o you think you’re a 90s fan? OK, Dr. Richard Kimble, can you handle this? It’s I Love the 90s, and this is 1993! The flicks, the fashions, the trends, the TV, the tunes. A totally awesome year that gave us these burning questions:
What did wearing a Starter Jacket really represent?
Philip Buchan: Starter jackets weren't just a fashionable way to stay warm in the winter--they were a sign of how much your parents loved you.
And who was the greatest member of the Wu-Tang Clan?
Josh Love: U-God 4 Life Mothafucka!
Because you love the 90s, because you still remember the name of your best Sim City 2000 Metropolis, admit it—this is 1993!
*** X-Files*** The Proclaimers*** Pogs*** Dazed and Confused***
*** Aerosmith*** Sim City / Civilization*** AlternaGrrl***
*** The Fugitive*** Take That*** Beavis and Butthead***
*** G-Funk*** The Late Night Wars*** Forgotten Albums: The Wildhearts***
*** Starter Jackets*** Soul Asylum*** Mighty Morphin Power Rangers*** Chicago Bulls***
*** Philip Buchan Remembers 1993*** Wu-Tang Clan*** Fogotten Films: A Perfect World***
*** Doom*** Loser of 1993: Michael Jackson***
*** R&B; Divas*** Forgotten Albums: The Goats*** Steven Spielberg***
*** TGIF*** Joe Niemczyk Remembers 1993*** The Nightmare Before Christmas***
*** Forgotten Fims: It's All True*** Lorena Bobbitt***
*** Forgotten Albums: Trans-Global Underground*** Free Willy***
*** Zach Smola Remembers 1993*** Blind Melon*** Steven Spielberg***
Zach Smola: For a few unspeakably brilliant seasons, The X-Files rocked ever so hard.
Ken Munson: For a few beautiful years I was completely geeked out for The X-Files. I wanted to believe.
Tony Van Groningen: Sweet Jesus, how I used to love this show. This show debuted when I was fifteen, so in that year, before I got my car, many a Friday night was spent at home obsessively watching X-Files.
Josh Love: Yep, while some of my peers were getting ‘faced in corn fields and trying to get into each other’s buttonflys, I was obsessively watching a couple of 30-somethings not have sex every week.
Zach Smola: I had the book. I had the soundtrack. My family named two lizards that took up residence in a vine attached to my house Mulder and Scully. Lizards.
Ken Munson: This show was like the Twilight Zone for our generation.
John Rothery: It’s a painfully obvious comment but you can’t avoid the nerd word. Geekfest. It just is. It appeals to people that have spent far too long rolling 12 sided dice, who want to believe that the world is run by a secret gang of highly intelligent alien orks.
Tony Van Groningen: I’d always had a strong fascination for aliens and other paranormal happenings, and my young mind was ready to wrap itself around government conspiracy theories.
Ken Munson: David Duchovny plays Fox Mulder, the FBI's token lunatic who sits in a crappy basement office, investigates various alleged paranormal incidents, and generally has no life. Gillian Anderson is Dana Scully, the redheaded doctor assigned to assist him, keep tabs on him for the higher-ups, and engage him in constant, never-resolved sexual tension.
Ben Woolhead: The bloke they worked for was a miserable bastard who sat on his arse in an office all day and never appreciated his agents’ efforts in the field or gave them any support when pressurised “from above” to curtail their investigations. Surely the pair of them could have found more gainful employment seeking out the truth elsewhere? Perhaps as UN weapons inspectors.
Brad Shoup: When I first started watching The X-Files, I wanted to be David Duchovny. Now I’d settle for making sweet animal love to him.
John Rothery: He has the emotional range and expression of a chartered accountant.
Gavin Mueller: From soft porn to saving the world—and back to soft porn again.
Josh Love: The best part was that Mulder was actually a raging porno addict on the show, I remember a couple of episodes when they alluded to his voluminous collection of adult videotapes.
Ben Woolhead: David Duchovnhy came to The X-Files from soft porn whereas Gillian Anderson moved in the opposite direction, her starring role in the show leading to numerous appearances as wank fodder in an assortment of lad mags.
Ken Munson: X-Files was one of those shows that made its stars seem cool in ways that they would never seem again. Look at David Duchovny, this is a good-looking guy with a certain charisma, but he hasn't done anything half as cool since. Would Gillian Anderson seemed half as hot if she had been on, say, Mad About You? No way. That's how cool X-Files was.
Adrien Begrand: Funny how I was such a big fan of the show early on, but for the life of me, I cannot remember a single plotline today. The shows just blended into one another.
Brad Shoup: There were two kinds of episodes: mythology, which furthered the series story arc, and the monster episodes, which were more or less stand-alone. I preferred the mythology episodes, if only because they filled a young man’s heart with paranoia.
Ben Welsh: I always enjoyed the one-off episodes about freak killers more than the big-picture conspiracy shows. Black oil aliens got nothing on that motherfucker who could kill people with his shadow.
Zach Smola: X-Files were best when they were about hunting bigfoots and ghoulies and stuff. But then things had to get all willy-nilly FBI-secrets blah blah blah.
Tony Van Groningen: I lost track of what was happening in X-Files after a year or two.
John Rothery: Shove in some ‘haunting’ incidental music and wheel out the Cancer Man and no-one will mind that it doesn’t make any sense. But then when has good sense ever stopped a conspiracy theorist?
Gavin Mueller: The truth was never "out there." The trail always led back into Mulder's world—his family, his career, the very people he worked with.
Ken Munson: No matter how much the X-Files team worked, the Conspiracy always laid the hammer down on them. One week Mulder and Scully would come oh so close to bringing down the entire conpiracy, and next week they were back out in the middle of nowhere, hunting for lake monsters with a gun and a flashlight.
Brad Shoup: “I Want to Believe”? Of course I wanted to believe; my life was dull and conspiracy-free!
Zach Smola: Before the conspiracy-theory, alien-pregnancy, disappearing-Duchovnhy crap bogged it down, every Friday night was like an hour-long stylish Twilight Zone. A sharper downward trajectory I cannot think of.
Ben Woolhead: It all went to prove that Americans love a good conspiracy theory. Even more so if it involves aliens. I’m sure JFK’s death must have got a mention at some point too.
Josh Timmermann: What made the X-Files so popular is our collective national suspicion that somehow, in some way, we're being fucked with. From the Kennedy assassination to Roswell, conspiracy theory is the other Great American Past-Time.
Tony Van Groningen: If nothing else, it has taught me that the truth is out there somewhere…I’ll just never know what it is because I have no doubt that there is a real life smoking man suppressing it. Probably a lot of them, actually.
Philip Buchan: The Proclaimers were easily the early '90s most fascinating one-hit wonder. First of all, there's the fact that "I"m Gonna Be (500 Miles)" became a hit a good five years after it was released, thanks to its inclusion on the Benny and Joon soundtrack. I guess you could say that, in a sense, The Proclaimers' brand of crappiness was ahead of its time.
Gavin Mueller: Silly white people.
John Rothery: The Proclaimers were a pair of goofy looking brothers from Scotland who managed to write a great anthemic folk song. So good in fact that they are still working because of it.
Brad Shoup: Proclaimers—I know they were brothers, looked like the bastard children of Elvis Costello and Buddy Holly. When they strummed their guitars in the video, they’d start convulsing. Horrid. Good chorus.
Steve Lichtenstein: If nothing else, the Proclaimers made cloning an international concern.
Philip Buchan: They were two twins who looked like Dennis the Menace's dad, and they belted out this ridiculous hook with a militant furor. When you watched them sing, you got the feeling that they really were crazy enough to walk 500 miles, and 500 more, without stopping to eat or use the bathroom the entire time.
Ben Woolhead: Even if you were a trainspotting, internet-chat-room-dwelling, roleplay-game-loving computer scientist you’d look down on The Proclaimers as a couple of irredeemable nerds.
Zach Smola: From the moment you first heard this song, it was well-understood that the Proclaimers were some kinda foreign. Irish, maybe? Danish? Azerbaijani?
Brad Shoup: Were they Scottish? Canadian? Pods?
John Rothery: This song is a triumph for the regional accent. It is as Scottish as a tartan kilt and if it was a person, ‘I’m gonna be (500 miles)’ would be called Angus McFergus McTavish Dundee.
Ken Munson: This song is the lone exception to Mike Myers' Law of Scots, as it's both Scottish AND crap. Catchy, though.
Ben Woolhead: The exception that proves the rule that all Scottish music is brilliant. Along with Wet Wet Wet.
Tony Van Groningen: This song came from out of the blue, to annoy us for a few months before sailing off into the great pop beyond. Nobody has heard from them before or since.
Brad Shoup: I remember watching VH-1’s Pop Up Video, and I was explicitly warned that walking 500 miles at a time can damage your feet. So take plenty of sit breaks, kids.
Tony Van Groningen: The song was cheesier than a plate of nachos but the chorus was just so insanely catchy, which for better or worse is what makes pop music pop music.
Zach Smola: I wonder where they work now. According to spell-check, proclaimer is not even a real word. Deceivers.
Ken Munson: Back before my little brother was playing with Yu-Gi-Oh cards, I was playing with Pogs. And if we're going to compare dumb fads, my little brother definitely wins out.
Zach Smola: Kids are stupid. Somehow the creators of Pogs managed to make cardboard into gold. This is known as the baseball card phenomenon—it is wholly possible for companies to make things out of cardboard into something really expensive.
Brad Shouf: Yeah, I had pogs. I also had The Ultimate Pog, featuring Steve Allen.
Adrien Begrand: Steve Allen invented Pog. You know that, right?
Tony Van Groningen: I always thought pogs were lame as hell. Tiny round pieces of cardboard? Why were they cool?
Ken Munson: At least with cards, you can... play cards, whereas you honestly couldn't do jack shit with quarter-sized cardboard circles. I mean, yeah, there WAS a game that went with Pogs, but I sure don't remember anyone playing it. We just traded the things back and forth.
Tony Van Groningen: I never even bothered to learn how to play the game, maybe that made pogs worthwhile. But I doubt it. I didn’t understand how kids could collect pogs when things like comics and baseball cards were out there.
Philip Buchan: No one really knew how to play a proper tournament style game. So usually we just ended up throwing the slammer down as hard as we could, and the victor was whoever could disorient the stack of pogs the most.
Ken Munson: As far I can remember, playing Pogs meant stacking all the cardboard ones up in a little column, and then chucking the slammers at them. Man, there better have been more to it than that, because I can't believe the extent of our lame-itude if that's all there was.
Matt Walker: Kids would carry 5 or 6 tubes chock full of these things to school everyday. Then they'd lose them in a "War", because one kid would have a 2 inch thick metal "Slammer" and send every pog flying with reckless abandon. Then whoever lost them would have their parents phone the school in an attempt to get them back. Pogs were banned after a few episodes of this I think.
Brad Shoup: My school banned pogs cos the slammers could hurt someone. And they were right! Too good.
Ken Munson: The most precious of the Pogs were the slammers, which were made of metal or plastic, so you knew they were quality.
Joe Niemczyk: Alright, I didn't have any Pogs, but I did have a slammer. It had a Chicago Bulls logo on it, so I was able to justify owning it because of my sports memorabilia collection.
Philip Buchan: Like most trends, I guess it didn't catch on quite as much in my south Georgia home as it did in more populous areas -- I never encountered the violent schoolyard pog wars that you heard about in media firsthand, and I really don't think I would have cared if some chump tried to take my pogs.
Brad Shoup: Pogs were crap. Slammers, that was it. Slammers were like pogs, only three times thicker and made of metal. You tossed the slammer at a stack of pogs, and anything that landed face-up was yours.
Zach Smola: At least slammers were plastic. And there was always the one kid with the metal slammer. I think we called these shiners. He’d pull out this gleaming silver circle and everyone knew they were in trouble.
Brad Shoup: You remember the Simpsons episode when the comic-shop guy said "Behold! The ultimate pog"? I still say that when I'm confronted withsomething ridiculous.
Brad Shoup: Maybe Snoop played with Pogs, then he graduated to dice. Someone should ask him.
Gavin Mueller: I tease my friend about his 7th grade Pog habit. He claims he stole all of them. Like that makes it any better.
Philip Buchan: Baseball cards were cooler in terms of collectibility, and playing cards and Gameboys were infinitely more entertaining and just as portable, so pogs were always a second-rate commodity in my book.
Brad Shoup: By the way, does anyone know exactly what the fuck pog means? I didn't think so.
Ken Munson: Get your kicks in '76. It's the last day of school and a teen cast of thousands is going to PARTY! But first they're gonna drive around a lot in different places because the first party got cancelled! Rock on!
Akiva Gottlieb: Ah, Dazed and Confused…I keep getting older, and it stays the same age.
Adrien Begrand: This movie was Generation X's American Graffiti.
Andrew Unterberger: Dazed and Confused did the absolutely impossible—it made the 1970s look like a desirable decade to be young in. No other movie has done that, before or since.
Adrien Begrand: This movie reminded me so much of the greasy high school creeps who scared us little kids out in the late 70s.
Akiva Gottlieb: If nothing else, Dazed and Confused set the precedent for freshman hazing. I mean, it was never quite that bad, but since every high school senior in the world has seen this movie, they know how torture is supposed to work.
Josh Love: I just remember watching this in 8th grade and being CONVINCED I was gonna get ass-paddled as soon as I got to high school…and of course I did.
Ken Munson: This was the Fast Times at Ridgemont High of the 90's. There's a billion different plot threads running around; my favorite is Matthew McConnaughey as Wooderson, this stoner in his late twenties still trying to hang out with the highschool kids and hitting on the girls.
Brad Shoup: I myself was a bit dazed and confused after seeing Matthew McConaughey’s shorts.
Michael Heumann: Who knew Matthew McConaughey's character in Dazed and Confused was actually SMARTER than Matthew McConaughey himself!
Adrien Begrand: Wooderson is one of the greatest teen movie characters in history. "Let me tell you what Melba Toast is packin' right here, alright. We got 411 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper Edelbrock intakes, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We're talkin' some fuckin' muscle."
