This year I started collecting vintage computers. It all started when I was gifted a Macintosh LC 575 in fantastic shape. I ordered a network card from ebay and fitted it into the Mac.
Once I had network connectivity I realized I really couldn’t do a whole lot with it.
I was hoping to check out archived websites from the 90’s using the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine.
So, with my web development background I decided to read up on the Wayback Machine’s API and devise a way to turn their content into something that can be consumed on old systems.
Some all nighters over a weekend later I had a prototype of what would now be called The Old Net.
The Old Net Welcome to the Old Internet Again!theoldnet.com
I would have preferred The Old Web as I feel that would more accurately describe what it is, but that domain was being sat on for a cool $2500.
Along the way my collection grew from just the Macintosh to two original iMacs (the fruity coloured kind), an IBM PS/1 486, and a not-so-vintage Pentium 4 system.
Having this fun filled collection at my disposal I was very determined to keep investing time into The Old Net. As I started to add features, and as I started to use the system, I realized that it was evolving from something that simply acted as the Wayback Machine for old browsers. It was really starting to feel like I was surfing the old web.
Additionally it was starting to become something that was just as good and fun to use on modern systems.
I built up the homepage and manually curated links of great sites. I brought memorable graphics to the forefront. Built a working guest book (please sign it). Invested into better tooling to increase the chance of a site rendering properly or at the least being debuggable. I improved the performance of the site by standing up an image and document cache.
At this point I decided it was time to release it into the wild and let people in the Vintage PC communities know about it. It was well received and much appreciated.
From there I started to record search terms so that I could show most popular and most recent sites. Hey it’s almost like I’m building a primitive search engine at this point.
It was then when it started to come together. I was discovering things that I would have never thought to type into the address bar. I was able to get a sense of what other people longing for nostalgia thought were their go-to sites.
This is where it deviated greatly from the experience on the Wayback machine. On the Wayback machine you have to know what you are looking for, and there is effort to search, get a response, find a particular snapshot, view it, repeat. What I created significantly removed the obstacles and time taken to complete that cycle.
It stopped feeling like you were loading up archived documents and started feeling like you were clicking around the internet you fondly remember.
At this point the site was in good shape, you could go to a domain, search for sites by a fuzzy query, get a list of popular sites, etc.
But much of the content from my childhood that made the old internet great wasn’t .com’s. It was homepages.
Homepages were a wonderful part of the old web. An endless variety of sites made by all sorts of people. Many people who really didn’t know how to use a computer, and in-spite of that, figured out how to use one well enough to slap some HTML down and upload to an FTP.
Home pages aren’t so easy to find in the Archives. They’re there, but all of the search tools of the past simply do not work anymore. Do you remember webrings? They’re broken. Anything /cgi-bin/? Forget about it. There’s no longer any servers to handle your request.
I realized I could write a parser that would determine if a page that a user was going to was a geocities homepage, and if so it would be tagged and displayed in a specific section of http://theoldnet.com.
Now, all of the lost geocities sites have the potential to be rediscovered and never lost again. This made me very happy and I hope people take advantage of it.
The original goal of the project was to support old browsers and it was brought to my attention by someone on Reddit that I did not support the very oldest browsers.
These browsers have no concept of the “Host” header and they break entirely thanks to the Content-Type header (text/html) being hijacked to also include the character set (text/html; charset=UTF8). I had to put in some work but I got the ;charset=UTF8 removed and I got my server to handle the missing Host header.
The project now worked in Netscape 0.9 and Mosaic 2.5
The entire project has been fun and novel. But I think it’s not as superficial as that. I think I’ve started to discover something that we’ve been deeply missing in the new internet. I talk about this briefly on my homepage http://theoldnet.com/~rich/. It is a semi-serious/semi-being-silly rant. I think there’s at least one good point buried in there.
The timing of this project has been fortunate because on March 12th it is the 30th anniversary of the web. I would love everyone to be able to use my project to relive some of those early days. Though the Wayback Machine doesn’t have archives of the very first days of the internet, it does have the mid 90’s which is when I believe most people of that era first became aquatinted with what the internet was. #Web30 #ForTheWeb #90sInternet
(This chapter is part of a series. Click here to read chapter twenty nine.)
A flock of sparrows evacuates a ridge of spruce trees when James’ convoy arrives at the meeting with Dustin. The birds fly in a disorganized formation that looks like leaves blowing over a clear blue lake, flowing between snowcapped mountains. The secluded area is just one of BC’s many clandestine locations that appears as if it were pulled directly from a Bob Ross painting.
Dustin observes while Bobby’s SUV comes to a stop 20 feet away. He’s flanked by a row of pick-up trucks guarded by men armed with shotguns and hunting rifles.
Bobby, Alonzo and Steve step out of the vehicle while Giorgio, Chico, Hodgie and James pull up behind; the SUV serving as a protective shield should bullets take flight at any point during the meeting.
James slowly steps onto the gravel and looks back over his shoulder into the hills where the Indians are lying in wait. He eyes the tree line but can’t spot any of them, which is exactly what he predicted. The Tijuana Death Squad are masters of ambush and murder. They move like phantoms in the hidden spaces between realms and never reveal themselves until it’s too late to react.
“Not gonna lie, I thought you were gonna come in a little heavier,” Dustin remarks as James strolls past his small militia with Giorgio in tow.
James meets Dustin between the opposing armies and responds, “Didn’t think I’d need any more.”
Dustin peers at the men over James’ shoulder then meets his stare.
“I don’t see Vince.”
James holds his stare. This time Dustin’s comment won’t require a response.
“Yeah, I figured he’d be pig shit by now,” Dustin comments. “By the way, sorry about the bartender. You took one of mine so it was only right. If it makes you feel any better I could’ve killed that old nigger friend of yours.”
Dustin’s flagrant use of the word ‘nigger’ provokes a seething bitterness to boil up in James. As somebody who grew up in Los Angeles during the civil rights era and at a time when blacks faced serious danger traveling north of Pico Blvd., he hates everything that word represents. He refuses to use it in any context and loathes its application in all forms.
James takes a deep breath to suppress his anger before he replies, “Your cousin was responsible for the murder of my son. So if we’re keeping score, we ain’t even close to even.”
“Alright, so now what?” Dustin questions, expecting the meeting to descend into further hostility.
James shrugs, “It’s your meeting. I thought you would’ve figured it out already.”
Dustin hates everything about James, but most of all he hates his arrogance. The dealers from the city have always treated the guys up north like a bunch of hillbilly yokles despite, at least in their opinion, the fact that they were the ones who pioneered the BC marijuana trade- before hydroponic technology was widely available and the sparsely populated rural farms north of the city were the only places to safely grow outdoor variations of the plant.
