The Good Old Days


It’s hard to live in a time when the gods are changing, but it’s loads of fun, too.  This transitional world we live in is so full of cool it’s difficult to sort things out.  So many neat things are going on right now that I’m totally pissed I’m never going to see where they end up in 50 years.  But honestly, I haven’t completely comprehended our world for at least a decade.  Somewhere I lost track, and even though I can still fake it, there are too many holes in my knowledge to ever claim understanding again.  Fortunately, the world has gotten so large that I can just narrow my focus, avoid the stuff I don’t recognize, and keep on moving.  But there are certain things that I miss from the old world; things that were quaint and homey and comfortable.  And sometimes, I’m just a bit sad that young people will never enjoy these things.

Quiet contemplation on the bus.  In the olden days, people on buses used to sit in their own world.  They read books and newspapers.  They decided what to have for dinner.  They mulled over their problems.  Sometimes, they talked to each other in that secret mono-voice reserved for private words in public places.  They looked out the windows and thought about their lovers.  Buses were romantic places.

Cheap restaurants.  Before fast food, restaurants had neon names and vinyl seats and thick noisy plates.  The servers were waitresses and didn’t introduce themselves.  They were places to go for breakfast or meet for lunch.  Places to have conversations.  Places that had pie and the promise of more coffee if you wanted a longer afternoon.

Love affairs.  Relationships are such artificial animals.  They’re built on the premise that the clinching ache in the bottom of your belly has a beginning, a middle and an end.  They take too much thought and are almost corporate in their planning.  I prefer the days when people had love affairs that began by accident — at places like bus stops or cheap restaurants.  They took time to unfold, over longer and longer, long evenings in wood-paneled restaurants with adult only lighting.  And even though they always began as separate adventures, unlike relationships, love affairs got passed back and forth so many times that they became a jungle of intertwisted experience that could never be understood separately again.

And if you did it right:

Love affairs led to newspapers, those big Sunday thumpers that took a half a morning to read.  They had complete sections that you could trade across the breakfast table.  They were big enough to fold, so you could drink your morning coffee.  They were lazy with long stories.  They had movies you wanted to see and places you wanted to go.  They had columnists from faraway Chicago and Frisco who had something to say.  And they had crossword puzzles that might take all day — even with help.

Today might be a brave new world.  It is a brilliant place, with new and exciting things.  But sometimes I just like the feel of yesterday.

Dear Old People


Okay, old people!  STOP IT!  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  We all know life was a gigantic hot fudge sundae back in the 70s or the 30s or whenever the hell you thought you were cool, but it’s time to give it a rest.  Every generation thinks they’re the best: take a listen to ancient Boomers yipping about the 60s as if it were an expensive suburb of Nirvana.  (It’s long past time to shoot that myth in the head, BTW.)  I’m not saying we shouldn’t be nostalgic for that magical time when we were young, beautiful, full of hormones and immortal (guilty as charged) but could we just shut up about it for five minutes? Here are a few facts old people need to remember before they start shouting their mouths off.

Nobody cares that you can rewind a cassette tape with a pencil.

Yeah, telephones were attached to the wall.  Big wow!  All that meant is every time you were talking to your friends, your mom, your dad and your dog could hear the entire conversation.

No matter how you spin it, watching a 6-year-old edited movie with a ton of advertising — on a 32 inch television set — is just not as good as watching a first-run HD film on a 60 inch big screen.  Especially when you were busting your bladder, waiting for the commercials so you could go pee without missing something.

Water from the garden hose was just water; it wasn’t 30-year-old Chablis.

The major difference between riding a bike with a helmet and riding a bike without one is – uh – I don’t know – brain damage?

The truth is, it was totally crappy to take a pile of pictures at your grandma’s 90th birthday party and find out — three days later — that half of them were out of focus.

The only reason Pong™ was cool is that’s all we had.

Carrying a camera, a Walkman™, a guide book, binoculars, a map, a pen, paper and a pocketful of coins, for pay phones and parking, when you went on vacation, was a total pain in the ass.  It’s a wonder everybody over 30 doesn’t walk with a limp.

And speaking of maps.  Cruising down the highway at 70 mph while simultaneously trying to find your exit on an uncooperative paper map the size of your dining room table was really kinda stressful.  And refolding the damn thing after you were done was even worse.

But the thing old people need to remember most about “the good old days” is:

It actually wasn’t all that much fun getting choked with cigarette smoke — in bars, restaurants, office buildings, on the streets, at the airport, in the park and (and this is true) in doctors’ offices and maternity wards.

Beware the Good Olde Days

olde daysI love to bitch about the Oscars to the point where my friends (IRL) avoid me at this time of year.  If I believed in that crap, I’d say I had OCD or something, but, in actual fact, I’m just a cantankerous old fart who’s become a bore about the Academy Awards.  (FYI, a bore is someone who won’t change his mind and refuses to change the subject.)  My problem is, I remember a time when filmmaking was an honourable profession.  However, in my defence, I’m not the first person to get trapped in the Good Olde Days without an escape hatch.

Quite honestly, if you’re over 18, chances are good that the objects in your life’s rear-view mirror are distorted.  The ice cream was creamier when you were a kid, wasn’t it?  The music was sexier, the rain sadder, the sleep softer and the love — well — who doesn’t remember their first love without tears in their eyes?  This is natural.  It’s how our soul reminds us just how cool it is to be alive.

Personally, I think the Good Olde Days were brilliant, and I play “remember when” better than most people.  I wouldn’t trade any of the tales I can tell from back in the day for even a remote understanding of the techno-tawdry world we live in.  But that isn’t the problem.  As I say, a certain amount of nostalgia is good for the soul.  The problem comes when “remember when” starts to replace Friday morning, 2016.

It happens when we get lazy and don’t actually taste the ice cream anymore or sway to the music or listen to the rain.  It happens when we fool ourselves into believing that our eyes should squint with experience when we look at autumn leaves or that first crust of frost winter gives us.  It happens when we begin to think we’ve “been there/done that” too many times.  It happens when we quit doing the things we love.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: the Oscars suck!