Segarini: Stockton, Derring Do, and Crusin’ the Miracle Mile – Part One: Nostalgia

Bob (Cylus Proulx) SegariniRegardless of where you end up living on this mudball, an odd thing occurs sometime between hitting 30 and the day sex slips from number 1 to number 9 on your Top Ten list. When a warm sweater takes precedent over a cold beer, and a Friday night out on the town ends at 10:00 pm instead of Monday. No longer interested in flirting with young women after your first encounter with the business end of a can of Pepper Spray, instead of mentally undressing women on the street, your mind wanders not up skirts, but to a cheeseburger you had when you were 13 years old, or a TV show that is no longer even in reruns, or the incredible smell of wood burning in fireplaces when you walked down your street on the first chilly night of fall. Mostly, your mind wanders to where you grew up, where you went to school, and where everything was ahead of you. All things were possible, and you felt like you would live forever. Nostalgia.

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Nostalgia, believe it or not, was once thought of as a disease. From Wikipedia: The term nostalgia describes a sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations, The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning “pain, ache”. It was described as a medical condition, a form of melancholy, in the Early Modern period, and became an importanttrope in Romanticism.

Nostalgia 2000

In common, less clinical usage, nostalgia sometimes includes a general interest in past eras and their personalities and events, especially the “good old days,” such as a sudden image, or remembrance of something from one’s childhood.

MemoryThe scientific literature on nostalgia is quite thin, but there are a few studies that have attempted to pin down the essence of nostalgia, and what causes it. Smell and touch are also strong evokers of nostalgia and memories in general due to the processing of these stimuli first passing through theamygdala, the emotional seat of the brain. These recollections of our past are usually important events, people we care about, and places where we have spent time. Music can also be a strong trigger of nostalgia.

A 17th Century medical student coined the term “nostalgia” for anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home, although some military doctors believed their problems were specific to the Swiss and caused by the Alpine racket of cowbells.

Cowbell

In other words, if you are from Sweden…avoid cowbells. Hear that Walken?

As a medical condition

Further information: Homesickness

Swiss MerinariesThe term was coined in 1688 by Johannes Hofer (1669–1752) in his Basel dissertation. Hofer introduced nostalgia ormal du pays “homesickness” for the condition also known as mal du Suisse “Swiss illness” or Schweizerheimweh “Swiss homesickness,” because of its frequent occurrence in Swiss mercenaries who in the plains of lowlands of France or Italy were pining for their native mountain landscapes. Symptoms were also thought to include fainting, high fever, indigestion, stomach pain, and death.

English homesickness is a loan translation of nostalgia. Sir Banks Joseph used the word in his journal during the first voyage of Captain Cook. On 3 September 1770 he stated that the sailors “were now pretty far gone with the longing for home which the Physicians have gone so far as to esteem a disease under the name of Nostalgia,” but his journal was not published in his lifetime (see Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.). The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768-1771, Public Library of New South Wales/Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1962, vol. ii, p. 145). pas på ostene. erged and sent home. Receiving a diagnosis was, however, generally regarded as an insult. In 1787 Robert Hamilton (1749-1830) described a case of a soldier suffering from nostalgia, who received sensitive and successful treatment:

“In the year 1782, while I lay in barracks at Tin mouth in the north of England, a recruit who had lately joined the regiment,…was returned in sick list, with a message from his captain, requesting I would take him into the hospital. He had only been a few months a soldier; was young, handsome, and well-made for the service; but a melancholy hung over his countenance, and wanness preyed on his cheeks. He complained of a universal weakness, but no fixed pain; a noise in his ears, and giddiness of his head….As there were little obvious symptoms of fever, I did not well know what to make of the case…Some weeks passed with little alteration…excepting that he was evidently become more meager. He scarcely took any nourishment…became indolent…He was put on a course of strengthening medicines; wine was allowed him. All proved ineffectual. He had now been in the hospital three months, and was quite emaciated, and like one in the last stage of consumption… On making my morning visit, and inquiring, as usual, of his rest at the nurse, she happened to mention the strong notions he had got in his head, she said, of home, and of his friends. What he was able to speak was constantly on this topic. This I had never heard of before…He had talked in the same style, it seems, less or more, ever since he came into the hospital. I went immediately up to him, and introduced the subject; and from the alacrity with which he resumed it.. I found it a theme which much affected him. He asked me, with earnestness, if I would let him go home. I pointed out to him how unfit he was, from his weakness to undertake such a journey [he was a Welchman] till once he was better; but promised him, assuredly, without farther hesitation, that as soon as he was able he should have six weeks to go home. He revived at the very thought of it… His appetite soon mended; and I saw in less than a week, evident signs of recovery.”