“Well,” Dustin begins, “I came here to tell you I’m taking the north side.”
James grins, playing up his arrogance in order to needle Dustin’s stewing animosity.
“And what makes you think I would let that happen?”
“You and I both know the crews on the north side are itching to go to war with you and they have you outnumbered,” Dustin elaborates. “When news of Vince and Jordan gets back to them they’ll have their reason. It won’t be long before they’re dragging your black ass up and down King George Highway.”
The veins in Giorgio’s forearms throb as he clenches his fists. The urge to ram his forehead through Dustin’s face grows stronger with every racial epithet he hurls at James.
“Not to mention, after the recent discovery of your little underground lab I have a bunch of angry growers behind me who would love to cut a chunk out of you,” Dustin adds. “The way I see it, I’m the only thing standing between you and them.”
“I wasn’t aware you all owned the mountains,” James interjects.
“We own everything outside of your reach. Never forget that,” Dustin snarls back, his finger pointing at the indentation between James’ eyes.
In the past, James would have signaled the Indians to open fire before Dustin could reach the first ‘g’ in the word ‘nigger’- that is, if he were to grant him a meeting at all. But now, with Joe and Manuel dead, and an ever increasing demand from the United States, he’s found himself in a position of forced passivity. Dustin is right about the north side’s feelings toward him. They’ve long waited for the moment to strike and a common enemy like James mixed with the added manpower from Dustin would only serve to unite the crews who would otherwise be shooting at each other. However, as volatile as the north side is, Dustin wouldn’t survive his own takeover for more than a couple of months, and as appealing as sending Dustin head first into his own demise may be, he’s more valuable to James alive. The crews on the north side keep James in their crosshairs, but as long as their ongoing conflict never reaches a tipping point, the war remains cold. Dustin is over reaching in his assumption about the north side’s response to Jordan and Vince. In the eyes of even James’ most vocal detractors they will be viewed as fair trade for Manuel.
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll make you a better deal,” James offers. “I will purchase eighty percent of your crops month over month from here on out for a set price of eight hundred dollars per pound. I will also grant permission for you to push the remaining twenty percent through our channel on the north side if you choose, tax free.”
Dustin glares back at James skeptically. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined this meeting would develop into a new deal.
“What’s the catch?”
James shakes his head, “No catch. However, there are conditions. First, I want your guarantee that at least forty percent of your profits will be reinvested back into your business. I want immediate rapid expansion of your operation. I have contractors, lawyers and people from the city who can help you do it the right way- completely under the radar. Second, I want a detailed list of every grow. I want addresses, locations, number of lights, the estimated weight of your crops and the actual weight once the plants are harvested. I need to know every detail. If I find out the numbers aren’t matching up our deal is off. I will give you our clones and Lee, who will get you up to speed. Third, I want discretion. That means no flash, no loudness. We move forward as if nothing has changed. Last, no more violence. If your guys have an issue with my guys we will sit down and work out a solution. I want no more blood and no more killing. All of it ends here today.”
Dustin still isn’t buying James’ extended olive branch.
“Alright. So I give you all of this information, how do I know I don’t wake up one morning to police raids or all of my grows up in flames?”
“You’re gonna have to trust me,” James answers. “There’s an infinite flow of money out there waiting for us. Truth is, I’m barely chipping away at the tip of the iceberg. It’s only a matter of time before somebody down south figures out how to do what we’re doing and puts us out of business. This is a chance for me to get ahead and an opportunity for you to be a millionaire.”
“What about the coke?” Dustin counters. “I know you’re bringing that shit in by the boatload from the States. I want a piece of that. By the time the shit reaches us it’s been so stepped on it tastes like fucking Ajax. I want access to pure bricks.”
“I will sell you pure kilos for near cost. But I need your word you will keep that part of your business outside of city limits. There is no wiggle room in this area,” James warns him. “And our operation in the mountain continues, undisturbed.”
Dustin shifts his stare into the distant mountains while he considers James’ proposal. It’s a lot to process all at once and he knows James isn’t the type to offer a partnership without careful consideration. His mind sifts through the particulars of the deal and searches for traps, but his attention is fixated on the financial prospects that come along with a deal of this magnitude. At this current juncture, Dustin commands a fraction of what James does per pound, and there are not enough people in the scattered small towns for him to nickel and dime his way to any real wealth. The competition from James and other growers has all but locked him out of the city and exporting his product to the neighboring provinces is so expensive it’s almost not worth the effort. Even if James has a snare built in somewhere, the risk is worth the reward.
“Ok, deal,” Dustin accepts, extending his hand to James.
James smiles, accepting Dustin’s handshake, “Great. Bobby will be in touch in the coming days to work out the specifics. We have a lot of work to do.”
Shadows dance on the dirt floor while Richie and Vanessa walk along the bank of a creek under a canopy of ancient trees. The creek cuts through an isolated stretch of forest near the ocean on the west side and is a respite for wealthy homeowners seeking temporary reconnection to the natural world. Couples in matching tracksuits speed walk along the trails and stay at home moms with Botox infused faces walk the family golden retriever before picking up the kids from school. Were it not for the equalizing force of Mother Nature, Richie and Vanessa would appear hopelessly out of place in this environment populated by people several degrees removed from their reality.
“You come out here a lot?” Richie asks, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his navy blue Nike basketball shorts.
“Yeah, I take the bus down a couple times a week. It’s peaceful here. I love the sound of the birds and the water. It makes me feel free,” Vanessa answers, adjusting the strap of her woven handbag under the right breast of her floral summer dress. “Sometimes I walk around and look at the houses… Imagine what life could be like someday in the future.”
Richie takes Vanessa by the hand, startling her.
“Is this weird?” he reacts, unsure of his impulsive display of affection.
“No, not at all,” Vanessa laughs, tightening her grip. “It’s just been a while since I’ve held hands with anybody. I like it.”
A strange awkwardness befalls them and it puzzles Richie. They’ve had sex twice yet this simple gesture feels like a bigger step, as if it were more genuine than their previous encounters.
“So tell me about your family,” Vanessa says, cutting through the tension. “What’s your mom like?”
Richie shrugs, “Mom is cool. She’s my mom, you know?”
“What does she do for work?” Vanessa queries, her sandals slapping against the heels of her feet while she walks.
Richie hesitates for a moment before answering. Typically he would concoct some vague 9–5 occupation for his mother, perhaps one that he wishes she held, but he feels comfortable being honest with Vanessa considering her own dealings in the seedy underbelly of the city.
“She works… Like, your type of work.”
Vanessa can’t conceal her shock and looks over at Richie with empathy in her eyes.
Vanessa can sense Richie’s sadness. He’s mastered the art of tucking it under a layer of apathy but she can feel it living beneath the surface.
“Does it bother you?”
