“I Was Alive and I Waited for This”: Coming of Age at the End of History

By Michael Grasso

I was born in 1975, at the demographic nadir of the 1970s birth trough in America and before the mini Baby Boom of the early ’80s. My birth cohort is small; my grade school classes were the smallest they’d be for the next 30-some odd years. So, as a late Gen-Xer, my oldest pop culture memories are of the late 1970s. I was a kid in the 1980s. But I came of age at the end of history…

Can’t Beat the Real Thing: Pop Will Eat Itself and the Age of Ironic Advertising

By Brother Bill

It was in 1988 that two-year-old English band Pop Will Eat Itself (PWEI) began a transition from guitar-driven pop-rock to electronic dance, a direction inspired by a remix of their cover of Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Love Missile F1-11”, embellished for the nightclub with dance beats and turntable techniques by producer Robert Gordon of Fon Studio…

Ready Player None: Toppling the Diseased Colossus of Geek Culture

I honestly hadn’t thought about Ready Player One until the movie was announced. Even then, I tried to avoid it. But I finally saw the trailer, against my will, and dear God, what a hideous mess. But hey, I wasn’t going to see it, because I lost my virginity and I’m married to a good-looking man and can watch grown-up films because I’m a Big Girl. Then I read his poetry. And since then, I’ve been training, Linda-Hamilton-in-T2 style, to take this motherfucker down…

Gender Roles Included: The Unreal Estate of 1980s Playsets

By J.E. Anckorn

In the 1980s, the action figure ruled the toy store shelves. Some kids were loyal to one franchise (I was a strictly My Little Pony girl, myself). Some children’s affections and parental pursestrings could stretch to several different brands, but whatever flavor of molded plastic you were hooked on, the pinnacle of aspirational toys was always the playset. These big-box behemoths offered a fantasy local where our toys…

Sorry No Gas: Photos from Documerica, 1972 – 1975

At the dawning of the 1970s, Americans were more aware than ever of the great damage more than a century of unrestricted industry had done to their country. With the passing of Richard Nixon’s Reorganization Plan Number 3 by Congress in 1970, the U.S. government welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency to the roster of federal agencies. The EPA was meant to consolidate federal efforts to protect America’s air, water, and soil, and to give environmental protection efforts a fiercer executive independence…

How Basil Wolverton Captured the Terrifying Imagery of the Biblical Apocalypse

By Greg Rozeboom

Born in 1909, Basil Wolverton was a successful American illustrator and cartoonist, admired within his industry and by its fans, yet little known to the general public. His drawings—the twisted shapes of spaghetti, meatballs, and mutation—may repel some, but they never fail to leave an impression, especially on the young. Wolverton was active between 1938 and 1974, and made a dent so deep that his style and influence were stamped into the underground comix scene of the ‘60s…

Between Authority and Resistance: The Terminator’s New Clothes

By Richard McKenna

Although apparently naked upon its arrival in the gloomy labyrinth of 1984, the Terminator is, of course, already wearing a costume: the layer of flesh and hair covering the titanium bones of its endoskeleton, which allows it to pass for human. Over the course of the film, though, the titular cybernetic assassin procures for itself two further and distinct outfits—-suits of fashionable armor associated with a wounded and dangerous type of modern masculinity…