March
12th 2010
Tempus fugit

Posted under: art, childhood, fluff

Do any of you ever wish you could crawl back into the 90s again? Or is it just me and Fratguy?  We were poor for most of the ’90s–and when we were no longer poor, I had a bad job, but we always had very good friends and neighbors wherever we were–Philadelphia, Baltimore, Hartford, Somerville/Cambridge, Washington D.C., Providence, R.I., and “Winesburg,” Ohio.  I’m probably just nostalgic for the first decade of adulthood, when the possibilities seemed endless.  (I will say that it’s nice not to have moved at all for 8 years in a row!  It seems like I spent half of my 20s in a U-Haul, driving up and down I-95 and figuring out how to avoid the New Jersey Turnpike.)

(Aside:  Does anyone know if there have been any articles or dissertations written about all of the babies, baby dolls, fetuses, and allusions to reproduction that populate both Nirvana and Hole songs and videos?  Does anyone want to offer an analysis in the comments below?) 

Although this video of “Malibu” might suggest that we’re going to the beach for Spring Break, we’re not.  More details later–but I think I’m going to stay off-line and just live in the meat world on my vacation.

Here’s some flava of the 1970s for you, too:  “put down the cigarette, and drop out of B.U.!”

And, of course, we have a classic from the 1980s, shot at Eastern State Penitentary in Philadelphia. Panopticontastic!

34 Comments »

34 Responses to “Tempus fugit”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf on 12 Mar 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Fuck the fucking nineties. I miss the eighties!

  2. Perpetua on 12 Mar 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Go back to the ’90s? I’d have to vote “no” on that one. The latter half of that decade was one of unparalleled misery for me, as the 20s sometimes are. I have zero interest in revisiting those years of my life in any fashion except in brief moments of “you’ve come a long way, baby” when I want to give myself a brief pat on the back for turning all that into something so much better. My time of infinite possibilities happened later. It is possible, however, that Hole’s Live through This played a key role in getting me through those years.

    I hope your spring break is delightful. Mine went off the rails – instead of beginning work on a new article that I’m so excited about, I caught a stomach bug so vicious I ended up being admitted to the hospital and spending the rest of the week on the couch, and am now frantically playing catch up for Monday morning!

  3. Dr. Crazy on 12 Mar 2010 at 7:58 am #

    You know, I was just thinking yesterday, as I was stuck in stupid traffic and heard back to back on the radio “California” by Dr. Dre and Tupac and Sublime’s “What I got” that it actually IS the 90s here still :)

    I’m happy to be in the 21st century – and to have the life I have now – but the 90s were some good times.

    And I heart that you put up the video for Punk Rock Girl. Met my first love at a Dead Milkmen show when I was 15 :)

  4. Indyanna on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:25 am #

    o.k., so shoot me. I was just thinking it was time for a “Hollies-opening-for-the-Zombies-with-a-special-guest-appearance-by-the-Fugs Reunion Tour.” In a post-Big Bang world, Tempus doth indeed Fugit, but in different directions and at very different velocities. The New-York Historical Society is curating a big show on the Grateful Dead from their “papers” (that’s a good one), which are now deposited @ UCal-Somewhereorother.

    Hey, Historiann, you wouldn’t be interviewing for a leave-replacement Visiting Assistant Blogger position, would you? My posting sample from Today’s NY Times: “David Axl Rod Dresses Down Desiree Rogers for Dressing Up to boost the Obama Brand. AX fumes: Obama is a President, Not a Brand!” You can’t make this sh!t up, or I can’t, anyway. Could I at least get an on-campus interview out at HQ from this one? Oh, and I’d probably need a half-time RA to handle the “WordPress issues” part of the job, but I could do the concept stuff.

  5. squadratomagico on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:32 am #

    Have a good vacay!
    And, no, can’t say that I miss the 90s. I miss the 80s for my young adulthood (ahhh, what times I had!), and the 70s for sass and bright clothing.

