Ah, the ‘90s. If you’re anything like me, these adolescent years hold a lot of fond memories. But some memories are more fond than others, and when they take over my mind I am turned into a dreamy-eyed idiot, yearning for a time when these were not mere memories but realities, and it is to these pillars of my degenerate youth that this list is dedicated. They are the nine things from the 90’s that we miss the most. Enjoy.
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Look, I love Madden as much as you do, but you can’t deny the awesome power of Tecmo Bowl and its offspring, Tecmo Super Bowl. Whether it was controlling Bo Jackson as he went all Superman on some poor fool who knew it was coming but was incapable of stopping it anyway or whether it was a tiny computerized version of Barry Sanders making the rest of the little stick-men look like fools, this game never got old, did it? It was simple, it lacked the frills of Madden, and the play-engine was ludicrously bad by today’s standards – up, down, right, left… those were your options as far as movement – but so what? It was fun and really, that’s all that matters.
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Sure, they looked kind of stupid, but who cares? It’s a lady and she’s showing more skin than normal. I’ll admit, that sounds kind of pathetic but to a growing boy like me at the time, nothing else really mattered. ‘90s fashion was ridiculous, but you’ve got to admit, it made some Nobel Prize-worthy advancements in the field of slutty clothing. Belly shirts, baby-doll dresses... half of the clothes girls wore looked like Halloween costumes, and what’s the best part about Halloween? The slutty costumes. I rest my case.
Photo credit: Alaskan Dude, Flickr
Ah, it was a simpler time, a pre-Survivor America in which television shows were actual shows and not just a collection of retards and freaks debasing themselves on camera for two seconds of fame. Sure, The Real World and COPS were around, but that was about it. Back then, idiots blew themselves up just for the love of the game, not for some cynical fame-grab. Bad parents were shunned, not given their own series. Syphilis hung out on the Jersey Shore for fun, not to try to worm its way into the world of shitty cable TV monster movies. Yes, it was a purer time, the time of Al Bundy, the time of George Costanza, the time of Doctors Beavis and Butthead. No one was eating poop on camera for fifty bucks – at least not on network TV, Cinemax was a whole different animal – and The Situation was just a 45 year-old nobody, and not the Cybertronic Famewhore he is today. Kim Kardashian had yet to be pissed on and Snooki was still living in the wild jungles of Malaysia, terrorizing the locals and biting the heads off their chickens. Truly, it was a better and nobler age of man. I miss it.
Photo credit: john|tyler, Flickr
The teenage version of me just unzipped his pants. I’m sorry, that’s an awful image and I apologize. But back then, the Holy Grail had a name and that name was Kelly. It didn’t matter whether the last name was Bundy or Kapowski, or even Taylor for the more sophisticated 90’s teenage boy, all you had to do was say the name “Kelly” around a horny teen and his eyes would glaze over and he would shift his book-bag in front of his jeans. Yes, the Kellys played a seminal (snigger) role in the development of every true boy of the 90s and while the names have become more varied over the years, deep in his heart, the grownup version of that boy will always have a soft-spot (a hard-spot?) for a lady named Kelly.
Photo credit: YouTube/RetroWhiz
When I say cheap, I’m talking under a dollar. Yes, I too just wept upon remembering those glory days. A dude who just got his license could get enough mileage to last what felt like a lifetime out of a mere ten dollar bill. This was before the economy collapsed, when the late-90s were an orgy of cheap goods and tech stocks, when a young dude could afford to both gas up his ride and buy his date dinner instead of rummaging around the dumpster behind Olive Garden like we’ve been reduced to doing on dates now. A 16 year-old young prince could light his clove cigarettes with dollar bills and load up his Super-Soaker with gasoline straight out of the pump because it was cheaper than water and… okay, I’ve taken this a little too far but still, gas was less than a dollar. Try to think of that without sobbing.
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Yeah, she’s still around, but the Britney Spears who first burst onto the scene in the late-90s is nothing more than a fading memory. Today she’s just that weird lady who can’t live on her own because she’s legally retarded and would eat her son’s arm if he spilled barbecue sauce and Cheeto dust on it, but when she first showed up on the scene she nearly caused a damn riot. I’m serious. I was there, in the heart of the madness. I remember. Teenage dudes were roaming the halls speaking in tongues about her debut video and I’m pretty sure I had friends who built secret shrines to her in their closets and, uh, worshiped her in the dark. But this was before she shaved her head and was Federlined and before someone beat her about the head with a baseball bat (I’m just assuming that last part happened) and… and I can’t go on. It’s too painful.
Photo credit: steven.ishiwara, Flickr
Agree or disagree with his politics all you want. I don’t care. What you can’t argue is that this dude was incredibly fun to have in office. I mean, like I said earlier, the economy was rocking and rolling, people were filling their pools with cheap gasoline, peace wasn’t just an absurd fantasy, and Bubba Clinton here was hound-dogging his way through Washington one chubby intern at a time. Seriously, our two biggest political issues when Clinton was in office were that he loved to eat McDonald's and that he had a weakness for fat chicks (well, all chicks really, including baby birds, but you know what I mean.) You either loved Clinton or you loved to hate him but at the end of the day, don’t you all miss this dude? He just gave us all so much laughter and joy. Hell, he even made the evening news dirty and fun and awesome. In retrospect, I’m half-convinced that he was actually a magician. Four more years! Four more years!
Photo credit: marcn, Flickr
Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m edging dangerously close to “Get off my lawn!” territory here, but you have to admit that music back then – of all genres – just seemed that much more, I don’t know… relevant? Whether it was a rock resurgence led by Nirvana or whether it was the golden age of hip-hop led by Tupac, Biggie, Dre, Snoop and the gang, good music just seemed like it was everywhere. I think we all took it a bit for granted and even if you didn’t like everything, there was always something out there that was not only good but easily accessible. And I don’t mean easily accessible like today when you can just download whatever the hell you want, but easily accessible in a way that felt culturally relevant. Music was good and music was important and music was fun, but most of all, music still felt like a human endeavor and not the work of the same soulless autotuned robot who sings every single song released today. Yeah, there was a lot of stupid shit, but man, the good stuff was really, really good, in all genres.
Photo credit: Horia Varlan, Flickr
Oh Lord, how I miss it. I miss those late-90s days of just hanging out with my friends, doing nothing, sneaking booze past our parents, driving around aimlessly, being immortal during a time when the world seemed so open and filled with possibility. The grim specter of death and failure didn’t hang over everything like it does today. We didn’t worry about the economy tanking or the environment falling apart or people doing Kamikaze runs into buildings or floods or droughts or plagues of locusts or whatever bizarre shit we’re forced to deal with on what feels like a monthly basis now. All you needed was a car, some friends, some music, some, uh, party favors and then all you had to do was steer towards a horizon which seemed endless and alive with hope and prosperity. Sure, I’m romanticizing the hell out of it and I know there were issues back then too, issues which opened the door for the last decade of madness, but I don’t care. I just remember how I felt and of everything the 90s had to offer, that’s what I miss the most and that’s why it’s number one on this list.
Photo credit: zukunftsalick, Flickr
(Originally published on August 29, 2012.)