Like Dom Kennedy once said, this post is for all the kids who "grew up in the '90s." Not many more intricacies in life define the decade more than the delicacy that was and still is the Eastbay magazine. They were unofficial textbooks, and for certain members of the clique here at TSFJ, the magazine triggers different memories. Read through our own and feel free to reach back out to us telling your own.
A Kid At Christmas
The Eastbay showing up was like Santa Claus jumping in the mailbox and showing up every month. And since I first got hip to it a few years after the whole Santa charade was over with me, it really was right on time.
I was first put on to Eastbay around 1995 or so when I was in middle school. It’s probably what really got me into my entire style of the times, and a bit of what it’s evolved to now. While the kicks were nice, I really only used it to see what the next Jordan’s were going to look like. I was going to stand in the line at the mall for those, back before it was a life or death proposition to do so. As far as the Bay went, I was there for the jerseys, and nothing else.
The jersey page used to look like the Promised Land; I mean, if you’d asked me what I thought Heaven looked like, I’d have said an unopened Eastbay had to be it. I grew up in St. Louis, and we had some nice gear spots here with plenty of jerseys to pick from, but it was nothing like what was happening in there. From the mainstays like Grant Hill Pistons and Shaq Magic jerseys, they had it all.
But where business really picked up was the gear you just didn’t see anywhere else.
From some rare but dope joints like Damon Stoudamire - Raptors edition, Shareef Abdur-Rahim - Grizzlies, Chris Webber - Bullets jerseys, they had it all covered. Even things like John Stockton - Jazz and Dennis Rodman - Bulls jerseys, both of which would’ve had you make up questioned in the average middle school cafeteria, the fact that they even existed was mind-blowing.
When the Allen Iverson - Sixers, Stephon Marbury - T-Wolves or Ray Allen - Bucks joints dropped, they had it. When the Black Bulls or Blue Magic jerseys first dropped, there they were. And while my folks didn’t have the money to turn all of my dreams into Champion mesh and iron-on reality, it was an EVENT whenever it first showed up out of somebody’s book bag. And if it was yours first, you were king for a day like none other. - Cheap Seat Fan
An Eastbay Magazine & A Snitch
The Eastbay magazine. The crown jewel of distraction in middle school. Only until your teacher discovered you were looking at the magazine and not your textbook. Welcome to my life.
How the entire situation transpired was a complete misunderstanding. Normally, my other friends were the guys who were the first to bring the new Eastbay to school. From there, we'd pass around the magazine circling everything we were going to buy, but never would basically because our parents still had the final say-so around those years. It was still fun to window shop though.
Still, this issue was in my possession first. I felt like the King of England standing at the bus stop flipping through the pages. My friends arrived soon afterwards, and from there word began to spread Tins had the new Eastbay. We plotted the entire bus ride to school, at the lockers and even walking to class. First period went by without an issue. Third period did too. Lunch was lunch meaning we didn't eat the cold pizza or whatever the cafeteria was trying to pass off as fries. Rather, we contemplated how many lawns it would take for us to cut in order to cop the new Pennys or new Raiders jacket.
Fifth period came around (we operated on odd and even days, for the record) and my demeanor - which would later become known as "swag" - was at an all-time high. I walked with extra confidence this day. Teachers were nicer and girls spoke more often; hell, even my jumper was unusually wet in gym class. I felt untouchable, like Nino Brown or some dude like that. And that's where the problem arose. Placing the magazine on top of my textbook was an easy operation, and one which allowed me to fake the front and read my magazine when it appeared as if I was actually interested in the different types of rocks. Then, it happened.
The teacher caught me reading my magazine. How? I'm not sure, but my money is on the girl beside me tipping the teacher off. That's right, a snitch. Names will be withheld to protect the innocent, but I know that little teacher's pet ratted me out because of the smirk on her face while I watched my earth science teacher walk away with my ticket to middle school immortality.
The rest of the day at school was horrible. People were asking to see the magazine, and I couldn't feed the masses. In less than eight hours, I went from emperor to peasant. It was humbling. It was embarrassing. It was a moment I've yet to truly live down.
What I've come to learn over the year was teachers collected Eastbay magazines for fun, like it was some sick addiction. As you may have guessed, I never scooped the Penny Hardaway jersey I intended to. Nor the Randy Moss one. Nor the Cowboys pull-over. Losing that Eastbay magazine may have altered the scope of my very life as I know it. Who knows where I would be in life if that snitch didn't rat me out. And know something else, I never got my damn magazine back either.
Free Boosie. And free my Eastbay issue. - J. Tinsley
Screw, Eastbay. Not Really. But Yeah.
I hate Eastbay magazine.
Sure, I was a subscriber. I checked it out before every football, basketball and baseball season. The shoes were dope, there were jerseys I wanted and it got me some attention from the cool kids when I brought it to school before everyone else.
