The Baffler muscles its way into that great debate of the early 1990s: What exactly is Generation X? In their titular essay, Thomas Frank and Keith White tell the ad men and the Boomers to go pound sand. This is also the issue in which we introduced “Semiotics Mailbag,” our high-theory lifestyle advice column, and where we revealed that a glossary of slacker slang printed by the New York Times was, in fact, bogus, thus exposing what became known as the Great Grunge Hoax—and launching the phrase “swingin’ on the flippity flop” into the general lexicon.
We produced this issue over three weeks in November 1992 on a Macintosh computer in Chicago, and upped our page count to 134. The idea struck us to boost bookstore sales by printing something provocative on the magazine’s spine. After rejecting one editor’s gnomic suggestion—“Not now, Caitlin, Mommy’s tattoo hurts”—we decide to go for straight-up insult: “Your lifestyle sucks.” Which appeared to be on the money, as bookstore sales went way up. We’re on our way.