View From the Future
by Mad Dog
On the other hand, there
are things which all the perspective in the world wont help, like airline food,
Waterworld, or caffeinated water. Hey, even perspective has its limitations.
|| Perspective is a wonderful thing. After all, if it wasnt for having a
few years as a buffer we wouldnt be coveting a car patterned after the rattletrap VW
Beetle, consider the Brady Bunch to be high comedy worthy of innumerable sequels, or have
forgiven Richard Nixon his sins when he died, though the truth is that might have been
done purely out of regret that we wouldnt have him to kick around anymore.
This human trait is good. It means that a lot of
things going on these days will look better somewhere down the road. The Viagra craze,
Kosovo, and Adam Sandler come to mind. Not to mention the Y2K problem, which will look a
whole lot better sometime after the first of January. That is if anythings left
standing. On the other hand, there are things which all the perspective in the world
wont help, like airline food, Waterworld, or caffeinated water. Hey, even
perspective has its limitations.
So how long do we need to wait before we gain the proper
perspective on an event? In the case of something like, say, the Bill and Monica Show, a
number of factors come into play, from how soon the media finds another Big Story Worth
Going Nuts Over to whether President Clinton can manage to keep his executive zipper in
the closed and upright position. On the other hand, theres the plan being hatched by
David Hasselhoff and a group of investors to open a chain of Baywatch restaurants, an idea
which needs about as long as it takes to finish this sentence to receive unanimous
agreement that its the last thing in the world we need. Well, other than the Jerry
Springer School of Etiquette and Self-Restraint.
For a couple of years now the Postal Service has been putting out a series of stamps
honoring different periods in American history as a part of their "Weve Run Out
of Ideas" series. Since theyve already done the 60s and the 70s,
its time to dig all the way back to the 80s
|| Being the end of
the decade, century, and millennium all rolled into one is bringing the perspectivists out
in full force. If you thought the end of the year wrap-ups get obnoxious, you aint
seen nothing yet. The Newseum, a museum of news gathering in Virginia that tried to find a
cuter, more sickening name but couldnt, decided to get the jump on things by
releasing their list of the Top 100 news events of the past 100 years. Voted on by a panel
of journalists and scholars who were selected because, well, they answered the phone and
you didnt, the list begins with the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Japan
and ends with the surgeon general warning that smoking cigarettes may stunt your growth,
make your clothes smell bad, and end up illegal in restaurants in California, but
youll still look cool to your friends.
In between those events are such things as Neil Armstrong walking
on the moon, the transistor being invented, and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. You
can argue the orderas well as whats included and whats notuntil
youre blue in the face (which is #27 on the list), but why Pee Wee Herman being
caught masturbating in a movie theater, the release of Skittles, and Menudo arent on
there is beyond me. Hell, Clinton being impeached made #53, which is pretty good since it
was still going on while the voting was taking place. Someone should tell these scholars
that perspective and instant gratification shouldnt go hand in hand.
If youre pouting because they didnt invite you to
rank the top stories, the United States Postal Service (motto: "We go postal so you
dont have to") is giving you a chance to join in the fun. For a couple of years
now theyve been putting out a series of stamps honoring different periods in
American history as a part of their "Weve Run Out of Ideas" series. Just
kidding, actually its called "Celebrate the Century", and you know
theyre serious because they put a after it.
How about the Cosby Show stamp, the minivan stamp, or the aerobics stamp? And before you
accuse me of making these up, they were actual choices. Hey, even I couldnt have
thought of any ideas dumber than those.
theyve already done the 60s and the 70s, its time to dig all the
way back to the 80s. They distributed ballots at post offices and, to prove
theyre techno-hip even though they missed the whole email thing, posted a web site
so we, the American people, could choose what we think are the most unforgettable aspects
of the 80s.
Among the choices
for stamps were the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Space Shuttle program, and the 1987 Arms
Reduction Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. But if for some reason you
didnt think these were worthy of being honored, they also included E.T., beach
volleyball, the Cabbage Patch Kids, and the musical play that gave T.S. Eliot a bad case
of postmortem embarrassment, Cats. Dont like those either? How about the Cosby Show
stamp, the minivan stamp, or the aerobics stamp? And before you accuse me of making these
up, they were actual choices. Hey, even I couldnt have thought of any ideas dumber
At the rate things are going, come January 15th we should have
enough perspective on the 90s to vote on the stamps for that series, which will be
good, since the post office will be needing some new stamps to make up for the losses
theyll incur when they issue the Talk Shows of the 80s stamp they suggested.
You know, it seems like just yesterday people claimed nostalgia wasnt what it used
to be. Now it turns out it may not be as long ago as it used to be either.
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while waiting for your Top 100 stories of Last Week ballot to arrive.