1960s

Being Michael Grates

stillerrealitybitesAbout a week or two ago, I came across a few articles filled with emotional hand-wringing on the part of the generation often referred to as Millenials.  I read about how there is a generational conflict between this younger generation, which seems to be dismayed that the world doesn’t think they are entitled to anything; and older generations, who wish these kids would get over themselves.  It’s accompanied by talk about the uphill battle this generation faces as it enters a very touchy employment situation–the job market, after all, is terrible–and will have an enormous amount of student loan debt.  There is also the sentiment of “You created this mess and we inherited it.”

I found myself thinking about how Millennials need to get over themselves and how they’re all entitled brats, but then I couldn’t help but be reminded of two decades ago when Generation X seemed to be facing the same problems.  I am sure that your average Millennial will tell me otherwise, but it seems that there is something universal here:  the up-and-coming generation takes crap from the older generation. And I also couldn’t help but watch Reality Bites, the 1994 Winona Ryder-Ethan Hawke film that attempted to capture the struggle that particular group of twentysomethings was going through at the time.  Watching it again–and I watch it every once in a while–I knew that I would have a slightly different perspective and perhaps even view at least one of the characters a different way.  Not surprisingly, the character I seemed to sympathize with more than I did when I first saw the movie as a teenager was Michael Grates. (more…)

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 4: A Soundtrack for the End of the World

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 4 CoverHey everyone, it’s time for THE APOCALYPSE!!!  And while you’re sitting around wondering if a civilization that’s been dead for the better part of half of a millennium was right about the world ending, I thought I’d supply you with some music.

You can listen to the entire episode, which is basically one big playlist, here:

iTunes:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

Below is a list of songs with videos provided where available …

Intro music:  Great Big Sea, “End of the World” (Live)

1. MC5, “Kick Out the Jams”

2. Andrew W.K., “Ready to Die”

3. Billy Joel, “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” (Live)

4. Nena, “99 Luftballons”

(more…)

Self-Righteous

The watershed moments in your life rarely come with a script.  Oh sure, you have your major milestones and accomplishments but the moments of true epiphany are the most random, often happening when you least expect it.  One such moment in my life came before a club meeting during my senior year of high school.  I was helping pass out agendas and had left my backpack on my seat.  A friend of mine, Jim, was a fellow officer in the club happened to see my Walkman and out of curiosity, pulled it out of my bag and gave it a listen.  I returned to the table in time to see a look of complete confusion make its way across his face.

“Give me that,” I said, snatching the Walkman out of his hand.  Jim didn’t respond, and I put my headphones on to hear what had prompted such a strange look.  Playing near full blast was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

Luckily, the meeting soon began and Jim didn’t care enough to mention it again or to anyone else, and needless to say that had me relieved because while I brushed the incident off, I felt the same sort of weird guilt you’d feel as if you’d been caught masturbating.  This was music I had been listening to when nobody was around, an act of musical self-pleasure that I kept hidden from the guys I talked heavy metal with at the lunch table where for all they knew, I was genuinely impressed that Jeff tracked down a Megadeth bootleg or that Brian finally acquired the studio version of “Breadfan” when he bought the Japanese import single for “One.” Had he mentioned it to the group of people we hung out with, I would have been mercilessly ridiculed, like the time they found my copy of Born in the U.S.A. and wrote “Nice ass!” on the cover.

I probably shouldn’t have cared, to be honest.  What’s wrong with having your own tastes?  Who cares what other people think, right?  But I was an individual with serious self-esteem problems and a need for approval that meant not only did I really want to seem like I was cool, but I was quite possibly the easiest target for ridicule.  I will spare you the vulgar nicknames, the perfume sprayings, and other jokes in my honor and say that though Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield’s glory years were a good thirty years behind them at that point, my listening to the Righteous Brothers tape I’d borrowed from my mother, especially “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” had a perfectly reasonable explanation:  Top Gun. (more…)

Sometimes, more isn’t that groovy

For so many good movies, there are the unfortunate sequels. Oh sure, there are good sequels out there, but there’s also Predator 2, American Pie 2, or Eddie and The Cruisers II: Eddie Lives. And I’ve seen all three of those, so I know.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, most of those sequels are pretty much forgotten, relegated to late night runs on random cable channels that cannot afford quality movies, and I don’t think I would have known there was a sequel to American Graffiti if it hadn’t been pointed out to me via Charles Champlain’s book, George Lucas: The Creative Impulse when it came out in 1992. While it doesn’t get the attention of Star Wars, Empire, Jedi, or the original American Graffiti, More American Graffiti is covered halfway decently. In reading about the movie online and watching it last week, however, I get the feeling that this one is ranked in the Lucas filmography as “At least it’s not Howard the Duck.”

Okay, that’s a little harsh, but it wasn’t a movie that I intended seeking out and had I not been showing American Graffiti in my advanced English class, I would have been fine with watching bits and pieces of it here and there throughout the years whenever I happened to come across a random showing on WPIX or on cable. Plus, when I looked it up on Netflix, it was available for instant viewing.

American Graffiti, Lucas’s 1973 classic, follows a group of friends on the last night of the summer. What Lucas and director Bill Norton do is set More American Graffiti on four consecutive New Year’s Eves, from 1964-1967. After an initial scene in 1964 where several characters from the original meet at a racetrack, the storylines go their separate ways: John Milner is drag racing cars in 1964; Terry “The Toad” is in Vietnam; Debbie is a hippie in 1966 San Francisco; and Steve and Laurie are a married couple in Modesto in 1967. (more…)