The Naughty Nineties

Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton, the cigar, and the blue dress that never made it to the dry cleaners.  Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas and the Coke can.  Desert Storm and the Scud Stud.  CNN and the 24-hour news cycle.  The Rwandan Genocide.  The Bosnian Genocide.  Kosovo.    Grunge mashed up heavy metal and punk and draped a torn flannel shirt over it.  Riot grrls took third wave feminism and added electric guitars and explicit lyrics.  And speaking of explicit lyrics, they put warning labels on rap CDs, helping sales under the law of unintended consequences.  The 90s was the era of sex, lies and the Intertubes.  James Cameron was king of the world.  Disney started making animated classics again.  They freed Nelson Mandela.  Alternative music and indie film briefly took over, until the big corporations caught on and cashed in.  A lot of us started thinking it might be worth it to pay more for organic.  Scientists cloned a sheep – hello, Dolly.  Al Gore started talking about something called ‘global warming.’  On TV we had Friends (hairdo: the Rachel), ER (hairdo: the Clooney) and, of course, Steve Urkel.

Here are some of my favorite films, books and music from the 1990s:

Favorite 90s Films

Short Cuts (Altman, 1993)
Before Sunrise (Linklater, 1995)
Being John Malkovich (Jonze, 1999)
Schindler’s List (Spielberg, 1993)
Magnolia (Anderson, 1999)
Happiness (Solondz, 1998)
Ed Wood (Burton, 1994)
Fargo (Coens, 1996)
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (Morris, 1997)
The Celebration (Vinterberg, 1998)
Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993)
Lone Star (Sayles, 1996)
Microcosmos (Nuridsany/Pérennou, 1996)
Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)
Rushmore (Anderson, 1998)
Secrets & Lies (Leigh, 1996)
The Sweet Hereafter (Egoyan, 1997)
All About My Mother (Almodóvar, 1999)
Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992)
Boogie Nights (Anderson, 1997)
The Apostle (Duvall, 1997)
American Beauty (Mendes, 1999)
Election (Payne, 1999)
Boys Don’t Cry (Peirce, 1999)
Brother’s Keeper (Berlinger/Sinofsky, 1992)

Favorite 90s Music

World Party  Goodbye Jumbo (1990)
The Sundays  Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (1990)
They Might Be Giants  Flood (1990)
Sinéad O’Connor  I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)
Rosanne Cash  Interiors (1990)
Franz Liszt  Sonata in B minor (Pollini) (1990)
Erik Satie  Erik Satie (Queffélec) (1990)
R.E.M.  Out of Time (1991)
U2  Achtung Baby (1991)
Throwing Muses  The Real Ramona (1991)
Johann Sebastian Bach  Cello Suites (Rostropovich) (1991)
Elliott Carter  The Four String Quartets (Juilliard Quartet) (1991)
R.E.M.  Automatic for the People (1992)
Josquin Des Prés  Missa “Ave maris stella”; Motets & Chansons (Taverner Consort & Choir/Parrott) (1992)
Aimee Mann  Whatever (1993)
Liz Phair  Exile in Guyville (1993)
Anonymous  Adorate Deum: Gregorian Chant from the Proper of the Mass (Nova Schola Gregoriana/Turco) (1993)
PJ Harvey  To Bring You My Love (1994)
Letters to Cleo  Aurora Gory Alice (1994)
Johnny Cash  American Recordings (1994)
John Dowland  Complete Lute Works, Vol. 1 (O’Dette) (1995)
Alban Berg  Wozzeck (Barenboim; Grundheber; Meier; Baker; Clark) (1994)
Dmitri Shostakovich  String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) (1994-1999)
Garbage  Garbage (1995)
Alanis Morissette  Jagged Little Pill (1995)
Emmylou Harris  Wrecking Ball (1995)
Aimee Mann  I’m With Stupid (1995)
Beck  Odelay (1996)
Radiohead  OK Computer (1997)
Sarah McLachlan  Surfacing (1997)
The Sundays  Static & Silence (1997)
Bob Dylan  Time Out of Mind (1997)
Yo La Tengo  I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
Garbage  Version 2.0 (1998)
John Scofield  A Go Go (1998)
Lucinda Williams  Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
Steve Reich  Music for 18 Musicians (1998)
Wilco  Summerteeth (1999)
Tom Waits  Mule Variations (1999)
The Magnetic Fields  69 Love Songs (1999)
Jim Hall & Pat Metheny  Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (1999)

Favorite 90s Books

David Foster Wallace Infinite Jest (1996)
Arundhati Roy  The God of Small Things (1997)
Zadie Smith  White Teeth  (1999)
Daniel C. Dennett  Consciousness Explained (1991)
Richard Fortey  Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth (1997)
Philip Gourevitch  We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (1998)
Janet E. Browne  Charles Darwin: Voyaging  (1995)
Andrea Barrett  Ship Fever: Stories (1996)
John McPhee  Annals of the Former World (1998)
Norman Rush  Mating (1991)
Tony Judt  Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (1999)
Tim Riley  Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary (1992)
David McCullough  Truman  (1992)
Julia Cameron  The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (1992)
Dennis Overbye  Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos: The Story of the Scientific Quest for the Secret of the Universe (1991)
Aljean Harmetz  Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca–Bogart, Bergman, and World War II  (1992)

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