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YOUTH GONE WILD
March 18, 2011 7:29 AM   Subscribe


 
Holy crap, it's Bellevue Square!

(this is wonderful)
posted by gc at 7:38 AM on March 18, 2011


The mullets, the hair spray. HOLY SHIT indoor smoking!
posted by k5.user at 7:41 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see one of those virtual reality roller coaster pod things.
posted by proj at 7:43 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a terrible time for style. The worst of the 80s condensed. (Shutter)
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:44 AM on March 18, 2011


Right when I start forgetting the influence that Nirvana's success had on the mainstream, I see old photos of hair metal fans. Thank god for Nirvana.
posted by NoMich at 7:44 AM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


The indoor smoking got me to, k5. Where do they ash?

And then, when you look closely, you notice the answer: On the floor.

Just, wow. I had forgotten all about that.
posted by gc at 7:44 AM on March 18, 2011


(How can you tell the location ? These all look like the malls I went to on the East coast in the 90s, so there's some metacommentary about how they all look the same..)
posted by k5.user at 7:45 AM on March 18, 2011


I am so glad I had the incredible foresight to destroy all photos of myself from this heinous era. Hooray historical revisionism!
posted by elizardbits at 7:46 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't remember owning a jean jacket, and I don't know who that lady is, but I am still a little bit concerned that the chubby kid in the last picture might be me.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:47 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The indoor smoking got me to, k5. Where do they ash?

The tops of most trash cans used to be big ash trays.
posted by octothorpe at 7:49 AM on March 18, 2011


the poodle bangs. i had forgotten about them. now i never will.
posted by anya32 at 7:50 AM on March 18, 2011


TAKE IT AWAY AND BURY IT AND SALT THE EARTH.

THERE IS NO HONOR HERE.
posted by The Whelk at 7:51 AM on March 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Often I'm grateful to live now (as opposed to, say, the middle ages) for all kinds of reasons - modern dentistry, a slow approach towards equality, quality of life. But good god, this makes me grateful that I don't live in the early 90s, and was too young or oblivious at the time to be aware of fashion.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2011


also:

TAPE WORLD
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:53 AM on March 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


k5, in the first picture, it's that bumper-looking thing in the corner, the planters, the tile floor, and if you look in the upper left, note the ceiling. That's a walkway going diagonally from one side of the upper floor to the other. The bumper thing is where a seating area and ferry boat climbing toy (for the kids!) used to be.

In the second picture you can see the diagonal walkway on the second floor, plus those concrete gray normal perpendicular walkways.

Check out the Apple Store Bellevue Square profile picture. Tiles. Gray concrete.

A blurry picture of the boat and walkway.

A different angle.

Now I shall never expend that much energy on BellSq. again.
posted by gc at 7:56 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lots of thin people.
posted by Houstonian at 7:57 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most shocking things about it are the smoking indoors and everybody being fit.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:59 AM on March 18, 2011


Few photos date the era so much as one of "Tape World." This is not a chain that made it to my part of the world, but even in 1990 LPs had been overtaken by CDs and cassettes weren't that far from being outpaced as well. In 1990, though... I was working for Sony then, and we were selling at least five Walkmans for every Discman.

At least Betamax lingered on for professional use and as a sort of punchline for the general public; audio cassettes just sort of limped off into the woods to die and no one even noticed them leaving.

Or on preview, what the kitty said.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:03 AM on March 18, 2011


The reason you can't see me in any of these photos is because I'm in the arcade, playing Altered Beast.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:05 AM on March 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Liquidwolf: "What a terrible time for style. The worst of the 80s condensed. (Shutter"

The thing is that they were saying the exact same thing twenty years ago and will be saying it about our styles right now twenty years in the future.
posted by octothorpe at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


1. The early '90s were the worst of the '80s, kind of like how the early '80s were the best of the '70s (citation non-existent).

2. Naming your music store Tape World doesn't seem like a very good idea; "Surely *this* format will be the last one ever!"

3. Throw a few Chip and Pepper shirts into the mix and this could have been my (Canadian) hometown's mall.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2011



The thing is that they were saying the exact same thing twenty years ago and will be saying it about our styles right now twenty years in the future.


