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Is This It?

City Paper looks back at the past decade

By Bret McCabe | Posted 12/23/2009

The Y2K scare, the dot-com bust. Sept.11, weapons of mass destruction, mission accomplished. Hurricane Katrina, evacuation, "looting," George Bush doesn't care about black people. A president admitted to knowingly giving misleading testimony. A different president's born-again son served two terms as president--and was actually elected once--and the citizens of these United States elected the first African-American to the highest office. The Space Shuttle Columbia. Deep Throat revealed. The 2000s--a decade so nebulous we haven't even come up with a good, sticky catchphrase for it--have delivered a wealth of major events, and this decade witnessed an explosion of online media willing to cover, or at least comment upon, those events all the time. No idea if the past 10 years are officially the most written about media cycle of the modern age, but it certainly feels like this first draft of history is being written by, well, everybody.

History as lived, though, is not merely a string of mass events, or even a mass of ideas about single events. Back in December 1989, then City Paper editor Michael Yockel and his staff and some contributors--Michael Albert, Michael Anft, Gina Arnold, Frank DeFilippo, Tony Fletcher, Jim Forgione, John Goodspeed, Mark Jenkins, Jenny Keith, Adolf Kowalski, Clinton Macsherry, Louis Maistros, Judith Moore, Phyllis Orrick, Pamela Purdy, John Strausbaugh, Max Weiss, Dewey Webb--put together a feature package called "My Favorite Year," in which writers recalled personal moments from the 1980s. It just so happened to be the first full decade of City Paper's existence.

I was a clueless undergraduate at the time, but I remember digging that issue. It was a way to look at something big (a historical time period) through something small (one person's life, or memories of that life). It was a way to remember that great moments are composed of many individual points of view. It was a way to talk about that one time when something funny/horrible/weird happened. It was a way to slightly take the piss out of self-important journalistic overviews on the Years that Define Our Lives.

I liked the idea behind the issue so much I totally stole it in 1999 when I was on the staff of an alternative weekly in Dallas. And I liked the idea so much I'm totally stealing it again in this issue. What follows are a series of remembrances by City Paper writers about the events of their lives during the past decade (see more online). Some are funny, some are indulgent, some are bittersweet, some are heartfelt. The issue isn't intended to be the final word on the 2000s--merely a collection of stories from the decade. Hopefully, it can be a modest reminder that the Narrative of this decade isn't merely written by the professional bystanders documenting world events, but by everyone who chooses to take a part in the telling.

Related stories

Feature archives

My Favorite Year

2000: Meet the Neighbors

2001: Get Yr Freak On

2002: In My Place

2003: Trashing Days

2003: O Lucky Man

2003: Bombs Over Baghdad

2004: I Went Download

2005: Walk Away

2006: Year of the Dog

2007: Thanks For the Memories

2008: Facing Facebook

2009: Party in the U.S.A.

More Stories

Oh Sheila (1/13/2010)
A liberal's lament for what might have been

Thanks For the Memories (12/23/2009)
2007: I had a borderline awful time in Bucharest—and I kind of miss it

Trashing Days (12/23/2009)
2003: It wasn't the hotel-room living that got me called a pervert

More from Bret McCabe

Unnatural Wonders (7/7/2010)
Soledad Salamé's works become more persuasive through distortions

That Nothing You Do (6/23/2010)
Will Eno embraces the banality of everything

All Eyes on Him? (6/16/2010)
John Potash's The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders offers a different version of the slain rapper

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