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Retromania is Reynolds’s term for our obsession with, or enthrallment by, the recent past, and in marshaling his materials he instances—among other retrocities—retro porn, retro ringtones, and a Pret A Manger sandwich called “Retro Prawn on Artisan.” Reynolds writes: Nostalgia is now thoroughly entwined with the consumer-entertainment complex.

We feel pangs for the products of yesteryear, the novelties and distractions that filled up our youth …

Reboots and rediscoverings—the synth, the guitar, the blues, the beard—come and go speedily, flittingly, at the rate of fashion, fashion being nothing but “a machinery for creating cultural capital and then, with incredible speed, stripping it of value and dumping the stock.” back to Sheffield, England, in 1979 to catch a performance by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

(That the Doctor—in this particular episode—mangled his coordinates and ended up in 1879, on a Scottish heath, with Queen Victoria and a werewolf, is strictly incidental.) The floating simultaneity and endless availability of all recorded music, the deadening sophistication of the average listener—these are not spurs to Art. We might of course be old farts, Reynolds and I, with old-fart ears and old-fart memories, freaked out by the world that is blossoming at our old-fart fingertips.


And wherefore this pile of rock docs and rock bios, these waves of compulsive historicization? A nightmarish sense of recursion enters the narrative as he looks around at his fellow attendees and sees “faces that seemed vaguely familiar from rock documentaries.” Did I say “backward-looking”? Here Lot’s wife joyously turns into a pillar of salt, and Orpheus is not so much peeking over his shoulder as marching, lyre adangle, right back into the underworld.The charismatic lead singer, meanwhile, has become a surprise hit on the children’s circuit, peddling a groovified canon of kid-friendly sing-alongs to an audience of 6-year-olds. Why do the major musical developments of the past decade include Guitar Hero, reunion tours, hip karaoke, the rise of the tribute band, pop stars made entirely from bits of other pop stars, and Van Morrison re-performing Astral Weeks? The Making of The Making of The Making of Frampton Comes Alive! Early in Retromania, Simon Reynolds’s recent compendious and slightly nauseating (in a good way) account of pop-cultural backward-looking, the author visits 315 Bowery—once the site of the punk club CBGB, now a John Varvatos clothing boutique.Of all the guys, he seems to have changed the most: in the dressing room he is uncharacteristically spritely, and keeps humming “Nellie the Elephant.” Also, is his voice … It’s showtime, anyway, and the crowd roars—the silvering rock dudes, the love-handled ex-fanatics, the frowning young cognoscenti. His bandmates watch in horror as he bounces to the microphone, stares out wide-eyed, and yelps “Hey, everybody! Lady Gaga, bless her radical retro soul, is Cher after three weeks in Warhol’s Factory. This month, even as Roger Waters breaks temporarily from his transglobal plod-through of Pink Floyd’s 32-year-old rock opera, The Wall, Roger Daltrey sallies forth with a production of The Who’s 42-year-old rock opera, Tommy. Reynolds is on the heritage trail: he’s already been to the British Music Experience in London (“giant-size cutouts of Jarvis Cocker and Dizzee Rascal”) and Cleveland’s Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Museum, where he gazed in discomfiture upon a single severed dreadlock from the head of Bob Marley.Also, since its not just a single substance, synthetic marijuana doesn't show up in drug tests, making it first choice for people who face testing, like those in the military or under court-ordered supervision. For the first few years of existence, manufacturers flew under the radar by stamping "not for human consumption" on the packets and marketing it as potpourri.

As use and illness reached troubling levels, however, states such as New Hampshire, Nebraska and New York began cracking down.Later he wrote the rave-culture history/manifesto Generation Ecstasy, and the exploration of post-punk avant-gardism Rip It Up and Start Again.


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