The jet packs have landed

Published 05 June 2012 12:25, Updated 07 June 2012 04:13

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There’s something particularly Gen X about getting nostalgic about nostalgia and while it doesn’t get us anywhere, it’s a little bit of mental indulgence rarely afforded to a generation that is pulled between paying mortgages, caring for kids and parents and jumping on and off a seemingly endless cycle of study and work.

And as this is my last Gen X blog for BRW, I’m throwing it open to answer readers’ issues.

Whatever happened to live music? That’s an easy one, it was killed by a mixture of pokie profits, computer games and social networking. Back in the 1990s we used to go to a live gig at least once or twice a week, more often if the pub was within walking distance. Then pokie legislation was freed up, stages were replaced by seedy back rooms that ultimately were far more profitable for publicans and governments. Through the 1990s, first-person shooter games went from the early um-err versions of Doom and Quake (which admittedly looked pretty impressive at the time), to oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-the-rush. Live music in the 1990s was pretty damn spectacular and smart and edgy – you’ll know this if you ever bopped to Frente!’s Accidentally Kelly Street, moshed to Def Fx’s Psychoactive Summer, or went wild to TISM’s Old Man River.

Through social networking we get the odd impression of being in contact with people without seeing them in person, so we now spend evenings at home rather than out meeting people.

Others asked why it was we were not longer the “in” generation, which I must admit confused me having worked on the assumption that we were mostly the “out” generation, having just missed the good stuff such as free education and affordable housing and come too soon for stuff like the end of the cold war and two decades of economic growth. Admittedly the latter was recently curtailed and Gen Ys have hit rocky times ever so slightly unprepared.

There were a lot of mentions of the unrelenting pace of technological change and the number of once huge, apparently stable and kinda cool brands that have disappeared, like Tab, TAA, Kodak, Gowings, NetSpace, LA Gear, Esprit and MySpace. And there were also lots of references to the economic pressure of being too deep in our mortgages and staring down the very real possibility of not ever being able to afford to retire. There were comments about when teenagers started looking so young, when we started looking so old and how it could be possible that there are still some kids that haven’t seen Star Wars.

While I’ll never be able to answer any of these questions adequately, there is reason to be optimistic. For that deep inner need we’ve harboured all these years, to have our very own jet pack to take home has finally been answered.

Chinese-born Canadian Raymond Li is in the process of manufacturing a jet pack called the Jetlev that can be used to hover nine meters above the ocean, propelled by two water jets.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s New Zealand inventor Glenn Martin who is working on refining the prototypes for the Martin Jetpack and expects to begin commercial rollouts within the next 18 months.

So while we’ve missed out on much of what we thought we’d enjoy as adults, at the very least we can finally look forward to flying through the air on levitation devices. It’s almost three decades since astronauts flew through the smog into the Los Angeles Coliseum to the delight of the crowd and that little dream is finally looking like it will become reality.

Thanks for reading.

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