Bob Dylan is the last cover star of The Village Voice, which released its final print edition Wednesday (Sept. 20). The photo was taken by the late Fred McDarrah, a staff photographer for the Voice who was one of the first to photograph Dylan. (The cover is itself a cropping of one of his more famous Dylan photos.)
It’s a fitting sendoff for the Voice, which earned its reputation as a fervent chronicler of the downtown scene that Dylan and his peers made famous. For decades, the Voice was the standard for alt-weekly coverage: You can find its wry tone and anti-authority slant in alt-weeklies across the country, as well as in any online writer whose work is a little too unpolished for a paper of record. It was an incubator for some of the great American culture writers, amongst them music critic pioneer Robert Christgau, Ellen Willis, Touré, Nat Hentoff, J. Hoberman, Jerry Saltz, Andrew Sarris, Greg Tate, Barry Walters, Nelson George, Ann Powers, and many, many more.
Now, the Voice is going digital-only as a response to the changing publishing landscape, like many publications before it. Many of those formerly print publications continue to do great work online--hello, you’re reading one of them!--but there’s something specifically sad about losing an alt-weekly. Their chief appeal is that they can be found in any newspaper box on the street, and picked up for free—you don’t need to plop down a quarter or two in order to immediately gain a window into the quirks of local culture. That became increasingly unsustainable as a business model as the advent of the internet decimated advertising money, but it was a wonderful reality for a few decades. What city dweller hasn’t derived some great pleasure from idly picking up a copy of the local alt-weekly, be it the Voice or the Chicago Reader or the Boston Phoenix?
You can pick up a copy of the final Voice wherever its signature red boxes can be found across New York City.
This article was originally published by Spin.