Yeah of course. But in my opinion the late 80s were just about the low point of pop culture in the last century. Maybe that's because I was in high school.


The early '90s were the worst of the '80s, kind of like how the early '80s were the best of the '70s (citation non-existent).


The first couple years of a decade are pretty much an extension of the previous. The best of the 1970s was not the early 80s, it was 1973-1976.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:17 AM on March 18, 2011


I wonder if it's too late to invent a time machine, so I can go back in time, find this mall and make this woman fall in love with me?

Actually, I guess it's never too late. What with the time machine, and all.

Actually, on second glance, I hope she's old enough that saying this wasn't really, really creepy.
posted by incomple at 8:17 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck this is 87 different types of good. I remember the summer of '90 being more tasteful than the years immediately preceding. I guess I'm wrong.

It's also funny becuase this one little website has managed to accurately capture the feel of the time, the next Hollywood movie I see that comes even halfway close to getting the look right will be the first. I'm looking at you Hottub Time Machine.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:19 AM on March 18, 2011


I don't remember owning a jean jacket, and I don't know who that lady is, but I am still a little bit concerned that the chubby kid in the last picture might be me.

For what it's worth, I sent that picture to a friend, and he is "pretty sure" that it's him and me.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:20 AM on March 18, 2011


High school class of 1990 here. Which means my entire high school career was spent wading through these fashions. The mile-high bangs, the raccoon makeup, the tree-trunk-like legging/legwarmer combo, the oversized shirts/jackets/everything... I didn't really participate in those exact trends (always hated acid wash, and couldn't get my curly hair to do that even if I had wanted it to) but that just meant I was seen as a weirdo, not (in retrospect) a completely sane person with actual taste.

In brief, these photos took me to a weird place. So, thanks for that.
posted by chowflap at 8:21 AM on March 18, 2011


THE MEMORIES, THEY BURRRRRRRNNNNN!!!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:21 AM on March 18, 2011


The reason you can't see me in any of these photos is because I'm in the arcade, playing Altered Beast.

No, wait, there I am (front and center).
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:22 AM on March 18, 2011


> The best of the 1970s was not the early 80s, it was 1973-1976.

I'd go with '70-'72, but technically that was still the '60s.

> Yeah of course. But in my opinion the late 80s were just about the low point of pop culture in the last century.

A while ago I made a bunch of mix tapes (yeah, tapes) that had one hit song for every year of my life to that point, and I had a much harder time finding good music from the late '80s than any other time period. Of course there was tons of great music during the late '80s, but Top 40 was pretty much the pits.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:33 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


i hate to be a contrarian, but with very few exceptions - "tape world", people smoking indoors and perhaps the average length of male hair, there's little in those pictures that couldn't be taken right now - with the obvious exception that many of the people would be yakking on a cell phone

but then, i remember a world where there weren't shopping malls, women didn't wear pants, men didn't have long hair - at least in my little corner of the midwest

comparing 1990 to 2011 isn't that big a stretch

1969 to 1990? - a lot bigger difference - and if you go back another 3 or 4 years - it was a very different world
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 AM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think that's it, pyramid termite... The differences here are exacerbated by the similarities. Like nearly everything's basically the same, except for a few jarring differences. Also, the early '90s haven't really been celebrated in any films or TV shows, like the late '60s have been since they ended.
posted by incomple at 8:39 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the early '90s haven't really been celebrated in any films or TV shows

There is a very good reason for that.
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2011


Man, those pictures could have been me. Well, not me, I would have been the clueless kid in the hand-me-down Member's Only jacket hanging out at Radio Shack, but any of those could have been taken at the Natick Mall.

Tape World. Tapes.

A couple of years ago we had a garage sale. I put out a box of tapes, tapes that had carried me through high school and beyond. Early U2, Metallica, Faith No More, Body Count (the one with Cop Killa, before they removed it), Public Enemy, Midnight Oil, Anthrax, The Alarm, and all sorts of other alternative and metal stuff. I think the most recent tape was Load by Metallica, which was the last tape I bought before I moved on to CDs.

