Thursday, December 16, 2010


In 1988, the world was a different place.

There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo. Or Facebook, for that matter.

In 1988, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was Rain Man. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.

Remember, that was before there were DVDs. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty.

Do you know who won the Oscars that year? The academy award for the best movie went to Rain Man. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to Pelle the Conqueror. The top actor was Dustin Hoffman for his role as Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man. The top actress was Jodie Foster for her role as Sarah Tobias in The Accused. The best director? Barry Levinson for Rain Man.

In the year 1988, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time was The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy. Oh, that's many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it? Look at the cover!

In 1988... The Soviet Union begins its program of economic restructuring, perestroika, with legislation initiated by Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is established, creating the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. Taiwan President Chiang Ching-kuo dies in Taipei; Vice-President Lee Teng-hui becomes president. The Great Seto Bridge opens to traffic in Japan. World Expo '88 opens in Brisbane Queensland, Australia. Celine Dion wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland with the song Ne partez pas sans moi. U.S. President Ronald Reagan addresses 600 Moscow State University students, during his visit to the Soviet Union. Wembley Stadium hosts a concert featuring stars from the fields of music, comedy and film, in celebration of the 70th birthday of imprisoned ANC leader Nelson Mandela. The Netherlands defeats the Soviet Union 2-0 to win Euro 88. Volkswagen closes its Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania plant after 10 years of operation. In Estonia, 300,000 demonstrate for independence. The United Kingdom bans broadcast interviews with IRA members. The BBC gets around this stricture through the use of professional actors. Super Mario Bros. 3 is released in Japan. Philip Morris buys Kraft Foods for US$13.1 billion. The video game of the day was Mega Man 2.

That was the world you were born into. Since then, you and others have changed it.

The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Naguib Mahfouz. The Nobel Peace prize went to United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces. The Nobel prize for physics went to Leon Max Lederman, Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger from the United States for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino. The sensation this created was big. But it didn't stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn't it?

The 1980s were indeed a special decade. The Soviet-Afghan war goes on. Eastern Europe sees the collapse of communism. Policies like Perestroika and Glasnost in the Soviet Union lead to a wave of reforms. Protests are crushed down on Tiananmen Square in China. Ethiopa witnesses widespread famine. Nicolae Ceausescu is overthrown. The AIDS pandemic begins. The role of women in the workplace increased greatly. MTV is launched in the US. There is opposition against Apartheid in South Africa as well as worldwide. Heavy Metal and Hard Rock bands are extremely popular. The rise of Techno music begins. Originally primarily played on campus radio stations, College Rock enters the scene with bands like the Pixies, REM and Sonic Youth. The Hip Hop scene continues to evolve. Teletext is introduced. Gay rights become more widely accepted in the world. Opposition to nuclear power plants grows. The A-Team and Seinfeld are popular on TV. US basketball player Michael Jordan bursts on the scene. Super Mario Bros, Zelda's Link, and Pac-Man gain fame in video games. People wear leggings, shoulder pads and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Do you know what was on the cover of Life that year?

Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15? The Last Samurai. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was This Is the Night by Clay Aiken. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?

In 1988, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song One More Try by George Michael topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.

I've had enough of danger

And people on the streets

I'm looking out for angels

Just trying to find some peace

Now I think it's time

That you let me know

So if you love me

Say you love me

But if you don't just let me go...


There's a kid outside, shouting, playing. It doesn't care about time. It doesn't know about time. It shouts and it plays and thinks time is forever. You were once that kid.

When you were 9, the movie Princess Mononoke was playing. When you were 8, there was James and the Giant Peach. When you were 7, there was a Disney movie out called The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Does this ring a bell?

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... it's 1988. There's TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV is Count Duckula. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There's Yo! MTV Raps on now. That's the world you were born in.

Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards? The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1988. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? The Digital Camera.

Battle ships crowd the sea

Sixteen year olds in the army

Our jails are filled to the max

Discrimination against the blacks

Planet Earth 1988

Planet Earth 1988

It's too late, it's too late, it's too late


That's from the song Planet Earth 1988 by The Ramones.

In 1988, a new character entered the world of comic books: Quicksand. Bang! Boom! But that's just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1988, Carly Patterson was born. And Nikki Reed. Chelsea Staub, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.

It's 2010.

The world is a different place.

What path have you taken?

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