Back To The Past

September 26, 2003

It started with a show called "I Love the 80’s". I purposely left it there last week because, well, I have a lot of pent-up resentment against that particular decade and wanted to spend some time brutalizing it before moving on to the mutant child of "I Love the 80’s", which was "I Love the 70’s". This program had exactly the same format, and some of the same people; it just dealt with things that happened in the 70’s. And while I do have some uncomfortable memories of the 70’s, for instance, those awful polyester suits with lapels that nearly went to the edges of my shoulders or my father’s haircut that made him look like Gerald Ford, on the whole the 70’s were a good decade for me. So I can’t be as hard on them.

What I’m wondering now is where the program will go from here. As we’ve seen in the movies anything that makes enough money to deserve a sequel gets automatically turned into a trilogy, which leads some of us to say an elegy for originality. If "I Love the 80’s" was popular enough to spawn "I Love the 70’s", what comes next? There already was "I Love the 60’s"–although it wasn’t so much a television show as a mindset that pervaded the culture of the late 1980’s. Will "I Love the 90’s" be next? Maybe, but I think that one’s a few years down the road. The collapse of the Soviet Union was a great event for everybody, even the Soviets, but supposedly Abbie Hoffman on his deathbed said, "The 90’s are going to make the 60’s look like the 50’s." If he meant that it was supposed to be really good I’d say the decade failed to live up to its promise.The wounds of the dot-com boom and bust, David Koresh, Kurt Cobain, really baggy jeans, "Why can’t we all just get along?" and the first war in the Persian Gulf are still a little too fresh to be re-opened. Besides, a little too much of the 90’s is still with us, so the panel of "I Love the 90’s" would be stuck saying things like, "Remember that wacky show ‘Frasier’? Well, I think it’s on another channel right now." I suppose we could get away with "I Love the 50’s", but nostalgia for the 50’s began in 1952.

No, I think they’ll have to go back even further, to times that no one remembers but seem quaint and loveable anyway. I definitely think "I Love the 1920’s" could spur a resurgence of flappers, jitterbugging, "twenty-three skidoo", whatever the heck that is, and bathtub gin–hold the bathtub, please. And of course any good horror film buff knows that 1925 was a time when "Phantom of the Opera" was scary, and not sentimental tripe ghostwritten by Andrew Lloyd Weber. We live in a time when kids are increasingly acting like adults–girls who can’t even legally vote sing songs that, twenty years ago, would have been too risque to be on the radio–so we don’t really need people who lived through a particular era to talk about why they love it, right? There are enough actors who’ve been in films adapted from Jane Austen novels to fill a whole series of "I Love the 1800’s". And let’s not forget those wacky 1790’s. "Big hair" was not an 80’s invention; hairstyles three and four feet high that even included birdcages were considered as fashionable as having Roman numbers after your name in the time of Louis XVI. And that whole Reign of Terror thing could make both cake and beheading really popular again. And let’s not forget great decades like 1900-1910, with roller rinks, the invention of ice cream cones, and the first airplane. We could even go further back into history; as long as Mel Brooks is around the possibilities are limitless. Of course we could turn away from the past and think instead about the future, the possibilities of advances in technology and what challenges and dilemmas we might face as our understanding of the universe deepens, but that’s on another channel and I can’t find the remote.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


A Likely Story

One day, while a woodcutter was cutting a branch of a tree above a river, his axe fell into the river. When he cried out, God appeared and asked, "Why are you crying?" The woodcutter replied that his axe had fallen into water, and he needed the axe to make his living.

God went down into the water and reappeared with a golden axe. "Is this your axe?" God asked. The woodcutter replied, "No."

God again went down and came up with a silver axe. "Is this your axe?" God asked. Again, the woodcutter replied, "No."

God went down again and came up with an iron axe. "Is this your axe?" God asked. The woodcutter replied, "Yes."

God was pleased with the man’s honesty and gave him all three axes to keep, and the woodcutter went home happy

Some time later the woodcutter was walking with his wife along the riverbank, and his wife fell into the river. When he cried out, God again appeared and asked him, "Why are you crying?"

"Oh Lord, my wife has fallen into the water!"

God went down into the water and came up with Jennifer Lopez. "Is this your wife?" God asked. "Yes," cried the woodcutter.

God was furious. "You lied! That is an untruth!"

The woodcutter replied, "Oh, forgive me, my Lord. It is a misunderstanding. You see, if I had said ‘no’ to Jennifer Lopez, You would have come up with Catherine Zeta-Jones. Then if I also said ‘no’ to her, you would have come up with my wife. Had I then said ‘yes,’ you would have given me all three. Lord, I am a poor man, and am not able to take care of all three wives, so THAT’S why I said yes to Jennifer Lopez."

The moral of this story is: Whenever a man lies, it is for a good and honorable reason, and for the benefit of others.

That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

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