And here is the latest thing that makes me feel old.

What’s with all the people in music videos looking so damn young these days?  Did they change the child labor laws?

There was a time when I was daily viewer of MTV (the sedate stuff on VH-1 was for old people), and I rocked hard, people.  It seemed to me that whenever I watched a video, I saw people who were my own age.

Now these videos are inhabited only by people who look young enough to be my kids. And that makes sense, because … they kinda are young enough.  (Yes, I realize the video below for The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” was made 18 years ago, but that’s beside the point.)  If the performers in a video today were in their very early 20’s, then they’d be about the right age, if I’d fathered kids when I was 26.

Furthermore, some astute commentators pointed out online Monday night that 2019 is the year in which the original “Blade Runner” (1982) was set.  The opening title card names “November, 2019” as the time when all things Fordesque turn angsty and existential and killer-androidy.  Am I … older than Harrison Ford’s character? I am six years older than Ford was when he made the film.

Now I just feel weird.  Why do I write these blog posts, anyway?

[Update: Today I am learning that “Akira” (1988) and “The Running Man” (1987) also set their stories in 2019?! That’s ironic, given that the future we’ve come closest to is that of 2006’s “Idiocracy.”

I wonder how people in our parents’ generation felt when 2001 arrived, if they’d happened to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” in theaters in 1968.]

 

Throwback Thursday: The Allman Brothers Band

Rest in peace, Gregg Allman.

I first got acquainted with music of The Allman Brothers Band as a first-semester freshman at Mary Washington College in 1990.  My cultural illiteracy as an 18-year-old was embarrassing — especially where music was concerned.  I’d arrived at the small, fairly conservative Virginia state school listening to … well, very little other than what I’d heard on the MTV countdown.  (I started loving Richard Wagner as a high school senior — but that niche interest was rare for someone my age, so far as I was aware.)  It was an ongoing issue when I was a college freshman that upperclassmen would roll their eyes or even occasionally hiss when I told them what music I was into.

Alumnus Steve Miller and his friends were the exception.  They showed me far more patience at their parties in “The Tunnel” between Mason and Randolph Halls — they exposed me to tons of The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, The Steve Miller Band, and The Beatles.  (No, the irony of a guy named Steve Miller coincidentally loving The Steve Miller Band was not lost on us.)  Steve and his friends were each, in varying degrees, an amalgam of Obi-Wan and a far mellower version one of the guys from “Animal House” (1978).

The Allman Brothers were really my first extended exposure to Southern rock.  (And, hey, you can’t get much more Southern than a band made up of guys named Berry Oakley or Butch Trucks.)  I listened to them whenever there was a party at Steve’s, even after he started hosting his soirees out of his apartment on Sunken Road. Everyone there loved The Allman Brothers.  I think “Ramblin’ Man” was probably the group’s favorite.

Today, “Midnight Rider” is by far and away my favorite Allman Brothers song.  Curiously enough, though, for the life of me, I do not remember hearing that one in college.  I actually started jamming to it after I heard Rob Zombie include it in the score for the opening montage of “The Devil’s Rejects” horror film in 2005.

Anyway … “The Tunnel” at “Mary Washington College” has apparently now been remodeled into the above-ground “The Link” at “The University of Mary Washington.”

Well la-dee-DA.

 

Throwback Thursday: MTV in the early 90’s (at Mary Washington College).

You are really getting old if you can remember when MTV was cool.  In the first half of the 1990’s, MTV had it all: weird, varying animated logos; Tabitha Soren; “MTV Unplugged,” which I still enjoy via Youtube today; “Liquid Television;” the sometimes priceless “Beavis and Butthead;” the always priceless “Aeon Flux;” and the bizarre promos featuring “Jimmy the Cab Driver.”  (The date on the embedded video below is incorrect; Jimmy was annoying his fares in the 90’s — not the 80’s.)

This was the age when non-music-video programming more or less began for the channel.  But it didn’t suck — it was actually quite good.

