The past reappeared again and again. A new David Bowie album, complete with history-referencing album art. An Iggy and the Stooges tour. A Flamin Groovies reunion. A Comets on Fire reunion. A Black Sabbath reunion. A Daft Punk album that sought to mimic, right down to its choice of producer, the indulgent products of a bygone era of pop. Coming next year: an Outkast reunion, and who knows what else.

The question is why, at this moment, is the past so enticing? Is it because it's suddenly so available for us to review, in places like the bottomless archive of YouTube? Is it because, as Reynolds argues, the past is now so present that we can't escape it?

Maybe it's something else. Never since the birth of the recorded pop music industry have things been as uncertain and bleak as they are now. Album sales are at historic lows. Streaming is replacing downloading, and while more people than ever are listening to music, most of them aren't paying for it. The major labels still try to launch blockbuster albums, but whether it's Jay-Z or Lady Gaga, they usually disappoint. Mid-level musicians have seen one revenue stream after another disappear, leaving them with endless touring and/or licensing music to commercial interests, neither of which is very attractive long-term. The entire industry is waylaid with a fear of the future that seems entirely justified.

And it's not just musicians who are frightened. We're at an apprehensive moment as a country — about our jobs, our lives, our impending adulthood (or middle age, or retirement), our ability to remain in the cities we thought we wanted to live in forever. Next to a future that offers lots of anxiety and little reassurance, the past, and its music, feels comforting. At other times in history, we've looked to music to propel us forward, to push us out of dark years from which we'd just emerged. But now it's our present, or our immediate future, that we're seeking escape from. So is it really a surprise that in 2013, when our government is spying on us, when our friends are leaving town, when our careers are more tenuous than ever, that we look to music, new or old, that conjures a more known, comforting, carefree past, and think: Yeah, that sounds good? Ian S. Port


Top 5 Moments in Gentrification
It was the narrative of the year, no matter which side you saw it from: either that the techies and their new money are killing the soul of San Francisco, or that the fossils and the freaks are keeping it from evolving into the city it needs to be. So many news stories in 2013 prompted outbreaks of finger-pointing and name-calling re: the so-called gentrification of S.F., but these five were the biggest:

5. City boots chess players from mid-Market
That sound you hear is the San Francisco of old, slipping away one gritty institution at a time. In September it was the chess games that have taken place for 30 years on Market Street between Fifth and Sixth, many of which were played by the homeless or other folks on the fringes. The SFPD decided that the games had become a "big public nuisance," and suspected they were a disguise for other illegal activities. So the cops confiscated the tables, chairs, boards, and game pieces, shutting down the gatherings for good. Players complained that the shutdown was mean-spirited, or at least they did when anybody knew where to find them.

4. The Mission says no to Jack Spade
Upscale menswear retailer and precious yuppie outfitter Jack Spade nearly moved into a storefront on Valencia that used to house Adobe Books, just sneaking in under the city's anti-chain-store ordinance. But nearby merchants and neighborhood activists summoned a passionate opposition, and eventually pressured the company into abandoning its plans. The battle was won, but the war is not over yet: Store reps said they're eying other, potentially more welcoming areas of the city in which to ply $400 briefcases. May we suggest the Marina?

3. Twitter goes public, and voila: billionaires!
Twitter, the social network whose mid-Market headquarters and sizable tax breaks have made it the poster child for the big changes taking place in San Francisco, went public in a $15-billion November IPO. While its founders were ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, housing and labor activists protested the company from the corner of 10th and Market, and S.F. real-estate prices continued soaring. Next time you walk by Saison or Gary Danko, and wonder who all those people are and how they got their money, kick yourself for not getting in when your nephew first told you about Twitter back in '08. Or just cry.

2. Peter Shih shits out complaints about S.F., falls back in them
In the Medium post heard round the Internet, a twentysomething start-up founder named Peter Shih proclaimed the 10 things he hates about San Francisco, and in the process became the No. 1 thing everyone else hates about San Francisco. Shih's list included weather "like a woman who is constantly PMSing," "homeless people," "the girls who are obviously 4s and behave like they are 9s," bicyclists, and, of course, Muni. Though he promptly apologized, Shih became the city's most-hated figure pretty much overnight — an all-too-fitting symbol for the entitlement and arrogance synonymous with the city's coding elite. Fliers appeared around the city telling him to go back to New York, but as far as we know, he's still here, eating artisanal crow.

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6 comments
yanttodd
yanttodd

Happy Nude Year to you!!!

 
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