A Hooters Running Diary

A running diary of the Hooters’ contemptible ‘And We Danced’ video:

[Note: if you’re looking this and trying to decide whether or not you want to read on, I suggest scrolling down and clicking on the second video clip– it’s the best part.]

00:07-00:14: Opening scenes. A hazy vision of rural, 1950s heartland America, a throwback to a more innocent time of sock hops and white picket fences.

00:15-00:30: Except that now two teenage boys are being thrown into the back of car, presumably as a prelude to being slain execution-style at some later point in the video. First-ever carjacking? I’m confused.

00:38-00:44: Strains of mandolin and melodica. Hmm, this isn’t so bad. Maybe we lucked out and stumbled into a Los Lobos video.

00:45-01:01: Senseless parade of 1950s tropes continues sweeping shot of vintage cars waiting to enter a drive-in movie.

I tend to associate the cultural hard-on for fifties revivalism with the 1970s (e.g. Grease, Happy Days) and forget how much it haunted us through the eighties and even into the nineties. We weren’t really into the clear until The Wonder Years was finally cancelled in 1993.

01:02-01:15: Uh oh.

01:16-01:17: Girl gets out of car and bounds towards Hooters while executing one of the two classic 80s dances: skipping while vigorously clapping hands above head.

01:19-01:20: Senseless torture of two boys trapped in car trunk at the hands of their captors. I can barely watch.

01:24-01:26: Who represents the better catch: A bee-bop baby on a hard day’s night (in other words, the heroine of this song)? Or: A small town girl on a Saturday night, albeit one who’s dancing like she’s never danced before?

01:27-01:30: Hooters keyboardist/vocalist Rob Hyman deftly executes a variant of above-described hopping-and-clapping dance with hands clapping below head.

01:31-01:34: There are a lot of different cheesy things in this video… but Hyman’s hand gestures during the ‘She was hanging on Johnny, he was holding on tight” part are really a crime against humanity.

01:49-01:51: WOW. Just a tremendous buildup to the chorus. Hyman’s combination hand-flip/leg-kick move at 01:50 might be the signature moment of 80s cheese ever captured on camera.

Let’s slow the playback rate down to 10% and take a closer look at the moves of this lovetorn young troubador:

Maybe I should do an animated gif version of the big climax… hmmm.

02:04-02:08: Satanically, there’s now second Hooters lead vocalist (guitarist Eric Bazilian) who has the same voice as the first.

02:20-02:36: There’s something about each of these guys’ necks that is too taunt and generally very hard for me to look at.

02:37-03:29: Nevermind.

03:30-03:43: No depiction of 1950s teenage America could be complete without an appearance by The Nerd. So here is he is: cringing in fear and throwing popcorn all over himself as bikers drive past him. God, this video is so wholly unimaginative, I want to kill myself.

03:50-03:52: Kidnapped boys finally beaten to death with a tire iron.

03:54: Look closely at the bottom-right corner of screen and you’ll see that Hyman does the hand-fling/leg-kick move AGAIN here.

04:30-04:38: In a final twist, the mandolin and melodica part is reprised, but with Hyman and Brazilian having displaced the Los Lobos guys.

04:39: “And we sucked! Like a wave on the ocean, romance…”

Crimson Tide

Few topics can numb my buns like a discussion of how some social networking platform is or isn’t changing the cultural and/or political landscape around us. I can’t explain my disdain in rational terms– it’s more like there’s just this big, bored, empty thought bubble that appears over my head whenever the subject is raised. I guess this ennui is best expressed by an article in the Onion brilliantly titled, ‘New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Christ, Forget It‘.

So, I was surprised to recently encounter two new pieces of commentary on this subject that actually engaged my interest and/or taught me something new. The first was Malcolm Gladwell’s denigrating comparison of the so-called Twitter Revolution to a real bona-fide revolution, the civil-rights movement (this I found mainly revelatory for its explanation of how heirarchically and militantly structured the civil rights organizers actually were). The second was ‘The Social Network’, which I got to see last weekend in a rare case of a U.S. movie being screened in Prague almost synchronously with its stateside release. (In this case, some weird film club got a hold of a copy with Czech titles and screened it as part of their tenth anniversary party. I didn’t understand all of the festive ramifications, but I was glad to get to see it…. plus, there were lots of whisky shots distributed during the film).

