Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Best Hits of the 80s, 90s, And Today

Don't get too excited, but this is the most personal and private thing I've ever written about in my blog: yesterday I bought one of those hyper-trendy leather cuffs.

....It was on clearance, alright? And it's really small! It's probably not even real leather! And it's sur—OK, why don't I wait while you finish laughing....

Right. So I bought this cuff. I swear it's not because I've suddenly fallen in with a group of Euro tweakers or fanatical gay nightclubbers or something—the cuff is almost subtle, actually, no studs or spikes or sequins spelling out "POLE SMOKER" or anything, just a little belt buckle. I bought it mainly because I felt my wardrobe needed a more 80s flair to it—you know, a little sexy, a little trashy, a little Studio 54, a little Greenwich Village leather bar circa 1983—I mean, it's all about the 80s these days, right? Foreign policy, fashion, popular music, everything's harkening back to the towelhead-hating, legwarmer-sporting, glam Casio glory days of 1986. I just wanted to fit in, you know? (Just promise you'll stop me if you see me picking up legwarmers from Target or something.) I mean, if you think about it (or even if you don't), in any given decade in the US, we always get nostalgic for the cliches of the era 2 decades previous. Dig: in the 70s, Happy Days revived the sock-hop squeaky-clean 50s; in the 80s there was that resurgence of 60s hippie chic; in the 90s it was all about the shagadelic baby yeah!/funkytown/big pimpin lifestyle of the 1970s; and the oughts have seen the rebirth of an 80s novelty act (Kylie Minogue) and all the electroclash-inflected fashion horrorshows that entails, with even folksy Jewel turning the radio dial back a couple of decades. I'd like to think it's something in the DNA, some aspect of human nature that longs to preserve its culture, but in reality it's probably just that people in the prime consumer bracket (males 18-39) are being forcibly marketed to feel nostalgic for their youth.

So anyway, if things continue as planned, we should all be sporting "Kurt Lives" pins and buying ironic NKOTB shirts off eBay while enduring endless hours of I Love The 90s on VH1 around, say 2008-09. Or maybe it'll be sooner: I fear that I bought my cuff too late—the 80s are already obsolete, and the early 90s are making a comeback faster than we think. (See, allowing gays to get married really has caused the slippery slope acceleration of our culture that Christian zealots feared it would. For shame, activist judges!) This is especially true in music, as the 90s were quite a time for music, with all that grunge tomfoolery and the mainstreaming of indie rock (remember MTV's Indie Outing?). Of course, you can't turn anywhere these days without being bombarded by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and his endless string of badly- and vaguely pornographically-named bands (Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Probot, etc.). And then comes confirmation of the rumors that late 80s/early 90s ur-indie rockers The Pixies will reunite—they'll headline the storied Coachella festival this spring, along with Kraftwerk (?). [Thanks to Chitra for reminding me to blog about this.] But that's not all! Sonic Youth—forever young and forever trapped in 1992—are going back on tour (click on "Breaking News"), with no less of an opening act than their 90s-era noise rock/lo-fi colleagues Sebadoh. (Sebadoh will also tour on their own, coming to Cambridge's TT the Bear's in April.) And that's still not all! Opening for Sebadoh opening for Sonic Youth will be no less than one of the members of yet another noisome/lo-fi 90s mainstay, Dinosaur, Jr.

This is all really too much, I think. The 90s back already? Grunge died for a reason, folks, and so did Kurt Cobain—he alone realized what a total cultural wasteland 1994 was. Granted, I love Dirty and Daydream Nation as much as the next Sonic Youth fan, and occasionally I'll get wrapped up in an episode of The Nanny, but I think everyone's forgetting that for the most part the 90s totally and completely sucked: the music was crap, the fashion was non-existent, the most powerful person in the country was an intern,
the most popular book was so bad it was written anonymously, and here's a partial list of the Oscar winners from that era: Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves, Forrest Gump, Titanic. Gag vomit puke yuck. I'm just not ready yet! Junior high was brutal, sticky, and acne-riddled—and now you tell me if I go 10-12 years in either direction I'll be forced to relive it? I'm all dizzyed up like in Memento or some such. And I really don't think I'll survive the next few years if it's going to be all about feedback-laced whining and sad white people and execrably forgettable fashion (oh, but the wonders Miuccia Prada will work with those backpack purses and babydoll dresses!). I guess I'll just have to turn in my cuff for all those flannel shirts I just sent to Goodwill.

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