Ken Munson: I also liked Jason London as the star quarterback, even though he was nowhere near beefy enough to be one.
Adrien Begrand: Adam Goldberg's comic timing is so dead-on in the movie. And his Paul Stanley hair is something to behold.
Andrew Unterberger: I learned everything I know about fist-fighting from Adam Goldberg’s star turn in this movie. Get one good hit in, then play defensively until your opponent passes out because he’s so drunk. Works every time.
Akiva Gottlieb: Ben Affleck: this is the role you were born to play, you pompous prick.
Adrien Begrand: And did Parker Posey ever perfect the evil high school girl persona. "Air raid!!!"
Ben Woolhead: Features pot smoking, and lots of it.
Adrien Begrand: Stoner girls at my high school certainly didn't look like Milla Jovovich.
Steve Lichtenstein: I’ve seen this movie at least 37 times, but it always has a different ending.
Adrien Begrand: What a fantastic classic rock soundtrack, too. Foghat and ZZ Top should thank Linklater for extending their careers.
Ken Munson: All your favorite mid-70's FM classic rock gold.
Akiva Gottlieb: How memorable is that opening sequence scored to “Sweet Emotion”? The car turning the corner as the title card appears onscreen…hott.
Brad Shoup: Revisionist directors can try all they want, but Frampton still sucks.
Ben Woolhead: There’s no such thing as a good teen movie in my book, but this is about as close as it comes.
Ken Munson: Best teen movie of the 90's? Probably.
Akiva Gottlieb: Despite the pain, this is the high school experience I always wanted to have. When the seniors decide to bring little Wiley Wiggins to the big party at the water tower, it’s a small victory of considerable nostalgic merit.
Andrew Unterberger: When I watch this movie, I briefly wish I could die and be re-born as a 70s stoner. Briefly.
Ken Munson: Dazed and Confused makes me feel like I had missed out on so much fun in my teen years, especially considering that pretty much every character complains throughout about how nothing is happening. Even the nerds got to party. Man, I wish people threw parties like that around here. I could totally get into a party like that, out in the woods with apparently the town's entire teen population, grooving to Peter Frampton; sure beats a bunch of people in a cramped frathouse room trying to bounce to Li'l Jon.
Adrien Begrand: And Richard Linklater was right: concert tickets were much more important than high school football.
Ken Munson: "If these are the best days of my life, remind me to kill myself."
TO: The American Public
RE: Creative stagnation is better than being obsolete, right?
Hellooooooooo American cities! Waaaaaaaaaaaah! Aerosmith, Boston’s HOTTEST ex-drug using RAWK band are releasing three HOT videos that all sound the same but feature Catholic schoolgirl babes in skirts doing WILD things! In FAST CARS! Heeeeeeeeeeyyy! You might see lower back! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Ken Munson: Around this time, Aerosmith turned to shit and never made a good song again, but used a good-looking blonde girl to distract us from this.
Ben Woolhead: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, the infamous Toxic Twins, STILL alive? “Amazing”? Damn right.
Philip Buchan: Aerosmith discovered the effectiveness of the story video with "Janie's Got a Gun", so they recruited blonde starling Alicia Silverstone to play the heroine in the videos for the absolutely horrid Get a Grip's three haranguing power ballads—“Cryin,” “Crazy” and “Amazing”.
Ken Munson: "Cryin'" as I recall was Alicia Silverstone being jerked around by her boyfriend, and gets back at him by, um... by bungee jumping over busy traffic while flipping him off, I guess. I never got this one.
Adrien Begrand: Alicia gets in a fight with Stephen Dorff, bungee jumps off a freeway overpass and gives the guy the finger with an absolutely killer smirk on her face. Riot grrrl attitude tailor made for the 12 year-old Saved By the Bell crowd.
Philip Buchan: "Cryin'" was probably the worst of the pack. The truly ridiculous part was that the video's editors had to tack a minute or so of extra rounds of the chorus onto the song to make it long enough for the video! Generally, ballads are shortened for MTV, but "Cryin'" apparently had to be stretched out to accommodate its video. Weird.
John Rothery: “Cryin’” is a huge tune but “Crazy” is the best video for me. Lipstick lesbian undertones abound. Alicia dressed as a gent paying for Liv to swing round the pole before we switch to them stretching and yawning after a steamy night of action.
Gavin Mueller: "Crazy" had the dynamic duo of Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone—brunette AND blonde! That photobooth scene was the stuff of fantasy for years.
Ken Munson: "Crazy" was the best of the three because of the implied lesbianism between Alicia and Liv Tyler. It was a video where hot girls take a road trip and do lots of really slutty things, which I believe was also the plot of that Britney Spears movie.
John Rothery: The seedy, bald old man sat outside the garage unashamedly drooling, gives a delightful cameo. So too the hunky tractor driver. Who would have thought he could allow the heavy machinery to roam loose in the field while he got naked with the girls? Agriculture had certainly shown some major advancements – the literate, self-driving tractor was obviously an Aerosmith fan as it spelled out the word “crazy” in the cornfield.
Brad Shoup: Was there a video for “Amazing”? Guess I was busy putting the lotion away.
Ken Munson: "Amazing" involved some kind of virtual reality thing. It wasn't that good and I didn't like it.
Gavin Mueller: "Amazing" was like Weird Science with a fax machine, right?
Andrew Unterberger: “Amazing” was the apex of the music video at the time of its release. Virtual reality, skydiving, three-minute guitar solos, motorcycle sex, and all this with Alicia Silverstone? I mean fuck, what else is there? “November Rain” taken to its logical grandiose conclusion.
Michael Heumann: I'm not exactly sure, but I'd be willing to bet that those three videos were all for the same song. Has Aerosmith even recorded more than one song?
Adrien Begrand: Because of the presence of Alicia and Liv in those videos, millions of kids paid money for an album by a band old enough to be their grandfathers.
Michael Heumann: In any event, Alicia Silverstone made the songs seem interesting, so I'll give her credit there. Of course, after the videos and Clueless, it was all over for her.
Josh Timmermann: She did these videos, Clueless, and then what? She sort of vanished off the radar screen, didn't she? On another note, her Clueless co-star Stacey Dash is continuing proud in the Clueless tradition, looking ridiculously hot in the new Kanye West video.
Zach Smola: All three videos blur together in my memory. I just have this giant video 12-minute long video floating around in my head in which Alicia Silverstone and her roommate use virtual reality to escape from their boarding school in order to go to the movies with some crummy guy who ends up racing Alicia on a motorcycle. But then Alicia sees the Bat-signal and has to don her secret role as Batgirl in order to rescue her twin sister (also played by Alicia Silverstone) who has decided to commit suicide after realizing she’s totally failed her driver’s test. However, Batgirl manages to tie a bungie-chord around the other Alicia, and both of the two Alicias and motorcycle guy end the video by going to a bar where Aerosmith are finishing their 12-minute epic “Acrazin’”, and they are just in time to see the part where Run-DMC burst through the bar’s brick wall and rock with the band. Nevermind, Aerosmith totally rule.
Andrew Unterberger: In the early 90s, the common man was, for the first time, able to construct and control his entire own civilizations with computer games like the Sims and Civlization series. Technology is a scary, scary thing.
Kareem Estefan: Civilization is the only computer game I ever obsessively played (until Civ II came along, anyway). Actually, I think this is where I learned most of what I know about history and geography.
Gavin Mueller: I played both games, but I played Sim City more.
Ken Munson: My favorite old school Sim was the original Sim City. The secret was knowing the cheat codes: You typed in FUNDS and you got extra funds. Another fun thing to do was to tell people that the secret funds code was EARTHQUAKE and watching them inadvertently destroy their entire town.
Zach Smola: Sim City was pretty ego-centric as far as videogames went. It was sickly self-satisfying to lay down electrical wire and water piping and roads and watch your city slowly flourish. I also like that they gave you choice of which type of power you wanted to utilize, and nuclear was the most high-profile one. Take that, Captain Planet!
John Rothery: I remember the initial rush when it dawned on me just what was involved in Sim City. My brother and I were obsessed with it and every day after school we would be designing more efficient route way structures to cope with the planned airport and setting the monster loose on the town if the earthquake wasn’t enough.
Brad Shoup: I couldn’t believe all the stuff I could do on those sims. They also had SimAnt, but that blew. Killing ants doesn’t make you feel like a capricious deity.
Gavin Mueller: Sim City reached its peak with 2000.
Brad Shoup: Ohhhhhh. SimCity 2000 was incredible. “Reticulating Splines!”
Tony Van Groningen: I spent a lot of hours playing this game, and became quite good at it. I remember being so obsessed with it that my mom bought me a Sim City strategy book for Christmas, and I spent hours looking at city plans from other people’s successful cities and comparing them to my own.
Brad Shoup: Sim City 2000 taught me the imprtance of zoning and forethought in residential planning; and I learned that if I made a mistake, the right cheat code can make it all go away.
Zach Smola: But we all know that disappointing feeling of creating a sprawling metropolis and having nowhere else to go.
Tony Van Groningen: Eventually though, there wasn’t anything left to accomplish and I grew bored with it very, very quickly, and completely abandoned my loyal citizens in a matter of days. Atheism wins in Tonyville!
Zach Smola: There was that awkward moment where you had attained Sim City perfection and had reached the top of the ladder, and you knew the only thing left to do is destroy your town. And the myriad ways you could destroy your town! Tidal waves! Tidal waves!
Gavin Mueller: I loved my cities so much I never had disasters turned on.
Tony Van Groningen: There must be thousands and thousands of very old hard drives out there somewhere, all containing the plans for potentially thriving yet doomed metropolises. How sad.
Ben Welsh: These games are like crack. Once you get into it everything else in your life just fades away. There’s something about them that lends to 8 hour marathon sessions.
John Rothery: Looking back I can’t quite fathom how town and regional planning could have been that exciting. I suppose that for some of us empire building and strategy will always be enticing—I wouldn’t do it for free these days though!
Philip Buchan: Somehow, Nirvana not only opened the door for the Seattle sound, but they also made the mainstream a more welcoming place for sexually frustrated chick rock.
John Rothery: Was female alternative really that alternative? That is to say, what was it doing that was new and groundbreaking? Arguably it was blazing a trail for Alanis and latterly Avril. I think I preferred the Bangles.
Adrian Begrand: Remember when Liz Phair sang badly and didn't care how she sounded? That flat, almost irritated tone in her voice was so perfectly suited to the music. It seems so very long ago now.
Brad Shoup: I never got Liz Phair. The novelty of a woman talking dirty was lost on me.
Ken Munson: Liz Phair was great. The occasional filthy songs about sex, the i-don't-give-a-shit style of singing. She managed to make this beautiful tender song called "Fuck and Run," and the chorus goes "it's fuck and run, fuck and run, even when I was twelve,"and it's one of the most emotionally moving songs I've ever heard.
Adrien Begrand: I drove 100 miles in thirty below weather in a car with no heater, just to buy a horrendously overpriced import CD of Exile in Guyville. When I got out of the car, I almost fell over because I couldn't feel my feet, but for that album, oh my, was it ever worth it.
Josh Love: What hormonally-insane hipster-in-training could resist lines like “you act like you’re 14 years old / everything you say is so / obnoxious, funny, true, and mean / I want to be your blowjob queen”—of course, Liz was saying her man was acting like he was 14, but I really was 14 when I first heard that song, so obviously I took it to mean that I had a chance with her.
Kareem Estefan: That she could both stand up for female rights and long to be “your blow-job queen” within the same album exemplifies her unparalleled bravery. While other women would never admit to longing for both gender equality and hardcore sex, Phair used this ostensible paradox as the crutch of her message, revealing herself as simultaneously defeated and idealistic, corrupted but trying, disgusted by sex but in love with it.
Steve Lichtenstein: A guy I knew got her number in Chicago once and called her. Liz wouldn’t go to Denny’s with him. He probably shouldn’t have called during Spring.
Akiva Gottlieb: “Glory”, “Canary”, “Shatter”—this stuff is earthshakingly powerful, and the simple girl-with-a-guitar aesthetic is pretty timeless.
Josh Timmermann: No matter what your opinion is on Liz Phair's self-titled "pop breakthrough," Exile in Guyville still sounds as great as it ever did. She has this uncanny ability as a lyricist to write the most perceptive, poignant songs you've ever heard about specific situations that we all encounter at one point or another.
Adrien Begrand: We know she'll never, ever be able to match this first album, but for a while in 1993-94, it was fun to believe she actually could.
Kareem Estefan: The best single of 1993 was easily the Breeders’ “Cannonball”, perhaps the greatest and most representative slice of 90s alternative rock ever. It had everything, from the awesome rhythms of the intro to the ah-woo-oohs to the explosive chorus to the catchiest bass line of the era.
Tony Van Groningen: “Cannonball.” I put that track on so many mixtapes it’s ridiculous, the totally rocking vocal freakout got me hyped up every time.
Joe Niemczyk: I can still remember the first time I heard The Breeders. Our alternative rock station had been playing the hell out of bands like Candlebox and Stone Temple Pilots, so when the bouncy bassline of "Cannonball" came along, it was hard not to get hooked on it.
Ken Munson: "Cannonball" isn't really high-energy enough to mosh to, but I've seen crowds mosh to it anyway just because it kicks so much ass.
Joe Niemczyk: Obviously, spending my allowance on Last Splash was a no-brainer, and I still think of it as the first "cool" album I ever owned.
Adrien Begrand: Am I the only one who thinks that Last Splash isn't the masterpiece many people make it out to be? Still, the singles "Cannonball", "Divine Hammer", and "Saints" were fabulous.
Ken Munson: Kim Deal was cool. She looked like a kindergarten teacher, or like she should be hosting Romper Room or some other children's show. This, combined with some bass guitar skills and a lot of alt-cred, made her the coolest rock star in history.
Scott McKeating: Kim Deal was the most amazing example of womanhood ever to appear on stage ever. If you think that Liz Phair was hot because she talked about blowjobs in a song you need to be getting more blowjobs. And Tanya Donelly is a scrawny little gnome.
