February 12, 2009

Two satellites collided on Tuesday above Siberia. A Russian one, which was out of service, and an American one, which was part of a communications network called Iridium, owned by Motorola and launched in 1997. In middle school, I knew a kid named Cassius whose parents worked for Motorola, and he often wore a black Iridium shirt, which featured a satellite floating over a futuristic-looking laser-grid, the whole thing outlined in neon green.

Growing up in Phoenix it seemed like almost everyone's parents worked for Intel or Motorola. I'm guessing eighty percent of the kids' answer to the question "What do your parents do?" would have been, "Something with computers." (My parents didn't work for Intel or Motorola, but they both fell into the "something with computers" category.)

It's an easy metaphor to make, so I'll go ahead and make it: I think it's an interesting example a thing that was being put into place by our parents when we were growing up (in a time, the late 90's, that felt basically post-historical) and we assumed would be solid and safe and useful forever, and is now crashing into derelict space trash and raining down on all of us.

We're all gonna make it through this recession deal. I'm sure of it. It will be really fucked-up and hard, but we will endure. But I think the people who are going to have the hardest time of it, mentally, are people my age, who were raised in this atmosphere of easy and seemingly limitless optimism. We really did get the impression that history was finished, the hard parts, anyway. That grown-ups were in the process of eradicating the World's Great Problems. As soon as all the grown-ups who were racist died and we took over and everybody started recycling, we'd be set. We'd pretty much have this Earth thing figured out and we could blast full-bore into space and get that future we were promised. We were making macaroni-on-construction-paper pictures of everybody in the world holding hands. As soon as we made enough of them, we could show them to world leaders and they would go, "OH, okay, we get it now."

It's tough to accept that history continues, that there won't always be enough, that struggle isn't solely the provenance of characters in stirring Oscar-bait movies about grim past events. That sometimes real people have to struggle. People with cell phones.

Maybe it's self-centered to say it's just people my age, maybe every generation goes through this and it's just a growing-up thing. Realizing our parents weren't working out the last kinks in order to leave us a pristine and effortless world, that they were actually just doing their best and trying to provide for us while themselves thinking "We thought this was going to get easier, but it isn't, it's just getting harder in different ways." But in this case it seems particularly amplified by how swingin' things seemed at the end of the 90's, compared to how decidedly un-swingin' they seem at the moment, and I don't think that's just my childhood memory, I think pretty much everybody agrees that the problems of that time seem pretty laughable compared to the ones we have now.

I wrote down a line from a book I read a couple months ago ("Prep" by Curtis Sittenfeld, which I liked a whole lot) and it applies here: “...I know the world always changes; it just seems like for us it changed kind of fast.”

I'm also not saying we deserve ANY pity. We did things like make "Butterfly" by Crazy Town a hit single. It will be hard and fucked-up for everybody, it's just for us it'll take some extra time to get our heads around it.

I don't remember a whole lot from my childhood but what I do remember is what shirts people wore repeatedly.

Posted by DC at February 12, 2009 01:52 PM

Great post! I hope you always remember me wearing a yellow Paul Frank monkey t-shirt because I was soooo different.

Posted by: Chelsea M

loved this.

and i think the popularity of "no fear" shirts among our age group circa 5th grade helps a number of your points here.

Posted by: Rebecca

I remember your View Askew shirt. Now would be a good time for all of us to dig out our various animal collage screen print shirts, because whales are going to be hugely popular again, I predict even Star Trek movie big.

Posted by: Guillermo

I'd forgotten all about "Butterfly". Thanks for bringing up that bad memory

Posted by: Jerome

Damnit, I knew it! I should have never wore that shirt two days in a row! now the DCs of my time are going to remember that forever.

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