Richie shakes his head, “Not really. She’s been doing that since before I was born so it’s always been normal to me. Sometimes people make fun of me because of it-”
“That must be hard,” Vanessa interrupts.
“It is,” Richie admits. “She’s a really nice lady. But people don’t see that. They just think she’s a hooker.”
“Does she work for anybody?” Vanessa asks in a tone that reveals her years of experience in sex work.
“Not that I know of,” Richie responds. “I think she works at a strip club now but I don’t know for sure. We don’t talk about it.”
Vanessa breaks from her questioning to process Richie’s story. There’s a strong probability she’s looking through a window to her own future.
“What about your dad? What does he do?” she asks, intrigued by who the man behind this odd family dynamic might be.
Richie stares into the rushing water, his mind wanders whenever he contemplates the identity of his faceless father.
“I never met him. My mom says he was like an actor or a famous artist or something. I don’t know. I think she just tells me that to make me feel better. How about you? What’s your family like?”
“My dad left before I was born and my mom died when I was a baby. I went into foster care after that,” Vanessa reveals.
Suddenly she turns and faces the water, her mind scrambling to avoid memories of a painful past. Although she speaks about it frankly, her years in foster care have damaged her deeply.
“Think I can jump across?”
Richie eyes the stream of ice cold water making it’s migration to the ocean.
“I don’t think so.”
Vanessa removes her sandals before lifting the bottom of her dress. She sprints forward and leaps to the other side of the creek, a casual display of hidden athletic talent.
“Come on! Jump!” she encourages Richie.
Richie gazes into the cold water reluctantly. If it were anyone else challenging him he would tell them to fuck off and continue on with his day, but his interest in Vanessa goes beyond just physical attraction and he’s eager to impress her.
“Alright, but if I fall in it’s your fault,” he argues.
Vanessa cheers him on, “Come on! You can do it! Just jump!”
Richie takes a few steps back then sprints and leaps for the other side, missing the grassy ledge by a few inches and falling into the shallow water.
“Holy fuck! That’s cold!” he screams, stumbling and falling forward into the icy water. “Shit! My pager!”
Richie quickly rips his pager out of his pocket and holds it above his head while Vanessa laughs hysterically.
“Give me your beeper,” Vanessa instructs him while he struggles to regain his balance.
Richie hands Vanessa his pager and she drops it into her bag before reaching down and helping him out of the frigid stream.
Esse, por incrível que pareça, foi meu primeiro contato com a série Rocky, pois a Globo sempre o reprisava pra tapar buracos na programação aos sábados. Cresci ouvindo falar das lutas épicas de Balboa, e começar logo pelo filme no qual ele praticamente não luta é um mal começo. Desde pequeno já achava esse filme uma bosta.
Acontece que eu não o assistia já há algum tempo, e continuaria assim se não fosse pela maratona. Será que o tempo mudou minha opinião a respeito das proezas de Rocky pai e Rocky filho? Saberemos em breve.
Antes disso vou tirar um tempo pra falar sobre a linha de figuras de ação do Rocky. São bonecos até bem feitos e ficam legais na estante, mas os fabricantes deram uma de George Lucas e fizeram figuras de praticamente todos os personagens que aparecem ao longo da série. Só pra citar alguns, já que a linha é grande: tem um boneco do Tony Gazzo, o agiota pra quem Rocky trabalhava; um da lenda do boxe Joe Frazier, que aparece por uns dois minutos em Rocky 3; e até do Frank Stallone, irmão do Sly, que aparece cantando na esquina no primeiro filme, lembra? Pois é, mas isso não é nem de longe o pior, pois a linha conta ainda com uma figura da estátua do Rocky e, acreditem se quiserem, uma figura da carne. É isso mesmo, aquela que o Rocky espanca no frigorífico (duvida? Confira aqui: http://tinyurl.com/n9cs7ca e aqui:http://tinyurl.com/od8yqdg). Imagina ser criança e ganhar um boneco da carne de Natal? Deve ser pior que ganhar meias.
Bom, gente, confesso que estou enrolando pois não sei nem como começar a falar dessa bosta de filme. Meu Deus, como é ruim — o tempo só piorou tudo, estou com os olhos doloridos até agora. É chato, tem um ritmo arrastado e parece uma novela mexicana de tanto dramalhão, mas vamos lá.
Depois da montagem “best of” da luta anterior, que aqui tem uma cara de abertura de série estilo “Law and Order”, já tem logo de cara um take do Stallone pelado no chuveiro (pra quê? Não sei). Ele ainda está na Rússia, e logo após a luta com Drago ele percebe que suas mãos não param de tremer.
E porque diabos nenhum médico o examinou após ele ser socado na cabeça por quase duas horas é um mistério. Só posso imaginar que, apesar da torcida, os soviéticos não estavam muito preocupados com o bem estar do vencedor. Mas ele tem pressa de voltar pra casa e decide que irá se consultar com um especialista quando chegar.
Nos Estados Unidos, Rocky é recebido por uma banda militar e muitos fãs no aeroporto, mas só há uma pessoa que ele deseja ver: Rocky filho, e eis que surge do meio da multidão o herdeiro do campeão… que agora é um garoto de 15 anos. Eu não disse que ele tem um crescimento anormal?
A não ser que Rocky tenha voltado a pé da Rússia; isso explicaria o fato dele ter deixado um garoto de 10 anos em casa e encontrar um já no auge da puberdade quando volta. Tá, eu sei que foi só uma desculpa pra enfiar Sage Stallone (filho de Sly) na história, mas será mesmo que eles acharam que ninguém ia notar?
A coletiva de imprensa, que deveria ser sobre a odisséia em terras comunistas, é interrompida por George Washington Duke, empresário de boxe claramente baseado em Don King, que tenta convencer Balboa a enfrentar um jovem boxeador. Ele recusa, pois sabe que sua saúde não está lá muito boa. Esse empresário passará o resto do filme enchendo o saco pra tentar convencê-lo a voltar aos ringues.
Ao consultar um médico, ele descobre que tem uma lesão cerebral, o que não chega a ser uma surpresa, já que ele apanhou na cabeça por anos a fio.
Pra piorar, Paulie faz uma puta cagada e assina uma procuração pro contador de Rocky, que some com toda sua fortuna. A única coisa que resta é o antigo ginásio de Mickey, que foi deixado de herança pra Rocky filho. E pra mostrar que está mesmo fodido na vida, Balboa volta a usar o figurino do primeiro filme.
Aliás, o tempo todo ele tenta relembrar o primeiro filme, e isso soa forçado pra cacete. Deram até um jeito de encaixar o Mickey na história, em um flashback no qual ele faz um monólogo e presenteia seu pupilo com uma abotoadura que supostamente pertenceu a Rocky Marciano.
