Archive for June, 2014

The 90s were our golden age, so why did we try so hard to turn it into the 70s? Seriously, Generation X!

Clinton was Carter All Over Again
Let’s start with our choice in Presidents. Wanting to copy our parents’ generation, we elected another liberal-minded, white male Democrat from the South. Perhaps we believed his idealism was what the country needed after back-to-back terms from Reagan and Bush Sr. Something had to account for the widespread optimism that marked the beginning of our decade.

The 1990s was the Comeback of Smack
Heroin was another 70s reject that needled its way into the 90s. What was up with that? helped make the 90s the 70s all over again. Twenty years earlier, only losers shot up the junk; but by the time the 90s were in full swing, everyone was dancin’ with Mr. Brownstone. Yeah, he just wouldn’t leave us alone.

It didn’t help that many of our idols were hooked on smack – Kurt Cobain being the poster boy – and movies such as The Basketball Diaries, Trainspotting, and Pulp Fiction made us all wanna put a spike in our veins … even if it was just the tip, just to see how it feels. Even supermodels were sporting the “heroin chic” look — pale skin, dark circles under the eyes, and a skeletal frame. (They weren’t your granddad’s pin-up girls!)

90s Grunge was 70s Rock All Over Again
The Seattle sound, aka Grunge, defined our decade. This was another 70s rehash. Heavy guitar riffs the likes of KISS, Zeppelin, and Cooper married 70s punk rock sensibilities to create the musical sensation that swept the nation. And speaking of music, remember Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits? Released in ’95, this compilation featured an A-list roster of 90s bands covering cartoon theme songs from the 60s and 70s. (Matthew Sweet’s rendition of Scooby Doo, Where are You? was positively sublime.)

The 1990s was the 1970s on Film and TV
With Dazed and Confused, Hollywood helped the 90s pay homage to the 70s on film. Who would’ve thought a movie about 70s stoners on their last day of school would strike a chord with us 90s slackers? And for the ultimate 90s street cred, film icon and 70s pop culture connoisseur Quentin Tarantino included it on his list of the 10 greatest films of all time. TV threw its hat in the ring with That 70s Show in ’98, offering Gen X one last wistful fling with an idealized version of its collective childhood. Kickass, Kelso!

We Were Given a Decade and we Blew It!
Like so many generations before us, Generation X failed to live up to its promise. The 1990s were supposed to be our chance to shine, yet we spent most of it looking backward through the perpetual haze of our beer/dope goggles. We’re halfway through 2014 and we’ve replaced our dreams with gluten-free meal-planning, a discerning taste for obscure micro-brews, and a wide-eyed wonderment for the latest flavors at Biggby Coffee. Anything to keep our mind off the whining sound of our car’s engine as we head out on our dead-end cubicle drive.

It’s times like this that make me wonder, where were you while we were getting high?

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evil.friend  Friendship is a powerful word but it’s one that means different things to different people. I discovered this at the very moment when someone who I thought of as a friend showed me just how differently he and I defined that ten-letter word.

It happened during the lowest time in my life. People who thought they knew me thought they knew what I was going through, but I hardly let on how bad things really were. I received some very bad news one particular night and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I became overloaded with emotions and needed to unload my problems onto somebody, anybody who would just take a minute to tell me that I was a good person and that everything would work out in the end. In my time of need, I reached out to a “friend.”

In doing so, I committed the gravest of social errors.

He was quick to scold me for burdening him with information he didn’t ask for nor wanted. And he was nasty about it, too. Like a jungle snake hiding in the thickets, he sprang, sinking sharpened fangs deeply into my exposed flesh. He released his venom into my veins as cold, reptilian eyes fed upon the pain caused by his vicious words. He was every bit as demeaning as a self-righteous parent imperiously lording over an errant child. Everything inside me was screaming, “Stand up for yourself!” but I froze instead. I accepted my metaphorical whipping with a bowed head and downcast gaze.

I’m sure you would never let someone talk to you like that. I allowed it, however, because I knew he was right… somewhat. Having my verbal diarrhea dumped upon him the moment he walked through the door was the last thing he expected to hear when he came over. But looking back upon it, he also took a gigantic shit upon my head! This was the same “friend” who regularly shared deeply personal things about himself and never once did I seek it. Instead, I listened and gave advice when and where I could. That’s what friends are for, right?

I’m not proud to admit that I remained friends with this person for years after the incident. And he reminded me of the differences in how we defined “friendship,” as well. I let every slight pile atop my silent and long-festering resentment until I finally initiated a parting of the ways. There’s was no cinematic revenge moment, no grandiloquent speech … I simply clicked my mouse and un-friended him, a “breakup” of sorts in the social media age. My consolation is that this experience taught me much, and I’ve since handled similar situations more assertively.

So, if you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, troubled by something that happened with someone you know, try to recall this little cautionary tale. Ask yourself what are the qualities that you look for in a friend. Do you live up to them? Do they?

*Featured artwork by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, MI.