Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: my obligatory nod

New Year's = Mortality. As a teen, some floats for the Rose Parade were assembled and foliated around the corner, the nights before the festivities, when they would be driven up Temple City Boulevard and then a few more miles to Colorado Blvd. into Pasadena to appear before half a million enraptured (I went once and froze with boredom and chills) locals and the seemingly billion other Americans shivering until they found out that SoCal was warmer and that they'd be leaving Boise or Buffalo, Decatur or Des Moines, the next day to crowd our freeways and clear what few orange groves still endured, at least when I was a teen. In adulthood, I would do a ritual. I'd flick on a T.V. a few seconds, long enough to say I'd "seen" the stupifying parade, and that'd be it for duty. I don't do it anymore, nor do I care about the Rose Bowl, given UCLA's malaise.

My birthday comes half a year after, or before, Christmas, so I get a well-spaced twice-annual reminder of time's passing. How do I spend New Year's? It's about as scintillating as a birthday, but with no presents to open. Got to sleep very late; before midnight, classic rock I've heard 4,327 times before booming from the bail-bondsman's ugly house up the street, then echoing rap and house rumbling after the turnover for over another hour. Noisier than usual around here. I usually get awakened by firecrackers, mumble greetings to my slumbering spouse, and yell it to my sons, if they happen to be downstairs. As teens, one will be gone this year at his friend's (we hope) house; the other, to date, shares my homebody instincts and also my general resignation to time's swift chariot's passing.

Yesterday morning, feeling like Eeyore, I brooded about the supposed new decade-- we cheat with a nine-year "decade" so eager are we to get rid of the "Noughts" or "Oughts" to jump nearer our calendar teens. My boss asked me at a performance review interim meeting how I'd say these new years: as "Two thousand and ten etc." or "Twenty-ten, etc." I replied I had not given it any thought yet. It occurs to me now to compare how we pronounce the title of "2010" vs. "2001: A Space Odyssey."

As with Orwell's "1984," or the Y2K bug (I welcomed the threat as we got two days off work in case the computers tanked, but I did miss the party my wife and kids enjoyed as I slept on my doddering dad's couch to keep him company. I lasted until 10 and went to sleep.), we get instant obsolescence, similar to how those filmic representations of computer monitors and future doom look so dated in retrospect.

I know how Orwell switched the 1948 to 1984 to make a point; so may 2001 invert to 2010 for Clarke, I suppose-- so much for predictions vs. the present, endlessly repeated? The 1984 film version, I remember approvingly, kept the antiquated '40s Stalinist-Socialist Realism in decay aura that will in turn endure better than Pan Am and Bell's product placement shall from "2001." Leo noted the other day how in a snip of "A.I." a thousand years on, we still see the Twin Towers above the ice's assault. So much for our prognostications so far into this new millennium, whatever we'll call the next chunk of Time, chopped into ten, or nine, years.

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