Looking Back
November 1, 2002 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Looking Back Suddenly it hits. You realize you are three, four, five decades old, and you become sentimental, nostalgic, remembering only what you want to remember. Care to share some of your memories of the 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s, (50s?) (40s?).
posted by Voyageman (35 comments total)
Wait, are you sure it's not the 90s? With that whole Nirvana, Bush, Iraq thing going on you know.

Hot Stock Tip: Invest in dot coms NOW.
posted by Stan Chin at 5:43 PM on November 1, 2002

Yo, Voyageman! :)

I never miss a Simon Doonan column. He's chief window dresser for Barney's or something, isn't he? The best sentence from this article and entirely typical is:

"Re looking young, which I’m told I do: Being short helps, but so does Weleda Iris Face oil ($16.99). A liberal après-shower application helps prevent that chalky 18th-century look."

He cheers me up. About the decades thing, I can only really remember the 80s - I don't think you get more than one to remember. When you say "In my day" it always means when you were, oh, 21 to 28 years old.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2002

As a high school senior, waking up one morning to the NPR story about the failed attempt to rescue the Iranian embassy hostages and the debacle at Desert One.
posted by alumshubby at 5:54 PM on November 1, 2002

Being a fuckwit, I already share my self-indulgent memories on my very own weblog.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:55 PM on November 1, 2002

I'm trying to FORGET the 80's. I do remember the 70's, when John Travolta was attractive, and people actually listened to the Bee Gees.
posted by konolia at 5:56 PM on November 1, 2002

I remember very little of the early 80's, due to trauma. I'm told I used to walk up to total strangers on the street and ask: "No ... really ... who's president?"
posted by RavinDave at 6:13 PM on November 1, 2002

1: What's that... a tape deck? Can't be! It's so small! It's no bigger than the tape itself! You could... you could carry your music with you everywhere you go! God, that's the greatest thing I've every seen! You got it in Switzerland? It's called a what? A "walk-man"?

2: Oh wow, have you seen the typewriter that Kelly bought Kandace for her birthday? It remembers what you've typed, for, like 50 characters or something! Cool!

3: It stand for what? "Compact disc"? Have you listened to one? Is the sound as good as they say? I hear that they don't ever, ever scratch!


circa 1992....

4: The Internet? What's the Internet?
posted by jokeefe at 6:19 PM on November 1, 2002

There's still an old Apple IIc in my parents' basement.
posted by kate_fairfax at 6:23 PM on November 1, 2002

using miguel's criteria, guess i get to choose 2 decades. i realized androgyny was quite compelling - powerful and beautiful all mixed into one.
posted by harja at 6:23 PM on November 1, 2002

My (current) liveliest memory is my first ever transatlantic flight, which also happened to be one of the Pan American inaugural flights between the US through Lisbon (Miguel...!). All was well, until I spilled my father's red wine all over his white shirt and grey suit (flying over Cascais). I learned that lesson as a child which has come so handy as a grown up - in flight now, I drink my vodka in a plain water bottle with a tight screw-on cap.
posted by Voyageman at 6:29 PM on November 1, 2002

last week, I finally got the toy I wanted in 1978: a merlin! perfect condition. two bucks at a thrift store. Hooray for me!
posted by dogwelder at 6:31 PM on November 1, 2002

During the late '90s I found some crumby place called Metafilter . It's been downhill for me ever since.
posted by herc at 6:35 PM on November 1, 2002

Sid Vicious is dead.

Klaus Nomi is dead.

Joey Ramone is dead.

Jam Master Jay is dead.

My memories of the 80's are disappearing while I cherish them.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:38 PM on November 1, 2002

Spot on, stavros
posted by stefanie at 6:49 PM on November 1, 2002

'50s: baseball & crossing the Pacific by boat
'60s: music & politics
'70s: linguistics & women
'80s: grungy NYC & marriage
'90s: pretty NYC & divorce
'00s: MetaFilter
posted by languagehat at 6:51 PM on November 1, 2002

Downhill all the way, eh languagehat?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:03 PM on November 1, 2002

I was home from school on lunch break, having a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, when my sister's best friend called to tell us President Kennedy had been shot. I could tell you where I was for every assassination after that, the first Moon landing, Apollo 13, and Kent State, too. But I cannot tell you where I went to party the night Nixon resigned. All I remember was that I went out with Jim Haarsager and Maris Lusis after we got off work and the next thing I know, I woke up in somebody's front yard in Madrona. And boy, did my head hurt.
posted by y2karl at 7:05 PM on November 1, 2002

Y2karl you reminded me. The moon landing. Our youth-camp handlers made us take salt pills everyday that summer. ('69?). And I threw up everyday while I was there. NASA, Neil Armstrong, and vomiting are forever bizarrely mind-tied together.

