Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Internets Forget

My youth is largely forgotten.

Sure, this is a common sentiment, but in my case, I mean forgotten by the internet. I can't be expected to remember everything. However, if iconic pop culture elements of my childhood and youth don't exist at all on the internet, how long will it be before they are gone forever?

There are a couple reasons for this lack of being able to dig up awesome nuggets on the web. For one thing, I'm old. Or I'm not. I fall into something of an online gap. The boomers have all of their memories covered on the web, since there are so goddamn many of them. The millennials do too, since they were able to create more web content. I'm in a grey area.

Another factor - I'm from Lawrence, Kansas. Sure, Larry is a great town and a stone's throw from the Kansas City metro area, but a lot of KC's non-coastal, non-Great Lakes collective pop culture memory simply does not exist on the web.

Finally - I'm weird. There's shit that sticks out for me that most people wouldn't care about.

Some things that do not exist on the web -

The Billy Smith professional tree climber PSA
. I don't know anyone from back home who cannot quote this spot verbatim, yet nary a Youtube clip exists. Anybody within 5 years of me from within a 100 mile radius of me certainly must know of the kid who climbed trees all his life, but never near overhead lines. Best I could find was a recent reference on

Lazlo the Great, Teller of Fortunes
. I was so obsessed with this talking fortune telling machine that I actually created a cult surrounding it in the early 90s. Amazingly, the machine still exists. It is located in an Indiana Beach arcade in northwest Indiana. Tens of thousands of people go to IB every year, and many come across Lazlo. Somehow, on the entire Internet, there is one picture of him. One. There is more Lazlo media on my hard drive than on the whole of the internet. In all these years, nobody has decided to take a video of him and post it? There's no way that the company that built the Lazlo machine still exists, so it can't be a matter of Youtube taking down videos of him. Allow me to literally double the internets' Lazlo collection:

. This is an awesome ball rolling game, also at Indiana Beach. Somehow, it's classic line of "Give it another quack" is not recorded anywhere online.

The Orient Express. For a couple decades, this was Kansas City's primary roller coaster. It was torn down in 2003. 2003 ain't that long ago. Sure, the internets has tons of information regarding the former coaster, but only one non-CGI first person recording of the ride exists on YouTube, and that single recording was from 1993 and is of putrid quality. People had digital cameras in 2003. How did nobody bother to record and post the Orient Express? Some rides are just rides. The Orient Express was essentially a Kansas City Bar Mitzvah. Once you ride it, you are a man. Case in point - I had zero friends who made it to second base before riding it. 

When I was a little kid, there was an alphabet learning 45 that I used to listen to. Well, "A My Name is Alice" does not fucking exist anywhere. It still pops into my head from time to time. "A my name is Alice, I live in a palace, and every afternoon at three my footman serves me tea." Go ahead, google it. There are articles, but no fucking recording. The real mystery - I was like three when I used to rock this on my Fisher Price record player. I didn't know what a footman was at the time. I doubt I knew what tea was either. How do I remember a lyric for vocabulary that I didn't have?

On slightly more recent music - good luck finding anything by the band Black Label online, or even anything about them. Yeah, they were a shitty local punk band in Lawrence in the mid-90s, but they were a pretty well known shitty local punk rock band. I may have the largest remaining Black Label collection in the world. My freshman year of college, the drummer, a sorta buddy of mine, gave me a copy of their new 7 inch because I had a radio show in Tacoma, Washington. I lost the 7 inch a long time ago, but I played a few of the songs from it on my show, and I recorded my show on a damn boombox at my dorm. I found those tapes a couple years ago and converted them to MP3. So basically, the only known extant Black Label recording was a record played over the radio, then recorded onto cassette, then converted to digital. As you may expect, it is not of high quality.

Black Label and kids songs aside, for me the holy grail of missing music has long been some random late 90's rock song that includes the lyric "You can call it familiarrrrrr...." While Black Label probably only got radio airplay on my show, this song was on legit radio all the time in Lawrence. It wasn't even that great of a song, I just want to find it to prove I didn't make it up.

Some of my internet gaps aren't even from America. It's not just a Lawrence thing. In my Euro days, I used to frequent a bar in Florence called Stonehenge, or Stonehenge Rock Club. Stonehenge was THE SPOT back in the day. Every other bar and club that we frequented was less awesome and often less busy, yet all of them have a web presence now. It was a bar with no sign on the outside, just a nondescript door. Keep in mind, this was before every other bar in Brooklyn adopted this model. Stonehenge required a membership, it is was rocking every night of the week until at least 5. I don't think we ever went there before 2 or 3. Maybe Stonehenge shut down in 2000 or 2001 and missed the true web explosion. Maybe they stayed underground enough to avoid any web presence. Still, if the Shenago Lounge in Lawrence can be easily googled, I would think anything could be.

As a closer, I should mention the ultimate internet transgression. There are all kinds of songs, institutions, and roller coasters that I hold dear that don't exist on the internet. What have I forgotten so far? People, of course. Lots of people that I care about, or at some point cared about do not exist in any capacity online. I could go down an ex-girlfriend tangent here, but this isn't that kind of post. Perhaps the most inexplicable internet absence would be my buddy Stong. This is a cat that actually more than flirted with a congressional, neh, Congressional run a couple years back, yet does not exist online. A dude who essentially coined the phrase "some dude." Yet, Stong doesn't even have a Facebook or Twitter. A google search of Stong leads to dead ends, then back NES/NAS. For all you know, I made him up. If he didn't really exist, I probably would have. Only trick is, I can't come up with lines like "I took the uptown train, and she took the downtown, and that's the last I saw of her."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I realize now this is an old page. I don't care. I used to rock Black Label on a shitty little unlabeled cassette tape from the ages of 5-13. It had 3 songs if I remember correctly and the only one I can find even a name to is Disgruntled. How do I know its name? My mom and her crazy selective memory. I have been looking sporadically for this goddamn song about yogurt and sauerkraut by them that has been growling itself out in the back of my head and subsequently driving me crazy for 8 years. If you have anything of theirs on MP3 I demand you share it with the rest of us dingdongs that may or may not have lost our only tape. -Rae Bastarde