But I hate Eastbay magazine.
I grew up humbly, to say the least. I couldn’t really say that I grew up in a humble home since I never really had one. From sixth grade through my senior year in high school, I moved at least once every 18 months. My mom was alone taking care of my sister and I and spent most of her money on rent and the bills; the rest went toward feeding us. There was nothing in the budget for new clothes. There was nothing in the budget for new shoes. There was nothing in the budget for Eastbay.
The idea of Eastbay is dope. The shoes, the jerseys, the headbands, the jumpsoles (yeah, I wanted hops, too) were all dope. But the magazine itself was among the ubiquitous monthly reminders that I didn’t have anything and I wasn’t going to ever have anything. Before my sophomore year in high school, I got a brand new pair of K-Swiss Classics, and during my freshman year in college, I was still wearing those same fucking K-Swiss Classics (and I still have them). Instead of letting my boys rag on me about it, I turned it into a running joke myself first to save face and mask the fact that I simply didn’t have anything.
All of my friends were constantly coming to school in new kicks, getting new hoops shoes every season and copping new throwbacks every time I turned around. I’d bring an Eastbay to school and my friends would talk about what they were going to get - and two weeks later, they had it. Eastbay was essentially a monthly letter in the mail reminding me that we were struggling. It didn’t bother me much then, but looking back, it was the worst mag I ever subscribed to.
I’m glad I got to watch all of my boys get everything they wanted, though. It’s one of the reasons I’ve had any kind of success in life post-high school. Being broke, and having a constant reminder of how broke you are, will instill a sense of work ethic in a young man. I might be cool with the way things worked out, but still, I hate Eastbay. - P. Barnett
All Those Damn Jerseys
You all know me. Well, some of you all might not really know me, but that ain't the point. The point is, I'm from a town in Oklahoma called Lawton, and when I was growing up, there was only one place in town where you could really go and buy jerseys, THE mall. Not a bunch of malls, shopping centers and stuff ... nah, I mean THE mall. Our mall was named so piss-poorly they just named it Central Mall.
Anyway, part of the allure of wearing jerseys was wearing them at school. Much like wearing a fresh pair of kicks or wearing a fresh new Starter jacket, if you had on a dope jersey you could get many a daps from the fellas and maybe a nice whispering in your ear by a young tenderoni in the school hallways. The problem in my town was that you could only go to one place within a 100-mile radius to acquire a jersey, that place being Central Mall. That also meant that your selection was limited, as everyone was mulling through the same selection. Now, you could make that journey north for 70-80 miles to Oklahoma City and maybe come up on a better selection of jerseys, or you could make that journey south for 175 miles to Dallas and really come up on some new jerseys. As a young teenager with no wheels and a limited source of income, making those journeys on a regular were few and far between.
That's why Eastbay was the ultimate equalizer.
The selection of jerseys were just unreal. They had jerseys from the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL ... they even had college basketball and football jerseys. Hell, you could make your own jerseys if you really wanted to. It didn't matter. Looking at that tattered Eastbay magazine you either had come religiously to your mailbox every month, or one that you pilfered from some other unsuspecting sappington, you just knew that your opportunity for world jersey domination could effectively begin with that Eastbay magazine and begging your mama for $60 for that egregious looking alternate Charlotte Hornets Larry Johnson #2 jersey. - ETSF
Sidenote: My five favorite jerseys I wore as a teenager - 1) Reggie Miller #31, '95 Pacers 2) Gary Payton #2, '90 Sonics 3) Deion Sanders #21, '96 Cowboys, 4) Terrell Davis #30, '98 Broncos 5) Shawn Kemp #7, '96 Team USA
Get In Where You Fit In
That’s the first word that pops into my head when I think about Eastbay catalogs. When your mother can’t afford name brand clothes and sneakers at an age where it seems those things mattered more than anything else, Eastbay catalogs served as just that.
I never got Eastbay catalogs mailed to my house because I didn’t know anything about the publication at the time. What I was able to get my hands on were secondhand copies from a close homie of mine. I was always a month behind when it came to the catalogs, but if there’s one thing you learn to do as a kid, it’s lie to fit in.
And lie I did.
I’d get my secondhand Eastbay from my friend and circle all the shoes, jerseys, hats and teams I liked. I’d go up to school and engage in the same banter all the other kids did regarding those items. Which ones my mom had promised to get me if I did good in school. Which matching shirt my grandmother would get me for my birthday.
I knew these things weren’t going to happen, but that should clue you in as to how popular those catalogs were in the late '90s. They were so popular I had to lie about even receiving them monthly. Eastbay catalogs will always have a place in my heart because just being able to have the catalog made me feel as if I could be a part of the culture.
Even if I couldn’t afford it. - Real Goes Right
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