Philip Buchan: In retrospect, Belly totally ruled this era. Tanya Donnely always wrote the better Throwing Muses songs, and her first post-Muses project cemented this fact. Kurt Cobain totally should have married her instead of Courtney Love. I'm confident that she could have saved Kurt Cobain's life is she had married him.
Adrien Begrand: Yeah, I was sucked into buying the Belly album. "Feed the Tree" was such an incredibly cute song…how could we resist?
Andrew Unterberger: Belly were hardcore underrated. I still listen to that album today, and “Feed the Tree” could almost match “Cannonball” for sugary good-time catchiness.
Tony Van Groningen: But the only album of that era that I loved, and still love, is PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me. God, what a powerful album. PJ is raw and visceral and quite honestly a little frightening on some songs.
Josh Timmermann: PJ Harvey is my favorite artist of all-time.
Scott McKeating: Best track from this genre had to be PJ Harvey’s “50 ft Queenie” which was a good hard DM booted kick in the nuts of a song. Female alternative artists didn’t go away; they just ceased to be an NME headline.
Zach Smola: Chick rock was a lot of things, but most importantly, it was terrifying. Sure, Liz Phair could write songs that would make even the shadiest of characters blush, but the best chick rock was the scary chick rock. The scariest video ever filmed was P.J. Harvey’s “Down By the Water”. Lipstick has never been so terrifying.
Ben Woolhead: In a frank interview conducted by her producer Steve Albini which appeared in Select magazine, Polly Harvey confessed to liking the feeling of wearing leather trousers because they made her sweaty. All female rock stars should be that dirty. Xtina ain’t got nuthin on her.
Philip Buchan: Even Sonic Youth tried to cash in on the female alternative thing. Just look at Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star—half of the songs are Kim Gordon songs, and it's easily their only album where the best songs are her songs.
Ken Munson: Female alternative was great, until Courtney Love came along and ruined everything.
Philip Buchan: I was too young and naive to get into PJ Harvey or Belly during female alternative's heyday. I was pretty content with Veruca Salt. Looking back, they were sort of the warning sign that the whole movement had gotten too popular and had grown into this terrible beast of a thing.
Josh Love: None of these women asked to be packaged into this movement, but of course most all of ‘em got unfairly punished for its commercial failure, dredging up more of those butt-dumb “Can Women Rock?” features that made the ladies sound like touchingly inept parapalegics trying to play air hockey rather than regular ‘ol human beings who played guitar and just happened to have ovaries.
Philip Buchan: Sadly, stuff like PJ Harvey and The Breeders doesn't seem to have had the lasting impact that their lesser male counterparts had. It's almost as if the only proof that the movement ever existed are Cat Power and thousands upon thousands of used copies of Star and Last Splash in cutout bins, pawn shops, and flea markets nationwide.
Brad Shoup: What happened to female alternative? I dunno. I think they all married Beastie Boys.
Michael Heumann: Female alternative music died the same way the rest of alternative music died: when the musicians realized there was more money in pop.
Adrian Begrand: What happened to female alternative? Various things. PJ Harvey grew up. Liz Phair sold out. Juliana Hatfield got too repetitive. The Breeders took nine stinkin' years to record a follow-up. It was time for something new...cue the rise of the riot grrrls.
Ken Munson: Dr. Kimble didn't kill his wife. It was the one-armed man! But he's convicted anyway, but he escapes and becomes, DUN DUN DAH, The Fugitive! Pursued for a crime he didn't commit by the Javert-like Tommy Lee Jones.
Brad Shoup: They really should have killed the wife of a less athletic doctor. Great plan, guys.
Matt Walker: "HIS NAME IS RICHARD KIMBLE!" What a snooze.
Ken Munson: My personal favorite scene is where Kimble's friend, the oily Ricardo Montalban-looking guy, tells Gerard and his deputy that they'll never catch him because he's too smart, and they can't even keep themselves from giggling at him.
Andrew Unterberger: I liked the movie’s 11th hour decision to turn into a medical conspiracy movie. “YOU SWITCHED THE SAMPLES!”
Brad Shoup: How awesome is Tommy Lee Jones as Marshall Gerard? The man’s just doing his job.
Ken Munson: Tommy Lee Jones was so great in this role.
Gavin Mueller: This man was quoted in every farmhouse, steakhouse, outhouse, bathhouse, and house of pancakes in the nation.
Zach Smola: And I remember being frustrated that Tommy Lee Jones was the “bad guy” so to speak. The Joneser rules unconditionally, so I was rooting for Harrison Ford to get captured, sent back to jail, and eventually face his wrongful execution, because no one can out-cool Tommy Lee Jones.
Matt Walker: I don't really remember much from this "thriller" except for Harrison Ford in that drainage tunnel.
Zach Smola: All I remember at all of this film is Harrison Ford doing some tremendous swan dive from some type of large pipe.
Steve Lichtenstein: The laborious 3-hour prequel, which covers Dr. Richard Kimble’s base-diving championship years in excruciating detail, was less than necessary.
Ken Munson: His best line is when Dr. Kimble blurts out "I didn't kill my wife!" and Tommy Lee just stares back at him and says "I don't care!" And the way he says it, he's just so incredulous and borderline offended that someone thought he might give a shit about their innocence.
Adrien Begrand: "I didn't kill my wife." "I don't care." What great dialogue Jones had to work with. Anyone would have gotten an Oscar nod, with the plum lines that Jones's character got.
Andrew Unterberger: Plot aside, I really can’t think of a much better 90s action movie. Character-driven and suspenseful in all the best ways.
Andrew Unterberger: In the UK, Take That were more or less the biggest group since The Beatles.
Ken Munson: This was some kind of British boyband or something?
Ben Woolhead: Rarely has a band been so inappropriately named. The moniker Take That offers a tantalising promise of violent, aggressive, in-your-face music. Their first big hit single was a Barry Manilow cover.
John Rothery: Take That were marketed perfectly. The ‘talent’ of the band, the portly, squinty-eyed Gary Barlow was hidden behind Robbie Williams (the cheeky one), Mark Owen (the cute one), Howard Donald (the speech impaired one) and Jason Orange (the errr.. other one). There was something for everyone, be it a pre-pubescent girl or a fully paid up member of the London G.AY club
Ben Woolhead: My girlfriend’s from the Manchester area and some of her friends were the sort of deranged teen Take That obsessives who would get a near-sexual thrill from spotting one of them at the local cinema. A couple used to stake out band members’ houses, even going so far as to hide in their gardens in the hope of catching a glimpse of their heroes.
John Rothery: Take That have been replicated. By combining the five-man vocal group structure with stereotypical ‘Oirishness’™ we have suffered Boyzone and Westlife since. The common denominator as ever though is that none of these bands break the States. Why? Difficult one. They don’t tour enough, probably. In Take That’s case I think that the timing didn’t help, as NKOTB had suddenly become very uncool.
Josh Timmermann: Was this that group Robbie Williams was in? God, I'm such an American, aren't I?
Brad Shoup: Actually, I have people speak of this—how you say? —Take That, and anything that was a springboard for Robbie Williams' solo superstardom can't be bad at all. I have a feeling I'll be saying that about 'NSync in I Love the 00s.
Ken Munson: Take That DIDN'T break in the States. Seriously, ask any American who Take That are, they won't know. In a few years everyone will have forgotten that Robbie Williams had any American hits either.
Ben Woolhead: Take That were the Satan that spawned Robbie Williams. I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies, though—chief songwriter Gary Barlow’s subsequent solo career sank without trace, much as I imagine he would if you threw the fat bastard into a canal.
Philip Buchan: It should also be noted that just as Take That were exponentially better than the crop of American boy bands that would spring up half a decade later, Robbie Williams is a much more entertaining solo artist than JT. Fuck playing "Rock Your Body" at your hipster dance parties—"Millennium" owns you, and you know it.
Andrew Unterberger: In 1993, the world was greeted by two pairs of animated comedic duos that forever changed the way cartoons would and could be perceived.
Ken Munson: Beavis and Butthead was the most controversial program MTV had ever had. It was a cartoon show about the stupidest people in the world watching TV, headbanging and doing other various idiotic things.
Philip Buchan: Aside from the frog baseball episode, Beavis and Butthead was kind of lame. At least that's what I always told myself because I wasn't allowed to watch it. Sour grapes, you know.
John Rothery: Aaaargh. Beavis and Butthead. (Head banging on desk). The people who liked this stuff were the same ones that liked Ugly Kid Joe and bloody Soul Asylum.
Ken Munson: I wasn't allowed to watch Beavis and Butthead. My parents got wind of all the bad publicity coming from this one show, and they expressly forbid me from watching it. Nowadays you look back at the episodes and they seem so harmless. On the other hand, I do remember the kids my age who did watch it, and they did, in fact, become stupider.
Ben Welsh: A prime example of life imitating art: That kid who imitated Beavis so often that eventually he became Beavis. You know the one.
Zach Smola: We all remember the stories about kids setting their sisters’ hair on fire or putting their puppies in the dryer. In short, Beavis and Butthead existed solely for the purpose of weeding out the stupid. The idiots would imitate the show and get themselves killed, and the intelligent would gain confidence by covertly laughing at their enemies. Dare I say the first Darwinian cartoon?
Ken Munson: None of them seemed to have any thoughts in their head besides things they saw on Beavis and Butthead, and they all did that stupid laugh constantly. HEH HEH HEH HUH HUH HEH HUH NGGH NGGH HEH HEH HEH.
Ben Woolhead: “I am the great Cornholio! I need tepee for my bunghole!”
John Rothery: Perhaps it’s not the show itself that I detest, more the morons who saw fit to imitate them all day, every day for what seemed like an eternity. What they didn’t get (and bless ‘em probably STILL don’t get) is that they were the object of the satire.
Zach Smola: To the smart, Beavis and Butthead were hilarious. They were stupid, funny characters who could be laughed at because they were cartoons. Their real-life counterparts were kicking the smart kids’ asses, so watching Beavis and Butthead was a chance for easy revenge without the risk of losing teeth.
Andrew Unterberger: I loved the announcer guy who comes on before commercials. “Beavis sobs for the sorrows of mankind, and Butthead smacks him. Coming up next!”
Brad Shoup: “Beavis and Butt-head buy helium balloons in order to kill dolphins at a dolphin show.” Come ON! Tell me that doesn’t blow that Family Guy crap away.
Josh Love: Beavis and Butthead were obviously way ahead of their time if you look at how Mike Judge developed into possibly the funniest man on Earth.
Michael Heumann: Beavis and Butthead was a brilliant show, with funny, eccentric characters and some of the most memorable laughs ever created. In some ways, though, the filler stuff—when the two morons were watching videos and commenting on them—is more interesting and more influential than the narrative bits.
Brad Shoup: The best videos got played on Beavis and Butthead, even though they’d usually get torn to shreds by our plucky heroes.
Adrian Begrand: The storylines in Beavis & Butthead were okay, but it was their critiques of old videos that was so funny. When Beavis & Butthead tore apart the video for "See You in Hell" by Grim Reaper, I laughed and laughed and laughed. I owned that album!
Josh Love: The mind reels to think of what those two keenly insightful vid crits could have done with Britney Spears, P. Diddy, or Puddle of Mudd. I have a feeling that Missy would have inspired one of their rare hip-hop ass-shakings.
Josh Timmermann: Beavis and Butthead was almost always smarter and more culturally perceptive than its detractors made it out it to be; Ren and Stimpy, on the other hand, was always more mind-numbingly inane than its fans liked to believe it was.
Ken Munson: Now Ren and Stimpy, I was allowed to watch. My parents wouldn't let me watch two guys sit on a couch and make jokes about music videos, but me watching a bloated cat puke two tons of hairball on a sickly rat-dog was just fine. Happy happy joy joy.
Ben Woolhead: “You stooooopeeeed eeeediot!”
Philip Buchan: Ren and Stimpy was brilliant. I was eventually banned from watching it as well after the episode where Stimpy had to travel into Ren's butt, but even then I still found ways to sneak in episodes behind my mom's back.
Adrien Begrand: Ren & Stimpy was funny the first few times you saw it, but all the gross-out jokes and utterings of "YOU EEDIOT!" grew tiresome.
Philip Buchan: I remember too many incredible things about that show to even know where to begin. One of my favorite episodes was the one where Stimpy married his fart—that was easily the most absurd thing my young mind had ever been exposed to.
Zach Smola: I remember an episode where Stimpy got liposuction and Ren drank the fat that was removed. That’s pretty dark.
Philip Buchan: One great thing about the show was all of the ludicrous recurring characters. There was the horse that always said "no sir, I don't like it." There was Old Man Hunger, who was just this creepy old naked guy with a chicken bone on his head. There was Powdered Toast Man, who flew backwards and always asked people to cling to his buttocks tenaciously.
Ken Munson: Ren and Stimpy was, in its own way, the most rancid, diseased children's show ever. Every image of the show was designed to hit the gag reflex; Stimpy's magic nose goblins, Ren getting beaver fever, cousin Sven's jar of spit, Ren whizzing on the electric fence, kitty litter that stays crunchy even in milk...
Philip Buchan: Oh, and I could never forget the episode where Stimpy's cousin Sven came to visit. They played a board game called Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence, and Ren, in a fit of rage, whizzed on the electric fence, causing the house to explode and sending them all to hell.
Zach Smola: Their show was just foul. Abundant and bizarre homo-eroticism aside, the show was just gross. Entire episodes centered around the gunk caught in character’s eyes.
Brad Shoup: Even today, nothing’s like Ren and Stimpy. Sure, cartoons fart a lot more, but no one’s really copied that patented R&S; gross-out trick: the zoom onto something truly revolting in its detail, like a hairy butt or a festering nostril or an acne-infested face. A manic and occasionally brilliant show.
Philip Buchan: There were also always those ads for Log, the most useless toy in the universe. One year, my sister and I got a fire log out of our backyard and gave it to my dad as a Christmas gift. That was probably the best gift I've ever given in my entire life.
