I keep waiting for the 21st century to show me something, but the sumbitch won’t do it. It’s determined to be a derelict ne’er-do-well century that lies around the trailer unshaved and half-drunk, watching trash TV and slapping Momma on the rump when she passes by mopping. We had such high hopes for it as the old century expired — fireworks lit the Moscow onions and Jakarta spires — but it hasn’t done a blessed thing so far to advance the race or harvest any corn.
True, it has 95 percent of its sorry self left. But you have to get going SOMEtime, and it has shown neither sign nor inclination. There’s no progress, nor even the comfort of stasis; the civilization’s only detectable movement at all has been a spotty regression or retreat from reason and decency across the board. Was it Churchill who talked about the lights going out all over Europe? Century 21, they’re going out all over, period.
A sampling of what C21 to date has been good for.
It has given our science over to morons and religious extremists, who are well on the way to having our youngsters schooled in such dogma as Darwin was Satan’s nephew, an on-target human sperm cell comes toting a soul, and the world is barely older than Junior Soprano.
It has plumbed corporate greed deeper than ever without finding a bottom or a clue that there might be a bottom. Someday men may worship golden icons of the Enron HQ, if Republican covens with conservative think-tank oracles aren’t doing so already.
It has put the United States in the awkward position of starting long-lasting wars that cost taxpayers slightly more than $2,000 a second all day every day. Mention Rumsfeldian warfare and future historians will know which foolish century you’re talking about.
It has given us music that … . Well, no, it hasn’t given us any music. Unless you count some vaguely recognizable echoes wafted up from the middle 2000s and nabbed like butterflies by songcatchers bad of ear and dead of imagination. It’s given us some bracketing noise, though. And a certain kind of audio pouting that’s hard to describe otherwise.
It has given us baseball played by steroidal superfreaks who change teams every year and like bling but don’t care about much of anything else, including child support.
It has given us a nonfiction standard whereby a really creepy ahole attempts by way of mendacious braggadocio to convince that he’s an even creepier ahole than that, and reaps millions and enthralls Oprah in so doing. Such are the 21st century’s literati.
It has given us newspapers that have forgot what they are about. That don’t know any more what honesty is. They bedhop and footsie with the scum of the earth and don’t see the problem.
It has given us a great gaudy stupid mockery of Christianity that has just about totally obscured Christianity. In the Biblical metaphor, it has given us a stone and called it bread.
It has given us a caricature of Islam that can whip a million adherents into a lynch mob with a cartoon.
It has vice-presidented us with an obscenity blurter and Not Exactly Deadeye Dick, evidence of the decline of veep sports afield being that a predecessor such as Burr would not only bag his quarry efficiently instead of peppering it only annoyingly with a No. 8 spread but would also then get it home before it spoilt and serve up a nice alexandrine pate from it as a dip at his next soiree. Horsemen call that back class.
It has ignored global warming and will continue to do so until the gulf waters are lapping again at El Dorado and Magnolia.
It has FEMAed us and Medicare B’ed us until we’re just Bushed, the incompetence and incomprehensibility on such a massive scale that nobody can think of anything large enough to say, except the one small duckish voice there saying it over and over: heckuva job, heckuva job.
It has intimated poised pandemics — of bird flu, the worst symptom of which, as I understand it, is that it makes your pecker fall off, and mad cow disease, which causes you to start acting like Ann Coulter. Even so, more evidence of the comprehensive entropy, these are pussy contagions compared with those muled in by previous centuries, such as smallpox, cholera, influenza, plague.
It has revived thoughtcrime and stiffened the penalties, reprised the xenophobia of Know-Nothingism, given us a mania for the inanity of inanities called Texas Hold ’em, brought forth and verbed swiftboating, color-coded terrorism, resurrected the old romance with torture, disinterred and rehabbed Joe McCarthy and Hancocked him into just about all the conservative mastheads, Hamased democracy, leagued Google and China to suppress dissent in the People’s Republic, gay-cowboyed the movies, and just a lot of other crap.
I’m sure you have your own rap sheet.