Monday, December 28, 2009

That Was the Decade that Wasn't

And you thought the eighties sucked!!!

"The child walks into the elementary school nurse's office on a Friday afternoon, He is crying. He is hungry. He doesn't know whether he and his family will have enough food to eat over the weekend."

That is the first paragraph written by Steve Israel from a piece that appeared in this morning's Times Herald-Record, the local newspaper which serves the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions of New York. Here is the front page headline:

"SCHOOLS TRY TO KEEP KIDS FROM STARVING"

Sweet. The article tells us that at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, children are going hungry. This story does not take place in Appalachia or in southern Texas along the Mexican boarder. It's taking place right outside of the house that I live in - HERE - in upstate New York; in what is supposed to be one of the most affluent regions in the United States of America! How the hell did this happen? It wasn't like this ten years ago.

I can remember exactly where I was when this awful decade came into being. Believe it or not, when I rang in the new year on January 1, 2000, not only was I stone-cold sober - I was at church! My then-girlfriend and I attended a special midnight mass at the local Catholic church to welcome in, not only a new decade, but a new century and a new millennium. I remember feeling filled with optimism. By entering this new era, I felt, we could wipe the slate clean. Maybe this would be a new age of peace, love, brother and sisterhood. EVERYBODY SING!

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius!
Age of Aquarius!
Aquariusuuuuus!


How utterly naive on my part, huh? By year's end, all of that hope was out the window and into the toilet. In December of 2000, an ideologically perverted Supreme Court would assist in a stolen election by stopping the vote count in the state of Florida, installing a corrupt little frat boy with the I.Q. of a half-eaten box of Milk Duds as president of the United States. It was all downhill from that moment on. From the birth of "Reality Television" to the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War, it was quite a strange ten years to say the least. Thankfully this awful decade is a mere three days away from being forever consigned to history's scrap heap. Hallelujah.

Let's face some serious facts here, boys and girls: Forty years ago the most popular people on the planet were the Beatles - four guys who really stood for something. Show me a decade whose most sought-after celebrity is Paris Hilton and I'll show you a decade that is going to have....uh...."issues" shall we say? A period of time where someone like George W. Bush can be elected to the presidency is going to have its own special problems to be sure. A little over a year ago, Sarah Palin - Fascist Barbi - was selected by a "main stream" political party to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. As I write these words there are a whole lot of Americans out there who would just LOVE to see her as the grand old party's standard bearer in 2012. She may even end up as the best-selling author of the decade. What does that say about American culture? Volumes.

My plan was to quit drinking on New Year's Day. I'm starting to have serious second thoughts however. Watching the utter implosion of the country that I love so much has definite advantages from the vantage-point of the bottom of an empty vodka bottle. In fact it can be a lot of fun! Better to giggle when shit-faced than to weep with your faculties intact. The last ten years have been such an utter train wreck that it is difficult - if not impossible - to take it all in in any other condition than complete, alcohol-induced giddiness. When one is forced to witness the total decline of what used to be a grand civilization, it generally is a good rule-of-thumb to have an artificial stimulant at the ready. Heroin is too expensive and marijuana gives me terrible anxiety attacks. So make it one for my baby and one more for the road, Joe....

By the way, after being forced to live in it for ten whole years, I have yet to figure out what we're supposed to call the first decade of the twenty-first century - The Hundreds? the The Aughts? The OH!'s? I think it's interesting that we can't even define it. Whatever the name, it's a safe bet that it will not be remembered as one of the shining hours of American history. As weird as the sixties were, much good came out of that tumultuous period: the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, manned missions to the moon, the Peace Corp, the Women's Movement, carrot cake - lots of neat stuff. What good came from the decade which is about to mercifully end? Survivor? Michele Bachmann?? Jackass??? Have another sip. I'll join you.

Or maybe it was all just a horrible nightmare? Of course I'm being facetious, but there were more-than-a-few times during this hideous decade - particularly during the years in which the Bush Mob ran the country - that I would awaken suddenly in the middle of the night and say out loud,

"Did I dream that?"
"Is Bush seriously president?"
"Did we actually invade Iraq?"
"Are the Spice Girls really number one?"

And a special tip of the old fedora to George W. Bush. Anyone who can make me nostalgic for the likes of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has a certain talent, no doubt about it. His entire eight-year-reign seems almost surreal in hindsight. In a twisted and cynical paraphrasing of Charles Dickens, "It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times." What a long, strange trip it's been. As the great Hunter Thompson liked to say, "Buy the Ticket. Take the ride."