Brad Shoup: "What rolls down stairs alone or in pairs/rolls over your neighbor's dog?” Come on, everybody!
Brad Shoup: And it’s 187 on the Daisy Age.
Ben Woolhead: After the politically conscious and correct “alternative rap” of the previous year, Dre, Snoop and co brought hip-hop right back down to gutter level.
Gavin Mueller: Hippy dippy feel-good crap didn't adequately reflect the racial climate of the U.S., and seemed particularly irrelevant in light of the L.A. riots. Anger, rage, hopelessness, nihilistic Epicurianism—this seemed more authentic than roller skating jams.
Adrien Begrand: Yet another example of the bad boys winning out over the intellectual, literate types.
Josh Love: I remember I had the Arrested Development cassette and a couple of Tribe tapes too, which were great and still are. But the Chronic and Doggystyle opened up a whole different world to me.
David Drake: I don't really think of Dre and Snoop as destroying the "alternative" hip-hop cuz unless you were a rock critic I don't think most people referred to New York hip-hop as "alternative." It was just hip-hop. I remember hearing Dre songs followed by Gang Starr followed by Scarface on the radio.
Ken Munson: Rap had been passionate, silly, political, fun, dangerous, literate, goofy, funny, angry, but I don't think it had ever been really sleazy before the rise of G-funk. I mean, sure, you had your gangsta rants before, and you had your party anthems, but the combination of both was absolutely brilliant.
Brad Shoup: I hated G-Funk for the sole reason that they were having way more fun than me. Who knew that barbeques could be a hotbed of hijinks and romantic intrigue? IBM Family Days had a lot of catching up to do.
Tony Van Groningen: I loved this shit too. It was a lot more listenable than Wu-Tang, but had a lot less content. This was the music that was blasting out the rolled-down windows of every car in my town that was driven by someone under the age of 28.
Adrien Begrand: Dumb always wins in popular music, but in the case of G-Funk, it was a refreshing kind of dumb.
Josh Love: I had caught snatches of 2 Live Crew, NWA, and old Beastie Boys here and there, but those were probably the first albums I ever compulsively listened to that felt forbidden, like I was hearing things I wasn’t supposed to hear and learning about a world I wasn’t supposed to know about. And Lord knows there is nothing cooler and funnier when you’re a stupidly entitled white boy than to memorize and recite explicit rap lyrics.
Tony Van Groningen: The MCs were usually proficient, if a little puerile, but the point was that they made you feel like a dirty thug even though you were a fifteen year old kid that never did anything worse than smoke cigarettes after school once in a while. Most of it was fun music in spite of the sex/drugs/gang-related lyrical content. Perfect summertime music, to this day.
Scott McKeating: It’s pretty undeniable that there was something special going on over at Death Row, the music remains as fantastic sounding today.
Andrew Unterberger: The master of G-Funk, and the guy who I still think of first when I hear the words “g-funk” or even just “rap,” was definitely Dr. Dre.
David Drake: “Nuthin' but a G Thang” is the best video. It's got that kid dancing, the guy taking the woman's bikini top off when she's playing volleyball, the guy barbecuing with the gat in his belt...perfection.
Ken Munson: I can do a pretty good Snoop Dogg impression. Every once in a while I'll just bust out the opening verse of "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang." “One, two, three and to the fo'”
Adrien Begrand: It's like this, and like that, and like this and-uh.
David Drake: I remember it especially well cuz Snoop wouldn't even look at the camera during the video. He was just too cool. He stared at the ground with the brim of his hat pulled low, rapping along with Dre, who awkwardly stared straight at the camera wearing a flannel and covered in his own sweat.
Ken Munson: "Nuthin' but a G Thang" is crammed with awesome lines. "Never let me slip 'cause if I slip then I'm slippin'" "It's the capital S oh yes I'm fresh N double O P, D O double G Y D O double G ya see!"
Josh Timmermann: While The Chronic and specifically "Nothin' but a G Thang" revolutionized hip hop as we know it, my single favorite Dre moment came years later when he made his comeback, performing "Been There, Done That" on Saturday Night Live. When he rapped "I'm livin' on another level that y'all ain't been yet" it sounded less like a multi-platinum gangsta flaunting his millions than an Olympian boast, reminding us mere mortals not to throw rocks at the throne.
Matt Walker: I'm still confused about what exactly a Jerry Stop is...mentioned in the song "Let Me Ride." Does it have something to do with Ice Cube's old haircut?
Scott McKeating: My favorite single has to be “Let Me Ride” based on the strength of the beat and the chorus, although “Gin and Juice” takes a very close second.
Gavin Mueller: "Nuthin But A G Thing" and "Gin and Juice" are tied for best single of the period. The lines from these tracks ("Six in the mo'nin'!") have been referenced to the point that they are staples of the American cultural matrix.
David Drake: Definitely Snoop's "What's My Name?" The catchiest outright party jam from the whole movement, perfected G-Funk and Snoop's amazing, Slick Rick-to-the-next-level flow.
Josh Love: “Doggy Dogg World” is so underrated it’s ridiculous – I mean, how can you touch Snoop Doggy Dogg, the Dogg Pound, and…the Fabulous Dramatics?
Brad Shoup: I guess it took a while for Snoop to settle on an identity. I mean, he went from that one video getting nagged by his parents and mugging "Home Alone"-style to surrendering himself to the authorities after the VMAs. Our little Snoop was growing up.
Josh Love: Best lyric on Doggystyle belongs, inexplicably, to RBX – “Let’s picnic inside a morgue / Not pic-a-nic baskets / pic-a-nic caskets.” Jesus, I’m so glad I taught my three year-old cousin to say that, I honestly never got tired of randomly yelling “not pic-a-nic baskets” and having him chirp back “pic-a-nic caskets!”
Brad Shoup: For the life of me, I couldn't understand why anyone liked "California Love". Then I turned it up.
Adrien Begrand: The best single from this period? It's a toss-up between Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" and "Regulate", by Warren G.
Ben Welsh: What Baby Got Back was in 1992, Regulate was to 1993. Tweeking to a whole new era, Warren and Nate burned two verses of ghetto drama into the memory banks of every suburban white kid in America
Ken Munson: My favorite, though, is "Regulate," which has both Nate Dogg AND Kiefer Sutherland, so you KNOW that it's badass.
Zach Smola: Nate Dogg heroically saves Warren G and his watch by emptying a clip into a band of punk motherfuckers, and the two are so suave that after such a close shave with death itself, they go cruisin’ for skirts (that’s Euphamism for “Bitches!”). And all the while that whistling synth, whispering into your ear “this joint is the shit, holmes!”
Ben Welsh: I still remember standing in the lunch line, trying to look hard while waiting for my grilled cheese, and busting out with a little “16 in the clip and one in the hole/Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold.”
Zach Smola: The goal in 1993 was to be the guy taking the watch and killing the sucker. But no, Warren G got roughed up, probably by some kids, and Nate Dogg had to save him. Nate Dogg. Nate Dogg saving your ass is like the Guidance Counselor making the 8th graders stop trying to stuff you into your gym locker. And dropping “deep thoughts” like “the rhythm is the bass and the bass is the treble?” Either Warren G has some Lao-Tzu like ability to understand the metaphysical implications of paradox, or he’s just rhyming shit that makes even less sense than his career. Zing.
Brad Shoup: I know he’s been singing the same chorus for 12 years, but Nate Dogg is the eighth wonder of the world. I imagine they keep him cryogenically frozen in Dre’s walk-in fridge, waiting for Ice Cube to call.
Zach Smola: And as we ride that bouncing Caddy into the night, someone might look up at the pale moon and hearken back to Warren G. But none of us will rise to save him as 12-year-olds with water guns spray-painted black steal his watch and smack him around like a skirt. Not even Nate Dogg.
John Rothery: ‘Regulate’ featured a lot of whistling. There should be more whistling in pop music though I accept it is difficult to whistle as seamlessly in the mix as Nate and Warren managed.
Andrew Unterberger: Even Ice Cube manage to lay back in ’93 with his most popular song ever, “It Was a Good Day”.
Michael Heumann: This is one of rap's finest moments. Here's a song about a guy who gets up, hangs out, and doesn't get arrested—and that's a good day in this guy's life! Isn't that the saddest comment on racism you'll ever hear?
Ken Munson: The best thing about this song is Cube's delivery, which clearly implies that today was a good day but tomorrow some shit is gonna get completely fucked.
Zach Smola: I like that Ice Cube determines whether a day is good or not based on usage of his AK-47. This song made you realize Ice Cube has killed a lot of people, and was a pretty intense guy.
Brad Shoup: “Today I didn't even have to use my A.K.” Yo, Cube. Word.
Ben Welsh: The line about seeing “Ice Cube is a pimp” written on the Goodyear Blimp is awesome. Was there a blimp in the video?
Ken Munson: I do remember a magazine mentioning the line about getting a triple-double, and asking what the hell kind of gangsta keeps track of his assists?
Akiva Gottlieb: This song makes a lot more sense if you live in L.A. Even though my dogs rarely bark, and I’ve never been near a hog in my life--I’m as Jewish as the day is long—there will always, always be smog in L.A. Ice Cube’s song is a complete fantasy, and that’s why it’s so much fun.
Brad Shoup: Today I made a 91 on a sociology paper. Plus, it’s triple coupon day at the Safeway, so I’m thinking this is gonna be a brother’s day.
Andrew Unterberger: I sat in my underwear watching Game Show Network and eating powdered doughnuts. Today it was a good day.
Brad Shoup: When NBC passed over Letterman as the Tonight Show host in favor of frequent guest host Leno, Dave got his own show on CBS. And because we’re Americans, dammit, we got to have ourselves a war! A RATINGS war!
Philip Buchan: David Letterman and Jay Leno fought for the same slice of the ratings pie, but both targeted slightly different audiences. Letterman was the more intellectual, subtle one, employing wry irony and oftentimes relying much more on timing and expression than actual content. Leno was this robust everyman, speaking the average Joe's language and always throwing in plenty of poo-poo and pee-pee jokes. Letterman was the funnier of the two, but Leno was the guy you'd rather sit down and have a beer with.
Gavin Mueller: Like many wars, everyone was a loser.
Scott McKeating: Both Letterman and Leno are utterly disinteresting individuals without any substance to their characters. What kind of candy brained fucknut aspires to present and have fake chats with ‘celebrities’?
Brad Shoup: Well, Leno’s the populist, so he’s still king with Middle America. If you like your late-night talk show hosts with just a bit of unhinged self-loathing though, Dave’s your man.
Philip Buchan: Leno had Jaywalking, in which he made all of us feel like smarter human beings by drawing attention to how dumb the average person on the street was. He also had Headlines, in which he read awkward advertisements, wedding announcements, and, of course, headlines from newspapers around the country. Headlines night was always the night that I would opt to watch Leno instead.
Adrien Begrand: The real tragedy about Leno is, he's stopped trying. When he got the Tonight Show job, he wound up pandering to Middle America with the lamest monologues we've ever heard. The Tonight Show is the Wal-Mart of talk shows.
Brad Shoup: Leno's got, what, the thing where he asks people easy questions and they give stupid answers? Please. Fish in a barrel. The reason the audience laughs so hard is because they recognize family members.
Zach Smola: Leno probably won the war, as it appears his set has been updated since 1993.
Scott McKeating: Jay Leno won, because he’s a company man until the bitter end.
Michael Heumann: Jay Leno is pathetic; he's lowest common denominator. Letterman, on the other hand, is weird and insane and not afraid to be weird and insane in front of an audience. Letterman wins the late night battle hands down!
Zach Smola: Leno’s made me laugh before, but Letterman always was the funnier. He revolutionized comedy by making it funny to pick one word and say it over and over again awkwardly.
Ken Munson: Pft. Of course Letterman is better. You don't see Leno wearing a suit made of Alka-Seltzer and dunking himself into a tank of water.
Philip Buchan: Letterman's segments were, as a whole, much better. He had Stupid Human Tricks, Pedestrian Theme Songs, and, of course, The Top Ten.
Zach Smola: Plus, there was the “Top-10” list, which was the show’s selling point in those days.
Philip Buchan: I remember when he had a Top Ten about why the Cleveland Indians could never win the pennant, and his number one reason was that "Indians rhymes with Schmindians". That joke was vintage Letterman.
John Rothery: Letterman is actually quite British in a way—sort of buck-toothed and funny looking, with a very stand-up style delivery.
Brad Shoup: Who almost got kicked in the face by Crispin Glover? That’s what I thought. Dave all the way.
Philip Buchan: He also made better use of his sidekicks. Paul and Biff were incredibly cool.
John Rothery: The use of the side-kick band leader was very amusing. Imagine being a side-kick, a stooge; Letterman’s comedy pin cushion. It probably paid the bills but the guy must have been left with some serious self-loathing issues.
Zach Smola: Lastly, however, there is the undeniable fact that Paul Schaffer will always be funnier than Kevin Eubanks, though he cannot play jazz-guitar nearly so well.
Josh Timmermann: Just as I can't imagine myself marrying a Republican, nor would I care to spend the rest of my life with a woman who preferred Leno to Letterman.
Josh Love: I’ve met a few people who stupefyingly dislike David Letterman, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a soul who actively prefers Leno. If I ever met this person I would punch them in the face.
Zach Smola: Letterman forever, and everyone knows it.
FORGOTTEN ALBUMS OF 1993
The Wildhearts - Earth Vs The Wildhearts
Scott McKeating: The Wildhearts came out of the UK rock scene at 100mph and their live shows regularly blew headlining acts off the stage leaving their rock forefathers looking like leathered up supine wasters. They melded metal, melodic rock and a lyricism grounded in everyday living with all its humour, highs and lows. Extraordinarily creative and hook filled (their b-sides becoming as popular as their singles) this stands alongside debuts such as Motorhead and High Voltage.
Ken Munson: Jocks and hiphop-heads unite!
Tony Van Groningen: Starter jackets were HUGE status symbols, as in you were a cheapass nobody unless you were rocking a Starter jacket, no matter how ugly it was.
