Friday, April 05, 2019

COLUMN: 80s Shane

Well, that's it, then.

Bad news, everybody. I am officially, proof-positive, one-hundred percent past my prime. There's nothing to do now but put me to pasture and bear witness to my slow slide into irrelevancy.

Once upon a time (aka three days ago,) I still thought I was, by and large, culturally cool.

I mean, look, I'm a realist. When I look into the mirror, I know there's a fat and hopelessly single cubicle-dwelling middle-aged man staring back at me. But I prefer to see what I want: a me who hasn't aged in decades. A me known for being a record store clerk, rave promoter, nightclub DJ, and program director of his college radio station. A me whose cultural worth can still be measured by the depth of his CD collection even though CDs are mostly irrelevant to anyone under 30. A me who is deeply in touch with modern trends and surfs the pop culture zeitgeist with grace and ease. A me who will never be defined by his age.

At least that's what I thought.

As some of you may know, I've been moonlighting a few hours here and there behind the counter at my old stomping grounds: Co-Op Records. The decision was kind of a no-brainer. I'm good friends with the owner and he was short-handed and in a pinch. You get a healthy discount on music, which is never a bad thing. And I generally spend a considerable amount of my free time in record stores as is, so I may as well be getting paid for the privilege.

Mostly I love it because it's a second home for forward-thinking music nerds such as myself. It's a gathering place and natural habitat for progressive pop culture scholars to argue and discuss the merits of music trends, entertainment headlines, and whether or not R. Kelly's alleged misdeeds (which he most likely misdid) make "Trapped In The Closet" any less awesome (it does not.)

So I was excited to learn that a buddy of mine was also going to be picking up a few hours at the store. Until, however, he regaled me with a story from his first day of training. He was working with another long-time clerk and asked who was working this weekend.

"Oh, I think Shane is," the clerk replied.

"Which Shane?" my friend replied. Yes, I know, there can be only one. But truth be told, there's a couple of other Shanes out there who are ALMOST as hip as me, and he wasn't sure which of us was working at the store.

That's when it happened.

"Oh, you know," the clerk told him. "Eighties Shane."


And with that, my cultural relevancy promptly expired. I can only presume that the gods of pop culture will be calling any moment to rescind my membership card and decoder ring. I have just been kicked out of the Cool Kids Club.

I don't get it. I still read Rolling Stone cover to cover. I watch TV shows clearly written for people half my age. I know every song on the Billboard Hot 100. I routinely have to explain things like Kanye West, Cardi B, and the overall concept of Facebook to my mother. I'm hip, darn it.

But no. For all the hard work and thankless man-hours I've put into staying culturally cool, my legacy is now: "EIGHTIES SHANE." I thought I was riding on the cusp of the cutting edge, but apparently I fell right off that edge on January 1, 1990. According to at least one of my peers, I'm as relevant in these modern times as Boy George and Cyndi Lauper.

Surely this can't be true. If there's one thing I've always rallied against and mocked ruthlessly, it's those people whose musical and cultural tastes stop evolving once they reach a certain point in their lives. People who say they "don't understand today's music." People who go to bed early. That will NEVER be my life and I can prove it.

Why, just last week I put in my order for the greatest holiday of the year: Record Store Day. On Saturday, April 13th, HUNDREDS of over-priced, limited edition, hard-to-find records will be released for one day only -- and if you're not in line by 8 a.m., there's a good chance you'll get left out in the cold. As usual, I plan on spending an absolutely irresponsible amount of money on collectible records I'll likely never even play. It truly IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Would a culturally irrelevant "EIGHTIES SHANE" throw away his paycheck on hip releases like a box set containing ALL SIX original Devo albums on colored vinyl? Or a 3000-copy worldwide reissue of Bananarama remixes? Or a compilation of outtakes from a-ha's first album? Oh... crud.

Okay, so maybe I only ordered a bunch of stuff from the 1980s. It's not MY fault that most music released after 1990 has been terrible. That's not cultural irrelevancy. I say it's just a clear indicator of superior taste.

I'm not stuck in the 80s, I swear it. But if I HAD to be stuck in a decade, it's a pretty sweet one to call home. So call me whatever you want -- my suggestions would be "Awesome Shane" or perhaps "Cooler-Than-You Shane." I'm not going anywhere, pop culture. Just try and stop me. In the meantime, I guess if you need a DJ for your next 80s flashback party, I'm probably available.

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