I'm not an obsessive listener to the Reply All podcast, but when it's on, it's on — and this week's episode is fantastic. Host PJ Vogt is contacted by Tyler Gillett, a film director who is absolutely not a musician, about a song that he remembers from his childhood. Every word and note of this alleged 90s pop song is perfectly imprinted onto Gillett's brain … but there's no proof anywhere on the Internet that such a song has ever actually existed. They even go as far as to recreate the song in a studio with a professional band, completely from Gillett's memory.
The full hour episode is strangely gripping, and offers some fascinating insights into the ways that we remember things, as well as the bizarre world of that late 90s major label music boom. (Also: Barenaked Ladies.)
Reply All #158: The Case of the Missing Hit [PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman / Gimlet Media]
Image: Hanul / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest
An iconic 1990s junk food, Betty Crocker's Dunkaroos are packages of cookies and sugar paste, I mean frosting, for dipping. They were discontinued in the US in 2012 but will return this summer because the 1990s are cool again. Above, a 1997 TV commercial for the Dunkaroos tie-in with The Lost World: Jurassic Park movie.
(via Obscure Media, thanks Lux Sparks-Pescovitz!)
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Did teenagers use pagers in the 1990s? I don't know any who did. Nevertheless, here's an LA Times sidebar that shows the codes kids used to chat via pager back in the day.
[via r/coolguides] Read the rest
Edison Electric Institute created this fantastic public safety video in 1990 with CGI that's been aged to perfection for today's vaporwave music videos.
(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest
Vaporgoth composers take note for your next music video: the developers behind Microsoft Excel 95 left a marvelous easter egg hidden in the spreadsheet hell. Welcome to the "Hall of Tortured Souls." More background at the wonderful Easter Egg Archive.
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Manhattan in the early nineties, captured on what must have at the time been an unusually high-def camera.
The uploader of this incredible archival B-roll footage said to be of New York in 1993 says they captured it off of “a D-Theater HD DVHS Demo Tape by techmoan.com.
It's pretty incredible.
I miss this NYC.
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The original Smashing Pumpkins (sans D'arcy Wretzky), on the road again for another US tour, are covering James Taylor's classic "Fire and Rain" from his 1970 masterpiece Sweet Baby James. It's a lovely, trippy cover and hearkens back to their 1994 take on another '70s rock classic -- Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" (video below).
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If you saw the critically-acclaimed 2004 documentary Dig! about the frenemy neo-psych bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you'll remember that the real star wasn't either of the bands' frontmen but rather the BJM's inimitable, lovable tambourine player Joel Gion.
Rocking his impressive mutton chops and 60s shades, Joel has spent the last 25 years performing with the BJM and releasing his own excellent music while slinging vinyl to make ends meet in the impossible city of San Francisco. Combine that unconventional life with Joel's skewed sense of adventure, razor wit, and relentless pursuit of laughs, and you end up with some killer yarns. Joel's got stories for ages. And now he's writing a memoir to share the weirdness with the world. I've read bits of what he's been writing and it is far fucking out, a modern Beat's notes from the underground.
Support Joel Gion's Patreon so he can get it all down on paper.
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I’ve just launched a Patreon page for my book focusing on the few run-up years before the documentary-era. Click on the link on my profile page and become a patron to read over 3K words posted right now. I’ll be posting new writing or project related stuff every week. #joelgion #bjm
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Mallwave is a microgenre of bedroom electronic music and smooth jazz meant to evoke nostalgia for the vibrant mall scenes of the 1980s and 1990s that many of the music's composers are too young to have experienced or at least remember.
Think of Mallwave as a hauntological soundtrack for an Orange Julius-fueled consumer culture where Suncoast, Merry-Go-Round, and Spencer Gifts anchored suburban reality. (Or, in the case of some of the moodier tracks, the kind of muzak that might play in your mind as you wander an abandoned mall in a Ballardian trance.)
From Hussein Kesvanio's feature in MEL:
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“The nostalgia is so real you can cry and wish you went back in time,” reads one comment underneath the video “Neon Wave Mall (Vapor Mix).” “I feel a certain sense of… familiarity watching this footage. Almost like I myself have set foot in these places,” adds a viewer of “Corp Palm Mall.” Under the same video, another person opines: “Why wasn’t I born in this time? This video makes me realize how much things were not as advanced as we have now but it was better. I could be wrong, but sometimes I feel like living around the ‘90s sounds fun. Lifestyle is different, mindset is different and not as much laziness.”
According to writer Joe Koenig, this kind of feeling — a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia. In his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig describes it as “the desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future.”
Cyberpunk is Marianne Tranche's 1990 documentary about the early cyberpunk scene. It features interviews with the likes of William Gibson, Scott Fisher, and bOING bOING patron saint Timothy Leary. While the brilliant Brenda Laurel appears, the film unfortunately missed many of the other badass female cyberpunks of the day like St. Jude Milhon (Mondo 2000), Lisa Palac (Future Sex), Tiffany Lee Brown (FringeWare Review), Stacy Horn (Echo), and of course bOING bOING co-founder Carla Sinclair!
