1574 – The Past Sure Is Tense

Did you ever own one of these bikes? I did, ages ago, and it was actually my first bike. I learned it very late, at 12 I think, or at least not much earlier. This would make it 1976. Oh dear!

It’s interesting how designs change and, more so, how our perception changes. This may even be different for people of different ages. For me, the 1970s are the time of my childhood and youth. Sure, I was born in 1964, but living at the outskirts of my home town Klagenfurt, more or less in the country, I had not much exposure to things that change with fashions. After all, trees and meadows don’t. No, really, it were my school days when I began to interact with those things, and of course I felt myself being right in the middle. I was part of that time, everything felt modern, interesting, amazing.

Then came the 1980s, dancing, love, studying at the university in Vienna, parties, and I kind of forgot the style of the seventies. It was not present any more, but it was also too early for reminiscing. Basically the time and its design vanished, almost as if they had never existed.

Mentally I still thought of my life as a constant stream of consciousness, at least from the beginning of puberty. In fact this is an interesting sub-topic: There is a clear notion of before / after, and although I can’t remember any distinct events that would make this feeling of demarcation plausible, and although I am absolutely sure that at that time it must have felt as a smooth transition, a before / after is what I think of it today and what I actually began to feel at least at the end of the seventies. Puberty? Is it really that? How was it for you?

But I digress. The important point is this constant stream of consciousness. My memory of myself is not a memory of someone living in an anachronistic world. Naturally it isn’t, because at every time I lived in my then present, and I always regarded my world as “modern”. That’s also the reason why I somehow expect artifacts of that time to look “modern”. They certainly did, only now they don’t, and sometimes they don’t to an almost shocking degree.

Do you know “Alt/1977: We are not time travelers“? Alex Varanese created a series of hypothetical advertising posters for today’s gadgets, only in the design of the seventies. Head over there and have a look. Only don’t forget to come back 🙂

What do you say? Looks absolutely convincing, huh? Being confronted with those designs, we suddenly remember and although there is a feeling of intimate familiarity, it gets also clear how far we went and how bizarre those designs (and the colors!) look today.

Anyway. There’s nothing new and certainly nothing surprising, only maybe that I am not sure if the 1970s are special for me because of my age. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that true 1980s fashion (especially the early 80s) looks pretty strange today, but there is not even remotely such a disconnect as between me and the things of the 70s.

Now the question is: if you are around 10 years older or younger than I, do you feel the same for the 1960s or the 80s respectively?

The Song of the Day is one more time a Captain Beefheart tune, at least if tune is the right word 😀

It’s “The Past Sure Is Tense” from his 1982 final studio album “Ice Cream for Crow”. YouTube seems to have it, although at the moment I don’t get anything but an internal server error and a message telling me about a team of highly trained monkeys, that has been dispatched to deal with the situation. Love those Google guys. Not only do they have humor, no, they are even allowed to 🙂

3 thoughts on “1574 – The Past Sure Is Tense”

  1. I grew up in the ’60’s and, for me, it was clearly a decade of immense change. Both personally and in a far more general sense. I went from being a high school student to college to the military to married with a young child. It was also the decade when I started working in a field that would last for almost 30 years. And as I changed, so did the world. The Cuban Missile crisis, the assasinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, race riots in the cities, and men landing on the moon. The world in 1970 looked nothing like the world in 1960.

    I knew it then and I know it now. That decade was a clear line of “demarcation”, for me and the rest of the world. And yet, as you say, there is always the sense of “stream of consciousness”. An endless series of yesterdays that turn into today and life goes on. In a sense, that is the curse of photographs and other forms of visual media. When you look at the grainy images of that era, you realize how much time has passed and how much has changed.

    My daughter had a bike like that, by the way. Don’t see them anymore.

    1. Yeah, the sixties are definitely the more interesting decade, but what about your perception of fashion and design of the early sixties? Do you loath them just as I loath the seventies? Do you loath the seventies instead, just like I do, and is this proof that the design of the seventies is especially loathsome? Or is it only I who is intolerant? 😀

      1. Oh, I’m with you on that. When I look at old snapshots (family photographs, etc.) I literally cringe. And it’s not only the clothes, it’s the hairdos as well. Not to mention the furniture and stuff in our house. It’s worse than ugly – it’s downright distasteful. Who in the world ever convinced us that this stuff looked good? I have one picture of myself at a wedding wearing a leisure suit. With some kind of Afro hairdo. It’s embarrassing.

        I don’t remember the sixties being that bad. But maybe that’s because I was wearing an army uniform for part of it. And really short hair was “in”. We were also so poor that we didn’t own much furniture and didn’t have a TV.

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