For a brief moment in the early 90's, the X Generation dared to dream that the world could be a better place. Or at least it could be a more, kinda less, in your face, making such a big-deal-about-itself place.
For those few years while Grunge was king, its people lived a modern day utopia of laying on the couch watching old sitcoms, sneering at anyone who got all-excited about themselves, dressing as though we had been laying in a bed of moss for a month and creating an art form that existed entirely in air quotes. It was a magical time and through it all, one impish band-hooking-up-with actress reined as the era's muse.
The years that followed have not been kind to the grunge ethos as earnestness and ambition have replaced sarcasm and slack. But through all the twists of fortune, the lost peoples of grunge could still look to one tiny flame burning on the distant horizon. As long as Winona Ryder continued to rob department stores, make demented rants on stage and hook up with even more musicians, somewhere, the Grunge Era lived on.
But now all that is over. With the news that Ryder will make a Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie the dream has finally ended. Granted it is a movie about the life of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson, which although it is a very very earnest topic, at least it will have serious drinking in it, so one could say it has a toenail in grunge. But still..
Given the milestone, it seemed a good moment to take a look at the icon's of grunge and see who has stayed true to the dream during the long disapora.
ICON: Kurt Cobain
GRUNGE ACCOMPLISHMENT: The era's troubador
WHERE HE IS NOW: Deceased
BETRAYAL OF GRUNGE ETHOS QUOTIENT: Almost entirely pure, however a posthumous cartoon appearance in Guitar Hero game raised eyebrows.
ICON: Layne Staley
GRUNGE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Lead singer, Alice in Chains; sung the definitional Grunge lyric "He who tries, Will be wasted"
WHERE HE IS NOW: Died of an overdose in 2002
BETRAYAL OF GRUNGE ETHOS QUOTIENT: Low. It's hard to beat a drug overdose for grunge purity.
ICON: Douglas Coupland
GRUNGE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Wrote the not particularly Grungey book which gave the name to Generation X
WHERE HE IS NOW: Living in Toronto where he has just written Generation A which according to his website champions, the act of reading and storytelling as one of the few defenses we still have against the constant bombardment of the senses in a digital world"
BETRAYAL OF GRUNGE ETHOS QUOTIENT: Enormous.
ICON: Doc Martens
GRUNGE ACCOMPLISHMENT: The era's official footwear.
WHERE HE IS NOW: Forced to abandon production for a time in their native UK and give up their vegan non-leather line, Doc struggles along as a novelty/nostalgia act.
BETRAYAL OF GRUNGE ETHOS QUOTIENT: Low.
ICON: Courtney Love
GRUNGE ACCOMPLISHMENT: The era's Yoko Ono
WHERE SHE IS NOW: Has relocated her long run disaster show to New York.
BETRAYAL OF GRUNGE ETHOS QUOTIENT: Her sell-out is total, complete and unquestionable, while on another level she remains somehow the brand's truest proponent.
ICON: Perry Farrell
GRUNGE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Lead singer of Jane's Addiction, creator of Lollapalooza.
WHERE HE IS NOW: An earnest global warming campaigner, occaisional Jane's reunion attendee and flogger of various palooza spin off's/
BETRAYAL OF GRUNGE ETHOS QUOTIENT:When he created Kidzapalooza, he took a step beyond possible grunge redemption.