Stranger Shit

A few days ago, three shows dropped just before Memorial Day weekend. We were all so excited for them too. Shoresy (on HULU), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+), and Stranger Things season 4 (on Netflix). One of these was actually worth waiting for, and that was Shoresy, the Letterkenny spinoff. I might go into it later, but it’s basically like a feel good sports movie (think Goon, Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights) that has been infused in a Tim’s Double-Double for like five weeks. It’s good. It has an awesome soundtrack. I laughed outloud throughout the whole thing and I liked nearly all of the characters. It left behind the silly Letterkennyisms for the most part which I think have hurt that show. It was just a good watch.

Kenobi is more of just polishing that same turd the Prequels left us with. Ewan MacGregor carries the show on his back like a bantha. Mary Sue Organa is too precocious and once again they bent the rules of what we know about Star Wars…you know what? Fuck it. I don’t care anymore. Between the fans of the franchise who think it’s all real and the movies, there isn’t much else left to like about the series other than whatever the hell Mando is up to with Baby Yoda. Go nuts, b’ys.

So, my rant comes to Stranger Things, which as far as I can tell is just a fan fiction of the 80s through the lens of millennials who watched too many 80s movies growing up. They have once again applied their own sensibilities and romanticism to an era they hardly understand. They researched the time through painstakingly scouring old Speilberg VHS tapes and episodes of the Goldbergs. This season they threw in some Dazed and Confused to appeal to the stoners. Season one was great, then it fell off. By Season 4 we have a steaming pile of dogshit that has gone over budget with special effects, and hired the Woke Squad as the writers room. As Shoresey would say “Ho-leee…”

This is what I mean by Woke. I get inclusion, I get agency, all of that. But when you choke your sensibilities down everyone’s throat you get the same sorts of stereotypes you were trying to avoid. There isn’t one single likable character in this show right now. I finished episode two last night and I don’t even like Dustin or Steve very much. There is no chemistry. Nothing.

One of the things that bothers me the most is the character of Robin, who is a gay highschool girl and is very open about this fact with her buddy Steve. Yes, there are gay people in the world, and I’ve known lesbians who are just as vocal at talking about women they are crushing on as any high school boy. Now. Not in 1986.

That was at the height of the AIDS epidemic. People were getting the shit beaten out of them for maybe being homosexuals. Usually they weren’t! Our nation’s leaders were saying they were getting what they deserved with a slow agonizing death too. It was a scary time for gays in America, especially in the midwest. Robin in real life wouldn’t have so much as breathed her sexual preference outloud much less trying to chat up the pretty girl in band. It wasn’t like it is now! Things have changed a LOT since 1986.

The bullies are stereotypical bullies too, with the LaCoste shirts and blonde hair and mean girl tropes. The rollerink scene was an orchestration of some bullying that introduced the requirement of empathy when Eleven just snaps and she’s supposed to feel bad about retaliation, when most people in the 80s would have wondered why it took her so long to break that girl’s nose.

With a package covered in Soviet postage, Joyce would have wound up on a watch list with a white van parked in front of her house until 1991.

Then they jumped all over that Satanic Panic bullshit too with the DnD kid being suspected of murder and everyone freaking out. Nobody really cared back then about Dungeons and Dragons. Only the churches said anything, and the pastors shouting about summoning demons were on their third extramarital affair anyway. The congregation who actually took them seriously were probably waiting in line to be next, or so painfully naive in their social structures that they were too busy selling Shackley to do anything about their kids. They did NAIL the types of people who would be found sitting around a table in HS like that. But I rarely…RARELY saw anyone who could be considered a drug dealer playing RPGs. Stoners hung out with stoners and anybody dealing was likely already dropped out by then because they were making some money. What I’m saying is they didn’t DM campaigns. And in the 80s, nobody was calling horse traquilizer “Special K.” In 1986, there was coke, crank, weed, and pills. I doubt Hunter Thompson was even experimenting with ketamine yet. Maybe Timothy Leary.

