Don’t Believe the Nostalgia Machine: 1994 Was a Shitty Year for Music

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Originally posted on Flavorwire:

It’s a strange thing to see an era you remember being regurgitated by the nostalgia machine. The last couple of years have been a constant stream of early-’90s anniversaries: Nevermind ! Dazed and Confused ! My So-Called Life ! It’s not like we didn’t see this coming, of course — culture tends to move in generational 20ish-year cycles, so a resurgence of interest in the ’90s was inevitable. (And, of course, these days culture bloggers just love a good anniversary as an excuse for a think-piece, a trend from which this site is certainly not exempt.) Sure, the early ’90s were a rich flourishing of culture after the desert that was the late ’80s. But this year, we’re at the 20th anniversary of 1994. And listen: 1994 was shit .

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Here are the Pro-Russian Separatists of Eastern Ukraine:

Originally posted on TIME:

Spend a few days riding around the separatist badlands of eastern Ukraine, and you’d have a good chance of running into Alexander Mozhaev, the fighter suspected of being a Russian government operative. He’s hard to miss, and not just because photographs of him — or claiming to be of him — have been made available by the Ukrainian government in recent days. His beard, which juts out of his face like a spade, has made him something of a mascot for the local separatists.

Perhaps aptly, Mozhaev’s nickname among them is Babay, the Russian word for bogeyman, which is exactly what the Ukrainian government has tried to make him. Over the past week, authorities in Kiev have released photographs that purport to prove that Mozhaev is an agent of the Russian military intelligence service known as GRU, and they have shared that information with senior Western diplomats and some reporters…

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Take 1: An Excerpt from the Intro to the Untitled Second Novel by Jackson Williams (Draft 1, Scene 3)

and just what do what have here?? So, this is very rough — it’s something old made new (salvaged) for the purpose of my next untitled manuscript. Is it not very good? Pretty much? Is it a start? …I guess. But since it’s so new and fresh and full of wonder, I decided to be nice and share it with you, my dear readers. I do around seven or eight drafts for everything large that I write, and this one will be no exception. By the time it reaches the stage where I consider it a “finished product,” you would hardly recognize it, especially when compared to this humble, rough piece ‘o crap before you.

But, still: Dig.

J.W.

Typewriter

What is there to say for the summer of hushed voices?? or of how Time would creep slowly through the grass, unaffected by feeling and noise and all the electric daydream excitement of lost, young love, quiet as a snake, not once letting itself be known as something other than a kinetic whisper to all its lost, young children?? can we really, now years in the future, put to words something that we could not then?? I’m trying to do just that right now, myself a (now) humbled, young jackass with not a whole lot to do, and the fiercest problem I’m running in to is simply a trick in the art of remembering, that science for the damned and diabolical, and part of the problem is this: I can barely remember anything. With a capital A. Nothing, nada, zilch, a curious absence. I’ve searched high and low up there in the darkest parts of my brain, sniffed around for the once-fresh fumes of a heart once consumed with heavenly noise, and I can barely remember a fucking thing. Flashes. Whispers. Allegations and jealousies now long forgotten. Her eyes: glittering blue, framed under a gazebo new and white. Words wasted on things as trivial as celebration and hatred. You can tell why my mind is scattered – long ago, eyes blessed and breath missing, foolish work as destiny for a good fool, I caught a glimpse of something other, something wild, something wonderful, something I’m obviously failing to explain; and what I witnessed, whatever it was, has left me as someone different than who I was prior to those first moments of color.

Abigail, a name fitting for a classic like she. Abigail, laughing and whispering, I regress in to corny stereotypes when I try to think back. Gallons of bullshit pour from my mouth, like rivers let loose from their restraints, and yet at the heart of all this bullshit and wasted words is nothing more than pure, unabashed truth. So I like to think. I’m sure you’ll laugh, Abby, when you read this that is, and that was precisely the point of why I even began to compose this document: this is for you because though I act different I do love you, I love you being simply the truest words I could possibly hope to say (even if this little document of mine never sees the light of day). I taped the word ‘smile’ to the front of it because that was the intent of the whole testament. It, being far too meager, is only intended to show that even though I acted like a jerk, harm was never meant even when I said it was really what I meant.

