Thursday, December 31, 2009

#1 - Facebook

It was the decade when...

You were your status update.

100 days, 100 trends. And what tops our survey? What trend of the aughts surpasses all others?

Obviously, the Internet played a massive role in the aughts. Perhaps the major role. Our connection with our friends, lovers, and acquaintances was mediated by the information superhighway. And those who controlled the means of communication controlled our lives. The aughts saw a grand drama of competing social networking sites striving for our allegiance and online devotion. What began as a Friendster flurry quickly morphed into MySpace mania. With MySpace it appeared, for a brief respite, that the general populace had agreed unilaterally on a social networking site to triumph over all others. But alas, the actual site proved unwieldy, prone to profiles of women of ill repute and myriad alt-rock bands promoting their latest faux Arcade Fire-esque album. The neatness and clarity of Friendster was lost in the graphic overload. MySpace could not sustain itself. Another social network was required to bring us together.

Enter Mark Zukerberg, Harvard Sophomore and future billionaire. After beginning his nascent website in 2003 (from his dorm room) as a social network for Ivy League students only, it was only a matter of time before the burgeoning entrepreneur realized the potential of his new creation. Originally called "The Facebook," one received immediate cache upon invitation, in the early days at least. A world away from MySpace's free-for-all webpage design structure, "Facebook" (the "the" was dropped early on) was a clean, organized way to present your internet identity to the world. Once the site went fully mainstream, accessible to any and everyone, it vanquished it's rivals, dominating the social networking market to this day. Overnight Zukerberg's elitist online club became a social force to rival Google.

So why? What is it about Facebook? How did an elitist online club for Ivy-League brats turn into the most important trend of the decade? As in comedy the answer is always: timing, timing and timing. The world of social networking was being explored as far back as AOL Member Profiles (Remember those?) and the early aughts proved a viable crucible for competing design schemes and website structures. In retrospect it should have been clear to all media barons that Social Networking was bound to become a central part of social reality in the 21st Century and yet the major Internet tech companies like Google and Microsoft offered little in this format. Social Networking, thank God, was left to the amateurs and entrepreneurs. It was just a matter of which site found the secret ingredients to provide the most viable and addictive service. The alchemy of Internet success in this arena was, as yet, a mystery. The turning point was when Facebook opened up it's website to open-source 3rd-party applications, facilitating all manner of programs and services on the site. Sure, most of these applications ended up annoying users, like the ubiquitous "poking" applications, but overall the business plan was steady and open to endless improvement. In short order, Facebook went from an alternative social network for those outside the MySpace universe to the only viable convergence point of social networking on the Internet.

Facebook has become as much a place as a website. A nexus of actual identity and web persona, Facebook is both a representation of a person's external self and a subjective representation of their own sense of identity. Online chats, wall commentary, photo tagging, private messaging - all have become as substantial as most corporeal interchanges between persons, the virtual realm asserting itself as not merely a supplement to "real" interaction but a full-on replacement of it.

A person's Facebook page is a delicate destination. A locus of personal thoughts and feelings as articulated by a user's myriad preferences in books, movies and television shows, Facebook is also a repository for evidence about an individual's social side, with endless tagged photographs of a subject bleary-eyed at drunken parties or other such embarrassing candid moments. As the site has grown to dominate its market Facebook's users (meaning about everyone) have only grown to rely on the site more and more. Reading one's friends one-line status updates with the ferocity of a Talmudic scholar, one's social connections are as virtual now as they are real. Were are not replacing the real, merely expanding it's boundaries. This expansion, the dissolution of borders between actual and virtual identity, is the aughts' greatest legacy. A legacy that will only continue to grow and expand as our technology further blurs our knee-jerk notions about reality and the way in which we interact with it and each other.

Facebook was the victor in the aughts' battles of social networking. The site is a crossroads for all travelers to swap stories and exchange ideas, to post photos and update one's "stutus," which, when considered existentially, is quite an update to make on a daily basis. Facebook is now embedded in the very texture of contemporary society; to not be a part of it is to withdraw in some extent from modernity itself, so sweeping is the influence of Zukerberg's creation.

And for these myriad reasons we find Facebook the aughts' most influential and important trend. Now excuse me while I update my profile with the news.

You AUGHT to remember.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#2 - Hipsters

It was the decade when...

Apathy was the new black.

Like the hippie of the sixties and the yuppie of the eighties, the aughts too featured their own archetypal personality, a persona born of the ideological vacuum left by a post-cold war world and cauterized in the anxious miasma of a post 9/11 America. The hipster, raised in the affluent and vacuous 90's, is a child of privilege who, without rejecting his bourgeois roots like the hippies before him, merely attempts to neutralize the fact by ironically appropriating the aesthetic of the working class. Not to be confused with solidarity, this arch performance is a variety of liberal guilt that's been internalized and then regurgitated as self-conscious meta-commentary. A hipster is not dressed so much as costumed, each item and accessory meticulously chosen to juxtapose a hipster's privilege with their assumed blue-collar aesthetic. At the root of every Hipster-ism is the tension between authenticity and artifice, the hipster embracing the latter as if it was a variety of the former. Hipsters are truly fake in the most literal sense of the term.