Philip Buchan: Starter jackets weren't just a fashionable way to stay warm in the winter—they were a sign of how much your parents loved you. If you had one, mom and dad obviously gave a damn, and if you didn't, then everyone assumed you had a shitty homelife.
Ken Munson: Bigger, baggier, bulkier, this was our motto in the 90's. God, these things made you look dumb. Wearing one turned you into the Michelin Man. I was skinny as a pencil then and now, and I had to squeeze through doorways wearing the stupid things.
Steve Lichtenstein: I missed out on starter jackets for as many as two reasons: (1) “luxurious sports apparel” was financially prohibitive, and (2) I was too busy showing up late to the “cuffing your jeans” party.
Gavin Mueller: I was fashion-unconscious until very late in my development; by the time I realized what a Starter jacket was, they weren't cool to wear any more—only social retards would dare sport them
Zach Smola: My parents were too cheap to let me get into this trend, and rightfully so. Starter Jackets were like $200 or something, and they were humongous and ugly. While espoused by the coolest of the cool, even at a young age something seemed funny about wearing a giant, puffy, immensely hot jacket that was devoted to some sports team you didn’t even care about.
Philip Buchan: Since Starter jackets carried a rather hefty MSRP, they were also a status symbol of sorts. As long as you had one, people didn't think you were on food stamps or anything, and few things were worse than being considered a poor kid at my middle and elementary schools, and Starter jackets played a key role in our socioeconomic heirarchy.
David Drake: EVERYONE at my school had a starter jacket...except me. We didn't have a lot of money in my family growing up so the Michael Jordan sneakers and the starter jackets and the jerseys were out of my league.
Philip Buchan: So in order to avoid looking like crappy parents and having their child scorned on the playground, parents would spend the vast majority of their allotted back to school clothing funds on these jackets. As a result, you often had these kids who wore nothing but frayed jeans and plain-colored pocket tees sporting these luxurious Starter jackets.
Tony Van Groningen: First, the satin jackets, and later, the parkas. The parka phenomenon, especially black parkas, dovetailed nicely with the rise of G-Funk rap. And the thing was, you couldn’t just wear any parka; in my town it had to be Raiders or 49ers. The occasional Cowboys, Redskins, or Packers parka were also tolerated.
David Drake: I wanted a Charlotte Hornets one, and I remember the LA Raiders jackets being big. Notre Dame too. The Bulls, of course.
Philip Buchan: Expansion team jackets were particularly hot at the time—I recall seeing lots of Charlotte Hornets, Florida Marlins, and Colorado Rockies jackets around.
Josh Love: Yeah, I had a Charlotte Hornets one. Wait a minute, does that say something bad about me? I’m confused.
Zach Smola: You’d see kids and say things like “Oh, you’re a Hornets fan?” to which they would promptly respond “No. Why?” Of course, I eventually got a hand-me-down Starter Jacket (Redskins), but by that point it was the summer, and even I wasn’t that desperate to be cool. At least Umbros were affordable.
Ben Welsh: These things were so hip that I posed as a San Diego Chargers fan for a couple years simply because my mother found a Chargers Starter jacket on sale.
Philip Buchan: Ultimately, it didn't matter which team's logo was splayed across the sleeve—if it was a big, puffy, poplin jacket with that crucial "S" and star logo emblazoned on the sleeve, it was cool.
Tony Van Groningen: Looking back on it, it is amazing how Starter was briefly able to create such a market frenzy for its product ; they must have made billions of dollars during a three or four year period.
Gavin Mueller: I never owned one. Who needs Starter when you're in the Member's Only club?
Adrien Begrand: The sudden success of Soul Asylum was one of the weirdest things that happened in 1993. After years of playing in the Replacements' and Husker Du's shadows, these guys got to the top of the heap, albeit for just a minute or two, and it was nice to see.
Philip Buchan: These lovable '80s college rock also-rans finally hit it big in 1993. Like Buffalo Tom and The Lemonheads, Soul Asylum strayed from their Hüsker Dü-influenced roots in exchange for a little taste of the big time, and while you could easily write all of these bands off as horrible sellouts, their pop hits were actually pretty good songs.
Brad Shoup: The song landed them a gig at Clinton’s inaugural. So they had that going for them, which was nice.
John Rothery: This received huge rotation in the sixth form common room from the a group of ‘sweaties’ who also still liked G’n’R even though they had long since become embarrassing and even Ugly Kid Joe and Mr Big were enjoyed. This song reminds me of why men wearing long hair in ponytails will never be cool particularly if accompanied with fitted black denim and an Iron Maiden t-shirt.
Ken Munson: "Runaway Train" really wasn't that bad. Wimpy, but not terrible. Of course, the really awful thing was that its success completely dictated the future musical direction of a once-interesting band.
Josh Timmermann: This song was terrible and evidently still is. I saw it the other day on a commercial for some '90's alt-rock compilation, along with Eve 6, Filter, and The Presidents of the United States of America.
Philip Buchan: To this day, you can't deny "Runaway Train"'s upfront vocal melody and timeless guitar hook. It's certainly not a great song, but I've never been able to find a whole lot of fault with it.
Adrian Begrand: Dave Pirner's shaggy-haired, tattered jeans, ultra-passionate performances got pretty tiresome after a while. The thing with Winona Ryder signaled the end.
Andrew Unterberger: The song probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere without the Public Service Announcement that was “Runaway Train”’s music video.
Zach Smola: All I can say about this song is that it was on the airwaves at a very different time, a time when children running away from home was a significant problem. Walking down any suburban street you would see poor, emaciated children carrying all their possessions in bandanas tied to broomsticks, dressed like Soul Asylum (which is to say, poorly).
John Rothery: Should we be cynical about Soul Asylum’s attempts to re-unite runaways with their long-suffering families? Did any runaways return having seen the video? We may never know.
Gavin Mueller: Weird Al's parody video, a eulogy to one-hit-wonders so adequately skewered the oh-so-serious original that I can't watch it without laughing.
Zack Smola: No amount of midnight basketball programs or bakesales could convince these kids to get off of the street. It took one of the most solid and hilarious tracks in crap-rock history to get them back where they belonged. Mothers owe their children’s futures to Soul Asylum. Or, wait...maybe it's about heroin? Yeah, it’s probably about heroin.
John Rothery: Runaway train…going nowhere..off the tracks, no doubt heading to Well Hackneyed State, Clicheville.
Have You Seen This Band? Last Seen Bagging Winona Ryder. Shit-Locks May Still Be Unkempt
Matt Walker: A testament to how a show can be carried by a theme song that's more dangerous than crack and herky-jerky movements during fight scenes.
Brad Shoup: Awful. Dismal. Never watched it, never watched the spin-off when they were in space.
Ken Munson: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was the story of five "teenagers with attitude" chosen by floating alien head Zordon to protect the city of Angel Grove from Rita Repulsa's incredibly badly planned invasion of Earth. Of course, that's how it was originally. I watched the show far longer than I had any right to, and I saw how eventually everything on the show got changed. They switched the Rangers, the villains, the monsters, the weapons, the giant robots, Zordon, Zordon's annoying sidekick, the setting, the bumbling comic relief guys, even the entire premise, I think.
Philip Buchan: What was up with Zordon? He looked like something you'd see in a high school rendition of The Wizard of Oz. I'm pretty sure that he was being controlled from behind a curtain by a televangelist fallen from grace or some other type of supplanted huckster.
Ken Munson: Zordon recruits these teenagers to became the Power Rangers, and put on these multi-colored suits and fight various guys in silly monster costumes. And they got their Ranger Powers, somehow, by yelling names of dinosaurs really loud. TYRANNOSAURUS! STEGOSAURUS! VELOCIRAPTOR! ARCHEOPTERYX! That kind of thing.
Andrew Unterberger: Yeah, I used to practice doing those morph things myself. Never got any powers, though, I think my karate pose must’ve been off or something.
Ken Munson: The thing is, though, I'm not all that sure they got any real special powers for being Rangers. They didn't seem any faster or stronger as Rangers. I think they just got the suit. Oh, and the Zords, of course.
Andrew Unterberger: The Zords were the most surreal parts of the show. A nation full of American kids watching Godzilla v. Mothra-esque battles on daytime TV? It’s an even bigger culture clash than the Powerpuff Girls.
Ken Munson: The Zords were great. After the Rangers stomped the crap out of the episode's Rubber Suited Monster, it would get turned into the Giant Rubber Suited Monster, and the Rangers would have to get in their giant robot Zords to fight some more. They all had their own respective DinoZords, which combined into the MegaZord, which combined with the Dragon Zord to become MegaDrazonZord, which combined with the UltraZord to become\ MegaUltraDragonZord, which combined with the NinjaZord to become the MegaDinoUltraSuperNinjaDragonPowerZord.
Philip Buchan: While the show kept me pretty entertained for the first season or two, my budding critical side had problems with each episode's predictability. No matter how dire of straits the Rangers were in, they were going to win, just like any good guys. But they never won creatively—they just kept slugging it out Godzilla style until they could outfinesse the bad guy.
Ken Munson: The thing is, and this always bothered me, neither side seemed to realize that it would probably pay off more to turn giant right away and just squish their opponents. Seems easier than having a battle which always seemed to destroy half the city (which didn't stop the townspeople from worshipping the Rangers).
Joe Niemczyk: The only good thing about the show were the bullies, Bulk and Skull. I'd only watch the endings, hoping that maybe this time they'd rush into the Youth Center and give Billy the Blue Ranger the wedgie he so desperately deserved. Unfortunately, they only ended up humiliating themselves by falling on their faces or stepping into their own traps.
Zach Smola: Significant portions of the show were dubbed from another language, and even the most hopelessly naive fan had to admit that the “robots” looked an awful lot like cardboard. Oh, and there’s also the fact that some benevolent overlord happened to choose teenagers to defend the universe from evil.
Ken Munson: The Rangers themselves exemplified, even more than Beverly Hills 90210 I think, the use of the 33-year-old "teenager." I think the Pink Ranger was the only one who went on to bigger, better things, if not exactly big or good things.
Zach Smola: The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers never seemed to be a show concerned with realism. It was really just a live-action Voltron with a cast was so racially balanced that everyone wanted exactly one Black, Asian, White, and Bespectacled friend.
Philip Buchan: Trini, the Yellow Ranger, was undeniably hot. Kimberly was pretty cute in her own right, but she wasn't quite as alluring for some reason. Thanks to Trini's mystique, and whole generation of males were programmed to fall for the Asian chanteuses of Deerhoof and Blonde Redhead. I trace my fascination with those women to Trini—she may have just been the token Asian character, but damned if she wasn't a fox.
Zach Smola: And, lest we forget, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were teenagers, and were moderately attractive and popular (except for Billy, but he was smart. He had glasses, remember?).
Andrew Unterberger: Teenagers were getting a bad rap in the mid-90s. That smart aleck Beck had gotten the entire generation branded as slackers and losers. It’s good we had a show like Power Rangers to set the record straight.
Zach Smola: How did that conversation go?
Jason: “Hey guys, why don’t we hang out at that juicebar?”
Trini: “Yeah, and after that, we can hang out with my parents.”
Kimberly: “And after that, we can do community service.”
Zack: “Awesome! Helping people is great! So is juice!”
Billy: “Parents rule too! And Church! And America! I love you guys!”
If the Rangers had been real “teens,” the second and third lines of the conversation would be sarcastic, and the last two would be replaced with “Fuck it. Let’s smoke cigarettes, loiter, and not do our homework. And listen to rap.” And Jason would promptly be punched in the stomach for even suggesting going to Ernie’s juicebar.
Tony Van Groningen: I was too old to watch this show, but I have no doubt that I would have loved it if I’d been ten when it came out. Although to this day I can’t help but think that it’s just a second-rate Ultraman ripoff. Ultraman was fucking rad, Power Rangers are just ok.
Philip Buchan: The writers made some valiant attempts at multi-part serials, but it was too little too late—besides, I realized that the series was just a giant Ultraman rip-off by that point in the game, and even as an eleven year-old, I couldn't settle for something so derivative.
Joe Niemczyk: If I had been two or three years younger when Power Rangers debuted in the U.S., I probably would have gotten hooked on it. But as it was, I was in middle school and wasn't going to be caught dead watching it.
David Drake: This arrived too late for me...at this point I was past corny kids TV. Ninja Turtles was way cooler anyway.
Philip Buchan: By the time I was in fifth grade, the Power Rangers backlash was so severe that I couldn't even let the other kids know that my little sister watched it. If any television in your house was tuned into Fox during the Rangers' after-school block, your entire family's dignity was at stake. By that point, my peers and I had all become so prematurely jaded that we wouldn't admit to liking any TV shows other than Beavis and Butthead. Thanks, Power Rangers.
Joe Niemczyk: Even now, I still can't enjoy this kind of cheap Sentai stuff on an ironic level.
Brad Shoup: If the title has more than four syllables, I’m out. Remember kids, ‘apostrophes’ equal ’we understand your American youth culture’!
Ken Munson: Da Bulls!
Zach Smola: Ah, the early 90s Chicago Bulls.
Tony Van Groningen: Like 99% of all kids my age who loved sports, I was a huge Bulls fan in the early 90’s. More specifically, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan.
Ben Welsh: Michael Jordan was probably the most popular person on the planet. Despite the fact that he’d endorse anything (including piece-of-shit sweatshop sneakers that cost over $100 a pair), fucked everything with two legs and took 40 shots a game, he could do no wrong in the eyes of everyone I knew.
Tony Van Groningen: Jordan did it all, and in ’93 he was in his prime. Not a single one of my friends had a bedroom without a Jordan poster in it in 1993.
Ken Munson: Being a Knicks fan, I hated the Bulls. But even so, you couldn't hate Michael Jordan, especially not back then. He was just too Michael. He was so nice. So cool. So classy. So amazingly badass. He was Mr. Clean, Mr.Rogers and Mr. T all in one.
Josh Love: Kobe thinks he’s hard cuz he spends all day at his rape trial and then shows up for the game and drops 30. Shit, Jordan used to spend all night playing blackjack, all day golfing with Barkley, and still drop 45.