I hadn’t been terribly interested in seeing a highly-fictionalized account of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg until I read the David Denby’s review that comes as close as a Denby review possibly can to enthused RANTING and RAVING about a movie. And, indeed, it is as good as advertised– the pacing and writing are both excellent, such that I was totally riveted the entire time. Most impressively, its a rare example of a Hollywood movie that handles an overtly moral subject with sufficient complexity – no hamfisted good-versus-evil dramaturgy– without wussing out and denying it sufficient gravitas and force.

As Denby notes, the movie also does a great job illustrating the pressuring and potentially-alienating atmosphere of Harvard University. Now, as the only one out of the three people who write for this blog who didn’t attend Harvard, maybe I’m the wrong person to comment on this. But, the film is set in the exact same years when friends of mine were there and I was occasionally loitering around on campus hanging out with them. Mainly, the malice and pent-up rage evident in some of characters in “The Social Network” reminded me… not of people I personally met, thank god… but of a string of scandalous and disturbingly violent incidents that unfolded during those years.

Principally, there was the case of Sinedu Tadesse, an Ethopian biology student who became increasingly unhinged and in 1995 murdered her roommate and hanged herself in the dorm room they shared in Dunster House– the same house that most of my friends there inhabited. At the time, I remember that part of the lore around this was the fact that the culprit was so socially alienated that she gave herself ‘assignments’ in how to socialize and graded herself accordingly– a strange and tragic attempt to impose an academic structure on mastering human relationships. Articles written on the case at the time (principally, a New Yorker article by a woman who went on to write a full length book on the subject) confirm this to be the case, and also paint the sad episode of Tadesse sending a strange beseeching letter to individuals that she picked out of the phone book in search of friendship. At the time, I also remember thinking that perhaps the muder of her roommate was inspired by a competitive desire not to let the roommate benefit from a semester of automatic straight A’s that you’re always rumored to receive if your roommate commits suicide. (Has anyone ever confirmed this, by the way, or is it just an academic urban myth?). But, it turns out that her roommate was the last person to serve as a friend to the culprit, and when she eventually announced her desire to live with some other girls, that served as the final social betrayal that pushed Tadesse over the edge.

Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder, the aforementioned book by Melanie Thernstrom, generated mixed reviews to put it kindly (apparently, she gets carried away in a kind of blunt good-versus-evil moralizing that her reviewers object to, which I guess brings this blog post around full circle somewhat)… but one thing that every reviewer seems to find illuminating is the emphasis placed on Harvard’s apathy and insensitivity to the whole matter, particularly to the increasingly evident signs of instability in the culprit in particular and its lack of psychiatric support for students as a whole.

Incredibly, this jarring murder/suicide transpired in the same year that Harvard accepted a young woman named Gina Grant and then generated enormous negative publicity by rescinding the acceptance after it came to light that Grant had apparently murdered her mother several years earlier.

Macalester College– the humdrum, plain-Jane school I attended– was completely lacking in this kind of drama. In fact, the school had singularly failed to do anything noteworthy at all until it recently made its way into Jonathan Franzen’s newest novel Freedom as the alma matter of the fictitious main characters. I suppose I should have taken this relative lack of sociopathology as a positive indicator at the time, but I think I wanted to be part of some more unhinged and psychotic atmosphere back then, and the morbid news streaming out my friends’ college only succeeded in arousing my envy.

Brno Bienale and Polish film posters revisited

Yesterday, I went to Brno to take part in the opening of the Brno Bienale, a design exhibition in which the CTP book I spent all last summer and fall working on is being displayed. (Note: there are literally hundreds of works being displayed there, so it’s not like this is any great distinction.)

Here’s my trip in handy ascii map format:

|||||||| >>>>>>>>>>(me on train)>>>>>>>>>>>||||||

Assorted highlights along the way:

1. Prague main train station, 10:05am. You gotta love the cafés associated with train stations in Central Europe. It’s just past 10am and I’m drinking a small beer, yet I’m allowed to feel that this is a somewhat upright behavior given that the two guys next to me are pounding shots and smell like they’ve been cleaning out that barn that Hercules had to irrigate for one of his 12 tasks.

2. Brno main train station, 1:15am. Pleasant surprise of the day: getting to Brno and kinda remembering my way around from two previous brief day trips here.

