Monday, December 28, 2009

Stonekettle Station Looks Back At The Last Decade(s)

It seems that as the first decade of the shiny and futuristic 21st Century draws to a close, we should stop flitting about in our jetpacks for a moment and take a look back – just so we don’t make the same stupid mistakes again.

Now, the first decade I remember was the 1960’s:

I was raised in a fairly straight-laced, conservative 1960’s household. My parents were not, by any stretch of the imagination, hippies. I do think they were a whole lot more liberal back then than they are now, this was twenty years before Reagan and all Conservatives were a hell of a lot further left than they are now. But, they did generally support the war in Southeast Asia and they voted for Nixon. We drove a variety of station wagons and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a VW microbus. We listened to Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell and Hank Williams Sr. We didn’t listen to Rock and Roll and the only hippy folk music we ever heard was the John Denver Christmas Special. We watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and the Wonderful World of Disney while eating dinner on TV trays in the living room on Sunday nights – which was sometimes actual TV dinners, but was usually open-faced sandwich melts on leftover hamburger buns with potato chips. My brother and I had brush cuts and so did my dad, my mom had some kind of bouffant thing going on like a pan of Jiffy Pop Popcorn glued to her head. I don’t think anything in our house was tie-dyed or had a peace symbol on it. Things elsewhere in other far out households might have been groovy, but not in our house - in our house things were A-OK and non-hemp derived. During the 1960’s terrorists were called freedom fighters, they came from Ireland and they were invited to the US where they gave interviews in Boston pubs and lectures at Notre Dame.

The first new decade I remember was the 1970’s:

1970. Man, that seemed so futuristic to say. 1970. Wow (or, as we used to say, I’m Hip). 1970 seemed so, I don’t know, different. New. Weird. I remember watching the ball drop on TV and the screen flashing “Live Via Satellite.” Hell yes, in the 1970’s we got color TV - from outer space. Unfortunately, we also got something else from outer space. See, in 1970, as I’m sure you all know from your interactive direct neural interface Internet history websites, astronauts returned from the moon and brought with them an alien disease that caused everybody everywhere in the world to go totally colorblind.


A horrifying side effect of this disease, besides the mixing of paisley and plaid I mean, was the advent of strange unnatural colors such as Harvest Gold and “Avocado.” Also, something called “elephant bells” replaced our blue jeans, we all looked like we had hoop skirts tied to our knees. Suddenly our house had shag carpeting, it just sort of grew overnight like mutant grass covering the good wholesome American linoleum like hippies filling the sidewalk outside a VD clinic and just about as hygienic – it probably spawned from spores deposited in crumbs from Space Sticks and fueled by Tang. My parents became, if anything, more conservative, but mom did buy a tin of something called carob power, supposedly a new age replacement for cocoa. That revolting hippy shit lasted for nearly ten years and defined the 70’s for me – no wonder health nuts always look so damned miserable. Terrorists in the 70’s didn’t blow up planes, they hijacked them, usually to Cuba – which is odd when you consider that most people were trying to get the fuck out of Cuba. Girls’ hair got bigger, a lot bigger the closer we moved towards the futuristic 80’s (or as we would say decades later in the shiny 21st century, woman became embiggened purveyors of emboldened fashionism). A side effect of the alien moon space virus was that it killed all the barbers, and as a result we men had to let our hair grow long and get it “shaped” by stylists, and stylists of course didn’t actually cut hair – they feathered it, and then sprayed it with some kind of shellac that hardened into a bulletproof shell similar to Darth Vadar’s helmet. People laugh at the funny haircuts sported by the cast of Star Wars, but we all looked like that in the 70’s. That wasn’t an act, that was Mark Hamill’s real hair. Of course, nobody died from head wounds during that decade, though a number of eyes were put out by teenagers trying to get to first base. About halfway through the 70’s the alien moon space virus mutated into a worldwide pandemic and, combined with new and powerful recreational drugs, became one of the most horrifying diseases ever recorded in human history: Disco. Think I’m kidding? How then do you explain this? Those of us who survived built up disco antibodies which nowadays cause us to cramp uncontrollably at the mere sight of John Travolta and suffer a lingering and persistent cough when in the presence of polyester. The other day I accidently heard an Olivia Newton John song on my XM Satellite Internet Hyperspace Radio Modulator and broke out in hives the size of a 1970’s TV remote control clicker. Fortunately the next song was ABBA’s Does Your Mother Know? and my reflexive involuntary projectile vomiting shorted out the radio before my throat closed up and I drove off the road into a bridge abutment – on purpose.