Anyway, I knew they weren't worth much so I put a $.05 per tape sign on the box. After a couple of hours I changed it to $.01 and eventually to "Free tapes!"

The only bite I got was when my neighbor looked through them and reminisced about her days working in a club that hosted a lot of those acts. I offered to give her the box but she just shrugged and said "no thanks."

At the end of the day I threw them all out. It was one of the saddest things I've ever had to do. I may as well have put them in a gunny sack and tossed them into a river.
posted by bondcliff at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


A lot of his stuff doesn't seem to be loading for some reason, but Camilo José Vergara takes the longer view. His take on a Harlem storefront is available on the Gothamist.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:44 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a very good reason for that.

No, totally. As much as everyone goofs on the boomers for being obsessed with the sixties, in fairness to them, it WAS the sixties.
posted by incomple at 8:46 AM on March 18, 2011


Thank you for posting this. These are great. No cell phones, no Starbucks. What I'm trying to figure out is whether or not the people knew they were being photographed. There's something slightly eerie about these photos, too, imo -- beyond their retro-ness. Maybe it's the mall setting being sort of empty and sad.
posted by marimeko at 8:49 AM on March 18, 2011




Last image: that woman is talking on a cellphone! Also, farther up: hogwashers. Hogwashers.
posted by user92371 at 9:16 AM on March 18, 2011


> At the end of the day I threw them all out. It was one of the saddest things I've ever had to do. I may as well have put them in a gunny sack and tossed them into a river.

I drive a 1995 Toyota Tercel, and when its tape deck broke last year it occured to me that my days of playing tapes might be over for good.

*wistfully unspools a casette onto the pavement*
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if it's too late to invent a time machine, so I can go back in time, find this mall and make this woman fall in love with me?

The slow load on that brings another 1990s experience to mind ...
posted by ryanshepard at 9:27 AM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


So what of today's fashion will stick out in 20 years as much as the HAIR and acid-wash does in these pictures?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2011


So what of today's fashion will stick out in 20 years as much as the HAIR and acid-wash does in these pictures?

Uggs. Jeggings. Men wearing shirts with collars so deep their chest hair is exposed. Faux-faded pseudo-retro t-shirts.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:33 AM on March 18, 2011


So what of today's fashion will stick out in 20 years as much as the HAIR and acid-wash does in these pictures?

t-shirts and other apparel with large logos on them - people will be amazed that we were willing to be walking billboards
posted by pyramid termite at 9:37 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would say ironic graphic tees, but those have kind of fallen out of fashion. Unfortunately, I fear hipsters may write this part of our history.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:37 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]




I would say ironic graphic tees, but those have kind of fallen out of fashion.


That's kind of a 90s thing.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2011


It just goes to show, even crappy, badly composed photos, provided they are evocative of an era, eventually have value.
posted by crunchland at 9:41 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


So what of today's fashion will stick out in 20 years as much as the HAIR and acid-wash does in these pictures?

Super straight hair and 4 inch heels. Equally as unflattering (to many) and impractical
posted by travertina at 9:42 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need at least another 10 years before I'm ready to revisit the late 80s/early 90s. I've got no nostalgia for hairspray or grunge yet.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2011


Crocs.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just realized I was wearing jeans and Chucks and (DIY screen printed Current 93) t-shirts in 1990, and nowadays I wear pretty much the same modulo the screen-printing. 1988, though? DYING OF THE CRINGE.
posted by everichon at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2011


i dunno if it's because 1990 was my junior year of high school, but these scenes don't look that dated to me (yet). i *had* big, high, turd curl bangs and acid washed jeans and white keds. that time was when the beginnings of my non-kid understanding of the world were forming, and everything since then seems like it's built upon the way the world looked in the early '90s. it still seems weird that i can browse the internet on my phone, and that tapes have completely disappeared, and that i can avoid the mall altogether and do most of my shopping on a computer, fer crissakes.
posted by hollisimo at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was in junior high and high school during this era and remember, back then, thinking that people in the future would jeer at the clothes of the day.