Josh Love: One of the favorite trick questions for incoming freshmen at my alma mater (North Carolina) was “What major has the highest average salary among graduates?” The answer was geography, cuz hardly anyone actually majors in it, but one of the few who did makes 75 quadrillion dollars a year.
Brad Shoup: Scottie Pippen was a whiner. Michael was giving him more diamonds than Kobe Bryant on a full guilt trip, and when he had to sit out every once in a while, he’d just pout. Toni Kukoc, now he knew which side of his bread was buttered on.
Tony Van Groningen: Scotty and Horace, and even BJ Armstrong and John Paxton to some degree, were all worthy players in their own right…if they’d been on a different team. But Jordan stole the show. Every single game. He was incredible. How anybody can dispute that he is the greatest player ever to live is beyond me.
Joe Niemczyk: Jordan was, and still is, the best b-ball player ever. I was lucky enough to see him play a few times during the Bulls' championship runs in the '90s, and I'll always treasure those memories. So obviously, I was crushed when he retired after the third championship.
Brad Shoup: Then, after Michael Jordan had won three straight championships, after he had reached at the pinnacle of world sport, he decided that he needed to look ridiculous.
Ken Munson: Michael Jordan was above reproach. And then he started playing baseball.
Philip Buchan: I didn't really care about basketball, so it took a stint with the Birmingham Barons to really pique my interest in Michael Jordan.
Zach Smola: It always seemed so awkward that Michael Jordan would bow out at the height of his power and his team’s gloriousness. Especially when we learned he was spending all of his time playing golf and minor league baseball.
Philip Buchan: But whereas guys like Deon Sanders, Brian Jordan, and Bo Jackson proved themselves to be formidable two-sport competitors (all three of them shone on both the diamond and the gridiron), MJ didn't fare quite as well in his second sport.
Brad Shoup: A .200 average with one home run. Worse career move than Space Jam.
Zach Smola: Everyone in the MLB got scared when they realized Jordan was going to be playing baseball, but their fear was quickly quelled when they learned that he sucked.
Ken Munson: I remember Jordan, even in the midst of the worst baseball career in history, still doing McDonald's commercials, trying to pretend he was still cool. Which he was, to an extent, but had he continued playing baseball he would have exterminated all those cool points in no time.
Philip Buchan: If he were anything less than the greatest athlete alive, no franchise would have put up with his fanciful ambitions, but because he was a living legend, the Chicago White Sox were more than willing to have him aboard. I'm sure that the Chi Sox's letting him into spring training and allowing him to play at the AA level had as much to do with all of the money he was going to make for their organization as it did with honoring his roundball achievements, but all dubious motives aside, it was still a pretty cool event that will probably never be duplicated again, ever.
Josh Love: Quick, crappier hitter : Michael Jordan or Garth Brooks?
Philip Buchan: In the end, Jordan's baseball career was a classic example of letting the old rich guy follow his silly lifelong dream (sort of like when Garth Brooks went into spring training with the Padres), but it was one of the coolest farces in sports history.
Ben Welsh: Michael Jordan was beyond a man. He was a wet dream with a killer fade-away. We need somebody that smooth over in Iraq. Win us some hearts and minds.
Tony Van Groningen: There was never a doubt in my heart during those years that the Bulls weren’t going to win the championship. The Bulls had one of the most amazing and memorable championship runs in the history of sports, and I am glad to say that I watched it happen. That team is probably the reason I obsess about NBA basketball to this very day.
Joe Niemczyk: Of course they're the best team ever. End of story.
I REMEMBER 1993
Philip Buchan: "Back for Good" was quite possibly my favorite song for a few months. I had no idea, however, that it was performed by the British equivalent of New Kids on the Block. To my inexperienced ears, it sounded like the work of just one guy -- a Sting type, perhaps (at the time, I also thought Sting's solo stuff was pretty fresh). In my mind, "Back for Good" was this awesome pop song by this awesome adult contemporary solo artist dude, and I could sing it word perfect. But then a funny thing happened: I saw the video. And I was repulsed. Take That was not, in fact, one dude, but five dudes, and these five dudes weren't united for the purpose of crafting fine music; they were united for the purpose of wooing underaged girls with their choreographed dance moves. Just as I had learned that Luke Perry and Jason Priestly were fabricated heart throbs rather than über-cool male rolemodels a few years earlier, I learned that Take That weren't in it for the art at all. I felt gipped. And I felt like less of a man. Guys weren't supposed to like bands like Take That, and I had. And no one believed me when I said that their pop sensibility -- not their dashing looks or designer clothes -- had lured me in.
Zach Smola: Can I get a Wuuuuuu-Tang?
Brad Shoup: This was something novel: a rap group manufacturing its own mythology.
David Drake: The whole Wu mythology was brilliant - kung fu movies filtered through UHF station cinema to inner city New York? Absolutely perfect, a result of the postmodern melting pot at work.
Tony Van Groningen: More than any other hip-hop album, Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the 36 Chambers changed the way I listen to music. I heard “C.R.E.A.M.” on the radio and was blown away, I didn’t even know what to think about it, it was so different than anything else. The lyricism, from damn near every member, was so fresh. So many moments are truly incredible. The beats were skeletal yet still somehow banging, and were incredibly innovative compared to the dominant sounds of the time. And it sampled kung-fu movies.
Ken Munson: "En garde. I'll let you try my Wu-Tang style." "So bring it on! So bring it on! So bring it on! So bring it on!"
Brad Shoup: Wu got to wear their love of TV, movies, and pop culture proudly, and still be grimy.
Gavin Mueller: I quested for many moons for Wu-Wear apparel that would fit my svelte frame.
Philip Buchan: Wu Wear was really big in my middle school. You either wore that or those Big Ball Sports "Baseball is life, the rest is just details" T-shirts. I personally opted for the baseball T-shirts.
David Drake: I had some of those Wu Wear shoes, the imitation Clarks that Ghostface always wore. Those are dope.
Akiva Gottlieb: Yes, I was that guy. You know, the guy who donned all the Wu Wear even though I had no idea who the Clan was or what they represented. To this day, I haven’t heard a note of their music, but I’ve long since discarded the Wu Wear. I have a sense of pride now. I shop at the GAP. Truly, I do.
Scott McKeating: The only Wu Wear I ever bought was the 12” single of the same name. All the clothes looked like proper crap.
Philip Buchan: Successful musicians should never start clothing lines. It's just that simple.
Brad Shoup: Plus, every member had like four nicknames each, and they were all great. It was nice to see a gonzo sense of humor in hip-hop, even if ODB had to suffer.
Scott McKeating: My favourite Wu member normally changes with every solo project release, although it looks like U-God won’t ever be receiving that accolade in my house anytime soon. Back then it was Meth and Dirty, now it’s GZA and Ghostface.
Josh Timmermann: As much as I love 36 Chambers, my favorite Wu record is definitely Ghostface's Supreme Clientele; as much joy as ODB has brought us over the years, he's no Iron Man.
Zach Smola: I’m one of those skinny white guys who loves Ol’ Dirty Bastard with earnest and pure sincerity. I can never voice this opinion without people thinking I’m just trying to be funny, and I guess that is based on the fact that I have absolutely no right to like ODB at all. But Dirty “Big Baby Jesus” “Dirt McGirt” understands.
Ben Welsh: Even though you can make a strong case for GZA, Raekwon and Ghostface each making the top 10 list of best MCs ever, when it comes to picking a favorite I still have give it up for O.D.B. The man is marvel of modernity. The closest hip hop has come to William Burroughs, his biography reads like a gangster rap fan’s wetdream come to life.
David Drake: Cuz Ghost just dropped another classic, everyone's gonna say he's their favorite. So I'm gonna go with GZA. Liquid Swords is so amazing front-to-back, and he's the most purely lyrical member of the clan. And your lyrics are weak like clock radio speakers.
Tony Van Groningen: My favorite Wu member is probably RZA. Unlike most people, I think he’s a great mc in addition to being a badass producer. I gotta give a lot of love to Ghostface, GZA, Meth, ODB, and Raekwon too though, all for differing reasons. Shit, I even like U-god most of the time.
Josh Love: U-God 4 Life Mothafucka!
Gavin Mueller: Without the benefit of hindsight, RZA, Method Man, GZA, or Ol' Dirty Bastard could have taken the prize based on the merits of the first album. But they're forming like Voltron -- every member brings something.
Tony Van Groningen: Wu-Tang became my music, I embraced it like few other albums before it. All the elements worked together so flawlessly, I don’t understand how even people that didn’t enjoy it can’t help but to appreciate it. I don’t think there’s been a hip-hop album since then that’s had as profound an effect on me, or on the genre itself.
Ben Welsh: “Wu-Tang is for the children,” indeed.
FORGOTTEN FILMS OF 1993
A Perfect World
Josh Timmermann: With Unforgiven and Mystic River each having earned accolades galore, A Perfect World is surely his most undervalued film; perhaps not quite a mastrerpiece on the level of the two forementioned films, but a sensitively realized, subtly artful effort nevertheless. Playing an escaped convict in 1963 Texas who kidnaps and progressively develops a sort of paternal relationship with a young Jehovah's Witness boy, Kevin Costner gives the best performance of his career. As in Bird, Unforgiven, and The Bridges of Madison County, the film's tone is elegaic but never nostalgic, gazing back with tempered regret rather than a lesser director's rose-colored lenses.
Ben Welsh: Where it all began….
Ken Munson: Doom was the most controversial, most violent video game to ever exist at the time.
Philip Buchan: In Doom, you assumed the role of one of the few human retainers in the midst of a post-apocalyptic free-for-all in which aliens, demons, and robots had overrun everything and focused all of their energy on the task of killing you.
Adrien Begrand: I hate video games, but man, Doom was so freakin' cathartic.
Brad Shoup: You don’t play Doom, OK? Doom plays you.
Ken Munson: You were a space marine, fighting zombies and demons through space. The fact that I just wasn't any good at Doom pretty much signaled the beginning of my disinterest in video games.
Philip Buchan: Doom really was a pretty brilliant game. It combined all of the intense shoot 'em up, reflex-testing action of Contra with the timeless "you're stuck in this huge building and have to unlock doors and flip a series of switches" aspect of the Zelda games, meaning that any player would have to possess a great deal of both brains and brawn in order to succeed.
Zach Smola: “Doom” was pretty cool. During its heyday, I was at that age where the only way to play “Doom” was to go to an older kid’s house and use his computer. And it ruled.
Philip Buchan: And, if you found beating the various levels to be too difficult, you could just run around blowing up demons and watching blood and body parts splatter everywhere, and life just doesn't get much cooler than that. And man oh man, the BFG (that's Big Fucking Gun) was probably the coolest video game weapon ever invented.
Ken Munson: IDDQD made you invulnerable. Everyone knew that. The ultimate weapon in that game, though was the BFG, which of course stood for Big Fucking Gun, although you could have loads of fun with the rocket launcher.
Zach Smola: There was something so satisfying about letting loose with the BFG and destroying some demon/alien/zombie creatures, and a paradoxical beauty was created when you realized the BFG was exactly as fun as the simple chainsaw.
John Rothery: The media furor over violence in computer games was The Liberal Overreaction. Nobody has ever jumped into a car and mowed down a load of innocents because they cut their teeth on Grand Theft Auto.
Scott McKeating: Extreme violence in computer games is perfectly OK for adults; it’s not real. The only problem comes when kids play games intended for adult minds.
Zach Smola: Parents hated “Doom”, but it’s not like you were killing people; we were still content to destroy mostly imaginary demon/alien/zombie creatures. It was a simpler time. What parents should have hated were the Doom rip-offs. Heretic, anyone? How about some Hexen?
John Rothery: If the psychotic maniac wants to fillet someone with an army knife he is going to find out how to do it even if his parents didn’t let him watch Tom and Jerry or play nasty bang-bang arcade games.
Tony Van Groningen: Unlike Sim City, I have never really tired of the idea of the first-person shooter, and this is directly due to Doom. Doom kicked some serious ass. Yeah, I’ll fight a 30 foot tall minotaur demon with a rocket launcher. I’ll do it all damn day.
Gavin Mueller: I don't know if all the vicarious violence was good thing, but it was the best thing ever when I was 13.
Tony Van Groningen: The monsters were cool looking and fearsome and smart. The level design was devious as hell. The carnage was epic. One of the best games ever.
LOSER OF 1993
Andrew Unterberger: In 1992, things were starting to look bad for Michael Jackson—his 15-minute epic video for “Black or White” (one of the only music videos to ever be premiered on network TV, and the only music video to ever feature Macaulay Culkin rapping—take that, MC Skat Cat!) was dire enough, but in 1993 things really started getting ugly. As if releasing both “Heal the World” and “Will You Be There?” as singles in the same year wasn’t bad enough, he also received his first of many accusations of child molestation, forever tarnishing the image of Michael Jackson, King of Pop, and forever cementing the idea of Wacko Jacko. And the funniest thing is, he probably wouldn’t believe you if you told him it would be all downhill from there.
Zach Smola: The early 90s were a purer time in the realm of the sex-starved R&B; diva. A few years later, folks like Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliot would make the whole game a lot dirtier. But for 93, the masses were content to illicitly make-out with strangers as Salt n Pepa songs boomed over loudspeakers.
Brad Shoup: Janet or Salt n Pepa. Who was sexier? That’s right. Jody Watley.
Ben Welsh: To me, this was the zenith of Janet Jackson attractiveness. She was this charming, organic, politically-aware yet still incredibly smokin’ babe that every guy wanted.
Andrew Unterberger: Janet had a run of singles in ’93 that just couldn’t be topped, especially in terms of sexiness. Aggressive (“You Want This,” “If”), seductive (“Anytime, Anyplace,” “That’s the Way Love Goes”) and vulnerable (“Again,”), but always unbelievably hot. All in one year.
Zach Smola: Janet Jackson was at her hottest, given her newfound balance between class and raunch. “That’s the Way Love Goes” was a pretty smooth song, so smooth that it could be called smoove.