  6. Walt Lessun on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:35 am #

    90′s not so much. Different story for the sixties. Of course, I was there so I don’t remember them…

  7. Susan on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:39 am #

    I think what’s so fun in your twenties is that you feel like you’re making up your life, and all your friends are doing the same thing. Or not. So there’s lots of sturm and drang, but comradely. And then suddenly you are somewhere where you realize you’ve taken a turn and everyone isn’t in the same boat anymore… and you move away from student/beggining assistant professor life, and realize everyone has lives and isn’t creating them.

    Having always been a bit of an oddball, I don’t miss my 20s that much, though. And that was NOT the 90s.

  8. Susan on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:39 am #

    PS Have a great vacation. One more week…

  9. ej on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:42 am #

    I have to say, my memories of the 90s aren’t nearly as positive as yours, Historiann. Mostly because I spent the entire decade in school (finishing my BA and getting my PhD). I felt like I was in a permanent holding pen, waiting for my “real life” to start. Factor in a number of lifestyle choices that resembled those of Courtney Love, and I think you get the picture.

    So far, post 2000 has been much kinder. Dissertation, job, book, best friends I’ve ever had, marriage, child, tenure. And now new job. And new child. And hopefully new book.

    Okay, after writing this, I’m beginning to realize why I’m so exhausted all the time…

  10. Profane on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Hmmmm. . .High School followed by College followed by Graduate School. . .

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .”

    As far as the aside goes, that article certainly needs writing if it has not been – perhaps starting with the following lyrics:

    Sell the kids for food
    Weather changes moods
    Spring is here again
    Reproductive glands. . .

    We can have some more
    Nature is a whore
    Bruises on the fruit
    Tender age in bloom

  11. FrauTech on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:53 am #

    We talk about this all the time. In the 90s; stock market was roaring up, everyone was still telling you just to get a degree in something and you’d be successful. Plenty of people were dropping out of college to become software moguls or wall street barons and making tons of money. Seemed like the world was my oyster. I knew people who hadn’t finished high school who were making $12 an hour to do computer work (which back then was a bit more than it is now).

    Now we have the threat of inflation, overinflated home prices and yet a bunch of people stuck underwater, way too many people with higher education degrees they can’t use, two real Wars with troops on the ground, a deficit, ridiculously high unemployment rate and craptastic employment for the last decade anyways with it not looking much better for the next decade. So a lot of times I think back on the 90s when a post-racial world (ever watch Star Trek Next Gen and think how enlightened the future was going to be?) was still possible, when it looked like the US will hold on to its economic dominance, and when middle class was still achievable for so many people. And yes, I miss the 90s.

  12. Historiann on 12 Mar 2010 at 9:09 am #

    FrauTech: that’s pretty much where I am. The post-Cold War, pre-9/11/2001 12 year holiday was teh awesome! Since the Selection of Bush II, it’s been all downhill in my view.

  13. JJO on 12 Mar 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Indyanna, I believe the Grateful Dead’s “papers” are more accurately referred to as “sheets.”

    Overall, I guess I’d have to vote for the 90s, which were pretty good until the latter years when dissertation depression set in. I can find something to love or hate about just about any of our three options. Just don’t send me back to middle school.

  14. Notorious Ph.D. on 12 Mar 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Thank you for the Dead Milkmen video. More 80s than 90s, but it makes me super-happy anyway.

  15. Historiann on 12 Mar 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I lived in Philadelphia in the late 80s and early 90s, before Philadelphia got all fancy. (As a graduate student, *I* could afford to live in Rittenhouse Square–with a roommate, of course, but that tells you something about the rents at that time.) What I like about the Dead Milkmen vid is that it shows that gritty seediness of Philadelphia in that time that’s all been sanded away by money and gentrification since the mid-1990s. (Kind of like Cambridge’s Central Square’s transition around that time–from the Marxist bookstores and the 50-year old donut shops, to Nike stores and Starbucks and other shiny urban emporia.)

