When the first issue of The Baffler rolled off a laser printer in the summer of 1988, there was a harsh heatwave on, history was nearing its twilight hours, and the culture industry was poised to enter its high hipster phase—with all the attendant consumer trappings of la vie alternative. The Baffler thus dedicated itself to sabotaging this great machinery of mind-making by launching a barrage of caustic missives aimed right at the heart of the culture of business and the business of culture.
In those early pages, Thomas Frank and Keith White told the admen to fuck off; Steve Albini compared the act of signing with a major label to traversing a trench filled with decaying shit; Maura Mahoney lambasted the pre-fabricated angst of the beats; Rick Perlstein found in Scooby Doo a fully integrated ideology of infinite infantilization; Tom Vanderbilt wondered if cyclical nostalgia would ever tire out.
Copies of those first few issues are awfully hard, if not impossible, to locate (our office did burn down once, you know)—and so, in honor of The Baffler’s thirtieth year of blunting the cutting edge, we’re offering facsimile editions of the first five issues of the magazine that prove we were right all along: all available dissent has been utterly, irreparably commodified.
Buy them individually for $10 a pop, or pinch your pennies and get all five tastefully packaged for the low, low price of $40.