Nineteen Things I Vaguely Recall From 2001
Carl F Gauze
It wasn’t the best of times; it wasn’t the worst of times. A few buildings came down, but unemployment went up. GW took the ex-head of the KGB mud bogging, and we can still bomb the hell out of anyone with a valid GPS coordinate. There was no contact with advanced extra-terrestrial beings, other than the few regulars in the checkout line, and the only computers wreaking havoc on humanity had the warning “Intel Inside.” So what will we put in the 2001 Yearbook for Encyclopedia Moronica? Does anything really differentiate ’01 from the summer of ’72, or is the river Styx really growing stagnant? Let me think about what 2001 meant to me…
1) When Napster die, everybody cry.
And not just the music freeloading scum who didn’t have the decency to shell out $19.95 for the In ‘Sync Boys – the whole broadband industry seems a bit peckish. Face it – without every song you ever heard available for the picking, the idea of paying $40 or $50 for that DSL pipe plus $20 to PressPlay seems far fetched. Seriously, are you going to actually download a movie trailer? Will you actually pay to speed advertising into your home? Sorry, Nortel, we have enough fiber in our diet this week.
2) The rise of Geek TV.
Once upon a time, guys good at math got swirlies and those who could weld married at 18. Now geeks hold positions of relative honor in the burgeoning field of reality TV. You can watch guys blow the price of a Saturn on a remote control Spinning Wheel of Death or see a team of ex-cops build a hang glider out of crap no one got around to melting, and we love it. Clearly, there is entertainment value in smart people, so long as we never ever have to take a pop quiz again.
3) I bought a computer.
Well, actually I shelled out for two. Now I can write for Ink 19 on business travel, and my dear wife can play solitaire of a machine that has enough raw MIPS to run the Starship Enterprise.
4) Yes, Virginia, stocks can go down.
That’s what the word “risk” means – you may have to keep your crappy day job. When E.F. Hutton talks, run like hell.
5) A good excuse for not sending Christmas cards.
You wouldn’t want to worry your friends about anthrax, would you? I thought not. Plus, you haven’t talked to 80% of those people in ten years, for all you know, they’ve taken up Falun Gong or building Battlebots. You’re older now, so get some older friends. Ones you see every so often. And loose that stupid Goo Goo Dolls tattoo.
6) No Orlando Olympiad.
Geez, did they ever dis Central Florida. Just because we get hot in the summer, crowded in the winter, and couldn’t support an XFL team. Still, I’ve heard rumors Kissimmee may bid on the 2018 Winter Games.
7) Florida played Florida State.
Oooh – like THAT never happened before. I think one of them won.
8) New York did something intelligent.
They banned cell phone use while driving. When I learned how to drive, anyone weaving in and out of a lane was considered drunk, and you avoided them. Nowadays, that person’s stone cold sober and chatting with no one in particular, but they can make you very dead. Take heart in the fact they will all get brain cancer from exposure to radio waves.
9) No lemons.
I had two bushels of lemons from my little tree last year, but this year I didn’t get any. It’s the Citrus Cycle. Back to frozen lemonade from Publix.
10) Craftsman Style got cool.
Thanks to Home and Garden Television, every new house in American looks like the Greene Brothers designed it and William Morris did the wallpaper. Give it ten years, it’ll be as hokey as burnt orange counter tops and avocado washing machines.
11) My starter died.
Not really that big a problem if you live in hilly country, but a nuisance in central Florida. I can roll start down the driveway, but where I work is dang flat, so a trip to the mechanic brightened my year. I could have fixed it myself, but I was busy building a ‘bot for TV. I’m calling it “Talibot” – it can give one good whack, then it runs and falls to pieces.
12) Theme parks.
I went to Disney three whole times. Hadn’t been in decades, but have friends who work there. My inner child got lost, but not me. I had GPS and a satellite photo mosaic on my Palm Pilot.
13) That weird new privacy law.
You probably notice that whenever you get a credit card, subscribe to a magazine, or give to a charity, you get deluged with junk mail. That’s because a huge industry exists to track, mark, and analyze your purchasing habits. If you like model railroading, celebrity gossip, and bondage, someone will try to sell you a picture of Madonna wrapped in nothing but HO gauge flex track. If you worry about the CIA planting a chip in your behind to monitor your thoughts, you ought to really like this bunch. Now there’s a requirement that all these fine folks tell you what they do, sent as a fifteen-page document set in agate type. It always starts out “Your privacy is our biggest concern” and ends with “We will trade your fetish profile to anyone for a stick of gum.” But at least they let you know.
14) The Bulwer-Lytton prize.
It’s a writing contest for people like me. The best you can do is win a pittance ($100, I believe), which goes to the person who can write the worst opening sentence to the Great American Novel. I highly recommend it at http://www.bulwer-lytton.com. The line between pulp fiction and ad copy is so very, very fine.
15) I now own a Lava Lamp.
I had no idea what I was missing. It’s sort of like recovering someone else’s youth.
16) Someone named a small parasitic wasp after my family.
This gave me more pleasure than any other recognition I’ve ever received, and I have no idea who did it or why.
17) I had a liver and gizzard salad, pretty much by accident.
I was a good boy; I ate most of it before I got sick. “Peasant salad,” it said, and Louis XIV was right – they are revolting.
18) How can you top Ralph Bakshi?
Another attempt to make Lord of the Rings into a major motion picture is in pre-release as I write. By the time you read this, the world will know if magic really occurs, or if America can appreciate a coherently constructed mythology for England based on the Icelandic sagas. If one of the Pythons doesn’t cameo, I WILL be pissed.
19) Ink 19 ceased print publication.
Yeah, it’s the 21st century, we’re saving a ton of trees, no distribution hassles, and the Web has the immediacy we’ve all come to expect in life. But I miss running down to the record store and seeing what I had to say about some random show. Call it nostalgia, call it foolish pride, call it what you will, but there’s still something about seeing yourself in print, especially if you didn’t have to shoot someone to get there.
My life is as trivial as yours, certainly, but someone once said, “Life is all the dumb stuff that happens while you wait for something important to happen.” It was one of the Lennons, but I don’t remember whether it was John or that bald one with the pointy beard.