The '70s winter snows were always deeper.

The '80s....Yeah Miguel--the 80s. Me and my future ex-wife, Colorado-bound hauling nothing but two suitcases and youthful hope.
Wearing out the turn-table needle, thinking "The Wall" was the most inspired music ever....great memories.
posted by Cedric at 8:04 PM on November 1, 2002

I remember seeing the end of the A-track, discovering what a computer was but never having one until the late 90s, and noticing all the damn ugly cars throughout the entire 80s. I also remember Ronnie Regan having a brief stint on TV on...HBO? Oh, and the space shuttle Challenger blowing up. Other things too.....like spearing carp in a flooded field for the hell of it.
posted by Ron at 9:21 PM on November 1, 2002

The old Apples in my elementary school computer lab, and learning how to hold floppy disks by the edges. The fact that they really were floppy back then. The enormous pixels on the graphics for a story about the Easter Rabbit I wrote with my best friend.
My first music video--I was flipping through channels and saw a man nailed to a cross in a field of flowers, a spooky little girl in a white dress, and a man with wild hair and the bluest, bluest eyes I had ever seen. It was Kurt Cobain.
My neighbor's New Kids on the Block poster and side-ponytail.
In second grade, how Jason was the class hero because his uncle was fighting in the Gulf. How little we knew about what that meant.
posted by hippugeek at 10:25 PM on November 1, 2002

I was out on the playground for morning recess when Kennedy was killed, it must have been 6th grade, a sunny but very cool day in Great Falls, MT. I went to a Catholic grade school that was also an orphanage. The nuns would allow us to go into the orphans' parlor to watch all the space shots, since it was such an amazing thing then to think that man would go into space. I also remember all the assassinations that came afterward. I miss the sharing and caring attitude of the hippie movement of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Hearing that the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 was huge for me, since we already lived where there was no t.v., I didn't get to see it, but I remember. Our children were graduating from high school in the 1990's and most of my time was taken up with them - but I was grateful to finally discover techno music!
posted by Lynsey at 10:30 PM on November 1, 2002

House calls, Zippy the Zip Code promoter, Tube hifi!, hot rods, NYMets at The Polo Grounds, the Beatles turning everyone into mindless drones, muscle cars, cable TV, VHS, disco turning everyone into mindless drones, gas lines, wood stoves, Japanese cars, Miracle on Ice, East Village galleries, AREA, BoyBar Wednesdays, Macintosh, Miatas, AIDS, grunge music turning everyone into mindless drones, CD-ROM, dot com, silicon alley, IPO, mp3, margin call, alt-whatever music turning everyone into mindless drones, lay-offs, Manhattan lock-down.
And I agree with Cedric that the '70s had alot of snow in the north east US. (And I definitely have fond memories of more than one decade.)
posted by HTuttle at 10:54 PM on November 1, 2002

I miss the Muppet Show.
posted by timyang at 4:08 AM on November 2, 2002

Second that, timyang.
posted by alumshubby at 6:13 AM on November 2, 2002

Card catalogs at the library.

Our drugstore that actually had a soda-fountain/ice cream counter with swivel stools and all.

LPs on vinyl. (Mine and my Technics turntable are in a storage locker on the other side of town.)

The Bee Gees. (Even though I'm a guy.)

7th grade: Delivering the evening paper here in my hometown after school. My Saturday bus rides downtown to get something new to read at the library, wander around in the department stores, buy a model airplane or tank kit to build, then have a cheeseburger at the drugstore lunch counter -- ordering lunch and paying for it felt especially grown-up.
posted by alumshubby at 6:20 AM on November 2, 2002

Card catalogs at the library.

Amen, alumshubby! I love pawing through them at those few anachronistic libraries that haven't junked them for computer terminals or merchandising space...
posted by languagehat at 8:46 AM on November 2, 2002


You name the country, I was there.


Walking the DMZ.

Steel pipes, bricks, rocks, Molotov Cocktails, tear gas, pepper gas and fighting as we overthrew the govt.


More mellow. Growing up. General governmental dissatisfaction and annoyance.


General malaise...
posted by Baesen at 2:15 PM on November 2, 2002

Card catalogs at the library.

