Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: Dad sounds for ghosts of the 90s long past

Sandra Denton and Cheryl James of Salt-N-Pepa  on the I Love the 90s Tour  in Tacoma, Washington. Picture / Getty Images
Sandra Denton and Cheryl James of Salt-N-Pepa on the I Love the 90s Tour in Tacoma, Washington. Picture / Getty Images

Because my mind is razor sharp and has not yet fallen victim to the ravages of time, I can vividly recall the very first time I felt old. I was on the couch, watching television when an ad came on for a newly released CD.

Typing that last sentence is the second time I've felt old ...

Television! Ads! CDs! What the hell, man? Relics. All of them! As creaky and outdated as the Chucks on my feet and the grunge-era cardie I mosey around in.

Anyway ... the CD looked great and I remember thinking, "that looks great!". It had all the big names on it; Blur, Pulp, Oasis, the Verve, as well as some smaller - but still good! - names on it too, like Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene.

As the ad blasted out a few seconds of their Brit-pop hits I reflected on how good they sounded and wondered why they'd slipped out of my regular rotation. Each little snippet triggered a happy memory; bouncing around at a gig, hooning to Muriwai Beach, various parties at various flats ...

that sorta thing.

And even though I could appreciate the distance in years between the ad and the cherry nostalgic memories flooding back that didn't make me feel old. I could register that it'd been a long time, sure. The thing was it didn't feel like it had been.

No, it wasn't until the closing seconds of the ad when a far-too-cheery voiceover boomed, "the perfect gift for Father's Day".

Whaaaaaa?!? I almost spat out my Werther's Original in disbelief.

This had to be some mistake, I thought. I typically associated Father's Day gifts with accessories for the gentlemanly game of bowls or, perhaps, a sweet live music DVD from a classic act like Pink Floyd or Frank Sinatra. Because that's what I typically buy my dad.

I certainly didn't associate it with getting pissed to the sound of overdriven guitars and gobby, loudmouthed Brits. No father in the land, I thought, would want this. While my mind is razor sharp it's not particularly quick off the mark. So the realisation that I'd drifted into a new age demographic was a slow one. But as it slowly dawned I felt the full force of time hit me. Under the crushing burden of age there was only one unavoidable conclusion: there had been no mistake.

I was the target market. I was now of an age where it was expected that kids - most likely, my own - would start giving me presents and saying things like, 'Happy Father's Day, Dad' as they did so.

There was no escaping it. I was, in fact, old. Dear gawd. How did this happen? When did it happen? Most likely when I wasn't paying attention.

I'd like to say that this kickstarted a new era of health and wellbeing and retirement planning and all that other old people stuff but it really didn't. Fright, like time, is fleeting. By the end of the commercial break I was back to thinking, acting and feeling 20-something-ish again. That CD was the first harbinger but it wasn't the last. The commercialisation of years long past skyrocketed as corporations tried to cash in on my wasted youth.

Ads for old stuff in new packaging began appearing everywhere. The 80s came back and now the 90s are back. I don't think anyone's looking forward to the return of the naughties but just like Arnie, they'll be back.

Having lived through a couple of revivals now, I'm all good with it. Even though it's been more than a decade since I saw that CD ad I still don't feel old. Well, I didn't until typing such an old-sounding sentence as that last one. But it's true.

When the I Love the 90s concert was announced I felt only a rush of excitement at the thought of seeing Tone Loc and Young MC live, when what I really should have been feeling is nothing more than dread at the thought that 26 years have passed since the 90s began. Still, the potential of this thing being the greatest Blue Light Disco of all time is undeniable.

This line-up is who they used to play at those things; Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Vanilla Ice ... I'm hoping the outrageous fun of it all will outweigh the cringe I anticipate a few of the acts unleashing. Colour Me Badd, I'm looking at you ... In fact I'm thinking the only way to truly get into the 90s spirit is to kick it old school. To keep it real. To sneak in a hip flask of Coruba like we used to do. Because if you're gonna live in the past then you might as well do it right.

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

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