I’m struck by a couple things when I look back at Chip’s collage of the 1996 Telegraph street scene. . .
1.) The fact that Chip would go to the trouble to put the thing together in the first place is probably indicitive that there really WAS something special and magical about the scene back then. That Chip would go to the trouble to commemorate it in the first place.
2.) It’s hard for me to put my finger on what was special to me about that particular time and place. It was like there were all these interesting, colorful people, saying, doing and creating interesting things. Or just BEING interesting. And each one of the people in the collage added something to the soup. It seems trite to call it a “scene,” but I’m not sure what else to call it. It was like this village within the village. And an exotic village that other people would want to visit and experience.
3.) The other weird thing is that virtually every person in the collage is long gone. Except me. Which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me. And it makes me wonder if there was some inherent failing within the scene, that virtually everyone would ultimately conclude there was something lacking, and move on. Or is that just the inherent nature of scenes in general? That they suddenly bubble up out of nowhere for no apparent reason, to temporarily flourish, peak, and then ultimately fade away.
4.) You wonder about other bohemian scenes that bubbled up throughout history. The Haight-Ashbury in the ’60s, CBGBs in the ’70s, Swinging London and Carnaby Street, the East Village art scene, the Paris literary scene of the ’20s. . . And you wonder if the prominent figures from the Telegraph scene of the ’90s — Hate Man, Julia Vinograd, B.N. Duncan, Moby Theobald, Claire Burch, etc. — will one day be seen as a group, or even a movement.
5.) From a personal level, if I’m remembered for anything (and I said “if”) aside from my feral cats, it’ll probably be my association with the Telegraph street scene. And how it’s a double-edge sword to become identified with a particular time and place. Because you become synonymous with it’s failings as well as it’s positive attributes.
6.) And needless to say when you post something like this, someone will invariably chime in with: “The Telegraph street scene in the ’90s was NOTHING like the great scene we had going on Telegraph in 1959, man!” Or: “The CBGBs scene was nothing compared to the scene we had going at the Fab Man in 1978, before all the poseurs showed up and ruined everything!!”
7.) But most of all I feel this desperate need to try and avoid wallowing in the seductive swamp of hopeless nostalgia. To forever be yearning for a time and place that will never come back again. And to forever see my present as failing to live up to what once was in the past. . . Because when all is said and done, it really wasn’t ALL that great back then.