‘Twas in the Summer of ’08

That summer, plaid shorts made a triumphant return to prominence. (Take a look at some of these…. beyond the plaid, I also admired the mobster pinstriped look.)

ezekiel-mens-big-plaid-shorts-blackThose who run the fashion world decided canary yellow was the color of the season, until it changed to something else…

I have the fashion sense of a trucker at a tractor pull, but one couldn’t help notice these things.

That summer more and more young girls pushed their parents about getting tattoos.  Their mothers, usually, were not thrilled.

2008 was the summer of the Barack Bump and the wasabi popsicle. (For the latter, the link gives you the recipe so you can make them too. Imagine the chic at your next barbecue.)

Coming back to the Barack Bump clip, that did well in the viral video sweepstakes. The idea of viral videos really began to come into its own that year, a spinoff of the whole viral marketing strategy. (For a purely artistic viral video, take a look at this one — a wonderful wall animation, although on the gruesome side here and there.)

That year, with the proliferation of do-it-yourself video, doctors posted videos of their operations on YouTube. (Although in the one case that reached prominence, the patient, who had the indignity of his rectal surgery and the spray canister found therein displayed on the video site, promised to sue.)

In the collectibles realm, golf discs suddenly became a hot item in the summer of 2008. Golf discs are just like frisbees and used in the game of disc golf. An antique 2001 version might have set you back $300. (Frisbee golf used to be a trend back in 1999.)

Collection of sugar packets really took off that year. Sugar packet collectors held conventions in France, Germany and the Midlands of Great Britain. Apparently the Richard Nixon sugar packet was especially hot and could sell for, oh, more than a dollar.

carrotEating raw food became very big that summer. For example, the New York City Raw Food Meetup Group had 1247 members. Books were written extolling the practice. Myself, when I went out for dinner, I usually just ordered a big carrot. And a martini.

In the 2008 world of film, the movie Kung Fu Panda showed endangered species killing each other. It’s a kids show, and entertaining, but it made me wonder about what our culture is about, really. Is it a kind of sunset effect like what William Irwin Thompson talks about, where last brilliant vestiges are thrown up for display before they disappear into the night?

In a bizarrely related way, taxidermy made a renewed splash in Summer, 2008. That’s right, it was time to bring out that moth-eaten moose head that Uncle Ralph insisted on mounting back in ’75 and put it back on the wall. Complemented any occasion.

Noctilucent clouds began appearing further and further south, more and more often. These are the highest clouds in the earth’s atmosphere. They are normally too faint to be seen, and are visible usually only in the far north when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow. Their appearance was tentatively linked to global climate change (which was of note also that year).

You became able to buy Tasmanian Rain, “captured from the purest skies on earth.” Designer bottled water. Only cost you $59 for a case of 12 bottles. Available in sparkling as well, for just a few dollars more.

The Tasmanian rainwater came in glass bottles fortunately, given that all the plastics we ate and drank out of became more tightly linked to general endocrine disruption in the human population. Chemicals in the plastics tended to leach into the contents and mimicked a variety of hormonal effects when consumed, including increased obesity and increased potential for cancer.

Designer toilet paper made inroads as well in interior design that summer. You could order online: black, red, fuschia. Linked to that was the trend, imported from Japan and Korea, of heated and computerized luxury bidet toilets.

Of course, it was the summer that we realized that peak oil might be a reality after all, with all its incalcuable consequences for North America and the world.

Predictions mounted that the suburbs will become the slums of the future, as people are forced to live closer to their work and amenities by the lack of affordable fuel for the family car.

Img211996424That summer, China mounted its Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the mascots chosen for their games became superstitious symbols of disaster.

And for the first time, just prior to the games, thanks to cell phone cameras and the internet (before the Chinese authorities could respond in time and block all such activity), a major riot was shown occuring. These particular riots in the county of Weng’an appeared to be due to official coverups of murder and corruption. The rioters burned and destroyed the police station and the local Communist Party headquarters. It takes a lot for Chinese schoolchildren, their parents and the local community to take such action. Ordinary Chinese are usually models of decorum, at least compared to us North Americans.

But such riots, in response to the thievery and corruption of local and regional officials are apparently constant throughout China but little known in the outside world.

But all was not all doom and gloom. For only $4995 you could have your very own desktop factory, or as it was also known, a 3D printer. They could be used to produce design prototypes or topographical maps or architectural mockups.

Some of these “printers” used starch or even sugar (the Candyfab 4000) to build up layers of a 3-dimensional object.

The Fab@Home project was more ambitious: to put on your desk a machine that could make almost anything.

Printing with food was possible, for instance with hors d’oeuvres. (Or horses’ doovers, as my brothers and I always liked to call them.)

In the summer of 2008, the sublime and the ridiculous and the tragic mingled together, as they always have, but with amplified scope.



Note on Image Sources

Bermuda Shorts: http://www.exitrealworld.com/Shop/Ezekiel-Mens-Big-Plaid-Shorts-Black

Carrot: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wsherb/edpages/delicious/carrots.html

Mascot: http://en.beijing2008.cn/70/68/column211716870.shtml

Explore posts in the same categories: Art, Awareness, China, Culture, Environment, Internet, Science

4 Comments on “‘Twas in the Summer of ’08”

  1. suburbanlife Says:

    Well, i followed all the links you provided in this post, and must say I am now thoroughly depressed. On the other hand, am somewhat glad I am nearing seniority and potential age-onset memory loss as this summer has a feel that would be well forgotten.
    This morning, on an eerily overcast fraser valley july morning, the dawn chorus is yelling itself hoarse, my apple tree rains pre-mature, unripened, fruit and my two blueberry bushes promise a crop a third of its annual yield (poor pollination due to wet weather)
    I know why yellow is this summer’s must have colour, yellow, for women’s clothing – to serve as a reminder of summer sunshine, of what we, here, are seeing precious little.
    You are so right, “in the summer of 2008, the sublime and the ridiculous and the tragic mingled together, as they always have, but with amplified scope.” G

  2. fencer Says:

    Hi suburbanlife,

    Yes we can often only meet events with humor and humility. And the summer does seem to be almost nonexistent so far… a couple of days of hot weather.

    I read the post at your site about the death of your friend, and that can’t make things any better either.


  3. bloglily Says:

    I can’t imagine a better person to put together the sublime, ridiculous and tragic in a way that makes me laugh and makes me think. Thanks! I’ll never be able to get the memory of those shorts out of my head.

  4. fencer Says:

    Hey Lily,

    So nice to hear from you!

    Those shorts are special, aren’t they?


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