Ten years ago, I was ruing the fate of Tone Magazine. Not that I bought each and every issue, mind you. I was still on my last innings in college, and I had no money. Magazines were not a priority; buying Hi8 video cassettes for class assignments was. But Tone, and subsequently KLue, was one of those magazines that became overnight flag bearers for Malaysian subculture, partly because the content was so out of the mainstream norm, and partly because it was a very small playing field and no one else had the balls to do what they did. I was a passive observer of the impact that this short-lived publication, not really having any thoughts of being a part of its movement. Yeah, I made music and wrote a little, but I was operating so below the radar I didn’t even have a Geocities page with links to my work.
When JUICE started its Malasyian edition, I thought my relationship with it would be similarly detached. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d be colossally wrong about something.
JUICE Magazine Malaysia gave me my first 9 to 5 writing job. I started out in 2006 hoping to rock the world (#nofestivalplug) but ended up getting my worldview rocked pretty hard instead. I started going to clubs. For work. Sometimes I liked it. I learned how to politely get people drunk out of their gourd to agree to having their picture taken. I learned how to effectively transcribe an interview with a thickly-accented Welsh DJ who was strung out on too many drugs, too many flyer miles, and not enough sleep. I learned how to pull in 16-hour work days, which usually started with a slog in the office, a quick Jusco deli lunch (at 7pm), prowling a club event with the company camera (at the time, a mind-blowingly advanced piece of digital technology that shot at 5 megapixels), and ended with my heading back to the office to write up the event and work on the weekly events mailer. I learned how to write nice things about things … or at least how to write bad things nicely.
JUICE helped make me a lot of friends in high places. Or is that a lot of high friends in low places? One can never tell when it comes to JUICE’s social circles, and I mean that as high praise. All sorts of people converge around and contribute to what JUICE has done over the years, and most of them are pretty cool to hang out with. The people whose established track record lent a new magazine a measure of street cred lent it to this little magazine graciously, and those whose careers in street culture took off and flourished partly because of JUICE’s coverage almost always gave back in spades. This is to say nothing of the people who I met and befriended while churning out the magazine itself, month in and month out. April, Muna, Daoh, David, Davis, Izhar, Diwa, Marlz, Karen, Lye Cwan, Tze Khay, April (yes, there were two in them in the office at one point), Ili, Kevin, Ben, Melvin, Euseng, Mira, Alif, Justin, Ken Wei, Moe, Leddy, Hanis, Leonard, the battalion of ever-changing interns – I’m looking at you. You crazy basket of coconuts.
I’ve dipped in and out of JUICE’s day to day operations since that first day in 2006, but even when I wasn’t on the fulltime bullpen, JUICE is something you carry with you. (Now in all-new, superfresh iPad flavour!) I am now a browbeaten, weatherworn wreck of a man, and most of the blame can be placed squarely at the feet of this publication. This is, if you’re incapable of understanding context and/or have skipped this article all the way to this paragraph for some reason, a good thing. I would rather have no other magazine sully my good name, reputation, and immortal soul than you, because you are fun and funny and let me take pictures of DJ premier in the Zouk KL console.
Happy 10th Birthday, JUICE. 8 more years and we can bonk, and in 11 years you can vote for the Parti Buih Kebangsaan.
WordsManifest would like to know where you can order one of those huge birthday cakes with a stripper hidden inside. Help a brother out.