“On our first visit to the Globe we saw Mike Wayne Jr. proudly delivering a stack of Velvet Magazines. Jeff had just looked at Pozor and a couple copies of The Prague Post. “Is this all there is to read in this town? Nothing for free?!”
The Globe on the Day that Think Magazine was conceived. Velvet Magazine was fresh off the presses. And even though Think was conceived at the Globe, it took awhile just to get them to buy an ad.
Still flush with Traveller’s Checks and free of possessions, we debated opening a cafe to get enough money to make a magazine, or start a magazine to raise the cash for a cafe.
The R Hacek Cafe/Bar was open for a full year after issue number 50. “Even though we were both single men from San Francisco, the local girls soon learned that we weren’t a gay couple.”
When we were first researching the market to launch Think, we ran into some interesting characters; Steven Slatem, publisher of some IT bulletin, offered us rent in exchange for work, and Normandy Madden, Media Columnist for the Prague Business Journal told us that,
“Prague has all the English language publications it needs right now.” And then when Pozor’s management arraigned a clandestine meeting on the elevated seating above the child play area of the Vodickova McDonald’s to tell us they thought of the idea first and that we should work for them, We knew we had indeed found the fabled Abusrdistan.
Our Oldest Ad, is a sticker we stuck up while waiting for the first issue to come back from the printer. It’s still up today.
And, as expected, we started getting hate letters, telling us to go home.
There was a time when we were being egged on. Playing fast and loose with spelling, trying to make the most art damaged covers possible, with articles that any self respecting zine in the states wouldn’t pull from the net. The reactions were incredible, and we were branded philistines, neophytes, and other learned monikers.
And yet they chased us down the street to get the new issue, implicated in the existence of what they hated, the same way they were drawn to mindless Hollywood drivel for 50 Kc a ticket. California Uber Alles.
We started getting corporate advertisements mostly from alcohol and tobacco companies, as well as record labels and shoe manufacturers. Now that we had the readership, and critics, we decided to focus on what some would call sensitive issues; the corporate take over of the prison Industry, Zero Population Growth, Consumerism, The Death Penalty, Prozac & Ecstacy usage, Racialism, Temelin, and more.
In the early days of Think, you could find us at The Sport Bar, which was the last bar of it’s kind in Prague. Scott Otto kept the lid on a bar that infected visitors with a good dose of Prague magic. Of course, there were all the tourist who poured in every day, and almost everyday you could find Aussie Dave holding court at the end of the bar near the pool tables. The waitresses were cute and friendly, it was located just one block from the main square, and on Sunday nights, the entire expat population of Prague would pack the place to watch the Simpsons. Sadly, it was replaced by a luxury hotel.
But the graphics and party pictures with these messages seemed to confuse everybody thoroughly. We increased the party listings in response, and began publishing a guide to the web, written by David Henderson from the Terminal Bar, who latter became the one to convince us to put Think on the net seriously.
Things were moving along swimmingly as we decided not to quit this thing on the thirteenth issue but to move ahead and see what good we could do with this thing.
I mean, even though Prague in Your Pocket describes us as “Cod philosophizing and Self Aggrandizement in both Czech and American”, we really never aggrandised ourselves or engaged in Ego stroking to any serious degree… (and what the f*ck does “Cod philosophising” mean?).
So we began to move onward to growing into the Czech market, and since we couldn’t personally deliver Think to every village, we always could make a news stand version… which led to plans with Jay King to go nation-wide and some serious ego pumping.
“Not all Think readers trip, and not all Trip readers think.” Since we had another vehicle for our commercial activities, we had to prove our street cred by busting out with the articles… the Think Pervert test, A Madonna with a vibrator cover, and a suicide model fashion spread seemed to fit in perfectly with the trials of President Clinton.
As you might expect, Think’s expat publisher started to pick up Czech language skills, which immersed us deeper into the local scene. Around this time as well, our Clubland competitors, Trip Magazine began their redesign and nation-wide launch.
Think Magazine is the product of thousands of little decisions compounding one another, one of them, publishing a magazine called Think in Czech was a bad one, but adding Czech to English Think was a good one.
And of course, Prague’s party scene is legendary, so we returned to our role as the standard bearing of Niteclubland, and wallowed in our public’s perception of Think as a magazine for joint smokers. And to our surprise, our popularity grew as well as the quality of our content.
I once had a dream of speaking in a language that I don’t understand, and I thought how many people in the world are silly enough to try to do this. All information second hand, but with Jarka Fricova as our General Manager and C
zech Editor we were able to hold a vision. Fricova in now the Editor at Novy Prostor.