Como disse uma vez o filósofo Ramon Valdez, quem ganha grana no boxe são os empresários. E como não pode mais lutar, o garanhão italiano passa a cuidar da carreira de um caipira de mullets cheio de problemas familiares chamado Tommy Gunn.
E por conta disso passa a negligenciar seu filho, que está tendo problemas pra se adaptar à nova escola no bairro pobre onde Rocky pai foi criado. Ele passa a apanhar diariamente de valentões, arruma uma namoradinha e até aprende a se defender, tornando-se um rebelde de brinquinho. Essa história toda do Rocky Jr toma um certo tempo na narrativa mas não acrescenta nada. Outra coisa me intriga além do crescimento anormal do garoto: desde sua primeira aparição no segundo filme, todos se referem a ele como Rocky Jr, mas aqui ele é chamado de Robert. Seria Rocky um apelido? Não sei, mas pouco importa; eu estou enrolando de novo pra tentar fazer esse texto render, mas tá difícil.
Então vou contar umas curiosidades enquanto tento trazer meu cérebro de volta. Você sabia que a Talia Shire, a atriz que interpreta Adrian, é irmã de Francis Ford Coppola? E sabia que Burgess Meredith, que interpreta o velho Mickey, era o Pinguim daquele seriado do Batman dos anos 60? Aquele do Feira da Fruta, saca? Pois é, todo dia se aprende uma coisa nova. Bom, vamos acabar logo com isso.
Tommy “Judas” Gunn deixa Rocky no veneno quando George Duke lhe oferece 30 moedas (e uma ruiva bem gata) e se torna o novo campeão mundial. Mas o que o caipira não sabe é que isso não passa de mais um truque pra fazer Balboa voltar aos ringues, e quando a mídia o acusa de ser apenas uma sombra de Rocky, George arma um circo para lançar um desafio ao antigo campeão.
Rocky está numa boa tomando umas biritas com Paulie quando Tommy e George Duke começam a provocá-lo do lado de fora do bar. Ele tenta ignorá-los, mas perde a linha quando seu ex-aluno agride seu cunhado parasita. Aí rola uma briga de rua que está mais pra UFC do que pra boxe; tudo é transmitido ao vivo pelos cinegrafistas que acompanhavam George. Rocky Jr e Adrian, ao saberem da luta, correm até o local.
O filho de Rocky, ao invés de tentar impedí-lo de lutar, o incentiva gritando “bate nele, pai. Esse cara roubou meu quarto”. Porra, Rocky filho, vai tomar no cu. Seu pai tem uma lesão cerebral e está correndo o risco de virar um vegetal de tanto levar porrada e você o incentiva por birra? Que moleque mais leite com pêra.
Bom, gente, é isso. O Rocky ganha, fica tudo bem e o filme acaba.
Por sorte não fui o único a odiar esse filme. O próprio Stallone sabia que era uma merda, e 16 anos depois ele resolveu dar uma conclusão mais digna pra essa saga. Confesso que depois desse não esperava mais nada de bom, mas vocês só saberão o que eu achei do Rocky 6 na próxima resenha. Até lá, pessoal.
Rocky 5 País/ano de produção: EUA, 1990 Duração: 104 minutos Direção: John G. Avildsen Elenco: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison
Chi mi conosce sa quanto mi senta un figlio degli anni ’90. Quanto vada continuamente a cercarne i pezzi, le costellazioni, i motivi. I tramezzini con lo stecchino a bandierina, i Jalisse, l’aranciata amara, gli 883, Cioè, Cristina D’Avena, il codino di Fiorello, il Cremino, Massimo Lopez prigioniero per la Telecom, la Macarena, il pennello grande e il grande pennello.
E non c’è stato niente di meglio dopo, direbbe Flaubert.
Che poi, a pensarci, gli anni ’90 non hanno un filo conduttore. Un’etichetta. Dici anni ’80 e pensi alla disco, anni ’70 ed è subito California Dreamin’ e vestiti da hippy. Gli anni ’90 invece no, sono una serie di reliquie diverse che arredano il nulla. Un nulla che vuol dire fine: fine delle due grandi fedi, cattolica e comunista, fine delle tradizioni, che ormai è roba da slow food e nazionalisti di ritorno, fine dei Maestri, fine della fiducia in qualcosa. Il fatto che questo concetto riunisca un film come Trainspotting e Cumuli degli 883 è abbastanza inquietante ma tant’è. L’alternativa per entrambi è la droga. Io ho sempre preferito il Maxibon, che du gust is megl che uan.
Il citazionismoè bello quando èricerca, rivisitazione. Riappropriazione o distacco ironico. Prima lo facevano in pochi, o magari erano molti di più e non lo sapevamo. Oggi la nostalgia è il tema su cui si basa la società, dall’instant marketing a gran parte della musica indie, dalla vincitrice di Sanremo ai vari reboot, sequel, prequel.
Lo confesso, per me è una goduria. La grande occasione per parlare di ciò che mi interessa, rispolverare il camper delle MicroMachines, comprare al mercato Festivalbar rosso 1998 senza sentirmi strano.
Poi mi guardo intorno e vedo soltanto involucri. Menzioni vuote, come se il nome bastasse per far apparire una cosa e tutto quello che è intorno. La mortificazione del postmoderno: dal gioco colto delle citazioni alle frasette sui meme, dal Nome della rosa alla frase di Nietzsche sulla foto in costume e l’espressione pseudo-pensierosa.
Un po’ come il Winner Taco. Petizioni per rimetterlo in commercio, flashmob, pagine Facebook. Ce lo hanno ridato, con tutto un altro sapore. Sapore di nuovo, di vuoto. Ma il nome, lo giuro, era sempre quello.
I motivi sono due, ugualmente preoccupanti. Riguardano la produzione e la ricezione. Da una parte c’è la sfiducia verso qualsiasi tipo di produzione, pensiero originali. Come se il terreno per costruire fosse sempre più friabile, le fondamenta impossibili, il materiale di scarso livello. Dall’altra c’è un modo di ragionare sempre più relegato alla battuta mordace, la corsa al meme più simpatico, il tweet di successo. Non c’è più differenza tra Il Fatto Quotidiano e i Socialisti gaudenti: tutto è orientato verso l’infotainment cotto e mangiato.
La grande abbuffata di idoli e feticci, di #machenesannoi2000 e Operazione Nostalgia, porterà alla nausea. Sfruttiamo questi ultimi momenti. Spieghiamo chi era Ronaldo, com’è cambiato il linguaggio dopo la discesa in campo del ’94, cosa ha rappresentato un libro come Jack Frusciante è uscito dal gruppo, o magari perché il teschio di Solletico sia l’esemplificazione migliore di quegli anni. Facciamolo prima che sia troppo tardi, prima di averne una sorda nostalgia.