John Rothery: I’ve never been a fan of Janet, especially during her washed-out soul phase. At least with her faster paced cod-dance, you don’t notice the lack of songs as much as you do when you listen to the dreary mid-tempo MOR of ‘If’.
Ben Welsh: Her late 90s singles can hang with any of the music from this period but she was never the same to me after all the plastic surgery that turned her into a robot.
Gavin Mueller: Janet was attractive and all, but Pepa could have broken her into a thousand plastic pieces with Salt snickering in the corner. Janet's talentless cooing can't hold a candle to Salt-n-Pepa's empowering fem-rap.
John Rothery: I was 15 years old, if either Salt or Pepa had given me the come on I would have run fifteen miles in the opposite direction, felt confused and then masturbated furiously.
Ken Munson: "Whatta Man," that song rules. That's just a cool guitar riff and a great hook, and some classic lines. "My man is smooth like Barry, and his voice got bass, a body like Arnold with a Denzel face."
Josh Love: How the fuck do I still remember the words to “Whatta Man?” Serious yo, no Googling : “My man gives real lovin’ / that’s why I call him Killa / No wham bam thank you ma’am he’s a thrilla / Takes his time does everything right / Knocks me out with one shot for the rest of the night.” Goddamnit, how can an ostensibly heterosexual man such as myself still remember that, but can’t remember half the words to “C.R.E.A.M.” ?
Gavin Mueller: MIGHTY MIGHTY GOOD MAN!
David Drake: "Shoop" and "Whatta Man" are classic. My favorite part of Shoop was when the dude came in and rapped that short-ass verse - "S N a' P wanna get with me..." Haha that song was awesome. "mmm mmmm, for the smelluvit!"
Brad Shoup: “Shoop”. Jeez. It’s like they synched the release of that with the onset of my adolescence. Thanks, girls, for giving every bank teller in the world something to sing under their breath when I’m depositing paychecks. None of which contain compensation for emotional distress, by the way.
Philip Buchan: A couple of the babysitters I had loved "Shoop". One of these babysitters would come over to my house, go into my parents' room, close the door, turn on MTV and talk on the phone while my sister and I fought over board games with one another.
Gavin Mueller: Incidentally, I always found Spinderella the most attractive. Maybe it's just because she's the DJ.
Zach Smola: As for Salt n Pepa, leaned a bit more towards direct sexiness lyrically, but I can’t help but reminisce towards their hilarious older tunes. In terms of sexiness, “Whatta Man” could not hold a candle to “Push It.” I mean, 808 beats and terrible synth-lines will always outsexy a sing-songy jam devoted to a very specific man.
John Rothery: Salt and Pepa’s material was fairly one-dimensional wasn’t it? Very obvious lyrical themes in the mock-rap style with enough hooks to satisfy the kids. Pretentious Muso soundbite is: A definite Pre-Girl Power Girl Power, with a fair bit more sass than spice.
FORGOTTEN ALBUMS OF 1993
The Goats - Tricks of the Shade
Scott McKeating: For this one album they were the ultimate alt.rock fan’s favourite hip-hop act with the “Typical American” single drawing fans to the cause. A more organic PE without the Black Nationalist agenda they roared, slid and messed around with an all-in-one formula of loud funky Hip-Hop.
Ken Munson: 1993 was Spielberg's year, as he came out with one of his best dramas and one of his best action movies.
Brad Shoup: 1993 was the year Steven Spielberg shot for the cinematic stars with his complex adaptation of a harrowing yet hopeful novel. That’s right, children- 1993: The Year of Jurassic Park.
Philip Buchan: Schindler's List was a stirring recount of the horrors of the Holocaust, with its focus being Oscar Schindler, a Nazi factory owner responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of Jews during the tragedy. Jurassic Park was an adaptation of the popular Michael Crichton dinosaur novel of the same name. Both films struck a vein with mainstream America, and Schindler's List even received buckets of accolades at the Academy Awards.
Ken Munson: Schindler's List, possibly the best movie about the Holocaust ever made. It's the tragic but heartwarming story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman on a quest to stop the Nazis from recovering the Ark of the Covenant. Yeah, I know that was a different Spielberg movie, but think how cool it would have been if he had included that part.
Adrien Begrand: Schindler's List is far and away Spielberg's best film. Every single scene stays in your head.
Michael Heumann: Schindler's List was an outstanding film that did more than any other major film to demonstrate the horrors of Nazi atrocities against the Jews.
Akiva Gottlieb: Spielberg’s only truly great films are the ones that feel most like labours of love. Schindler’s List is the culmination of his life’s work, a pristine, heartbreaking work of staggering dramatic merit and the definitive artistic representation of the Holocaust.
Philip Buchan: I dislike Schindler's List. A big part of my problem with it is that it's a historical film, and people tend to exempt historical films -- especially historical films that deal with something very tragic -- from critical analysis. To dislike Schindler's List is to dislike Jewish people, so the reasoning goes.
John Rothery: Schindler’s List is one of those films that I had to psyche myself up to watch. Like Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line, I am glad that I’ve done it by the end but it is a harrowing experience. As well as having a numb ass by the end of the 8 months that it takes to watch, I can predict the big performances, the sentiment; I will probably have cried by the end.
Josh Love: How many people watch Schindler’s List more than once? I mean, it was a profoundly disturbing, unspeakably moving film, but I only saw it once and never really have any desire to ever see it again, simply because the experience of actually watching it is so emotionally draining.
Philip Buchan: The tragedy speaks for itself -- did Spielberg really have to go to all of that trouble to manipulate our emotions any further?
Adrien Begrand: All Jurassic Park showed was how painfully ordinary Spielberg could be at times.
Zach Smola: JP was possibly the most excited I will ever get about a film, because it occurred at the same time as I was going through my “dinosaurs rock pretty hard” phase. For a brief shining moment, every American child wanted to be a paleontologist.
Brad Shoup: It was like “Lord of the Flies,” only a million times deeper and better and with scary dinosaurs. With Newman from Seinfeld as Piggy!
Steve Lichtenstein: I still get nervous when I think about Newman’s death. And when I’m hiding from raptors in a stainless-steel kitchen cabinet.
Brad Shoup: And our plucky heroes have to use chaos theory to escape. Or chaos theory got them in the mess in the first place. I don't remember. Dinosaurs!
Ken Munson: For one of the biggest, highest-grossing action movies of all time, Jurassic Park is a hard movie to be enthusiastic about. I'm sure I was more hyped about it back in '93, when I was nine and still really cared about dinosaurs.
Gavin Mueller: I was down with dinosaurs from day one. Jurassic Park still boasts some of the most realistic CGI yet; my only regret is that it didn't come out when I was 8 to completely blow my mind.
Zach Smola: Also, every American boy ages 8-14 had a crush on Lex. Not so much based on attractiveness, but because you could totally help her evade dinosaurs. Nothing is more romantic than saving a girl from Velociraptors.
Ken Munson: The best thing about that movie were the velociraptors, especially the scene where they eat the hunter guy. "Clever girl." "CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP AAAGGGH"
Zach Smola: Also, the film deserves much credit for finally making the world care about Deoxyribonucleic Acid (or, as it’s called on the Street, DNA). Though DNA is among the most important discoveries in the history of science, it took the realization that DNA could be used to bring back the terrifying DINOSAURS! for anyone to care at all.
Ken Munson: The special effects were definitely groundbreaking at a time, and they're still much more impressive than the CGI stuff we have now.
Steve Lichtenstein: I should’ve been jealous of my friend who was making out with a girl whose brother looked like Superman, but those fucking dinosaurs were much cooler than awkward making out.
John Rothery: If I am choosing a film I will always avoid the big epic and go for art house quirkiness or just dumb down and take the escapism route.
Josh Love: Well, they BOTH had giant animatronic dinosaurs wreaking havoc on a remote tropical island, so I guess I’d say…tie.
Brad Shoup: Oh! TGIF!
Zach Smola: TGIF was television’s first official bid as a religion. We were now thanking God for TV shows. Every Friday was a spiritual experience, and it was generally much funnier than church.
Ken Munson: ABC, for a while, had this really great block of cheesy family sitcoms on Friday night called TGIF that was pretty much mandatory watching.
David Drake: Ahh yes, TGIF. We watched this every Friday. Which is sort of weird in retrospect, because it wasn't ever really that good.
Gavin Mueller: Every Friday night, it was TGIF or the skating rink. TGIF eventually conquered.
Philip Buchan: I didn't have to worry about not being invited to everyone's first boy/girl birthday parties on Friday nights because I had TGIF instead. Who needs friends when you've got four family friendly sitcoms to watch?
Joe Niemczyk: Whether I was with my family or my friends, if it was Friday night, I was definitely watching TGIF sitcoms.
Ken Munson: Family Matters was great. The ongoing battles between gruff cop Carl and annoying next door neighbor Steve Urkel were always entertaining.
Brad Shoup: I just found this plot synopsis: "Urkel tries to impress Carl with some wacky invention. The invention backfires. Carl is angered. Urkel tries to make amends, to hilarious results. Episode closes with a man-to-man hug." I loved that episode.
Ken Munson: The word "Urkel" has become shorthand for nerd, especially a nerd of African-American heritage.
Adrien Begrand: Urkel. What the hell was the deal with that? Why did this character catch on so fast? Why do I still remember the name Jaleel White?
Ken Munson: Urkel would always make these pathetic attempts to win over girl of his derams Laura, usually with one of his half-dozen annoying catchphrases. "Did I do that?" "Got any cheese?" "Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh snort snort."
Brad Shoup: Yeah, I bought and consumed Urkel-O’s. Terrible. The box had vocab words on the back.
Ken Munson: What was great about Urkel is that it led an otherwise bland sitcom into weird areas where it could play hard and fast with the rules of reality. Urkel clones himself, builds an atom bomb, alters his DNA, creates an android replica of himself.
Brad Shoup: Family Matters jumped the shark around the episode where Urkel picked a porn name. Said he wanted to pay for “graduate school”. Grad school doesn’t fit up the nose, now does it? Ha HA!
Josh Love: The best part about Family Matters was how they completely wrote Judy right the fuck out of the show after the first few seasons. Me and my college roommate used to joke that they kept her chained up in the basement and fed her fish heads and dog scraps.
Joe Niemczyk: Even though Carl Winslow sounded a lot like the Shredder and that his daughter Judy mysteriously disappeared without a trace halfway through the series, Family Matters was still able to present a vision of blacks so non-threatening that white America tuned in by the millions.
Gavin Mueller: Family Matters was clearly the best. Everything else was filler.
Brad Shoup: Full House. Also known as "the legitimate part of Bob Saget's resume".
Ken Munson: Full House, I don't have as many fond memories of. I remember Bob Saget delivering a lot of lame one-liners. I remember that middle child going "How rude" a lot.
Josh Timmermann: Full House was where it's at, for sure. You got Bob Sagget doing father-knows-best, John Stamos doing Elvis, that other guy doing Bullwinkle, and pre-hot Olsen twins doing their business in their diapers.
Ken Munson: There was John Stamos doing his Elvis biker thing to death. And of course, there was Dave Coulier, doing his goddamn Bullwinkle and Popeye bits over and over and fucking over again. I hated that guy so much.
Brad Shoup: Jesse's band was rumored to "rock," but they had a keyboardist. That little bit of continuity must have gotten past the editors.
Josh Love: I frightened the hell out of my girlfriend recently by correctly providing the first and last names of every principal character on Full House, even indicating that when the show first aired, Jesse Katsopolis had the less-ethnic name of Jesse Cochran.
Brad Shoup: The Beach Boys came on the show a couple times. Brian Wilson looked like he wanted to bite something.
Adrien Begrand: Around this time, Dave Coulier was doing nasty things with Alanis Morrisette in a movie theater. Eeew.
Ken Munson: Full House also starred a set of twins, who were named Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. You might not know this, but they became pretty popular among the pre-teen crowd.
Brad Shoup: I always thought those mixed-family shows would be a lot more interesting with some implied step-sibling flirting. Of course, I wasn't held as a child.
Philip Buchan: Boy Meets World was probably my favorite series.
Ken Munson: Boy Meets World starred Ben Savage, who was cute, and his girlfriend Topanga, who was cuter. It was just a cute show, really.
David Drake: I liked Boy Meets World the most. Topanga was hella hot.
Philip Buchan: Corey was a very likeable character who struggled with the same kinds of awkwardness that most adolescent boys struggled with, and yet, somehow, he ended up with a much hotter girlfriend than me or any of my friends ever had. Topanga was a fox. Wow.
Josh Love: I’ve got a friend who remains a hardcore Boy Meets World junkie (help, I can’t tell who’s being ironic anymore!), and the other night we spent a good 20 minutes discussing the otherworldliness of Topanga’s rack.
Zach Smola: I personally favored Boy Meets World and it sort of demonstrated the quintessence if TGIF programming—funny, moving, and prone to completely change character’s roles once they realized members of the cast were growing up to be attractive or funny. Remember Tapanga’s change from 2nd-tier awkward hippie girl in class to the-capitalized-G-Girlgfriend?
Philip Buchan: Sadly, there were a lot of inconsistencies in the series. Topanga, for instance, began as this budding flower child, with loopy, granola-eating parents and a quasi-eastern belief system. Once the producers realized that she was going to be a very hot teenager, they changed all of this and made her into the most nondescript teen girl imaginable. Mr. Feeney, however, was always awesome.
Ken Munson: Step by Step... I didn't watch Step by Step. I changed the channel back to Nickelodoen when Step by Step came on.
Adrien Begrand:. "Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there's a heart, a hand to hold onto. As days go by, we're gonna fill our house with happiness. Step by step, day by day, a fresh start over, a different hand to play." Oh, please, kill me now.
Josh Love: All I remember about Step By Step is how the dude who played the lovably oafish dumbass Cody ended up being a psycho wife-beating fuck. Good times.
Adrien Begrand: I think Step By Step was just another one of Bobby Ewing's long dreams. In this case, a really, really, really bad dream.
Gavin Mueller: Although I was blossoming into an adult during TGIF's heydey, I found none of the Step By Step girls attractive in the least. And let's just say my standards weren't exceedingly high.