This is a memorable contrast to my first ever trip to Czech Republic, back in 2001 when I was just blowing through on the way to Vienna and had no notion that I’d ever be living here. After staying up most of the night running around Prague, I got on the train to Vienna and instantly fell into a deep, catatonic sleep. After two and a half hours, I suddenly lurched awake when the train stopped, blearily peered out the window into the darkness and was met only with a large, inscrutable sign reading ‘BRNO’. Having never heard of Brno before at that point, I momentarily panicked, imagining perhaps that I had been asleep for twelve hours and had now been carried into some regional outpost on the edge of Siberia. “Oh no! Brrr!” I cried out involuntarily, and then saw the reality mirrored back at me again by the horrifying sign: BRRRR-NO.

3. An exhibit called ‘Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design’, 6:45pm. After the opening ceremony, speeches and awards, and after looking at the main exhibits (all of which turned out to be pretty un-fun for various reasons which I won’t bother getting into… but suffice to say that the part I’m about to describe was the only fun part of the Bienale for me:) I wound up looking through a great exhibit curated by Rick Polynor about the tradition of surrealism in graphic design. Remember those Polish movie posters I blogged about? Czech movie posters from this era were done pretty much in the same style, and this exhibit had fascinating ones from both countries. Check out these various interpretations of Hitchcock’s The Birds:

As my Czech student put it while we looking at these, “See… there were some good things about Communism.”

(Note: the top one borrows directly from Max Ernst’s The Robing of The Bride, which I blogged about in the Quiet Visualizations of Evil post.)

Continuing on the weirdo bird theme, here’s a bird in high heels executed by a 60s Croatian artist that I know nothing about:

For our last bird-related item, check out this incredible 1972 kraut rock cover for Amon Dull’s Carnival In Babylon:

Have you ever seen anything that straddles the line between so-bad-it’s-good versus SO-bad-that-it-swings-all-the-way-back-around-into-bad like this?

Skid Row

In case you missed the brouhaha, TK at 40goingon28 posted this tweet from noted film critic and profuse sweater Roger Ebert:

Several folks (myself included) quickly recognized this as a semi-opaque reference to the movie Vertigo, where the movie’s action is instigated by a request that James Stewart’s character visit an old friend with a Mission address– ‘skid row’, as gal friday Midge remarks. As it turns out, both references have a ‘sic’ quality to them, in that both the End Up and Gavin Elster reside in what we would now consider to be SoMa, but back in the day, this counted as part of the Mission.

Here’s the clip (click for movie file):

As far as I know, the other notable cultural references to the neighborhood are:

1. 48 Hours, where Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte visit the credulity-stretching Torchie’s Western Bar– supposedly, a straight, white, red neck strip joint. (By the way, check out this Czech-dubbed version of the scene that demonstrates the particular awkwardness of trying to find jive-sounding Czech guys to do the lines for the Eddie Murphys and Wayans brothers and other hip African Americans of the movie world.)

2. Dashiell Hammet’s novel The Glass Key. Members of an occult group break into a pharmacy in the Mission to steal opium.

3. Nabokov’s Lolita. As Humbert Humbert travels the country with the nymphette Dolores Haze towards the end of the book, he gives a series of quick one-liners listing places they’ve visited. ‘Mission Dolores: good title for book,” he remarks self-deprecatorily.

Anything I’m missing?

Getting back to Roger Ebert for a sec, here’s a photo of him from 1970 where he actually looks a tad End-Uppy:

This Movie Happened

The other day somebody sent me a link to a trailer for what appeared to be a 2003 movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Beckinsale, and Gary Oldman. Those actors were all pretty big-time in 2003, so I was a little surprised that I didn’t recognize it — it was called Tiptoes. But then I grasped its premise, and I immediately concluded that this was some Funny or Die sketch. In Tiptoes (purportedly), Kate Beckinsale is pregnant with her fiance McConaughey’s child, and he reveals to her that he is from a family of dwarfs and has been hiding this fact from her — and it is very likely that her child will be a dwarf. And the kicker, which proved to me beyond any doubt that this was all a big send-up, was that Oldman, in “the role of a lifetime” as the trailer promises, played McConaughey’s wise-cracking dwarf older brother.

The tagline, “It’s the Little Things in Life that Matter” and the improbable “2004 Sundance Film Festival Selection” also seemed to be examples of the perpetrators getting a little carried away with the joke.

It literally didn’t cross my mind that any studio could have actually made this film, let alone that these three actors might have voluntarily agreed to be in it. Even my movie producer friend agreed that it was just not possible. So I did some googling to learn more…and I found more and more evidence that it was real. An IMDB page. A Rotten Tomatoes page. Random internet discussions of it. I soon concluded that this was one of the most elaborate hoaxes ever perpetrated. Only when my friend actually managed to download a full copy of the movie and, he claims, watch all 90 minutes, did I accept that it was real (although I am still pondering whether the gag might have extended to filming an entire feature-length movie).