Of that wretched decade the 90s were, I hold dear more than just a few memories; using shards of broken cymbals to rip my jeans apart and wear them coupled with grandpa’s squares shirts, listening to cassette tape compilations of badly recorded music, and being able to effectively vanish for a few hours without the ghost threat of a mobile phone to pinpoint my location at every given second, are but some. What most of all gets me longing for those gone years, however, is remembering how ok it was to be a gloomy young man.
There is no denying that for many citizens of the western hemisphere, those were years of money shortage and social crisis. We didn’t have technology to distract ourselves from life’s inevitable moments of misery, or help us create a polished version of them on the Internet. What we did have, though, was a collectively shared feeling of anger toward our dysfunctional society. It might not have been much, but if it couldn’t help us understand who or what we were up against, it could at least make us feel part of a bigger group of people who weren’t quite happy with the way things were.
Our generation was international, diverse, and unapologetic; the existential dread smelled the same on everyone, and we wore it proudly, like a badge, throughout our daily existence. We hung out in soggy old factories where live music could be played loud all night, and where, with a bit of luck, you could find yourself hearing words of wisdom sung by men not much older than your age:
I don’t mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadence.But I can’t feed on the powerless, when my cup’s already overfilled.
Hunger Strike , Temple of the Dog
I’m not saying life was harder back then — living in the present is always as hard as it gets — what I’m trying to point out is that, unlike today, we were allowed to feel openly sad about it. We didn’t need dating apps to alleviate loneliness or bitcoins to give us the illusion of wealth. We embraced boredom and sadness, and made them our life Manifesto.
We were living a grim Today, but felt no less Alive than our fathers. Born in This Town, beneath the greyness cast by the Shadow Of The Season, we were waiting for a Black Hole Sun to “wash away the rain”. In those years ruled by suited-up Gentlemen, be like us meant being considered nothing short of a Freak. But we could still very clearly Feel The Pain of everyone and be grateful for not having become Dumb enough to trade our humanity for money or false comfort. Such was our life in a Nutshell.
In this age of having rather than being something, things are not much different. We still live in a world that, despite having given us birth, constantly tries to cast us out of the picture, making us feel guilty for who we are and how we feel. A world that wants us to turn an indulgent face to its glorified ignorance and violence, to its racism and misogynous temper, to its law of the strongest and its obsession with power.
Then why do we seem to be trying so hard to fit in instead of taking pride in being left out? Why do we listen to songs that tell us to be happy instead of seeing our sadness as a gift of utmost understanding?
We keep our hands busy and our minds constantly occupied, but none of it seems to be taking us anywhere near happiness. Infinitely more than rich and popular, we would need to feel real and at peace with our emotions, same as we felt during those blissfully wretched Gloomy90s.
Remember those summer vacation nights that you had to stay in and watch movies, since none of your friends had cars? Looking back, they weren’t so bad… and a lot of these essential films from the 90s haven’t aged too badly either. After sponsoring the Berlin Film Society screening the cult classic Hackers from 1995, we’ve been riding the wave of 90s nostalgia.
If you’re ready for a nostalgic re-watch, we’ve got a list of 19 1990s flicks for the next summer evening that you want to stay in and stay cool:
Can you hear the spy theme music already? Tom Cruise might have gone a little crazy in the last twenty years or so, but the classic heist film holds up. Here’s a fun 90s fact! Mission: Impossible was the last major motion picture released on Betamax — does anyone remember Betamax VHS tapes?!
There is nothing scarier than the raptors in the original Jurassic Park. For the quality of CGI in 1993, these dinos still look pretty convincing.
Listen to Uma! If you’ve never seen this classic Tarantino film or are simply due for a re-watch, don’t be a square and mosey on down. It’s got everything: burgers, murders, and a soundtrack that simply screams summer cool.
Nothing like young Leo and Kate Winslet freezing their butts off in the icy cold water at the end to make you appreciate the heat. And that steamy scene in the car! Whether “My Heart Will Go On” makes you cringe or tugs your heartstrings, it’s not a bad choice for date night 😉
This gory crime thriller is not for the weak of stomach. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman follow a serial killer who strikes against the seven deadly sins. It’s definitely an edge-of-your-seat and watch-through-your-fingers pick.
Forrest Gump is a larger-than-life character, and if you haven’t seen this film yet, do it just for the jokes about the future, like when Forrest meets Elvis as a truck driver and his friend’s investment in “some kind of fruit company” called Apple Computer.
Yas, Keanu! The Matrix is just barely on the right side of Y2K to be included in this list. Re-watch it for the action sequences, all the pleather, and hey man *extremely large bong rip* what if this is all happening in a computer right now?
Set in 2032, this is going to be the right choice if you want your future-looking nineties film with a lot more kaboom, pow, and blammo. Fun fact: in the European versions of this film, they swapped out all of the references to Taco Bell for Pizza Hut. Spot the differences!
The last in our suggestions (for now) of 90s sci-fi, The Fifth Element has everything you need if the previous two weren’t weird enough for you: Bruce Willis in his prime, Milla Jovovich’s perpetually cosplay-worth Leeloo, Chris Tucker as the outrageous space diva MC, and that blue alien lady singing opera that still gives me chills.
There was some controversy over this in the Grover office, but our Comms manager insists this Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle is re-watchable. If your 90s nostalgia contains a lot of love for gangster rap and R&B from the era, this is definitely your pick.
Radical! Excellent! Party on!! Wayne and his world are absolutely emblematic of slacker culture and still a totally tubular choice for a laid back viewing party.
If you want to go all out for a themed viewing you can’t get much cooler than mixing up some White Russians to chill with The Dude. That’s ice, a splash of vodka, coffee liqueur of your choice, and filled to the top with full fat milk.
Guns, suits, and code names have never been cooler. You wanna watch a bunch of bad dudes being bad dudes, and have the stomach for torture scenes? Reservoir Dogs is worth a re-watch.
Clueless is the quintessential 90s film. The only question here is, why don’t we have this closet yet?!
Worth the re-watch just for that baby on the ceiling scene, you know the one I’m talking about. Also might make you think twice about going out partying for the rest of the weekend.
This is another date night pick, as Baz Luhrmann’s modern take on the star-crossed lovers set on Verona Beach is completely dreamy. It’s also my personal favorite portrayal of the King of Cats, Mercutio, but young Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes don’t disappoint as the title characters.
Did you know the Truman Show delusion is a real thing, that some people think they’re starring in a reality show with everyone around them as actors 24/7?? Don’t think too hard about it…
The funky little aliens in Men In Black scared the hell out of me as a kid, but they’d probably be OK now. And who hasn’t wanted one of those flashlights that erases everyone’s memory at least once?
