Note: This post was initially written for my blog and it has a few inside NOLA references but I’m too busy (lazy?) to hyperlink and explain them so just go with the flow. Happy New Year, Adrastos
Lisztomania is a best forgotten “bio-pic” about Franz Liszt directed by the master of excess, Ken Russell. Its theorum was that Liszt, the leading concert pianist of his day, was the first rock star so he was played by Roger Daltrey. I love Roger to death but this is the sort of disastrous casting that no movie can survive.
My feelings about the Aughties are akin to my feelings for Lisztomania, I’m glad it’s over but there were some good bits as well. So I’m succumbing to the Listomania that’s racing through the blogosphere like a virus at a dormitory. I have two lists: the things I *liked* about the first decade of the 21st Century and those I disliked.
The Top Five Things I Liked About The Aughties, in no particular order:
1.Good Teevee Shows: The Aughties was when movies for grown-ups fled the big screen and found refuge on teevee. There were some of the best shows ever on the boob tube, most of which could be found on cable. Here are a few of my favorites:The Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, 30 Rock, Top Chef, Project Runway, Survivor, Mad Men, Dexter, Foyle’s War, Battlestar Galactica and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares to name a few. Unfortunately, good sitcoms were harder to find than dramas so there’s only one on my short list.
2.The Blogosphere: I started blogging 4 years ago and love it. I’ve also made some very good friends, both real and virtual, and come up with some pretty darn good nicknames. My favorites are all New Orleanians: Renee Gill-Pratfall, Cynthia Windy-Lewis and last but never least, Mr. Gloomy Pants. 2009 was a rough year for me but one of the few highlights was being invited to join First Draft. Thanks, Athenae
3. The Spread Of Good Food: I grew up in a food oriented family. My mother was a great cook and we lived in a proto-foodie place, the San Francisco Bay Area. I now, of course, live in foodie heaven, New Orleans. But the gospel of good food has spread hither and yon and it’s now possible to get a good meal in previously unheard of places like the United Kingdom and not just the ethnic joints either. I kid you not.
4. The Entertainment Value Of New Orleans Politics: There are times when I pinch myself over how truly ridiculous NOLA politics and politicians are. As a citizen, I’m semi-horrified but as an online satirist, I’m thrilled. Special thanks to C Ray, Dollar Bill, Oliver the Actor, Veronica White and Kaiser Ed Blakely. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.
5. The Rise In Citizen Activism:The 2008 election was thrilling because of how passionate and involved people were after we blew it in 2004. The internet fueled the wave and it started rolling after Bush launched his war in Iraq and crested in November, 2008. It even came to post-Katrina/Federal Flood New Orleans, which was a pleasant surprise in a city best known for its laissez faire attitude about its corrupt and inept guvmint. Of course, in 2009 the energy seems to be on the Right but wingnuttery is good for the satire biz.
The Top Five Things I Disliked About The Aughties, in no particular order:
1. The 2000 US Presidential Election: Or as I like to call it, prelude to a bummer. The sturm and drang on the GOP side gave us a hint of what was to come. I came to feel very badly about my apathy in that election season, not that being more engaged would have made a damn bit of difference in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I voted for Gore and thought he’d be a much better candidate than President but I had a bad case of Clinton fatigue. Besides, I thought at the time: the other guy is Poppy Bush’s doofus son, how bad can he be? We all found out.
2. Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood: It ripped our lives apart in New Orleans. Dr. A and I were among the lucky ones BUT the impact of that period remains strong. I’ve heard folks from other places talk about Katrina fatigue. We’ve got it too: one can’t watch a Saints game on teevee without a gratuitous, and usually incorrect, Katrina reference. I’m also tired of talking to tourists who think the French Quarter was underwater because of piss poor press coverage, which brings me to:
3. The Decline and Fall Of The MSM:I came of age in the 1970’s when the American media did some remarkable work but those days are long gone. The MSM is now characterized by sloppy and lazy reporting and by a general cluelessness as to why it’s in decline. Bob Woodward is the poster boy for the decline: he’s gone from an outsider who helped slay Nixon administration to an insider who fluffed the Bush administration.
4. The Coarsening/Dumbing Down Of The Culture: In this instance, I’m referring to a general lack of consideration for the other guy and not just what passes for the arts. It impacts every aspect of daily life: people seem to be getting ruder, coarser, stupider and more selfish every day.
I hope I don’t have a creeping case of old fartism but it seems to me that people have an increasingly hard time distinguishing between how you act in public and in private. And that makes life both harder and dumber. In lamenting dumbassery in the Deep South of his day, H.L. Mencken once referred to it as the “sahara of the bozart.” I think that’s an accurate description of life in the US and A in the Aughties.
5. Greed:The selfishness I referred to above reached its apogee in the 2008 economic meltdown. We’ve gone from a country that used to make things to one obsessed with the stock market and every type of financial gimmickery imaginable. My late mother was a realtor and the main thing I learned from her is that no one should EVER agree to an adjustable rate mortgage. She thought they were a scam that would come back to bite you-as she put it in her Midwestern way-in the hinder. She was right: we have a country full of foreclosed houses and miserable former homeowners. The only ones who made out like bandits were, uh, the bandits. At the risk of further coarsening the culture: greed can go fuck itself.
Finally, I’m feeling listless so my listomania is listing. In the immortal words of Jeff Probst, I got nothing [more] for you.