Plus, the show is goddamn slow. Vegna or Vecga or Lou Bega, whatever the monster is called this season is creepy as hell and the damage he does is on Kronenberg levels of body horror. To that, I say, you had my curiosity, but now you have my interest. But the rest of it, from Nancy’s “journalist” assistant, Freddy(?) who is just Waldo, copied and pasted out of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” video to Eddie, who is the crazy stoner NOBODY would want to hang out with unless they were already so burned out…well, you see where I’m going with this. For being Woke and all, there is no GenX agency or representation here. Which is no fucking surprise. It’s sorta what makes us GenX.

It’s millennials playing dress up from their parent’s old clothes closet. This season isn’t even fun. The nostalgia is just sublimated tripe extracted in concentrated doses and injected into a corpse of a franchise that people enjoyed for a while until the kids got older and creepy looking, which is a factual representation of what happened to all of those 80s child stars.

As GenZ kids would say…Cringe.

So, watch Shoresy and give yer balls a tug, titfucker.

A day of rest

I’ve been juggling a lot at one time in the last few days and definitely have a “burning the candle at both ends” vibe going on. It’s nearly 11pm and I didn’t get edits done today, but I did write for pay. Which I need to do. If I didn’t need the money, and didn’t need to not blow money, I would have gone on a road trip today. The plan was to work on the book. Maybe I will still. I just finished a coffee and have a little steam left.

Not writing has been killing me. There’s a big difference between writing content for rehabilitation centers or spray coating companies and doing the work I need to do. Last night I watched the second half of the movie Franklyn (I’m a big Eva Green fan) and the whiskey I had while relaxing turned to sugar and I was wide awake until about 3am. I can’t do nightcaps I guess. I was able to write a little bit of character description for the book, which was beautiful and clean.

Today, after writing 1000 words of copy, I did dishes, caught up with a friend I hadn’t spoken with for a few weeks, and then decided to have a little downtime to watch Finding Forrester. Such a neat movie and really encapsulates a lot about writing, even though the main character is a bit too perfect. It’s the last of Sean Connery’s really good roles, in my opinion. It was hard to believe the movie was made in 2000. How the world has changed since then, and not necessarily for the better. Twenty-two years.

Sean’s gone, Anna Paquin is middle-aged, and I’ve got more grey in my beard. Hell, back then I didn’t even have a beard. But I did have hair.

They always say the years will flash by in the blink of an eye. One day you are 25 and have aspirations to be a writer, and twenty-two years later, you’re still chasing that dream. Maybe not noticeably closer. Three kids, a divorce, a series of relationship misadventures, and a dog later, I am now 46 and have a slightly better idea of how to get where I want to go. I’m not sure knowing what I do now would have helped me at that age. That’s pretty much what the movie is about anyway. The raw talent of youth meeting the temperment of experience. But you still have to do the work. You have to show up. You have to want it.

And today, I needed to rest.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and there will be no eggs or candy or chocolate bunnies this year. No fake plastic grass in a basket. It will be another day. Another Sunday. Life comes and goes in waves. Next Easter might be different, there’s no way of knowing.

Would I go back to 2000?

No. That was an awful year. Plus I kind of like having a smart phone and an internet connection that doesn’t go eerrrrrrr—boingboingboingboing!!!SCRREEEEEEEshhhhhhhh. I was a lot more insecure back then too. Easily led and blown about by every wind. I had a hard time understanding the difference between what I wanted, what I could do, and what I was supposed to do.

I’m still working on that, but at least now I know it’s something I can work on.

Every generation has its own disease

Lately I’ve noticed that 30 year cycle of nostalgia rolling across the internet. I happen to get lots of GenX posts on my For You Page on TikTok. If you are born between 1965 and 1979, you are part of this generation. We are a lot like the Lost Generation, which I’ve always been a big fan of. Only instead of surviving World War One, we survived the Cold War.

Though my classmates and I didn’t participate in air raid drills to duck and cover underneath our desks for fear of nuclear war, the subject was always talked about. Our parents, the Baby Boomers, back then were very into themselves. They were the first generation that really had both parents working. They worked hard. They played hard. I won’t get into it.

GenX is characterized mostly by our cynicism and inability to give a fuck. We’ve been Slim Pickens riding the Bomb for a long time. But one of the things we actually did care about–passionately even–was music.

