By Writeside Blonde
In the inaugural issue of GO, George Online, I’m throwing it back to introduce you to the OG. That is, the “original George.”
If you’re new to George, don’t worry. I’ll be taking you on a journey through time. The picture of us all hopping into a giant tour bus with “George” written on the front in big red letters comes to mind. The engine starts up and off we are to discover why we should even be on this tour bus in the first place. The answer to that question is an answer to many questions we all may already be exploring.
On newsstands across the nation, a political magazine known as George emerged in the fall of 1995. Between the glossy covers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Cosmopolitan, George likely blended in. But now, nearly 27 years later, it is obvious there is more to George than meets the eye. Much more.
John Kennedy Jr. created the magazine to incorporate politics with pop culture, satisfying society’s ever-growing want for factual information with the need to be entertained. In an interview with Larry King, Kennedy stated he wanted to “change the definition of a political magazine.” As the Internet grew and information became easier to attain, political figures found success in becoming visitors on late night talk shows, sitcoms, radio shows, and other modes of informal mass communication.
Amusing yet informative, it was the first magazine of its kind and proudly touted its signature and accurate catch phrase “not just politics as usual.” Cover artist Matt Berman was appointed the job of integrating top models and movie stars with notable political figures, a feat accomplished beautifully. Each cover tells a story, both the cover itself as well as the words written on the covers. For instance, on the Robert De Niro cover (December 1995/January 1996), the sword De Niro is clutching, piercing the ace of spades? That was George Washington’s actual sword.
In his book, “JFK Jr., George & Me,” Berman wrote about the time Kennedy left the sword in his possession. Berman worriedly asked Kennedy, “What if I leave it in the cab?” Kennedy coolly replied, “You won’t.” These types of documented memories have turned the magazine into a bit of a story for me with characters I’ve grown to appreciate and love.
When George introduced its inaugural issue, I was just 11. I didn’t know much of anything about politics, nor did I care. Though I was just a kid at the time, I think many Americans shared my sentiments about politics no matter what their ages. John Kennedy knew that. As the son of a former President, he knew how important it was for Americans to understand politics. As a beloved public icon, he knew how much entertainment was needed to achieve that goal.
Anyone who has read the articles knows he accomplished just that.
So how in the world did I go from an 11-year-old girl who’d never heard of George to a 38-year-old woman who is writing articles about them? I thought you’d never ask!
Like many of you reading this, the year 2020 afforded me the time to slow down and dig. From that research I discovered a lot of things, one being George Magazine. A year later as luck would have it, I found myself cleaning out a basement for a man with dementia. His adult kids lived across the country and didn’t want the hassle of traveling back to clean out his townhome. So, there I was, sorting and tossing all his junk left there for years. Newspaper clippings. Old mothy blankets. VHS tapes. You get the idea.
In one of the boxes, I noticed a familiar image. It was the inaugural George Magazine with Cindy Crawford on the front. Of course, I set it aside, saving it from being thrown away. That was the first publication of my George Magazine collection; how fitting is it that it was the first issue? I now have them all as well as some duplicates. Instead of the “crazy cat lady” (I have no cats), I’ve lovingly referred to myself as “the crazy George lady.” What I have found as I highlight the covers and articles on my social media channels is nothing short of mind-boggling.
Oftentimes the articles help connect dots as to why things are the way they are now. I have learned an immense amount from the contributors, columnists, political analysts, and John Kennedy himself within the pages of George Magazine. Call it “Politics: 101, George style.” No tuition necessary.
If you believe in coincidences, there are a hefty amount of them in John Kennedy’s George Magazine, the OG. If you don’t generally believe in coincidences, welcome. You’ll fit right in. I am honored to share my thoughts in the NEW George Magazine, George Online, especially in its inaugural issue.
One can learn a lot about the future looking back at the past. What’s that saying? If you don’t learn from history, you’re bound to … well, you know the rest. Here’s to new beginnings and fresh starts. And here’s to George.