By Louis Rastelli
From Vol. 2 No. 4, 2004
So it’s 2004, before we know it we’ll be pushing 2010 (and that was just a terrible movie)—and, so far, where are our jet packs? Where’s the moving sidewalks? Where’s dinner-in-a-pill and all that other futuristic stuff? OK, OK, we have pocket PCs now that are even cooler that what Dick Tracy had, that wristwatch of his in the 30s (although now that I think of it, didn’t he have a video-telephone on his wristwatch? Doesn’t text messaging just suck compared to that?) Anyway, sad to say but I think it’s the pathetic state of the environment of our planet and the continuing general stupidity of our political systems which are overshadowing any glee over (not to mention potential of) our technological advantages in this still-young 21st century. At some point in the late 90s, even me, a long-time jaded and cynical punk/ artist with huge built-in skepticism, started thinking that if we made it past the year 2000 without any glitches, revolutions, or nuclear wars breaking out, I just might start wearing a suit and tie, find a high-paying job, buy lots of gadgets and embrace “the future,” for whatever it was worth. I thought at a certain point, why not just get faithful about it like everyone else, know what I mean?
But then, towards the end of the 90s, the growing protests of common people over the unfair way globalization was being carried out made me think differently—perhaps I was not alone in my many suspicions after all. Then Sept. 11 made me think really differently (no, not just ‘cause some dudes finally levelled the Trade Center—that was bound to happen someday—but hitting the Pentagon too, and catching the entire global military intelligence system off-guard, putting all of North America on top military alert for weeks—I’m sorry, but that brought the big nuclear fear I felt circa 1984 right back to front and center for me.)
So now, I don’t feel I’ll be ready to embrace a rosy future again anytime soon. It’s not that it won’t end up OK, it’s just that the option of sitting and watching it turn out all futuristically OK seems totally gone right now.
What I’m trying to say is that it really looks like we’ll have to work really hard in order to make it turn out OK. To keep on with the status quo is NOT a positive option. I sense that deep down, most people realize this. BUT, it’s a FUCKED realization, THEREFORE I’ve concluded that some way WORSE shit than Sept. 11, whether environmental, a wave of monster disasters or earthquakes, some nukes going off or some kind of terrorist action as creative as Sept. 11 will have to happen before we summon up the collective balls to forget about which celebrities just got divorced and FOCUS on some serious PROBLEM-SOLVING for awhile, so that we can QUICKLY set things onto a better course again and finally be able to sit back and think WOW, THIS IS THE YEAR TWENTY-SOMETHING!!! HEY EVERYBODY, COME CHECK OUT THIS CR-A-A-A-A-AZY THING I INVENTED WITH MY NEW GIGA-TERABYTE G10 SILICON STATION! STRAP ON YOUR JET PACK, DUDES, YOU GOTTA COME SEE THIS!
You see, I also believe we’ve only just barely tapped the very beginning of a wave of progress we can hardly imagine at this moment. But just like at the beginning of the 20th century, so far our social and political progress is way, way far behind our technological progress. We can’t let that gap stay there forever. In fact, we probably can’t let it stay there for more than a few more years, before it’s do or die.
Sometimes I wonder whether it’s actually optimistic to think one nuke will go off soon, and galvanize everyone to action (optimistic because it’s much better to have ONE nuke go off and wake people up then the 20 000 that are estimated to exist.) Mostly, I think that’s terribly pessimistic. Sadly, it’s probably just very realistic, though very few people realize this (it’s really not fun to realize.) Either way, what are the options… It’s just wait and see, I suppose, wait and see how it turns out… for now. At least we can say us folks in our 20s and 30s had some taste of the 20th century, and will be around to take in a definitive chunk of the 21st. If we’re both lucky and responsible, the 2020s, 2030s, 2040s and 2050s will go by, and we’ll be trying to explain to our grandchildren exactly why we once thought we might not make it that far… and they’ll never understand what the hell we’re talking about.