No list of 90s classics would be complete without Bill Murray making an appearance more than once. This movie is set in the fall-winter, but that makes it an even better choice for snuggling on a sweltering summer night.
The 60s saw the birth of the music video, while MTV took it to a new level in the 80s, but the medium truly thrived — both creatively and commercially — with 90s music videos. Thanks to the mass proliferation that MTV afforded, it not only brought audiences and artists closer together but provided a fertile testing ground for exploring new ways of storytelling.
This golden era of music videos also brought forth a second wave of music-video directors led by David Fincher, Hype Williams, Jonathan Glazer, Mark Romance, Chris Cunningham, Peter Care, Michel Gondry and, most notably, Spike Jonze — talents that were given artistic license to create grand-scale short films.
From flashy spectacle to low-fi realism, surreal fantasy to retro fetishism, here are just some of the greatest, decade-defining 90s music videos.
20: R.E.M.: ‘Crush With Eyeliner’ (1994) Director: Spike Jonze Just as R.E.M. evolved with the alternative music scene, they were also hugely influential when it came to music videos. From ‘Losing My Religion’ to ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Man On The Moon’, the Athens group are synonymous with MTV — and yet, for much of their career, they were largely absent from the videos, with Michael Stipe famously disliking having to lip sync. When the band shifted their sound dramatically for the glam-inflected ‘Crush With Eyeliner’, from Monster, the video imagined R.E.M. as a hip Japanese band that represented the band’s identity swap.
19: Sinéad O’Connor: ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ (1990) Director: John Maybury The promo for Sinéad O’Connor’s cover of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ stands in stark contrast to the majority of 90s music videos. Stripped of any surrealist imagery and flashy visuals, it depicts the shorn O’Connor in a tight close-up and unflinching manner while she sings of her heartbreak. Almost as recognisable as the song itself, the clip led to the Gaelic singer becoming the first female artist to win Video Of The Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.
18: Blind Melon: ‘No Rain’ (1993) Director: Samuel Bayer When it came time to make a music video for the band’s career-defining single, ‘No Rain’, Blind Melon used the artwork for their debut album (a photo of drummer Glenn Graham’s sister in a bee outfit) as inspiration and created one of the most indelible and relatable characters in music video history: an awkward youth searching for companionship, otherwise known as “Bee Girl”.
17: George Michael: ‘Freedom! ’90’ (1990) Director: David Fincher Starring a coterie of supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Cindy Crawford, with plenty of soft lighting, piercings and sensual closeups, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this promo clip for a CK One advert. Helmed by the most in-demand music video director at the time, David Fincher managed to create one of the most iconic 90s music videos, fusing music and style in smouldering fashion.
16: Fiona Apple: ‘Criminal’ (1996) Director: Mark Romanek In the days when 99 per cent of everyone’s photos were littered with red-eye, Fiona “This World Is Bullshit” Apple was brooding in 70s rec rooms like a seedy Polaroid come to life. In other words, ‘Criminal’ exemplified 90s music videos. The provocative visuals aligned with the lyrics about exploiting your own sexuality, but Apple faced severe backlash for it. ‘Criminal’ remains the most successful single of Apple’s career — and yet it also paved the way for every American Apparel ad that followed.
15: Radiohead: ‘Paranoid Android’ (1997) Director: Magnus Carlsson By the time the 90s rolled around, MTV was not only a destination for music videos, but had expanded into animated series that used contemporary music. So when Radiohead debuted their animated epic for ‘Paranoid Android’, it felt right at home on the network. Created by Magnus Carlsson, the Swedish creator of the animated series Robin, the surrealist and somewhat graphic short both horrified parents and fascinated that sweet 12–34 key demographic.
14: The Verve: ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ (1997) Director: Walter Stern Like Sinéad’s video, just hearing the symphonic intro of this Britpop landmark conjures up images of a lanky Richard Ashcroft loping down the streets of Hoxton in East London. Seemingly inspired by Massive Attack’s single-continuous shot video for ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, the video sees Ashcroft making his way through a bustling metropolis completely unaffected and colliding with pedestrians along the way. Is it a metaphor for self-actualisation or self-entitlement? You be the judge.
13. Smashing Pumpkins: ‘1979’ (1995) Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valeria Farris Has a music video ever epitomised suburban ennui more than Smashing Pumpkins’ slice-of-life promo for the smash single ‘1979’? From the fisheye lens to the teenage-party scenes, it stands apart from the otherworldly visuals for the rest of their double-album, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, and remains an invitation to adolescent nostalgia.
12: 2pac (Feat Dr Dre): ‘California Love’ (1995) Director: Hype Williams Tupac’s galvanising West Coast anthem was such a smash, it needed two music videos to accompany it. While the majority of hip-hop’s 90s music videos at the time were characterised by the blinged-out productions favoured by Bad Boy Records, this Hype Williams-directed joint had an equally large budget but a much more exotic locale, resulting in a Mad Max meets Burning Man dystopian epic set in a post-apocalyptic Oakland. At the end, Tupac wakes up from his “dream” for the Part 2 remix video, which swaps out desert jeeps for hydraulic cars and house parties in Compton.
11: The Prodigy: ‘Smack My Bi__h Up’ (1997) Director: Jonas Åkerlund Dubbed as “Snap My Picture” to the pearl-clutching censors on the radio, electro- punks The Prodigy scandalised MTV with their provocative music video for their big-beat single. Shot strictly from the first-person POV, it depicts a protagonist’s wild night full of sex, drugs, vandalism and fighting — only to reveal at the end that it’s a woman who’s wreaking havoc. The graphic video drew instant backlash which only added to its popularity.
10: Busta Rhymes: ‘Gimme Some More’ (1998) Director: Hype Williams We could easily devote an entire list to the unbridled vision of music video director Hype Williams, who took hip-hop imagery to the outer limits. Like Michel Gondry with Björk, Williams found his match and muse in Busta Rhymes, bringing to life this twisted version of Loony Tunes and single-handedly perfected the fisheye-lens trend that everyone adopted.
9: The Chemical Brothers: ‘Elektrobank’ (1997) Director: Spike Jonze Before she was an indie auteur director, Sofia Coppola was an acrobatic gymnast starring in this Spike Jonze-directed video. The intricate twists and turns of her gymnastic floor routine align perfectly with the heavy breakbeats of the instrumental track from The Chemical Brothers’ sophomore album, Dig Your Own Hole. With muted colours and cinematic flair, the whole thing plays more like an art house short than a music video.
8: Beastie Boys: ‘Sabotage’ (1994) Director: Spike Jonze There are two kinds of people in this world, those who think the Spike Jonze-directed ‘Sabotage’ music video is Beastie Boys’ finest, and others who prefer the robot-B-Boy antics of ‘Intergalactic’, but we’re inclined towards the former, which essentially created the blueprint for parody music videos that homage 70s cop shows.
