Saturday, April 4, 2009


"It's just weird to think that what we did tonight we won't be able to do later in our lives."

"Going out to eat?"

"Well, I mean the details."

"You're being kinda vague."

"We drove for half an hour to a restaurant that serves Indian cuisine in a car that uses gas. Eighty years from now, when we're on our deathbeds, we won't be able to do that."

"Why not?"

"Things will be different. I think distances will lengthen."

"What? You're being really vague."

"Over the next eighty years I think that distances, communication, all of that, rather than getting more compact will expand. We're not going to have the same convenience. I mean, think about the past eighty years and what all changed then."

"The, 1920's? 1930's? People still drove to Williamstown to eat dinner..."

"Yeah, but -"

"I mean, the details were different. The cars were different, and I don't think cars will run on gas, yeah, but why do you think it's going to expand and not contract?"

"Just a hunch. Just an assumption."

* * *

Think of the difference between 1929 and 2009. If I live to see 2069, that is, live roughly 80 years, how much change will I have witnessed? Already I've clocked five presidents, three wars, 9/11, and Oklahoma City.

I grew up learning how to use a dictionary for vocab drills, and saw computers evolve from Apple Plus to featherweight laptops of today. The internet and email arrived.

Cloning is no longer the science fiction of my youth. The debate on the death of dinosaurs has, more or less, been fixed to a meteor impact. AIDs has become a global epidemic which we may have to live with for the rest of our lives.

The civil rights debate has shifted/is shifting from racial minorities to homosexuals. 'Deep Throat' was exposed.

Hair metal and Michael Jackson were replaced by Nirvana and Alternative, were in turn replaced by Indie rock and Hipsters. Silicon valley and the housing market boomed and busted.

Car phones and wireless phones were replaced by cell phones. Tape decks were replaced by CDs which were replaced by iPods. The Organic, Buy Local, and Green movement took flight. Electric cars were invented.

The Berlin wall came down. Countries have been created and dissolved. Apartheid ended, and Hong Kong was relinquished. Fidel stepped down and Putin stepped up.

I'm just 22. That all has happened in about twenty years. I mean, for goodness sake, what may come in the next sixty? Looking back on the past eighty years, here are the highlights up to my birth:

Sputnik, Moon landing, a space station, and the Hubble telescope.

The Wall Street Crash, Great Depression, and ten presidents. The JFK assassination.

Rock and Roll, Hippies, Woodstock, Punk, Funk, Disco. Country rock, folk revival, bebop and modern jazz.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Van Der Rohe and Gropius.

Microwaves, refrigerators, and power tools. The interstate highway system. The end of operator girls. The rise of department stores, credit and credit cards, catalogues, and strip malls.


Computers, and the silicon chip which allowed them to be personalized.

Helicopters and jet engines. Nuclear reactors and weapons, radiocarbon dating. Insulin, LSD, DNA sequencing, genetically modified organisms and hybrid rice. Lasers.

"Adolescence", yuppies, the agricultural revolution, hot rods, diners, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Free Speech, Kurosawa, Felini, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Bergman and the Academy Awards.

Hemmingway, Faulkner, Borges, Brave New World, Orwell, Steinbeck, Lord of the Rings, Beat Generation, Asimov, Heinlein, Stephen King.

Feminism. Existentialism. Post-Modernism.

World War II and the Holocaust. 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man'. Stalinism's Great Purge, the Khmer Rouge, Chairman Mao and the Cold War. Korea and Vietnam.

Television. The rise and fall of the drive-in movie. LED technology. Aerosol, DDT, and supermarkets.

Ball point pens. Vending machines. Playboy.

Some people have seen all of this and more in their lives. The rate of change constantly increases.

So will people in 2069 still go out to dinner in Williamstown? Maybe. Will that interaction be at all identifiable with what we did tonight? I doubt it.

But that's just an assumption.

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