It's unnerving to even contemplate where the end of the following decade will find us. Men in my family tend not to live much into their sixties so I am partially comforted by the idea that I won't be around to deal with it (I turned fifty-one on August 16). Then again, they occasionally get lucky. My uncle Jerry Degan turned eighty-three recently so who knows? One thing is certain, though - unless the American people (as well as the people of the planet earth) radically readjust their thinking, there is not a hell of a lot of hope for humanity. It is my belief that we must take a hard turn to the left - and not the timid baby steps we took in 2009. Are you listening, Mr. President?

So here's to the OH'S! or the AUGHTS - or whatever the heck you want to call them. We must concede that for all the turmoil and hopelessness of this hideous decade (and unlike the nineties) it never - not for a minute - got boring. The after-effect of the last ten years will be with us for the rest of our lives and beyond. Sort of like a really ugly tattoo obtained on a drunken binge. It really was interesting time to be alive if you think about it.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

QUOTE OF THE DECADE:

"Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job!"

George W. Bush

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Bill Moyers' Journal
Friday 9PM EST
Sunday 7PM EST
PBS

There is still this quiet and gentle island of wisdom in the ocean of reaction and pornography that television has become. God bless you, Mr. Moyers.

36 Comments:

At 1:34 PM, Blogger SJ said...

Drink up. I'll be tipping a few more often myself next year. But if there's any bright side, it's like you said, it's over.
What we saw in the aughts was Reagan's 3rd and 4rth term, or maybe even Nixon's. Many crimes were commited that will go uncharged, some of them in our name.
As for Paris Hilton and Reality Television... we've miles to go before they run their course.
Here's to the next decade.
-SJ

 
At 1:49 PM, Blogger Mycue23 said...

Tom,
Let's not do anything hasty, like give up alcohol. It was a truly dreadful decade, but we might look back in ten years and think these were the salad days. I'm not sure what the future holds, but I'll only give up my drink when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. Because when the going gets tough..., the tough get going. Whose with me?

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger W.D. Shirley said...

I have an eye with some issues so sometimes focusing is also an issue, this seems to happen intellectually as well.Things just seem blurry somehow and I can't think of where to look for a baseline. As someone who did some time in the psychedelic venues of San Francisco circa 1967, I have to say I have had my visions as well. Looking back at a night walking the hills, looking for the poodle with the ribbons that would somehow help my situation, I realize that the most detailed of hallucinations seemed to be the ones based on nothing at all. The bright striped zebra in the middle of the road might be, in fact, a donkey, but the pulsing, strobing, Victorian manor with french lace curtains and people who danced all night, all of this whirling and great conversation might be based on a split second between rooms.

Looking back at these ten years I lost a country to fascists, a son to traumatic brain injury, cats, chickens, friends and old loves. I am staggered at the idea of what those who live in Iraq or Afghanistan have lost. You can't add it all up, it's too much. When the smoke clears we'll have to bury the dead and try to figure out a new Constitutional government, one with a smaller country, because no matter who is running the ship of state aground the oceans are lifting it higher and so crashing further inland. The Ocean is changing. We've managed to lift the world encircling great water serpent. Thor almost did that and it near brought about the end of the world. There seem to be deities all over the place, most either angry or sad, nobody's smiling. Good enough. By the time Inanna-Ishtar got to her sister's house she was stripped naked, peeled like an orange and hug on a stick in the kitchen. That caused the first winter. In both stories the middle class seem to squeak by with just a few scratches. The Gods, Goddesses and so forth plus some side kicks, they all tend to die or transform at the end.

Rebirth requires refocusing one's attention just enough to see the space ship on a poster that was just dots and swirls a millisecond before. In our universe the dots and swirls exist in 11 dimensions, so naturally the image will be complex. But if at first you simply succeed in seeing Thor grappling with the Serpent you've come along a bit. Now see the Mother in everything else you can see.

So we saw in Obama what we knew this nation needed to become more like a democracy and more attuned to the immediate and long term needs of it's people. We got a youngish, wealthy, half black Chicago politician. That's a lot better than a moron or a psychopath and we've had at least one of each. We continue to live so there is a voice for fairness, for respect, ethics, debate and consensus. We have the technology to make a democracy and look at the wasted technologies we employ to play with Second Life, World of Warcraft and the rest. We should be using these tools to figure out what we do when 2/3 of the coastal cities are soggy history. What will do for those survivors? How do we raise crops in the new environment? What do you do with the remains of the big cities?
I think these things aren't being talked about enough. We can argue about climate change and moderate politics til the last glacier falls, but a lot of people will have to move inland and do itin maybe ten years.

