In the past three weeks several things have happened that led me to writing this piece. The deaths of Adam “MCA” Yauch, Chuck Brown, Donna Summer and Hal Jackson are among them. It started to make me think about how these changes might subconsciously affect people from my generation given how much things have already changed in the world around us in these exponential times. I call this “Searchin’ 4 Meaning © Laster”.
The initial occurrence that led to me writing this piece was the fact the record store I’d frequented the most and for the longest time (“Looney Tunes” on Boylston St.) is closing it’s doors and relocating after 33 years in my neighborhood. I very vividly remember there being a wealth of great record stores in my immediate area and now I can count them all on one hand. I find myself walking around to this day looking at a random Qdoba, Boloco or UBurger knowing that I used to cop 60’s Canadian garage Rock from there 15 years ago. It hurts my soul and I can never shake the feeling that the world I know is slipping away one piece at a time.
The prevailing attitude is that it’s better to remove a band aid quickly as opposed to dragging out the agony. The problem is since about 1997, the past 15 years or so have resulted in so many quickfire changes that those of us that were born in the late 60’s to late 70’s and remember when the world was different might be developing some sort of syndrome or mental condition that’s yet to be discovered or named. In this relatively new exponential world change happens so rapidly there isn’t even time to assess if or how all this constant wholesale change is affecting us. And I don’t know how it possibly can’t be.
Case in point, I decided to go cop some headphones this weekend. I usually shop online for these kind of items as I can more easily browse and find exactly what I’m looking for. I instead decided to do like I did so much back in the good old days and go out physically with paper money like we oldheads used to do . Yeah, about that…
The neighborhood Best Buy is now closed and filled with trash and debris so I can’t go there. The Urban Outfitters across the street from it only had earbuds for hipsters (if you’re not a hipster your body would reject them). Newbury Comics only carries either Skullcandy or Beats By Dre’s. Even Radio Shack is loaded with mostly Beats By Dre and Skullcandy. The sad part is the specialty electronics stores I used to go to in my neighborhood before are all out of business. This also includes the music stores I used to frequent (Daddy’s Junky Music & E.U. Wurlitzer). I had to trek downtown to find a mom & pop’s store in order to just find something as simple as a pair of Sony MDR-V150’s or MDR-ZX100’s.
Here I am, a 36 year old man who knows this city better than the dead White guy who originally designed it and it took me two hours in a city where everything is 15-30 minutes away to find a place I could pay cash for some basic headphones. I was in the malls near my home earlier (Copley Place & Prudential Center) and it really hit me how quickly a shop will be replaced with another one. If you’re from the younger generation then this won’t affect you at all because it’s common to you. I’m still kinda hung up on the fact that Babbage’s doesn’t exist anymore.
The constant changes in the world and society make us want to grab onto and appreciate the things that we grew up with even more. I believe that’s the reason we oldheads in Hip Hop seem to be so in opposition to many of the new artists and producers we’re presented. Much of it is a subconscious by product of the fact almost nothing we came up with still exists in the same form or is the way we remember it anymore. Which is partly why Lupe Fiasco trying to remake “T.R.O.Y.” was met with such a resounding negative reaction by older heads, I believe.
Shit, MySpace is considered a joke now and it was popping just 5 years ago. Now imagine how I feel when I go back to my old formerly dangerous neighborhood where shit went down just 15 years ago to see a bunch of hipsters, bros and yuppies sitting in sidewalk cafes with iPads and riding down the street on longboards. I can’t rob ‘em all by myself! (I’m just kidding. I totally could). What I’m saying is these feelings of longing for the past and hatred towards the new might not just be nostalgia or an early onset mid life crisis after all.
It wasn’t until relatively recently that the scientific community discovered that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was largely responsible for the problems affecting Vietnam War veterans. It wasn’t until relatively recently that the medical community really began to fully recognize the rate of postpartum depression in mothers shortly after childbirth. What I’m saying is there’s no way that anyone around my age can be around in this era where we’re still relatively young but still feel like it’s “No Country For Old Men” outside and be completely unaffected. It might be subconscious, the exact symptoms might not all be nailed down yet but something is definitely happening to us mentally.
We are currently in a unique space. There hasn’t been this much social upheaval and change across the board since the 1960’s. What’s even stranger is that while the times were a-changin’ pretty quickly back then, they’re changing exponentially now. The same way that everyone was affected then people are (whether they’re recognizing it or not) being affected by what’s happening in the world today.
From the basic/macro level all the way on up. I spent this weekend walking around realizing that I not only couldn’t locate a Best Buy, Circuit City or a Radio Shack near me without doing a damb Google search on my iPhone but I’m only down to three local record stores. Only one of which specializes in old vinyl (Nuggets in Kenmore Square). However, there were six different Sunglass Huts in my immediate area. I’m out here searchin’ 4 meaning…
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