Anniversaries. Every single person, place or thing has one. Not everyone has a monocle, but by gum, everyone’s got an anniversary. The only thing that doesn’t have an anniversary, curiously enough, is the monocle. Here are a few anniversaries that will make you smile, then weep, then nod your head as if to say ain’t life a funny thing, but come on. You’re not fooling anyone.
1. 10 YEARS AGO YOU SAW JANET JACKSON’S NIPPLE It’s true. On February 1 2004, during the Super Bowl halftime show, Justin Timberlake grabbed Janet Jackson’s chemise and exposed one mammary unit for the world to see. Millions of people were traumatized at the sight, because no one on Earth had ever seen a nipple – not even one covered with a glittery little anemone of a pasty. Worst of all, the incident gave rise to the euphemism “wardrobe malfunction,” surely one of the most weaselly phrases that ever squirmed into the zeitgeist, and now a category on Huffington Post.
2. MISTER COBAIN, HE DEAD Was it 20 years ago that Kurt Cobain – whose entire musical output now sounds like an enraged call for morning coffee – put a shotgun to his head and wiped grunge rock clean with one pull of the trigger? Yes it is, folks. That’s how time moves here on the Prime Material Plane: relentlessly forward, pushing you away from your most cherished or despised memories into the future, until that final shove into darkness settles all of your arguments. While you wait for that inevitable moment, though, you should listen to Nirvana’s cover of The Man Who Sold the World. It’s a harmonic convergence of coolness that may never come around again in our lifetimes.
3. GEEK LOVE TURNS 25 Sooner or later, every sensitive reader coming of age in the early ’90s encountered Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, the bizarre story of a carnival family with deliberately induced congenital defects. Caitlin Roper makes a claim that Geek Love is a hidden force in our culture that has inspired countless artists and performers, from Kurt Cobain to Jim Rose. Certainly you can pin some of the blame for the ’90s on Geek Love, and that’s why no one must ever read it again. Just kidding, it’s great. Go buy a copy and destroy your children with it.
4. NOTICE TO BABY BOOMERS: SO OLD. SO, SO OLD 50 years ago, when the air was fresh and the earth was green, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Do you remember what they played? Were you one of the 73 million who watched them on TV? Were you in the audience? Did the massive libidinal excess unleashed that night encompass you in its radiant pulse? Did you drift through Woodstock and wash up on the grim shores of Altamont? Did you high-five your friends when you bought your first BMW in the ’80s? Did you forget that Sunday night is turkey night in the cafeteria? No cranberry sauce if you don’t show up at 5:00 sharp.*
Seriously, just listen to the screams in the audience. That must have been a good night to be young and alive.
5. TELEVISION. THE DRUG OF A NATION. BREEDING IGNORANCE AND FEEDING RADIATION Television’s roots date back to technologies from the late 1800s, but it was introduced to North American consumers in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair (Germany beat the US in this respect by several years). Anyway, the glowing box that fed a nation its post-war Pabulum of middle-class dreams and mutant vaudeville is turning 75 this year. That may well be older than your grandparents. It’s definitely older than your Netflix subscription, so show some respect, you punks.
*Making fun of Baby Boomers is the only pleasure left for us Gen Xers and Yers. The Millennials, I don’t know what their pleasures may be. At best they’re an alien life form, but I’m betting that they’re a freak signal from the CW Network made flesh and walking among us.