“Somewhere in my brain I’m still at Kinko’s at 4 in the morning with a few equally demented and dedicated friends, an X-acto knife and a hooked up copy card, just trying to make something strange and interesting for the people.”
—Letter from the Editor, July 2012 #96

Welcome to year 20 of your ANTIGRAVITY magazine. We’ve had a handful of these moments before (issues #100 and #200, year 10) and it always feels the same: un-fucking-believable. Much like legendary local lords Eyehategod, we were never supposed to last this long. Nearly smothered in its infancy by Katrina (four presidents ago), somehow original publisher and EIC Leo “Don’t Call Me Chief” McGovern picked up the pieces and kept it alive long enough for me to take the helm in 2015, both of us operating on a shoestring budget and endless late nights, all in a media landscape that has been disintegrating, much like our coastline, the entire time.

As you might expect, it’s been a flood of emotions looking back over the past two decades, with more than a touch of vertigo as I and the editorial staff take pause and turn around to check out the view from 20 years down. One of the painful yet sweet joys of producing a monthly mag such as this is that there’s not a ton of time to reflect on the work. We do spend a great deal of effort and resources on each issue—and move, by current media standards, at a glacial pace. But as soon as a new issue hits the stands, the process has to start all over again. Honestly, I wasn’t sure we would have the time to put together a retrospective with our current slate and tempo, not to mention actual day jobs and families and such. But fate and an extended bout of unemployment have conspired to deliver me a handful of weeks, and we’ve managed to put together a little something to mark the occasion after all.

Originally I had zero clue what this issue might look like. When we did this 10 years ago it was relatively simple to put together a retrospective, which, while still lengthy, was compact enough to be surrounded by contemporary content. With an extra decade’s worth of issues I didn’t know where to start, until it hit me: Just make something you would’ve loved as a 16-year-old, right around the age that punk rock, zine culture, and the freaky side of New Orleans culture really came into the picture for me. Maybe that’s a little embarrassing to admit nearly 30 years later—perhaps a symptom of Peter Pan syndrome that seems to infect New Orleans men in particular. Hey, if nothing else, ANTIGRAVITY promises a veritable pound of flesh from its writers every month, yours truly included.

The experience of deep diving into the archives again has not been wrapped entirely in warm, fuzzy nostalgia. We had to revisit many, many moments of pain, frustration, and failure, mistakes, goofs, and some real amateur-hour bullshit. Some of you may feel the same way if you have any history with this magazine. In my more self-critical moments I’ve internally derided ANTIGRAVITY as a glorified high school newspaper. But looking back, I’m not so sure that’s the worst description. One thing that has been gratifying during this latest archive review is watching the magazine, its staff, and subjects literally grow up in these pages. And while we’re not infallible by any means—ANTIGRAVITY certainly hasn’t printed its last mistake—it’s come a long way in properly documenting, as best it can, these snapshots of life, love, and struggle in South Louisiana.

As you flip through this issue, please keep in mind that the following pages represent just the top of the tip of the ANTIGRAVITY iceberg; it’s not necessarily a “best of” but more of a “what was.” In those moments where it felt like scabs were being pried open anew, I tried to hold onto the mantra that whether or not I loved or hated some piece, or some person, or some layout or editorial choice, mine or otherwise—these things already happened. There’s very little that’s new here.

I did my best, as I always do, to prioritize local artists and issues, while still being forced to leave a bunch of really good stuff out. This issue is 80 pages, absolutely gargantuan by AG standards, but could’ve been easily 80 more. One suggestion is to treat this issue like a treasure map, with countless paths into our archives. Which! Soon, for the first time ever, the entire collection will be available for perusal and download at antigravitymagazine.com/archive. And just so this doesn’t come off as some minor, mundane new feature being announced, please know that this unresolved wishlist item is a long-overdue fix to a problem that goes back to fucking Katrina.

A “Thank you” list feels extra impossible at this point, and even the hundreds of names on the following pages won’t do justice to the entirety of the ANTIGRAVITY community—editors, writers, photographers, illustrators, legal advisors, distro crew, advertisers, boosters, supporters, and so on. I would like to take yet another cue from Leo—someone whose patience and wisdom set the bedrock for this publication to stand on to this day—and thank my wife and partner, your AG senior photo editor, Adrienne. She and all of the significant others who have had to take a back seat to this mighty mag at the end of every month, especially as some of us go full goblin-mode as the upload hour draws nigh, have quietly sacrificed a lot for this “stupid magazine,” as Dan Stein lovingly calls it.

As I go through what I will only admit is a midlife reckoning (not a crisis, OK?), I have to wonder sometimes if it’s all been worth it. Having made another pass through the archives, I’m relieved to report that indeed, it very much has. I’m extra proud of this body of work and the hundreds of people who made it happen. I’d also like to thank the current editorial crew, who are some of the most passionate, compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent, eagle-eyed people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. While this issue and the accompanying sprint down Memory Lane certainly has been a trip, I’m already looking forward to, much like the calm of Ash Wednesday, concluding these festivities and getting back to the business at hand of cranking out a “regular” issue for July.

Dear and trusted and beloved Reader, I hope you enjoy this chaotic, mostly commentary-free look back (and I hope you’ll join us on June 7 at Siberia for our 20-year celebration with some pals old and new). In the January 2021 issue I wrote that “themes of destruction and rebirth are always present within these pages,” and that primordial tension is certainly captured in this retrospective. It reminds me of an approach that has comforted me in times of crushing anxiety and uncertainty, an insight I will leave you with so you can get on with this special edition, which is simply this: to treat each subsequent issue of ANTIGRAVITY, like sweet breath itself, as if it were both the first and the last. Thank you for reading.

Top photo: The author, extra stoked for M.O.T.O. at the Circle Bar, photo by Gary LoVerde, August 2009 #61

Bottom illustration by William Archambeault, May 2019 #178

June 2024 cover photo by Dan Fox

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