You can get a discussion together about a decade that began twenty years ago.

Note: This is a new format for us, but hopefully it will be more accurate to the discussions that we all have off line. We hope you like it.

Recently, my wife found an oldies station that plays her kind of music–Nineties Pop Mix. And of course this is another way you know you’re old. But the Nineties seem to be experiencing a revisitation. And given this, we decided to discuss our memories of this wonderful decade. So get out that old flannel shirt and grab a Clearly Canadian as the Basiks present: The Nineties.

Wheat: What about the 90s do you miss?

Water: Other than my reflexes and leaping ability?

One thing I miss is a sense of shared culture. Whether you loved or hated Alanis Morrissette, Michael Jordan, Boyz II Men, Independence Day, Pearl Jam, or Titanic, everyone knew about them and had some reaction or experience with those things. They were touchstones, and you could start a conversation with most anyone by remembering the first time you saw the video to “Jeremy” or saw Mike Tyson bite Evander Holyfield’s ear or whatever.

Now everything is fractured. I think this is good in a lot of ways. If you are really into Norweigian Post-Goth Bebop, there’s probably a website or chat forum where you can interact with your fellow oddballs and find the music you love and be happy. But, aside from Charlie Sheen going crazy or Momar Ghadafi staying crazy, there isn’t a whole lot that all of us are watching or following.

Duh, Ganando

That, and Timberlake boots.

Wheat: I was always more of a fan of Doc Marten’s myself.

But I think you make a great point. We are so segmented in today’s culture that there is actually little created that is great. Our consuming desire is that consumption of what is new, and there is a ton to be pursued. But like any buffet when the choices are overwhelming, the product is underwhelming.

There is no small irony that our interconnectedness undermines our ability to share actual cultural experiences. Everyone has an equal opinion. This is the same basic tenet of post-modernism as displayed in our society at large. I still believe there is value worth sharing, but in the nineties it seemed easier to find.

Leaven: It seemed like the 90’s was the last decade of strong reinterpretation of another decade. Grunge band’s like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were reinterpreting and emulating the sounds of Rock Gods like Led Zepplin and the like, and other fun bands like Brad were tilting the hat to Jefferson Airplane. The leisurely pace to have one decade reinvent another is long gone. Today technology and more generally speaking interconnectedness is has bands like GirlTalk smashing all sorts of songs together, and Momar Ghadafi’s crazy rants become the latest remix dance hit “Zenga Zenga Song”. No really, look it up.

This has the negative aspect of creating sub-cultures so small and diverse, that it diminishes our number of cultural reference points, but this new level of interconnectedness also has the power to democratize (the equal standing that Wheat spoke to) and get 99% of the people (particles of light) on the same wavelength, creating a laser sharp focus. Just ask Ghadafi.

As for me I miss Michael Penn. Maybe he’s just looking for someone to pants-off dance-off, mashed-up, mega-mix with.

Wheat: When I read Michael Penn, I thought you meant Chris Penn (the fat one). I was confused. Is this love a bastardized holdover of INXS? They seem similar to me.

So, will the 90s be the last decade that has the same kind of shared understanding as previous ones? How much of our perception of it is because it was during our most formative years?

Water: I’ve been wondering about that. I have very fond memories of the 90’s and think they were pretty much the best, and I think the 80’s, and, to a lesser extent, the 70’s, were largely ridiculous. But I’m sure a large part of this is “growing up” in the 90’s (though, being oldish as I am, a large part of my childhood was in the 80’s. Larger than you infants, anyway.) I remember arguing that 1994 was the greatest year in recording music history since 1969. I can see now how absurd that was (my defense of Bush’s Sixteen Stone as a classic album is particularly troubling), but, that was our music! Of course it was the best!

I think kids these days probably have more shared experiences than their parents do. Pokemon, Hannah Montana, and Justin Bieber seem to have a pretty universal appeal. As those kids grown into adolescent, I’m sure their common interests begin to fracture some, but probably not so much this generation of kids won’t have some sort of shared language of experiences. Granted, they will only be able to discuss that language through texts and chat rooms, but that’s a separate issue.


Wheat: Yeah I,

Water: And another thing.

One thing I miss about the 90’s is enjoying things. Let me try to ‘splain myself.

Though I love the interwebs (no duh), there’s a phenomenon that has arisen, or at least become pervasive, in the last few years that I don’t love so much. Let’s take Ted Williams as an example. Not the hall of fame ballplayer, but the erstwhile homeless radio-voice guy. It seems like that whole story or “meme” or whatever it was went from, “hey, this is kind of neat,” to “these people are exploiting this homeless man and we should treat all homeless people with dignity and respect whether or not they have a golden pipe” to “he’s a deadbeat dad and terrible person. I knew it was too good to be true” in about, what 30 seconds? Meanwhile, about 100 youtube mashups about him had been posted, reporters were trying to find other homeless people with remarkable “talents” and, I don’t know, he’d probably been hired on as a contestant on Celebrity Rehab 18 along with the double rainbow guy.*

*I’m assuming all of this last stuff based on the history of the Internet and the human race. Some or all of it could be erroneous. But you get the idea.

The whole thing is just exhausting. It seems like there’s this terrible need to be ahead of the curve on everything, so you have to debunk the latest thing before it’s properly bunked. And we’re left stuck in an endless, recursive, cycle of cynicism. And it sucks.

I don’t know if this makes any sense. Here is a better explanation: I DECLARE AN END TO FAKE

I remember 100 years ago in the 90’s when I first heard Siamese Dream, and it was the best and most amazing thing that had ever happened in my ears and I could just lay back and drift away on a tide of aural splendor that I enjoyed without reservation or irony. But that doesn’t seem to happen any more. And I miss that.

So, yeah, I miss enjoying things.

Thus ends part one. Stay tuned to see if:

  1. These losers will ever stop living in the past
  2. Water will continue to interrupt even in a written form
  3. Leaven will rise from his slumber
  4. We will all move to Portland