Friday links! Nineties nostalgia edition

I didn’t realize how 90s the 90s were until they were gone and I was old. Remember when soda was extreme, thumb rings were hip, and carbs were called “carbos?” Neither do I, really, although I do remember the moment I understood that the word “extreme” had lost all meaning. Fortunately, the good people poison merchants at Coca-Cola have brought back Surge for sale on Amazon, at the reasonable price of $14 per 12-pack. Now you can have a Surge Movement, too, just like the t-shirt on that aging ponce suggests. Today is Friday, and everything old is new again. Won’t you recover from the Reagan era with me?

Gotcha—we recovered from the Reagan era with George Herbert Walker Bush. We did segue pretty quickly from him to Clinton, though, and the good news is that you can probably vote for either of those names again in 2016. Finally, America has the system of inherited political power of which the Founders dreamed. Don’t throw the bums out, though. Citing the public acrimony toward politicians in the 19th century, Jon Grinspan argues that overwhelming negativity toward politicians as a class encourages the parties to pick safe, donor-backed candidates. It also lets the American people off the hook for our own crappy government. It’s the politicians’ fault: I just keep voting for them or, through inaction, allow them to win by default.

It’s not like the 1990s, when we were all into political consciousness and bohemia—everybody, including soda manufacturers and TV writers. Over at the New Statesman, which might as well be Rolling Stone, Will Self argues that contemporary culture is overrun with talentless hipsters, and it’s his generation’s fault for commodifying the avant-garde:

We’re the pierced and tattooed, shorts-wearing, skunk-smoking, OxyContin-popping, neurotic dickheads who’ve presided over the commoditisation of the counterculture; we’re the ones who took the avant-garde and turned it into a successful rearguard action by the flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg; we’re the twats who sat there saying that there was no distinction between high and popular culture, and that adverts should be considered as an art form; we’re the idiots who scrumped the golden apples from the Tree of Jobs until our bellies swelled and we jetted slurry from our dickhead arseholes – slurry we claimed was “cultural criticism.”

I’d like to point out that the thing that keeps me from liking Self is his readiness to write forcefully rather than truthfully. Blitzkrieg, of course, is the German tactic of “lighting war” developed during World War II—rapid advancement by tanks or other highly mobile units. A rearguard action, on the other hand, is a maneuver by mobile units deployed from the rear of a retreating force to slow the enemy’s pursuit. So the “flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg” can’t undertake a “successful rearguard action,” since they’re on two different sides, and one is an offensive grab at territory while the other is a defensive cover. Also, maybe hip young people seem like a mass of undifferentiated nonsense-bots because you, Will Self, are old.

That’s what Eleanor Morgan argues in her vigorous rejoinder, entitled “Will Self, keep your cardigan on.” She’s right: blanket disdain for “hipsters” has become the jacket that cynicism wears to dinner. Anyone with a beard is a hipster. Anyone who likes craft beer is a hipster. All non-Top 40 bands are hipster. A half dozen years into its adoption by the New York Times, “hipster” is less a name for contemporary fashion as it is an epithet for a young person who likes something. That’s the real difference between Self’s generation of hipsters and ours: he was young at a time when criticizing everything was enough.

The contemporary hipster is tougher than that, because economically he is fucked. I mean compared to the solipsistic millionaires of Generation X, of course. Compared to, say, Congolese tribesmen, we’re doing great:


Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link. First of all, his wife is right: Tete is the best. Second, Tete’s reward for climbing 150 feet above the ground and getting stung one hundred times is that he gets to lower a hive of bees onto his family. Then they devour honey while also getting stung by bees. I had some honey in my cupboard, but the bottom started to crystallize so I threw it out.

It’s fine: I got a great education at my home state’s subsidized university, so I can just make money by answering questions on television:

In the moment when she explains that she was trying to write out a Cheers reference, Elizabeth becomes the most likable person in the world. And Alex Trebek glosses right over it, as usual, because he is too busy winning their interaction. Props to A. Ron Galbraith for planting the seed of hatred for Trebek that today stands a mighty oak.

Props to Iron Reagan for making early-90s thrash awesome again. They are the perfect nostalgia machine:

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