Celebrating 75 Years

Wayne State University Press

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The Orbit Magazine Anthology


Rob St. Mary
With a Foreword by Jerry Vile

Award Winner

Detroit, Humor, Popular Culture

Painted Turtle

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Published: September 2015
ISBN: 9780814337318
Pages: 272 Size: 10x12 Illustrations: 369
Book Images

I love this anthology! Which also doubles as a fascinating secret history of Motor City punk.

— Mark Binelli

With a mischievous globe-headed mascot that appeared in every issue and even on Quentin Tarantino’s T-shirt in Pulp Fiction, Orbit was an instantly recognizable arbiter of 1990s Detroit culture. But its irreverent tone and unique editorial features could be traced to two earlier local publications from creator Jerry Peterson, a.k.a. Jerry Vile—White Noise (1978–1980) and Fun: The Magazine for Swinging Intelectuals [sic] (1986–1990). In The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry, author Rob St. Mary details the full run of White Noise, Fun, and Orbit, collecting two decades’ worth of Detroit’s alternative publishing history into an oversized, heavily illustrated volume that situates the publications in the city’s pop culture and media history.

St. Mary shows that while other alternative papers followed a tried-and-true focus on lefty politics and the arts, Vile’s publications found their niche in biting satire and sharp design that fed on popular culture. From the 70s punk scene in White Noise to audacious articles and irreverent "news" in Fun and a blend of reporting, satire, and culture in Orbit, St. Mary shows that Vile’s publications were distinctive in their content and uniquely Detroit in their tone. In sections devoted to each magazine, St. Mary details their recurring features (including dining, movie, and music reviews) and interviews former staffers. Numerous images and page spreads reveal the notable Detroit musicians—like Destroy All Monsters, the Gories, ICP, Jack White, Kid Rock, and Derrick May—and artists—including Niagara, Glenn Barr and Tristan Eaton—that graced their pages.

A foreword by Jerry Vile and an afterword by Ben Blackwell round out this one-of-a-kind volume. Anyone interested in Detroit arts and culture or the history of alternative publishing will be grateful for The Orbit Magazine Anthology.

Published by: Painted Turtle

Rob St. Mary is a Metro Detroit native and award-winning reporter. He has worked in radio newsrooms across Michigan and in Aspen, Colorado. He currently lives in Southeast Michigan with his two cats.

In Detroit in the nineties, you either read the alternative weekly or you read the alternative alternative weekly, which was Orbit. What George Clinton was to Motown, what the Stooges were to the Rolling Stones, Orbit was to that Other Magazine. I love this anthology! Which also doubles as a fascinating secret history of Motor City punk.

– Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City Is the Place To Be

Rob St. Mary's carefully researched look at Orbit and its roots in the Detroit punk scene takes you on a wild ride through the rude, riotous underbelly of local journalism in the 1980s and ’90s.

– Susan Whitall, former Creem editor, Detroit News feature writer, and author of Fever, Little Willie John: A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul

Rob St. Mary knows how to have a good time—plunge into the high life of fun-seekers, artists, ne’er-do-wells, and cult favorites, with a journalist's precision and a bright pinch of eastside Detroit salt. Let him take you into Orbit!

– Kathe Koja, author of The Bastards’ Paradise, The Mercury Waltz, Under the Poppy, and several others

When Detroit's leaders get around to carving the Motor City’s Mt. Rushmore, Jerry Vile should occupy Washington’s spot. The Orbit Magazine Anthology is a compendium of Vile’s two-decade publishing legacy, from the paste-up White Noise music fanzine through the fully developed, hilariously ridiculous Orbit.Vile’s work was disruptive yet sincere in a city that needed such elements in the latter part of the twentieth century. Vile both feted and lampooned locals who deserved it and did it with a disarming, half-ass style that made you unaware of the genius in his journalistic terrorism.

– Steve Miller, author of Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n’ Roll in America's Loudest City

Attention fans of Detroit alternative publishing: The Orbit Magazine Anthology, a look back at
the irreverent local rag from the '90s, is now officially out on Wayne State University Press.
The (Kid Rockfunded)
272-page book dives into the weird world of punk rocker-turnedpublisher
Jerry Vile's magazine — with full-color reproductions of pages; early press of almostfamous
acts like Kid Rock, Jack White, and ICP; the story behind the Quentin Tarantino
connection; and yes, juicy details about feuds with rival Metro Times. That's the Glenn Barrdesigned
cover artwork above.
In anticipation of the book, last month we handed an issue of Metro Times over to Vile and other
former Orbit staffers to see what they would come up with — revisit the issue here.

– Lee DeVito, Metro Times

Last December, journalist and Macomb County native Rob St. Mary had just gotten enough funding
(http://michiganradio.org/post/orbit-magazine-anthology-receives-special-...) to
publish an anthology saluting the work of three independent music arts magazines from the last
days of a pre-Internet Michigan.
Re-Entry: The Orbit Magazine Anthology has arrived, packing in two decades’ worth of Detroit’s
alternative publishing history.
St. Mary tells us he was a fan of Orbit Magazine in high school, and four years ago he approached the
magazine’s creator and original publisher, Jerry Vile, to propose the anthology.
"I had the idea of doing a book that would sort of look at that history and why it came to be and
why it had such an impact on me in high school," St. Mary says. "And Jerry was kind enough to hand
over all of that to me, his archive, and put me in touch with a bunch of folks."
Vile tells us that back in 1978 when punk rock started coming on to the scene, he knew he had to
cash in on the fad. And in the spirit of punk rock, he didn’t ask for help to do it.
"Punk rock is super do-it-yourself, there was no instructions," he says. "It was like, we're going to do
whatever the hell we want to do, and we don't care if you like it."
Vile says he was drawn to punk rock because so many people hated it. "This is for me, you know?
This would drive your roommates crazy if you played this."
St. Mary says that Orbit taught him it was all right to have an attitude as a journalist, "that it came
from a point of view, and that it was OK to have that in arts and culture."

– Stateside Staff, Michigan Radio

  • 2015 Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards - Result: Finalist in the Popular Culture category
  • 2016 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually