Re: Guest Post - what were the nineties?

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Fundamentally, pop culture hasn't changed at all since the '90s. The '60s and '70s, pop culture changed all the time, but it's been pretty static since then.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:24 AM
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I am trollproof.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:27 AM
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Anyhow, OK Soda, Wonderwall, Wired: boom, done.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:29 AM
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For me the 90s are defined by relentless hype about the promise of the Internet, and people getting crazy rich off idiotic ideas like contentville.com and napster. Also tramp stamps and especially people complaining that they got tattoos before it was popular and everybody did it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:30 AM
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Nobody actually got rich off of napster. The napster guys are now rich, but mostly because of other things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:31 AM
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I wear Doc Martins now, but they are brown.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:31 AM
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It could be that the 90s were the ascendance of irony and meta, so they don't seem to really be about anything. Alternatively, the internet started to take off mid-decade, so the decade was mostly late 80s transitions to early aughts.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:32 AM
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I fucking owned the '90s. I was good at that decade.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:33 AM
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I think there's a fairly coherent narrative to the 90s from a British (or maybe I should play safe and just say English) perspective. It's not necessarily a true or representative narrative, but it's consistent and widely repeated:

End of the cold war/decline of the Tories - they didn't get kicked out until 97 but were basically lame ducks from 1993 on. Counterpoint that with Britpop, Euro 96 and the Cool Britannia nonsense.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:34 AM
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Oh, and is there an easy way to save that Thomas Frank article to Instapaper/Pocket?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:35 AM
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The '00s are the difficult-to-pin-down decade for me. I mean, in terms of politics, they are very clearly defined, but in terms of pop culture? I draw a blank.

Fundamentally, pop culture hasn't changed at all since the '90s.

Yeah, I suppose if I were forced to attempt to define the '00s, I'd say they were like the '90s, but less so.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:38 AM
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Hip hop.


Posted by: Morbid Curiousity | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:39 AM
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To me the 90's were about the "End of History," a brief and retrospectively naive belief that every day in every way things were going to get better and better.

Then they didn't.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:39 AM
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I think part of the problem is that the 90s are bisected by the arrival of mass awareness of the internet. The 90s of Reality Bites and Slacker are pretty distinct from the 90s of the dot com boom.

I personally identify the "90s" as stretching from 92 (graduated from college) to somewhere in the middle of 98 (in the middle of my first postdoc). I kind of associate the arrival of the Spice Girls with the end of what I think of as the canonical 90s. They seemed to me to inaugurate a new era, pop culture wise.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:41 AM
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Militias and associated wackiness coming to the fore were also a 90's thing. Ruby ridge, Waco, the Murrah Building bombing, all that shit.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:43 AM
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I find myself thinking grunge is the key to the apparent blandness of the '90s-- that what we look at to caricature a decade is visual youth culture and fashion and the music/politics/entertainment that went with it. For white kids, grunge fashion was drab enough that it's hard to caricature, and there wasn't much politics -- sensible people weren't excited about the Clinton-stalking, but they also weren't engaged in opposing it because he was kind of awful. The only really energetic politics on the youthful left was gay rights. Black kids, hip-hop/rap fashion was also a drabber, less wacky version of the ridiculous 80s.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:45 AM
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Yeah, I suppose if I were forced to attempt to define the '00s, I'd say they were like the '90s, but less so.

I guess for me, they were when I felt as if my being interested in politics mattered, in a way that had me wound up to the point of nausea. My kids watched that Jon Stewart on Crossfire clip from '04 recently, and I felt like I was having a flashback watching it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:47 AM
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Also, a lot of the imagery that is now commonly associated with hipsters first became common in the 90s. The goatee'd Pabst Blue Ribbon drinking "ironically" wearing blue collar clothes guy was originally a 90s stereotype, but is, I think, no longer specifically associated with that era.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:49 AM
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Fundamentally, pop culture hasn't changed at all since the '90s.

Really? I'd strongly disagree. I'd agree that specific strands of pop culture (eg rock music) have remained less changed than in previous decades, but the overall structure of pop culture has changed dramatically.

TV has gone from a linear (to use Emily Bell's phrase) mostly-as-it-happens mass market medium to a time-shifted, hyper-fragmented, long tail form of content, more like music, and is on its way to being replaced or at least out-relevanted by Youtube and to a lesser extent Twitch.

It's a cliche, of course, but the internet really has changed everything for pop culture.

Interested in a band? Search for them on Spotify or Youtube and there you go. You don't have to hope that they get played on the radio or find a record store with their obscure singles.

Comedians are now at least as prolific on Twitter as they are on stage or screen.

Memes. You had pop-culture fads before, of course, but now you have entire cultural eco-systems developing round them.



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:50 AM
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My personally experienced '90s (well, second half of the '90s) music and culture is completely dominated by dance music, which was anything but drab in its various signifiers. Also I think during that decade I kept finding myself near the center of subcultures that seemed like exactly what I had dreamed might exist when I was a kid. It was heady as fuck at the time, but seems sort of dated and getoffmylawnish to even talk about now, which makes me think I'm working with real generational signifiers.

Anyhow, you kids with your hackerspaces. We invented that shit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:50 AM
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19: I was trolling, you nut.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:53 AM
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Also, Goth. While it's been around since the late 70s, I think Goth enjoyed it's highest point of mainstream visibility during the 90s.

I think of the 90s as the high point of rave culture, but probably just because that's the era when I would occasionally actually go to one.

Additionally, I think any version of That 90s Show would have include Winona Ryder somehow or other.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:59 AM
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The 90s? The Yellow Book; Dorian Grey; The baccarat scandal; green carnations; Liane de Pougy...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:03 AM
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19: I was trolling, you nut.

D'oh. I'd forgotten about that fashion thread.

Also, Goth. While it's been around since the late 70s, I think Goth enjoyed it's highest point of mainstream visibility during the 90s.

Again, probably not for the UK, which I think peaked earlier. Admittedly I wasn't personally part of the subculture, but I think it was biggest in the mid to late 80s here with Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, The Mission, The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees etc.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:18 AM
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Trolling or no, 1 isn't really that wrong, I don't think. Or, it's wrong in the sense that huge non-pop-cultural things have changed* [part of what 19 is getting at], but the current trends in music, movies, and TV were somewhat ossified around then. I think the form of much of what we think of as classically 00s TV, for example, was largely set in the 90s. Same thing for music.

* which in turn will have some impact that's playing out McLuhan stylee.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:20 AM
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re: 24.last

Same with grunge, with I think of as a late 80s or very early 90s thing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:21 AM
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current trends in music, movies, and TV were somewhat ossified around then

Then again, maybe that's always the case. I've been making a mix [for Unfogged, no less] and have been listening to quite a bit of very early 80s music emerging out of disco, and new wave [ZE Records stuff, and similar] and it's striking how much of it could be, with the slightest of remixing, 90s or even current dance music.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:25 AM
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I went to goth clubs in the early-mid '90s but I definitely think of goth as a late '80s thing that kinda held on. Rave and/or electronic music probably legitimately peaked five or six years earlier in the UK, but still in the '90s, I'd think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:29 AM
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I think the form of much of what we think of as classically 00s TV, for example, was largely set in the 90s

Care to elaborate on that? I'm not sure I'd agree, though perhaps some of it had been set in motion by the late 90s with DVD box sets etc. IMDB tells me the Sopranos started in 1999. I don't think the "ossification" really happened until the early to mid noughties.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:31 AM
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I still wear the same clothes as I did in the late 90s, therefore fashion hasn't changed since the late 90s.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:31 AM
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Back in the 90s, people would say things like 'except for the Supreme Court, it doesn't matter which party wins elections' and I'd say things like 'other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:34 AM
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I think it was Ben Is Dead -- zines briefly making their way into popular consciousness: totally '90s! -- that described goth as taking hold in LA the way Nashville country music did in Texas. It's music from another time that never went away.

|| Also, John Roberts is totally a neutral Constitutional umpire calling balls and strikes, you guys. |>


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:34 AM
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Zines were hella '90s yeah. Man, I need to tell my okay soda story. In a minute, when I'm back at a real keyboard!

Zima: signifier?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:36 AM
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31: Right, the '90s were when the Supreme Court only sucked a little bit.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:37 AM
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re: 28

I had some friends who were very early adopters on the rave scene. I've talked before about that odd confluence for a while among my friends who were bikers and metal heads, and the rave scene. Because the bikers and metal guys could get drugs, they were making slightly odd connections to the rave scene. So the first people I know who were listening to explicitly 'balearic' music, and who were going out to Ibiza, were bikers who had picked up on, and liked, the more chilled out house and similar stuff that was drifting into the UK in 88. So I was certainly aware of something around about the same time the first records were appearing in the UK charts.

By the time I was at university in 92, dance music was completely main stream. So I think of the big boom as 89-91, after which dance music is essentially just pop music. After 91-92, unless you specifically sought out specialist non-dance clubs,* if you went out, dance music was what you were going to hear.

So I don't think I'd date the dance music boom to the mid 90s. It was long since the 'default' by that time.

* i.e. were going to funk or rare-groove nights; metal clubs; Latin, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:37 AM
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I've been making a mix [for Unfogged, no less] and have been listening to quite a bit of very early 80s music emerging out of disco, and new wave [ZE Records stuff, and similar] and it's striking how much of it could be, with the slightest of remixing, 90s or even current dance music.

To be fair, there was a very self-conscious 80s synth/electro-pop revival a few years back with the likes of La Roux, Ladyhawke and others, so it's not that surprising.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:39 AM
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re: 29

I guess I'm thinking of things like 'Homicide', and (to a lesser extent) 'NYPD Blue' and the like. Even lighter stuff like Ally MacBeal. I think the Sopranos, and then the Wire, and similar shows, emerge out of a tradition that I associate with the mid to late 90s.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:39 AM
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re: 36

Yeah, but not just with reference to explicitly retro-acts like that. I was thinking even of how much some of the early 80s stuff sounds like G-Funk,* or like Daft Punk.

* explicitly so in the case of Roger/Zapp.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:41 AM
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I think Daft Punk are an explicitly retro act in some sense (maybe not as slavishly as La Roux). I mean, their latest album has a track called Giorgio by Moroder.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:50 AM
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Weren't the 90s the big era for Britpop in the UK?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:51 AM
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Daft Punk also do a lot of sampling of stuff from the late '70s/early '80s (and the father of one or the other of them was a semi-famous disco producer).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:52 AM
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re: 41

Yeah, I know. But they aren't maybe as transparently retro as La Roux. [Pwned on preview by Ginger Yellow]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:55 AM
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re: 40

Yes, and most [but not all] British guitar bands haven't really escaped the shadow of that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:55 AM
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9 to 40.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:55 AM
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Rather than the visible manifestations of culture, what about the mores and values from the 90s that are dated?

As a 90s kid I believe that coolness is directly proportional to obscurity. I'm not sure that's any longer the case, now that access to music is largely democratized.

I also think my generation had greater respect for women and women's rights, though there might be a bit of selective memory and get-off-my-lawn going on here.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:57 AM
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9 to 40.

That was over 30 comments ago, I'm supposed to remember that?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:58 AM
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Tony Blair as nice internationalist boy scout, instead of Tony Blair as evil imperial adventurist.

New Labour. Things Can Only Get Better.

Fat Boy Slim. Michael Portillo. Trainspotting.

There's at least a hot tub's worth of time machine stuff here if not quite the full Woodstock. Thank god.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:05 AM
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As a 90s kid I believe that coolness is directly proportional to obscurity. I'm not sure that's any longer the case, now that access to music is largely democratized.

Maybe not obscurity of access, but you still have to know what to look for. Those trails are easier to follow when you have access to MP3 blogs and Spotify, but you still have to want to follow them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:08 AM
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I quite enjoyed this piece on how laughable the concept of obscurity is these days. (And yet rfts can't find a digital copy of Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre's "Waiting in the Car".)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:21 AM
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Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice video (the Spike Jonze one with Christopher Walken in a hotel lobby): 90s or aughties sensibility? Chronologically 2001.

I was in grad school through most of the 90s, basically not paying attention to pop culture. Grunge I guess? Flannel shirts in public for people who weren't complete schlubs. Cell phones started showing up in ordinary life. The internet was AOL or blinking sites for lots of people who wouldn't otherwise use a computer, also maybe making airline reservations online started being normal? Racism ended in the US of course, except for that Rodney King stuff. ATMs-- when did those become a predominant way to interact with a bank?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:25 AM
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I have it on good authority that the play sucked.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:25 AM
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As a 90s kid I believe that coolness is directly proportional to obscurity.

This is a great marker, I think. Utterly incomprehensible to a 60s/70s kid.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:27 AM
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re: 49

Except, when he polls for media objects that are, in principle digitally reproducible, but are rare: I could 'name' many hundreds of thousands that are sitting in or near the building I'm in. He massively underestimates what percentage of the world's cultural archive has in fact been digitally reproduced.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:29 AM
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Utterly incomprehensible to a 60s/70s kid.

I think YOUR time is the only time that the coolest music and movies were also the biggest hits.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:29 AM
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ATMs-- when did those become a predominant way to interact with a bank?

1980s. Here, anyway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:30 AM
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re: 54

That is in fact ... not true. If you look at the actual charts for the 60s, they are full of shit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:30 AM
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If you look at the actual charts for the 60s, they are full of shit.

Surely were. But you didn't have to look hard for the good stuff. The first time I heard Hendrix he was playing "Hey Joe" on Top of the Pops. Introduced, I think, by Jimmy Savile.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:33 AM
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Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice video (the Spike Jonze one with Christopher Walken in a hotel lobby): 90s or aughties sensibility? Chronologically 2001.

Released April 2001. I usually sit these out for lack of knowledge, but I'm going to theorize a "true nineties" that runs from December 26, 1991 to September 10, 2001, and hope others can offer more evidence.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:34 AM
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And yet rfts can't find a digital copy of Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre's "Waiting in the Car"

But soon! Because the vinyl is coming to me and I will make it exist.

Also I see that our previous obscure cut that we did this for, Pinky's "Coconut Creme," is available as a .wav file online but, as far as I can tell, there's no live mp3 link or YouTube version.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:35 AM
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If you look at the singles charts for, say, 1968, it's full of the Cowsills and Hugo Montenegro and whatnot. But for album sales, this purports to be a simulation of what the album charts would have been, if there were album charts. That looks like some of the coolest music around.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:36 AM
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re: 57

I'd submit that that applied just as much throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I'm pushing back against the idea that there was really much difference in that sense. Most of what we think of as the really good stuff from the 80s, and 90s could also have been seen on Top of the Pops. Or if it couldn't, it was the kind of underground genre stuff that also largely wasn't on Top of the Pops in the 60s.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:37 AM
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What was the underground genre stuff during the Jimi Hendrix era that was cooler than Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin? Free jazz? The Holy Modal Rounders?

I'm actually curious about this because my impression is that the more obscure and trendy rock bands were never really considered BETTER than the biggest rock bands, they were just more relevant to certain local scenes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:39 AM
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The '90s are encapsulated by Jon Hamm's dating show hair.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:43 AM
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Following Hobsbawm, obvs.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:43 AM
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The 90s were all about Rob Liefeld.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:44 AM
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Of course there's always tons of crap. But really I don't think it's fair to call obscurity a cardinal cultural virtue of my youth.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:45 AM
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Yes, "Hamm" is really a shortening of "Hobsbawm".


Posted by: cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:45 AM
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I think I've noted in earlier threads how the nature of pop music snobbery has been changed by the disappearance of the physical aspect. Just being able to get your hands on a particularly obscure album or bootleg recording used to be a marker of coolness.

True for lots of other things as well, but it sees particularly pronounced with music.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:45 AM
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re: 62

The point being that, the things that might plausibly be pointed at as top records of the 80s and 90s that weren't also on Top of the Pops might be something fairly deep inside a particular sub-genre. So, lots of hip-hop and dance music on TotP in the 80s and 90s, but there'd plausibly be a lot of good acts who would be known to fans of those genres, but wouldn't be on the TV. Ditto with metal, or indie.

Same would apply in the late 60s. There'd be lots of soul or RnB on TotP, or bits of proto-reggae or ska, say, but there's lots of really good stuff that soul or RnB, or ska fans would like and really rate which never broke through to a mainstream audience.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that popular music TV tends to play stuff that's popular. And that the late 60s were no different to the late 80s in that respect.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:46 AM
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re: 68.1

Yeah, I first started getting into a lot of jazz and soul in the late 80s, when the only way to find things was to know people who knew stuff. Or to have a good record shop on your door-step.

But I'm not sure that democratisation of access has particularly democratised what people actually listen to.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:49 AM
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I've been trying to build a narrative that combines 13, 16, and maybe 47. There was no more evil empire, we had won, and we had shed the weird excesses of the 80's. rom here on, things were only going to get better in a Whig history sort of way, and our pop culture was relatively banal as we'd entered a time of happy normality. We could afford to be worried about a president's affairs. Both grunge fashion and the hypermasculine nu metal etc. were based around clothes that are only slight caricatures of what people still wear, and had worn before. (Obviously, a massive simplification, and I'm ignoring things like riot grrls and the WTO protests and the non-US/UK in general. But it's a narrative.)

The 00's were the oh-shit-we-were-wrong decade, and also when we really normalized the internet and connectivity. It felt like a more ironic decade, but I suspect that's just cohort effects and the recency illusion.

17: My kids watched that Jon Stewart on Crossfire clip from '04 recently

I can't believe that was ten years ago.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:49 AM
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The 00's were the oh-shit-we-were-wrong decade

It was?! I thought the 00s were "you would not believe how much more wrong we can get" decade.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:51 AM
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I'm sure I've mentioned this song before, but it's kind of a fun little tour of the mid-70s culture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hezQb0aVZv8&feature=kp


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:53 AM
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re: 60

Just been reading through the linked list, and looking at their methodological statement. It's bullshit.

I'd call some kind of serious shenanigans on the methodology of that chart if White Light, White Heat makes the list.

Really? A record that almost no-one bought or listened to at the time? There are other entries on the list that are similar. No way is that reflective of what people were buying. Maybe near the top of the list, yeah, but once you get further down their methodology is throwing up all kinds of records that we now think of as critically acclaimed, but which sold fuck-all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:57 AM
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I meant wrong about the eternal Pax Americana over an increasingly stabilizing, peaceful, unipolar, democratic world. Yes, it may have taken us a little while to get the point (there are multiple things wrong in that belief, after all).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 8:58 AM
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I think YOUR time is the only time that the coolest music and movies were also the biggest hits.

The coolest music in 1983 was Michael Jackson, who was also busy dominating the pop charts.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:04 AM
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OH! My OK Soda story! To help people, I will tag all the '90s signifiers. So, it was I think summer '93? Maybe? I was living in a house with ten of my friends ('90s SIGNIFIER) where we sat around and were slackers ('90s SIGNIFIER) and called our mode of dress "grub" because (as the older sister of one of my roommates said on seeing him in, I think, cutoff polyester slacks, black socks, and sneakers with holes in them) "wow, you've gone beyond grunge" (90s SIGNIFIER). Anyhow, one night my friends were doing their weekly overnight show at the college radio station (90s SIGNIFIER), where they played, like, weird old lounge records (90s SIGNIFIER) and rare groove (90s SIGNIFIER) and abstract underground hip hop (90s SIGNIFIER) and so on. They were wandering around the basement of the building the station was in at like 3AM when all of sudden, around a corner that had previously had nothing memorable around it, there was a soda machine, with a giant black and white underground comix (90s SIGNIFIER) illustration (that turned out to be by Daniel Clowes) with all this crazy church of the subgenius-y anti-marketing copy all over it. It was seriously like some demented genius of a soda marketer had been following us around and, for totally unknown reasons, developed a soda -- and soda marketing campaign -- SPECIFICALLY FOR US. It was mind-blowing.

On the other hand it was actually a terrible idea by the Coca-Cola company since 1. there weren't that many people who actually fell into that demographic and 2. none of us had any money at all. But at the time it was just one of the weirdest fucking experiences, let me tell you.

Anyhow turns out it was all a neocon plot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:05 AM
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74: the idea of an LP chart per se is inherently really biasing, right? Wasn't the vast majority of music buying at the time still singles?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:06 AM
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I probably forgot some "90s SIGNIFIER" tags in 77.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:07 AM
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re: 78

Yeah, but White Light, White Heat also sold almost no copies. So leaving aside the fact that album charts might bias more credible acts, or at least acts with a sustained career, I'd stil call bullshit on their methodology. It has the Jungle Book album below it, ffs. *I* knew about 5 people with that when I was a kid. It sold bucketloads.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:10 AM
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I'd also rather listen to the Jungle Book, tbh.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:19 AM
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I think part of the problem is that the 90s are bisected by the arrival of mass awareness of the internet. The 90s of Reality Bites and Slacker are pretty distinct from the 90s of the dot com boom.

This seems right to me.

Also I'd add Wayne's World (92) as an example of a quintessentially 90s aesthetic.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:21 AM
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I associate zines more with the 80's back when Mike Gunderloy was putting out Factsheet Five. Now get off my lawn.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:21 AM
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It has the Jungle Book album below it, ffs. *I* knew about 5 people with that when I was a kid. It sold bucketloads.

I remember having that record as a kid. I wasn't a cool enough 6 year old for White Light, White Heat.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:23 AM
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I'm actually curious about this because my impression is that the more obscure and trendy rock bands were never really considered BETTER than the biggest rock bands, they were just more relevant to certain local scenes.

True. Therefore there's no point me trying to tell you who was cool in whatever city you would have lived in if indeed you were alive. I used to catch these guys when I could. At one time I knew this woman quite well. So what? Nobody cares, not even me.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:27 AM
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Beavis and Butthead.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:30 AM
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I don't feel so old anymore.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:31 AM
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Same would apply in the late 60s. There'd be lots of soul or RnB on TotP, or bits of proto-reggae or ska, say, but there's lots of really good stuff that soul or RnB, or ska fans would like and really rate which never broke through to a mainstream audience.

Basically the entirety of the Northern Soul scene.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:37 AM
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I agree with 71-75. If I had to sum up the 90s in one word, it would be "trivial."

"Trivial" isn't as bad as it sounds. The "First World Problems" meme presupposes no big problems in your life. The Cold War ended relatively peacefully, and some of the exciting promises of computers were beginning to come true. People could afford to care about a "show about nothing," or political scandals over infidelity.

FWIW, I was a teen at the time in a small town with not too many friends, and I've never been all that much of a music buff, so what do I know. but what was my first thought on reading the OP and nothing in here really changed my mind.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:37 AM
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I'm not sure whether the internet is really what made the difference, but I certainly agree that there were 2, rather distinct '90s: the grungy, slacker early years that were dominated by a sort of weird amalgam of cynicism and idealism; and a late '90s that marked the rise of dudebro culture.

Most decades, of course, have more than one set of (potential) signifiers, but I think what makes the '90s weird is that the obvious signifiers were only relevant from '91 through '93, so you had the whole second half of the decade where grunge was dead, but there was no obviously signifying replacement - Fatboy Slim was not, culturally, a substitute for Kurt Cobain.

Or maybe a simpler way too overgeneralize here is: in 1992, it seemed like the '90s were going to be about Gen X, but by '98, it turned out to be about the fucking Millennials.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:47 AM
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Nothing's ever about us, is it. It's all right, we'll just sit here in the dark.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:50 AM
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77: Dude. Dude.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:50 AM
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I think what makes the '90s weird is that the obvious signifiers were only relevant from '91 through '93, so you had the whole second half of the decade where grunge was dead, but there was no obviously signifying replacement - Fatboy Slim was not, culturally, a substitute for Kurt Cobain.

Maybe Art Alexakis was.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:50 AM
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I remember during the 90s feeling this whole corny "this is my time" thing but yeah, I don't know what That 90s Show would be about. Maybe about sitting in the Fine Arts Library listening to Leontyne Price and eating at Taco Cabana at 1 am. That happened to all y'all, right? Not just me?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:51 AM
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And of course, the early 90s had the recession that prompted the emergence of slacker culture, while the latter half of the 90s had the irrational exuberance of the early internet age when everyone briefly believed they would get rich.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:52 AM
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||

My MIL has suddenly started to display all of this fear about the kids - she brought up Adam fucking Walsh the other day, for crying out loud. I suppose it's not a coincidence that this is happening just as the kids (now 6 and 10) start to go out into the world more - we sent Iris to the store* for something or other, and Kai spends all day riding around on bikes with this little group of friends from across the street - but it's never come up before. AB had the classic '70s childhood, largely unsupervised, so I never expected her mom to be uptight about these things, but she really is. Considering that it's an actual goal to get these kids to feel/be independent, having her scold them for e.g. walking down the block to the neighborhood parklet is really annoying.

*Whole Foods, of course, just a few blocks away, but crossing a couple biggish intersections

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:53 AM
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3 is pretty good (77 too) but still feels far less universally recognized than my boom-done 80's signifiers. 63 is doing it for me as much as anything else.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:54 AM
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in 1992, it seemed like the '90s were going to be about Gen X, but by '98, it turned out to be about the fucking Millennials.

Yup. GenX's moment in the popular culture sun was remarkably brief. Whenever I'm inclined to resent milennials over this, I recall how utterly screwed over they've been by student debt. Most GenXers escaped that particular trap, at least.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:56 AM
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As a True 90s Kid, I would say that the predominant element of 90s nostalgia will be the family sitcoms, TGIF and otherwise (Step By Step, Growing Pains, Who's . Those spanned the whole decade and were quite different from earlier family sitcoms like "Different Strokes" and "The Facts of Life".

That and the music of Everclear.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:58 AM
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I think the first time I noticed Shepard Fairey's stuff was when is "AG" OK Soda parody posters went up around Providence in 1994.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:58 AM
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I only wrote half the title of Who's The Boss, of course, because it was maybe the only sitcom that feels at home in both the 80s and 90s to me. Charles In Charge seems older. This is all US-specific of course.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 9:59 AM
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Friends/Seinfeld seem much more 90s than any of the "family" sitcoms in 99.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:02 AM
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100: oh! I remember those. I think I knew that there was a single dude who was from RISD who was behind the Andre the Giant stickers before that? But I really don't know.

What about cheap copy shop stickers, are those a signifier? We sure spent a lot of time cranking them out in the early '90s.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:04 AM
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Maybe you were a True 90s Adult, not a True 90s Kid.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:04 AM
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Wasn't the vast majority of music buying at the time still singles?

After about 1967 not so much. Probably about 50/50, going up to a significant majority for albums until punk broke. "Chart bands" sales slipped steadily, and acts like Cream and Traffic simply stopped making singles because nobody bought them, but they sold a ton of albums.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:04 AM
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Growing Pains ran from '85-'92. Not 90s.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:04 AM
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The other day my aunt found a newspaper clipping of my band playing at a local performance art night under the name Jenni and the Jennicams. It's a miracle I continued to exist past the turn of the millenium, I was so '90s.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:06 AM
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Friends/Seinfeld seem much more 90s than any of the "family" sitcoms in 99.

And don't forget the Aaron Spelling prime time soaps (Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place & etc.). Those are pretty quintessentially 90s.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:09 AM
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Sure, 108 is true I guess, but I was sticking with sitcoms. Growing Pains is maybe barely more 90s than something like Alf.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned The Simpsons.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:14 AM
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The nineties was about the transition from affordable vintage to vintage-as-investment, and about the solidification of retromania, also about the end of any viable center of left critique of porn.

Like, through the nineties I bought all these vintage dresses at Saver's, some of them very good. Cashmere beaded fifties sweaters, silk cocktail dresses, sub-Pucci psychedelic silk knits, beautiful fifties leather handbags and an endless array of 1940s - 1970s day dresses. All that stuff gets pulled out by pickers who contract with the stores now, and anything good sells for a lot. Plus a lot of mid-century modern odds and ends, thirties and forties linens, all that stuff. Cashmere coats. The vintage market didn't operate the same way, and the merely used clothing market didn't either.

Also, being into past things was more of a niche subcultural thing, less accessible and with more cultural cachet but less career potential. You might be super into forties fashion, for instance, and that might get you a lot of clout in the zine community, but you would have a lot of trouble marketizing it as bloggers do now.

Our sense of the uses of the past changed dramatically in the nineties.

Also, I remember the very beginning of the horrible trend of straight women carrying, like, Betty Paige pin-up key rings and stuff to show that they were hip and liberated and completely okay with women's (and only women's) bodies being a decorative item in hip contemporary fashion. I remember the very first article in the Utne reader about how great this was, and I had a sinking feeling.

On the whole, I enjoyed the nineties. Although a lot of that had to do with the relatively decent economy.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:16 AM
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I was good at that decade.

is pretty much what I mean.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:18 AM
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It's a miracle I continued to exist past the turn of the millenium . . .

Have you read Zeitgeist by Bruce Sterling?

All that stuff gets pulled out by pickers who contract with the stores now, and anything good sells for a lot

Heh, that reminded me of this (1999) William Gibson essay.

When I was a young man, traversing the '70s in whatever post-hippie, pre-slacker mode I could manage, I made a substantial part of my living, such as it was, in a myriad of minuscule supply-and-demand gaps that have now largely closed. I was what antique dealers call a "picker," a semi-savvy haunter of Salvation Army thrift shops, from which I would extract objects of obscure desire that I knew were up-marketable to specialist dealers, who sold in turn to collectors. To this day I am often unable to resist a professionally quick, carefully dispassionate scan over the contents of any thrift shop, though I almost never buy anything there. Mainly because the cut-rate treasures, the "scores" of legend, are long gone. The market has been rationalized. We have become a nation, a world, of pickers.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:21 AM
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I remember during the 90s feeling this whole corny "this is my time" thing

The only time I ever really felt something like that (not counting being off my head at gigs) was when watching Spaced. Which is of course problematic given that a lot of the show is about how it's not the protagonists' time, however much they wish it were.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:23 AM
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113: I mean, I -- and I think smearcase as well, although VSOOBC etc. -- found Slacker sort of profoundly affecting in a these-are-my-people way, and there never was a movie that was more about people whose time it is not (insofar as time exists).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:26 AM
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Kicking and Screaming, for me. same same, although not as cool.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:29 AM
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The most I ever felt like that in a straightforward sense was watching Jesus Jones in concert, which is adorably embarrassing in retrospect, but I was seventeen and had my hair clipped under my floppy skater shag, bless that boy.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:31 AM
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108: Early Simpsons / Late Simpsons, even.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:37 AM
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I think this commentariat is inclined to overstate the presence of the internet in the 90s. Tech boom, yes. Regular people shopping, reading, connecting over the internet, not much.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:39 AM
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Web 1.0. You could do fuck all on it but read.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:41 AM
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116: I was thinking the other day that Right Here, Right Now might be the single most '90s song ever recorded, as a matter of fact.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:43 AM
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... although looking it only barely made it into the decade. Okay, Stereo MC's "Connected" for the win, then.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:44 AM
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"Right Here, Right Now" is the Fall of the Berlin Wall song.

Okay, Stereo MC's "Connected" for the win, then.

Cosign. Either that or "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:46 AM
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And now I am going to listen to this mix as the soundtrack for this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:46 AM
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71/89/95/110 match my memories of the 90s, with some very faintly 77 stuff -- faint because I was in the earnest, provincial PNW, and we were always a little surprised when our tastes went mainstream and then got theorized. Grunge was `wearing woodlot clothes to town' for me; everyone did it on busy days.

I get a single narrative out of all of those -- the 90s were the turn from thinking we could be relaxed and nerdly, what with the Cold War being mostly over and the economy good and tech making more things easy -- and then money blasted into it on a phalanx dudebros and marketers followed close behind. My parents remember the 1960s to 1970s as similar, but the switch was nearer a calendar decade mark.

I don't follow pop or rock music much now and didn't then, so maybe I'm a control for periodization based on that.

(Oh, Frowner, I used to get badly shattered silk 1950s dresses for $5 each and chop them up and patch them into new ones. They'd only last a few wearings , and I don't think there are *any* pictures, and I don't know if I looked cool or loony. I suppose those aren't exclusive. And I also have some clothes in good condition I got then that have been copied since in worse cloth for a lot more money.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:47 AM
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The 90s encapsulated: VHS guide to Windows 95 with Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:47 AM
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I created an account and bought a book on Amazon in February 1999. I did it solely because it was out of print and none of the local bookstores could get it. But Amazon had a copy. That was my first internet purchase.

(And it dawns on me that in the years since, I've never once changed my amazon password.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:47 AM
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My So-Called Life.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:48 AM
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It wasn't related to larger cultural things, but the second half of HS was a super-comfortable time for me: my best friend and I were simpatico in a way I don't think I've ever matched otherwise, I knew how to work the various systems (that is, how to get away with shit without getting in trouble, even if I got caught), I was young and healthy and strong. It was this very distinct feeling because I knew that high school is bullshit, and that better things were coming (and they were), but also that it was a good time. World on a string, without any anxiety that it was transitory.

College wasn't entirely different, but I never had quite the right relationships, so it never quite achieved that comfort level. I guess the simplest way to put it is that two against the world works in a way that one doesn't, even if "against" is awfully strong.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:49 AM
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HTML fail in 126.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:49 AM
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||

France 2 - 0 Nigeria

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:53 AM
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the single most '90s song ever recorded

Because of my own music listening habits (I listed to music radio a fair amount for a couple of years in the mid nineties and then stopped) "The Impression That I Get" is the most '90s song that I can think of.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 10:58 AM
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131 & previous: Bush's "Glycerine" is the one that I think of as 90s. Not really grunge, but related, the sound was around even as mainstream music got more pop, and everybody's garage band could do a reasonable cover.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:03 AM
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found Slacker sort of profoundly affecting in a these-are-my-people way, and there never was a movie that was more about people whose time it is not (insofar as time exists).

What a day, what a day. Yeah, it's funny, it wasn't exactly "I know all these people" because certainly the folks in Slacker were a stylized version of who you generally met in Austin, except once in a while you would meet someone who was exactly like Slacker and suppose that they were the flavor of the place/time even if most of your friends were a little more normal. (Actually some of those people were just playing themselves, as you might imagine. The JFK conspiracy buff is the son of a guy on my dad's dissertation committee and actually wrote a JFK Conspiracy book, I think.)

My life, my loves, where are they now?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:06 AM
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Oh god, the fucking Bosstones. I booked them for a show at my high school. They were assholes!