Plenty of things to think about, plan for, to discuss and correspond about, I think we will be busy.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Wow....I feel like I've aged 20 yrs. this past decade. I gave up alcohol several months ago. No more legal drugs for me !!! So..... has anyone figured out where we can all move to and start our own civilized Republic ?? I doubt Amerika will be a place anyone who is not filthy rich will want to be for the next 10, 20 or 30 yrs. !! Oh wait.....even if we do find such a place to migrate to, the imperialist U.S. government will invade us and destroy our civilization anyway !! I'm gonna sit right here til I die......

 
At 2:37 PM, Blogger Chris said...

When I got to the Michelle Bachmann part, I GULPED my champagne!!!!! Hee Hee!
You say the truth, which is a sad state of affairs, but I always end up laughing!!!! Thanks for that....and 'cheers'!!

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Great posting, W.D.!


Folks, when you have the time check out Will's Little Blog. Here's a link:

http://anagamawill.blogspot.com/

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think they should be the naughts :o), and I will drink to that.

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger Suzan said...

Thanks, Tom,

I started out with the "naughts" and, later, the "oughts;" but get real, definitely the "Oh Oh's!"

This is no time to stop drinking - just do it wisely because you will have no health care in the future.

L'chaim!

S

 
At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For January 1, 2000 to be the first year of the new century we had to have a century ( 100 ) of only 99 years. What I cannot figure is which one was it? December 31, 1 BC was followed by the next day January 1, 1 AD.
There is no Roman number for 0.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

You make a good point. The first millennium began in the year 1AD - obviously there was no zero. Ten years ago a number of people were pointing out that, technically speaking, the twenty-first century didn't begin until 2001.

Over the years, however, human habit has placed the beginning of each new decade at the year ending in zero. The sixties, therefore, did not begin in 1961, They began in 1960. It is kind of confusing, I admit.

Cheers!

Tom Degan

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger finefroghair said...

A lost decade indeed if only we could remove it from our collective memories like the movie " Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind" but alas this is not possible. Getting drunk does not help believe me I try but I always wake up right here in the same sorry twisted country with wingnuts on the radio. Bless you for mentioning Moyers if there is any semblance of sanity left in this nation it can be found on his show. What will the next decade hold for this nation how can I glimspe around the corner what prescient power can I use. It would appear that we will continue this death spiral far into the future the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Bachmann, Palin, Cheney, etc... are here to stay and it seems they are even gaining in popularity. This does not bode well for us and the other sane humans in the USA. I'm from Michigan and I once heard Limbaugh stating on his show that retired auto workers shouldn't deserve a pension. His sickness is amazing. I wanted my governor to challenge him on this notion or to propose legislation stating that if Limpballs ever stepped foot in Michigan that we had the right to have him drawn and quartered. As for hungry children well we're going to see more and more of them. The dismantling of social safety nets is gaining momentum they have already tried to get their grubby fingers on Social Security and don't think they won't try again. The funny thing is these repuglicans think they are patriotic when in fact they are more dangerous than Islamofascists. Every time I see Mitch McConnell on TV I get a queasy feeling in my stomach and when I see John Boehner I physically retch like a cat upchucking a hairball. Sad thing is Michigan has elected some sorry bastards too they can't all be Bernie Sanders. Speaking of Sanders could you imagine if we had 100 Bernie Sanders in the Senate then and onlt then I could say " I am proud to be an American" but that is something I have never said and probably never will.

 
At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the clown from Michigan...

Rush would run circles around your governor and the rest of the idiot liberal politicians who have ruined that once great state.

Also, you still think Conservatives are more dangerous than Islamofascists even after recent events? Next time just write - I'm in bed with Islam and wanted 300 innocent passengers to get bombed on Christmas.

Happy New Year Tom

Harry from Mass

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger The Envoy said...

A crazy decade indeed. Yet it is our insanity which makes us who we are. Here's to a new decade!

 
At 11:28 PM, Blogger finefroghair said...

