I had a flashback recently. It was a memory of not wanting to return to grade school in January of 1990 because I was afraid I would be the only kid in school who wasnâ€™t wearing black leather pants and a matching jacket with spikes. It was a little senseless looking back on it, but having just come out of the 80s era, there was no telling what a kid could expect in all the excitement of the fresh 90s.
My little flashback was fun, and since then Iâ€™ve let a few other funny things cross my mind. Probably the most memorable was being invited with a friend and his kids to go roller-skating this weekend with (no, that isnâ€™t it) and finding a video game called â€œOff Road.â€ This old school car racing arcade game is unique in that you actually put your initials for the high score listing before you play. After you put in your name, it asks for your birth date. It only then struck me as odd/interesting that most of the kids there were under 10 years old, yet the game only takes birthdates up to 1999 â€¦ as if life were going to cease to exist past that time and more than likely that I may be the only person playing it by that time.
The day ended with taking the little ones to Chuck E. Cheeseâ€™s (which was previously Showbiz Pizza), â€œWhere a kid can be a kid.â€ Chuck runs the only place I know of where you can expect to pay 60 bucks for a large pizza, drinks and wings. Oh, and donâ€™t forget the handful of tokens.
â€œMan, I swear Showbiz was way more fun than this when we were kids!â€ my friend shares. â€œI mean, seriously!â€ I too remember Showbiz being more fun, somewhat of a mix between an underground Seattle grunge concert and Vegas â€¦ They really cleaned the place out. I feel sorry for Chuck E. Cheese patrons these days, aka the kids. Now it seems like Gomer Pyle designed the restaurant and the kids from â€œPee-Weeâ€™s Playhouseâ€ won the contract to build it.
I really donâ€™t have a point here, but if I had to make one out of this rant, it would be that time flies and it seems like things just get more lame the older you get. For example, this time last year Justin Bieber was just a punch line, now everyone at the gym is bopping around to his millions. Life may be short, but he who dies with the most toys, still dies (just with the most toys â€“â€“ and letâ€™s face it, they win).
My friend helped me realize something recently. It all comes down to money. From the large problems we hope we can solve as the budding leaders of the next generation to the more trivial problems we see in the â€œlamenessâ€ of childhood playgrounds. The truth is it keeps getting less and less about the content and more and more about the money (especially if they tell you â€œitâ€™s not about the moneyâ€).
I think thatâ€™s what gets me so fired up. The children of the 60s and 70s failed us, sold out and seem to be trying to feed consumers the same crap they choked on. Money really is power, and money really is everything. Peace and love never got a chance, and it doesnâ€™t seem to be around the corner. At some point those of generations X and Y â€“â€“ as well as the under-achievers who watched the nation get rich over night ÂÂâ€“â€“ were fed into an era of being ashamed for wanting fame, power and money. Conspiracy? No, I donâ€™t think so. But I think itâ€™s good for us all to be aware and consider the alternatives. Love might be all we need, but it seems like we Americans have decided money can buy love. And the price of a few arms-race-negotiated-cease-fires is acceptable.
Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental health. His column appears in the Collegian weekly. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.