No, not that Kennedy.
On August 8, 1997, our nation changed forever. Yes, it was on that now-solemn date that Kennedy, the bespectacled MTV VJ, left her job at the youth-oriented television network. For those of us who were alive at the time, the memory of where we were and what we were doing is seared into our memory like a curling iron into Adam Curry’s hair.
To commemorate this tragic occasion, first we asked Kennedy herself to relate to us what precisely happened on that terrible day. Then, the Maxim staff painfully reminisces about the loss they felt the moment they heard the news. Yes, many a tear was shed in the process.
God bless us all.
“I remember that fateful day like it was 16 years ago. I woke up at Scott Ian's house in Huntington Beach, brushed off the metal dust, and headed to the HB Pier to cover the U.S. Open of Surfing (not golf, you douche helmet) for the MTV Beach House. Idalis had accidentally traded half shirts with me, so the one I was wearing smelled like Derek Jeter had just soaked it in his own urine mixed with high-grade coconut oil. I could hear the crowd cheering Kelly Slater with every slash and stroke. (His surfing wasn't bad either.) The irresponsibly potent sun had its way with my pallor and bolstered my moles, and suddenly the superficiality was shattered when I heard the news on an embarrassingly large and borrowed cell phone that my extreme athlete boyfriend had broken his back in a motocross race. Unfortunately he was a pro snowboarder with some lackluster bike prowess, but I digress. When his vertebra snapped like an old lady's garter, I threw down my microphone, flew up to the Pacific Northwest, and with the single tear of a disgusted Indian chief and the solitary focus of a Jane Austen heroine, I stayed by his side until he relented and married me. I'll never forget the day the music video died, and I'll always wonder why the hell Derek Jeter's urine smelled like coconuts.”
The Maxim Staff Remembers:
“I was in Noblesville, Indiana, manning a merch stand that sold woven hemp hats at the Lilith Fair. Sarah McLachlan interrupted Paula Cole's set to break the news, and I think we all just felt chills. The air was hot and a terrible hush fell over the crowd. So many emotions - disbelief, rage - followed by cries of protest, calls for peace. It might have gotten ugly but then Meredith Brooks came out and sang ‘Bitch’ acoustic. We rallied. And then Lisa Loeb stepped out and everyone thought it was Kennedy for a second, but then we were all like, ‘Oh.’”
-Christian Smith, Research Chief, Maxim
“Friday, August 8, 1997 was my 14th birthday (really!). This news not only ruined the day, but my entire freshman year of high school (though I’ll admit that the braces and overall awkwardness also helped with that).”
-Justine Goodman, Senior Editorial Producer, Maxim.com
“I was still learning how to share and ride a two-wheeler.”
-Alexa Lyons, Editorial Assistant, Maxim.com
“I was watching Supermarket Sweep and binging on Lay’s WOW potato chips when the phone rang. It was my older, cooler sister. ‘Kennedy's gone,’ she said, her voice quivering. I dropped the phone; there was Olestra grease all over my fingers. ‘Which one?’ I asked. ‘Ted? Caroline? John-John?! Oh, god. Please don't say John-John!’ She told me it was nobody from America's royal family. That Kennedy was an MTV VJ, and she had left the network. ‘Uh, sorry for your loss, I guess,’ I coldly replied. ‘What's a VJ?’ Then I hung up the phone and ran to the bathroom in gastrointestinal distress. It wasn't until four years later that I fully sympathized with my sister. I got to know Kennedy through her game show, Friend or Foe, which tragically ended only 10 months after it began. The loss I felt was immeasurable.”
-Laura Leu, Senior Editor, Maxim
“I was about to start my freshman year of college. I thought my first day look should channel Kennedy.”
-Shanna Greenberg, Art Department, Maxim
“August 8, 1997, I was shy of 15 by a fortnight and approaching 10th grade fast. I had lost my sweet cherry the previous summer to an older dame, but the good times didn’t last. July 1996, she broke my heart behind a Grand Union, some luck I had… grand union indeed. Back then the grocery store parking lots off Main Street were like open-air speakeasies for teenage rebellion. Her name was Bess and throughout the summer of 1997 I would spy her cruising up and down Rose Street in her father’s off-white 1984 Chevy Celebrity. It was a coupe and it smelled of lilac.”
-Mike Posillico, Accounts Payables Specialist, Maxim
“I had just moved to Tennessee and was rapidly developing a Southern accent.”
-Bailey Swilley, Production Editor, Maxim.com
“It was the summer before my senior year of college, and I was working as a production assistant on the movie Safe Men. (You've never seen it? Don't worry, no one has.) After a long day of making sure none of the extras passed out from dehydration—seriously, my entire job was to make sure they had enough water—I went over to a buddy's place where we watched a bootleg VHS of the first Austin Powers flick. It helped ease the pain.”
-Patrick Carone, Entertainment Director, Maxim
“August 8, 1997. Discovery Channel/TLC broadcast center. It may have been Shark Week. In TLC master control, the op fell ill during a third airing of a particularly gory splenectomy episode of The Operation. We got the call around 3—offline. Suddenly, a fire broke out. Somewhere. Alarms wailed, babies cried, managers panicked. We did not have that luxury. We darted from the 2nd floor, and swam upstream through swarms of stressed staff to the top, and saved the bloody, slice-and-dice drama in the nick of time for our beloved audience. By the time I got home, she was gone.”
-Jennifer Hahn, Video Department, Maxim.com
“I was in the parallel universe of MTV Europe watching Cat Deeley introduce videos by Boyzone and Aqua, so I carried on with my day as if nothing had happened.”
-Stephanie Radvan, Senior Associate Editor, Maxim (from the Czech Republic)
“August 7th, 1997, we were pulling east from Yuma. Ten head of oxen carried a skiff of slammers to the Pog convention already underway in Sedalia. The winos and dime-store hoopleheads arrived in droves from all over the territory, attracted by a game once banned by every school district under the meridian sky. They say games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all, so we played for keeps. With one thunderous clap of the slammer, my stack fell into disrepair, lost and forgotten like the ruins of Babylon. I was wet behind the ears back then, just a child, but every child knows that play is nobler than work. The world goes on.”
-Rich Murray, Finance Coordinator, Maxim
“I was probably asking what MTV was, and why nobody on it appeared to have either scurvy or rickets, like everyone else I knew.”
-Nick Leftley, Executive Editor, Maxim.com (from England)
“I was trying to avoid the summertime reruns of Ally McBeal that my girlfriend wanted me to watch, while eagerly anticipating the premiere the following week of this weird new animated show called, um, South Park. And suing people.”
-Ian Warren, Deputy General Council, Maxim
Where were you on August 8, 1997? Tell us in the comments…if you have the strength.