7. Michael and Janet Jackson: ‘Scream’ (1995) Director: Mark Romanek What’s better than a Michael Jackson music video? Two Jacksons in space! Who could forget the larger-than-life blockbuster video for Michael and Janet Jackson’s ‘Scream’, from Michael’s 1995 HIStory album? Allegedly the most expensive music video ever made, the space-age film sees the two siblings spitting refrains over industrial beats courtesy of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The futuristic black-and-white video came with a hefty price tag (a cool $7 million to build seven sound stages and the like), but it also created one of the most era-defining 90s music videos and reunited the siblings in the studio for the first time since ‘PYT’, from Michael’s 1982 smash, Thriller.
6: Missy Elliot: ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)’ (1997) Director: Hype Williams No other director fit the poetic absurdity of Missy Elliot more than Hype Williams, who astutely combined the shiny-suit aesthetic of the era with Afrofuturism and the flyest garbage bag the world has ever seen. The cameo-heavy video, featuring the likes of Timbaland, Da Brat and Puff Daddy, made Elliot’s cover of Ann Peebles’ 1973 single the one to lunch her solo career.
5: Daft Punk: ‘Around The World’ (1997) Director: Michel Gondry Michel Gondry cut his teeth creating fantastical 90s music videos before moving onto feature films. He also birthed another key music video trend (the single-take video). Out of the 50-plus videos to his name, one of his classic cuts is the synchronised dance masterpiece he created for Daft Punk’s world-conquering single, ‘Around The World’. With each dancer synching up with each beat, synth and sound, it’s a masterclass in co-ordination.
4: Nirvana: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (1991) Director: Samuel Bayer Just as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ catapulted Nirvana to mainstream success, its gritty video served as the benchmark for grunge culture and the teen rebellion to the MTV-watching masses, who ate it up with their morning breakfast. A familiar scene to most American high-school students, the video depicts a pep rally gone wrong, with anarchist cheerleaders and Kurt Cobain’s raw performance inciting a riot.
3: Nine Inch Nails ‘Closer’ (1994) Director: Mark Romanek Shot on a vintage hand-crank camera with stylistic yet perverse shots of a disembodied heart, a twirling pig’s head and Trent Reznor in full S&M gear, the music video for Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Closer’ resembles found footage from a Victorian snuff film rather than something you’d find on MTV. Despite its very NSFW visuals and lyrics, the track and video went on the become a massive hit. For the record, the monkey was not harmed during the making of the video.
2: Björk: ‘All Is Full Of Love’ (1999) Director: Chris Cunningham For some artists, music videos are not merely a tool for publicity, but an extension of their artistic expression, and no musician embodies that more than Björk. Since her first foray into the medium with ‘Human Behaviour’, she’s pushed the boundaries of music videos, making them an integral part of the song, as evidenced by her sci-fi vision of love for ‘All Is Full Of Love’. Directed by Chris Cunningham (who’s responsible for the disturbing video for Aphex Twin’s ‘Come to Daddy’), his “karma sutra meets industrial robotics” concept came to life thanks to his background in prosthetic and modelling work for films such as Alien 3.
1: Jamiroquai: ‘Virtual Insanity’ (1996) Director: Jonathan Glazer No list covering 90s music videos would be worth its salt without the mind-bending promo by UK pop-soul act Jamiroquai. A literal take on their album title, Travelling Without Moving, the vertigo-inducing video made the band a global sensation and had everyone scratching their heads at both the technical wizardry and Jay Kay’s fuzzy top hat.
End Credits Britpop may not have made as much of a global impact as its US cousin, grunge, so whether you think it contributed to the truly decade-defining 90s music videos likely depends on what side of the pond you’re from. Needless to say, however, that the clip for Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ is likely to cause many of a certain age to shed a wistful tear. Meanwhile, Blur’s ‘Parklife’ video combines a particular type of British over-confidence, strains of Benny Hill humour and the emerging “lad culture” aesthetic to create something so uniquely British it hurts. If your memories of the era are more jaded, however, then Pulp’s ‘Common People’ certainly enters the pantheon of great 90s music videos, its mix of social commentary and retro ennui managing to seem somehow dated and evergreen at the same time.
Also worthy of mention are Guns N’ Roses ‘November Rain’ and Beck’s ‘Where It’s At’ promos, which sit at opposite ends of the spectrum of notable 90s music videos. The former, which, like the song’s lyrics, is based on a short story by journalist and author Del James, stands in a long line of narrative music videos — though, while a classic clip, more vividly evokes the 80s than it does the 90s.
Anyone coming fresh to the ‘Where It’s At’ video, however, may be forgiven for wondering what decade it came from. The references to 80s block parties, 60s Thomas Crown Affair-style split-screen edits, 70s fashions and timeless good ole boys’ line-dancing offer a cornucopia of references to be decoded. Ultimately, however, its postmodern hijinks could only come from one decade, making it unique among 90s music videos for arguably having more ideas than there were minutes to cram them into.
Listen to more classic hits of the decade on our 90s playlist here.
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Originally published at www.udiscovermusic.com on June 23, 2018.
Before you readers get all butthurt, hear me out. I’m 13 years old and am not growing up on 80’s and 90’s Hip Hop, guys like Rakim, Big Pun, Wu Tang Clan and Common I’m familiar with but haven’t dove deep into their music like these other guys. Just had to get that out there before you guys get pissed off in the comments!
Featuring fascinating — and sexy — pairings of your favorite grunge stars. A Savage Beast exclusive report.
Recently, researchers in the urban Northwest unearthed a page torn from an unknown zine. The mysterious document lists the titles and brief summaries of popular erotic fan fictions circulating among 90’s alternative fans, most likely on Usenet groups, music boards, and band list-servs. While the full texts of these creations appear to be lost, this discovery gives us new insight into the minds and sexual proclivities of those ancient, flanneled people.
The text is reproduced in full below.
“Steaming Hott Fics ‘98”
Mellon Cuddles & The Infinite Snuggles The tragic tale of Billy Corgan and James Iha’s doomed romance, as told by Iha’s beloved dog Bugg. Features a dream sequence where bald Billy makes love to long-haired Billy. The author previously won a “Bamesy” award for writing the best Billy/James slash fic of ‘96.
You Were Meant for Me, And I Was Meant for Satan Opposites attract when Jewel and Marilyn Manson move in together, but soon, her desire to “fix” her lover’s bad behavior leads to a strain on their newfound bliss. Rob Zombie is sad that his friend — and first crush — Mari isn’t allowed to hang out anymore.
