Monday, May 30, 2011

No Stalgia

I fucking hate nostalgia. It causes people to think in an incredibly limited way about the past. You already knew that though. As I get older, I think my nostalgia streak gets thinner and thinner. I recall being a boy of say 6? Me and my cuz, who I was quite close with had a game called "the good old days" in which we would talk about non-existent events from the distant past (presumably before we were born) then do that two-person spinaroundwitharmsextendedholdinghands thing and chant "the good old days, the good old days." I'm not sure if we were imitating older folks talking about the past, but I'm pretty sure it stemmed more from a fascination with what happened before we were around. Like most kids, we would pour over old family photos of mysterious MIA uncles, and the weird hairdos on the people who were still around. The whole spinning/chanting thing may have pushed it into abnormal zones. We also would pull out the maps from National Geographics and point to various spots and challenge each other to a contest of obscurity. "My great great grandmother lives HERE!" whilst pointing to a spot on some mountain range. "Well my great, great, great grandmother lives HERE!" was the response, pointing to some other remote area. Our notions of what the past was, and how it related to ancestry and other parts of the world were pretty off, but it definitely planted a nostalgia seed. I was a hopeless case growing up, unhappy, always thinking things were better in the past, even if that time was merely a year or two ago. This was usually related more to where we lived/family practices rather than popculture related, but it still counts. It really pissed my Dad off...y'know, that whole "I'm working my ass off trying to make a good life for my family and they don't appreciate it" Dad situation. I feel pretty bad about it now, but kids are assholes, so whatttayagonnado.
Today was a beautiful and summery memorial day and thus my plans of getting stuff done around the casa were interrupted by the need to ENJOY the outside of said casa. My bff and companion provided that enjoyment in the promise of a non-3rdwheely jaunt a few towns over to visit a used book store. How could I say no to a nice car ride through the country? At the book store I picked up a copy of this book called "My First Time: a collection of first punk rock show stories." Normally I don't think I would have gone for such a thing, but I've been reading like a maniac lately and I dunno, I'm a sucker for punk rock anecdotes. And so far it seems that this book is devoid of Warped Tour bullshit or whatever. At my age I'm beyond yelling "poser" or "sellout" at mallpunks, but I still don't like that shit. Yeah, I'm getting older, 33 this year and I haven't given up on this punk rock thing. As far as "scene involvement" is concerned I've been much more entrenched in the world of improv and noise for the past 12 or so years, but I'm still an avid listener of mostly older bands. So who cares, right? The reason why I'm writing this is because from the couple of contributions to this book that I've read so far drip with a barely masked nostalgia. I suppose it's fine for anecdotal writing to be like that, I just hope that's not what people think of me, what I write or say. Whatevs.
I'm thinking today was a day I might be nostalgic for in the future...that's why I mention the beautiful day and road trip. How is that I keep having awesome times that don't involve the birth of a child or a wedding? Aren't those the only wicked awesome days that 32 year olds are supposed to have? I guess it's that whole suspended adolescence thing. The problem is that I don't have my childlike awe and adolescent passion in full effect, I guess that's the hitch.
I struggle with all this stuff, constantly, as I'm a guy who is constantly engaged with the products of the past. I don't think I'm a nostalgic person in the least, but I will freely admit that I have that dinosaur/fossil/living in the past thing. To me, newer shit doesn't really seem to exist so much, but older things are breathing life. I wouldn't say it's a case of hindsight being 20/20, rather the rippling effect on history (no matter how small) that makes older things so resonate. Also, stuff fucking sucks now.
My life is immersed in a number of subjects/objects that one wouldn't say were contemporary, and I'm fine with it; reading about old bands I had never heard of, watching old, shitty, forgotten cartoons, listening to the albums of one hit wonder pop-rap groups...I don't think it's weird. I feel okay about my fossil lifestyle since I don't pine too much. Sure, I wish I could go to a Black Flag show in 1986, or see I Drink Your Blood in a drive-in in the early 70s, but it doesn't hurt too much. When I was a teenager, I would pine like crazy for a day in 1985 when I got to see The Goonies in the movie theater with my friend Baron and his mom and then go to a beautiful beach afterward with Steve Perry on the radio and the GI Joe Hovercraft in our clutches. For a number of reasons it was one of the best days of my life, but christ almighty, I'm having a fucking good time now! I don't want 1985 back! This all seems quite normal to me (even for an "historian" such as myself), but I guess I thought that as I got older things would get worse, losing my youth, and becoming further disconnected with the culture of modern youngins. And yes, people I know well, and not so well assume that nostalgia is my stock in trade. I get why this is. The evidence is all in my tumblr? But I'm a sensible guy! Generally any thought about how stuff was better in the past is countered with a thought about how things are better now. And that's the best way to think about things if you aren't gonna go insane. Cuz, uh, most stuff sucks now.
I remember seeing The Goonies at a midnight show 7 years ago and having a major sea change on my thoughts on this stuff. I was psyched, seeing one of my childhood favorites in a fun and rowdy atmosphere and then the movie started. When the scene of the Goonies biking down the hills while Cyndi Laupers' "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" plays, IT suddenly hit me! IT being the most obvious yet hard to stomach fact in all of life. IT hit me that I was never going to be a kid again! I was never going to be what I was seeing on the screen again. IT was heavy...I was in near tears, bittersweet tears, but still. Awe is hard to come by, am I silly in still trying for it, still battling the crusties? I support myself and live in a nice house and have that sort of adult shit together, so who cares if I.....y'know, why am I even writing this? The stigma of being an adult videogame player and/or cartoon watcher is at an all time low. I guess I just think those adults tend to gloss old shit with sugar coating and forget what's really interesting about the past and "stuff" from said past. What makes it interesting is that at any given time a world of crap and gold lived side by side and intersecting...a lot of it remembered, a lot forgotten. It's even happening right now, except that most stuff sucks now.

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