  16. Indyanna on 12 Mar 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Having moved to Philly almost two decades before Historiann, though, I have to say there are multiple and layered narratives about how and when and whether and why the town got “all fancy.” With the now-ossified legend of the early ’70s “Restaurant Revolution” there (think starry-eyed young cuisine-amateur couples with month-to-month leases on a storefront and some bargain store crockery), the word on the street was about what a dump of a “meat-and-potatoes” food town it had been less than ten years before, and how “vibrant” it was “now.” Then something called the “Restaurant School” opened and the scene got all industrialized and hype-ified.

    I think the slump between the Ira Einhorn debacle of the late ’70s and the “Move I” and “Move II” nightmares (1978 and 1985) set the place back in a way that allowed for the “Rendell Revival” of the 1990s, which is currently the dominant narrative. But then, “periodization” may be the most revisionist-friendly element of historical practice, so who knows? How could one be nostalgic for the “Rizzo Years?”

    And on rents, I just this morning told a visitor from Montana that I check the Sunday Times Real Estate section for prices on efficiencies in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and think of my place in Center City as being almost a profit center!

  17. Historiann on 12 Mar 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Sorry to have forgotten about the so-called “restaurant revolution.” But, that was pretty limited in scope, right? (Is The Astral Plane still there? Frog is long gone–I think it was gone when I was there.) I was in grade school when the “restaurant rev.” happened, and in a neighboring state, but my sense is that it wasn’t as transformational as all of those new cafes and funky hangouts were in the early 1990s. (But, I will defer to your judgment. Rents are more expensive, but they’re still cheaper than NYC or Washington. Or even Brooklyn now!)

  18. Paul on 12 Mar 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Like Profane, I can’t really generalize about the 90s. I went from high school through undergrad and 2 years of grad school and then the first couple of years of my first professional job during that decade. I went through everything from extreme depression to great times – personally it was a more diverse decade than the previous or succeeding ones.

    One a larger scale, though, I think there was a lot to be said for the 1990s in the United States as far as economic prosperity and optimism. (Or at least the mid to late-90s – the early part of the decade was pretty rough economically.)

  19. Indyanna on 12 Mar 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Not even the notorious Zoning Board or Licenses and Inspections here in the “Sixth Borough” can dislodge the Astral Plane, because it operates on a, well, different plane. It would be sort of like writing up God! I think it’s still [t]here. The other survivor would probably be Friday, Saturday, Sunday [the days that it originally operated] at 21st and Rittenhouse. Probably a lot of new managements since. There was a place called Russells that went down hard over on Lombard St. within the last decade. That’s about it. The phenomenon was pretty ephemeral, sort of like sitar music, but not entirely unimportant.

    Frog was totally post-RR.

  20. Indyanna on 12 Mar 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    p.s. Yelp says Astral Plane is closed, c. early 2008, although there may be a follow-on “Astral Plane Millenium.” I think I’ll go get a job, or look for one anyway.

  21. wini on 12 Mar 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    I suspect I will feel this way about the 2000s one day. But, thank you so much for the Punk Rock Girl video! I will actually be able to include this in my book.

  22. ncjo on 12 Mar 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Cure, New Order, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Rockpile, Housemartins, Public Image, Ltd., Smiths . . . Highly recommend

  23. ncjo on 12 Mar 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    MEANT
    Cure, New Order, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Rockpile, Housemartins, Public Image, Ltd., Smiths . . . Highly recommend

  24. Janice on 12 Mar 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    I don’t much miss the 90s — I started the decade by starting my job. Then after that fog lifted, two kids along with furloughs and just trying to survive? I think I finally came up for air at the end of the decade, only to face a whole new round of problems and crises.

    Even with the financial problems of the last few years, I’ll take this decade over the last, I think. I can always listen to old punk albums on CD if I want to channel the past, anyway!

  25. Trudy on 12 Mar 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    Interesting. Hole and Nirvana were a big part of my life in the 90s and yet, I hadn’t thought of those allusions till you mentioned it. Could it be related to the “slacker” ethos of the time, the so-called refusal to grow up and become part of the Capitalist machine, etc. etc.?? Most people I knew then did have jobs and weren’t slackers, but I do recall that the slackerdom thing was all over the media.

