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Retro Future: All Tomorrow’s Parties

Depicted in the following snapshots of imagined futures are colorful predictions of what was once thought to be right around the corner.  Complete with technology and automation to handle life’s chores, it seemed a carefree existence, full of wonder.  While these idyllic days don’t seem to be dawning in quite the way we were promised, we may at least take comfort in the knowledge that there remains a small, yet dedicated group committed to preserving the vision.  So crack open a freeze-dried astronaut snack and return for a moment to the tomorrows of yesterday.

The as-of-yet unexplored potentials of televisions, automobiles, and homes were delivered with convincing authority in the cartoons of Tex Avery.  Is it any surprise, then, that many young minds grew bitter with disillusionment as not a single one of these advanced concepts was brought to the marketplace.

While our local light rail provides me with an efficient form of mass transit, it could stand to pass through a few underground tubes at high speed, ideally while emitting a non-intrusive “whooshing” sound.

Musicians looked to the stars while creating rocket ready soundtracks suitable for stiff dancing and synchronized guitar aerobics.

Certainly, attempts are being made to infiltrate modern culture with the gadgets and lifestyle automation we deserve.  However,  we have been stung one too many times by products which not only failed to live up to their potential, but which were served to us with covered in such generous helpings of lamesauce that they ended up souring us on the whole concept (i.e. the wristwatch phone).

While the current reality of space travel is pretty exciting, it can hardly hope to compete with the eager dreams of radio era story tellers and magazine hucksters, unencumbered as they were by pesky facts or the laws of nature.  In fact, science in general has been a bit of  a downer as of late, what with demoted planets and super colliders that seem stuck in perpetual delay.

Space dome communities, robot maids, briefcase cars…still waiting.

Modern variations on this theme do exist, but they have little to none of the allure of their predecessors.  This regrettably does not stem from any lack of artistic merit, but from the seeming loss of collective imagination that once speculated insisted on a hassle free and jet-pack laden future for all.



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