Style and culture operate in cycles. Everyone knows that. The ’80s stole from the ’50s, the ’90s stole from the ’70s, and so on. It seems like trends are taking upswings back to popularity much more rapidly than they used to–it feels as if it was only yesterday when we were stealing style and pop culture from the ’80s, yet here we are already bringing back Starter jackets and snapback hats. I can’t criticize, though. I’m already on board. If we’ve collectively decided to start dipping into the ’90s this quickly, then I have a long list of things I want brought back. Here are a few.
Somewhere along the line, we basically flipped from thinking that rollerbladers were the coolest cats around to picturing only the weird guys in man thongs skating on the Venice Beach boardwalk. What happened? Is it because all the trappings of the lifestyle (baggy jeans, bandanas, chain wallets) went out of style? Maybe. But there was a solid span of several years where a guy who could create any sort of aerial magic on inline skates would be the tippity toast of the block. Don’t tell me that “Brink!” didn’t make you want to strap on some wheelie boots and stick to those X-Blade assholes. There’s still a small contingent of guys who are holding onto the sport, and I think it’s our responsibility to support them and bring blades back into national prominence.
The Big Budget Action-Comedy
Some of the biggest box office revenues in the ’90s came from badass guys doing badass things, all the while making wisecracks about what was going on. In a single decade, we had two “Die Hards,” two “Lethal Weapons,” two “Hot Shots!,” two “Tremors,” the first “Bad Boys,” the first “Rush Hour,” “Wild, Wild West,” “Last Action Hero,” “The Last Boy Scout,” “True Lies,” “The Rock,” and “Men In Black.” This makes our current state of movies all the more puzzling. Did we suddenly decide that we were too good for explosions and punchlines? I get that gritty action flicks and superhero movies are the thing now (I personally blame 9/11) but is there really no room for some jokesters shooting up other jokesters? The closest thing we’ve had recently is “The Other Guys,” which was fantastic and made boatloads of cash. You can’t tell me that a movie starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Bradley Cooper as two idiot detectives isn’t great. I mean, they stumble upon a plot to create a monster earthquake in Los Angeles in order to rebuild the city with a logical transportation system, and it’s all perpetrated by a delightfully insane Tom Cruise.
I’ll be honest, I’m already working on bringing this back. Why did the loose, flowery pattern become something only for middle-aged Jimmy Buffett fans? Some of the coolest people who ever lived rocked the Hawaiian shirt, and I’ll be damned if we leave the look in the hands of those drunk, sunburned Parrotheads. The Hawaiian shirt is a statement of your intentions. It says, “I’m not taking today all that seriously, and I need a lot of room around my torso because I’ll be consuming ridiculous amounts of nachos and beer today.” If I have to spend a year or two getting weird looks and being compared unfavorably to depressed, 50-year-old accountants, so be it. I’m bringing the floral pattern back if it kills both my image and my romantic aspirations.
Tying Your Jacket Around Your Waist
My friends who I consulted for this column claim that this is already making a comeback, because they’ve seen Jared Leto do it in public and the dude who plays Johnny Snow rocks it on a magazine cover. To that, I say bollocks. The sweater or jacket around the waist look is classic cool, and a megalomaniacal actor and Eddard Stark’s bastard son aren’t enough to do this style justice. I won’t be satisfied until this look is once again ubiquitous.
NFL players and rappers alike rocked the colorful dungarees known as Zubaz. I had a personal attachment to them, as my dad had a turquoise pair with black zebra stripes he would wear every Saturday; my brothers and I referred to them as his “crazy pants.” Zubaz are apparently still for sale, but I haven’t seen anyone wearing them since my dad, circa 2002. The last time I went home, I spent a good hour looking for my dad’s old pair, but they’re sadly lost to our world. If anyone has an original pair from the ’90s they’d like to give me so I don’t have to buy the modern version, I’m willing to put together a convincing offer involving my roommate’s homebrewed beer and some expired pizza coupons.
MTV Spring Break
I actually had to Google whether MTV still does its spring break thing. Turns out they do, but it hasn’t been relevant for so long that I don’t really trust it. I remember seeing those college kids having what looked like the best time of their lives when I was growing up, and I can’t pretend that it didn’t shape a lot of what I thought college would be like. We’re doing the upcoming generation a disservice if we don’t give them unrealistic expectations for their undergrad party years.
The Goo Goo Dolls
I don’t understand how the boys named Goo got lost in the conversation of the best bands from the ’90s. Their run of albums from Superstar Carwash through Gutterflower is a textbook case of finding your sound, and then creating monster songs from it. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t think Dizzy Up The Girl isn’t a top 10 album from the decade. Here’s the thing. The Goo Goo Dolls are still around. They released an album last year. Sadly, their sound has now morphed into the muted electronic drumbeat driven, keyboard whispering adult rock that has destroyed so many great bands (see: Coldplay). This isn’t as much about what we need to rediscover as much as a plea for Johnny Rzeznik and the boys to plug their guitars back in and give us the chainsaw-in-a-trash-compactor combined with the angelic vocals and pop rock that we all grew to love. If the Foo Fighters can be successful with legit rock tunes, so can they.
The list doesn’t end here. I have all sorts of plans and machinations for bringing back the best of the stuff I grew up around. If I end up bringing about a total recreation of 1997 as a result, so fucking be it. It was a great year, and I’m quite prepared to experience it again as an adult.