Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Riddance to a Rotten Decade

At midnight tonight, we will start a new decade. Those of you who want to point out that the decade is really going to start on Jan. 1, 2011 can go soak your head.

This decade has been cruel to New York. We started off tremendously. The year 2000 stands as a landmark year, the height of a latter-day jazz age of sorts. The economy was doing well and New York was at the height of its renaissance. We had a subway series for the World Series and the Yankees won, could there be a more perfect New York moment than that? (Yes, but only if you’re a Mets fan.)

The history of our decade really started Sept. 11, 2001. A lot changed after that day, but not in a good way. While the courage and sacrifice of our countrymen and the citizens of our city during and after the Sept. 11 attacks has been inspiring, the history of our country since then has only illustrated what looks like the sad decline of a crumbling empire. Our political leaders have been as shallow and vacuous as the pop-culture idols who consume what our corporations now peddle as news. Everywhere people mutter the same meaningless mantras while avoiding the tough decisions or doing what is right.

Where the twin towers once stood, a flimsy response to the attacks is being built slowly, very late and over budget. Unless things somehow change miraculously and fast, our New York City skyline will be a permanent monument to our injury instead of evidence of our resilience. Our city is in the hands of an undemocratic billionaire and a city council of overpaid demagogues and buffoons. In Brooklyn tonight, residents know that they could lose their homes if a big enough real estate developer decides his condominiums would look good in their neighborhood.

Not all about the decade has been bad. Friends have married and had children, and I’ve made a lot of new friends over the past 10 years. I’ve managed to make a living as a journalist for the last decade (with a big break of unemployment after the 2001 attacks that lasted about a year). And I’ve managed to do creative things that bring me much satisfaction. I have great hopes for the coming decade personally.

Still, the 00’s of this century have not been good. Here’s hoping the new decade brings good things.


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