I dunno that they were the most '90s Boston band, though. The guitarist from Powerman 5000 played at my house once, and let me tell you, their brand of genre-bending kung fu movie-obsessed rap-rock has not aged well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:06 AM
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My archetypal 90s song is "Here's Where the Story Ends."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:06 AM
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118: Well, we knew it was going to change everything and be really cool. And it turns out our beliefs were true, however poorly justified (and possibly betrayed). And being even a tiny cog in doing that was heady; doing work that changes how people around the world interact is pretty rare.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:07 AM
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Oh god, the fucking Bosstones.

I didn't say that it was a good song, just that it's very, very 90's.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:07 AM
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then money blasted into it on a phalanx dudebros and marketers followed close behind.

Maxim, the dudebro lifestyle mag., started being published in the US in 1998, which seems about right, culturally speaking.

Bush's "Glycerine" is the one that I think of as 90s.

In my personal version of the 90s, the appearance of Bush all over the radio marks the end of the interesting phase of the whole "alternative" or whatever it was period of pop music.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:08 AM
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Oh man! I tried to strike up a conversation with someone in the cafeteria my first week of college on the basis of his Bosstones shirt, and failed utterly.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:08 AM
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@135: Good choice.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:09 AM
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I dunno that they were the most '90s Boston band, though. The guitarist from Powerman 5000 played at my house once, and let me tell you, their brand of genre-bending kung fu movie-obsessed rap-rock has not aged well.

Hey, the teachings of Dave Wyndorf are as relevant now as they ever were.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:09 AM
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And being even a tiny cog in doing that was heady

Yep. It felt a little bit like the narratives I've read about the '60s movie industry, where the squares who owned the studios couldn't figure out what the hell was happening so they just put whoever in charge.

A friend of mine ended up as the producer for an early PBS show about the internet; she had essentially complete freedom to book whoever to talk about whatever, so she just booked her friends. One of my friends was on one week talking about I think computer security, and then was back on three weeks later wearing a bandana over his face, pretending to be a Zapatista and explaining how they used the internet to support their revolutionary cadres.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:10 AM
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Dude, where's my decade?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:12 AM
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129 You meant to use a blink tag?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:13 AM
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As I've said with boring repetitiveness, I've never been really hooked into music, but summer of 1991 was a fun one -- taking summer classes, and hanging out with a bunch of people I only knew because I was sharing an apartment with people I hadn't met before that summer -- and Right Here Right Now and Losing My Religion seemed as if they were the only songs on the radio all summer. (Well, also "Pop Goes The Weasel" by Third Bass, but that felt less meaningful, although the video where the Vanilla Ice lookalike gets beaten up was amusing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:13 AM
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"Killing in the Name" is the most '90s song, or maybe "Gin & Juice".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:13 AM
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It's 91, son, somethin's gotta change


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:14 AM
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144 was me


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:14 AM
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Watching "Slacker" again a few years back (after binging on it when it came out), I was sort of shocked at how male-centered it was; makes me skeptical of a narrative of the 90s as peak feminism.

& re: Right Here, Right Now, there's this definitive study, by someone IIRC that Ogged admires.


Posted by: clark diversey | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:18 AM
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145 - The Vanilla Ice lookalike is Henry Rollins, because the '90s. (Also, the video features the "...NOT!" construction, because the '90s.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:19 AM
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It's all like "Girlfriend" fading into Tricky's "Black Steel" fading into that whole wretched album by Sublime fading into "Tubthumping" fading into "Semi-Charmed Life" fading into thowing the radio out the windo.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:21 AM
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w


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:22 AM
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The 1990s were the era when rappers criticized each other for being too mainstream. Before Sean Combs brought to hip-hop the ethical and moral stances previously associated with multinational corporations.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:23 AM
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The Vanilla Ice lookalike is Henry Rollins, because the '90s

!!!!!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:23 AM
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The Vanilla Ice lookalike is Henry Rollins, because the '90s

Wow, it really is. Amazing!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:24 AM
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Maybe I did know that at some point? I had sure as shit forgotten.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:24 AM
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Another appropriate soundtrack for the thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:26 AM
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Wunder G'shehen is the Fall of the Berlin Wall song.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:30 AM
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I just went and looked up Puff Daddy's "No Way Out" album and boy am I having a major walk down memory lane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:32 AM
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Whoa, I just found an article about how all the recognizable places in Slacker had been torn down and replaced by something else, and it's from 2001.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:33 AM
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Nothing says True Austin more than mourning Austin That You Just Barely Missed Because You Moved Here Too Late.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:36 AM
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Reasons that Austin is the worst place ever has been trolling the hell out of my facebook feed. While I'm basically pro-Austin, it is hilarious to watch everyone get their panties twisted.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:37 AM
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I don't mourn too much. It still feels like Austin when I go back. But Quack's, goddammit...I miss that place.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:38 AM
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Wunder G'shehen is the Fall of the Berlin Wall song.

Naw. Everyone in Germany was obsessed with that Scorpions song.



Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:39 AM
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162 yeah, obvious troll is obvious.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:39 AM
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I like Tricky's Black Steel a lot. Martina Topley-Bird is still putting out music-- not inspired, but pleasant enough.

There's this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EcjWd-O4jI


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:40 AM
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Scorpions

Another band that played my high school for some reason.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:41 AM
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163: What? Quack's didn't close.

...Oh, you just regular-miss it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:42 AM
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It's weird. I moved out of town eight years ago, although obviously I'm up there semi-regularly. In the past few years though, it's become clear that it's no longer my home. I have a lot of affection for the city, but it's changed out from under me and now I feel like a visitor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:46 AM
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I WENT BACK TO AUSTIN
BUT MY CITY WAS GONE
THERE WAS NO TRAIN STATION
THERE WAS NO DOWNTOWN
EMOS HAD DISAPPEARED
ALL MY FAVORITE PLACES
MY CITY HAD BEEN PULLED DOWN
REDUCED TO PARKING SPACES
A, O, WAY TO GO AUSTIN

WELL I WENT BACK TO AUSTIN
BUT MY FAMILY WAS GONE
I STOOD ON THE BACK PORCH
THERE WAS NOBODY HOME
I WAS STUNNED AND AMAZED
MY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
SLOWLY SWIRLED PAST
LIKE THE WIND THROUGH THE TREES
A, O, OH WAY TO GO AUSTIN

I WENT BACK TO AUSTIN
BUT MY PRETTY COUNTRYSIDE
HAD BEEN PAVED DOWN THE MIDDLE
BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAD NO PRIDE
THE FARMS OF AUSTIN
HAD BEEN REPLACED BY SHOPPING MALLS
AND MUZAK FILLED THE AIR
FROM the MOPAC EXPRESSWAY TO BARTON SPRINGS
SAID, A, O, OH WAY TO GO AUSTIN


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:54 AM
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170 would probably have worked better if I knew anything about Austin. I just took location names at random from an Austin website.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:57 AM
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164 -- It's no surprise that we run in different circles. We were in Germany for Xmas that year, but far far from the action.