I’m sure you understood what I meant.

It’s sometime in winter, who fucking knows how long ago. I never want to leave this room. I know it’s winter because everyone keeps say that it’s winter and it’s the coldest one they can remember, thank god to them for reminding me. They’ve lived here in Emerald for forty years, their parents have been here even longer than that, and they’ve never seen one like this, not once ever in those long and tiring winters that took place well before I was even born. With wonder in their eyes from thinking back to winters past they would recall how they never saw the ice hang quite like this and this – oh my, this is is the important and world-shattering part – early, too; never once, apparently, has the snow began to fall this early in the season, but who really knows anymore when it comes to the weather, they say, because every year it seems to get weirder and weirder, more violent, more unpredictable, more exciting, extreme, and, most of all, more schedule-altering. It can never be forgiven.

But I’m elsewhere, I always am. It is simply the way I am.

On this evening I am tucked away from what appears to be snow falling down outside the window. I sit next to Abigail. Both of us stare outside at the snowfall, both having now seen snow more than a thousand times each and yet still entranced by its quiet procession from sky to earth, if it had music it would something akin to a violin plucked softly. Call it youth. I’m sitting next to the prettiest girl in the world. Call that statement youth, too, but I wouldn’t change the statement one bit even if I could. There’s no arguing with myself tonight, not when I’m sitting here, young and dumb and in love, only hearing the sounds of our breathing one-two, one-two, one-two, and I suppose she heard it as well, probably couldn’t help it either.

I listen to the breathing until she interrupts its rhythmic certainty:

“I suppose I’m just crazy then.”

“Word.”

“Thanks.”

During the course of the conversation I had misplaced just exactly what the hell she was talking about. I do this alot, since, you know, I spend a lot of time in my own head.

“Uh, you’re welcome. Babe.”

“I’ll tell them. Honestly.”

“What?”

“You know. I’ll tell them, really.”

A pause, no more than three seconds.

Time runs slowly through the grass and the Heart pumps wildly, this being before there were only fumes left.

“You don’t have to. It’s fine, Abby. Don’t worry.”

“Ugh.” I hate the fake disdain in her girl-ified grunt, as if everything including success depended on me just keeping my mouth shut and following along. “I am I am, because I better just do it because I already know it’s just going to end up being a fight. I’ll just tell them and get it fucking over with.”

And, like some goofy little bastard (I am), I’m smiling. Like an idiot, a grin beginning sharply at one ear and likewise stopping sharply at the other.

“You never cuss. I love it when you cuss.”

She smiles just a little bit and contorts her face ever so slightly to get that look – The Look, the one she has perfected from what is no doubt years of practice – the one that says, quite simply: I’m dating a complete fucking idiot and I have absolutely no idea why.

“I wished you cuss more,” I continue. “It’s kind of hot, actually.”

“Are you really serious?”

“I like your boobs, too. How’s that for serious?”

“I sound weird when I cuss.”

“You do not.”

“Really?” and as she says this, incredulous as can be, I start to get the feeling that maybe I’m walking in to a fight. While this witty banter of ours seems innocuous enough to an outside observer, I’ve played in this game long enough and been around her just long enough to know and understand that when we mix, even things as simple and harmless as all these words can lead to a dramatic fight and then a breakup. Because as soon as those words are said they have a way of becoming sensitive, every last one of those words, down to each syllable, and pretty soon we’ll be picking each words apart for meaning, going round and round in a circle, each minute building up with more frustration than the last. It’s like a dance that starts out slow, lovingly staring in to each others eyes to what could be described as a waltz, and then the music begins to pick up and before you know it we’re absolutely epileptic, music matching suit, every one of our actions meant to piss the other person of. Honestly: most of these of these fights end up being my fault, but that doesn’t matter….well, maybe it does, but let’s continue:

“Well, I think so Abby. But that’s just me. I like your boobs though. And your hair, too. And when you cuss, oddly enough. Seriously. Not that I’ve run out of things I like.”

