Depending on your age, Josh Burdick’s 45-minute slice-of-life home video “April 1990 - Video I Shot Of My Typical Day Of a High School Student,” is either a nostalgia trip or strange alien artifact of a bygone era. There’s no real attempt at a narrative through-line here. Instead, it’s exactly what it says on the cardboard case, starting with the then 18-year-old Burdick waking up to his alarm clock and making breakfast and ending some time around the end of the school day.
Shot on an RCA Pro Wonder 300 VHS camcorder, the video has skyrocketed in popularity, not, perhaps, because it shows anything truly remarkable, but because of how it captures the rhythms of high school life on the cusp before a host of technological breakthroughs disrupted some of those rhythms. Acid wash denim jackets, perms, and other amusing touchstones of late ’80s/early ’90s fashion aside, this was pre-ubiquitous internet, pre-cellphone, and certainly pre-social media. Even the act of being filmed is cause for sheepishness or intrigue, rather than being simply a natural part of a teenager’s life. It’s an authentic glimpse into a seminal time for another generation.
In addition to the high school video, Burdick’s YouTube page also has a trove of vérité video shot around the Houston, Texas area through the mid ’90s, including this delightfully bizarre interview with the patrons of the 1991 Houston FreedomFest.