Melancholia_02In the eighteenth century, scientists were looking for a locus of nostalgia, a nostalgic bone. By the 1850s nostalgia was losing its status as a particular disease and coming to be seen rather as a symptom or stage of a pathological process. It was considered as a form of melancholia and a predisposing condition among suicides. Nostalgia was, however, still diagnosed among soldiers as late as the American Civil War. By the 1870s interest in nostalgia as a medical category had all but vanished. Nostalgia was still being recognized in both the First and Second World Wars, especially by the American armed forces. Great lengths were taken to study and understand the condition to stem the tide of troops leaving the front in droves (see the BBC documentary Century of the Self).

As a description

Nostalgia is triggered by something reminding an individual of an event or item from their past. The resulting emotion can vary from happiness to sorrow. The term of “feeling nostalgic” is more commonly used to describe pleasurable emotions associated with and/or a longing to go back to a particular period of time, although the former may also be true.

Romanticism

Swiss nostalgia was linked to the singing of Kuhreihen, which were forbidden to Swiss mercenaries because they led to nostalgia to the point of desertion, illness or death. The 1767 Dictionnaire de Musique by Jean-Jacques Rousseauclaims that Swiss mercenaries were threatened with severe punishment to prevent them from singing their Swiss songs. It became somewhat of a topos in Romantic literature, and figures in the poem Der Schweizer by Achim von Arnim (1805) and in Clemens Brentano‘s Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1809) as well as in the opera Le Chalet Swiss-Alps-SwitzerlandbyAdolphe Charles Adam (1834) which was performed for Queen Victoria under the title The Swiss Cottage. The Romantic connection of nostalgia, the Kuhreihen and the Swiss Alps was a significant factor in the enthusiasm for Switzerland, the development of early tourism in Switzerland and Alpinism that took hold of the European cultural elite in the 19th century. German Romanticism coined an opposite to Heimweh, Fernweh “far-sickness,” “longing to be far away,” like wanderlust expressing the Romantic desire to travel and explore.”

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1800-pash-misinformationSo we all suffer this paralytic mental disorder, only now it is not only okay, it is actually psychologically relaxing and reassuring to wallow in a past already lived. This is due, in part, to a massive desire to escape the woes and frightening amount of oft-times erroneous The-Sky-Is-Falling-Don’t-Eat-The-Food-Unless-You-Grew-It-Yourself-ASTEROID!-Everybody’s-Out-to-Get-Me-Underwear Causes Sterility-KidneyHarvesting First Dates- GUNS!-Government/Military/Big Pharma  Conspiracies on every Facebook page, Tweet, and Fox News crawl, nostalgia is  also used to make more money than Romney wasted on his bid on that house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is especially financially rewarding to prey on the generation known to all as “Baby Boomers”. because a lot of them worry constantly that something MUST be wrong. I am actually from the very tail end of the generation before that (missed being a Boomer by 4 months) called the “Last Great Generation” which I wasn’t really a part of either. The sobriquet refers to the generation that fought in World War Two, which ended about 12 days before I was born. So my generation should probably be called the “Taint” generation…the little strip of time between the ‘Greats’ and the ‘Boomers’.

BoomersAt any rate, nostalgia is so rampant in the Boom People (and the generations that followed) that it creates revenue (and a reason to live) for a lot of folks who should be whittling on a porch somewhere or playing Euchre in a retirement home cafeteria. I don’t care if you grew up in a hovel under an overpass, or the backseat of your parent’s getaway car, you WILL eventually start to remember your youth as A: Fun B: Carefree C: The best years of your life. In the future, will this current generation go to a butcher shop to purchase some Soylent Green, see some meat, and immediately begin to pine for Lady Ga Ga and her meat dress? Will they read about a domestic squabble and dig out their CDs of Chris Brown and Rihanna? Only time, that relentless bitch of a egg timer, will tell.

