Generation X in NYC, 1993
After reading my post about the Starry Night, a friend mailed me some photos taken during the trip. He has asked to stay outside of the limelight so I’ll save his name but those of us who were there and those who know or knew us should be able to figure out the photographer. Selah, my brother.
First: the cameras of 20 years ago, they were shit.Second: Wow. Look at us! Even through the blur you can see we are young, eager, happy, high. This lies clearly at odds with how we – as the vanguards of Generation X – were imagined to be, how that time is glamorized by some.
Rebel! Fight! Fuck Tipper Gore and her damned parental advice! Happy Harry Hard-On 4 Lyfe!
(There is a great sadness that we tried to shout down a man named Bush and his war in Iraq then, only to see the concept become what people in the music business call “recurrent” 10 years later.)
We were supposed to be disaffected, angry at our lot, angry at the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bush the First.I don’t remember being like that. I remember being frustrated, but it was the same frustrations that all nascent human adults experience: fear that I lacked focus, fear that I had focus, fear that the focus I had was wrong, fear that the tools I owned were insufficient to the tasks of becoming a man.
But mostly, I remember the music. I remember feeling like this change was something that I could own. Every generation that hits the age of fourteen believes that they are the first to discover Led Zeppelin and sure we had that flaw but we were the first to discover Cobain. There was a magic in that.
I mostly remember being excited all the time.In Washington D.C., I remember getting looks from clean-cuts as we strolled through the JW Marriot. I was wearing that fucking jester cap – we traded it around. The valet offered to sell us weed, told us about a couple punk clubs, and when we returned from an evening of drinking and punk rock at two a.m. pointed us towards the Great Mall, scant blocks away.
(The Vietnam Memorial is not what you expect. More so when one is high and it is two a.m. Further, Abe Lincoln’s head is just, you know, fucking big. Dude. Dude. DUDE. I’m telling you: Abe Lincoln, man. His head. It’s fucking huge.)
In New York, I remember walking the streets of Greenwich Village, eating pizza that you had to fold in half. We drank fresh beers hidden in paper bags: each bottle lasted long enough for us to reach the next corner store, where a fresh brew could be procured. Hieneken, one dollar, and the clerk will pop the cap and bag the bottle for you.I remember being chased through Alphabet City by some guy and his pit bulls, laughing the entire way. I remember us lost, and some of us peeing on the walls of a cathedral that later turned out to be the nightclub we were looking for (we saw a band called the Skatenigs).
I remember us making friends with obvious gang members at three a.m. in a subway station in Manhattan, and then having the train conductor come find us: “You white boys need to come up front with me. You’ll get stabbed!” And then I remember what it was like travelling through the belly of New York City in the front car of underground.
I remember being excited. I don’t remember being sad and I don’t remember being angry.
I certainly don’t remember being this young.