I mean, come on, poodle bangs, wtf?

Then again at the time I couldn't comprehend the distaste people had for the 70s and there's still a disturbingly large number of loud, large-collared shirts in my wardrobe.

In other words, the 18-year nostalgia cycle strikes again!
posted by jtron at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2011


Faux-faded pseudo-retro t-shirts.
I was wearing an old college T-Shirt at Target the other day and a kid came up to me and said "Sweet - I go there too! Where did you get that cool shirt with the chipped printing and old-school logo?" When I answered "1995" he was crestfallen and didn't want to believe me. It appears that 15 years of normal wear on this shirt looks oddly like the insta-old process used today. What an odd trend.

Something my wife and I talk about often is the amount of skin shown through the years. It's very evident in these pictures. Look at how high the pants, skirts, and shirts are cut on the women here for example. Now go to the mall and look at people the same age today. I'm not saying one is better or worse, but you may see a difference.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:09 AM on March 18, 2011


Something my wife and I talk about often is the amount of skin shown through the years. It's very evident in these pictures.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:47 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Holy crap, it's Bellevue Square!

As someone who worked in Lincoln Tower 18 months, connected to the square via skybridge (and walk through Macy's), yes, it certainly fucking is.

Nothing like an office desk job supporting photo retouchers in Bellevue located in a corporate building whose first 4 floors are part of a mall, allowing for the only daylight during the winter months to be glimpsed on the skybridge as you walked to the Specialtys, to make you really feel the power of grey.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2011


Retronaut
Not what I expected.
posted by Redfield at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2011


All right, all right, all right.
posted by brand-gnu at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2011


This picture is super creepy.
posted by amarynth at 11:27 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


there's little in those pictures that couldn't be taken right now -

Just go to any mall in a mid-size midwestern city and everyone still looks like that
posted by asockpuppet at 11:34 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only in the last 20 years have americans turned into land whales?
posted by pianomover at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2011


Trivia question: what was the last model year a new car was available in the U.S. with a factory-installed tape deck? 2010, on a Lexus no less.
posted by djb at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2011


Also, the early '90s haven't really been celebrated in any films or TV shows

The Big Lebowski? Though I think that may be even too late for the era captured in these photos.

I think the real reason the early 90's aren't shown more in film & TV is because the era lacks a historical context other than itself. For me, having just graduated high school in 1989, the era marked the end of the 20th Century. The Cold War was over, The Culture Wars had yet to dominate the US political landscape and terrorism was still something that happened over there. It was a strange time to come of age, where everything was of the moment and no one had any idea what the future would hold. It literally felt like the End of Time. The early 90's zeitgeist made no claim on the future nor sought to call back to the past. They were just there, a little pocket universe in the stream of history.

Then Clarence Thomas & The Gulf War came along, and America launched itself into the 21st century. What, Ho! The internet, sir, just off the starboard prow!
posted by KingEdRa at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2011


Man, deride the aesthetic all you like, I've got a nostalgic soft spot for the time when shopping malls were culturally relevant in America, having been now supplanted by outlet shops, box stores, the internet, and basically anything that doesn't require people to, you know, walk for more than a half block. Not saying that necessarily correlates with the trend of people-not-being-fatasses pointed out upthread, but there's a certain charm about how we made such a flagrantly full-time lifestyle out of buying shit, before subjecting it to the debilitating rigors of industrial efficiency.

That being said, fuck the rampant consumerism on display in these pictures and hand me another OK Soda please.
posted by 7segment at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ohhh, 1990. I can still smell the Aquanet! High hair was a freakin' art form. I was one of the very few girls in my high school (Philly burbs, baby) who generally didn't sport it. However, I still hung with the hessian crowd. My boyfriend and I definitely smoked in malls, admired the patchwork leather jackets at Wilson Leather, and he stole Iron Maiden tapes.
posted by medeine at 1:39 PM on March 18, 2011


Shopping malls have remained pretty popular everywhere I've been – I don't see how they're a whole ton less "relevant" whatever that means.

