Words & Poem: When did the 1980’s Become Ancient History?/When I Was Cool

The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same

I can’t believe that over half my life ago, I was a teenager in the 1980’s.

At the end of a golden age of Rose City, the first cracks of a long decline in industry and economy would gradually grow into the rust belt of today. We were too young, too ignorant, too distracted to notice. There was still a Berlin Wall, a threat of a nuclear warhead with a hammer and sickle looming above us, and a cowboy actor as President of the USA. We had punk boots and jackets, or new wave haircuts and were very few and very proud to be very different. We listened to CFNY, when it truly was “the spirit of radio”. We cared not. Many countless parties in houses with people and happenings filled the teenage years, all observed from the corner as I was awkwardly finding myself at the weird edges of a heavy metal youth.

Years later, just after college, the angst of grunge of the 90’s came to the foray, and all that was underground and special became a mainstream alternative, quickly whipped into a frenzy of mass media and popular culture. Another economic downturn, as the strip of St Paul Street in St Catharines became a mecca of thrift stores with the DIY ethic still standing string, years after the original punks had gone. We’d all go down to Gord’s on Saturday nights, and while the jocks would drown their gullets with beer, the freaks were out to play on the other side of the bar.

Now in my 40’s, my friends all old, and I’m all grown up, I see the kids with the new wave haircuts and skinny 1980’s rocker outfits calling themselves emo, and ugly 80’s dayglo oversized glasses with the checkered grunge plaid shirted crew of hipster kids, I see everything that had been cool and different to me become acceptable and fashionable. I look around my town, again at the end of the long run of downturns, and I wonder where it all went after the last twenty-something years, and how does it still remain? Did we sell out, or did we buy in? For better or for worse?

When I Was Cool

When I was cool

Full of bravado

There was only today

No care for tomorrow

This life that I lived

I thought it would end

Long before it started

Or so I liked to pretend

I was full of angst

I was full of rage

I was quite rebellious

At a young age

I dressed all in black

Was told that it was a phase

(Yet I still dress that same

And act the same ways)

Young gods of metal

Were my friends and I

Our dreams unconquered

Our hopes were so high

But things, they changed

As we each got older

They slowly silenced

I simply got bolder

Now they live so different

Am I still the same?

This person I am

It has barely changed

But the times that I live in

And the things I must do

They are so much different

From what I once knew

It was simple and easy

Clear, new, and plain

If only it could be so

Just once again!

I had the bravery of lions

And wisdom of a fool

It was so much easier

When I was cool

©2013 James Takeo

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