How About Those Nineties



Suggested Audio Candy:


[1] Len Steal My Sunshine”

[2] Republica “Ready To Go”



Recently I released a post which looked back affectionately at the eighties and their relevance in history. I made no secret of the fact that I have a lot of love for the epoch, particularly given the fact that it coincided tidily with my first significant growth spurt. However, as much as it resonated with many of you born around the same time, anybody a little later to the party were left forlorn as I candidly dissed the decade which followed. Thus, I have decided to put things right and honor a period which often receives something of a hard time. I was careering towards my twentysomethings by the time 1989 waved us adieu so my recollections may not be so rose-tinted but I will endeavor to give credit where it’s due and hopefully right some of my wrongs in the process.


If I am going to do this, then I shall be required to banish my demons before commencement. You see, I do have particular beef with the nineties; certain crimes were committed which still ruffle my feathers twenty years later. It’s not the decade on the whole; purely the capitulation of a couple of cherished heirlooms which makes for such a thorny entree. Nineties fans may wish to look away for the next paragraph or two as I do plan to lay down some smack; although I promise I shall make it up to you at a later point. Being that the quill I brandish is crimson; it would appear only right that I start with my beloved horror. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, who believes that the nineties offered riches in the field of horror are standing on perilously thin ice from the offset. While I would never suggest that there weren’t diamonds in the rough; I would struggle to compile a dozen-strong list of horror movies to hang your hat on.


It had lost its identity. Nobody knew what to do for the best and, in that respect, it was like a wounded thoroughbred waiting for that inevitable shrapnel shower to the back of its cranium. Film-makers had apparently run out of ideas and aficionados were at a loss for patience as the genre became something of a poison chalice. It’s significant that the first horror film which pops into most of our heads when recalling the period is Wes Craven’s Scream. This had the advantage of playing it smart; knowing the foibles of its slasher forefathers and creating an entirely new rule book for staying alive in the event of mass slaughter. To his credit, he was definitely onto something. Alas, other directors at the time missed the point and ran the revitalized genre back into the soil before it could find its feet again. By the time Scream 3 arrived like a bull in a china store, Craven had listened to the particularly bogus advice suggesting that “if you can’t beat them, join them” and his mini-revolution had counted for nothing. I find it fitting that Matthew Lillard ended up cast as Shaggy as his series increasingly resembled Scooby Doo by that point.


I was reared on big bass drums and hissing hi-hats so the turn of the decade was spent largely salivating. LL Cool J’s mother had taken great umbrage with me and was sending him over to knock me out, Public Enemy were showing the free world they were up for the fight and intent on taking the power back, and Eric B & Rakim were still content with following their leader. I dug that shit like Doug; rap was on the crest of a wave and I was just coming to terms with steadying my board, when it all came crashing down around me. In 1993 somebody woke up the G’s. Gangsta rap made an appearance and, worse still, R&B producers decided it may be fun to mesh the two genres. Word to the wise guys; R&B doesn’t fuse well. Just because R Kelly suspects he may have found his flying gear, it’s no reason to plummet faster than Hans Gruber and hope he’ll swoop down and pick your ass up. Rap died in the nineties; I’ll never forgive those G’s and hustlers for that.


By 1992 I had turned eighteen and discovered mind-bending narcotics. That’s right, I was a hardcore raver. As the whistle posse made some noise and Vaporub was passed about like chlamydia; I was desperately attempting to keep my eyes in my head as another head rush greeted me in the thick of it. Being that rap had been my master of ceremonies to that point; the accelerated beats and crashing percussion seemed like a natural progression. The real kicker however was that every single glow stick in the crowd lit up a smiling face. There were still dodgy dealings, distribution of medication, and a line of base heads loitering by the sidelines gurning like gruffaloes but, for the rest of us revelers,it was happy days all the way. Had the Fonz turned up and busted out his Cossack then he would have fitted right in under the flickering strobes and be forgiven his trespassing white socks. Then, coinciding with the first of many bad trips, drum ‘n’ bass slinked in from the shadows and the whole affair turned somewhat ominous. Gone were the rousing synthesized swansongs and, in their place, music to grow increasingly paranoid to took center stage. Consequently I packed away my whistle in ’93.


Let’s not forget pop music shall we? This guilty pleasure represents something of an anomaly to Keeper; whilst it would never be regarded as hip to admit to liking Duran Duran in the eighties, later in life it becomes acceptable to look back fondly. Nineties pop chic became known for one thing in particular; the emergence of the boy band. That’s right, tone def talent scouts were sent out like flying monkeys and not allowed to return until they had bagged themselves five gormless date-rapists to mold into a collective. Judging by the results, one would assume they made the lion share of their selection through visiting sperm donor clinics as these groups consisted of enough backed-up semen to incite a spunk tsunami. Impressionable co-eds furnished their boudoirs with teeny bop centerspreads of these knights in shining corduroy and hysteria ensued. To be fair, this was already transpiring long before the nineties, but male collectives were admittedly rife in said era. At least The Beatles dropped acid; these dick splits got high on toothpaste and flashed their Pearl and Deans at every opportunity in a conspicuously fragrant attempt at empowering those cotton whites to drop.


