January 1998
s m u g
by Leslie Harpold

The conspiracy theorists have had their impact on me and I am now fraught with paranoia about the whole Y2K problem. I'm not leaving my walkup for fear of crashing elevators and stuffing cash in my mattress in preparation for the impending explosion of my bank. I'm smoking more cigarettes before a new study proves that the cancer starts the minute you light up and I'm thinking I should build an orgone accumulator on my roof in celebration of the upcoming release of the Reich papers to the public. I've got two more years till any of this really matters. I can barely focus on '98 for fear of 2000, but for a minute let's talk about '97

How was your year?

In retrospect, at least in Internet time, it seems like a lot happened when, despite the fact that we tried, we were only able to pack a mere 365 days worth of living into 1997. My prediction is that in 1998 there will be no new invention that will allow us to do otherwise. No matter what we accomplish, despite the acceleration in volume we make in our productivity, we will still only be able to experience one day's worth of living in a 24 hour period. That being said, I cordially invite you to do something you've likely been neglecting of late. Exhale.

You did not see all the movies or buy all the records. Don't worry, with a couple exceptions, it was a lousy year for music. Film wasn't that great either. Advertising seemed to experience an all time cinematic high and I thank my lucky stars that I can watch South Park on the Internet so I don't have to get cable. I'm not immune to fart jokes apparently. What sticky residue remains as we sing Auld Lang Syne?


A lot of important media events went down this year, seems a shame that we will likely remember nothing about them. Diana, Jon Benet and OJ are forever etched into our memories, eclipsing the significance of the death of Burroughs. More interesting things happened on stages this year than on the radio or the record bin. This in and of itself is something to think about.

The Lilith fair showed bookers that all girl lineups could sell tickets and make lots of money. The Beastie Boys proved that politics and rock can still mix without being preachy or boring at the Tibetan Freedom Concert. Lollapalooza lost it completely as did mega shows like Horde, while the Warped tour was sort of the little engine that could of the multi-act festival shows.

Outside the realm of entertainment, more important things happened some people didn't even notice, which is likely the most frightening thing I will remember when I look back on 97. The insinuation of the Internet, mega cable, and DTV into people's lives has further dissociated them from the reality of the world. I asked nine random people who Deng Xiaoping was and only four of them even got the country right. People you'd think were smart if you met them. It's slipped the minds that the leader of 1.2 billion people died, especially after leading his nation further from personal freedoms but toward greater economic freedom? Or the significance of his hand picked successor.

Americans will also not remember that 1997 was the year the Labour Party took over our Grandmother England this year (by the largest landslide vote there in 165 years) and Tony Blair became the first public leader to meet with Irish Republican leader Gerry Adams, the first meeting with Sinn Fein in over 70 years. Not to mention that he's paved the way for the biggest constitutional changes in the UK since Ireland won independence in 1921. And this was the year they had to give back Hong Kong to boot.

But what designer made OJ's "uglyass" shoes? We all know the answer to that one. In contrast, the Internet is making leading experts out of housewives and senior citizens everywhere, the more we know - at least these days, it seems, the less we know.

I have but one prediction for the new year. Oh of course, I could say that in '98 no one will still be sexier than you, but i'm so comfortable with that already, i've learned to accept it as a given. Instead, in the spirit of diseases that invent themselves, a la "Road Rage" I predict we will see a new one and my guess it will be called something like "Pre-Millennium Anxiety" (because if they called it Pre-Millennium Tension, they'd have to pay royalties to Tricky). Someone will go postal on a playground or in a fast food restaurant or at a former workplace and when authorities question them, they will reply that their actions were spurred on because of growing anxiety over the impending turn of the century. At the rate things are going, that person might be me.



in the junk drawer:

November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997

and such
and such

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