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The Past Isn’t All That

I’m losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties.
– LCD Soundsystem, “Losing My Edge”

I’ve let a lot of the ever-increasing surge of nostalgia pass by me. First it was the eighties kids pouring money into Michael Bay’s account or squeal at the moment you see Jeff Bridges return as CLU in Tron: Legacy. Yes, I know it’s a cycle – the 70s made its way into the nineties via a blitzkrieg with tye-dyed trustafarians wearing bell bottoms parachuting in as VW Beetles crashed through our memory’s Maginot line. I’m not a slave to the 90s, though I do have a couple of guilty pleasures (cough*Hackers*cough) and I have no intention to become one. I need to fight back from it.

I’ve seen enough men dressed like Ducky from Sixteen Candles to know how large a best 80s nostalgia became in the 00s. However the awkward hipster teenager I’ve seen many a time while walking in Williamsburg isn’t my enemy. It’s the older Smurfs crowd that allows this nostalgia fetish pervade and seep into the rest of mainstream culture, they are the ones that bother me.

Along with the previously mentioned Transformers, the one that bothers me the most is, shockingly, Back to The Future. When the 25th anniversary came around and propped up a celebration and reverence to the truly deserved trilogy, I couldn’t help but think of it as a Cult of McFly (no disrespect to Michael J. Fox, the man is a hero).  Once that idea stuck in my head one of Optimus Christ, of disciples wearing trucker hats like a Catholic nun wears rosary beads. I don’t blame them for my indifference. Between my jaded vision of the 80s due to cannibalistic alternative types or from just being born in 1987 – where the only image of Transformers I have is of toddler me biting on Optimus Prime’s head – I don’t have that level of connection with poseur eighties fans or the early Millennials.

Then the 3D re-release of The Lion King happened.  It made 23.9 million dollars on opening weekend for something released seventeen years ago. The kids I grew up with watched animal Hamlet – really, people? Why are my brethren letting me down like that? This, on top of Nickelodeon’s re-airing of 90s television under the title “The 90s are All That”.  The first time I saw the media release, I already had a severe reservation to the 2-4 AM broadcast block. While people are heralding the return of their beloved shows, I’m wondering why they aren’t hunting for new ones. It’s insane to say that, given that we’ve all grown up and have tuned our television watching to the right frequency we’ve decided, like our older brothers and sisters before us, to go from the HD-quality television we have at our disposal and go back to CRT style drudgery, in the name of reclaiming childhood.

I’m already annoyed with 3D over-saturation, now I have to deal with nineties-fatigue? When do the pop-up videos show up in 3D? Let go of the past, my people. It’s worth looking into it now and then, but life’s too short to spend 2 AM laughing at Mellissa Joan Hart when you could be laughing at a new forms of absurdist comedy or even traditional ones. Why play crappy side-scrolling games from the 90s when you could be championing anytime someone makes the Kinect just a little bit better?

The best way I can explain my sentiments in the format of those trite and schmaltzy “I remember when” chain letters. Here I go:

I remember when you could find information on the word “rotary phone” faster than anyone can turn the dial on an actual one for the first number (or better yet, faster than remembering they even existed)

I remember melting tapes and floppy disks to use as materials for the frames of the first pair of augmented reality glasses.

I remember shows that didn’t have a media blitz when a minority was a part of the cast.

I remember when the word ‘Letter” referred only to the abecedarian ones.

I remember when Kenan Thompson fell off the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you remember your future, send this to the trash bin. Make something new.

 

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Ferlinghetti and Beaton

Normally I’m not a big fan of the Beat poets. Most of them just ramble in some metaphysical arrogance and people eat them up, but Lawerence Ferlinghetti had that right mix of art and cool to him to not be completely full of himself. In lieu of that I present to you Junkman’s Obbligato. here’s an excerpt:

I am a social climber

climbing downward

And the descent is difficult.

The Upper Middle Class Ideal

is for the birds

but the birds have no use for it

having their own kind of pecking order

based upon birdsong.

On a similar train of thought, I’m a huge fan of Kate Beaton’s work on her webcomic Hark! A Vagrant. One of her more recent strips pokes fun at hipsters of different eras, and it definitely gave me a laugh.