I know what you nineties children are thinking right now; what a bastard for reeling us in, only to cuss on our heyday some more. Thankfully, it’s out of my system now. You see, it wasn’t all bad. Ultimately it is all a matter of perspective and the world wasn’t weighing on my shoulders so much at ten years old as it was by twenty so it is only natural that my chief allegiances lie in that epoch. However there was still more than enough gas in the tank to get this engine revving. I would never wish to be considered jaded and what’s the point in only offering one side of the argument? From hereon in nineties buffs, fasten your seat belts and prepare for the magical mystery tour as Keeper’s got a lot of love in his heart, and plentiful fuel in the quill to celebrate the good times. Being the mischievous imp that I am, I’m not going to commence by pointing out the obvious. Instead, any gamers among you, grab your joy pads as it’s time to dust off those Nintendo 64’s.


The name was Bond … James Bond. The game was Goldeneye … Goldeneye. Now, I defy anyone out there with fingers and a sense of fun to not find this appealing. In glorious 64-bit split-screen; four budding Bonds would enter into skirmish; with the sole objective of busting a cap in player two, three and four’s asses. Anybody could get involved and Goldeneye even became a firm favorite at family gatherings. As I possessed three older sisters born before the boom; I gleaned additional enjoyment from picking them off like lemmings. This was before the days of dual analogue so they spent the lion’s share of the experience staring at the ceiling, slapping air hysterically, and watching the screen phase red to the faithful “you loser” accompanying soundbite. The controller of choice resembled an alien boomerang and even I struggled to control my Klobb’s recoil so I opted for the rocket launcher instead just to synchronize those death screens. In short…Goldeneye was, and will always remain, da bomb.


The Matrix arrived in the nineties; in with a bullet just as Prince was preparing for the millennial soiree he’d been threatening for over a decade. Poor Prince is tiny; almost non-existent once he slides off those platforms. It took a long time for him to put the word out but, before he could lay out his buffet, Morpheus came along and placed a dampener on our party vibe. “We’re all being harvested” Fuck it; I necked the blue pill and squirted like Flipper as Trinity delivered the most favored brace of prose of my entire filmic development, “dodge this”. When you consider that I was still gathering my goofballs from the lobby gunfight, you’re provided with that extra perspective. The Matrix formed the most exquisite back book-end to the decade but who else could populate the flipside than a certain James Cameron?


I have a confession to make on this count. I watched Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Lawnmower Man whilst under the influence of LSD. Needless to say my eyes received something of a technological bath as T-1000 and Jobe contorted my reality in a manner most exotic. Sadly, the mower became clogged with its own trimmings but John Conner had a battle on his hands to the bitter end and I never looked away once; blinked like a hundred times in over two hours. After administering the necessary eye-drops and returning my jaw to its upright setting; I came a little in my jockeys. Actually I think I was still in boxers throughout the early nineties. My bad. Just to twist the blade a little, I have to come clean that the original Terminator is where it’s at for Keeper. No drug in the world could replace the feeling as Schwarzenegger first uttered the words “I’ll be right back”. That was Scream wasn’t it? Damn you Craven.


Mobile phones became all the rage. They were present during the decade passed but Wall Street brokers looked akin to the Mystics from The Dark Crystal as they attempted to carry them about. The nineties was all about streamlining; tailoring technology to cater for our fresh demands. Cell phones became manageable, so much so, that they almost disappeared entirely. It became cool to flip the case on your Nokia and converse with some distant distraction while queuing for your rollover lotto ticket. “You’ll have to excuse me. Just my mobile phone. I can hardly hear its tone as its so tiny. Top of the range you see. I can send texts with it too. Look, it lights up neon. Here, tap your home number into my internal memory banks and I’ll give you a call sometime. I’ll do it when I’m out and about. I take it everywhere you see. Because I can” That wasn’t an impression of my very best wooing technique; let me just make that abundantly clear. I still owned an oblong pavement slab until well into the next millennia so science bought me no pussy during this era.


I think, for me, I was so busy looking ahead at the crassly-named noughties ( I prefer the term zerosies) that I forgot a lot of what actually transpired. Attempting to adjust to your twenties in the nineties (stay with me Grueheads) was no mean feat. I spent much of my time getting married and surrendering my spark, in favor of watching The Jerry Springer Show and hanging off his final thought. Be good to yourself…and each other” Hear hear Springer but am I the only person growing weary of the formula here? I prefer my circuses with clowns; not simply their shoes. By the time my spouse discovered that my eyes were glazing over and that smile was little more than a gnarled grimace, she released me from my anguish and I never again heard another nugget of wisdom until JD from Scrubs weighed in with his own moral sign offs.


It took three years for me to scrub away the grime left by Springer’s bumbling trapeze artists. By the time I actually came to from my oblivion, the nineties had almost squeezed their child-bearing hips through the hourglass. So you see, it’s not that I consider the 1990’s to be quite the dead duck it may initially appear. I simply spent much of it anesthetized. I’m quite aware that I have hardly skimmed the custard and I’ll leave it for some other, less sedated, traveler to divulge further. I’m glad they happened; I wouldn’t be the man stood before you now had I skipped a decade entirely. I was there, it was somewhat cool, and I pray that suffices as its the best I can do on the spot. The nineties are dead…long exist the nineties.


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