leave your inhibitions at the door
In 1990, there was a movie called “Flashback” where Kiefer Sutherland played a straight-laced FBI agent who had to bring in Dennis Hopper’s 60s radical character for past crimes. The movie generally sucked, but there was one line from Hopper that lingered:
“The 90s are going to make the 60s look like the 50s.”
I remember seeing the movie right before I graduated college and the promise of a raucous decade ahead of me was inspiring. I was ready to take on the 90s by living life to its fullest by experiencing new and—
What? You’re doing the math on how old I am aren’t you? Ok, first off you’ve obviously misplaced a decimal somewhere in your calculation. Trust me, I’m Asian. Also, I pulled some serious Doogie Howser shit and graduated college when I was 3. Can I go on now?
Back then (and even now) we looked back at the 60s with some envy at what people got to experience. Sure the Vietnam War and the 1969 Chicago Cubs really sucked, but there was also the Space Race, the Civil Rights Movement, and Woodstock. The 70s kept up the coolness with sexual liberation, disco, and punk. But then that all came down in the 80s with the war on drugs, music censorship, AIDS, and Wham! So, yeah, the prospect of being an independent young adult in a new decade was pretty awesome.
The 1990s in the US saw monstrous economic growth and it was a decade defined by consumer excess. I certainly wasn’t going to be left behind, so I did my part by earnestly pumping a ton of money into the economy (i.e. the beer and liquor industry). But the funny thing about enjoying all that disposable income is that one had to actually have – you know – money. Nahhh…. It was the 90s – that’s what credit cards were for. I figured that monstrous economic growth would trickle down to me and I’d pay it all off or have it magically erased when the credit card companies’ computers shutdown on January 1, 2000.
I realized pretty quickly that my crappy job wasn’t going to cut it. Adding to the frustration was seeing a lot of people get filthy rich in stocks, real estate, and Internet startups. I don’t know how many times I wished I could’ve gone back and got that finance or computer science degree. But here I was with my nearly worthless Political Science diploma – all because I was too busy in college watching stupid Dennis Hopper movies.
I really wish that a 1990s retro movement would bring with it a return of that unprecedented economic prosperity. This time, I’m sure I’m going to be much, much smarter about it because of the major lesson I learned.
What lesson is that? I’m glad you asked…