I’ve just learned that the Nickelodeon cable network is preparing to launch a new television series whimsically entitled “The 90’s Were All That.”
Yes, it’s a TV show about a decade. No, they’re not talking about the 1890s.
I can’t even remember the 1990s — and I don’t drug or drink.
It’s not that I’m nostalgia challenged. I feel a distinct sense of mourning for family farms, elm trees, ten-cent coffee and drive-in movies.
I miss milkmen, gas station attendants, paper boys and telephone receptionists.
I long for the heft of a real typewriter, metal hotel room keys, vinyl records — and I’d swap my flimsy plastic cell phone lozenge for a good old clunky rotary job in a heartbeat.
But that’s not the world we live in anymore. Today, trends pop up on the far horizon and then disappear with a swoosh in the rear view mirror before we have a chance to hiccup.
It took Tolstoy six years to write War and Peace. The media phenomenon known as &#*! My Dad Says went from original twitter feed to YouTube sensation to best seller list to hit TV series in just six weeks.
Last year, I briefly considered lashing out eight hundred bucks for a brand new state-off-the-art iPad. Good thing I resisted. The launch of iPad Two earlier this year has rendered the original hopelessly obsolete.
It’s not just iPads — have you got an iPod? Put it on eBay, pal. The iPhone was a dagger in the back of the iPod, the sales of which have been sagging steadily for the past three years.
While you’re at it, dump your discs. I’m not talking about LPs and 45s — they’ve been extinct for eons. I mean your floppy discs, your mini-discs, yea, even your CDs and DVDs. ITunes and Netflix are pushing them off the cliff. Those CDs still make nifty drink coasters, though. And if you string a few of them together and hang them in the garden they might keep the starlings away.
Some old technologies refuse to lie down and die. It is still possible to walk into a Western Union office and dictate a telegram — even though telegrams haven’t made much sense since that day in August, 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell placed the world’s first long distance call from Brantford, Ontario to the town of Paris, ten miles away. Fax machines lurk on desktops everywhere — right beside the computers and scanners that were supposed to replace them.
Film cameras are supposed to be dead and buried. The world’s last roll of Kodachrome colour film was processed at Dwayne’s Photo Service in Parson’s, Kansas last July — but diehard purists insist that digital photos lack soul.
Back about the time North Americans were getting used to the idea of telephones and electric lights there lived a nephew of the Sioux warrior Crazy Horse named Red Fox. He was a chief himself, a learned man and an early advocate for aboriginal rights. In his autobiography he wrote: “I met Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and many others who impressed me as great people, but pride in them and their achievements has not over-awed me, for I am not convinced that the comforts and advancements which they have brought to the world have made people more content and happy than the Indians were through the centuries on the mountains, prairies and deserts of the primeval, virgin continent.”
A few years ago a tourist in Washington was riding in a taxi past the federal archives building and noticed the legend carved in granite across the front of the building. It read: WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE.
“What does that mean?” the tourist asked.
“It means,” said the driver, “that you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
I fear that both Chief Red Fox and the cabbie were right.