I think MTV’s greatness lasted until 1994 or 1995, around the time when my college career drew to a close.   We didn’t have cable in our dorm rooms at Mary Washington College … except when we did.  During my junior year, some intrepid, subversive genius had gotten into the vicinity of the Resident Director’s cable connection, and “split” it or something, in order to provide our entire floor with basic cable.  He was an anonymous hero … like Batman, except probably a lot more chill, we figured.  (He wasn’t the hero that Alvey Hall deserved, but he was the hero that Alvey Hall needed just then.)

God, did we all love it.  Frederickburg, VA, was a small, quiet town, and we didn’t have the Internet, or even cell phones.  We didn’t even have landlines in our room; we had two shared “hall phones” for local calls and a pay phone to call anywhere outside town.  (And I guess college kids today might be unfamiliar with the concept of “local” and “long-distance” calls.)

Here’s what I can’t figure out in retrospect, after 24 years …  I understand that cable can be “split;” New Yorkers do it all the time.  But … wouldn’t Batman need to lay cable down throughout the length of our dorm?  And wouldn’t he need to install cable jacks in each of our rooms?  Did he do it on a Saturday night, when we were all drunk?  How did he get in?

Maybe he came in the window.  Godspeed, Batman.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “I want my MTV!!!”

This past Monday marked the 35th Anniversary of MTV.  It aired its first music video, ironically The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” on August 1st, 1981.

That’s a cool answer for a trivia question, but it’s not actually a memory for a lot of people.  Not everybody had premium cable packages back then.  My family didn’t.   And if we’d had fancy cable channels like that, I’d have been far more thrilled to get Showtime or the legendary HBO.  (We called the latter “Home Box” back in the day.)

The first time I laid eyes on MTV was at a friend’s house, and it seemed weird to a fourth grader.  I thought it was an inscrutably dumb idea — why did we need to see the music being played?  That seemed like something appropriate only for fanatical music fans.  In my child’s mind, I pictured them as the weird, overly nostalgic, long-haired men who purchased those “Hits of the 60’s” cassettes that were so often advertised on non-primetime television.

I  only gave it a glance; my friend and I then went on to play in the woods, maybe to build a tree-fort.  The 80’s were a different time.

Adults, too, scoffed at “Music Television.”  I heard more than one opine, disapprovingly, that “music is meant to be heard, not watched.”

MTV also arrived with little initial fanfare, of course, because nobody knew how big it would be.  By the end of the 80’s, even describing it as a cornerstone of popular culture would be an understatement.  It was … I dunno … a cultural conduit.  It was part of life, if you were a teenager.

By the time I graduated from Longwood High School in the spring of 1990, I was watching it nightly, just like countless other kids.  This was arguably MTV’s Golden Age — it would be many years before its inexplicable, universally maligned transition away from music videos to brainless, bread-and circuses”reality shows” and other questionable programming.

The countdown show in the late 80’s was “Dial MTV,” Wikipedia reminds me.  (Why do I feel like I remember it being called something else?)  I didn’t pay much attention to “120 Minutes,” which focused on alternative music.  And that’s weird, because I would go nuts for alternative music when I was bitten by the Depeche Mode bug early in my freshman year of college.

MTV could be found on Channel 25 in my part of Long Island; its sister channel, VH-1, was on Channel 26.  I remember thinking of VH-1 as “MTV for old people.”  And, by “old people,” I did mean people in their 30’s.

For some reason, I had quite a preoccupation as a teenager with Vee-Jay Martha Quinn.  I definitely had Martha on my mind, back then.  I’m not sure what was up with that.  Looking back, I think she resembled a mild-mannered, nondescript librarian who dressed just slightly cool, maybe because she just got a job at the local high school.  Or maybe because she was sneaking up on 30.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Run-D.M.C. Covers Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

I remember being thrilled when this played on the MTV countdown in 1986.

It was a golden age.  Not only did reality TV shows not appear on MTV, reality TV shows didn’t exist.