Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome to the Future.

This will be a short essay.

Happy New Year!

Yes, yes, I know New Years' was four months ago. But everyone was writing about it then. No one writes about it now, which makes it the perfect time to stand out.

Happy New Year!

It's the year 2010, and for some reason, it feels like I'm in the future. That number, I suppose, does it. 

When I was younger, say, back in the 1960s, the year 2000 or 2001 was going to be the future. Walter Cronkite had a briefly running science show called "The 21st Century". It was about the future stuff that was going to happen in the future, and it even had a weird machine music at the beginning of the show to let you know it was about the future. There were magazine articles and books about the future, and most of them used 2000 as a benchmark, as a watershed date. There was even a movie called "2001", which I'm pretty sure was about the future because most of it took place in outer space - except for the beginning of the movie which had a lot of monkeys hitting each other with bones.

I think there are watershed dates, at least in the USA. At least for me. For example, to me, 1848 is the beginning of the Modern Age. You'd think it would be the year 1900, but I say it was the year 1848, because of all sorts of things that got started - like the first university scientific institutions, the first glimmerings of socialism, civic sanitation, underground public transportation, and stuff like that. For some, 1973 is a watershed year. They say it was the beginning of the decline of the middle class, wage stagnation, the end of cheap fossil fuels, the end of the postwar boom in America. I don't know if that's true. I was pretty stoned then.

I'd also throw in 1995, the beginning of the information age, when the Internet really took off, the end of the welfare state (and the reversal in the decline of the poverty rate), the year the Republicans made it official that they preferred partisan interests over the interests of  the nation. And, of course, the year 2000, which was when the Future was going to begin.

But, you  know, 2000 came and went for me, and then 2001, and I didn't feel any different. Same old stuff, really. Not much change. Oh sure, changes, but so gradual that you don't really notice it.

But for some reason, that number 2010, I got the feeling I was entering alien terrain. New territory was opening up. Everything looked the same, but there was a different feel about the place. Hard to explain.

Anyway, I think I'm finally in the future with a capital F.

You know, yesterday, I went to the future.

And here I am!