I’m hoping this can become a regular feature on the blog. Dan, I challenge you to find a movie less likely to be real, but still real.


Dan replies: If I wanted to be a jerk about it, I would nominate Abbas Kiarostami’s Close Up. Synopsis: In real life, a man named Hossain Sabzian insinuated himself into the lives of the movie-going Ahankhah family by pretending to be the noted Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Makhmalbaf’s colleague Kiarostami filmed the resulting criminal trial and then got Sabzian and the Ahankhah family to impersonate themselves and reenact the entire drama. Now that’s unlikely. It’s a jerk comparison, though, because Kiarostami’s movie is ‘unlikely’ in a deliberate artistic manner, whereas Tiptoes is just weird. What’s more, its a jerk move because Krafty introduced me to the film in the first place.

Glimpses of A Disco Story

Some screenshots from Discopriběh (A Disco Story), the seminal Czechoslovakian teenybopper movie that I watched over the weekend on a friend’s suggestion.

It’s essentially an 80s teen musical in the spirit of Pretty In Pink, anchored by the pop stylings of Michal David, who might really be the most incredibly cheesy person on the face of the planet. Filmed just two years before the Velvet Revolution, it gives an interesting glimpse into the last days of Communism… I suppose. And the points where it converges and diverges with American teeny-bopperism are instructive … I guess. But mostly, it’s just a good laugh. I would recommend it, but I imagine it’s impossible to find a copy with subtitles (I had to have my wife clue me as to what was happening whenever the plot strayed from the most rudimentary teen plot points).

Lots of this: exuberant, goofball out-of-the-blue musical numbers.

Many of the clubs they hang out in don’t really look fully renovated, and thus have a kind of civic-sponsored, junior-high-school-dance vibe. I would make more fun of this, but a lot of clubs in villages still look like this, and I’ve hung out in many such places…

Early on, there’s a Teenage Mischief Montage where the main character engages in a bunch of ruses to evade a tram inspector who’s caught him without a ticket. Suddenly, he plunges into a crowd of goose-stepping, robotic soldiers who are marching through the main town square. Marching soldiers: communist-era comic foil!

Also, a gratuitous topless scene involving these two girls that’s far more random, baffling, and inexplicable than anything you can imagine seeing in a U.S. movie from the same period (and that’s saying a lot). It’s all a bit… unreconstructed.

Aside from the dreamy male and female leads, the other sidekick characters are incredibly cretinous and look like they just fell off a dump truck. This is the lucky male character who gets prominently involved in the topless scene mentioned above. Let’s just move on…

Lots of bonding scenes between father and son, who share a typical (small) Communist-era box flat and therefore share a bed. You can really ratchet up the bonding vibe when the two characters are sharing a bed.

There’s a classic West Side Story angle, in that the boy hides his humble social status in order to try and impress the girl. Interestingly, the humble social role that he’s trying to conceal also involves training to become a chimney sweep (??), so we see lots and lots of scenes with guys dressed liked this.

Then, a fantastically cheesy date montage scene, which someone was kind enough to upload to youtube. I encourage you to watch it.

Finally, after a classic dramatic arc and some depressing moments, the movie ends with a triumphant denouement where thousands of kids suddenly burst out dancing on the main square of Plzen. By this point, my wife had stopped watching, so I was kind of confused as to what had happened that had suddenly made everyone so jubilant… but I enjoyed the happy ending nevertheless.

The longhairs of Weimar

Before there was the band Bauhaus, there was the Bauhaus Band:

In the documentary Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century, former student Kurt Kranz talks about the school band and student life there:

“The Bauhaus Band was a sort of cross between Dixieland and… let’s say, something partly inspired by Hindemith and his electric piano. When we dared to go out onto the streets– especially the girl weavers who wore trousers– there was always uproar. “Impossible!” people would say. When we came along with ponytails, mothers warned daughters ‘Don’t look! They’re from the Bauhaus!’ We were the punks of Dessau!”

The thing that really interested me about this documentary– which I just showed to my design history students– is the revelation that, along with all the endlessly-touted contributions that the school made to our architecture and interior design ( ‘Our cities it turned into rather mechanical machines, and turned our interiors into rather nice, simplifed kitchen-like instruments’ as one talking head nicely summarizes), it also created a fixture in our social landscape: the ragtag student radical. The basic elements of Kranz vignette– ponytails, androgyny, spontaneous happenings and pranks, horrified middle-class on-lookers– all sound like staples of the early 60s, but the microcosm Kranz describes happened 30 years earlier.

