I’m not sure whether this is the coolest thing I’ve ever purchased for a buck at a flea market, but it’s definitely in the top two or three.
Between 1969 and 1975, Ms. Lisa Thompson of Carmichael, California compiled the following scrapbook. Lisa seems to have been a Davy girl, but who knows–that could also just have been a bias of the teen magazines from which she carefully clipped even the slightest mention of her favorite band. She didn’t stop at Tiger Beat and 16, either: Ms. Thompson clipped every television listing mentioning the Monkees, cut Monkee mentions off of cereal boxes, and even created her own fab 100 item trivia list.
In order to avoid any future confusion regarding what and who was important, Lisa drew beards on non-Monkees and scratched out irrelevant articles. Sometimes she wrote “Turn” and drew a little arrow, just in case Future Lisa might forget to turn the page.
Whether it was Lisa or the hype machine that ran out of Monkees steam in the early ’70s, we’ll never know. Kids age out of their obsessions, after all, and the Monkees disbanded in ’71. Who’s to say? Regardless, she kept clipping for a few more years, even if she gave up on gluing. Stuck loosely into Ms. Thompson’s scrapbook were stories and photos about The Mod Squad, Donny Osmond, Starsky and Hutch, Kurt Russell, the Jackson 5, M*A*S*H, and Jack Wild from H.R. Pufnstuf. Particularly sweet among the loose ends is a letter draft dated January 29,1971 and addressed to Ann, wherein Lisa extends her sympathies to Michael Parks after what apparently was a fatal accident involving his daughter. The handwriting is childish and so is the sentiment, but what a thoughtful kid Lisa Thompson was. I wonder if she sent Ann a final draft.
So much has been lost since 1971. Music magazines still exist, for example, but not in the numbers that Lisa Thompson enjoyed. Also lost: The carefully curated images of popular stars. People born in the age of the internet may not even realize that once upon a time celebrities’ lives were mostly an illusion created by studios and publicists. Even things that seemed so disposable at the time, like the television listings for a given day, take on a certain importance in an age where all information is just fleeting images on a screen.
Fifty years from now, there will be no analog to Lisa’s Monkees scrapbook waiting to be discovered in a flea market. What we’ll know of teenagers from Carmichael, California circa 2018 is whatever Future Google tells us we should know. The Information Age is erasing the real us, and we don’t seem to care. In fifty years, the lives of 2018 people will be mostly an illusion created by search engines and content farms.
I don’t know how to value Lisa Thompson’s Monkees scrapbook. Is it worth the dollar that I paid for it? Twenty-five bucks? A hundred? In truth, it’s as priceless as a flint weapon or an ancient piece of pottery. “I was here,” Lisa told the future, “and this was what mattered to me.”