There are so many things wrong today—government shut downs, GMO’s, NSA snooping and Miley’s coated tongue.
It’s too easy to add to the list and bemoan our plight. Instead, let’s go back thirty years to 1983 and compare notes. That was the year Michael Jackson dominated the charts, the Swatch was launched, McNuggets came out and Lotus 1-2-3 was our preferred software. Here is my Guy’s Guy Guide to Things That Are Better Now. One caveat—technology is more advanced than in 1983, so we’ll put the tech-related items into context. Enjoy!
10. Central Park – From its lush greenery to the calming energy that permeates the sprawling fifty-block area to the expanded running paths and new playgrounds, Central Park keeps getting better. Central Park was, for the most part, a scrubby dump in the seventies and eighties that you could not venture into after dark. With the commitment from the city and the hard work of the Central Park Conservatory, it has been transformed again into the wonderful oasis as it was imagined.
9. Beer – No longer are we limited to old standbys like Bud and Miller. The beer industry has exploded with creativity, craft brews and innumerable fine selections available in bars, taverns and delis. You can even brew your own beer. This is very good news for beer lovers whose idea of excitement in the past was waiting for that shipment of Coors in a refrigerated container to show up on the East Coast.
8. Cooking – I thought about calling this, “Food”, but with the advent of GMO’s and factory farming, food has not gotten better. That said, the world of gastronomy has expanded and in many cities you can sample any kind of cuisine at any hour of the day. The “foodie” movement has given us an education on preparation and matching flavors. If you want more proof, check the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket. The section that once offered a merger selection of TV diners and frozen pizza has now become a smorgasbord of global offerings.
7. Clothing – Let’s face it, people can showcase their personal style a heck of a lot better now than in 1983. Men’s suits are more flattering, mixing and matching of patterns has become an art form and women have an endless selection of shoes, bags and hairstyles to embrace and call their own. Of course there's a down side: we’ve seen the casual movement turn air travel into a parade of tracksuits and ladies, those yoga pants are a bit too ubiquitous now. That said, it’s hard to argue with being comfortable.
6. Publishing – Instead of following the music industry's demise until it embraced digital offerings and sent more bands out on tour, the publishing industry was taken by surprise when self and hybrid and independent offerings created stars. Before they knew it, sales of eBooks were in line with physical book sales. This is great news for both readers and writers. Meanwhile, the publishing industry is busy peddling celebrity books because they don’t require “breaking” a new name or building a brand. Snooki had brand awareness before her novels launched.
5. Social Media – Okay; we didn’t have social media in 1983, and you may not care for those pithy, inspirational sayings from your Facebook friends, being on the receiving end of a poke, reading political rants or seeing photos of someone’s sushi lunch, but keeping in touch with long lost acquaintances can be fun. And if you’re not interested, you can turn it off at any time. Period.
4. Weed – We’re moving from draconian Rockefeller laws to medicinal use, and that’s only the beginning. Pot is going to become legal at some point during the next decade. Why? Follow the money. Marijuana is the next cash crop and it’s ripe for reaping tax revenues.
3. Gay Rights – Who would have conceived of legislation legalizing gay and lesbian marriage back in 1983? We’ve come a long way in accepting and protecting the rights of everyone regardless of their sexual preference. There isn't enough love in the world so let’s hope this will soon become a non-issue.
2. Coffee and Tea - Similar to beer, we’ve moved from a handful of mass brands to a plethora of exotic, great-tasting blends from around the world that are featured in small independent stores on every corner of the city. The same goes for tea. Once there were two big, boring brands on the shelves. Now we have dozens and even yerba mate comes in an array of flavors. That’s a good thing.
1. Broadcast Media – Cable grew from a handful of new channels to the thousands of selections we have today in a short period of time. We can watch whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, with or without commercials on a multitude of devices. That's cool. Okay, I don’t like those housewives shows either, but you know what I mean.
This is just a first pass. There’s also been advances in traditional medicine, an increased awareness of holistic healing and yoga, cell phones with cameras that capture so much more good and bad behavior, and of course Duck Dynasty.
Now that doesn’t necessarily make this a better world than thirty years ago, but it’s too easy to fall into a malaise and cry about once what was. Hey people: things change and they will keep changing faster than they did over the past thirty years. Guy’s Guys look on the bright side. How about you?
Do you appreciate the many changes in our culture since 1983?
This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Frederick Law Olmsted who won the Central Park design competition in 1857. Nice work, amigo.