Archive: November, 2009
OK, here's another storied genre that didn't fare so well in "The Decade From Hell": Alt-country, which rose up and florished in the 1980s and gave us some great tunes from the likes of Wilco and Son Volt in the 1990s. In the 2000s, Wilco was essentially making commercials and Son Volt didn't really come close to the brilliance of 1995's "Trace." But there was one bright spot, the Drive-By Truckers, a Georgia band that paints haunting portraits of a New South where subdivisions can be just as stiffling as trailer parks.
Indeed, I'm hard-pressed to think of a song that better captures the Bush-Cheney era than 2008's "The Righteous Path," where they sing:
I got a grill in the backyard and a case of beers
I got a boat that ain’t seen the water in years
More bills than money, I can do the math
I’m trying to keep focused on the righteous path
So, apparently there's some kind of climate thing going on...
Just kidding. The much ballyhooed hacked emails from Britain's University of East Anglia, which is a leading world research center on climate, are indeed an outrage, if maybe not exactly for the reasons that American conservatives portray them. The scandal doesn't undo the growing pool of evidence -- most of it developed elsewhere -- that the planet continues to experience warmer temperatures and a loss of polar ice, but the secrecy, trash-talking and unnecessary throwing away of raw data has indeed undermined a generation of scientific research, and made addressing the issue of greenhouse gases more problematic than ever.
Chris Coste's jilted jihad against the Phillies has led the 37-year-old ex-rookie to sign with the New York Mets. Not sure if that's going to be the best vehicle for revenge, though.
The decade that we're in now (more on THAT awkward phrasing in a second) is still with us for another 32 days, but the race to define it is already on. Time Magazine -- which didn't dare wait for December lest it be scooped -- jumped out to an early and perhaps insurmountable lead when it declared the last 10 years as "The Decade from Hell," a phrase I've already heard reverberating loudly about the Big Media echo chamber. Unless you've been stuck in a garage since the year 2000 building a giant balloon in order to become a reality TV star, you can probably rattle off all the supporting evidence in your sleep: 9/11, the global economic meltdown, the failures of Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and torture and the rapid loss of U.S. prestige in the world, and so on and so forth.
One potential good thing about "The Decade From Hell" is that it does give the years from 2000 through 2009 the thing they so strikingly lack: A NAME! Indeed, that problem became noticeable just months into the year 2000, when it became clear there was no consensus name (like the Nineties, or '90s) and then 9/11 in some bizarre way just brought that whole conversation to a halt; when it resumed there were some awful suggestions like the Naughts (really?) but I tend to use "the 2000s," any confusion with either the 21st Century or the new millennium be damned. But beyond that, I have some other problems with this whole "Decade From Hell" concept. Was it really? And if so, why was that?
It's Jack White, y'all. I believe no further explanation is required:
It's just not in the United States:
It may not be the worst idea ever but....OK, just kidding, it is the worst idea ever. Allen Iverson should not unretire and come back to the 76ers, period. The only upside for signing him is that he would put a few more fans in the many empty seats now at the Wok, but the way that the NBA works, the Sixers couldn't really use the extra cash to upgrade the team; instead, the dollars would merely line Ed Snider's Ayn Rand-loving pockets -- uh, I don't think so. The downside is that is would screw up the Sixers efforts to develop their young talent -- contrary to conventional wisdom, they have some -- as Iverson forces promising rookie Jrue Holliday back to the bench and hogs the ball from the others.
I know I'm in a minority, but I think there is a path out of misery for the 76ers, and it clearly doesn't involve AI. Rather, it is Holliday, Lou Williams, Marresse Speights and Thaddeus Young -- who strike me as an 80 percent nucleus of a winning team in the NBA. Hopefully, that still-learning lineup will lose a lot of games in 2009-10 and the ping-pong balls will bounce Philly's way to add a fifth young blue-chip player. For now, a tag team of Jason Smith and two untradeable (unfortunately) veterans. Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert, will hold the fort in the middle until that upgrade takes place. While this is unfolding, the team should try to unload the one veteran who may have some trade value: Andre Iguodala. Iggy will never carry a team -- which he was asked to do here, after Iverson was traded -- but he could be a key missing link on a championship-caliber team, and so I think he could bring something in return.
So much has happened since the year 2000 release of "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and this soaring song of redemption and hope that it's hard to think back, through the haze of all the bad news that you can't leave behind since, and remember it as a song of this cursed decade. In fact, Bono's song -- which he once supposedly said is about "a man who has lost everything, but finds joy in what he still has" -- weaved its way into the very fiber of this decade, from its live performance at the 2002 Super Bowl after the 9/11 attacks to its use on the campaign trail for Barack Obama in 2008. I'd have to very much agree with most people that on the whole the 2000s was a pretty weak decade for most kinds of music, certainly when compared with the glory years of rock 'n' roll; but in "Beautiful Day," U2 created arguably the most uplifting -- and hence the greatest -- rock song ever. The official music video is here, while below they perform it at the Live 8 concert in 2005 (in London, unfortunately, not in Philadelphia):