In a culturally chauvinistic way, I tend to assume that there was something genteel and restrained about college life the world over until the early 60s when – poof! – the student radical suddenly emerges on the American college campus on the strength of demographic factors, post-war prosperity, the social protest movements of the 60s and everything else. But, in a ‘winners write the history books’-type way, I tend to forget that the atmosphere in Germany between the wars was more politically galvanizing than anything the U.S. has ever experienced– I mean, you had a short-lived communist coup AND a fascist takeover within 14 years, and all centered around the city of Weimar where the first incarnation of the school was headquartered. Plus, the Bauhaus preached all the the free-thinking ideas– question everything, knock down gender roles, etc– that we associate with the liberal campus environment.

There’s also a nice bit about Johannes Itten, the mysterious instructor who taught a foundation course that hugely shaped the spirit of the school for its entire lifespan. You always read about Itten being a bit of a weirdo, but I hadn’t realized that he was a full-blown mystic who opened classes with chanting and dabbled in Zoroastrianism:

World’s oldest religion, baby!

Also, there’s an interesting discussion of the Nazis’ contradictory attitudes to avant-garde design– onthe one hand, they persecuted the Bauhaus teachers and students and promoted a pretentiously rusticated style of furniture design. But this opposition was mainly for show– the director briefly summons an entertaining photo of Hitler lounging in a tubular steel chair as evidence of their basic hypocrisy:

The Subtitled Hitler Video Meme

I am somewhat ashamed to use the term “meme,” which I have been resisting for years. I’ve tried to group it into the category of pointless, space-filler terms like “outside of the box” or “on a going forward basis,” but it has become increasingly clear to me that “meme” is, in fact, a concise and distinct term that captures a phenomenom that otherwise can be described only with a lot more words.

The Urban Dictionary offers these five definitions for “meme”:

1 : an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)

2 : a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable

3 : the fundamental unit of information, analogous to the gene in emerging evolutionary theory of culture
– meme pool (n.) : all memes of a culture or individual
– memetic (adj.) : relating to memes
– memetics (n.) : the study of memes

4 : in blogspeak, an idea that is spread from blog to blog

5 : an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information

My favorite sorts of memes are those that start from some basic “text,” such as a short video, event or comment that “catches fire” in popular culture, and then build on it, creating new and increasingly bizarre derivations. So for example there is the Kanye West/Taylor Swift meme, where new words are plugged, “Mad Libs”-style, into Kanye’s infamous rant at the MTV Music Awards, or the “Yo Dog!” meme where the same thing is done to the host of ‘Pimp My Ride’s” infamous trope, “Yo dawg, I heard you like ______, so I put an __________ in your car so you can ________ while you drive!” (See the excellent website “Know Your Meme” for hilarious mini-episodes on memes, done by Dharma-initiative-like people in labcoats).

But my favorite meme of all is the “Hitler Subtitle” meme, in which people take a famously over-the-top scene from the movie Downfall, where Hitler freaks out at his generals, and add subtitles suggesting that Hitler is instead getting mad about something else altogether. The first one I remember seeing cast Hitler as Hillary Clinton, with the generals attempting to break the news to her that Obama was on an unstoppable course to securing the Democratic nomination. But it’s been done over and over again, on countless different topics ranging from problems with Windows Vista to a planned trip to Burning Man, and every time somebody sends me a new one, I laugh even harder than the last time. I have no idea why — the mystery of a successful meme is why it doesn’t fizzle out, but instead gains momentum as it evolves. In this case, there is something about the scene with its buffoonish German ranting that lends itself to literally any conceivable expression of outrage. And, of course, the more insignificant the topic, the sillier it seems in the context of Hitler and his generals. But what I don’t understand is my sense that it is funnier each time in part because of the experience of having seeing all of the other versions.

Here is the latest iteration:


(“Know Your Meme’s” explanation here.)

Overhyped "Edgy" Films

I’ve noticed a trend: every year, some movie gets a ton of acclaim as an “edgy, hip, breakthrough” movie that elevates it to “Oscar discussion” etc. — and the movie, when I see it, is completely forgettable, so much so that I am bewildered as to why it’s getting so much attention.