Boy was the summer of 1999 tough! We had a slate of full page ads lined up for multiple insertions, Pierre Cardin, Hemp Beer and Black Market, and then they all decided to not pay, with bullsh*t excuses, we knew then that the recession was on. On top of that, we had an ad salesman named Jan Malec, selling ads and pocketing the cash. Dark times indeed. So off we went to Karlovy Vary for the film festival and a lot of sun and fun… then came back to town and called Thinky up, who hustled the money up and put us back into play.
More joints have been rolled on Think than any other free mag in town!
A column complaining about the quality of a travel agencies’ services prompted an attempted lawsuit, which only got more ridiculous when they lost their copy of the offending issue and tried to get one from us. Y2K was gonna kill us all, as we eagerly awaited the Doomsday countdown.
It was the biggest party of the Millennium, airplanes were supposed to be raining from the sky and the terrorists were gonna strike… imagine what a let down it was, but here we are a year and a half later, and well, the whole thing sucks. But if you were reading us then, you knew this was coming.
Swept up in the post millennial let down, we sensed that energies were already being swept into play, and all we had to do was figure it out. What is ‘it’ you might ask… why it’s the End of Time, the end game of this Green Planet of the Clocks. We all knew that Y2K wasn’t gonna be the big threat, and that a lot of scared people wasted money on a non-existent problem.
Basically, if an old computer’s clock began at 00 in 1965, it will be 2065 before it has the ‘Y2K problem’. Now, the impending alien take-over, there’s a problem… I don’t know if you’ll ever see as mixed culture scene in Prague as you did in 98 and early 99.
There was a lack of pretentiousness, and a sense of adventure to the night, often ending with new people in strange places, as well as a good mix of professional expats mixed with local. Things have ghettoized lately, and each bar and restaurant has a connotation, that while often unfair, actually just drag down possibility of reclaiming the experiences for themselves.
Remember Technical Support?
After a while Think started to mature, as much as it could, and sought to come up with new ways of serving the readership, with useful articles on neighborhoods in Prague, A guide to Karlovy Vary, plus more of a focus on social activities in Prague.
We also introduced The New Prognosis, an Onion’esque parody of the quality of Prague news reporting.
And since we had become experts in ‘partying and complaining’, we started throwing some of our own parties at Delux, which turned out to be quite fun and house packed events with free beer from Herold, food, and even free give-aways! We were in full swing with the ThinkTV show when the IMF/World Bank meetings came to town… and Czech apathy destroyed the movement far more than September 11th ever would. The Czechs tried to ignore everything going on, and the police were reported to have been a little heavy handed.
ThinkTV investigated the plot to place palm sized river rocks as decorations in the landscaping around the Congress Center. Of course, on film, no one, from the Convention organizers, to the Police, to the mayor, would accept responsibility. In the end, the rocks were removed and ThinkTV changed the IMF/WB in some small way.
Our IMF issue had a Brotherhood consumer publication feel, with articles inside that what weren’t they seemed, plus a free sample of Nescafe Cappucino! Like the rest of the world, we were watching the election fraud unfold with an utter sense of amazement and disbelief. Al Gore was a bore, but another Bush in the whitehouse, God, spare us! After the winner was chosen by the courts, we kinda quit caring about anything.
And after two years of having our offices in the basement workshop of a school building, we moved the operation into a virtual workspace, (freelancers working at home).
Which is kinda funny considering how many people from the mega-dot-bomb Globopolis.com were trying to find us and get us their resumes.
Well, since we quit caring, our editorial stance became more daring, and the no-punches-pilled philosophy came out, making us more popular than we had ever been and keeping the wind in our sails as we starting working towards the big number 50.
The summer of 2001, no big riots and the world struggled along and questions itself and it’s future in the eerie quite before operation Enduring Freedom (to bomb your ass). But Thinky could smell a war in the wind… the Bushes will be up to their standard game plan;
PROBLEM, REACTION, SOLUTION.
Find or manufacture a PROBLEM, manipulate and shape the public’s REACTION, then offer a SOLUTION (usually more taxes, police powers and war.)
Well, know this dear reader; nothing bad ever happens to Prague! Svejk is our Saviour and when the microchipped society gets ready to throw the switch, some Svejk will spill beer in the works and revoke the rule of electricity or some such thing.
But Prague will always be Prague.
Well, as you can imagine, putting out a magazine month after month can become a real chore, especially when you would rather print more issues than invest in unnecessary overhead like offices and secretaries.
But still we do it, more as a labor of love than with any real specific goals, our way to share with the people of Prague some of the neat and strange and beautiful things in the world.
Some of you might have heard the rumor that Think is finished, but nothing could be farther from the truth; #51 will be back in February (we need a little break, come visit us at our new joint, The R hacek Cafe/Bar), we’ll be making another version somewhere else, maybe Asia. Oh yeah, don’t forget to send in your hate mail today!