Saturday, February 11, 2006

¡VIVA OMNI!
















As a lad in the late 70s and 80s, OMNI Magazine was staple reading. It was the WIRED of its day and in some ways far more likeable in its clunky, sci-fi, intergalactic-post-hippy-in-search-of-the-ultimate-high aesthetic. Where WIRED tries so hard to appear 15 minutes ahead of the curve, and to have all its media neurons firing 24/7 on Red Bull and T3 lines, OMNI had its roots in old-school counter culture. The tone was spaced-out and lackadaisical, randomly checking stuff out that seemed interesting or provocative or worthy of some trippy H.R. Giger artwork. It was also, perhaps, the earliest collective assertion of the emerging Tech Brigade that would shortly come to rule the planet - a fact supported by scads of hilariously dated ads from new companies like CompuServe and Apple.

Not familiar with OMNI? In its editorial voice you might have detected strong doses of gonzo journalism supported by clashing notes of marijuana and cocaine abuse... Mix in Isaac Asimov's sideburns and a lingering nerds-looking-to-get-laid aftertaste, et voila: the world's first "cool" science rag. That OMNI was part of the Guccione empire meant that it was somehow connected to Penthouse (even the layout and fonts were the same) a fact which did not go unrecognized by legions of randy young men. Granted the magazine grew to lean heavily on the pseudo-sciences, but for me that was its charm. It spoke to the thriving "we don't really care about science and technology, we just want to know if ESP really exists so we can talk to the aliens that control the government" crowd - so well parodied in films like Boogie Nights and Dazed and Confused.

A shuttle-load of OMNI articles are to be found here. Plenty of old copies available on eBay too.

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