This happened a couple of years ago with “Little Miss Sunshine” — there was so much hype around it that I was stunned to discover how limited and boring it was. Then there was “Juno” — same story. This year, it’s “Up In the Air,” which I found not only forgettable, but really quite bad. I love George Clooney and Vera Farmiga, and I also love that scrappy sidekick from “Twilight,” so I had very high hopes (particularly after reading about how it got the most Golden Globe nominations, etc.) But from the first moments of the opening scene, I knew that I was in trouble: it looked like an insurance commercial. I’ve done a lot of traveling for work in the past couple of years, so I am very familiar with the airport routines that the movie celebrates, and yes, it does “capture” the experience of going through airport security a lot…but it captures it in the same way that an ad for Frequent Flyer miles might capture it.

But my main complaint is that not one of the characters ever did or said a single thing that any actual human being might ever do or say. I credit the actors with a pretty heroic effort, but the dialogue was beyond fake. I’ve made this complaint to various friends who claim to have loved it, and nobody can give me a satisfactory response. “Reitman’s films are hyper-real, not real” — “You just have to enjoy the pop psychology” — etc. I am actually very tolerant of crappy dialogue and implausibility in a movie that has some other purpose — so, for example, I enjoyed “The Hangover” despite the fact that it was not particularly realistic, because it was a farce, and I enjoyed “Avatar” and its cliches because it was a larger-than-life action movie — but if a movie like “Up in the Air” can’t deliver plausible characters, what is it? It’s a crappy commercial, for what I don’t know. Or, as a friend of a friend put it, “If the Pottery Barn started making movies, this could be their first release.”

It’s not that big a deal that I hated a movie that lots of people loved, but I am convinced that nobody really loved it, and instead they’re all just getting caught up in this trend. With the proliferation of media these days, I think everybody is afraid that studios are going to want to make only blockbusters, and that smaller, more introspective movies will stop being made. So periodically (typically during awards season) everybody latches onto one movie and makes it “mainstream” as if it’s a work of art. “Up in the Air” is the perfect candidate, because it has a “dark” and “timely” theme (the hero is a guy who flies around the country firing people), but it is also sentimental in various ways. My advice is pass, and make sure that your 3D glasses for “Avatar” aren’t smudged.


I attended two events last weekend that left me with the sense that my generation is overly nostalglc. First, on Friday night, I went to see the Pixies on their “Doolittle 20th Anniversary Tour.” I was an indie rock groupie in Boston in the late 80s, and this record was something of a watershed event in that world; on top of that, I had blown all of my opportunities to see the Pixies in their heyday, so I was very excited at the chance to see them play the record, even 20 years later. As I soon learned when I arrived at the third consecutive sold-out show at the Hollywood Palladium – a venue they never could have filled in 1989 even for one night – I wasn’t the only one: the club was jam packed with adoring Pixies fans in their 30s and 40s who went completely bananas when they took the stage. pixiesdoolittlecd As my friend who accompanied me pointed out, “Both the band and everybody in the audience want to pretend it’s 1989.” It was very redemptive to see them deliver a completely amazing performance of all of their old hits, and get the adoring crowd response they deserved, as they were relegated to opening for the Throwing Muses or U2 back when the material was new, despite the fact that it would be largely responsible for chart-toppers like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and many more. It was weird, though, to realize that it isn’t just the baby boomers who are aging rock fans anymore – there is now a whole new generation of aging indie scenesters to pay the $60 cover charge to a show like this to transport them back to the halcyon days of 1989.

Then, the next night, I saw “Where the Wild Things Are.” I suppose that the book is neutral as to which generation it’s about – it’s just a fantasy of childhood escapism. But I couldn’t help but see Spike Jonze’s treatment, with its indie score by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as aimed, once again, at the 30- and 40-somethings from Jonze’s generation who now have kids themselves. wildthingsAlthough the film did eventually succumb to the criticism that I, and doubtless many others, thought of even before we saw it – “Is this 20-sentence book really going to lead to a satisfying feature-length film?” – it was nevertheless very powerful at times, especially in the opening scenes where we see how isolated Max is in his childhood world, and also, to a somewhat lesser extent, when we see how the petty jealousies and resentments from which he is fleeing exist even in his new wild kingdom, leading him to sail away back home to his still-warm supper.

As mentioned at the outset, the cumulative experience left me with the sense that I’m in a generation – or maybe a sub-group in a generation? – that is extremely, perhaps excessively, nostalgic. But I wonder if this is just what happens to everybody when they reach a certain age, or perhaps to everybody that age who doesn’t have kids yet …