The early 90's. Because, as we all know, things are only cool until the mainstream gets hold of them. When you could still be called a slob or, worse, a lumberjack, for wearing flannels and ripped jeans. Before Eddie Vedder decided to get all pompous and political. When no one outside of Seattle had heard of Courtney Love. Following the release of Bleach, right around the time Nevermind was released. Right around the time Ten was released. Before 107.7 the end was corporate radio. When Boeing was Seattle's claim to fame. Back when being non-mainstream still meant being mocked and having the crap beaten out of you. Prior to the resurgence of pop.

Once I was watching this special on VH1 called the 100 Greatest Moments in Rock n Roll History. One of them, though I'm forgetting where it was registered on the chart, was the week that Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit knocked one of Michael Jackson's multimillon selling albums out of Billboard's #1 slot. According to VH1, this was when grunge hit the scene.

But we all know better, or think we do. We know that what mattered was that before VH1 was entering it in their databases, Nirvana and other grunge bands were infecting teenagers' worlds. When I hit college in 1992, all I knew was that ripped jeans, combat boots and flannel shirts were not just popular and acceptable, they were damn comfy and far enough away from the stupid plaid jumpers I'd been wearing for the last 12 years that I never looked at a dress the same since. My favorite teen series, My So-Called Life, was also a fair document to the music and fashion of that time, and since I own every episode I can find on tape (if any other closet addicts have any they'd be willing to spare, I'd pay good money for copies), I like to view them now and again just to remember what it was like. Another item I'd suggest is a book called Girl by Blake Nelson, but please do not rent the movie version; it's pathetic by comparison.

Every teenage generation has its symbols. I was glad to have some that belonged to the era back when grunge was cool. To me it was also a time when kids were at least trying to have an awareness of the things going on around them, both in the states (if that's where they were living; it's hard not to be Seattle-centric about grunge) and abroad. And yes, other generations sparked awareness, but I also think that teens from the early 90's were in some ways hard up for motivation. Being from that time, as other generations are, I can't help but be partial to my own time.

I remember, in 92, the albums I'd bought were among the bands' first: Pearl Jam's Ten, Live's Mental Jewelry, TTWS' Fear, Temple of the Dog. The movies were Singles, Pump up the Volume, reinstated interest in The Breakfast Club, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Harold and Maude, then later on, Reality Bites. Shit, I still have most of the flannels from the 90's, but then again I still have most of everything else from the 90's too, mostly because I'm too cheap to buy new things.

It may never happen, but it would be a major testament to the grunge era when instead of having retro 60's sock hops, preteens will have themed grunge parties instead of the raging 70's disco parties that I theorize are popping up in parents' fun and clean fun party guides. Once your era can be mocked, you can be assured that at one point, it had indeed been very cool.

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