Suddenly it was the 1980’s:

Things stopped being hip in the 1980’s and became Radical. Terrorists lived in Beirut, we were supposed to be living on the moon. Everybody knew it, but, of course, with the alien moon space virus up there the danger was just too great. People were starting to be able to see color again and they were waking up to the polychromatic horror of the previous decade. Avocado green porcelain bathroom fixtures overflowed the landfills in the North and front yards in the South, and God only knows what would happen if we were exposed a second time – people might have voted a washed up Hollywood movie star into the White House or something. Just say no to that. Weird skinny people with weird skinny ties and weird names like Frankie Goes to Hollywood took over the music industry and did their absolute damnedest to make us nostalgic for Disco, and it was obvious that the alien space moon virus had caused irreparable mental damage in a certain percentage of the population – well that and ten years of boiling hot air from the blow-dryers baking their brains every morning. Our TV stopped coming from outer space and started coming from out of a cable. I was living in Europe and Scandinavia during most of the 80’s and frankly I just sort of bypassed most of that decade in the United States, but I’ve seen the pictures and can’t say that I feel like I missed anything.

Then the 1990’s were upon us:

In the 90’s terrorists worked for the CIA and despite meeting the love of my life and the birth of my son I shall always loathe this decade with a deep and abiding hatred. I blame this entirely on Bill Clinton, who’s antics inspired my mother to use the word “blowjob” correctly in a sentence. Out loud. In my presence. I will never forgive the 1990’s for that, and have basically blocked out the entire decade like the missing time after an alien abduction. Let us never mention this again.

And finally we arrived here in the future, the bright and shiny 21st Century:

I’m sitting here watching TV coming to me via WiFi in a window on my tablet, there’s a talking head blathering on about how great the last ten years have been. Woot! And it hits me that the first tenth of this Brave New Century is nearly over and seriously folks, what the hell do we call it? The Null Decade? 00? O.o? The Big OO’s? The OhOh’s? The Ought Oughts? What the hell are we supposed to do with that? After nearly a decade of George W. Bush maybe we should call it the Uh Oh Decade. OO looks like the eyes on a Middle Eastern terrorist who tried to bring down a jetliner by lighting his balls on fire – and seriously what the fuck is the deal with that guy? He could have gotten his balls blown off in Detroit for free, without being arrested. And speaking of surprised expressions, maybe we should call this the Botox decade. During the 00’s it somehow became fashionable to believe disease can be prevented by flushing your colon out with herbal tea and an extract made from Jenny McCarthy’s watery brain tissue in order to remove “toxins” from your “system.” Garlic and Vinegar apparently now cure everything from cancer to cockeyes because such JuJu “alternative” medicine is “organic” and “natural,” unlike the “poisons” distributed by Big Pharma. However, these same chowderheads will choke down unregulated “herbal” supplements made in some ex-hippy’s bathtub out of grass clippings and dried cow dung, they’ll swill designer “electrolyte enhanced” water that purports to come from some mountain stream and in reality is bottled in that same dirty hippy’s bathtub after being filtered through a gym sock leftover from the 70’s, while having botulism toxin injected directly into their faces. OO describes their unblinking masklike stare perfectly Of course having rat poison pumped into your face is only the latest thing in America’s quest for eternal youth. Why, here in the future, there are places were you can get the fat sucked out of your butt checks and injected directly into your lips. Hell, if you’ve got enough money you can get a famous person’s ass blubber injected into your lips – they sure didn’t see that coming back there in the 60’s did they? We don’t have colonies on the moon, or jet packs, or immortality here in the future, but we’ve got designer ass fat. Makes you proud, doesn’t it? During the OO’s Americans spent over a hundred trillion dollars on fad diets and exercise and personal trainers and dubious health products – and yet we are still the laziest bastards in the world. We are so damned lazy, in fact, that we need a robot to hand us a paper towel. Back there in the 60’s the futurists predicted that in the new century robots would take over all the mundane labor and we human would become great big giant heads sitting on top of little atrophied bodies. We’d spend all day thinking with our huge fucking brains. Close, it’s big giant stomachs under little atrophied heads that spend all day playing video games, but hey they got the robot part right. Half the world squats in the middle of the muddy street to shit, but walk into a public restroom here in the US and the toilets flush by themselves, facets turn on automatically, the soap squirter has more processing power than a NASA Mars lander (seriously, the soap dispenser doesn’t routinely crash into other planets), and the towel dispenser automatically calculates the square footage of napkin surface necessary to dry your hands – it’s like taking a dump at Bill Gates’ house. What’s next, the automatic ass wiper? Oh, wait, the future is now! Our TV’s have become wireless and get 10,000 channels of internet, which is pretty damned cool indeed until you realize that most people use it to watch reruns of That 70’s Show – a simpler time when men wiped their own damned asses.

By hand.


Up hill both ways.

In the snow.

And they liked it.

They say those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Jim hasn’t forgotten the past, he just remembers it wrong on purpose - that way if he has to repeat it, at least it’ll be more fun. Right now he’s remembering that he had a six foot tall supermodel nymphomaniac for a girlfriend in high school, then he intends to forget that…


  1. One thing: If you watched the ABBA video and left giggling hysterically but slightly confused and with a pending migraine - it's OK, stare at the horizon until your equilibrium returns. It's because you're used to modern CGI videos - in those days, lip syncing was still in its infancy and people didn't realize that you actually had to move your lips with the pre-recorded sounds. Also, they all apparently had chronic hemorrhoids, nothing else can explain the "dancing," not even their extreme Scandinavian whiteness.

