DIDN’T I live through this already? Here we are ankle-deep in a new millennium, for crying out loud, yet everything seems SO last century. I know our economy can be pendulumlike (shouldn’t there be a better adjective for that?), but does it really have to be? And why do we react like we’re living through this shit for the first time?

Take the subprime mortgage crisis. I don’t really understand it, but basically a whole bunch of financial institutions gave out billions in real estate loans to people they shouldn’t have, and then the housing market went kerplunk, right? And now it’s screwing up everything and we’re bailing out mortgage giants, because, yeah, they’re the victims here. Isn’t this a rerun from 20 years ago, when they called it the savings and loan crisis? Who let it happen again?

With the economy in a tailspin, grocery stores are introducing budget, no-frills “brands” because most people can’t afford to drive to the store AND buy food anymore. So now Stop & Shop and Giant are pushing their new Guaranteed Value™ line. Didn’t I not buy this crap in the ’80s, when everything was available in plain white boxes and they called it generic (like in the scene from “Repo Man” below)?

It’s sad that people are losing their homes, their jobs and their name-brand cookies (as well as their gas-guzzlers to the busier-than-ever repo men), but here’s the worst part about the sagging economy: Record labels (these still exist?) are signing up a slew of boy bands again, hoping to boost sales (“In Dark Times, Labels Look To Boy Bands,” Rolling Stone). Does every decade have to end this way, with interchangeable groups of talent-challenged kids wrangled up by pervy businessmen-overlords and forced to “sing” songs scientifically engineered by Swedish producers to be as annoying as possible? I thought we’d said “Bye Bye Bye.”

But here we go again. I would have guessed that the photo at left was taken in 1998, or maybe even 1988, but it’s actually a recent photo of some new boy band. I’m sure their name is like 2Cool+3 or VIPee or something. Or Summthin’.

Of course, if this never-ending pattern continues, the music industry will overreact to this poppy-crock in a few years and unleash a lot of angry thrash/metal/punk/rap/neo-grunge crap. And, if the economy keeps on doing what it does, we’ll all be stinkin’ rich again.



  1. libertychick Says:

    Thank you for this amusing post. It is rare these days that a piece discussing the economy might elicit a genuine chuckle, but this one did. Boy bands, huh? Thanks for the warning. I, too, thought we might have learned our lesson on that one! (Turns out we have learned few lessons at all, of course – economically or otherwise.)

    It was also interesting to see you mention the latest push for generic “brands,” if for no other reason than that I’ve been predicting it for a few months now. (Not exactly prophetic, I know – market behavior is indeed relatively predictable if one is paying attention.) I imagine we’ll be seeing much more of this over the coming months . . . get ready for cupboards full of colorlessness!

  2. 45vinyljunkie Says:

    If we have to relive the music of a particular decade, why can’t it be the 1960s? You know, the same decade that brought us the Beatles, the Rolling Stones (when they were still relevant, not just a money-making machine), Motown, the Jefferson Airplane (not Starship), the British Invasion, girl groups, the Beach Boys, the Doors, etc. Oh, wait…now I know why they keep bringing back boy bands. It’s because boy bands can be put together in a hurry and don’t require any talent. Each generation of pre-teens (mostly girls) will buy millions of these groups’ CDs, primarily due to shrewd marketing, before realizing that the music sucks. But then again, the vast majority of the music recorded since the early ’80s sucks, so why should we expect anything good from boy bands?

  3. I have to admit, I was surprised to see the “new” generic brand at Stop and Shop. I mean, I thought the “Stop and Shop brand” WAS the generic brand! And why do they have to make the packaging so ugly? Is it to show their contempt for us? “If you can’t afford to pay more, you don’t deserve something that looks good!” Or do they not really want us to buy the generic brand, so they make it unappealing on purpose? That works for me! I much prefer the way the Motts label looks in my ‘fridge.

  4. Fred the Homeowner Says:

    Let’s get this “subprime crisis” into perspective a little. Yeah, those mortgage companies (assholes) gave out money they shouldn’t have. But, we need to look at what happened: A bunch of dumbfucks who should have bought houses for $150,000 went out and bought houses for $350,000!!!!
    Speaking of reruns, I saw a commercial last night for a new Ben Stiller movie that looks to be a remake of “Three Amigos.”

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