Remember hypercolor shirts? These were popular in 1991. Manufactured by the Genera Sportswear Company of Seattle, these fabrics changed colors based on changing temperatures. The science involves the same concept as the mood rings, which were popular in the 70's. Leukodyes, the color changing molecules, were encased to the permanent colored fabric. The change in increasing temperature caused an increasing PH and that created a chemical change, allowing the molecule to release light instead of absorbing it. However, multiple washing and washing in heat would leave the fabric in a permanent, static color.
The genius in the science, however, did not correlate with management. From February 1991 to May 1991, in a three month span, the company sold 50 million worth of items. But, soon overproduction and mismanagement led to "FADING" demand. One year later, in 1992, the company went bankrupt.
The shirts may have come and gone, but the memory of them changing colors on me after I received my test score in 1993 will be embedded in my mind forever!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
20 years ago, the 5 pick in the NBA draft was Kevin Garnett. Drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was the first player in over two decades to be selected from high school. He went on to have the best basketball career of anyone else in that draft year and won the MVP title in the 2003-2004 season. He finally won a championship in the 2007-2008 year when he led the Boston Celtics to the championship. Garnett's success paved the way for future high school athletes, such as Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, to enter the NBA straight from high school until the "one and done" rule was implemented in 2005.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
This legend is Michael Crichton. Jurassic World has just made over half a billion dollar this past weekend and credit has to be given to the man who wrote the story of the original Jurassic Park. Mr. Crichton was not only a writer, director, producer, but also a medical doctor. This consummate workaholic would spend weeks locked inside a room to finish his novels. Topics of his novels generally included biotechnology and failure of man's efforts to control it. In 1994, Mr Crichton had his simultaneous works as charting number one in television with his writing in ER, a number one film with Jurassic Park, and a number one book with Disclosure.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
More than 21 years ago, the leader of the so called grunge phenomena, committed suicide. Many have labelled this exact time as the end of the grunge. I have to vehemently disagree. It was not even the beginning of the end. Grunge and alternative movement had a stronghold on music until 1997 when Hansen released "MMMBOP". That's when the music execs realized that once again they can make money from preteen and teen girls. For more evidence regarding this, please see the Smashing Pumpkins and the year of success they enjoyed in 1996. Still today, Cobain's legacy serves to influence musicians. But in a tragic prophecy, it almost seems fitting that Cobain, the most recognizable face of Grunge, would pass away at the height of success of grunge and leave that short time of music history as a time of mystery and for some a memory of the halcyon days before the internet and boy band explosions. Who would Cobain have been today? Would he still be performing alternative music or would be have moved on to other forms of rock music? Would we have ever known of Justin Timberlake if Cobain did not commit suicide? These answers will never be known (at least not in this lifetime). What has happened is that the grunge movement made a dip in rock music history and pop culture history. That dip at the time, seemed like an enormous seismic event to shake the world forever. However, soon after, the world restored order. But from time to time the aftershocks of that event can still be felt along with the memories of that time and that time's leader.
Around 21 years ago, Madonna's song "I Remember" was a commercial and critical success. It reached #2 in the Billboard charts (hey no one is perfect). It also helped create a new image and style for this legendary pop artist as there was a backlash from both critics and fans from her previously provocative and sexually tainted image. The song was the single for the soundtrack of the film "With Honors" (a thoughtful and insightful film). For a fan that has been following Madonna since she debuted as a prominent artist, I feel that her music at this time in the early and mid nineties was her best. Please also hear "Bad Girl", "Rain", and "Take A Bow".
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Drive around in Los Angeles, or in fact, any major city or middle sized city in the United States at this time, and you will find many billboards advertising movies playing that have links to the past. Jurrasic World is being released this weekend and a new version of the Terminator is out soon. Further, there is a Pacman revival phenomenon with the movie Pixels coming out in July. For the most part, unless you live in a cave you have to realize that obsession in the past is everywhere. Turn on the radio (if you still do) and you'll hear an oldie song. Turn on the television and a something from the past is featured (ie. CNN is currently featuring a weekly presentation on the Seventies). Even social media, a relatively new phenomenon, celebrates the past (ie. Throwback Thursdays, Flashback Fridays, etc).
But retro is not a new revival (pun intended). The decades before had their niches for decades before as well. the Seventies celebrated the Fifties. The Eighties glorified the Sixties and the cycle went full circle in the Nineties with the Seventies coming back in full throttle. And now, everything from the previous millennium is glorified.
So what makes of this? Why has the word vintage become as powerful as gold. And no, it is not because the world and times were so much better back then. There was still war, poverty, tragedy, and bad music back in the "good ol' days". So the question remains. For us who are old, why is the familiarity of something make it so grandiose. And, for the new generation, why are they buying into this "blast from the past". Well, my speculation is that the answers are both scientific, psychological, and social.
First, some of the answers to this are easy to answer. Things from the past that were popular, although familiar to the older generation, are still new for the younger generation. In addition, most of what was popular in the past must have had some appeal to the general population. Thus, for the new generation this appeal is new. The song you loved as a child is now new (even though it's old) to your nine year old daughter.
