Joe Bodia and his girlfriend Vladka

You like our new design? Very smooth, no? We’re going for that modernist look that says “staying power,” yet at the same time “literate.” It’s our Ninth Year Anniversary after all, so we thought we’d spruce things up a bit around here. When this magazine was founded way back in 1996, the Internet was just getting up to full throttle and everyone thought we were crazy for moving to Eastern Europe to launch a free magazine in English. It was just so… last century.

Why did we leave San Francisco? Bill Clinton was running for re-election and the Olympics were on, and the flag waving was just making us sick. Little did we know that around the time of our 50th issue, post-9/11 America would out-flag those heady days that somehow we just wish we could all just get back to.

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Volume 1, Issue 1 of Think Magazine hit the streets almost the same day Clinton won his bid and in response the Dow Jones Industrial Average logged gains at an incredibly fast pace. It gained 10 days in a row during November ’96 (a feat that hasn’t been touched as of July 2005), and burned through five century marks. The world was in startup frenzy mode. It began with Netscape Navigator 3.

Things like Ice.com and Pets.com, it seemed anything related to the Internet was perceived to be immune from the realities of normal business (just look at the endless flow of money into Internet startups or the enormous market valuations of Internet-related companies that had yet to earn any money). But for some reason, the founders of this organisation (I came on board for Volume 1, Issue 2) seemed to think it was a good idea to start a publishing company right at the beginning of the dotcom frenzy.

I commend them for their courage and vision, and not entirely because they’re my bosses. Since that first issue of the first volume, this publication has been the subject of both highbrow praise and lowbrow scorn. We almost instantly became the fastest growing publication in the Czech Republic, while our competition instantly put a smear campaign into high gear. (Incidentally, we’re still the fastest growing free magazine and they still hate us.)

Now, in Singapore after our successful first year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank both our supporters and our competitors. Those who have been behind us all along know who they are and we show them our gratitude almost daily. They’re the benevolent investors who believe in what we’re doing, the writers, photographers and interns who work tirelessly because they know they’re helping make something truly unique.

They’re the advertisers who buy us drinks when we see them out-and-about, and they’re the readers who hit the streets every month to get their copy of Think. To the opponents: Thanks for making our job so much easier. Compared to you, we’re the Rolling Stone/Vanity Fair/Time Out of Singapore. Just kidding!

Competition is always good. Keeps us honest, doesn’t it? And in the words of our publisher, “We are NEVER LEAVING.” So get used to it.

But enough with the speech stuff and on to this issue’s goods. Singapore, how we love thee! So much, in fact, that we’re going to be the ones to break the news: You need some work. No city is perfect, so before you start writing letters to the MDA and whatnot, just chill. This isn’t an intervention – it’s more of a workshop. Think of our daring feature “Hemp Repression” (page 38) as a polite reminder that there’s always room for new creative ways of thinking. And think of us as the friend with enough courage to pull you aside and tell you that you have something stuck in your teeth. So, you say thank you. And we say you’re welcome. And that’s that. Here’s to this issue and the next 100 to come.

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