By the time you’re reading this it will have been my birthday. This puts me in a weird situation because at the exact moment I’m writing this first paragraph it’s not my birthday yet. This means in my soon-to-be future you’re all reading me in the past writing about something that hasn’t happened yet.
For whatever reason I’ve always decided to skip using this column as a forum to discuss my birthday. At this same time last year I wrote about local band “Black Rain” (or “Reign”) or more specifically their infamous billboard that used to be just west of Charleston; in 2016 I wrote my quest to put a framed poster for the 1983 schlock movie “Yor: Hunter from the Future” on my wall; and in 2015 this column didn’t exist, although the first one went online one week later on Feb. 24, 2015. Not a bad late birthday present.
This year is one of those “milestone” birthdays, which is probably why I decided to finally just roll with it. So I decided to travel back, Quantum Leap-style, to the day of my birth and search though the Feb. 16, 1978, Journal Gazette to find out what was happening of the day I entered this world.
Flipping through that edition, I noticed there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between our paper then and our paper now. You may or may not believe this but I’m telling you it’s true, although back in those days we used to have that cartoon “Mat Toon” guy lurking around on the bottom corner of the front page like our own community version of The Noid. We should really bring that back.
News of note included a front page article from Linda Smith about Mayor Dettro’s plan to save money during the coal strike by turning certain streetlights off in Downtown Mattoon. J.D.’s Health Club also opened that week and we even ran a photo of someone working out on one of those ‘70s exercise machines that looks like it would kill you dead if you even looked at it wrong. We ran a whopping three articles on three separate pages about cancer, including a mention of Red-40 dye being possibly being a carcinogen, something which is apparently still being debated today. Geez guys, I know science moves slowly but let’s pick up the pace on that ruling, okay? And finally, this sports article of Muhammad Ali, who lost his third fight ever to Leon Spinks the night before with the grim headline of “Spinks, Father Time defeat Ali”. Good gravy, he was only 36. Seven months later Ali won a rematch by decision. Take that Father Time.
You know me though, I always have more fun tucking into those weird corners of our archives and as always, I was rewarded. My birthday horoscope suggested that I take time to study pleasurable subjects; although this would have been me in 1978, so I guess that would mean taking some time out to enjoy a cool Pabst Light.
We apparently also ran a serialized comic strip version of Terry Brooks' “Sword of Shannarra” hidden all the way back in the classified section. Without having read any of the other chapters I can say that I’ve never been more confused by just three panels of comic art. I’ll stick with another serialized dramatic strip we were running in ‘78, Robert Ludlum’s “The Chancellor Manuscript”, also discreetly tucked away in classifieds. More “dames” in that one.
On the entertainment page I found written proof that someone in 1978 was so concerned that The Carpenters could possibly have dethroned on the sales charts by Abba that they just had to write in to a syndicated entertainment answer man column. Fast forward 40 years and you can ask that kind of question out loud and not only will your Alexa give you a correct answer but also start playing “Dancing Queen” while also recording your voiceprint so that the clone of you Amazon is hatching on an island somewhere will sound just like you.
And the umpteenth appearance of a Radio Shack ad is included here not as yet another reminder that I’ve been acquiring a lot of old stereo equipment, but because it served as a reminder that all the vintage Hi-Fi assembly, old sci-fi movie posters, retro video game collecting and about a good quarter of other things I talk about here are, perhaps, all subconscious attempts by me to essentially surround myself with a comforting blanket of my lost youth. Or maybe I just like cool stuff, is that alright? Ahem. Clearly I’m very sensitive about this. Just don’t ask about why I’ve refused to get a haircut the last six months.
I used to say your 30s were a great time because you’re essentially the same person you were in your 20s, the only difference being that you’re mature enough to want to strangle the 20-year-old version of yourself for their idiotic mistakes. I’d like to think that 30-year-old Clint, working in 2008 at a then soon-to-be-shuttered business college and just starting the process of getting into grad school, would think 40-year-old me now isn’t that bad a guy. Sure the world essentially left him behind once he decided not to use Facebook or any social media, the main reason why apparently people don’t know it’s my birthday, but he works at his hometown newspaper, which is cool, and has a column he enjoys writing and people seem to like; even though someone out there clicked on the “Angry” face on the online version of my Electric Football column. Don’t think I didn’t see that, whoever you are!
And now here I am; one day later since I started writing this column, in proofreading mode, on my actual birthday. Can’t quite say it’s set in yet, although one thing’s for sure. I’m positive Clint in 2008, Clint now (officially a Throwback himself) as well as the Clint that was age 0 would have loved staying up late on the 16th of 1978 to watch “Murder on Flight 502,” a TV-movie playing at 11 a.m. on WTHI; a movie starring an entire cast of dead people including Robert Stack, Farrah Fawcett and finally, Sonny Bono, who was also born on, (I’m not making this up) Feb. 16th. Guess writing about my birthday paid off after all. Like I said, take that Father Time.