The ignorance of anonymous is not all that shocking the blogosphere is filled with petty inane anonymous posters to scared to show themselves and stand up for their ravings. To blame Michigans problems on liberal politcians is just plain foolish no it is down right assinine. Rush can't run circles around anyone he's to fat to lazy and to inept but I take it that you are one of his dittohead followers it figures. Michigans problems are far to complex to blame any party anonymouse get a grip or as Tom would say take a sip while your at it swallow your tongue. Hey cheese breath you don't think that our involvement in two trumped up wars bears any responsibility for futher terrorist activities. Wars started and prosecuted by Conservative wingnuts have another sip hope you like your Kool Aid. Ah just figured out Harry from Mass's game you are one of those security cases scared of some inept bombers while this country kills more people in a month than all the terrorism in the world combined must suck to be so timid. I am not in bed with Islam you're absolutely off the mark if you read this blog you have to understand the nefarious actions of the criminal wealthy class very few of whom are in the Democratic party and that was my point.

 
At 12:21 AM, Blogger Mark Prime said...

"It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times."

Absolutely, brilliantly funny!

Mr. Degan, Here's to the second round of Aughts, may they be much, much, much better than the worst Aughts!

Peace,
Mark

 
At 6:47 AM, Blogger Catharine said...

Never been much of a drinker before, actually, but I must confess, more Veuve Cliquot has passed through my fridge in the past year than in my entire life. Fortunately, since my taste in alcohol is pricey, I can't afford to become an alcoholic. Still... there is a little split on the bottom shelf right now, and...

No... no... I'll save it... for that special occasion I've been waiting for... when my government passes a toothless, useless piece of velum it calls "health care reform", and then moves more troops into Afghanistan.

Outstanding post, Tom.

~AS~

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Rain said...

Wow, you said it perfectly. Happy New Year.... we hope

 
At 6:35 PM, Anonymous yirrp said...

The best of the season and New Year to you Tom, you do a mighty job.

As to what the past decade was going to be, was becoming and ended up being, there is absolutely no other way of describing it than by the way it ended setting the trend for the next decade.


Spread it far and spread it wide, everyone should know it for what it was still incredulously won't say it.

It was the decade of DECEPTION.

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Jenni said...

Tom, Thanks for posting the beginning of this post as a comment on my blog. I was so happy that you went into more detail here. Very interesting.

I love how you ended your post with this, "The after-effect of the last ten years will be with us for the rest of our lives and beyond. Sort of like a really ugly tattoo obtained on a drunken binge." because I think it's totally true. Good write.

 
At 8:54 PM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

Please, live a good long life...you're the one bright spot in a rather dismal year for me! OK - I've said that publically.

And the other thing I'll say publically is that the world has gotten me so down that I actually admit I need to seek a little help...and am going for it.

I do over indulge at time but do not plan to quit drinking. As Kate Hepburn so beautifully put it in "The Philadelphia Story," "There's something about Miss Pomeray 1927 that I rather like."

And as George Kitteredge said in the same film, (Please don't ask me to give you the actor's name right now!)"A man expects a woman to behave her self, naturally." And the best part of the scene...Cary Grant/C.K. Dexter Haven's response, "Yes, to behave herself naturally!"

Come on...continue to be Dext...don't be a boring George Kitteredge...

Love your Eleanor...your Abigail...

Your dearest friend...

Happy New Year!

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Frank Fisher said...

Tom I thought you and I might find some common ground, but alas you disappoint me by wanting the pres to take a hard turn to the left. If he turns any farther he will have made a u-turn. Can't be done my friend. Keep drinking while you can before it's outlawed again. This time because of government run health care.

As for Ellis D., Esq. I here France is lovely this time of year, feel free to pack your bags. Need directions? Go to DC and head east.

Head east? Sounds like good name for a band.

Happy New Year everyone.
Frank

 
At 7:10 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Frank, you think Obama's a leftist? How you come up with such nonsense is beyond me.

Obama's a corporatist, through-and-through. He's in the same mold as all the previous presidents of the past thirty-plus years. To think otherwise, is foolish. To not recognize this shows you're out of touch with reality.

Do some research, and with an open mind think about what you've read. You'll do yourself a favor, along with millions of others who are fighting to expose the truth on a daily basis.

Happy new year...

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger Donna said...

Well hello there! I don't know what led you to my blog to comment, but you seem like an interesting enough person for me to add to my Google Reader. Our politics are poles apart, but that's OK.

 
At 11:02 AM, Blogger Tom said...

