TODAY IN NETWORK AWESOME MAGAZINE
It’s a familiar tale to those who have just watched a documentary about it: In 1925, a student named Margaret Mead ventured to the six-hundred person Samoan island of Ta’u on an anthropological mission to study adolescence. She was assigned this task by her professor at Columbia, the legendary “Father of Anthropology,” Franz Boas. Adolescence, as far as they knew it in America and Europe, was a hellish, stressful time for all involved parties; A blood-sweat-and-tears-soaked bungle of fits and zits that had seemingly been that way since the beginning of time. Was it like this all over? That’s what he intended for Mead to find out.
And find out she did. Mead moved into the US naval dispensary in Samoa, learned a whopping (or meager, depending on whose side you’re on) five hundred words of the Samoan language, and dove right in. Based on her observations of the inhabitants of Ta’u and her interviews with local adolescent girls, she found the culture to be tame, peaceful, promiscuous, and even (mon dieur!) incestuous...
The cultural occurrence of Exotica was a manifold junket, swallowed with intense significance on the one hand, or bubblegum antiquity on the other, all depending on what level you perceive it on. Musically, exotica was a melting of oriental, Pacific and Latin styles with Western pop culture, taken with either sincere dedication (a la Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny) or insensitive exploitation (101 Strings). At the same moment, jazz was also experimenting with the same modes; Lenny Tristano, Charlie Parker, Sun Ra and Yussef Lateef were all reaching to the east for inspiration.
Culturally, Exotica meant a lot to the post-war mature American audience. Cheaper airfare and economic trading brought curios and stories of enchantment to the American imagination, just as faux-anthropological mondo documentaries did for the African identity. Hawaii was all of a sudden an affordable and desirable holiday destination, and this tourist trade also sustained the musicians...
As things (US and global economy, congressional gridlock, global warming, other ughhh things) continue to get grimmer and grimmer, thinking back to that wonderful decade that I spent all of eight months alive for becomes rosier and rosier. From what I can remember from being an infant, (memories supplemented, of course, by ample amounts of movies and music), the 80's was a time of stability and success, featuring kids with bad hair cuts skateboarding, awesome music from all genres, and a strong economy full of Gordon Gekkos.
Sure, the USSR was still kicking it back then, but “it” was so close to being “the bucket” that you had movies like Red Dawnfetishizing a Soviet invasion while a million Rambo knockoffs lonewolfed their way from the box office to Moscow and back. In fact, the 1980's seem so chill that a plot centered around nightmares being the number one concern of both the free world and the President of the United States is practically believable. Which, in the case of 1984's Dreamscape, is an extremely good thing, or else not a damn second of that movie could be taken without a shaker of salt...
Where do the dead go to spend the rest of their lives?
Assuming that there just may be some form of afterlife, are the dead guaranteed a spot at the table, at someone’s right hand, serenaded by celestial choirs and heavenly harps, basking in the eternal glow of forgiveness. Or is it something else entirely, at that other place, with that other guy, tormented and tortured and damned into infinity? Who knows?
Or what if, as some people believe, a spirit spends the rest of its immaterial existence at the spot where the body died, or where the body lived, either emanating from empty rooms and disturbing the children, or luxuriating in the location where their fondest memories were made. Again, who knows? There are so many competing views on the afterlife that it’s difficult to pick just one to aspire to. They all seem so interesting in their own enigmatic ways!
Anthony Galli currently lives in Athens, Georgia. He shares a birthday with his black cat, Magic, and they both claim Wings of Desire as their favorite film. Anthony has published two books of poetry, Amnesia for Insomniacs and Invisible Idiot.