Wednesday, October 23, 2013
COLUMN: Miss, Pt. 2
I don't know about YOU people, but today I'm celebrating. All week long, I've received mountain upon mountain of evidence leading me to a singular conclusion: I'm not as shallow, selfish, and malajusted as I once previously thought. Huzzah! Well, okay, I'm still shallow, selfish, and maladjusted -- but it turns out I'm in good company.
I love advances in our society. I'm not threatened by technology, I adore playing with new gizmos and gadgets, and I enjoy marvelling at the world as it turns and evolves. Ever since I was a wee tot watching the Jetsons with glee, I've waited patiently for the day when I, too, could revel in a universe of robot maids, treadmill sidewalks, saucer-shaped houses, and sprockets aplenty.
There's just one problem: For as much as I crave the future, I sure do hate change. There's comfort in the familiar, and my particular familiar is particularly comfy. But you can't change the inevitable. People will come and others will go. Bands break up, TV shows end, businesses close, relationships fail, and life goes on.
That's why last week's column was a lament to some of the sadly late and especially great things that have come and gone in my life. From Chess King to Stage 2, "Lost" to "Twin Peaks," it was my best attempt to eulogize my favorite pop culture nuggets of yesteryear. At the end of the column, I invited you guys, the readers, to tell me the things that YOU miss. I wasn't expecting over a hundred replies. It turns out I'm not the only one with a fetish for the past. Among the things YOU guys miss the most:
• Over 20 of you said the same thing: SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS. I guess I never really realized that Saturday morning cartoons went away. That's because I seldom realize that Saturdays still have mornings. As soon as I lost a mandatory bedtime and realized that late Friday nights are WAY more fun than early Saturday mornings, I began a lifelong career of starting my weekends at the crack of noon. But once upon a Shane, I remember kicking myself if I missed even a second of Plastic-Man.
A couple weekends ago, I found myself with a rare Friday night off from my second job. I decided to kick back and watch some movies, which I did -- for about 5 minutes. That's how long it took me to accidentally fall asleep on the couch. Next thing I knew, it was 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I was awake and rarin' to go. I decided to turn on the TV and see just what Saturday morning cartoons looked like these days.
Annnnd... they don't. They're just gone. No Smurf Village. No Hall of Justice. Johnny wasn't Questing, Scooby wasn't Dooing, and nary a Ninja Turtle could be found. In their place? A weird sea of infomercials, political shows, pre-pre-pre-game sports, and some bizarre syndicated shows that look to be designed for the exclusive purpose of horrifying children. Have you ever seen the creepy acid trip known as "LazyTown"? I swear to you, it makes H.R. Pufnstuf seem NORMAL in comparison. I feel bad for kids these days. I feel worse for their parents. Saturday morning cartoons were like employing a free babysitter every weekend.
• Multiple people mentioned DER WEINERSCHNITZEL on 23rd Avenue. As an Augie transplant to the Quad Cities, I arrived shortly before it closed, but heck, I miss everything about the days when Avenue of the Cities was known just by a number. Der Weinerschnitzel, Sharky's, Blockbuster Video, a Sears outside of a mall, and wasn't there a TV store with a really weird dome thing on it? I was too busy unnecessarily driving repetitively to notice.
• Big props to Deb's in Milan, the Five Point donut shop, Uncle Roscoe's Polo Club, and mall stores like County Seat, Hal's, and the wonderful quarter-sucking world of Aladdin's Castle. The way-back machine keeps going with nods to The Semri & Memri drive-ins, the Strand, the Hiland A&W Root Beer stand, and the list goes on and on. Also a couple mentions of classic hops at the YMCA and the basement of the Rock Island City Hall. I remember attending ONE flashback sock hop at my junior high down in Galesburg. The only memories I took from that night? (1) Girls instantly became both magical and terrifying, and (2) your socks get really filthy when you spend an entire night with no shoes fleeing from girls.
• Two places that pre-dated me but I wish I had the chance to experience: Mad Hatter's in Davenport (I've heard some great stories,) and going even further back, I went green with envy over an e-mail I received from Dick Jennings recalling waiting in line for a listening booth at Van Goor's Record Shop in downtown Rock Island.
• TV shows you guys missed the most include All in the Family, Night Flight & Friday Night Videos, My So-Called Life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Freaks & Geeks, the Acri Creature Feature, and the days when MTV actually stood for Music Television. But the most mentioned show by a country mile? American Bandstand.
• My favorite local radio newsman, Phil Roberts, chimed in to say the thing he misses the most is Gizzard Tuesdays at all area KFC's. Phil's a weird guy. I just wanted an excuse to type the word GIZZARD repeatedly. What IS a gizzard, anyways? Do we have one?
• I wish I could mention everything else. I had impassioned pleas to revive everything from Sassy Magazine to tight-rolled pants. I give big props to the folks who most miss my old frat (Zeta Omega Omega forever!), my old rave promotion company (Exstasis forever!), and one of my former professors who strangely claims to most miss ME and my crazy friends sitting in the back row of class making his life a living hell.
So here's to the past. I'm glad we ALL occasionally resist change. I only hope the future's so awesome that one day down the road, we'll be reminiscing about how great tomorrow was.