I liked picking out the little bits of subculture that showed up in that photo collection: the kinda goth couple, the couple of guys who looked sorta like Metallica/Slayer type metalheads.
posted by furiousthought at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2011


I think the real reason the early 90's aren't shown more in film & TV is because the era lacks a historical context other than itself.

Also, looking back, a lot of the 90s just lacked easily identifiable visual shorthand. Yah flannel whatever, but that's just working class drag. That look goes back to lumberjacks. Ditto denim. You're stuck with subcultures - before they merged into a single ball - and people making bad "cyber" puns. And honestly the whole alterawhatever look got solidified sometime around "Pulp Fiction" and got stuck there. If nothing else the plastic fantastic neon-candy hipster *thing* is at least kinda different, even if it's a more street-wearable version of raver looks and dear GOD they're all 38 now so lets just forget that ever happened.

You also end up ignoring the huge commercial juggernaut of Hip Hop, but I have literally no experience in that genre, but it spawn a number of fashions that are still on the streets in mutant forms.

But if you asked me what comes to mind when I think "the 90s" and mainstream US mall culture? i'd say this, playing on repeat, forever.
posted by The Whelk at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2011


Damn. I don't remember 1990 being so...80s. I definitely had that Keaton Batman poster...and the t-shirt next to it.
posted by jnnla at 2:55 PM on March 18, 2011


All those young people are old. All those old people are dead.
posted by squalor at 3:02 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Whelk...don't forget this for some more 1990 mood music.
posted by jnnla at 3:04 PM on March 18, 2011


In the 90s everyone was trying to make you jump jump.
posted by The Whelk at 3:13 PM on March 18, 2011


Perhaps it was all the constant dancing and jumping that made obesity notably absent in these photos.

Take note, Michelle Obama.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This seems appropriate here.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


wildcrdj, I would favorite your comment more than once if that were possible.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:34 PM on March 18, 2011


Oh, God. 1990, the year I graduated high school. Memories...
posted by obeetaybee at 6:47 PM on March 18, 2011


audio cassettes just sort of limped off into the woods to die and no one even noticed them leaving.

Not true. This may only remain the case for a few more years before AppleGoogleAmazon owns all media, but I still think of the basic unit of social music currency as the mixtape. Even on a CD, it's a mixtape.

Playlist? A playlist can be too many things, at least right now. Whereas a mixtape was very specifically a thing you made for someone you cared about to tell them that person sort of story. (See also High Fidelity.)
posted by gompa at 7:00 PM on March 18, 2011


Also, a half-assed theory: There are relatively few nostalgic representations of the early '90s in pop culture in part because if you were part of youth culture in the '90s, a big part of that youth culture was a categorical rejection of Boomer nostalgia - including the instant nostalgia for the moment you were living that Boomer marketers and producers kept trying to foist upon you.

Reality Bites is, of course, the apex/nadir of this phenomenon. If you were going to make a really good '90s nostalgia flick, you could open it on a darkened theatre in which the silhouettes of early '90s twentysomethings make snarky comments to each other in MST3K style as Reality Bites unspools on the screen.

And then at some point, one audience member turns to the other and says, "Dude, are you being sarcastic?" And the other says, "I don't even know anymore." And then Poochie comes in - like physically into the theatre - and it turns into a "smart drink" commercial. And then the universe sort of collapses in on itself in a moment of infinitely dense self-referential irony that actually only exists as a footnote in an early David Foster Wallace short story . . .*

* - Made you look.
posted by gompa at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Needs a hologram store.
posted by Cyrano at 9:01 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


pianomover: "Only in the last 20 years have americans turned into land whales?"

No, I've always been one, thanks for asking.
posted by deborah at 9:58 PM on March 18, 2011


I think there's a connection between permission for indoor smoking and a higher level of thinness (not necessarily fitness, mind you, which we can't deduce). But then, it's multifactorial and a whole 'nother argument.

This thread needs the song "I Died In A Mall."
posted by Countess Elena at 6:51 AM on March 19, 2011


This seems appropriate here.
posted by wildcrdj


Going to the mall music. A perennial favorite!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:47 PM on March 19, 2011


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