issue of the Atlantic Monthly appeared on this day in 1857, and the first issue of Rolling Stone was published on this day in 1967. The two magazines are separated by more than a century and a continent. A child of the Boston Establishment, the Atlantic was “born middle-aged” (Ellery Sedgwick, The Founding of the Atlantic). In an avuncular tone, the editors of the first edition promised readers that, although “entertainment in its various forms of Narrative, Wit, and Humor, will not go uncared for,” they could mostly expect “articles of an abstract and permanent value.” The first issue of Rolling Stone had John Lennon on the cover, and promised Hunter S. Thompson…:
And so came the tall and wiry man — in wraparound sunglasses and matching black leather gloves and jacket with the misshapen wig on his bald head and the six-pack of Budweiser under his arm — to the fourth-floor office of [publisher] Jann Wenner, who looked up at the writer he’d heard so much about, shook the visitor’s hand and said, “ Well, what have you brought us?”
“Thompson just launched into this rap,” said John Lombardi, who witnessed the encounter. “And he must have talked for nearly an hour without stopping, drinking his entire six-pack, chain-smoking and taking his wig off and putting it on for no apparent reason and limping around the room — all the while talking about his plans to run for sheriff….
“And Wenner is sitting in this high-backed Huey Newton chair he had, and he’s listening to him, and he’s sinking lower and lower in his chair till he’s practically underneath his desk. Finally Thompson goes down the hall to take a leak. All this time nobody had said anything.”
Jann Wenner looked up at Lombardi from his reclined slump. “Look, I know I’m supposed to be the spokesman for the youth generation and everything … but what the fuck was that?”
It was the future of Jann Wenner’s magazine. And the future emerged from the bathroom and withdrew a huge syringe from his leather jacket, and lifted his shirt and jammed the syringe into his navel, and looked up at the gaping visages of the Rolling Stone rank and file. And burped.
-from Robert Draper’s Rolling Stone Magazine: the Uncensored History
Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.