When I hunkered down with fiction last year, I took many, many old posts off-line as a way of resetting my own internal narrative and focusing on a very different way of writing. I’ve talked about that a few times on this blog since. I had the sense that I needed to let the fiction I was writing say everything I was wanting to say, and it was a good choice for me then. Between now and May, I’ll be writing fiction more intensely than ever, but I’m also thinking about blogging (and nonfiction in general) in new ways. This year, I have the creative room (and patience) for both. See kids, getting older’s not so bad.
I was looking over some old posts to re-release today (digitally remastered in sweet, sweet mono) and I found this explanation behind the genesis of the LOST posters I shared on Saturday. Credit where credit is due: my wife was the inspiration behind that project. I also forgot that the creator of the Obama Poster maker website that I used came by to comment on the post. It’s funny how time flies and how quickly you forget things. Adjusted thoughts on aging: +1 for patience, -1 for memory.
I similarly found “What The Future Used to Look Like“. It started with the idea that terraforming the universe is our moral duty as creatures and ended up being a free-association/stream-of-consciousness thing about the politics of futurism.
When you have a minute, consider looking over your own old posts or journal entries and see if you don’t surprise yourself. What were you writing about this time two years ago?
Saturday’s entree to this topic talked about Nickelodeon and the Power Rangers. One of my favorite comments came via Facebook: “I saw the commercials myself. [My son] even looked at me and said ‘That looks cool, dad.’ I said, ‘it’s actually the exact opposite!'”
The key to the success of the franchise was Saban‘s crafty decoupage of cheap footage, martial arts, dinosaurs, and robots. Today’s post seeks to mimic that same spirit by sharing two links recently added to my Friends, Conspirators, Etc. page: Paleo-Future and UniWatch. If you love sports branding minutiae and get as depressed as I do about the fact that we don’t have flying cars or moon colonies, you’re going to love this post, as seen here.
Paleo-Future and UniWatch are united in their subtleties: you can’t look at old flannel baseball uniforms or hopeful, dated predictions about the future without resigning to the larger truth that everything was much, much, cooler before you were born or when you were young. It’s not your fault that this is true, and it nicely explains your love for all things old school. These websites fill a need. We need better visions of the future (and actual goals) and better art in sports. Do your part by wearing a coat and tie and fedora to your next ball game, won’t you? Buy your child a telescope, friend.
United in understated yearning for the glory days that were and the glory days that weren’t, the paring of Paleo-Future and UniWatch is, in other ways, a study in contrasts. P-F is run by one very creative person (Matt Novak) while UW has at least two (Paul Lukas, Phil Hecken). P-F updates often, but not as often I as check. UW updates all the time. Both sites have enough back catalogue to keep you occupied for hours.
I’ve considered for some time whether nostalgia is actually cynicism. These days, I don’t think so. The resurgence of the postmodern Phillies “P” on 20 and 30somethings around Citizen’s Bank Park was, before the late 2000’s, an homage to the last great Phillies era but also a celebration of childhood context. It’s what the Phils wore when we were kids. It’s a cultural artifact, but the fact that it’s what the Phils wore when we were kids is enough to make it important to us now. The celebration of context is the reason that any design aesthetic 20 years old or older has immediate traction now. On a long enough timeline, even the ugliest stuff becomes beloved.
While UniWatch curates what was, and encourages readers to submit their own designs for what should be, Paleo-Future has a mission that’s fundamentally more unsettling. Here, Matt Novak shares what he and his readers have discovered about a world that (mostly) should have been but wasn’t. Spend more than a few minutes on P-F and you’ll start really wanting every technological advance the early Post-War period promised. I’m not talking about robots that do everything for you, either. I’m talking about sustainable, green infrastructures and food supplies, efficient, inexpensive travel options, human outposts on the Moon. The hope in most of the images Matt shares jumps right off the screen and makes we wonder if William Hanna and Joseph Barbera shouldn’t have served as undersecretaries of NASA, reporting to Gene Roddenberry and Walt Disney.
These are both fantastic blogs. Send them love.
UPDATE: I just found this old P-F inspired post in my offline archive. I just moved it back online, as I’m periodically doing with other old posts. This one is a free-association writing prompt from one of Matt’s pictures and the thoughts that followed.
At the end of the last decade (this post is from 2010), we were curating so much loss. Mostly of physical artifact. I can’t find the quote below, but if memory serves, it was from a page at ThinkGeek selling USB drives.
“Mixtapes are a lost art in a dead medium.
The Mixtape is a fine art that is threatened by the loss of the medium. Two channel analog magnetic tape is disappearing in favor of MP3 files. A mixtape is a snapshot of your musical and social tastes during the brief period in which you created it. That summer in 1992, maybe your mixtape was full of Stone Temple Pilots, Morrissey, Toad The Wet Sprocket, The Cure, and audio-clips from Blade Runner. You gave that tape to your girlfriend. She dumped you, but not because of that mixtape. That was awesome!“
I’m glad I’m old enough to have done this on real magnetic tape once upon a time. Remember taping things from the radio? The best. A few months ago I found a tape I made of a local radio station circa 1994. Almost too beautiful to handle.