Couldn't switch on Europawelle without hearing Nena or Hasselhoff. The latter was big enough to become a gag on SNL.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 11:57 AM
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The One True Quack's at 21st/Guadalupe closed.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:04 PM
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128
(And it dawns on me that in the years since, I've never once changed my amazon password.)

Related issue: several of my e-mail addresses or usernames probably really date me to being a teenager or college student as the Internet was getting started. This e-mail address conveys where I'm from and that I travel a lot. But when you get right down to it I don't actually like trundling through airports or going places where I don't know the language or eating at restaurants three meals a day, I just happened to create this shortly after my time as an exchange student, and thought "likes to travel" described me. And when men over the age of 25 or women want to use an unavailable username and have to add a number to it, I can't imagine them going with "007," as I did several times.

The first issue is just personal, it's not like anyone else can tell about it, but it annoys me now and then. It would also be annoying to make up new e-mail addresses from scratch, though.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:07 PM
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I'm so lucky my college allowed us to too few letters for "wintermute". Although probably it would have been taken.

I liked "hello.c", but the period broke enough Web interfaces that I gave it up.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:09 PM
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Oh. They were already at 43rd street when I moved there in 2000, so. I'm a poseur.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:09 PM
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Thank god I picked a really badass and mature handle when I was fifteen.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:11 PM
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Ctrl-F "Hackers " "0 of 0".

You want the '90s encapsulated in one thing, that movie is it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:11 PM
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I liked "hello.c"

Better that than "hello.jpg", I guess.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:12 PM
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178: AISIMHB the production team for Hackers took pictures of my friends at the first HOPE conference for wardrobe ideas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:14 PM
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180, are you the reason moviemakers in the 90s thought all teens spent their time in fabulous warehouse spaces with half-pipes and BMX ramps and walls made out of boomboxes and climbing walls and neon graffiti everywhere?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:17 PM
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181: no, but my friends miiight be the reason moviemakers in the '90s thought hackers had dyed hair and crazy colorful rave clothes, instead of, you know, shitty supercuts haircuts and black t-shirts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:20 PM
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Going back through the thread, this:

I think what makes the '90s weird is that the obvious signifiers were only relevant from '91 through '93, so you had the whole second half of the decade where grunge was dead, but there was no obviously signifying replacement

is possibly the wrongest thing in it. Dookie didn't come out until '94.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:29 PM
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but my friends miiight be the reason moviemakers in the '90s thought hackers had dyed hair and crazy colorful rave clothes, instead of, you know, shitty supercuts haircuts and black t-shirts.

So you and your friends were the inspiration for this?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:31 PM
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180 to 184.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:33 PM
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@185: Ack!

It's interesting how Hollywood struggled to find some sort of non-ridiculous way to visually represent the actual act of "hacking".

Starting with the realistic representation in Wargames they went through a number of, generally silly, ideas until they finally hit on the solution in The Matrix of just substituting cool looking stuff like wuxia and telling the audience "actually this all intuitive computer hacking".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:37 PM
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Just because you had your hair dyed f doesn't mean you didn't have a shitty haircut.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:43 PM
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Stupid fone adding extra f's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:44 PM
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I think this is a hard one for people to think through, since the unexamined occasion of the reflection is the return of Nineties culture -- in a quite changed form, since we live in a vastly different society. But obviously not everybody was going to be grooving on the 80s indefinitely.

Nineties culture and 00s culture were "totes" different -- by 1999, many people were about ready to kill weedy guys who listened to Pavement and quoted Gramsci. This malaise with the touchy-feely pseudo-leftism that was the 90s lingua franca contributed to the two disasters that made the 00s what they were: the election of W. (which could have been easily avoided by an American left up to anything but narcissistic self-pity and white-boy versions of "the dozens") and 9/11.

The breakdown of First World liberal democracy unmade any attempt at "keeping up appearances": everybody, myself included, pretty much did whatever they wanted to which was within their power (compare with the 90s, where you had to justify yourself to everyone). Changes in technology made "zine" culture and much else quite obsolete. If you had been a happy, well-adjusted person in the 90s, but had no 80s adult life experience, things were difficult in the last decade.

Many people mention the rise of the Internet (I wrote an article about it for a local magazine when ISP coverage rolled out) and OK Soda (I started a rumor that the OK Soda stickers they distributed in such magazines were occasionally laced with LSD). But one thing people don't mention, but which divides the 90ers from the *junge Leute*, was the prevalence of non-crazy people shooting other people. Gun violence in urban areas made "I'm a stranger here myself" a more common attitude than "fuck you, clown".

Similarly, we had killer "hard" drugs and killer AIDS, obsoleted as widespread concerns by the recovery industry and HAART (introduced 1998). Upon reflection, it was a vastly more sexist time: simply talking a good game about feminism was enough, when today it so wouldn't be. Because of generational influence, there was a body of knowledge about the 60s (parents) and 30s-40s (grandparents) young people today get through *Mad Men* and, well, I hope they understand about the New Deal somehow.

What is a constant, from the "New Economy" to Piketty, is the eating of the people's seed corn. If there will be a livelier appreciation of something other than the Rockafeller Skank, it will no doubt be because "being a success" in the sense previously understood is no longer a possibility for most USers, whether they have $200,000 in undergrad debt or not. So get ready for some slackin', yeah.


Posted by: Bob Roberts | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:47 PM
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187: I didn't have my hair dyed, but I probably had a shitty haircut and likely a stupid goatee.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:48 PM
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182: I knew that had to be someone's fault, you monster.


Posted by: soup | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:54 PM
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soup!!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:55 PM
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I said it was my friends, man. I had undyed hair and was wearing an ill-fitting t-shirt. Blame Majikthys and FreqOut, not me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 12:58 PM
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193: sure, blame your friends, take the easy way out.

192: essear!!

Hope all of you are well


Posted by: soup | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 1:15 PM
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I'm not sure if I'm well, but I have a decent haircut.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 1:17 PM
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195: well, first things first


Posted by: soup | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 1:19 PM
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It's interesting how Hollywood struggled to find some sort of non-ridiculous way to visually represent the actual act of "hacking".

Assumes facts not in evidence.

Facts actually in evidence: Goldeneye, Swordfish.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 1:55 PM
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197: OK. Although my recollection of the hacking scenes in Swordfish is that they're marginally ridiculous in that as he types away he's acting like he's playing some especially exciting and fast paced video game.

I mean, it beats Tron, but still...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:01 PM
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is possibly the wrongest thing in it. Dookie didn't come out until '94.

And yet, in a thread about signifiers of the '90s, Dookie didn't come up until the 183rd comment.

My point wasn't that nothing signifying happened after 1993; it was that the "obvious signifiers" - grunge, Nirvana, slackers, the equivalents of love beads and VW microbuses - were primarily limited to the first few years of the decade. I mean, maybe my cutoff is too early and/or sharp, but by '95 none of those things had much salience: if anything, they were symbols of clueless elders or people already wallowing in nostalgia for the (very) recent past.