Second, when a song, an ad jingle, video, etc. reminds you of your past, their is a filter of reminisce that, although not absolutely accurate, brings on some sort of bliss full feeling. Why so? For one thing, the past has general advantages. First, obviously, the past is a time when you were younger. Youth has its rewards. It includes your first crush, your first kiss, and other memories like your first car. A jingle from that time can bring about memories of those firsts. And usually we associate a pleasant event with these relics of the past. But recent studies show that even our memories can trick us. We all know that our recall of an event is not perfect. Think of distant event in your life. Now go back and look at the video from that event (if there is one), and you will see the disparity between your memories of the event and the actual event. The accuracy of our memories are definitely not pristine.
Further, according to Karim Nader, a Neuroscientist at Mcgill University, memories are not static and are easily distorted, every time they are remembered. This is called reconsolidation. In other words, every time you have a memory of an event, it can be altered and tweeked so that your memory of an event is hardly a pristine account of what actually happened. Further, the emotional aspects of a memory are controlled by a pea shaped small part of your brain called the Amygdala. The Amygdala releases hormones that affect the emotions of a recall. This has been used to treat patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after they recall the disturbing event by administering a drug that blocks the release of the hormones from the Amygdala, during the recall. Thus, the emotional aspects of a disturbing memory can be forgotten. With this knowledge, can it be that a familiar, appealing song can enhance the emotions related to a memory? In other words, can a familiar, admired song that triggers a recall of memory, make that memory seem sweeter?
According to Michael Marvi, a Neurologist who treats Alzheimer's patients at Providence Hospital in Burbank, California, memories are ingredients that make an individual recognize the self. Accordingly, it gives us cues to prepare for what we might have to face in the present and future. And from the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless" were are reminded by Jim Carrey's character of what angst losing your memory can cause to someone.
So with all this knowledge, it is common sense to do as so many friends, family, and therapists remind us to do. That is to enjoy the present. Why? All this reminiscing of the past brought on by our pop culture, can leave you nostalgic and longing for your past, a time and world which you want but can't have back. With this in mind, now you know to enjoy the immediate present, because in a split second it becomes your past.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Around 20 years ago, Bill Clinton's Health Care Plan was ousted. The year before a task force was set up and led by Hillary Clinton to come up with a comprehensive plan for all Americans. The bill was a complex proposal of over a 1,000 pages and its core ideal was to have employers provide health care insurance to their employees through competitive but regulated Health Management Organizations (HMOs). Conservatives and health insurance companies complained that the plan was heavily bureaucratic and restrictive of patient choice. By the summer of 1994, the proposal was fully shut down.
In early 1994, the movie "Reality Bites" starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawk, and Ben Affleck (in his directorial debut) was showing in movie theaters. The movie dealt with issues faced by young adults who were just graduating from college at the time. These included disenfranchisement, poor employment opportunity, promiscuity, the struggle to deal with one's sexuality, and non sensible love. Any of these issues seem familiar today? The movie became the embodiment of Generation X and launched Lisa Loeb's music career.
21 years ago, Courtney Love's band, Hole, was having success with their second album, "Living Through This". The album was released right after Kurt Cobain's suicide. The album featured hits with the theme of female insurgency and themes of self image.Lyrics in the album deal with depression, insecurity, and motherhood. The band gained more popularity from Love's crazy onstage performances. By the end of the year, Living Through This, received much critical acclaim. With songs like "Doll Parts", "Miss World", and "Violet", Courtney Love soon became the queen of alt.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Just two months ago, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck was released. It is a documentary about the man who was on top of the music world and the world of pop culture in the early nineties. But he, ultimately, shot himself in a tragic fashion and left a suicide note. A question as to why this would happen would also raise the question of why the music he made popular in this time was even popular? At this time, our country was not in a war, the economy was recovering, and the world was about to be introduced the world wide web. But deep in the confines of Cobain's struggle, we find some answers. Mental illness? Well, Cobain was not the first genius to suffer from Bipolar Disorder. But maybe, one of the few to take his own life during what one would think would be the "Nirvana" of his life. Certainly, he was not the first to suffer from the pressures of success and all that comes with it. A man that was chosen, not by his own choosing, to be the spokesman for a generation that for the first time saw themselves to have a bleaker future than their parents. So in a tragic irony, it was fitting that a man who had reached the pinnacle of success would pass away not by the gluttony and riches that his success brought him, but rather, by the fact that he was not comfortable in the new shiny clothes that dressed his skin.
Around 21 years ago this month, the Houston Rockets, with the help of their MVP center, Hakeem Olajuwon, defeated the New Knicks and Ewing to became NBA champions. Remember, this was the series in which one of the games was interrupted by the OJ Simpson police chase. This was their first back to back championships and Hakeem the Dream went on to have a hall of fame career, as did Patrick Ewing, the center for the New York Knicks. It should also be noted that Michael Jordan did not play in the NBA that season (1993-94) because he was playing minor league baseball.