In the past week I’ve watched both The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The World’s End. Both are movies that got me thinking a lot about nostalgia.
Wallflower takes place during the 1991-1992 school year. It was two years after I graduated, but the world was very familiar. I had groups of friends I bounced between back then. I had my closest friends in John and Bill who never overlapped. John was my metal head buddy and together we played video games and went to concerts. We’d drive around late at night and talk about girls. Bill and I went to the community center and shot pool or we’d go to the movies. I also had my own personal Wallflowers.
My Wallflowers were like the Wallflowers in the movie. They were the artsy kids. The creative types. The kids who in retrospect I probably should have been a lot closer with and it makes sense that they’re the ones who I am in fact closest with twenty-three years later. Perks of Being a Wallflower made me miss those nights of hanging out at Brian Rankel’s house having philosophical discussions about life and art while The Smiths, The Cure and Depeche Mode played in the background.
Then I saw The World’s End.
Simon Pegg’s Gary King character in The World’s End also missed those nights of hanging out with his childhood friends. He rounds them up and reluctantly they join him in trying to complete an epic pub crawl from their youth. When they try to go back they find that everything has changed.
His friends have all moved on with their lives and have families and responsibilities. The town itself isn’t the same either. The small pubs have largely lost their unique character. If you’ve seen the trailer, you probably noticed how there’s a certain sci-fi Invasion of the Body Snatchers aspect to the movie. It’s a great metaphor for the people becoming as homogenized as the pubs. Trying to go back ends up being an epic disaster.
The World’s End completes Edgar Wright’s Cornetto’s Trilogy. Like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before, at some point in the first act, the entire plot of the movie is spelled out in a clever and throw away fashion. The movie stands on its own, but there are a lot of little inside jokes for die-hard fans of the trilogy. Right now it’s the one that I think I like the most. Granted that may be because Wallflower got me feeling a big like Gary King.
I honestly wanted to write this without reference to my own stand up….but my latest album “nowadays” is largely about being present and not dwelling on the past…or worrying about the future. The first track PROLOGUE literally features time travel to 1988. The second track ALABAMA is about me holding on to a grudge with the entire state of Alabama. HOLD THE DOOR is about me missing a simpler, more polite time. DICK STRAWS is about the perversion of a mall store where I bought heavy metal collectibles as a kid. FOURTEEN is a spontaneous riff about my parents trying to do their best to not raise a foul-mouthed child, but those plans were squashed with the first outside influence. CREEPY COUSIN is about a fortunately avoided sticky situation from when I was a kid. The cover of “nowadays” itself is a visual play on looking back. I’m in a parking lot full of run down ice cream trucks looking away from them and towards the open sky ahead. The trucks show that the epitome of carefree youth isn’t really what you remember.
So while Perks of Being a Wallflower made me miss the “good old days” because it was set during that time…since the writer Stephen Chbosky is just a year and a half older than I am….Simon Pegg (also a year and a half older) and Edgar Wright (two years younger) reminded me that Devo was right.
Maybe you should give the past a slip.