  2. Jim, about the seventies.

    My 70's included Cheech & Chong, SNL (seasons 1 through 4), Heart's first two albums, and Valerie Perrine & Bill Bixby in Steambath. Also Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. Just as the decade closed, we had Animal House.

    I'm not saying that decade rocked but we managed to have some good times, right? Okay, there was that little dustup in Munich; that wasn't so great. And that whole Iranian invasion of our sovereign territory thingee that prepped us for Reagan's eighties. But the rest was okay.

    Even Disco had its place, which I didn't admit then but can admit now. After all, it got us ready for Patrick Swayze's Dirty Dancing.

    And hot pants? Do I have to remind you about hot pants? Tsk, tsk.

    Is is possible you did the 70's wrong?

    hiteduc = short for high tech education. Or, I got nothin'.

  3. NICK, we specifically isolated Jim in alska to keep him from knowing certian things, shhhhh before he hears you.

  4. I remember that space sticks commercial. I remember thinking, "Hey, that astronaut has a hole in the front of his helmet. How stupid is that?"

    And I'd give you some of my 70's memories, but I was stoned and I don't really remember them very clearly. If you do have to go back and relive them, I highly recommend it as a life-strategy!

    noness = any of the other letters in the alphabet. Often an applicable descriptor, yet rarely specific enough to be useful.

  5. Ha! I used to think that same thing, Nathan. That helmet has a hole in the visor! The astronaut is going to get sucked right the hell out through his helmet like a pasta maker! Astronaut spaghetti!

    You ever eat Space Sticks? I think they eventual evolved into MREs.

  6. Avocado - ghaaahh! Damnit, now I'm color blind again. Thanks, Jim.

    And Nick, hot pants? Really? I have a word for you, camel-toe. Yeah, now try and get that out of your head. With Jim's post on the Jackson portrait the country is in short supply of brain bleach.

    vishment - raiment with at least four arms

  7. My captcha is "inkini". No kidding. Which brings up the greatest cultural contribution of the 60's: the popularization of the bikini (invented by the French, God bless them, in 1947 as a reaction to being occupied by the Germans).

    I clicked on the "Disco Duck" link. Now, I'll admit to be a slow learner (really slow), but I think the disclaimer needs to be updated to read "Warning: Toxic links. Do not click on any of them". I should have known after clicking on the Michael Jackson "I Love Myself" link that Jim is trying to reduce the number of readers, but "Disco Duck" sounded so innocent. It is not and neither is Jim.

    inkini: A small amount of ink used to cover a large indiscretion.

  8. I remember the '80s as being a miserable, fearful decade--I was a depressed teenager who was convinced we weren't going to make it through the decade because somebody was going to accidentally launch a nuke (or we'd have some Strangelove or Wargames scenario), and that would be all she wrote.

    Imagine my pleasant surprise that we're not all dead yet.

    I refuse to knock any decade's music. The '70s? Produced Dark Side Of The Moon and Born To Run. The '80s? Purple Rain, The River, The Joshua Tree. I could go on, but those decades get knocked the hardest because the crazes of those decades got so wretched. But even there you can find nuggets--as bad as disco was in toto, I dare anyone not to shake their ass in the presence of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack; the problem with disco, as with many musical styles, is (1) commercial success prompted subpar imitation (even from artists who should have known better--The Rolling Stones?! Mick, Keith, no...) and (2) commercial success prompted media saturation, until even the good stuff couldn't be appreciated anymore because everyone was so damn sick of it all.

    Anyway, great post, Jim.

    rasplogy: theskkkuh-hhhhuh collectedskkkuh-hhhhuh writingsskkkuh-hhhhuh of Darthskkkuh-hhhhuh Vaderskkkuh-hhhhuh.

  9. Steve,

    Yes, hot pants. And Nair. Two great things that go great together.

    "Who wears short shorts?"

    BTW, I'm pretty sure that "camel toe" is fairly new to the slang scene. I tried to find out where and how it originated, and got some vague links to the Middle East. But OED doesn't have its etymology, and thus the word does not exist -- officially.

    pucking -- testing the degree of one's stress and tenseness by inserting a hockey puck into the anterior orifice. If it fits easily, then the subject is considered to be very relaxed. (I tried to stay away from the obvious on this one .... )

  10. Confessions from the '80's: I loved big hair. LOVED IT. Loved big hair bands, loved big hair on ME. I'd still be wearing big hair if it didn't attract the mulletted Trans Am crowd.

    ristap = the device used to pry out the seven pounds of hairspray required to maintain big hair's "wall-o-bangs."

  11. Also, Bobby Brady. Mike Lookinland.

    His Wikipedia bio says he graduated from Chadwick in 1978. Maybe. But before then, he spent part of a semester at my high school.

    In the 70's.

    baywreb -- A new TV show, kind of Baywatch meets Dukes of Hazzard. Think Pam Anderson driving the General Lee.


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