The Back Room

With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.

Nostalgia or quality

Though I grew up in the age of Miami Vice, Sledge Hammer! and The A-Team and Sting, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, Dire Straits, Phil Collins, Madonna, Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel and Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop 2, The Golden Child, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Three Amigos!, Return of the Jedi, Crocodile Dundee, The Secret of Nimh, Innerspace, 3 Men and a Baby, Gremlins… it was the 90’s where I left nostalgia behind and began forming my individual self in Kierkegaardian fashion.  It was where I discovered American Psycho, Nine Inch Nails, Quentin Tarantino, Portishead, The Coen Brothers, N.W.A. Radiohead, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Thievery Corporation, David Sedaris, Erykah Badu, Homicide: Life on the Street and  Oz, Atom Egoyan, Barbara Kingsolver, Massive Attack, Zentropa, Spalding Gray, Mark Rylance, Unforgiven, The Silence of The Lambs, David Mamet, Wilco, Eric Bogosian, Kate Winslet, Helmut Newton, Whit Stillman, Alexander Payne, Will Self, Clockers, The Sopranos, Hal Hartley, David Fincher,  Saint Etienne, Angelique Kidjo, L.A. Confidential, Cocteau Twins,  Billy Bob Thornton (One False Move and Sling Blade), Patrice Leconte, Pedro Almodovar…

Part of that new self was culture-driven leaving other parts wanting.  I used culture to try to explain and entertain myself.  Eventually, my soul and little man I kept chained in the cell deep inside me faced reckoning.  It wasn’t until late in the 00’s that it all fell apart… allowing me to rebuild myself into the person I avoided 20 years earlier.

So much of my 80’s culture was enjoyable but doesn’t hold up for a 41 year old man the way my 90’s culture does.  One way is by placing it in nostalgia and seeing how it does or doesn’t resonate.  I can remember going to see these 80’s movies.  I remember who I went with, or how I reacted in the theater, or something that may have happened prior to going to the theater.  I probably won’t see The Secret of Nimh or Return of the Jedi ever again.  I remember how thrilling it was to receive a new Tom Clancy and tearing through all 500 plus pages like kids did with Harry Potter books.  I probably won’t read Patriot Games or Clear and Present Danger ever again.

With most 80’s culture I have the memory but not the substance.  Not the quality.  And the exciting thing about my 90’s culture is that I have the nostalgic remembrance, the first time I discovered Rob Seetoo’s review of Reservoir Dogs and saw it in the theater a week later, the first time my father and I saw Spalding Gray in person, in his flannel shirt, behind his desk, mesmerizing his audience, the first time I heard “Lebanese Blonde” or “Sunken Treasure” or “Apple Tree” or “Sour Times” or Angelique Kidjo’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” cover, the first time I wept at the conclusion of Monsieur Hire… I have these memories along with a more complete self albeit better mental health.

Today I can return to these early discoveries and see the brave struggle and often hard won success over 20 years.  I can see how far these artists have come and appreciate their 1990’s accomplishments with invigorating newness.


8 comments on “Nostalgia or quality

  1. writerinsoul
    December 24, 2014

    An interesting piece. I had not thought of it that way – separating an appreciation of culture into decades, in terms of personal staying power. Is it the decade or the man who changed? Just having more mature, developed taste could account for the difference, possibly? There could be 80‘s gems you overlooked at the time. I don’t know what those might be, mind you! (This has more to do with my tendency to be fuzzy on when things came out than a slur on the 80’s.)

    I find that some things I loved, I always love independent of when I discovered them while other things don’t hold up for me over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew Davis
      December 24, 2014

      As I reflect on the past twenty years and look to the next twenty years I think a lot about how best to spend my time. There was so much productive possibility in my 20’s fueled by the culture of the time. I find it fascinating that the things I appreciated in my 20’s I still appreciate in my 40’s. I like the idea that I can live in the curiosity and optimism I felt during the 90’s with a more completed self. It’s nice to know the things I wanted to do in my 20’s but didn’t out of fear, are not lost and gone forever. Thank you for the continued discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hassanizzo
    January 6, 2015

    I certainly felt nostalgic when you were listing off some of those people, bands and films. Amongst others The Golden Child, Radiohead, American Psycho and Tarantino’s films are all etched in my mind.

    Similar to your Tom Clancy phase, I used to love reading the Nick Stone series of books by Andy McNab but somehow, I don’t think they’d hold me in the same way now.

    Personally I think it’s healthy to evaluate the kinds of things you talk about here and gauge where you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going, looking at things from a fresh perspective and distance and really being able to evaluate what has made an impact on you as you’ve moved through life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew Davis
      January 6, 2015

      I agree, my friend. The things we have liked and done in our past are still in our minds. And for that time in our lives they were important. Kids today like things that I shudder at, though I wonder if I may have liked the same things when I was their age. I think I would reject most multimedia, PDAs, gaming and social networking even as a kid because I remember how low-tech I was back then, not even interested in the simplicity of the basic Atari games. I know I wouldn’t want to be a teenage boy now. Things have become too sexualized at an early age.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Angie Mc
    January 17, 2015

    Glad to find you via writerinsoul, Andrew. I so appreciate your intensity and have to laugh at my own intensity and how it clashed/got confused/dumbed-down during the general superficiality of the 80s. Like you, it is a thrill to know that there were gems there and throughout each decade to be gathered and made anew now. Here’s to a wise and wonderful future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew Davis
      January 17, 2015

      It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Angie. I like your positive view on things, especially how neatly it juxtapositions your own intensity. Here’s to 2015 and its surprises!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Angie Mc
        January 17, 2015

        It takes intensity to know intensity, lol! So glad to have connected and please don’t be a stranger. I appreciate your experience and you write so well. Welcome and cheers!


      • Andrew Davis
        January 17, 2015

        Yes. Writing is therapeutic for me. I look forward to reading more of your writing. Thank you for the validation.

        Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on December 21, 2014 by in Culture, Nostalgia, Thoughts and tagged , .

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