It hurts. I mean it hurts so bad to be this cool. Painfully hip. I have my finger on the pulse of coolness. It is easy for me to recognize what is cool these days: retro. The retro style has been slowly filtering into American culture since the mid-’90s. It lies at the foundation of the “cool” structure that we all pay attention to whether we take part or not.
I am pretty sure this fad began with a baseball stadium just up the road from us here in D.C., Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This piece of architecture in Baltimore has spawned many other retro ballparks in places like Seattle, San Francisco and Tampa Bay. You do not have to be a baseball fan to enjoy Camden Yards because the place is so aesthetically pleasing that you could spend an afternoon wandering the grounds remembering just how you got there. It is a magnificent place that recalls the early days of baseball when players drank beer after championships and didn’t wear batting helmets.
A baseball park started up this retro revolution that has brought back disco, the glamour of pimps and hoes, swing bands and handbags. I now see retro stuff everywhere. People have given up the big hair and make-up of the ’80s and taken a classy step toward the more refined.
Some people yearn for the return of the ’80s, but I hope that will not happen for a multitude of reasons. First, the ’80s are too close to us in history. Perhaps the kids born in the ’90s will start up the ’80s retro fad. Again, I hope that does not happen. Secondly, I equate the ’80s with the bearded woman in the circus. It is fun to look at her, but you do not want her sticking around when the circus leaves town.
Look around and see how much retro there is out there. We have just emerged from one of the greatest technological centuries in history and we cannot stop looking backward to define ourselves. The glasses people wear today are a perfect example of the retro fad. Two-toned lenses are coming to the forefront and wire-rimmed frames are all over the place. Guys, you can correct me if I am wrong but there are few things sexier on a lady than those sort-of secretary glasses. We have scared ourselves away from the future because of what it might look like. I admit that if future clothes look anything like shiny skin-tight jump suits, then I am going to hop in my time-travel machine and cruise on back to the 20th century.
The latest craze is the cell phone, and they are quite handy. Continually getting smaller and smaller with more capabilities, the cell phone has almost become viewed as essential to any young person’s social life. However, the retro fad enshrouds pop culture (Britney Spears doing “I Can’t No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, what the hell is that?), so I am waiting for the day when somebody rocks the retro cell phone. I am talking about the ones that come in their own bag with a big eight-inch antenna. Changing the faceplate on one of those involves going to the hardware store. When we see somebody strolling down the street with a cell phone bag or someone flipping up the antenna in J Street, we will understand that the retro swing has come full circle and we will begin again to look forward.