Simon Reynolds, in his excellent tome Retromania, discusses the historicity of rock ephemera, and the fact that psychedelic posters for concerts in San Francisco had become collectors’ items as early as 1968, only a few months after they first appeared. Which is interesting, but surely there’s a difference between trying to keep hold of souvenirs of a scene that’s still vital and happening on your own doorstep; and combing eBay for fragments of mojo from a phenomenon that was dead before your parents met? Or, for that matter, getting your stylist to find an original t-shirt featuring a glam-metal band whose music you’ve never heard? I think I still have a small cache of posters and flyers somewhere from the Exeter club scene of the late 80s; I didn’t think even back then that they were going to set the auction houses alight 25 years hence, but I hoped these two-tone scraps of Xerox and Letraset might remind me of a few good times (alongside the bad and mediocre ones). What the denizens of Haight-Ashbury were doing would become nostalgic/necrophiliac/retromaniac once they’d all sliced off their hair and become brokers; but in 1968 it was no more backward-looking than wearing that Nirvana t-shirt in 1992.
While we’re there, Retromania is the first book I purchased for my newly acquired Kindle; which says something, but I’m not sure what. Will I feel any nostalgic pangs about the grey-on-grey ones and zeroes, the way I might do about my copy of Reynolds’ previous book, the front cover of which was chewed off by a dog? And which will be more valuable on eBay?