KCRW recently featured a song called “Oh Man the Future” by the Los Angeles-based duo, De Lux, as Today’s Top Tune. Somewhere between new wave, disco and punk, De Lux are Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco. With Guerin’s David Byrne-esque spoken vocals and stream of consciousness lyrics about millennials and their technology-driven lifestyles, the track is reminiscent of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.”
De Lux performing “Oh Man the Future” last year at the Pacific Festival.
“Oh Man the Future” sent my thoughts spinning off along different tangents before finally alighting on a several things that were once considered ‘futuristic.’ First was H.G. Wells’s 1895 science fiction novel, The Time Machine, in which a Victorian scientist invents a time travel machine that takes him back to the year 802,701 B.C.E. There were two types of people in Wells’s future world: the Eloi, beautiful young flower children who lounge around in relaxed bliss like characters in a Maxfield Parrish painting; and then below ground, there were the Morlocks, who were responsible for all the heavy labor to provide for the Elio. Ironically, the Eloi are lured beneath ground to be eaten by the Morlocks in an ongoing cycle. A metaphor, of course, for the leisure versus the working class.
Next was the amazing “Futurama” exhibition, staged by General Motors at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, comprised of automated highways and suburbs. The concept was based on GM’s vision of what the world would look like 20 years into the future.
Finally, my thoughts landed on the 1955 Citroën DS (Déese Goddess), a car so advanced and weird-looking that it’s still used in science fiction movies 60 years later.
It’s funny what a song can bring up, isn’t it?
The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.”
GM’s “Futurama” vision of 1960. Advance to 14′, and you’ll see little Dymaxion-type cars moving along what were once imagined as the freeways of the future.