  26. Fratguy on 12 Mar 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    I have had “Reasons to be Beautiful” (the track immediately following “Malibu”) on auto repeat all day. Thanks for the inspiration Historiann, though I can’t say the officemates share the same sentiment.

  27. Sisyphus on 12 Mar 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Ahh, thanks for reminding me of Punk Rock Girl! Love it!

    And there actually is an article on riot grrl rock, including Hole, in one of the WS journals …. it won a grad student writing award or something. I found it when trying to put together a WS class on pop culture and thought it was terribly written, just really simplistic, bad analysis. Of course on of the other writing award articles in that journal was on Road to Wellville and that was not only simplistic and bad, but getting important factual details wrong from the movie! But, I just am against scholarship that points to cultural works as “proof something happened” without thinking at all about how a singer or writer or director is shaping the narrative to make present a worldview. To say nothing of the ways institutions or media industries shape what gets out there.

  28. Indyanna on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    On the parenthetical query in the original post, above, it seems that Iain Ellis wrote a dissertation in 1993 in the Popular Culture program at Bowling Green entitled” “U/dys/topian Significations: The Dissemination of the Punk Aesthetic across 1980s American Culture.” This came up in response to a keyword search for Nirvana, but the abstract is pretty, well, dense, and it’s not clear whether or not the band figures in either the database or the analysis. Ellis now teaches at the University of Kansas, and you hard core fans out there might prefer to go with his book _Rebels Wit Attitude: Subversive Rock Humorists_ (no date, place, or publisher specified).

  29. Profane on 13 Mar 2010 at 8:37 am #

    http://www.amazon.com/Rebels-Wit-Attitude-Subversive-Humorists/dp/1593762062

  30. Matt L on 15 Mar 2010 at 10:23 am #

    I miss the 90s. I lived in Seattle for a while. I had great roommates, the beer was outstanding. My only possessions were a motorcycle, a mac plus and a pile of books. I actually had the time to go to see music in bars and clubs like Rock Candy (For a while I lived in a basement apartment two blocks away – I don’t, however, miss finding crack vials on my doorstep).

    I agree with Historiann & Frau Tech, that period between November 1989 and September 2001 was pretty sweet. The highs were high (Fall of the Wall) and the lows were low (Kurt Cobain anyone?). Now I just have to make sure that I don’t dwell in Nostalgia. As an undergrad I always resented the way some (not all) of my Baby boomer professors lauded the 60s as the be all and end all of existence. I don’t want to be an old fart blathering about Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

    But I will tell you, kids these days don’t know noth’in about punk rock…

  31. mandor on 15 Mar 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    The 90′s must be on the verge of a comeback–I just came across this blog earlier today about 90′s feminist nostalgia: http://90swoman.wordpress.com/

  32. Indyanna on 16 Mar 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Oh, Wow! A live thread!!! Talk about Nirvanna. Is it next week yet? Spring Break is over, the Long March is (back) on, and I’m missing my Historianzz. Tempus Drageth. I wonder what they’re making in Potterville tonight? Oh, well. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody.

  33. Jacob on 18 Mar 2010 at 10:56 am #

    I don’t have any detailed analysis about Nirvana and Hole and babies, fetuses, etc., but I remember reading somewhere that Kurt Cobain was obsessed with reproduction. At least one of Nirvana’s CD singles (“All Apologies”) had artwork featuring seahorses, because they are one species in which males give birth. I think Cobain’s journals have some seahorse drawings, too. That doesn’t really answer the question, but there it is.

  34. Indyanna on 22 Mar 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Big pic and small mention of Courtney & Hole (“entirely new lineup”) in the NYT’s roundup on SXSW today. The verdict: “….a glimpse of old-school rock stardom. In professionally noisy grunge rockers and newer power ballads, Ms. Love growled, rasped and howled; between them she trash-talked and played diva, confident that the audience was fascinated by her…”

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