Paste Issue #33 is out. I couldn’t even begin to describe the cover; you just have to see it. But a cartoon version of Bono can be found there. And Emmylou Harris, also in cartoon form. And some sort of a robot/lizard hybrid monster that you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark laboratory. The caption on the cover says “Can Rock Save the World?”
I’m betting on “No.” How about you? But I’m betting it can change the world, because it already has, and the bulk of this issue is focused on highlighting the many good causes that rock ‘n roll has brought attention to and raised money for through benefit concerts over the years. It is easy to become cynical about such things. After all, is there anything more ludicrous than a pampered rock star arriving by limousine to sing about famine in Africa? In spite of the sordid trappings, rock has somehow managed to promote positive change in the world, sometimes in spite of giant stages with jumbotron screens projecting every sensitive facial expression of an overemoting prima donna. More significantly, there are many people involved in the music business who quietly go about the hard and unrewarding work of making the world a better place, and Paste highlights those folks as well. Throughout the issue there are links to websites where you can find out more information about how you, gentle reader, can help change the world as well. And there’s an announcement about an upcoming benefit concert sponsored by Paste, the proceeds of which will be used to help end child slavery throughout the world. This is called putting your money where your mouth is, and I couldn’t be happier to do my little part to promote such an event.
This is also Paste’s five-year anniversary issue. Five years ago I procrastinated in writing my first article about Bill Mallonee and Vigilantes of Love, not really certain what I was writing for in the first place. A month later a magazine – a real magazine – showed up in my mailbox. It was the product of three guys who maxed out their credit cards and worked 100-hour weeks and slept on couches in the office during the month prior to publication. Since then Paste has gone from quarterly, to bi-monthly, to monthly, and it’s now the best-selling music magazine in Barnes and Noble Bookstores. It’s won scads of awards, has been written about in glowing terms in places like The New York Post and The Chicago Tribune, and I’ve had the surreal experience of watching my friends Josh and Nick pontificate about their favorite music on a weekly TV show on CNN. On a personal level, I’ve had the great joy of writing 150 feature articles and reviews, meeting some of my favorite musicians in the world, and receiving truckloads of free music and music DVDs, far more than I can even remotely begin to take in.
And I’m thankful. It’s been a wild ride, one for which I still frequently shake my head in disbelief. I’m doing what I love to do, and people are actually paying me to do it. So give it up for Paste, buy the new issue (or, better yet, subscribe), and, more importantly, check out those links and do what you can to support that Paste benefit concert. There are more important things than rock stars, and magazines about rock stars. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not grateful that both are around.