I was at the tail-end of GenX, and so when my musical tastes ripened, I found more identity in the Alternative and Grunge genres than I did hair bands and the earlier “Classic Rock” though I am not ignorant of their contribution. I’ve jammed out to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, the Doors, then Slaughter, Cinderella, Ratt, and many others. But those jams were not my…er…jam, I guess, as much as what hit in 1990-1998. What I consider the golden era of GenX music.

But here’s the thing that bugs me. People show how little they know about GenX when they think that Nirvana encapsulates the musical experience. Honestly, before Kurt Cobain died, people who listened to music were mostly tired of their shit. Nevermind had a few good songs but mostly it was a novelty experience of listening to Kurt warble incoherently with some garbage lyrics and stoned out of his fucking gourd most of the time. In Utero was some alienating crap with a few mainstream tracks like Heartshaped Box and About a Girl. Unplugged actually gave them verasity. I mean, listen to Scentless Apprentice, (awesome drum track, but the rest of it is some bullshit). Talking up Nirvana is a lot lot telling a Boomer than Woodstock was the ENTIRE experience of the ’60s.

We didn’t wander around playing Smells Like Teen Spirit all damn day. Most people I knew couldn’t even stand Nirvana until Kurt killed himself. The band itself was on the decline by then, with him hitting the horse pretty hard. When he nearly died in Rio, most people figured that was that.

We had other bands too, like Fury in the Slaughterhouse, Love Spit Love, Edwin Collins, Mazzy Star, Pornos for Pyros, Sonic Youth, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, the Samples, Folk Implosion, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Tori Amos, Nine Inch Nails, Machines of Loving Grace, Rollins Band, the Cure, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, Live, The The, White Zombie, Oasis, the Cranberries, XTC, Jane’s Addiction, Jesus and Mary Chain, Fat Boy Slim, Concrete Blonde, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, Belly, Veruca Salt, and so many others. Those were just some off the top of my head.

Yet everyone on TikTok plays fucking Smells Like Teen Spirit like any of us actually liked that song. On that album alone, Come as You Are and In Bloom were the actual good songs. Lithium was good too. I had the single! On cassette tape! But it was hardly our anthem.

We also had Enigma, Faith No More, Queensryche, and don’t get me started on 90s R&B and hip hop. We had SWV, TLC, Salt n Pepa, New Edition, Bel Biv Devoe, Beasty Boys!, Sir Mix Alot, then Wu-Tang Clan(!!), Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest, Skee-lo, Geto Boys, NWA, and a plethora of others.

Maybe it’s fitting for a generation who were labled disenfranchised slackers as we were coming into our own even then that were as associated with a song that was overplayed and we were sick of even then. A whole generation who hates their birthday because all it does is prove that nobody even comes close to understanding us.

GenX huh? I love Smells Like Teen Spirit!

Yeah? Fuck you.

That isn’t us. Anymore than the Boomers are free love in hippie busses with Mamas and the Papas lilting out the windows, or Vietnam just being Fortunate Son blaring out of the side of a Huey.

They’ve tried to capture the zeitgeist of my generation (and failed) a few times in movies. Reality Bites was one. With Honors was another one. I think Singles came close, but that was very niche and very early GenX. Probably one of the best movies of the time was Kevin Smith’s Clerks. It’s childish and jejune, but the entire concept of “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” caught the spirit of my generation. Maybe Pump Up the Volume, but it was a movie about GenX written by Boomers. Sorta like Hackers, which was a movie about computers or something. Honestly it’s just a spoon for Angelina Jolie.

You want a good GenX movie, hit up Trainspotting. Or even Grosse Pointe Blank. The soundtracks alone…

The reason I’m writing this was because I was listening to my Amazon station and Alanis Morrisette came on. Jeez, I probably wore out my Jagged Little Pill album. I used to like playing it when I was doing dishes and folding laundry. I liked a girl in college who looked like Alanis from the video for “Ironic.” “You Oughta Know” was the weakest song on the album too, but it was shocking so it got play. I liked “Forgiven” and “Head Over Feet” the best. To me, Alanis was closer to the rage and heartbreak of the 90s and being GenX than any Nirvana song.

The disillusionment. The angst. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has somehow ironically become what it was written to make fun of.