Peter Cetera was a Liar

Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

I rolled down the window of my 1988 dark purple Dodge Daytona because that's what you did back then.  You actually physically reached down and grabbed a handle and cranked it until the window rolled down.  We were hard men back in the 1980's, no fancy button pushing and electric motors for us.  That's why we looked older back then.  Hard living.  I might have even been wearing white pants with a shirt in a color so florescent that staring at it for long may have caused blindness.  It was the late 1980's and all was well in the world.

Approximate representation of what i might have been driving.

Approximate representation of what i might have been driving.

I turned up the orange illuminated cassette player that I had bought weeks earlier from Walmart to the sweet sweet sounds of Chicago (the music group not the dystopian murder capitol of North America).  Peter Cetera serenading me about love and life.  Yes, Peter Cetera had left Chicago a few years earlier and had, of late, been bestowing the virtues of the glory of love to a young Karate Kid while he waxed on and off.  My friend and I had pulled into a car wash after buying the tape player and installed it under the buzzing lights of the Wash-O-Matic.  Yes, it was the 1980's and nobody thought twice about two kids ripping a stereo out of a car at the car wash.

As wind blew my mullet (but 100% business in the front), I relaxed while Peter Cetera told me love and life was going to be alright.  Peter Cetera is a liar.  I suspect he did not, in fact, do it at all for the glory of love.  Nor is he a man who would fight for your honor.  Perhaps you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover but I greatly question the pugilistic skills of one Mr. Peter Cetera.

Don't trust this man

Don't trust this man

It was a time of naivete.  A simpler time.  You could boo the Russians and it was all cool.  The bad guys had a uniform and you could trust the preacher, the policeman, the crooner on the radio, and Mr. Miyagi.  Even though Fonzi had jumped the shark years earlier you could still watch him every afternoon in reruns.  There weren't yet 500 channels of nothing on the television and you had to work at the five or six that you got. (Anyone else have to turn the outside antenna with a pipe wrench?)

Your whole life lay open ahead of you.  It was your story to be written.  Family Ties and Ronald Reagan told me that I could be a success.  That somewhere in a skyscraper over some big city lay the world for my taking.  Hulk-a-mania was running wild and if I said my prayers and took my vitamins I could be the biggest and baddest there was, that is, as Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather warned me, the Russians didn't get me first.

these men told me who to hate.

these men told me who to hate.

 

But as I exited high school walls fell, super powers crumbled, and Nirvana replaced Van Hagar.  Times changed as times do.  As my lyrical idol Neil Peart put it so well "changes aren't permanent but change is."  I sit here now as a fairly well adjusted adult.  Not so sure sometimes how it all doesn't just fly apart.  The world seems held together by an ever more slender thread.

Simpler times.  The G.I. Joe PSA at the end of the cartoons never told me I would battle cancer.  Knowing would certainly not have been half of that battle.  The Super Friends weren't dealing with almost daily riots in the streets of America.  If only we were fighting over weather dominators and monster Venus fly traps.  Alex P. Keaton never told me things would be this way.  Don't even get me started on Cliff Huxtable. (Who knew that Eddie Murphy telling him to have a Coke and a smile and shut the #$%& up would be so appropriate?)  Nobody but nobody is doing it all for the glory of love.  Peter Cetera was a liar.

But the truth is things were never that simple.  There were always problems and troubles and entertainment to help us escape from it.  World Wars were a boon to the movie industry.  The turbulent civil rights and Vietnam era gave us some of the greatest music ever written.  Comic books were born of escapism from the fears and anxieties of World War 2.  Superman himself was a social commentary of escape from the specter of the holocaust by a couple of brilliant Jewish imaginatives.  Batman and many of his contemporaries were born out of the fear of organized crime.

This summer I hear the drumming. Four dead in ohio.

This summer I hear the drumming. Four dead in ohio.

As long as there is trouble in the world (and there always will be) there will be those who see hope through art, music, and entertainment.  In a world without hope there will always be some who never lose it.  Peter Cetera may have been a liar.  Duke and Roadblock might not have told us about the other half of the battle.  But without the creators and the dreamers we could never look back to "simpler times".  

The truth is, we often remember the times as simpler than they were.  The colors brighter.  In times like these it's easy to lose hope and lose sight but sometime in the future there will be someone who will remember their equivalent of a lying Peter Cetera playing through a cheap radio.  Maybe it's a long forgotten Pokemon Go battle on their now antiquated phone.  Maybe it's that terrible Superman vs Batman movie (though I'm not sure how that could ever be the case).  Maybe it's a Taylor Swift song.  Who knows?

Peter Cetera might have been a liar but I'm glad he was.  That mullet might have been regrettable but I'm glad I had it.  That Dodge Daytona might not have been as cool as I thought it was but I'll never forget it.  Nor are times as bad as they seem.

#WhenItWasCool