Zach Smola: But again, you didn’t watch TGIF for attractive girls, you watched it to express your immense gratitude to the Almighty that it was Friday.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s no coincidence that over 10 years later, Friday is still my favorite day of the week. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to, ABC.
I REMEMBER 1993
Joe Niemczyk: Horrified by constant stories of inner city youth being assaulted and murdered for their Starter Jackets, my mom was always hesitant to buy me one, even though we lived in a farming community where the closest thing to a street gang was the local Brownie troop. Finally she caved and I got the Chicago Bulls Starter jacket I always wanted, but then she went and committed the most unforgivable act a protective mother would ever dare: she wrote my name on the inside of the hood. This was next to impossible to hide unless I wore it with the hood up, and by the time that I figured out I could use whiteout to cover it up, the trend was over.
Michael Heumann: What a concept: a Christmas film for Goth kids.
Josh Timmermann: Tim Burton: Hey, guys, I got a really cool idea. We'll make a super expensive stop-motion animated movie about these creatures living in a sort of Halloween world who kidnap Santa Claus and ransack Christmas. Guys: How about we throw in some musical numbers? Tim Burton: Uhhh, okay, cool.
Ken Munson: The Nightmare Before Christmas is the story of a demon who is the undisputed king of his particular field, attempts to become the king of another, and meets with horrifying consequences. Much like Vince McMahon and the XFL.
Philip Buchan: Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King, gets all angsty and distraught and goes searching for a world beyond Halloween. He ends up discovering Christmas, and decides that he will kidnap "Sandy Claws" and go about giving ghoulish gifts to boys and girls in his stead.
Ken Munson: Jack Skellington was the Pumpkin King, the Halloween head honcho, but he really wasn't that scary. He was too debonair and smooth. And check that scene where he walks down the cliff/tendril thing as it unfolds with the giant moon in the background. Pure class.
Tony Van Groningen: The amount of empathy I felt for poor Jack Skellington after his sled is shot down by missiles was surprisingly strong, and I was totally rooting for him to hook up with Sally.
Adrian Begrand: The Sally character is so achingly beautiful. Remember the part where she's sewing herself back together? It almost looks poetic.
Zach Smola: That the film’s characters hilariously assume the Christmas mythology is actually centered around a jovial lobster named Sandy Claws is hi-larious, and would make Christmas rock all the harder.
Philip Buchan: The scenes where the kids discover their horrifying presents still crack me up every time. The snake eating the Christmas tree? The demonic wooden duck with teeth? Classic.
Tony Van Groningen: The character design is so unique and perfect. I didn’t mind at all that it was a musical, the songs were entirely appropriate to the movie. Danny Elfman’s score was brilliant.
Zach Smola: All of the songs are pure “Rain Dogs”-era Tom Waits.
Ken Munson: The songs really weren't that memorable. The only one I can remember is the first one, "This is Halloween Night," which is actually just "Here Comes Santa Claus" in a minor key.
Adrien Begrand: "This is Halloween, this is Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!"
Tony Van Groningen: Awesome, awesome movie. So unlike anything else ever filmed, at least that I’ve seen. I watch this movie every Halloween season, I know a lot of the dialogue and songs by heart.
Brad Shoup: The movie was released Halloween weekend and stayed through the winter, which gave it dual-holiday penetration. Kudos, Tim “Moneybags” Burton. Kudos.
Kareem Estefan: The great thing about The Nightmare Before Christmas is that you get to watch it twice a year – Halloween and Christmas.
Scott McKeating: An entertaining and very clever movie, it was nice to see something that took a bit of work and originality hitting the kids market.
Brad Shoup: I love Mr. Burton’s work, I really do, but it’s partly his fault that there’s all these pop-goth kids running around.
Ken Munson: There are people, including some of my friends, who are creepily obsessed with this movie. They have the shirts, the posters, the action figures. It must be the alluring power of claymation.
Zach Smola: It’s like the Cure of films, with today’s emo-kids freaking out over it but still failing to really care about it. The emo-kids will get jobs in offices and wash the black dye out of their hair and decide they are too old to watch cartoons, but my faith will not waver. What’s this? Genius. That’s what it is
FORGOTTEN FILMS OF 1993
It’s All True
Josh Timmermann: More than fifty years after it was shot (and canned), Orson Welles's controversial, unfinished Latin American documentary finally saw the light of day--sort of. What we have here is a fascinating documentary by Richard Wilson, Bill Krohn, and Myron Meisel about the making of Welles' doc, with some actual Welles footage thrown in. It's interesting stuff, to be sure, and well worth checking out if you're a Welles fan, but what it's ultimately not is the real, full Welles film that we'll unfortunately never get to see. Here's to hoping against hope that some day that long-lost Magnificent Ambersons footage will magically turn up somewhere.
Ben Woolhead: OUCH!!!
Ken Munson: In 1993, a little publicized incident occurred where a woman, Lorena Bobbitt, cut off her husband's penis in a fit of rage.
Brad Shoup: Now, at what point did Mr. Bobbitt realize his penis was being sliced off? Let me rephrase that. At what point did Mr. Bobbitt not realize his penis was being sliced off?
Philip Buchan: Cutting off a dude's penis just ain't cool.
Ben Woolhead: Just reading about the incident makes me think of the terrifying visions suffered by The Dude in the Coen brothers’ movie The Big Lebowski when he’s being pursued by the leotard-wearing nihilists wielding giant pairs of scissors and shouting: “Ve vill cut off your Johnson!”
John Rothery: Many men of a certain age were beginning to think that an empowered feminist was a very dangerous thing. They were soon to discover that any woman with a set of teeth was a potentially dangerous thing.
Ken Munson: After it happened, I remember a lot of people talking about how Lorena "did what every woman wants to do." I really want that to not be true. I mean, you didn't hear people talking about O.J. doing "what every man wants to do."
Brad Shoup: Then she threw it away, when everyone knows that you store the severed penis in ice as a bargaining tip – er, chip.
Gavin Mueller: It's not that bad; they sewed it back on.
Brad Shoup: I heard they sewed it back on. It was all like some sort of bizarro female Sir Mix-a-Lot thing. “And I then I pull up quick to retrieve it!”
John Rothery: Perhaps if she’d retrieved the cock and sewn it on to herself it could have been a demented feminist statement. As was, I think it was simply the act of a lunatic. Either that or she was very peckish.
Ken Munson: I don't recall John Bobbitt getting a lot of sympathy from women. I don't see why. Is it just because he's a guy? Hearing about female genital mutilation always makes me nauseous out of empathy, but sever a man's dick and it's friggin' hilarious.
Josh Timmermann: If Lorena Bobbitt is a feminist figure of sorts it's for making the ultimate act of symbolic empowerment painfully unsymbolic.
Zach Smola: When trials get blown out of proportion and the media makes a huge deal of them (cough, cough, O.J. Simpson), the general public gets this mistaken notion that they have an opinion that matters. You start deciding for yourself who you think is right. The early 90’s had lots of sensationalistic court cases, but no matter how much press it got, all any man could really think about the Lorena Bobbitt case was “Oww.”
FORGOTTEN ALBUMS OF 1993
Trans-Global Underground - Dream of 100 Nations
Scott McKeating: Mixing world music with hip-hop, pre Big Beat era big beats and dub with a heavy Arabic influence this cooperative drew together their influences into a cohesive whole which still puts more famous acts like Loop Guru and Banco De Gaia to shame. While the majority of UK acts of this time were only looking as far back as The Beatles and The Smiths for inspiration, TGU had the world at their fingertips.
Philip Buchan: Yet another wholesome children's movie that my mother tried to get me to like that I hated with a passion.
Andrew Unterberger: Free Willy put a spin on the “Boy and his ____” subgenre of cheesy kid movies. They’ve used horses, dogs, cats, dolphins, monkeys, extra-terrestrials and countless others, but this was the first documentation of a kid’s touching relationship with his pet Killer Whale.
John Rothery: As I remember: small, cute child feels sorry for whale and sets it free, knowing that in doing so he will lose his friend forever. The importance of learning to let go – a didactic Hollywood family movie of the bleurgh kind.
Josh Timmermann: Did the whale talk? I vaguely remember the whale talking to the little juvenile delinquent boy, or am I just confusing this with Flipper? Flipper talked, right?
Ben Woolhead: Not seen it, but I gather it stars a massive whale. Nor have I seen the gay porn film of the same name, which I’m guessing doesn’t star a massive whale.
John Rothery: Never watched it but found the title very funny, purely as it contains the word ‘willy’ which is middle-class parent polite slang for a cock in England.
Brad Shoup: Up until his death, newspapers would report every time the damn whale moved. "Oh, he's in Norway! Oh, he's in a Universal studios backlot! Oh, he's in Richard Gere's bathtub!"
Zach Smola: Michael Jackson’s Free Willy song is really confusing. The opening lines are something like “Hold me/Like the river Jordan/and I will then say to thee/You are my friend”. River Jordan? Thee? This is supposed to be a song about the simple bond between a boy and his Orca, not quotations from the Old Testament, King James Version.
Brad Shoup: In the last decade, only R. Kelly has used a gospel choir as well as Michael did. His ad-libbing at the end still gives me shivers.
Andrew Unterberger: “I Will Be There,” was it called? Something like that. It might not have inspired the universal unity that “Heal the World” could lay claim to having done, but needless to say, it was sufficiently moving.
Zach Smola: After seeing this film, I spent the next year looking for some really giant animal to have as a best friend, one that would understand my troubled-youth ways. However, I live a hundred or two miles inland, so this never really came to fruition.
Brad Shoup: “How far will you go—for a friend?” Not to the end of the pier, that’s for sure, Jacks.
Homer: Jump, Free Willy. Jump! Jump with all your might!
Woman: Oh, no. Willy didn't make it. And he crushed our boy!
Man: Ew. What a mess.
Homer: Awww, I don't like this new director's cut.
Zach Smola: Also, note how the movie sort of neglected the fact that killer whales eat adorable seals. But everything gets watered down in Hollywood, right?
John Rothery: Perhaps they could have showed a whaler harpooning Willy in the closing credits and Willy being subsequently turned into soap. That would have got the kids thinking. Why bother pretending the world is a nice place?
I REMEMBER 1993
Zach Smola: In 90’s shows, every group had a hangout, usually a variation on “The Max.” However, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers one-uped everyone in the absurdity of their home-base, Ernie’s Juicebar. Even the gym where everyone hung with Mr. Cooper made more sense than a juicebar. Juicebars have never existed. Oh, those of you who grew up in California might like to think you’ve been to a juicebar before, but that’s just your memory being altered by the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers—there are some kids out there who will swear they and four friends had magical coins that allowed them to morph into machines, but they're wrong too. The MMPR’s scarred all of our memories. As a business venture, the juicebar makes absolutely no sense at all whatsoever. Who in the hell would open a store where nothing was sold but juice? Since when was juice a hot commodity? I suppose everyone likes juice, but you get juice from reasonable places. Places like the refrigerator. No one will ever think “hey, why don’t I go out of my way to get… juice?” If you are going to go out of your way for an overpriced beverage, it better get you tore up. Or be coffee.
Tony Van Groningen: Another song that came out of nowhere.
Brad Shoup: So in the midst of this new rock darkness comes this group of kids from L.A., who have the balls to play the Doobie Brothers to grunge’s Sabbath.
Philip Buchan: Blind Melon were like any number of their not-too-hard, not-too-soft alternative rock contemporaries, with the exception of two glaring career footnotes: their hit video featured this chubby little girl in a bee costume dancing around in all of these surreal situations, and their lead singer killed himself.
Josh Timmermann: For whatever reason, my dad loves this song. I'm pretty sure it's the only song made since 1990 and not by Hootie and the Blowfish on his Kazaa.
Tony Van Groningen: It was totally annoying, yet totally endearing. It was just so happy and innocent, and I think everybody could relate to it at least a little bit, enough that they wouldn’t turn it off until they’d heard it twenty times in three days.
Ken Munson: "No Rain" was a cute little song made memorable by a video in which a chubby little girl in a ridiculous bee costume is laughed at but finds happiness when she finds a beautiful green field filled with other people in ridiculous bee costumes.
Brad Shoup: What a great Kodachrome video! Oh, how they would soon grow to hate that bee girl!
Andrew Unterberger: That girl could tap-dance up a storm. She shouldn’t have let those Nelson Muntz characters in the audience get her down, she should have gone to Broadway and cashed in on the newfound Stomp craze.
Brad Shoup: Didn’t the actual bee girl get pushed off the stage in that Weird Al video? Someone get me an intern to check on that.
Tony Van Groningen: The bee girl only added to the charm of the song, even good looking, well-adjusted kids that were never bee girls liked to think that they were bee girls.
Philip Buchan: Thanks to bee girl and suicide, radio stations continued to play "No Rain" quite regularly for a good four or five years after it was released. It's actually a decent song, too -- a little bit middle-of-the-road in its overall approach, but very melodic, almost psychedelic at points, and really fucking depressing. With lyrics like "All I can do is read a book to stay awake", we should've seen this guy's suicide coming pretty early.
Ken Munson: "No Rain", through its video, has kind of become an anthem for finding acceptance, even though the song has nothing to do with that.
Zach Smola: However, this song, especially when coupled with its video, betrayed the Mellon as hippies at heart. A bizarre utopist-society in some field somewhere where everyone dresses as bees? It’s not saa-aaa-aaane.
Andrew Unterberger: The part of the video where the Bee Girl finds her paradise full of other Bee People in the green, green pastures has got to be one of the most triumphant and gorgeous things I have ever seen.
Philip Buchan: I still get sad whenever I hear that song, because I realize that the lyrical sentiments were dire enough to cause a human being to take his own life. That's mighty heavy baggage for a pop song to have to carry.
Brad Shoup: I still select this on every pool hall jukebox.
Zach Smola: It all seemed like hippie propaganda. Except that you eventually find out, as you grow older, that the bee people are real. They have always been, and always will be, and we can never understand them and their bee-ways.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-06-07