Rejected Submission: “Newspapers Turned Off by Contributor Reference to Heads Being Sawed Off.”

Posted on January 5, 2010

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The Woes Of the Ohs That Everyone Knows: Getting by Slowly in the Fast-Paced Old-Worn New Age New World Order

by Neil C/K/R

Today’s Date: 12/31/09
Time: 8:50 AM

In roughly fifteen hours the Ohs – The Aughts – The Naughty Naughts – they will be over and done with, leaving a beachball-sized digital tumbleweed in their wake of ruin.

Perhaps I’m being a bit melodramatic (Melodramatic metanarrative is so 20th century), and while no decade is perfect, perfection being intangible, one cannot help but gauge a generalized fatigue among the citizens of the world when they think of the 2000-2009 years.

War.

Pestilence.

Plague.

Kanye West.

Classic indicators of a society crumbling from beneath itself. What went wrong? Where did we go wrong? Were our rights wrong and our wrongs right? Let’s peer into the crystal ball of history and peel back the clock a few years.

1982.

1999 occurred in 1982. Prince, King of Princes, recorded the legendary ditty on the synonymously titled album. On the album version, there’s a sultry spoken intro where The Unpronouncable Symbol says, encourages, “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I only want you to have some fun.” This 1999 is different from the one that actually transpired. In this 1982-1999, proto-Y2K paranoia grips the night and the world is on the verge of falling apart on the eve of the new millennium. In actuality, Y2K was probably our biggest worry, which of course ended up being needless. We had a surplus, technology was getting better every day, and at the time, a lot of people in the world really found The Uncle Sam(‘s club) charming. Things were looking up.

Something else happened in 1982. It was at the end of that year that the condition (now a pandemic) we identify as A.I.D.S. received the name we know it by. What a lot of people don’t know is that for the majority of that year, we had a very moniker for the syndrome: G.R.I.D.S. Gay-Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Until ’92 being gay was officially considered a mental illness, stratifying a vast number of the population and limiting them to the confines of a diagnosis: since at the time A.I.D.S. was seen as an exclusively homosexual illness, another diagnostic label seemed fitting. Of course, scientists objected to the name and it was renamed A.I.D.S. before ’83, and everyone forgot about G.R.I.D.S. In ’84 H.I.V. was found to be the cause of the disease. Anyone could get it. No scapegoating The Gays anymore. The culture of fear had an opportunity to get everyone afraid of A.I.D.S., and it missed that opportunity (which it now makes up from every time there’s an outbreak of anything between SARS and the common cold) because it was so busy worrying about the Red Menace. Commies. Stinko pinkos. Mid-80’s, the CIA subsidizes and trains the “Office of Services” co-formed by Osama bin Laden- an odd title for the precursor to al-Queda. Terrorism that sounds as pedestrian and mundane as a visit to the DMV.

Prince was wrong.

The end of the world would not come until September 11th, 2001. That is when the Ohs truly began their submersion into an age of despair and set off a chain of irrationality. The USAPATRIOT act is born before ’02. 2003 we invade Iraq, and if you have a problem with it, you have a problem with us. Wanna fight about it? Okay. The better part of a decade later, we’re still fighting in a war over a thousand years old. The unwinnable wars of the “on”: War on Terror, War on Drugs, War on Feasibility. The War on Truth.

I propose a new cultural war, a war of the “off”: The War off War. We’d combat Combat were it possible, but since it’s not, eh. N.B.D. Anyone else feeling a Big Mac attack?

This past decade, Big Mac (heart) attacks probably occurred in frequencies not much different than in the past, but at least future arteries will go clogged without worry that they may have been caused by the addition of trans fat. Putting regulations on the usage of unsaturated fats may be remembered as a sociomedical breakthrough of the Ohs, right up there with the bionic arm and the FDA’s brilliant approval of botulinum toxin in ’02. Verily and without doubt, these are clear symbols of our government having our best interests at mind.

After 9/11, everything changed: the old lady with a nail file in security checkpoint #11,233 is now a potential terrorist, or so I heard via a text I received from Facebook that was forwarded from Twitter that was forwarded from Blogger which was updated on my friend’s BlackBerry and checked on my iPhone. The 18th century philosopher/clergyman Joe Priestley once said that “the more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” Sometimes I wonder if that’s true. Social media, blogging, this great network of ideas that splits us into two worlds, the Virtual and the Tangible: I often wonder if we’re any better off because of it. We can express our ideas and talk to people in ways previously unthinkable through the Net’s veil of anonymity and lack of responsibility (which seems to be slowly eroding), and yet somehow I cannot help but feel as though we all still feel so alone. We are continually connected, and yet no one, even those with tens of thousands of Myspace friends, really feels like anyone cares. Alone among the alone. Antidepressant consumption was at an all-time high this decade. Big Pharma has a pill for everything, and if you didn’t know that, there might be something wrong with you. They have a pill for that too, talk to your doctor about trying it.

After 9/11, everything changes: Reality TV rises and falls. Buzzword-syndicated pundit shows. Fear. Waterboarding becomes “enhanced interrogation.” Euphemisms and political correctness amble in abundance through the public discourse.. Kabbalah becomes hip, so does Scientology until Anonymous strikes, and apparently atheists are citizens too despite Bush Sr.’s assertion. Evolution debate, blah-blah-blah Kansas. The Gays. They want rights now. How dare they. Drawing a doodle of Muhammad gets you a nice big fatwa on your head, which is then sawed off and the video documenting it uploaded online and the reactions to that video uploaded to Youtube. George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People. Black People Don’t Care About George Bush. Gas prices hit an all-time high, and in order to get high, you need to be a Californian with a prescription. Conspiracy theorists conspiring to further their agenda. The White House gets very black (but still white) in January ’09.

Amazon and eBay and Craigslist thrive. The Mall dies.

“Like—Um—Okay,” the things we often say. Our language devolves as it evolves, at least according to the linguistic elite.

Driving to the job I no longer have, the SUV in front of me encourages you and me to Go Green, the winter air crystallizing the carbon monoxide expelled by the exhaust.

Now in the Ohs’ last moments, I think about all the war and paranoia and bickering and hate, and I try to think of all the things I did like about them. Stem cell research has gotten better, music and DVD piracy is convenient and easier than ever, TiVO if I ever get around to getting it, our health care system is being reformed for better or worse, the Nintendo DS, Wikipedia. Also white women now have prominent buttocks, Sisqo’s “Thong Song” having revolutionized women’s fashion.

I think about all the war and paranoia and bickering and hate, and in the Ohs’ last minutes, as the clock peels down to another year, I’ll raise my glass and toast to a hope for better days ahead.

“Yes, We Can.”

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