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Used Goods

By Atticus Hart

REMEMBER the New Millennium? Or, more precisely, all the speculation, anticipation, and nervous jitters that hung in the air in 1999 as the world contemplated the turn of the century. All those stories about a brave new world, a world awash in wondrous things, a world waiting for a bright, shining future--stories filtered through the luster of a booming economy and the hi-tech miracle. In our naiveté, we were so hungry for the future that the media convinced us the New Millennium would start on Jan. 1, 2000, one whole year ahead of schedule.

We craved change. We bought the story. Start the party, we chimed.

And then there were the doomsayers. Get ready, they warned, Armageddon is coming. The reckoning is just around the corner. Hear the bell toll. It's Judgment Day.

We all heaved a collective sigh of relief when the year 2000 rolled around, our computers were free of apocalyptic viruses, and the stock market was rising faster than Bill Clinton's crotch at the sight of a fresh-faced young intern.

And then came the long, slow slide and the Sept 11 reality check at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It's not so new anymore, this century of ours. Now it's the Used Millennium--already covered in a thick layer of debris and despair. Consumer confidence has crashed (although ostentatiousness abounds in the North Bay)and all around us the empire is crumbling, the barbarians are at the gate.

It's a wicked world, my grandmother used to say as she sat up late at night, huddled in front of the oven, hunched over a cup of strong black tea, and munching burned toast and dried seaweed. Yeah, it's a wicked world. Lighten up, Granny, my friends used to tell her. What the hell did she know anyway?

But how right she was--the cranky cynic with the vocabulary of a dockworker, suddenly elevated to the status of a wise sage. Now I see that we can deceive ourselves into believing anything, into believing that the future holds hope, hope for national security, hope for job security, hope for safe passage through a world spinning out of control.

The wickedness is everywhere. And it's another 99 years before the turn of the next century, before the next batch of fools convince themselves that it'll get better, that mankind will find a way to set aside ancient blood feuds, that the world holds a bright, shining future--someday.

Ninety-nine years--and already it's time to find a way to get rid of this torn-and-frayed epoch, sweep it aside, sell it to the highest eBay bidder, alongside the broken pieces of the World Trade Center that went online within moments of America's tragic hour.

Any takers? One century, slightly used, as is, in need of repair.

Send your spare meds to Atticus Hart, c/o the Northern California Bohemian.

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From the September 27-October 3, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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