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At this point in time, The Rolling Stones still bring a  measure of moisture to millions of women (who should be knitting sweaters for their cats or dogs), even though they can no longer see the show from their boyfriend’s shoulders and have long since stopped flashing their breasts at the band, and james-bond-daniel-craig-sean-connery-300men who argue with Daniel Craig Bond Fans in favour of Sean Connery Bond, whose full head of hair graced the franchise when special effects weren’t so special, and Bond Girls were actual women with meat in their bones and not girls who could blow away in a high wind. Add to that the ongoing support for Star Trek TOS (the Original Series), which, when viewed without the rose coloured glasses of Kirk's Guidenostalgia, has all the grace, technical wizardry, and depth of a round of Chinese Checkers or a rousing game of ‘Go Fish’, against the far better written, acted, and presented Star Trek Reboot, where Spock is finally getting some sugar instead of the testosterone soaked lump of fatty ground beef Captain of yore, who should have been wearing a leisure suit when he picked up space chicks, he was such a product of his time. At least he wore a velour shirt.

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When it comes to living in the past, your memory edits out the bad stuff and you are left with the good, and like truck stop meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy, your past becomes comfort food for thought. Sure, that is not Nostalgia Clubalways the case. Some people grow up in a miserable environment, or had a terrible childhood, but on the whole, even those people will find themselves nostalgic for their youth, and where they spent it. I am no exception.

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The past is truly comforting to live in. The reason is simple; there are no bad surprises there. No planes taking out towers, no alien overlords, no Nikki Minaj or Pitbull records. We KNOW what to expect because we have already experienced it, and we survived, and back there, we are safe. And young. And hopeful.

The air smelled better, the food was tastier, and you could still meet Mick, date Tuesday, become a rock star, become President, cure cancer. Or, to make it easier to understand, pot and gasoline were cheap, and sex wouldn’t kill you.

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So even though I am referring to my own past, my own generation, it is the same for each and every one. Even this current generation will look back Best Yearssomeday and remember these times fondly. Apparently, NOW is always worse than THEN.

We forget the Cuban Missile Crises, Kennedy’s assassination (at least the grief that accompanied it), the Gasoline shortage, Debbie Boone, Helen Reddy, Up With People, and those acetate, form fitting shirts that caught fire if a cigarette ash dropped on them…and it is good that we do. Nostalgia helps us maintain our sanity. Remembering how good something can be gives us all hope that there are more good times ahead, and I, for one, believe there are.

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Tomorrow: Part Two – A field trip to Stockton California, some school yard mischief, death-defying stupidity, and a night cruising Pacific Avenue. Be there or be square.

And…if you are not busy today. Great music, a silent auction, wonderful venue, and a worthwhile cause. Starts at 4:00 pm and ends early.  See you there

Benefit for the Boogieman

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Segarini’s regular column appears here every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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9 Responses to “Segarini: Stockton, Derring Do, and Crusin’ the Miracle Mile – Part One: Nostalgia”

  1. Hey man, Funny stuff guy, had me laughing longtime, thanks bro

  2. Looking forward to next chapter in rainy Stockton.

  3. What a great read this is , I very much enjoyed it and am looking forward to more.

  4. Chip Kniss Says:

    This is Great Bob .. Can’t wait to read the next chapter !!!

  5. Daryl Bothwell Says:

    Good old Stockton: cruisin’ Pacific Ave, driving out to 8 mile road to hear the Bluenotes. The garage parties with the Platters playing and the guys trying to cop a feel. Playing pool at Bill’s Billiards across from the old beautiful greystone courthouse. Picnicking at Oak Park and catching the Ports at Billy Hebert Field. Playing tackle football in the park across from the Rolling Pin. Never missing the football games at COP Stadium. I miss that place!

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