Back in the early ‘90s, MTV helped launch the acting career of a comedian named Pauly Shore. Had I been the age I am now then, his California-inspired accent and slang and stupid antics would’ve turned me away pretty quickly.

Thirteen year old me, to the contrary, couldn’t wait for his next movie or awards show appearance. One segment I remember seeing on MTV was a billboard of him, dressed in tacky early ‘90s fashion, with the tagline “The future of America.”

Again, had I been the age I am now then, I would’ve thought the future was awfully bleak. Welp, the future is now.

Even though Pauly Shore’s popularity really started to trickle down after 1995’s film “Bio Dome,” the rest of us who loved him in “Encino Man” and “Son In Law” are living out our 15 minutes in the spotlight, and along with that comes the titles.

Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of me and friends I used to frequent places such as the Amory Railroad Festival, concerts, college towns and night life scenes from Tupelo to Birmingham.

A few Railroad Festivals ago, it dawned on me a lot of the people I talk to on a regular basis now are either the president of _____, the director of _____, _____ manager or even elected as ______. The thing about it is a lot of them are in the age group to where they could probably quote along to a couple of lines from a Pauly Shore too.

It’s a great honor that whoever hired or elected all of us had the confidence in our ability and it’s a continued honor to serve in the capacities we do today, hopefully making an impact for ages to come.

On the other hand, it’s nice to have a real conversation with somebody you knew years, and a few stages of maturity, ago before he or she was the director of _____.

Such was the case with a recent interview when somebody I knew way back when made me think for a couple of minutes of how we knew each other. Once it clicked and we started talking about how the way things used to be, how the fond memories came flooding back.

Days before, I called an old friend who’s a shift leader at _____ to talk about how exciting Cruisin’ Amory would be. In bringing up a memory from two years ago, I told him how much I sometimes miss slipping back to being 17 for a night. I told him it’s just not socially acceptable at our age now.

If you’re 67, you know you can’t get away with jumping in a souped up hotrod and challenge somebody to a race like you could back in your heyday either. If you’re 53, you don’t really want to break it down like you did the year Def Leppard released “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”

We’ve all got our times when life was far more interesting than it is now, with all of its numbers, deadlines and places to be, but this is where we are in life. Not all of us can skate the line between being an effective mayor and singing in Colors That End in Urple like Brad Blalock can, but at least we can strive.

Oh yeah, and one more really cool thing about Pauly Shore. He got up on stage with Monroe County’s own Killjay at a rock festival in Michigan a few years ago and sang one of their songs with lead singer Mark Clingan.

Mark isn’t the creative solutions manager of _____ just yet but he is the originator of the Railroad Festival’s rock stage, so he’s living out the future of America now like the rest of us while still making some interesting memories for later.

For everybody else bogged down with everything that comes with these titles, it’s great to think back to how carefree it used to be and how challenging it seems to get that back.

Until retirement age hits, keep doing the good work you’re doing and making this place run as great as it does now.

Ray Van dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at

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