I remember the outcry when a famous library (was it the New York City Public Library?) threw theirs out. It really was a cultural loss. And I'm with you on pawing through them, languagehat--the pure serendipitious fascination of seeing all these unthought of titles and descriptions along the way. You don't get that sort of intellectual stimulation from online library catalogs.
posted by y2karl at 4:06 PM on November 2, 2002

HTuttle, do you sing that to the tune of "We Didn't Start The Fire" or something?

Anyway. A couple of moments I remember:

One night in December 1980 I was talking to my friend Dave Wright on the phone in the living room. He interrupted the conversation: "Oh my God, I just heard John and Yoko got shot." And I went running into the TV room to ask my parents. They hadn't heard anything yet. A minute or two later, the news flash came on the station they were watching. (Of course, Dave had gotten the story a bit garbled.) Later that night, I remember flipping the radio dial from station to station, hearing the Beatles and Lennon everywhere -- even on stations that normally wouldn't play them. The next day I wore my black Beatlemania shirt to school (tenth grade); it was both black and Beatles-related so it seemed appropriate. The guy who read the news on our closed-circuit tv station started to cry while he read the story.

About 9 years later, I went with my roommate and another friend to see Beat Happening play in a tiny grange hall on Steamboat Island, outside of Olympia. BH were one of 3 bands on the bill. The Melvins were headlining, but I had never really cared much for them. The other band, though, was a band I had heard a lot about but never got around to seeing -- never thought I would like them. And they blew me away, in that sweaty, jam-packed little hall. Their name was Nirvana.

About 1 1/2 years later, I was parking in Tower Records' parking lot and heard a DJ (on the End, which was the new "alternative" station in town at the time -- maybe a month old) announce that they had just gotten the new Nirvana record in and he was going to play it for the first time. The opening notes to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" played and it completely grabbed me; I had to stay in the car and listen to the whole thing. I knew then that they had done something amazing, but I had no idea what was to follow.

For some reason, those memories are the first that come to mind about my young adulthood. Funny that they are all music-related.
posted by litlnemo at 5:37 PM on November 2, 2002

I was living in New Haven when John got killed. He was my favorite Beatle, but my friend Lisa worshipped him, and I avoided her all day because I didn't want to be the one to tell her. When we finally got together that evening we got very very drunk. I still miss him. And her.
posted by languagehat at 5:41 PM on November 2, 2002

1974: Three weeks in Israel, celebrating my Bar Mitzvah, touring this amazing country, filled with history and violence. This was before the real terrorist attacks started but only a few months after the Yom Kippur War and we saw many unrepaired walls.

1975: Every Friday afternoon making sure I had the radio set to WNEW-FM at 6:00 as they played the "smuggled from the studio" tape of Born to Run. Then when the album was finally released, playing it night and day, to the exclusion of all others, for months.

Quite a contrast.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:18 PM on November 2, 2002

A lot of my childhood memories are of weird tastes-- possibly because of the exciting new world of synthetic foods! For example, my dad was frequently on a diet and he drank this strange chemical brew called, MetraCal. Oooo the nasty flavor lingers on after 35 years.

Then there was Tang which bore no discernable relationship to orange juice, especially when mixed by me to the consistency of sludge.

I also remember my first taste of Carnation Instant Breakfast, Power Sticks, and Fizzies.

And try as I might, I can't get the god awful remembered taste of powdered milk out of my brain. My mother tried valiantly to disguise the flavor with ice cubes.

In the 70's I had my first bowl of granola.
In the 80's I was introduced to Sushi.
In the 90's it was Cajun food.

I am sorry to report that early returns suggest that the 00's will be dominated by my introduction to real low country cooking. I moved to Raleigh in 2000 and discovered that good ole Southern cookin' is not all hushpuppies and fried shrimp. My mother-in-law's watery, over-cooked mess that she calls "green beans" and her pork roast cooked to approximate sawdust is more the rule here.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:45 AM on November 3, 2002

2002 is 20 years from 1982
1972 is 20 years from 1952

The diffrence gap seems much larger between 72 & 52 -- as if we are slowing down and not changeing as rapidly. I suspect this trend will continue while the baby boombers age untill they no longer dominate culture.
posted by stbalbach at 3:40 PM on November 3, 2002

The Muppet Show? Try the Captain with Tom Terrific and Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, not to mention Felix & the Master Cylinder (did I mention that?).
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:25 AM on November 4, 2002

1981 - While working as a Field Engineer for a company in Hawaii supporting Microdata and Prime systems I saw my first CDC 300MB removable pack SMD disk drive. It was roughly the size of a small clothes dryer. I said to one of my co-workers "Who would ever need 300MB of disk?"
posted by cmdnc0 at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2002

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