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All the nostalgia you can buy

Michele over at A Small Victory (my personal pop culture diva) has an interesting meditation on the ways our memory messes with us to make dumb and uncomfortable things seem more attractive than they really are. I completely identify with her feelings about summer, only more so since the sweaty, nasty heat of Washington makes Long Island look like the Elysian Fields in comparison.


I don't have a lot of memories like hers, because I didn't really have much of a social life until I got out of high school. Instead, I was a gamer geek before there really was such a subculture, responsible for co-founding wargaming clubs at my high school and my community college. So I don't have stuff like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in my list of favorite bad movies, because going to the movies with my buddies and our girlfriends just didn't happen. What social life I did have revolved around Disclave, and later, other SF local conventions such as Balticon, Unicon, and August Party, which I usually went to in the company of the people I played D&D and/or wargames with. In those days, you see, the split between people who played RPGs and the people who played historical wargames didn't really exist. People who concentrated on one or the other were the exception, not the rule as they are now. Heck, nowadays the idea of pulling out a map and counters to play a wargame sounds pretty anachronistic, on a par with greeting the dusk by hauling out the candles and kerosene lamps.

Most of my high school memories that didn't pertain to gaming had to do with my misadventures in the Civil Air Patrol at Andrews AFB. The unit is still there, though the building we used to meet in has apparently been demolished, as best I can tell from Google Satellite. I sometimes wonder what happened to all the other cadets...I managed to keep track of some of them after high school, but with one exception they all pretty much drifted off and out of my life, much the same as I did from theirs. Being in the CAP earned me a fair amount of hassles from the old gunner who was the leadership instructor for my high school AFJROTC unit, and probably contributed to my graduating as one of the only two cadets in the class of 1977 who wasn't wearing the shoulderboards of a cadet officer. Which was fine with me; I felt that becoming a cadet officer would have showed disrespect, somehow, for my father the career Air Force sergeant. Besides, a fair number of the officers in the Class of '77 were asshats...not all of them, mind you, or even most of them, but enough so I didn't want to be identified with them.

So unlike Michele, I don't have any real strong urge to snap up DVD sets of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons, because I didn't have any. That wasn't part of my life. I am slowly rebuilding the music collection I had before I moved up here, and somehow I managed to hang on to most of the books and magazines. I did sell my first edition of Final Blackout, now that the Co$cientology has finally admitted that yeah, Hubbard wrote some SF back in the day, and has brought out a paperback edition with no edits.

My kids can take or leave whatever pop culture they want from my history. It's not going to have the same meaning for them that it did for me (how can it?) but if they enjoy it, that's cool. They've turned me on to some cool things so it's a fair exchange.