Will the early 90’s be lost like tears in the rain?

I saw on Twitter a poignant post recalling the early days of the internet.

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It’s a reference to the death monologue given by the dying android Batty in Bladerunner. Reflecting upon early 90’s and 80’s indie culture, small businesses owned by Gen-X shopkeepers, many of these went under during waves of recession and rent increases. There was no Yelp back then, no local foodie magazines propped up by investors. There might have been a fleeting reference or xeroxed photo in a 50 cent zine, but beyond that this was a undocumented zeitgeist that disappeared before much could be recorded for posterity.

Decades of attention were showered upon Boomers and the 60’s. There were documentaries, retrospective exhibits.  It pains me as a trained archivist that the punk to early 90’s era received comparatively sparse attention. Outside of noxious Newsweek articles about Generation X, where are the archives? Yes, there are musical documentaries and biographies, but outside of those that made it big, where are the digital records?

These days we have an excess of data due to millennials documenting everything with Instagram, Twitter, Yelp. It is impossible now to live and create without leaving a digital trace.

My generation spawned flyers, zines, diy comics, cassette mixed tapes, but how much has survived? If some had been been digitized, have them been tagged? Indexed? None of these records are searchable.

Online you can find thousands of iterations of viral memes from the last two years. It reminds of trying to read one’s social media news feed beyond yesterday. Online blogging platforms only show you posts from the last two weeks. What does this say about our value of history?

Many in my generation prided ourselves on being indie and underground, but much history was buried when bigger businesses took over and everyone went online. To counter historical homogeneity we need proof of the other narratives. Loft living did not begin with dot com tech workers for example, it started with artists living in unheated warehouses, filling giant open spaces with 50’s style kitchen furniture, Xmas lights, art school sculptures, graffiti and yes, code violations. There were cottage industries that sprung up around the late 80’s, early 90’s rave culture. Clothing, diners like Hell’s Kitchen on Haight St. that were as known for its collection of vintage toys hanging from the ceiling as for lack of service and cleanliness. I do not argue these factors (as well as drugs) did not contribute to this vanishing, but I mourn the lack of photos.

When I lived in Santa Cruz there was a small cafe across the street from a comic book store on Water St. The cafe owners were an older, quiet Gen X couple that reminded me of Kim Gordon and Michael Gira. They collected vintage, mid-century modern furniture and coffee mugs. They served Peet’s coffee in French presses. There were large art magazines around and 80’s era experimental art. I loved going there to escape the crowds of students and/or hippies elsewhere, but sadly they did not get enough traffic to survive. This was the other nail in the coffin for these special places, as the post-Reagan economy became more cut-throat, unique businesses had to play a numbers game or fail.

It makes me envious of Europeans, who not only experience businesses lasting a lifetime, but some have lasted over a century. I don’t have the space to explore the effect of this late Capitalist churn on the American culture and social psyche, but we basically have no permanence. Cafes and restaurants I took my son to when he was a toddler no longer exist and that’s just a handful of years. There used to be cafes and restaurants in my hometown that existed for 40-50 years. We’d meet there during holidays, it was a kind of psychic touch stone. A chance to step back into that stream in time. How can one go back ‘home’ when everything is gone?

Photographs help, telling stories help – but when there are no records and you no longer know anyone who remembers these places, what then?

This is what motivates archivists and historians.

Before you Instagram one more acai bowl or tumeric latte – go through your old zines, flyers, photos and digitize them. Upload them, tag them, GPS-tag photos of businesses that used to exist. Date-stamp them with the year, or best estimate. Don’t let these memories be lost like tears in the rain.

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss on view at the Art on 5th Gallery on S. Lamar til April 9th.

Many of us grew up with the visual vocabulary of Dr. Seuss’s art. His wild trees with their fluffy tops or the whimsical horns on his animals all communicated not just creative freedom but also gave us a sense that there was more to the world than we were being taught.  Apparently there was more to Dr. Seuss as well. During the day he wrote children’s books, by night he was a surrealist painter.  Art on 5th Gallery has a wonderful collection of his many works, spanning a variety of styles and ranging from the familiar to more mature interpretations of his literary oeuvre.

at Art on 5th Gallery

Maybe you were one of those children who would spend hours pouring over the imagery in his books, absorbing the nuances in all of his characters wild expressions.  You owe yourself a favor to spend some time now, revisiting these wonders in a new light. While you discover more to Dr. Seuss than you knew you may gain a new look into your own grownup imagination and perhaps marvel at the journey you both took.

If viewing these works up close at Art on 5th Gallery is still not enough, there is a wonderful volume on this secret art of Dr. Seuss that offers an introduction by the equally formative Maurice Sendak. Similarly there is another work on his secret art entitled the Cat Behind the Hat (which is also the title of one of his works featured in the Gallery.)

 

Punk Rock Holiday Markets, Yule Bazaars and Cocktails

As the holidays pick up, more fun events are added to the local calendar. It’s hard to keep up! Subscribe to stay tuned in for new happenings and reviews!

 

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Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Lost Well, 2421 Webberville Road, 2pm til 8pm.  Hand-rolled Tamales and over a dozen local Punk Rock Artists. Get unique gifts! Jewelry, organic soaps, art – full list of artists and info can be found here.

Or maybe you might be interested in Holistic/Wellness shopping for body products, jewelry, and crystals while sipping specialty cocktails like the Vampyress or Butterfly Nectar and enjoying out of this world Italian food? Sunday Dec. 13, 5pm-11pm at the Vortex on 2307 Manor Road. 

holistic market

 

Maybe you’re not interested in an evening affair – the same Butterfly Bar cocktails will be available next to the Vortex at the following weekend’s Winter Yule Bazaar. This one promises DJs and belly dancers and a morning Yule ritual! Gifts provided by the East Austin Handmade Market. From Noon to 5pm, all weekend, all ages and free.   Dec. 19 and 20th. 

yule bazaar

 

Done with your shopping and still want to get your holiday spirit on? Come out and join the Solstice Lantern Parade!
Monday, December 21st, 2015, 5 pm  ***KID FRIENDLY!***  The site is TBA, and there are instructions on the page to make and bring your own lantern. Music will be provided by the Minor Mishap Marching Band, “Bourbon Street meets Budapest” they describe themselves. Sure to be a magical way to celebrate the shortest day of the year.

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Eastside Pop-up Holiday Shopping – Local and Weird

Everyday I hear about more and more holiday shopping parties, brunches and bazaars. Want to stay informed? Subscribe to my blog, you’ll find the button to your right.

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Eastside Pop-up is promoting the event and a number of other great bazaars and shows this month.

Eastside Popup

stay gold

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  • And if that weren’t enough and you’ve still put off getting gifts for all those far-flung relatives who wonder what Austin is all about, you have one more chance to sip mimosas while you shop. There will be another Bazaar Brunch at the Bouldin Creek Cafe, 1900 S. 1st, Dec. 20, 10am-3pm.