22 April 2008

The lost era of our yesterdays

I don't know about you, but I find myself thinking inordinately about the past. Maybe I'm getting old, cuz I seem to be doing this a lot more often nowadays.

I feel older than I actually am. I wonder if reincarnation is real - I feel like I have past lives which I can remember. I seem to remember an awful lot that took place, even at times before I was born. Of course, I am a student of history so that may be part of it.

In many cases a song will do it - bring me back to an era, a time and place that existed long ago. Play "Misty" by Johnny Mathis and I can recall elegant women dressed up to the nines, "Beat the Clock", and radio drama.

Play anything by Curtis Mayfield, or the Stylistics, and the ghetto wasteland of the 1970s arises in my minds' eye. I remember it well.

I am playing "Love's Train" by Con Funk Shun (remember them?) on my computer radio right now. Ahhh, 1983 beckons. "Between the Sheets" by the Isley Brothers does the same thing for me.

I don't listen to much post 1980s music since it annoys me. But then that was the point that life tended to go downhill for me, so it's not an era I care to remember much anyhow.

For those of you who want to glamorize the past, I have this to say: The past ain't that glamorous. Sure, they were simpler times - clear enemies on the foreign front, slightly more cleverness and intelligence in government (only slightly, though), three choices to pick from on TV, and fewer electronic devices to annoy us. But there was even in those yesterdays an extraordinary amount of horror, of wasteland, of loneliness stalking the bleak streets of an unlit city in the evening.

I think there are things to celebrate about the past - certainly what entertained us then had more relevance and substance than the garbage which passes for diversion today. Watching an old episode of "Match Game '73" brings back more tearful joy than any given screening of "Survivor" or "Big Brother."

Whatever happened to our sense of propriety?