Pop punk was a big part of the musical '90s, but I'm not sure it's essential to capturing the decade in tropes (and I say this as someone who rode his mountain bike* to the Warped Tour).

*EXTREME!!!! That's the signifier we've forgotten.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:06 PM
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people already wallowing in nostalgia for the (very) recent past.

The movie Singles struck me as an exercise in instant nostalgia along those lines. I don't know if that phenomenon is specific to the early 90s or not.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:11 PM
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199.first: well yeah, but neither did Biggie vs. Tupac (or "The Chronic", or "Illmatic", or "Hard Knock Life"...). We're missing a lot.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:15 PM
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It was the Baltimore Consort for me musically. Dorian Records generally, even. I don't extrapolate.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:43 PM
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201: I meant to say, awhile back, that one thing about the '90s is that it was when hip hop effectively overtook rock as the music of youth, but I'm not sure there's a trope that captures that. That is, Nirvana is the perfect embodiment of the '90s slaying the '80s, just as Elvis and the Beatles going on Ed Sullivan slew Perry Como and Frankie Avalon in their time. But I don't think there's an iconic symbol of hip hop supplanting rock (partly because it was a slow developing thing - I feel pretty confident in locating it in the '90s, but I'd be reluctant to identify a year, let alone an album or pop culture moment).

I mean, I was well into my '20s when it happened, so maybe I missed it, but I feel as if it would be well known if ether were such a defining moment. Part of me suspects that, unlike the ones you suggest, it should really be something more pop-oriented (Puff Daddy?), when hip hop went from being primarily about black culture to being popular culture.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:47 PM
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Maybe the death of Tupac would even count - the first time that the death of a rapper had cultural resonance like that of a rock star (counting Otis Redding as a rack star here, among many others; I don't just mean "white rock star"). But even that I'm not sure was a "moment" - it felt like something that grew into a phenomenon, but at the time was treated as just another dead rapper.

But again, not in the relevant demographic, so I don't know.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 2:50 PM
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But I don't think there's an iconic symbol of hip hop supplanting rock (partly because it was a slow developing thing - I feel pretty confident in locating it in the '90s, but I'd be reluctant to identify a year, let alone an album or pop culture moment).

I didn't notice it until the rise of the Strokes and the White Stripes. That was the point I thought "Wow, it's actually noteworthy now that a rock band is on the charts."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 3:00 PM
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Prompted by 183, I read a pretty decent 20 year retrospective on Dookie that noted that there hasn't been a #1 song by a rock band* since 2008. Which, wow.

*loosely defined as 3 or 4 people playing guitars


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 3:12 PM
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197: OK. Although my recollection of the hacking scenes in Swordfish is that they're marginally ridiculous in that as he types away he's acting like he's playing some especially exciting and fast paced video game.

They're not marginally ridiculous. They're so ridiculous, that even people whose entire understanding of hacking comes from Sneakers would say: "Oh come on, that's ridiculous!"


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 3:24 PM
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Including bass guitar, I hope.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 3:26 PM
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208: Bacist.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 3:35 PM
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Would 209 have been funnier if JRoth had written "bassist"? I think maybe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:07 PM
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207: Hehehe


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:20 PM
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Here's a theory: the 90s seem less "coherent" as a pop culture decade because US teens and young people were less homogenous. Both racially, given the rise of the hispanic population, and economically, given the generally greater income disparities in the country as a whole. This in turn was combined with a rise of niche marketing that predated, but was greatly accelerated by, the rise of the internet. The sense of (relative -- there were always important niches!) commonality of popular culture between 1955 and say 1985-90 was driven both on the demand side by a relatively more homogenous, whiter, more economically and socially equal group of middle class American teens, and on the supply side by relatively common marketing channels.

Both the supply and demand sides started to differentiate in the 1980s, but we only really feel it in the 1990s and going forward -- the 2000s and god help us the 2010s feel even less pop-culture-coherent than the 1990s.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:21 PM
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Bay Cyst?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:21 PM
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First sentence s/b "less coherent as a pop culture decade than the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:22 PM
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206 -- you'll be pleased to know that 2012's "Fun" song "We are Young" broke that drought for rock songs at the top of the charts. And what a good song it is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:25 PM
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Bay Cystic Fibrosis Rollers


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:25 PM
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Halford has never been more wrong than he is in 215.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:26 PM
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Further to 203 and 212, it feels like the back half of the 90s are when being a white guy with a guitar is not as persuasively "universal" a position as it used to be. Leading to Ben Folds' capstone 2001 pwnage on the guitar rock of the era.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:28 PM
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Sometimes my comments are not 100% truthful. What can I say.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:28 PM
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218: you know, that's a great song in general, but the line about preparation H just fucking clangs. So lazy, so uninspired. "Yeah? Well you have hemorrhoids!"


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 4:31 PM
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Not exactly pop culture, but spanning the mid-80s to mid-90s was the day care satanic sex abuse panic. The part taking place in the 90s saw an increasingly skeptical reaction to the accusations, which resulted in a number of acquittals and convictions being overturned, along with a better understanding of how poorly trained investigators could spread the panic.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:33 PM
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210: I spent awhile debating it. No way to run a trial.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:52 PM
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We're missing a lot.

I've been trying to decide whether to mention Michael Jordan. On one hand, an absolutely iconic figure of the late 80s and 90s. On the other hand he doesn't signify anything particularly important (other than the shoes).

Here's a theory: the 90s seem less "coherent" as a pop culture decade because US teens and young people were less homogenous.

The seems plausible, and like something that could easily make a decent op-ed.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 6:53 PM
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223.1: I had the exact same thought after dinner. Massively famous, signifying nothing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-30-14 7:30 PM
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High school class of 2001. I think you guys are missing whole strata of 1990s culture that is now (for the first time) identifiable, for example:

1. the teenage computer game culture of Doom and so on, just before mass internet, that foretold the shut-in lives of 2000s and 2010s video game addicts; this was its heroic era, and for gamers and developers is the object of countless retro homages...

2. the very, very characterizable aesthetics of the early internet era, the boot-up sounds of Windows 95 in the living room, the beige computer, the cd-rom, the midi keyboard, etc. Some of this was commented upon by the fascinating circa-2011 musical microgenre of "vaporwave" (James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual album is a kind of nightmare collage of Microsoft soundbytes from about 1998).

3. The Tupac-Biggie drama and what it represented, which loomed far, far larger in the consciousness of my middle and high school than Cobain ever did. In fact, 90s, especially mid-90s hip-hop culture is so distinct, memorable, and enduring that I am confident it will last as a monument of that decade for a long, long time. In any case, it is clearly distinct from 80s (pre-NWA) and 2000s (post-Puff Daddy, to be conservative) rap.

4. Waco/Ruby Ridge/militias/UFOs/X-files. Another 90's dream of power.


Posted by: Angela Lurkel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 2:11 AM
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@221: I don't know about the actual chronology, but as a cultural signifier, the satanic day care abuse hysteria is pure 80s to me.

@225: I'd forgotten what a big deal the X-Files were.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 3:59 AM
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