Wednesday, July 04, 2012

ROX 20th Anniversary show and general 90s nostalgia

Last night I went to the ROX 20th Anniversary Show at The Comedy Attic (Bloomington's comedy club known nationally as one of Todd Glass' 3 favorite comedy clubs, alongside Helium in Philadelphia and some other place). This was a proper reunion show as J (who lives in Montana now), B (who lives in New Orleans now), and XY (married to B and thus also in New Orleans) were all there. It was not like one of those 80's era Beach Boys show where Brian Wilson was not performing with them.

J & B on the ROX was a big part of my introduction to Bloomington when I moved here in Fall of '94 (I missed seasons 1 and 2, so of course I will be ordering the DVD set of Season 1). On Tuesday nights, the thing to do was to tune in to local community cable access station CATS (BCAT at the time IIRC) for the latest episode of ROX, introduced with the ominous Carmina Burana theme. The last ROX-related event I attended was the Season 3 (I think) premiere party at The Bluebird in the Fall of '94 (Episode title: 'Movin' On Down').

Though there was an undercurrent of anarchy to the show, it was no comically inept Wayne's World operation. Over the course of the show Editor B developed some really great editing chops, the cast were interesting, smart and fun people, and the show got some deserved national attention. For those of us in Bloomington, it was hyper-local programming years before youTube let anybody put on a show.

It was very much a part of the 90s, capturing what for lack of a better term we'll call the 'Slacker' ethic of the time. J&B and friends opted out of chasing the corporate jobs and big money to stay in what is a really great town (I live here, so I'm biased, but I wanted to live here the whole time I was working in Indy due to the less abundant job market here) and pursue various creative projects (the show, bands, and so on). The thing is, the show holds up twenty years later. During last night's show I sat with a couple considerably younger than I (Dan aka @majtom2grndctrl and his wife Whitney) who discovered the show in the late 90's and early 00's, and are big fans. The clips were very funny and outside of the '92 election clip featuring 'Fuck Tha Police' as background music there weren't really a lot of period-specific references outside of peoples' hair.

The event started off with me reliving a less positive aspect of my 90s life, going to a show by myself (my wife was at home w/ my daughter but said 'you should go') and being kind of awkward and not talking to anybody. Fortunately by the end of the night I had run into and talked to the aforementioned Dan and Whitney as well as a lot of people I knew from the time and from my own hyper-local creative outlet of the time, community radio station WFHB (still going strong). I did a show there from 1am-3am Mon night with my sister. I doubt more than 10 people ever heard it, but we had fun with it.

The format was an introductory rhyme by B followed by a series of clips and commentary by J and B and Terry Hornsby aka T Black. The clips were very funny and there were a lot of laughs, so the Comedy Attic was a fitting venue.

Along with the laughs there was (on my part) some nostalgia for the period. Bloomington in the 90s was a fun place to be, much more fun than the consulting company I went to in suburban Philadelphia in '96 and left after a few months. I'm not sure why I went with that at all, it really couldn't have been more sterile and different than the fun, creative and tight-knit community of Bloomington - I chalk it up to the minimal job opportunities at the time, an ongoing not insignificant issue of living in Bloomington, although in the Bloomington 'if what you want isn't here make it happen yourself' spirit, there have been interesting startups sprouting up in recent years. I wasn't good at living on a Ramen budget and was not as resistant to parental and societal pressures to make some money after getting 2 degrees as J&B and friend were. Anyhow after returning to Bloomington I got together with my wife who was considerably more socially a part of what was going on, and we had a lot of fun and being young (in our 20s) didn't hurt. So though things are good now and you can't go back in time and the usual cliches, it was fun to remember the period and of course to catch up with some people from the time.

1 comment:

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