We are both in awe of and profound debt to everyone who contributed to our End of the 00s series. I know how much you love it when I get earnest, so I'll just keep it brief and say that we were overwhelmed by both the willingness of so many people to provide these pieces and the quality of the material they gave to us. Anyway, because of the vagaries of the holiday weekends and our brilliant idea to switch servers in the middle of a gigantic, ongoing project, it's a pretty fair bet that you missed at least one of the 49 essays in the series. Here's a [...]
I have a friend who just moved to Valparaiso, Chile-a beautifully-situated stutter of city teeming with feral dogs and nefarious purse snatchers. It's sad for me that this friend, a Best Friend if ever there was one, will be spending the last glimmering twitches of this decade in a place so thief-ridden and faraway, because we spent the first early ticks of it together, freezing and sick in the Boston Common. It was actually the night that we first became real friends, not just two kids working on a play together, not just two people who occasionally passed each other in the same lazy social orbit. We bonded that night, [...]
It was one of those late November days for which the decade will perhaps be remembered, a day that should have been cold but was not. Stephen and I decided to take a walk to the Hudson River, and though the air felt good -the way it does in late spring, when you put away your jacket for the season -I could not shake a sense that there was something unhealthy about it, as if I had mistakenly wandered onto the grounds of a hospital.
I have anxiety about not living in a place with food trucks. Their eclectic menus and their varied proprietors, for me, represent a sophisticated and cultured world. A diverse one. Buffalo, of course, has a few hot dog carts stationed downtown and a few more Mister Softee trucks circling neighborhoods during the summer months. When I see how people line up at taco trucks in Los Angeles or pickle carts in New York, I become envious. Back in the 1990s, Hannibal Lecter explained that we covet what we see every day. And in this decade, it seems that every day I read a story about food trucks. [...]
It was 2004. We lived in Philadelphia. I'd bought a house in June on South 13th Street, in a neighborhood that had at one time been nearly all Italian but was now a mix of Mexicans, gays, Vietnamese, and Urban Outfitters employees. Real estate was cheap. I had an adjustable-rate mortgage. I rented out the downstairs apartment to a costume designer with bad credit and Moe moved into my second bedroom upstairs. I worked at an alt-weekly and rode a bike.
"'The world is my idea:'-this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness." -Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will-we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that's how things will sort out." -Anonymous Bush 43 aide, to Ron Suskind
This was going to be about how September 11* served as eerie metaphorical foreshadowing for the decade that followed. Basically: In the 00s, we saw loosely organized nodes of ordinary people (al-Qaeda, bloggers, file sharers) wreak havoc on behemoth institutions that should've totally outclassed them in terms of resources and experience (America, the news industry, the music industry). Deep, right? But-
There's something sort of patriotic about the fact that I'll be memorializing the aughts well into this brave new year with a sizable debt to Bank of America. Like our great nation, I spent the last ten years getting stung and overcompensating, acting indecisive and entitled, living way beyond my means. And now I am paying. With interest! My credit card statements are so textbook "Don't" they deserve a reality show: a trip to Japan for the wedding of a couple I'd never met; $500 worth of phone calls from what was supposed to be a budget trip to the Dominican Republic; shitty new Ikea furniture to replace shitty broken [...]
I'm skeptical about this whole "decade from hell" business. I mean, just because financial karma finally arrived to kick the U.S. in its bulbous consumer-driven ass, that means the entire decade is somehow linked to Satan? The last four months of 2001 were from hell-that's certainly true. And the entire summer of 2009 (when hell's photogenic spawn ruled the media with her red heels). But seems to me this ten-year span should have been dubbed "The Decade We've Been Setting Ourselves Up For During the Three Previous Decades, and Now We Act All Shocked That We're Broke and the Rest of the Developed World Wants to Lob a Shoe Up [...]
The year was 2007. Broken-hearted after the New Orleans Saints lost to Chicago in the NFC Championship game, I flew out to Los Angeles to hang out with my best friend from college, Doug. Doug was doing grad work in marine biology at USC. A smart guy, even if he was from Jersey. But even more impressive than his brains and his fancy science trips to Antarctica and his ability to laugh off my global-warming denialism without slapping me, were his drinking and football-watching skills. Also, for a sciency, white-trash sort from New Jersey, he ran with a Hollywood crowd.
My band, Titus Andronicus, has played a lot of shows since I last blogged about a gig back in late 2009, and if I'm being honest with you, a lot of them have not been fun. It seemed harmless at the time, but I now realize that it was a big mistake to agree to only play Weezer songs at that horrible Vice Halloween party last year. That set a bad precedent. I don't want to admit to how many private shows we've played throughout 2010 where we had to do other people's music instead of our own, but I'm grateful that very little evidence has surfaced online. I [...]
There was no tragedy this past decade greater than the utter implosion of quality among the winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Some might point to the 90s as the time our troubles began, and I admit that Dances with Wolves and Forrest Gump were bad omens. (The 90s did end with the intolerable American Beauty!) But you also had Silence of the Lambs! Shakespeare in Love! And, OK, Schindler's List, in all its retardedly black-and-white-and-oh-my-God-her-dress-is-red glory! There were glimmers of light, is what I'm saying; yes, 2007, sure;and that light of hope is shows what was missing in the awful aughts. Let me show you.
Hadi is showing me pictures from epic-looking parties. Men and women dance, their bodies caught in ecstatic pause. The women are, for the most part, rather scantily clad: microscopic skirts dominate, and belly shirts that show a good deal of taut belly. Their faces are masterworks of make-up art: streaks of vibrant color rising to the eyebrow, glitter and blush and outlined lips. They move, the partiers, with abandon, heads tipped back, preening and laughing. The pictures are from Iran.
I started this decade out as a 15-year-old kid, and now I'm a 25-year-old adult. I've gained 20 pounds and about 30 gray hairs. I've grown one bra size and two dress sizes. I've gained an unquantifiable amount of self-esteem.
I've lived in five cities, in twelve houses, and had 24 roommates. I've had nine paying jobs and three non-paying ones. I've written for free for seven publications, and been paid to write for two. I've had three cars, four bikes, and six pairs of running shoes. I've had seven cell phones, four iPods, five blogs, and eight email addresses. I've been in three car accidents, gotten one speeding ticket, [...]
I found a copy of the album with the original cover at Amoeba in San Francisco the following March and bought it for a friend as a birthday present.
The Awl asked everyone (so I'm not special) to look back on the last decade and submit something, anything, of substance. I thought long and hard about this project and decided that, despite many impactful first-hand experiences such as 9/11, I should write about how over the last decade I matured to understand how little I understood in the decade before, how that mirrored how little I knew in the decade before that, and if the next decade will turn out to be the same and what that means about how much I think I know now. But then I got off the toilet and decided what I really think [...]
I began the decade with a Kim's Video membership and an unslakable thirst for documentaries about crazy people. I'd rent their only VHS of Chicken Hawk, a doc about NAMBLA members, that featured a particularly memorable monologue from a yellow turtleneck aficionado about something he called "gentle time."
"How cheap is cheap?"
That was my instantaneous, inane response in the single most pivotal moment of my decade.
I was sitting in an internet cafe in Florence, Italy. It was early August 2001. I had been trading emails with a woman with whom I went on a blind date three weeks earlier. We had hit it off, but a few days later, I was jetting off for my first trip to Europe–three weeks of touring by myself.