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Back to the Present: On October 21st, 2015, 4:29 PM PST

Antti Kautonen October 21, 2015 Finnish Line, Nostalgia 3 Comments

The minute this post goes live is the exact time the DeLorean DMC-12 converted to a time machine by E. Brown Industries comes into our time from 1985. Or to be more precise, the alternative timeline where everything is a pastel-coloured futuristic version of 1989/1990. I kinda like that idea.

Today’s been jammed full of everything Back to the Future related, and it sort of feels like a New Year’s celebration in October. It’s funny to think that in a way I’ve been waiting for this date for as long as I can remember, from the first time I saw the film on VHS after it was shown on Finnish television in the mid-1990s. I have been fascinated with DeLoreans ever since, and it’s likely that my hobbies, my career and my entire life have been steered into this exact direction after being so enormously inundated by 1980s nostalgia. I haven’t become that guy who fills his apartment with eBay movie memorabilia, but I do have a DeLorean brochure on a shelf somewhere.

The thought that has been with me the whole day is that if the kid I was at the time of seeing the film came here to visit me in 2015, would he like what he sees? Is this the future I thought it would be?

To be honest, I didn’t have the faintest idea of how life would turn out for me. I was pretty certain I would have to study as long as it took to graduate from somewhere, find a job to pay inevitable bills, and that’s about it. To be able to live off writing, especially writing about old cars, is way beyond my dreams and aspirations. The fact I can discuss them with friends over multiple platforms whenever I so please is immensely great if you think of it. Back in the ’90s getting a pen pal from a neighbouring country was about the best you could hope for. Having a better pocket computer than Hologram Al in Quantum Leap would probably blow my 12-year-old mind.

Of course there have been things that could have gone better, and I can’t really see my life as a succession of solid plans after another, but my 30th year on this planet should look pretty decent in the eyes of a kid who was deemed to hit the town library hungry for any BTTF knowledge he could cram his brains full. Pre-internet (for me), pre-Google, my only sources of information were old magazines and books – and for a while, I thought the logo meant the DMC-12 was an AMC product. That was luckily rectified soon enough.

I would hate to see my life as something lead by a kid in size ten shoes, but I’d like to be able to say I haven’t become jaded enough to lose the core glimmer somewhere in there, that – for a lack of a better phrase – I’ve kept it real. Having been able to visit USA, California to be precise, and to be able to ride in an actual, moving DeLorean would be the best hope of a good future I’d be able to send back to the kid I was.

I wasn’t able to stand there in the alleyway of the Universal Studios backlot, in drizzling movie rain, in 2015 Hill Valley, but I can time this post to go live on that very moment that’s depicted right there and then, before the rain ends, there’s a change of clothes and Marty walks into Cafe ’80s to get a Pepsi Perfect. Then this article is read by people interested in the movie, the cars and the nostalgia all over the planet. It’s probably the trick I’d most like to show the kid who’s just seen the end credits roll on the VHS copy of the film.

Despite the news every day being doomy and gloomy as ever, maybe the road ahead isn’t completely terrible. Remember the words of Doc Brown in Back to the Future III: “There’s no fate but what we make ourselves.”

Wait– that was from Terminator 2.


[Thanks to Matt Farah from The Smoking Tire for letting me see his DeLorean, pictured last year]

  • Sjalabais

    What hits me we the wave of retrofuturism and analysis like this is more what hasn’t changed. The concept of work and family, eat’n’sleep was the same in the movie, and is pretty much so today. But working life is about to change pretty drastically, partly enabled by futuristic devices like interconnected smartphones. Serious people expect automation to affect professionals for the first time, really, so your idea of “studying, then work”, a more and more common strategy, might soon not be sufficient for a lot of people. Cars won’t fly any day soon, but a driverless future seems inevitable. And, frankly, I’m also one of them who doesn’t shy away from Terminator references. Grown up in a country with a record of totalitarian abuse, with the Stasi breathing down several family memver’s neck, I fear the possibility for abuse that big data and uninformed sharing of information bring with them. We are a long way from a democratic world with checks and balances to be trusted; just ask Ukraine. Even though we live in a 2015 that is pretty good to a lot of us.

    /1982 model shuts up

  • Me, yesterday…and yes, I wore them both all day.

    • Rover 1

      I don’t know what to say. That leaves me tongue-tied.


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