What can I say that hasn’t been said already about the 90s and Gen X?
Maybe, I can just reflect on what it was like from my point of view during that amazing time.
I was in high school and if I only knew then what I know now lol. I remember this was when I first became aware of what was going on in life. I was listening to something new that I had just bought, it was nothing like I’d heard before-, Alice in Chains Facelift and I thought to myself, here it is, this is a new beginning, MY beginning, I can be anything and whoever I want to be.
My time was a bit “in-between” so to speak. Big hair and glam metal were fading away and Grunge was just starting to break the surface. So weird that in-between time. We/I didn't know where to go.
During these next few years, I saw things that are now just footnoted in pop culture, although through the eyes of wonder. We didn’t have cell phones and youtube and we BARELY had anything that resembled the internet. Social media was Mtv and Mtv2. Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, Nickelodeon, and man was it fun. We saw Waco go down, the first attack on the trade center, the first gulf war, and President Clinton. Oh, man... We also had Achy Breaky Heart and the first Gen Power Rangers. Comedy for us teens was a mixture of everyday humor, to that cutting edge of the adult world just peppered in there. It was glorious. I remember laughing harder in that time frame than I have through most of my adult life so far. Things were cool. Things were carefree. Things were getting weird.
Then something happened. We got broody, angsty, annoyed, and irritated. We didn’t end up being like our older brothers and sisters who were so eager to live out what our parents wanted for them. We didn’t want to be told who we were supposed to be. A lot of us watched our parents work themselves stupid as we became latchkey kids. Minimal supervision and a shift in our reality all fed into this, “life sucks and everything is dreary” sort of attitude that became what a lot of us perceive as “gen x”. We went from Disney to Tim Burton. We were determined to break that mold and stop living what everyone wanted us to do and be ourselves. We became the “slackers and the losers” (thanks Beck for the unofficial theme song), and not caring as each day that passed was just another dreary reminder that we did, didn’t matter in the end. Life sucks and reality bites.
Music changed our lives instantly. Record stores were a thing and we could immerse ourselves in just about any genre or style you could think of. Man, we were an eclectic bunch. My tape rotation consisted of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden one minute and then Slayer, Pantera, Suicidal Tendencies, Danzig, and Metallica the next. The more intense, the better. It was cathartic to know that what I felt inside was felt by others too. The music told me that I’m not alone. That still resonates today, sometimes even more with all of the subgenre and side projects that my favorite bands have spawned or influenced since that time.
There was no shortage of fuel for our fire either. We had The Craft, The Crow, Nine Inch Nails, and Tool all reaching out to open our minds and set us free. White Zombie beat the normal out of us and threw on the dirt, it was amazing. Korn brought out our anger and set it on fire. Big shorts and pants before Jnco’s were a thing. The Blair Witch, Lalapalooza, the second Woodstock, skateboards, piercings, tattoos, and punk rock on top of it all! The freaks were in and we weren’t going away!
In the latter part of the 90s, I was in the military for a brief time, got married at 20, and thought I had life planned out... SMACK- I was discharged, divorced, and living with my bros to watch the turn of the century. Lol... Y2K! Your computers are gonna die!!! Man, we were stupid back then... Wait.. we still are... Maybe worse lol.
I embraced my time as a slacker in the military where my ideals were definitely not what the military needed or wanted. I found myself once again, outcast and brooding. I discovered that I wasn’t just socially different, I was spiritually different. Basic Training found a lot of us regretting our decisions and looking for comfort. I tried the church only to find it just felt too generic. All of the people in the pews reciting the same prayers, praying for the same things, and just being immersed in their cookie-cutter spirituality. It did not speak to my individual wants or needs or feelings. I wanted... No, I needed something more. This wasn’t for me.
Enter the occult. Enter paganism. Enter the anti-established religion mentality.
I started out with learning about some ancient celt myth and magick (my first book), from there I kind of branched out in about a half dozen different ways. I read about Satanism, Wicca, Atheism, and tons of things in between. Mind that when I started this road to discovery, I was an enlisted soldier in the US Army. these things did not go over well with those in charge. We had a prayer once before a holiday-themed run where I did not participate. I stood there, looking around, being respectful to those who were participating, but I was called into the office and asked if I practiced “the dark arts”. I had to laugh. Such a blanket, stereotype pinned on me for just being true to myself. They must have seen my barracks room. Blacked out with various metal band merch laying about with the quasi shrine to Marilyn Manson. The incense and what probably struck them more than anything was the lack of any Christian-themed propaganda, I mean decor. :)
All of this lead me to believe all the more that I was on the right path when I stood out as an individual enough to make people question who I am and what “is wrong with me”. This was the new brood infecting their rank and file and I’d like to think that I set a path for others that came after me.
When I was discharged and went home, I felt out of place. I had a new appreciation for the world, nature, and humanity all because of staying true to who I wanted to be even beyond the brainwashing that I endured. That is another story for another time though...
Those years in the ’90s really were a crazy time to come of age. But I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It set me up for life’s later difficulties and triumphs.
It was the brooding time.
The HellBilly Pulpit Blog by @hellbillyvvitch