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90's Resurgence?

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I, being a Pacific Northwest native, take pride in my roots. I hold grunge and it’s accompanying generation dear to my heart. My mother graduated in ’91, which is considered by many to be “The Year That Punk Broke”, or went mainstream. Two years later I came along, and while I was still riding in the car seat my mom would pop in Nirvana’s In Utero album and we’d zip around in our little red Jeep, my mother’s flannel about her waist, both of us Birkenstock-clad. I guess some could consider me a “grunge baby”. My answer to that is “It’s however you want to take it. It’s your crossword puzzle.” – Kurt Cobain.

“I found it hard, it’s hard to find…oh well, whatever, nevermind…” This was Kurt Cobain’s strangled outcry of the “song that brought grunge mainstream”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, but rather, I would like to think of grunge as a movement that swept up a nation, and there was no stopping or controlling it. Apathy was like a cancer that spread, stereotypically, throughout teenage America in the early ‘90’s, and accompanied flannel and combat boot –clad kids in daily life. My dad’s dusty old college dictionary defines apathy as the habitual lack of feeling or emotion, and as a feeling of indifference towards something. When I picture being apathetic, I conjure up this image of numbness, and of someone shrugging their shoulders. The cult classic, Reality Bites, is a good example of this feeling, and the film tries to demonstrate growing up in a decade where many people shared a feeling of hopelessness. This group of people was the one and only Generation X.


“I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me.” – Kurt Cobain. This was the case for so many Gen – Xers, and it contributed to this sense of emotional numbness. Of course not everyone was this way, but on a general stereotypical level, people classified as “Xers” were known as the “forgotten generation”. In the underground of Seattle and the Northwest, people used grunge as an outlet for their harbored pains. This was where the man that was “Heavier than Heaven (aka Cobain)” had his roots, along with Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave), and the boys from Alice in Chains and Mudhoney. Indeed, Mudhoney was an influential band in the grunge realm, and their early Sub-Pop works were enjoyed my many in grunge’s early years. .

Recently, I believe the ‘90’s are rising again. Just last week I went to buy some spring clothes, but t-shirts and shorts weren’t in the window displays. Usual summer items were replaced with none other than – FLANNEL! I bet my gas money that combat boots and grungy Chucks will slowly make their way out of the woodwork. As for the typical long mangy hair that was the signature of a true grunge kid, I do not know…hopefully we can put that permanently behind us.

With the style re-emerging and Pearl Jam celebrating the re-release of their genre-defining album, Ten, I have to raise a question: With all the temporal signs of the 1990’s resurfacing, will the apathy and the pain of a generation come with it as well? In this moment, America is seeing tough times. The economic and political situation in the early ‘90’s was by no means terrible, but it wasn’t necessarily memorable. With the economic scares going around the nation and big corporations dropping like flies, I believe that these tough times will not be soon forgotten. And maybe this is our best defense against my generation’s youth succumbing to the deadly apathetic disease that claimed the lives, so to say, of this nation’s previous generation, and becoming yet just another “forgotten generation.”





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Britt<3 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 5, 2010 at 10:17 pm
You're totally right. I love the whole grunge thing but that was my brother's generation! I don't care what people say, grunge isn't dead and it never will be. Great piece.
 
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