Pause.

“Or: maybe I’m the weird one.”

The snow outside the window has begun to pick up a little more, less like falling leaves now and more like waves, each wave yielding more and more snowfall. We’re on the second floor so all I can really see is the tree across the street, skinny and all-jagged limbs, the limbs clutching the falling snow inbetween sharp fingers. A few of those limbs will be broken by morning, frost and weight doing them in as always. And while I’m staring out at the buckling limbs she rolls over on to her side, her head propped up on one hand. I’m laying next to her on my back. She’s wearing a dress – sweet, wonderful summerdress it is – the one that earlier prompted me to give her my coat because it probably wouldn’t look good if my girl died in my company from sudden pneumonia. It’s the one she wore all summer, or maybe that’s only in my memory, maybe I’ve tied it to her character in my mind and since I’ve done this I’m fucked because from now on she’s only going to be wearing that dress, even when I remember us going swimming or going to dinner or anything else that mind flawed mind conjures up. Maybe: memory’s a cold, cruel bitch.

“I’ll tell them. Really.”

“I don’t want you to if you don’t want to.” You know, this response must be in some go-to handbook somewhere. Or, it’s just that obvious to say.

“STOP!” she nearly yells before her voice retreats back in to its calm, quiet home. No cursing this time. “Listen: I know you want me to, so stop saying that you don’t. It’s useless. I hate it when you do that.”

“Do what?”

“You know what: acting all, I dunno, wishy-washy.”

And her comes the quick, modestly-powerful sigh. Her eyes shut when she does this. I’ve seen this before and now know exactly which way we’re heading for the evening. I brought this all on myself. She continues:

“I know you want me to, so stop saying that you don’t. It’s useless and I don’t like it.”

“I’m sorry, babe.”

“You don’t have to say you’re sorry because I get it. Let me talk. I get why it makes you mad that they don’t know and it’s totally normal because anyone would get mad about something as stupid as that. I know. I’m just frustrated at myself over it. That’s all. It’s freaking stupid and I should be the one that’s sorry. You know I’m sorry, right?” I nod, ready to talk and say my piece but I know she’s got more in her, fighting against her natural instinct to be reserved and, my god, so fucking beautiful because of how reserved and understated she could be.

“It’s my fault, Miles. You’ve done nothing wrong and I can understand why you’re mad.”

“I’m not mad. Really. Stop saying that I am because I’m not.”

“You know that I’ve known you long enough to know when you’re lying, right? Just admit it, Miles.” When I don’t speak up she repeats my name, trying to get my attention when she already holds it fully.

“Just admit it. It’s okay to be mad.”

“Fine.” And now it’s my turn to close my eyes and fire back a sigh. “I admit it. But it’s not that big of a deal, babe. Honest.”

“You don’t think it’s a big deal that my parents don’t even know we’re dating…after two years?”

“….No.” Warning: gigantic lie. I do.

At my answer she laughs and this laugh was one of my favorite things about her, not just its sound but her face when she does it. Her eyes get big and her mouth opens wide and that smile, angelic to the point of life-altering, begins to boldly shine through and when this magical act begins you feel like you’ve just said the funniest thing in the world, like your words have scrambled her senses and in her laughter-induced helplessness she becomes somehow truly yours, you’ve won her over forever, she can’t stop laughing if she tried to. Part of me thinks that my humor developed just so I could be able to make her laugh and smile. Humor became the very thing that made my day complete only because of what I could do for her, and so do for myself in the process when the mission was complete. I’ve become a master at it and now she won’t stop laughing, half of it sincere and half of it out of pure, mind-numbing frustration.

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