As Dr. Tim said back then, "Turn on, tune in, boot up!"
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If you came of age in the 1990s, you couldn't help but know the lyrics to at least one James song. Laid is great! Not just the single, but the whole damn record. But here's the thing: It's not the greatest tune that the band has churned out. In fact, since Laid hit the charts back in 1993, James has continued to make absolutely fabulous, soulful music. If you're not familiar with their catalog, there's no better time than the present to fill your ears with their sounds. You'll find their songs on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
Once you're caught up, you'll be ready to buy their new album, Living in Extraordinary Times, due to pop on August 3rd. Read the rest
USDish analyzed Google search data for the last 15 years to create this map of the United States showing each state's "favorite" sitcom. The Midwest loves Friends, four states and Washington DC prefer Friends, and (hooray!) California digs The Simpsons.
"Can You Guess Your State’s Favorite Sitcom from the ’90s?" Read the rest
Ready to feel really old? In this React video, a group of older teens -- they all seem to have been born right around the year 2000 -- put on headphones to listen to select music from the 1990s. Their task is to guess the song's title and the artist behind it. It surprised me a little that more of them knew Los Del Rio's "Macarena" than Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." (Though, honestly, I didn't recognize all the songs either and I lived through the 90s.) Read the rest
If you had a Windows PC with a CD drive in the mid-1990s, the percentages are pretty good that you lost countless hours of sleep to playing Myst. Full of difficult but rewarding puzzles and featuring a captivating story with an ending that was dictated by your in-game actions, the game was cutting-edge stuff, back in the day. Myst's popularity led to five sequels to the game. Now, a Kickstarter campaign is making it possible for Windows 10 users to replay or discover all six games in the series for the first time.
According to Tech Crunch, Myst's original development house, Cyan Inc., has bought the rights back to all six of the games in the series and will be re-releasing them to run on Windows 10, to celebrate Myst's 25th anniversary. The games will be released as a set, which can be had as a digital download or as a boxed set of DVDs. The Kickstarter campaign for the games, which has already far surpassed what Cyan needed in order to churn the updated version of the games out, also offers investors the option to own replicas of items used in the original games and hand-drawn pieces of concept art.
While I was more of a Warcraft: Orcs & Humans guy, most of my friends back in the day were nuts for Myst. While a couple of the sequels to the original game have been available to play on Windows 10 for some time now, I can only imagine that the ability to play all six games in the series on a modern PC will be attractive to a ton of gamers, both new and old. Read the rest
On the newly relaunched Mondo 2000 website, R.U. Sirius interviewed Wired founder Louis Rossetto about the origins of Wired and about his new novel, Change is Good. I was an editor at Wired from 1993-1998 and I learned a lot about Wired and Louis that I didn't know. One thing was that Louis wanted to base Wired in my hometown, Boulder, CO, but his partner and co-founder Jane Metcalfe thought San Francisco was a better headquarters. Smart choice!
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Any regrets about Wired’s typhoon? (In the first issue, Louis wrote, “The Digital Revolution is whipping through our lives like a Bengali typhoon.”)
LR: Oh jeez. We are evolution’s agents, and we are making and testing mutations on an accelerated basis as we network ourselves and our sensors and our machines together. Some mutations survive, some don’t. The ones that survive may still cause humans (and the universe) problems because they are disruptive. Some are not only disruptive but wildly beneficial — at least they appear that way, at least at first. But can we ever really know what’s good or bad for us in the long run? All we can do is try to shape the flow as best we can with good intention. Regrets about what’s happening? Always. Excited about what’s happening? Immensely. Through it all, I remain a critical optimist. Change is good. Change is hard. Change is good? Change is…
In 1992, Pearl Jam released director Mark Pellington's fantastically dark video above for the song "Jeremy." (Pellington was also the creator of MTV's incredible avant-garde documentary video series Buzz that I've posted about previously.) Actor Trevor Wilson was only 12 years old when he portrayed the troubled student in the "Jeremy" clip. Most of the world last saw Wilson on screen with Pearl Jam at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards before he totally disappeared from the public eye. Turns out, Wilson drowned last August while on vacation in Puerto Rico. Over at Billboard, my pal Gil Kaufman tells the "Untold Story of Video Star Trevor Wilson's Fascinating Life & Tragic Death:"
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Cinematographer Tom Richmond remembers sitting next to Pellington in the director's Los Angeles home and watching endless VHS audition tapes from New York of kids vying to play the (anti-)hero of the "Jeremy" video. It became pretty clear early into the nearly 200 auditions that the kids they were watching were "typecasty," as if they'd read Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder's lyrics about an outcast high schooler -- based on the true story of Dallas 16-year-old Jeremy Delle, who killed himself in front of his classmates in 1991 after years of torment -- and decided they were had the perfect look and attitude for the part.
"In a cliché movie about junior high it would have been the picked-on kid, the outcast who looked funny or strange, and I could tell Mark was dissatisfied with that idea," says Richmond of the parade of odd-looking and over-acting kids they watched, whose performances felt a little too on-the-nose.