My first encounter with Rolling Stone was like a love at first sight. Attraction and the urge to caress the already yellowing pages, was unbelievable.
I couldn’t remember what year and month it was. We were visiting my grandmother whom I adored so much. She had this welcoming and ever so warm hello that is quite unusual for a lady above 60. She was this cute tiny lady who offered me candies and would invite me devour on them without making me feel guilty after.
In most of those visits, after ingesting candies and sweets in few minutes, I would get bored and wonder in her tiny house. I would, ignoring to what my mother just told me earlier not to touch granny’s things, start opening cupboards checking things-I-don’t-know-what-exactly, which would lead me and my curiosity into the 2nd storey of the house. I would wait then patiently in a matter of less than 10 minutes when my mother was already engaged in what my granny had to share. Mother could no longer give me her darting look as I made my way to 9 step- stair case so fast and quite that I put “THE FLASH” into shame.
After opening the forbidden drawer, (It was forbidden according to mother because stuffs inside belong to my uncle. He wouldn’t feel very glad knowing someone is touching his things) I held my breath for a couple of seconds so very careful not to make any sound. A little noise could mean mother climbing upstairs; which means end of my curiosity business (AKA meddling business) and it would break my heart as I haven’t discovered what was inside the drawer. So I had to be extra careful not to attract attention from my mother downstairs.
Lo and behold! I found so many SONG HITS that are published beyond my years! My pupils dilated while discovering that what I was holding were in fact treasures! Who else kept SONG HITS in 90’s when it was published during 70’s? Only my hippie uncle, who turned out not very hippie actually, a hoarder of anything related to music as he played guitar perfectly well.
Being born before the internet was a household commodity and a WIFI was not yet being debated as one of human rights; children my age who had a passion for music respect SONG HITS like our life depended on it. Well, I could say, it almost was the case, second to the radio itself.
Rolling Stone was a different kind of magazine. It was not one of those usual magazines that my mother read at home. (I grew up reading LIWAYWAY magasin and ALIWAN komiks and those contemporary Filipino Comics that catered horror, fantasy and love stories) The pages were not complete but that didn’t make me less impressed about it. It was the coolest thing I have ever found inside the drawer, let alone in the single room in that 2nd storey during our “visits”. From then on, I vowed to myself to read the magazine whenever mother and I would visit granny, which happened to be every other week.
I was tempted to get one copy secretly, but in my young mind, I thought that it would be inappropriate; the impending line of questions from mother, where did I get it, why did I get it and when. I was not prepared to be tangled in that kind of conversation so I was determined to wait for another visit then could slip away upstairs and carefully open my uncle’s drawer full of SONG HITS and incomplete Rolling Stone Magazines.
My memory didn’t serve me right. I didn’t remember some of the names that I have seen in the pages, after all some of them didn’t have covers, only the yellowing pages and some slightly glossed ones. The fascination that it brought me looking at the glimpse of the musicians was so entertaining, some of them budding to stardom and few had already made themselves famous. I didn’t remember any of the interviews/features done. English was not my first language and even if it was, it was too overwhelming for me as a kid to be able to hold, smell and caress the pages of twenty-something work of publication. I was in awe of I think one of the coolest magazine, though “cool” was a word I didn’t know the meaning until I entered puberty.
When I reached legal age, I once again had bumped into Rolling Stone. It was at my friend’s house. The magazine was just lying around somewhere in their old bedroom after realizing his brother was doing a “general cleaning”. The brother smiled hello at me while carrying bunches of yellowing magazines and news papers.
I tracked his quick steps, wondering where those papers final destination would be. Right before he throw them in a burning fire in that afternoon of 2003, me and Rolling Stone reunited once again in a brief affair. I asked if I could keep some of the copies and he just shrugged his shoulders. I was happy thinking I would understand the contents better. The bliss of our reunion came to a fast end when I was prohibited to keep them because they were “dusty and unclean”. I was sad. I didn’t cry, of course, for I know deep down in my heart we’ll meet again in better circumstances.
It was one of those pre summer months in Dubai, it was 2011. It was one ordinary day, where I would, like a dead zombie, go to work, feeling tired even before I started working. Then a serendipity happened. I felt thirsty so I headed to the metro’s convenience store and as a habit, my eyes would be checking the magazine’s rack and my heart stopped! Well, not that kind of stopped, but there it was! Did I feel Rolling Stone pulsating and did I hear Rihanna called my name? My very own Rolling Stone! I must have done something worthy to be rewarded with such great chance! After 8 years! And this time, I am no longer reading a back issue but an updated one. Lucky me!
Since then, I try to satisfy the craving, the addiction, the nostalgia it brings or whatever you may call it, to grace Rolling Stone pages. Until it stopped being circulated in the magazine racks that I am familiar with after almost a year.
Was it too radical that Dubai has banned it? I felt the pang of loneliness. Sure I could pass the months, years without it but it just makes life feel a little bit nicer, cooler or am I just justifying my unexplained obsession?
Unbeknownst to me or just blindly, I have purchased of total 35 copies of Rolling Stone since that April 2011 after finding it again in Kinokuniya Bookstore in Dubai Mall. I am proud to say that all of these copies are neatly kept like a Holy Grail. I don’t want any of them to be some kind of tacky, the same nightmare to the magazines that my friend’s brother was just easy to let them go into the fire, few years ago. I want my copies to be as pristine as I can.
Until, last June 2015, I decided to stop buying it. Yes, it felt like breaking up with someone that you really love and adore but just couldn’t place yourself properly. Where “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of break up scene. I didn’t even remember why and to whom I was rebelling at. I just stopped one day longing for it. Later in months, when I fully processed the action I have taken, I kind of regret because I missed nearly a year’s copies (more than 10). But, my practical self, looking at me into the eye, holding an invisible calculator, reminding me of the cash that I have saved.
It is that time of year again, when I have a spare time, recovering from my post vacation blues that I decided to dust and rearrange my books and magazine, when I come to realized: the time I stopped buying the magazine; B.B. King was one of the feature. Who else have passed away and I never had the precious copy of somewhat tribute/acknowledgement?
Ben E. King (singer and co composer of “Stand by Me”) Percy Sledge (famous for singing “When a Man Loves a Woman”) and Natalie Cole (the talented daughter of Nat King Cole) and some equally talented singers that Rolling stone has documented passed away in 2015. Please try not to remind me David Bowie. Was he in the covers? I dare not to ask again.
Do I need reasons to start purchasing Rolling stone again? What does the future hold between us? With these easy questions, am not one to easily to give the answers. I will wait until it is proper time, when I feel like it and when I am ready. So ready that I am willing to embrace the pros and cons of this affair that started in my youth. I am anxious to be unsettled and run away again. It has to be a commitment not just another feverish flirtation, it has to be my need to reconnect with music, childhood, nostalgia or whatever you may call it.