The glossy inaugural issue of SWING, a national Generation X magazine, arrived in November 1994, complete with articles about poetry slams, the growing trend in indoor rock-climbing and coffee shops with computer ports.
You know – all the cool stuff Generation Y invented.
Covers of Swing, the Generation X Magazine.
SWING (if you want to doom your magazine call it Swing) was the brain child of David Lauren, son of fashion designer Ralph Lauren. He started the publication when he was 22-years-old and still a student at Duke University. He’s 43 now, and just a few days ago was featured in the Wall Street Journal. That’s what got me to thinking about SWING.
In 1994, a Harvard University student newspaper reporter, Joshua A. Kaufman, wrote a scathing review of the magazine.
“Lauren writes ironically in his first editor’s note that “Swing is about men and women in their 20s who have ingeniously realized their aspirations in the face of hardship.” But the magazine has a great deal more to do with the leisurely diversions of the young, wealthy and idle–including Lauren and his friends who run the publication. Indeed, Swing is a product of spoiled suburban children who play at publishing and editorializing.”
Turns out, this review is sort of a stand-alone commentary on Generation X. Kaufman notes in the editorial that Generation X is hopelessly divided politically, and quite cynical. He also gives a healthy nod to the “information and communication revolution,” that was still a few years from being in, um, full swing.
The Washington Post wrote about SWING in 1995. The description of the magazine for “twenty-somethings” makes Generation X sound so silly. Or perhaps it’s just been awhile and I’m now a full-fledged member of the generation my daughter’s generation simply calls The Olds.
Swing is not hip, trendy and downtown. This is not a ‘zine. This is not Paper Project X. It is clean-cut – with a rebellious streak. It’s for young women who have multiple ear piercings, but a ring-free navel. Or guys who wear jeans with their suit jackets.
In 2009, Abby of Diary of A New Mom, penned a post about her experience serving as an intern for SWING. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share the link and this excerpt:
My sole friend at the magazine, if you could call her that, was a fellow intern named Sloane or Skye or something like that. She had grown up in Manhattan, attended fancy prep schools, and wore tight pants and Gucci belts. Coming from a campus where overalls and pajama bottoms were considered acceptable daywear, I’d never seen such an exotic creature as Sloane. She came to work with stories about her boyfriend’s exploits with “Leo’s posse.” Leo, as in DiCaprio.
SWING ceased publication in 1998. I sure wish I could score a copy of every issue ever published. Even though it received terrible reviews, David Lauren’s effort was admirable. And, today, the remaining copies — in basements and attics or bound in dusty library periodicals — form a time capsule of a generation still in formation. A generation that was a tough audience to write for in the 1990s and perhaps even harder to write for today.