Wow, did this hit home in so many ways. (It’s a long read. Take your time. I’ll be here when you get back.)
My gut reaction is that it’s funny because so much of it’s true — My daughter saw Star Wars at six weeks old, and she loves They Might Be Giants. Totally my doing. — and at the same time, it pisses me off with its hiply analytical eye that has to pigeonhole everything and everybody into easily indexed personalites. Last summer, my buddy Adam and I drove to Cleveland to see a 20Goto10 club show because dammit, they’re awful good and a lot of fun, and they really do bring back memories of New Order and Xymox without sounding like a gimmicky throwback, so there.
Yeah, yeah, retro’s been all the rage for the past few years now, with VH-1’s I Love Everything shows (which, yes, I do devour like Cool Ranch Doritos, thank you very much), and Hot Topic’s stuffed to the rafters with Atari-logo shirts and Perfect Strangers lunchboxes (maybe I made that last one up, but if not now, then soon, I bet), but there’s a difference between retro for fun and a real shift in cultural sway, and I think I finally heard real evidence of the latter a few weeks ago.
I was listening to NPR – clearly, not a news source known for its pop-culture references – and they were doing a story on the new Dungeons and Dragons online game. Now, if that weren’t enough, that NPR was even doing this story at all, the reporter, who’s doing this as a first-person narrative, recalls his own D&D high school days and says half the joy was that the game involved more than 20-sided dice and graph-paper mazes: It was, he said, a social experience. "Demented and sad," he stressed, and then, after the perfect pause, he concluded, "but social."
And then he went on with his story. That’s it, right there. When an NPR reporter, for the love o’Pete, feels comfortable dropping a Breakfast Club reference into a story with no explanation at all, then something’s shifting in the winds for sure.
It’s like when I was growing up, and you’d hear people say, "One word: Plastics." And you’d wonder what the hell they were talking about.
And there’s more, too: This whole Generation X nostalgia thing isn’t just for old-times’ sake. See, the marketers are wise to us, and they’re going after our kids through us. Is there another reason for Devo 2.0? Think about it – I couldn’t care less about other Disney-grown acts like the Cheetah Girls or HIllary Duff, but I’ll stop and check out this Devo thing because, "Hey, I remember those guys," and with the original band in on the act, I’m more likely to give it a fair listen. They’re doing it with the Go-go’s next. And last month, I watched "Sky High." You know what struck me? The freakin’ soundtrack! It’s mostly 80’s remakes.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but clearly, I’m biased, because for me, the 1980s were the growing-up years, when I went from 10 to 20, and these all kind of hit the right chords.
You know what movie’s coming out next summer?
A new version of The Transformers.
Makes me really look a little differently at those times when David Lee Roth and Tiffany were recording the songs of Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys and the Beatles, and what our parents must have been thinking.
Urf. It’s like spending hours wading in Legos and realizing all you’ve got to show for it is the front bumper of what’s supposed to be an 18-wheeler. Anyway, I finally got one – yes, ONE, dangit – story up on my soon-to-be-page-of-stories.
Ooof. This, this THIS is why I’m a writer and not a freakin’ webmaster. All I want to do is start getting links to some of my stories and projects up and going between here and my web site, and just when I think I’m getting the hang of things, something doesn’t work and it friggin’ bites. Bitesbitesbites. Not that I don’t have better things to write about than this – I do, I swear. I’m keeping a list of them. And I’ll start writing them as soon as I get…these…sites….cooperating. grf.
Ach. I have a head cold, and it’s kept me pretty wiped out all day. Still, you can only take so much bed rest, so I managed to set up my web site. Content’s not nearly there yet, but at least it’s up and running.
While I wasn’t wrestling with the web, I was watching Blade Runner, which fit well with the way I was feeling, but clashed completely with the incredibly gorgeous day that was unfolding outside: Sunny, breezy and in the 50s. Not that I was in any position to enjoy it. I was 11 when Blade Runner came out, and I really wanted to see it because it had Han Solo in it, and my parents would only say, "No way." (I don’t even know if they ever actually saw it.) I finally saw it in college when one of my friends was watching it for a class and she invited me to come along.
I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard railroad buff by a long shot, but I do have a weakness for hearing train whistles, especially when they roll over fields at night. (This happens fairly often all over here in Ohio.) And for wordplay, I’m totally hooked on the phrase "cornfield meet," which, according to this glossary at The Catskill Archive, is a head-on collision between trains. (Or, it also notes, one which is narrowly averted.)
Either way, the image and phrase click nicely in my head, and that idea of an intersection or collision of forces is one I like.
During my freshman year at Bowling Green State University, I used to walk to the railroad tracks that run north-south through the town and stand right next to them when trains passed. Years and years and freakin’ years later, those trains turned into some of the sparks for a novel I wrote, Crossing Decembers. I spent awhile banging my head (figuratively) against publishers’ and agents’ doors, and then, just last month, decided it was more important just to share the thing than it was to "win" at some publishers’ maze game.
It feels suprisingly good to have done it, and I’m proud of the way the front and back covers came out and everything.