I grew up with Knight Rider gyrating down narrow roads at 200 miles an hour. I started a rock band when I learned that you could get by playing badly after watching the Blues Brothers playing on stage behind a fence that kept out the flying bottles. I saw too many talented people die from overdoses. I tried repairing a plug at home, inspired by MacGyver, and found out from a very young age that guardian angels really do exist, because otherwise I would be a corpse with an Einstein hairdo right now. And if things ever got ugly, we firmly believed that calling the A-Team was an option; in fact, I still believe you can hire them, and you’re not going to take that away from me.
My generation had late ’80s and early ’90s role models. Now we’ve all got kids and jobs, wash the car on Sundays, dance at other people’s weddings, and other such things; however, before all of these things, we came close to death on more than a few occasions, although never as close as the generations immediately before us. At least we knew that drugs kill, the government lies, and drinking and driving is only fun if you don’t mind losing all your teeth at once, and we had to endure a lot of crap music because we were born between two musical worlds. There is something funny about how so few people speak well of the ’90s because, somehow, we are pioneers in not idolizing the years of our adolescence. Why does no one vindicate the ’90s? Because we don’t find anything fun, beautiful, or striking to defend, beyond Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, or Cindy Crawford.
We grew up hearing our parents and siblings talk about the amazing things that happened in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s, but we wouldn’t think of telling stories to our children about the immense cultural change of the ’90s. What change? Who knows exactly what happened in the ’90s, other than that the generation that had so much fun in the ’80s fell into a deep, self-destructive depression?
Politically, we lived through some important things, but between the ages of 10 and 20, the historical events that mark you are the ones that occur inside of bars. The problem is that I was 8 years old when the Berlin Wall fell, and my parents didn’t let me go out to celebrate. We suffered a lot of sad news in the newspapers, almost all related to the Gulf Wars or the war in Bosnia. Somehow, my generation learned to read the newspaper skipping the war pages, not out of apathy but because we were certain that wars always happened in the same places and for all eternity. Unfortunately for the Jews, that was correct in the case of Israel.
Freddie Mercury died of AIDS, and it seemed as though no one had ever had it before. The truth is that where drug abuse was rampant, it was prevalent. As a child, junkies would mug us by putting a syringe to our throats, claiming that it was “infected with AIDS.” At the disco we danced with our first loves surrounded by assholes who were up to their eyebrows with new synthetic drugs, and it’s true, I never saw the slightest attraction to living in limbo for a thousand hours seeing pink elephants fly across the ceiling; I don’t know, maybe I’m a weirdo, but I preferred to gaze at blondes in miniskirts.
Because it was such an anodyne time, I suppose, the ’90s gave birth to the European Union, which was like making abhorrent Soviet bureaucracy jump straight from the bad side to the good, to build it there conscientiously. Today the institution just endlessly hands out absurd bans, tons of paperwork, and official forms and allows those who have devoted their entire life to a certain political party to go off to Brussels with a nice salary and shut up about what they have seen behind closed doors for the last 50 years — especially what they saw between the party’s founder and his young secretary.
Things were starting to get fun in the late ’90s, and we’d already seen Clinton and Boris Yeltsin dancing on the news on a vodka binge that would kill a hippopotamus, but then came CDs, and vinyl nostalgia went to shit for good. It could only get worse from there on.
People rolled their eyes at Titanic, kids watched Jurassic Park and then had nightmares — what the hell did you expect? — and I went crazy with soccer video games, perhaps just to stop watching TV. After all, during the ’80s I was enthralled with Remington Steele, and now they wanted to make my skin crawl with Ally McBeal, which sent me to sleep faster than a slice of lormetazepam cake.
In the last gasp of the ’90s, they gave us a good reason to go down in history. You know, Y2K and all that. We were supposed to die big. That we should be the last generation of teenagers to dance inebriated on New Year’s Eve secretly stirred our lust for posterity. But, as you may recall, at midnight on that 31st day of the end of the century, nothing happened at all, except that it was 00:01, then 00:02 and so on, until the rum ran out, a fist fight broke out between frustrated colleagues in the middle of the party, we were all left without our zombie apocalypse and nothing much to tell our grandchildren. That’s when I decided to go for breakfast to inaugurate the new century with a hangover from which I still haven’t managed to recover.
Translated by Joel Dalmau.