Bush in the Bush Gavin Rossdale goes on the prowl at Lilith Fair, and the Indigo Girls are looking to try something new. Meanwhile, Joan Osborne has a crisis of faith after she does a lot of cocaine; Suzanne Vega talks her down during an epic cuddle session.
The Queerest of the Were (or, I’m Only Happy When You Don’t Speak) Gwen Stefani is a werewolf. Shirley Manson is a vampire. Together, they must kill the mummy queen, Courtney Love. But on the way, a funny thing happens: they bang.
Everdong A mopey Dave Grohl threatens to ruin the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s annual Christmas orgy, until Eddie Vedder convinces him to open up emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Nevermind, Keep Blowfishin’ Hootie is conflicted about his feelings for Rivers Cuomo, but the ghost of Kurt Cobain tells him it’s ok to be himself.
Elegant Bachelors Tensions flare when Scott Weiland “accidentally” gets his Vaseline on Stephen Malkmus’s mic at Lollapalooza. Can a rakishly unbuttoned dress shirt reconcile these natural frenemies in the wild? Not if Billy Corgan has anything to say about it!
Nine Inch Nailed Trent Reznor reveals the meaning behind his band’s name when he asks Baby Spice to dominate him.
Grind Against the Machines Zach de la Rocha grows insecure when Tom Morello discovers the joys of the Sybian, until he remembers that no machine can rage like the human heart.
Poppin’ Off John Popper is ready to love his body the way God made it, dammit — as soon as he gets a big furry tail attached to it. [Ed. Note: This story is also one of the classics of Thundercats fan fiction.]
Trompe le Mound Kim/Kim at its finest, as Deal and Gordon find each other in a forest of douchebag noise rockers. Also, there’s a reason they call a white guy Black Francis.
Lollapasplooga Anthony Kiedis attempts to organize a massive on-stage orgy at a festival, but everything that can go wrong, does go wrong! Flea finds a way to make his friend feel better.
Fake Plastic Squeeze Thom Yorke’s crush on Christina Aguilera is finally requited, but he’s crestfallen to discover that she’s been artificially augmented. Once again, an intense experience with modern technology leaves him high and dry.
Just the other day, the ongoing battle with my not so hip Motorola phone ended.
I reinstated my membership with team iPhone, and immediately was clueless on where to begin. As my fingers traveled hesitantly across the keyboard, I became anxious. I could even detect a slight moisture forming on my palms as my mind went racing. I remember thinking to myself, “Teshone, what the heck do you add to this thing next?” The first thing that I did was download a Podcast called “The Read” that was recommended to me by a friend. After this, I drew a huge blank. It dawned on me that I had arrived at another time and place in the history of man. This revelation held me in amazement and shock all at once as I tried to nourish myself with Laughing Cow cheese and day old Panera bread potato chips. I felt an immediate sting of loneliness, nostalgia, and what I call “timesickness”. The next thing that I did was sit on my couch and turn on Netflix and watch a few episodes of “A Different World”.
“It dawned on me that I had arrived at another time and place in the history of man.”
Watching the interactions of black college students at “Hillman” was comforting and familiar….yet felt so distant in time. So many things popped out at me as I sat in awe of Denise using a checkbook to pay for her college dorm fees, and Jaleassa as she made a call from a pay phone. At a point in one of the shows, girls from all over the dorm wanted to watch a show on TV, and so each person, sporting their sweats, baggy jeans, and other full-on 80's fashion flair, crowded in the dorm common space on a couch to watch the show together. At this moment I became acutely aware of my spot on my couch, alone, staring at a laptop screen. Under my breath, I muttered a silent “fuck you” to Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.
I remember at the age of about 19 or 20 when social media platforms began to dominate popular culture. Facebook and Twitter emerged as the ways of the day to communicate. At the same time, phone conversations had become next to obsolete due to the increased popularity of texting. At the time, I had an account through both platforms, but the reality was that I never did quite take to telling my life story publicly multiple times a day, or sometimes even in a week. It just seemed pointless. Like….for what? I also never really enjoyed texting beyond the simple joy and anticipation of receiving personal mail(for whatever reason, this feeling is the same whether that mail be paper or electronic mail. There’s something about a message intended only for you that creates a small but palpable thrill….at least in my opinion). I will never forget watching some of my good friends thrive in navigating social media landscapes while I was in college. They were like mini public relations factories.
I never did quite take to telling my life story publicly multiple times a day, or sometimes even in a week. It just seemed pointless.
After visiting one of those friends in NY in the summer of 2012, I couldn’t remember a time that I had felt more invisible. I remember my first time arriving in NYC on the bus from Washington, DC. After spending close to 4 hours in a confined space with the mixed aroma of Cheetos and human secretions, stepping off of that bus felt damn near like emancipation. I stared all around me at the huge buildings and people rushing to nowhere. I was in awe of the place. My friend met me across the street from the bus stop with bright eyes and a huge beautiful smile. It was beyond great to see her after an entire year. I couldn’t wait to catch up with all that had been going on in our lives. The moment that I arrived was nearly the last time that we had a solid, human interaction during my time visiting. Most of the rest of our time together was spent in an immense amount of silence that included half head nods and fragmented conversations. I remember sitting on the mattress in the middle of her then apartment in Flatbush trying to have a conversation with her. The majority of the time, her curly mane was either hunched over the tiny screen of her phone, or her attention was being taken by the tiny “tweet” sounds notifying her of a new message or post. After a while, I stopped trying to get her attention.
The moment that I arrived was nearly the last time that we had a solid, human interaction.
It dawned on me that maybe the only way to connect with her was through her social media world. I logged onto both Twitter and Facebook to find that she had tons of other conversations throughout the time that I was there. After dedicating a weekend to visiting her in person, I sadly realized that sending her a few Facebook messages or Tweets would have been sufficient. From this experience, I began to develop an aversion to social media….a sort of half-accepting ambivalence to the culture. The reality is that every day, I wish it were the year 2000 again (Minus the fashion).
Is it weird that this decade’s shift in culture has left me feeling like a fish out of water? Suddenly, I can begin to understand my parents and the way that they absolutely loathe the sound of rap music, and tend to begin personal anecdotes with “well, back in my day….” Any day now, someone must be completing a time machine. This way, I can travel back in time to talking on the phone with my best friends….hearing them laugh and knowing that we are fully present with one another in the moment(with the occasional beeping in of a call on the other line). We would have selfie free adventures that are about the adventure itself and our friendship….and not an exhibition for the world to approve of. We would write each other notes, and fold them in intricate, ghetto origami. Our time together would be spent watching 106 & Park, practicing simple dance routines, dropping it like it’s hot, and playing phone pranks on the local Dominoes.
Until the day that time travel becomes a possibility, I’ll be left with this occasional feeling of timesickness.