I’m not going to lie. I found Harmony Korine and Larry Clark’s “Kids” to be profoundly depressing when I first saw it in 1995. Sure, cool soundtrack, boffo skateboarding and blah blah blah, but the narrative, the protagonists like “Telly” and “Casper” and whomever else just did not resonate with me. I mean, maybe that was the point?
I wasn’t a teen in the 90’s. My teenage years in New York City (a decade and change earlier) were markedly different. My interests, priorities, actions and experiences, outside of some common geography, bore no resemblance to the brutal antics and priapic exploits depicted in that film. I found it less like an insightful cautionary tale or more like a sensationalized horror film. But, again, times change. Maybe that’s what it was like, and I was just sheltered from it and blithely unaware. Regardless, I felt absolutely zero empathy for its characters.
That said, I did once meet the late Harold Hunter. Harold played one member of the central gaggle of n’erdowells in the film, but was also a renowned professional skateboarder. In any case, I was in a weird ersatz-antique store on Lafayette Street circa 1998 or so (before SoHo had fully transformed into what it is now), and eyeing this strange, beat-up metal dentist’s cabinet while the shop’s comely assistant was giving me a needless hard sell. Harold sauntered in and starting chatting with the shop assistant and jovially joined in the hard-sell proceedings “That would look really cool in your living room, man!” Sucker that I am, I caved and said cabinet now resides in our living room (and, to Harold’s prescient observation, it does indeed look very cool).
Anyway, in not an entirely different way that flagrantly nostalgic bloggers like myself lionize our own ever-distant experiences on these NYC streets, photographers Mel Stones and High (that’s it…. just High), the folks responsible for helping inspire “Kids,” have put together a decade-spanning book of their photographs dubbed “That’s a Crazy One.” While it may not be my New York City (I remain frankly underwhelmed by talk of Supreme gear and rapturous invocations of blunt-smoking), who am I to decry a later generation’s lament for their own lost city.