I realized, like a week ago, that there’s a whole new decade coming up. I was born in 1980, which means I get to start my own new decade, too.
In 1990, when I was ten, I told my mom it felt like nothing new was being invented. We had phones, cable tv, remote controls, space shuttles. She said “let’s see how you feel in ten years.” In that interval, of course, everyone got PCs, modems, screen names…looking back, all that innovation, which gave rise to smart phones and social networks and blogs and everything we spend time on now, was not was I was looking for. If you had told me, then, that by the time I turned 40 we’d have little devices on our wrists with more computing power than ENIAC, I would have said sure, but will there be jet packs and artificial gravity for our bases on the moon?
I used to read a blog called Paleofuture. It’s still out there, somewhere. One day, Paleofuture posted a picture of someone’s 70’s vision of an 80’s space station. Yes, every time I see a ’57 Chevy or googie architecture, I wonder why the future Walt Disney invented for the Boomers never, ever came. But I was a kid in the 80s. The picture of the space station was a sort-of writing prompt. This is from around 2012.
I was a kid in the 80’s and got to go to EPCOT. I used to read Popular Mechanics and try to make crap out of batteries and magnets and draw fighter jets and space stations and curvy future cars and build paper ammo wristbows from rubber bands and hangers. I did The Jason Project.
I remember when the Challenger blew up because the lady teacher had a kid my age and my family had an Aerostar the first summer they came out. After it happened Ford pulled the commercials that showed how the nose of their new mini-van looked just like the Shuttle. I broke the sliding door with my first GI Joe and burned my arm on an interior light and it scabbed and cracked and leaked all summer and I’d touch the puss with the fat tips of my fingers to see if it would hurt.
My grandmother made me watch INF when I was 7 so I could say that I’d seen history. She didn’t say it but in 1987 you had no way of being sure you’d see more big human moments. Imagine living like that for 4o, 50 years, thinking about the button, building schools with fallout bunkers, doing drills. I remember the first time I saw a plane, it was Wednesday, 9/19, 2001. I went to college near a power plant with two cement torch chimneys so these things made me nervous. I imagine living like this for 40, 50 years, collecting history for my son just in case it stops. Waiting for the break, the thaw, the perestroika. The Western glasnost Gorbachev and the Dubai-Vegas-Beijing Red Dawn white trash show. Waiting for the INF bombs to come in off the market. There is no end of history, Francis Fukuyama. There is history or nothing.
Obama will close Gitmo but will hold enemy combatants indefinitely without trial on the mainland. Semantics must be justice. There are pictures of Pelosi toasting Cheney and Shepard Fairey laughing, obey, obey, obey, obey the giants and their posses. I was a kid in the 80’s.
I thought we’d have more now: sustainable communities instead of social networks. Colonies in space. We got personal computers, personal accessories, personal devices, vanity, vanity, vanity, rah rah trips to ISS but lazy outward pushing. If Richard Branson brings the heavens we should fill them.