Your Sonic Sunday: May 24th (well, 25th)

Happy Sunday, folks (I forgot to set this to publish yesterday! Oops. Well, it’s still the weekend here in the States, so it still counts as “Sunday.”)

Do you believe we have one week left in May 2020? It’s almost like something happened to slow life down to a crawl and inversely speed up the passage of days. I wonder.

Anyway, here are a couple gems from around the internet that you may like if you like me/this site:

  • I’ve given McMansion Hell credit where (a lot of) credit’s due on this site before, but I decided to check back into her website recently, and found this fantastic article she wrote (and I somehow missed) a couple years ago about the populist (actual populism) preservers and archivists of mundane, built-to-fail architecture.
  • A user who calls himself Snake Oils for Holy Spirits posts a fantastic mix of olde timey music to Soundcloud on a near-weekly basis. Here’s his latest, which includes some Polynesian vocal music, good-time fiddle jams, and plenty of surface noise to hug your soul.
  • Newly minted Dr. Corinne Gressang (University of Kentucky) just issued and publicly filed her dissertation about a topic I had never once thought about, but now I can’t stop thinking about: French nun-hood during the Revolution and Napoleonic era.

I will be back this week with a new entry on the Ben Irving Postcard Project! I will also be writing an insane amount to catch up on some writing which complications at the end of the digital semester delayed.

Enjoy this mashup of Futurama footage with Red City Radio’s song “This Day Has Seen Better Bars,” which you didn’t know you needed. For those interested in learning more about the song, I interviewed RCR in Baltimore once, many years ago.

 

Did YOU Have to Explain ‘Blossom’ to Your Students Today?

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In case any of you were wondering, yes my PhD is hard at work, discussing the dated early-career arc of Joey Lawrence to a group of confused students in my Population Geography class. Let me backtrack and explain how it came to this.

The University of Tennessee opened a 1906 time capsule left entombed somewhere in the Estabrook Building, one of my favorites on campus (and slated for demolition). I watched it on their Facebook Live video feed with my Population Geography students before they took their final exam this morning. I also paid attention the livestream of comments, which were a heady mixture of demands they stop blabbing and open it already, self-deprecating “jokes” about Tennessee Football, and (after they opened it and found… desiccated nothing) righteous anger and Geraldo Rivera references.

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They historians on hand, including my colleague Bob Hutton (who would no doubt appreciate that last link), did a great job recovering from the disappointment. They had a comprehensive catalog of the items the 1906 crew left in the buried box, most of which had been preserved lovingly in the UT Archives behind them. They also took this opportunity to reiterate the value of well-maintained and funded archives, a sentiment upon which I’ve doubled down on multiple occasions.

Another curious byproduct of this experience was the seemingly inevitable reminscing about the Nickelodeon time capsule, which Mike O’Malley and Joey Lawrence buried in Orlando, on live television, on April 30, 1992. It was moved when Nickelodeon studios moved in 2005, but it is still slated to be opened on April 30, 2042 – fifty years to the day after it was buried.

The first epiphany I had was that 1992 was 26 years ago. 2042 is in 24 years. Society is more than halfway to the finish line of waiting to unearth this sealed box of early 90’s ephemera, most of which is readily available in thrift stores and vintage shops. Popular movies on VHS. An Orlando-distributed issue of TV Guide with Burt Reynolds on the cover. A hat embroidered with “WHOA! ’92” in honor of Joey Lawrence, then at the height of his teenybopper fame.

The latter item made me and an older student in my class (three years my junior) laugh out loud. When I saw the younger students looking on in confusion, I informed them that once upon a time, there was a show called Blossom that helped catapult their teenage cast to fame. I never watched the show, so I forgot that it starred Mayim Bialik , who is still incredibly famous as a star on The Big Bang Theory, perhaps the worst and most culturally caustic show ever produced (not a personal knock on Bialik by any means).

gi_153511_green20gak20lo20resIt’s impossible to predict these things, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the video camera they put into the capsule (after being unable to eject the tape) wound up being the most valuable thing upon unearthing in 2042. That, or the Barbie Doll in it’s original packaging. Or, maybe even the tube of Gak, a sticky slime compound cross-promoted with Nickelodeon shows whose name, somehow, functions as a stand-in for cocaine. You can’t make this stuff up.

So, in conclusion, time is like sands through the hourglass; I fear I may blink and it may be time for Mike O’Malley’s great-grandson to crack open that thing LIVE on YouComvrizoncasTube Mentalscreen Googlevision. There are more important lessons here, though, which can be applied to our experience from today. First, keep your archives funded and well-maintained by enthusiastic historians and lovers of material culture. Second, whenever your university gives you the opportunity, pull up a local Livestream to watch with your students. It may pull everyone on board, even temporarily, with campus civic life, and you never know what cultural revelation you may find, even if the capsule is empty.