First Meeting

tonight

Rain poured down, almost slant-wise. The wind howled around the brick apartment buildings, slick with water running off the train tracks. Lightning cut open the sky. Dan turned his collar up against the cloudburst and soaked to the skin, slipped into The Gem.

The bar was packed for a Tuesday night. As the wizened barkeep liked to say, all the rats had come in from the cold. Dan took a seat in the front and ordered one of the pale ales Al had on tap, a cheap, fruity blend from Europe. The buzz of the conversation pressed in on him, everyone in tight, leather coats and black T-shirts, wearing bicycle chains around their necks.

“Interesting choice,” a man at his right elbow opined, in a dry tone. Dan ran his hand through his damp, chestnut hair, and turned to look at the interlocutor, prepared to be annoyed. When his eyes got to the man’s face, however, he came to a full-stop, and then to his embarrassment, did a double-take.

The man’s most distinctive feature was his cat-like eyes – green, blue and flecked with amber. His face was angular, almost chiseled out of stone. He had a tall forehead, but his face still managed to have a gentleness about it, a playfulness. Mischief animated the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, when he smiled, as he did now, with obvious bemusement.

His long, thin fingers toyed with the rim of a glass of whiskey, which he turned at odd intervals. Those eyes were alive with the fires of harmless wickedness, genuine fun. He wore a cappuccino shirt and a black jacket.

“I could say the same for you,” Dan retorted, trying to look cool, only to succeed in appearing daft.

The man, his natural hair color a dirty auburn, almost blond, shook his head, “So what’s your name?” His voice was deep and rich, like rivers in an aquifer.

“Dan,” he responded, managing to pull his tongue off the roof of his mouth just in time.

The man shifted closer, his dark suit flowing into the gloom of the bar. His movements were lithe but calculated. His eyes danced with delight and seemed to burn into Dan’s soul, “Dan, eh? May I buy you a drink Dan?”

Dan blinked, dumbstruck. “Sure,” he got out, “And your name?”

“My name is Cai,” he said, another slow grin spreading across his face. He signaled Al over and placed a tenner on the table.

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Music

Forgot About Dre (Instrumental) – Dr. Dre feat. Eminem

Cry Me a River (Instrumental) – Justin Timberlake

 

Kylos on the Internet Forums

kylo vinyl

This is where the Kylos are coming from: in the late-1940s, a biker culture developed, culled from people coming back from the war, all about independence, and not necessarily belonging to any one political group. Then, as the Baby Boomer kids started growing up, some protested for civil rights, but there was also a sub-group, in the ’60s, and ’70s of punks, who created a new punk culture. Some punks were liberal, but others were rebelling against their WWII-era parents by wearing all black and adopting the iconography of the Nazis – death heads and the nascent leather culture – some ironically, some not. Now, of course, the punk and leather subcultures today are much bigger than these roots, and include many liberals and progressives.

However, this continuum was harder to figure out back in the ’80s and early ’90s, as the biker, punk, goth, caged fighter and leather culture grew as an underground ballast against the predominant prep and jock culture (“Sixteen Candles,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Footloose”). ’80s culture itself was rehashing the culture of the ’50s, which also had its share of gangsters and bikers – see for example, “West Side Story,” and “Rebel Without a Cause.”

It is from those roots that we get retrofuturistic throwbacks to goth and punk culture (the 2000s punk and goth culture and music, like Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy and Evanescence) and cyberpunk (“Serial Experiments Lain,” the “Ghost in the Shell” franchise and its 2017 live-action film, “The Matrix,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Thor: Ragnarok”), and biker/leather/caged fighter culture (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” UFC, the film “The Wrestler,” professional wrestling, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Fight Club”).

This dichotomy between the mainstream and the underground sub-groups in the ’80s is clearly seen and depicted very well in the “Black Mirror” episode “San Junipero” (Tucker’s v. the Quagmire). Another throwback cultural artifact that encapsulates these observations is Lady Gaga’s music video for her song “Alejandro,” which is itself based on “Cabaret,” and the WWII era of the TV show “Allo Allo.”

This brings us back to the present day, with synthwave, vaporwave, vaportrap and other forms of retrofuturism. The dark side of the proto-fascist weeds that grew up with the punk, biker and goth grain is also coming forward in time: hence fashwave, Trumpwave and the Kylos. Eventually this cultural phenomenon will die out as the ’90s comes forward in time (grunge, “Twin Peaks”) and that whole ’80s mainstream v. subculture dynamic cycles out of the retro-continuity and is completely played out.

There were goths in the ’90s, who now claim they were goth and punk before it was cool. Since they were born in the ’80s, these adherents held on to goth and punk past its sell-by date. Goths and punks have been around from the ’60s and ’70s at least, and as far as the biker culture, as far back as the ’40s. These punk and goth cultural sub-strains never stopped existing; they just went underground at various times in pop culture history. Such people’s “accomplishment” isn’t something to be proud of necessarily: it just shows either a strong allegiance to one fad or subculture or a lack of knowledge of when historic trends are going to cycle back in and come back in style.