It's (almost) 2005!
I mean, doesn't that seem fundamentally wrong to you? Here we are half way through the... the... what the fuck do you call this decade? The zeros? The double-o's? The two thousands? Isn't this part of the problem - we're half way through a decade and we haven't even named it!
But how in the name of all that is holy (e.g. Mel Gibson) did it get to be 2005 already? It seems to me it was just yesterday when 2000 rolled around. We were all anticipating the success of "The Michael Richards Show," the renewed sense of optimism the Bush administration would bring to the White House and the final demise of pre-fabricated pop singers. Here we are five years later and the best sitcom on television is "Seinfeld" reruns, we're neck deep in two wars and goddamned Britney Spears is still with us! Somehow half a decade seems to have zipped before our eyes in the space of a mere five years.
It didn't always used to be like this. I'm a child of the eighties and that's the decade went on forever. We had the rise of the Reaganite Right, John Hughes films, crack babies, Hair Metal, Tipper Gore, "The Wedding Singer" (waitasec!), the threat of nuclear annihilation and AIDs. It was a magical time. And for me, the 80's corresponded nicely with the four-year period in one's life when you are most attuned to the goings on of popular culture. (Also known as high school.) It's this period to which you compare everything that comes after. "Sure, the Franz Ferdinand are fine, but they can't hold a candle to the Pet Shop Boys!" "'After the Sunset' was great, but you haven't lived til you've seen 'Romancing the Stone'."
By the 90's I already felt a bit out of place. Musically, Grunge had hit big time and it just seemed like so much flannel fluff. Midway through it was replaced by hip-hop and the decade rounded out with the return of the pop band in the form of Smash Mouth and No Doubt. For the first half of the decade, the constituency to which I belonged, "the kids", were characterized as ambivalent slackers who could be hardly inspired to pick stray Coco-puffs off the floor much less get a real job or pursue any sort of meaningful future. For the second half we were branded as technophiliac internet gurus who spent every waking hour racing towards the moment when they could cash in their million dollar stock options and retire to Bermuda (where they could lie around and not pick the stray Coco-puffs off the floor.)
Now here we are, deeply entrenched in the 2000's and I'm even more lost. Here's the thing I don't get: What is the character of this decade? Usually at this point we should know. By 1965 the Beatles had popped up, Kennedy was dead and the first hippies were fomenting at Ashbury and Haight. By 1975 Nixon was being impeached and we were pulling out of Viet Nam. By 1985 Reagan had won a second term, by 1995 - get this - Kurt Cobain had already killed himself! Usually when you hit the midway point of a decade, you know what it's about. Its style has been set in concrete. At that point, nothing that happens afterward is a big surprise.
Can you say that about the 2000's. I'm not sure I can. For instance, each decade has its definitive musical style but what is the sound of the 2000's? Formulated Diva pop? Crunk? Ambient techo-noise rock? Post-punk-punk? It's all here, but no one genre seems to rise above the rest. There is no soundtrack for the times. And what about politics? For every person who voted for Bush there's someone who's driven into a seething, smoke-coming-out-the-ears rage by the guy. Culture? It's the age of internet porn AND the rise of the evangelicals. Movies? Choose between "Fahrenheit 911" AND "The Passion of Christ". In the great boxing match of our age there is no clear winner.
Maybe the 2000's are the death of the idea that any decade can neatly be summed up with a snappy slogan or well-coined but trite catchphrase. With the Internet and 5000 different cable channels at their fingertips people can branch off into new and unexplored niches, further alienating themselves from their neighbor while connecting with people three countries away. American culture now has to compete with globalized world culture and it will have no choice but to separate into a million tiny pieces, each unable to clearly dominate any other. Our proud and decent citizens will be left paralyzed, like glassy eyed consumers in the cereal aisle, unable to make a choice. Could it be that this is. the great unraveling? (What? You people ate it up when Paul Krugman said it!?)
But there's something even more frightening happening here, something that transcends issues related the whole of humanity or the mark this generation will have on the world or what the cultural legacy of the day is. What about me!? With each passing year, I'm growing older. When you're a kid, that's not such a big deal, but at 33, I'm no spring chicken anymore. (I guess I'm a summer chicken since I'm definitely not a fall chicken. I'm like a mid-August chicken.) My life is starting to pass before me and I have to ask whether I'm on the track I want to be, whether I've accomplished the goals I set out for myself.
For example, the other day I was watching a couple teenage girls walking down the street and it hit me: I have next to no chance of going to bed with them. I mean, sure, maybe if we were trapped in an elevator for days or there was a nuclear apocalypse and we were the last two people on earth aside from roving hoards of mutated human monstrosities, then, maybe they'd be willing to have sex with me, but otherwise the odds aren't looking good. And I realized that this was fundamental change in how I viewed the world. Up 'til now, whenever I saw some sweet pieces of teenage ass traipsing on their way to the gumball machine, I had a sense, in the back of mind that it wouldn't take that outlandish a scenario (e.g. one not involving roving hoards of mutated human monstrosities) for me to end up in the sack with them. This vague theory never actually panned out, but it was always there giving me strength. But now - who am I kidding? I remember what we thought of thirty year olds when I was a teenager, and those fuckers were old!!!
I guess realizing you no longer have a shot at molesting teenage girls is part of what they call "maturing." Perhaps God is saying, "Wil, it's time to stop obsessing over obscure martial arts actors, arcane cult comedies and bizarre sexual festishists and finally grow up. Buy a house. Invest in stocks. Marry a wife and have those 2.5 kids." (God, can I meet you half way and marry 2.5 wives and have one kid? "Not unless you're a Morman." Ahhh, God, you're no fun! "Yes, I am." No, you're not. "Am too!" Not! "If you keep pissing me off I'll kill the rest of Pantera!" Sorry.) Maybe it's finally time to forego the ways of youth and become a decent, respectable citizen of the modern age.
But first I'm going to go home and beat off to that "stuck in a nuclear post-apocalypse with two teenage girls" fantasy. It kind of turned me on.