*raises glass*

I find it much easier to define this particular decade even if it seems like it barely happened. That's because it was all about bullshit. Having bullshit fed to us, believing other people's bullshit, creating and believing our own bullshit. We began with "Y2K," which didn't happen, actually convinced ourselves that a majority of people in Florida really wanted Pat Buchanan to be president, put up with pseudo-celebrity after pseudo-celebrity and their stupid-assed pontificating on reality shows (seriously Biggest Loser people, do you need to cry at the camera and give an inspirational speech every fucking time you stand on the scale?), and ended with people protesting in the name of better ratings for assclowns on television. Not to mention the fact that based on profile pictures on Facebook, every single girl I went to high school with lost weight while every single guy gained it.

Seriously. It's all bullshit.

But then again, it's probably always been bullshit and this is me actually realizing it for the first time (I spent much of the '80s playing with toys and Nintendo, and all of the '90s reading comic books and watching '80s movies, so I was pretty ignorant by Y2K). So maybe that description is not the best.

So how about this ... the 2000s were basically the most unsatisfying sex ever.

We started the decade with the Washington Monument ejaculating for crying out loud and we end with kind of an anticlimax; exhausted and spent. And maybe it would have been better if we hadn't spend so much time watching porn.

But hey, it's all behind us and we'll spend tonight either in a crowded bar we paid a ridiculous cover charge to get into just so we could drink the same drinks we always drink; or at home watching a bunch of people in Times Square wear those annoying plastic glasses and whatever corporate sponsored haberdashery is passed out before the TV cameras start rolling.

CHEERS!

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous janeword said...

To 9:13

You're right that the Rohmans did not have a numeral for Zero.

But as a carpenter, Jesus knmew the concept of zero. Even back then, good carpenters measured twice to cut once.

Our culture and even some "facts" change. Most of us choose to start our countying of time with zero.

I can argue all I want about "irregardless" not being a proper word, but it does no good.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Another great post, Tom. And here's to another year of great posting from you. Re the past decade, as a friend of mine always says "you have to take the bad with the rotten"

 
At 2:11 AM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

The 2010s don't have to be like the 2000s...we can all change for the better...somewhat! (Is that one or two words?? Damn! I hate being an English major sometimes...)

Cheers, mon ami...write to me when you can....sentimental effusion...let me revel in romantic illusion...

Your dearest friend.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Beth said...

You never fail to make me laugh even as I shake my head in frustration. Happy New Year, Tom. I can't wait to see what happens!

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

France ??? I think I would be better off in Holland but last time they wouldn't let me stay.....had to come back here :-( Leaving Amerika is not difficult.....it's the having to come back part that is the problem !!!

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The worst is we still have asshats that listen to limbaugh and think obama's a liberal. Its not even close to being over.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

I just had this same discussion this morning with someone who was complaining about the "liberalism" of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. When I explained to him that we have not had a true Liberal in the White House since Lyndon Johnson, he looked at me as though I had lost my mind.

Happy new year, folks!

Tom Degan

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Angelika@ Purple Sage Designz said...

Hi Tom, thanks for your comment on my blog.
If the last decade showed one thing then it was how gawd awful right-winged the US are. From the perspective of someone who immigrated here 5 years ago.
Having Obama portrayed as a socialist made me seriously LOL. Not sure if the new decade will go back to an even worse neo-conservatism if the Obama experiment is going to fail.
Anyway, I gave up drinking around the millenium: there is not enough booze to wash down the shattered dreams of the "age of Aquarius".
Rant on, love it.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

I'll drink to that!

I see the decade as the "Aught Naughts". We Aught Naught to have done any of what we did those years; from Aught Naught to have let the election get stolen, to Aught Naught to have let the banksters run the show, to Aught Naught to have let the Cheney/Bush cartel get away with war crimes. So many Aught Naughts. The list would take the next decade to enumerate.

Oh, well, onward through the "Big O" years. Now where did I put that brandy from the other night.

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger P M Prescott said...

Living in a totalitarian society has a tendency to make everyone turn to drink. Russia is a good example.

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger Opinionated Gifts said...

Terrific rant. I'm right there with you and just finished a scotch.

One thing. Blogger is doing to you what it did to me. That is, the ads running on your blog are right wing bullshit ads. I have literaly written entire entries trashing Sarah Palin and teabaggers and below that sat actual Teabag/Sarah Palin's novel ads. You might want to deal with that.

Looking forward to reading more.

 
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