Saturday, July 30, 2016

What were the '90s like?

That's probably a silly question coming from someone who lived through the entire decade. But I don't feel like I have a good handle on what the 1990s were like in terms of the spirit of the decade.

The 1970s I know. Sunhats and flowers. Green, orange and gold everything. Wood paneled walls. Head scarves and giant sunglasses. Disco balls. Yellow smiley faces. Open-collared shirts and mustaches. Sideburns. Split-level homes. Funkiness. Platform shoes. Bubble letters. Monty Python. The Electric Company. Singers and songwriters. Arena rock. The Brady Bunch. Economy cars. Herbie the Love Bug. Bell-bottoms. Star Wars. Cigarette ads in your sports magazine. I could go on for hours.

The 1980s I know. New wave. Devo. Pastel colors. Miami Vice. Teen movies. Day-glo orange and green. Synthesized music/soundtracks/commercials/everything. Shoulder pads. Wine coolers. Moonlighting. Cable television. MTV. Videos. Aerobics. Pac-Man. Donkey Kong. Video game arcades. Purple stuff. Cabbage patch kids. E.T. The compact disc. Sports news shows on your TV. I could go on for hours.

All of that stuff, put together, and combined with the news events of the time, create and sum up the feelings I have for those decades. I think you call it "zeitgeist." I never got a handle on that.

But for the '90s, I run out of things quickly. After Seinfeld, Friends, grunge music and flannel, I'd have to start looking things up. And even after finding elements of that decade, I still don't know if I'd have a good feeling for what it was all about, like the '70s and '80s. I guess that's what happens when you get older. I have no idea how to sum up the 2000s and it won't get any easier in the future.

There is one thing I do know about the '90s and that is the decade produced maybe more cards than any other decade. When it comes to cards, yup, I know what the '90s were about: more and as varied as possible.

As an example, I'll show some cards that I won in a contest from P-town Tom at Waiting 'til Next Year. Naturally, most of the cards that I needed came from the '90s. Because that's how many cards there were.

Cards of players in retro uniforms. Yup, that happened in the '90s.

Pitchers from the Far East. That happened in the '90s, too.

Pitchers from the Far East throwing on an electric grid with the sun exploding in the distance. Yes, definitely '90s.

Cards with raised borders. Yeah, that was pretty much a '90s thing that's still around today.

Foil. Without a doubt, that came from the '90s. It's probably the '90s baseball card's greatest contribution to the culture of the decade, other than the "we're all going to get rich!" mentality.

Speaking of which:

Please don't pay 8 dollars for one of the nearly two dozen different Hideo Nomo rookie cards.

Cards that show a player with two different teams? Yes. That is a '90s thing that drives us team collectors nuts.

P-town Tom did send a few cards from beyond the '90s that I needed, too:

You're going to have to ask someone younger what the 2000s and 2010s were like (although I could give a pretty good rundown on the card situation).

I definitely have a better feel for the '90s that the decades that came afterward.

Maybe you remember those shows that VH1 aired a decade or so ago -- I Love the '70s/'80s/'90s. I looked forward to the '90s show just so I could figure out what went into that decade. It was pretty interesting, but I still didn't get the idea that the participants had as good a handle on what the '90s were about than I did with the '70s and '80s shows.

What can I say? I may never figure it out. I was just one of those striped-shirt '70s kids who became a skinny-tie '80s teenager. It's all a blur after that.


  1. The 2000's? Well I only have the perspective of someone who was growing up in those years (mostly in North American at that) but for the most part, it was pretty mediocre. The beginning of the decade was very dark, dour, sludgy and slow. For pretty obvious reasons. Then for some reason having fun and partying became blowing lots of money at the (strip) club.

    As for the cards, good luck finding any. Unless you go out of your way to find cards from the 2000's, they'll never show up. Ever.

  2. I am your same age, Night Owl, and you covered my first '90s thoughts but after that my impressions center around my four children born that decade: Barney, Lion King, car seats, Thomas the Tank Engine, Happy Meals, Teletubbies, minivans, and Lizzie McGuire!

  3. Tamagotchis, Pokemon, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, fanny packs, frosted tips, boy bands, beepers, techno music, big ass cell phones, Full House, Boy Meets World, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, Nintendo 64, Playstation, romantic comedies... any other 90's kids want to add anything?

    1. Disney Afternoon, Batman The Animated Series, a considerable drop off in toys aimed at kids based off of cartoons/tv shows from the 80's.

    2. Toonami, Dragon Ball Z, bad anime dubs, peak Final Fantasy (IV-IX), Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, SNES, some of the greatest JRPGs of all-time, arguably peak Legend of Zelda (A Link to the Past/Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask), peak Sonic The Hedgehog, ridiculously bad/generic/cheesy action movies, MST3K, awesome sci-fi television: Star Trek TNG/DS9/Voyager/Babylon 5/X-Files/Pretender/Stargate SG-1/Sliders/Quantum Leap/Brisco County Jr./etc, the late-night syndicated action series!, peak PBS, pretty minimal Scooby-Doo/Star Wars/Doctor Who franchise content, golden age Simpsons, peak Saturday morning cartooning, dramatic uptick in general cartoon quality (often incorporating subversive humor adults could enjoy), Nickelodeon game shows: Legends of the Hidden Temple/Nick Arcade/Guts/Double Dare/Wild & Crazy Kids/etc, Seal, Jennifer Lopez, Tupac, Garth Brooks, the twangiest country music ever, Liquid Television, Celebrity Deathmatch, unprecedented economic growth, pro wrestling being cool!: The rise of ECW/Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars/Goldberg's streak/Crow Sting/DDP/Austin/DX/The Rock/early awareness of Japanese wrestling...

      I could go on for hours. :'D

  4. You forgot the Macarena, Achy Breaky Heart, and saggy pants.

  5. Oh, don't forget the Hammer pants!

  6. My favorite things that represent the 90's are... pagers, Tupac, Sega Genesis, Play Station 1, Biggie, America Online, Half Cabs, and of course all of the amazing cardboard that flooded our hobby. Least favorite? Troll dolls, Beanie Babies, 98 Degrees, rollerblading, and those posters with hidden designs in them.