By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Famous stoners such as the Kottonmouth Kings and DJ Muggs have graced past covers of Mean Street—nothing out of the ordinary for a rock mag. But the Mean Street publisher's new print venture would make all the hard-living punk and metal bands featured regularly in its pages gasp. Called Dispatch, publisher Shael Trunk bills it as an "Anti-Drug Magazine for Youth . . . By Youth," and Trunk is finding out that collaborating with the Man pays. Monthly circulation of Dispatch quickly surpassed the 14-year-old Mean Street's hard-won numbers of 70,000. Most of the reason is that the audience for Dispatch is a captive one: 120,000 copies are distributed to school kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Trunk expects Dispatch to bulk up to 320,000 by the end of the year. The articles are written by Los Angeles high school kids and approved by advisory boards made up of anti-drug disciplinarians from the school district, the California Narcotics Officer's Association and even the Drug Enforcement Agency. The kids pen CD and video-game reviews and interview such celebs as skateboarding's Tony Hawk and Dr. Drew (who talks about yawner subjects like "clean living"). Bureaucrats from the LAUSD's Health Education Program really walk this dog, however. They direct the Dispatch team to write about dreary "eat your vegetables" topics such as nutrition, obesity, teen smoking and club drugs, according to LAUSD Health Education chief Rona Cole. Does all this sound contrary to the libertine spirit of Mean Street? It does. So what possessed Trunk to join the drug war? It's a chance to build the business, he says, and to do something for kids. LAUSD gave him $15,000 of state and federal anti-drug education money to publish Dispatch, but he says he hasn't touched it. The $60,000 needed to publish each issue comes from paid ads from such clothing companies as Hurley and Sketchers, as well as assorted public-service-announcement mills. But in pitching his initial idea for Dispatch, did Trunk show LAUSD higher-ups any copies of Mean Street? "We had to look hard for a clean issue," Trunk says. "I specifically made sure we didn't show them the Kottonmouth Kings issue." (Andrew Asch)DIVINE HAMMER
"Has anyone caught this atrocity yet? I'm actually a huge fan of Sugar Ray, but this is a brand-new low. It just sucks: too much bass, too much hip-hop style. Ugh. Blows."
"I swear this sounds like New Kids On the Block! Isn't it too soon to be entering an early-'90s retro phase?"
"Sugar Loaf is still around? I thought they packed it in after that smarmy lead singer did those Tampax commercials."
"It also bears a remarkable resemblance to 'Let It Whip' by the Dazz Band."
"And don't forget the 'No Parking On the Dance Floor' homage to Midnight Starr."
"Question: If you take a piece of dog shit, cover it with gold flakes, spray perfume on it, place it on a sterling-silver tray and put it on a pedestal behind glass in a beautiful palace, what do you end up with? Answer: A piece of dog shit. My Lord, that was so terrible. The worst part is you can tell they spent SO much time and energy fleshing out their piece of shit."
"This is one of the worst things I've heard in a long time. I now have a headache. The band needs to be dropped and disbanded immediately—and [Mark] McGrath is not allowed to go solo."
"Next thing, Mark McGrath will be sporting parachute pants."
"You know, Sugar Ray STARTED OUT basically pretty hard rock except for one radio hit. NOW they're Sweet meets Midnight Starr? It's like watching some gangster-rap band sing Cher songs!"
"Another prime example of an act that wouldn't be anything if they didn't have a good-looking singer."
"He's not that good-looking! He's a total dork!"
"Kinda New Kids, kinda 'NSync . . . I bet they're already working with 'NSync's choreographer to get their moves together for the big tour." (Rich Kane)