There has always been bohemians dwelling in certain enclaves of urban centers, loci of struggling young artists, writers, thinkers, revolutionaries and philosophers who, despite what might be a middle-class or aristocratic background divert themselves from the mainstream path to success; one might think that hipsters offer little new in the way of social phenomenon. This is missing the crucial point. Whereas all other Bohemian movements, from the Belle Epoque world of Puccini's La Boheme, to the beatniks in the 50's to the hippies in the 60's, have sought out alternate enclaves of living in order to better seek out the grand philosophical ideas of truth, beauty and authenticity. The hipster is the negation of these ideals, deliberately rejecting such quests as vain exercises by sentimental people naive enough to believe in these antiquated ideas. The hipster instead exists as a living quotation mark, every facet of the personality a tacit rejection of any all proactive assertions. The Hipster is the death of hope, for hope implies an ability to rectify contradictions and achieve progress. A hipster's existence is a censure of all efforts to viscerally engage with the word in anything but an ironic context. In this way the Hipster is, of course, the extension of post-modern thought as applied to an actual individual; post-modernism taken, as it were, "to the end," penetrating the very essence of subjectivity. If post-modernism's central tenet is it's rejection of modernism's obsession with "the new" and "the true," (replacing such ideals with the negation of meaning) then the Hipster is the movement's living breathing foot soldiers.

Being a Bobo, a cousin of the Hipster but absent the pretense, my interaction with the aughts more prominent social group has been mostly tangential. A social phenomenon replete with analytical interest, my feelings toward the group have always been apathetic at best. Seeing how apathy is the dominant stance of a hipster toward, well, everything, the reaction is not without some appropriateness.

If the earnestness and "free-love" flower-power dreams of the 60's seem silly to jaded modern eyes at least we can say that the Hippies really believed in their dreams of social progress, free-love and liberated consciousness. True Hipsters, believing only in irony, exist in an ocean of ill-matching yet meticulously chosen signifiers, undoing all meaning rather than bolstering it. Neither left nor right, political ideologies are something to be undermined and not endorsed - a lazy cynicism about progress is a staple of the hipster diet. But, maybe this is the end of history; Francis Fukuyama's dream of capitalist democracy's triumph is, in fact, true, but the price we pay is that we all morph into self-referential, uber-sarcastic, consumption pod people who, in capitalism's sneakiest trick, think that this very consumption is the purest expression of our individualism. Self-obsession and the free-market go hand-in-hand, and by being too "meta" to believe in meta-narratives anyway, the hipster is nothing if not the most intense of naval gazers, all the while, like a moth to a flame, subscribing subconsciously to the most insidious kind of groupthink, conforming to the most rigid and insidious social standards.

The most insidious aspect of Hipsterism is its illusion of authenticity. In order for this grand post-modern gambit to work, the Hipster himself must be convinced that his tastes and aesthetics are entirely determined by a solipsistic self-awareness which allows him to pursue his tastes and cultivate his style based on his little more than own subjective appetites. It's a variation on a old joke: I wouldn't want to belong to any club that I had to be member of. Going by self-disclosure, there is no such thing as a Hipster; all candidates would easily deny their inclusion in this non-group. The Hipster just "digs what he digs," it's all just personal preference. To admit any solidarity with any "movement" or "scene" is to confess a kind of positive engagement with social reality, a reality that Hipsters claim to be above. To be a Hipster is to be deeply conformist yet wholly unaware of this fact. That is the ultimate irony. It's an irony which must never be spoken of lest such a breach rupture the whole architecture of disaffection that is the Hipsters raison d'etre.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't like Hipsters. I suspect the only way to eradicate this hipster problem is satiric ridicule.

You AUGHT to remember.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Interim: What are the top two?

Hi readers. Here we are, on the cusp on the Teens, saying goodbye (and good riddance) to our beloved aughts. Any idea what the top two selections might be? What are the two most prominent features of the decade not yet mentioned? I'd be curious to hear what you think. Of course, I know what they are but then again....I'm writing the thing! The correct guess undying respect!

#3 - 9/11

It was the decade when...

Reality showed Roland Emmerich what for.

Decades do not begin on January 1st. They begin when an transitional event occurs, re-calibrating the social coordinates of society; a moment of Hegelian flummox in which the past recedes backwards, turing yesterday into ancient history. Though almost two years had elapsed, the aughts did not really begin until the beautiful morning of September 11, 2001. There is little need here for me to recount the horrible events of that day, or to analyze the myriad ways in which 9/11 fundamentally altered our very identity as Americans. We know all this already. Best perhaps simply to remember, and most importantly...never forget.

You AUGHT to remember.

#4 - YouTube

It was the decade when...

We got a whole new kind of boob tube to waste our time on.

Once upon a time there was no YouTube. That time: 2004. Not so long ago. YouTube released its Beta version in February of 2005. It officially launched in November of that year. By 2006 it was impossible to imagine life without the site. I think the wheel took longer to be embraced upon invention. By the end of 2006, TIME magazine was calling "You" the person of the year and everything from entertainment to politics had been transformed by the still nascent website. Though there had long been video on the Internet, the perception of the World Wide Web pre aught-five was still that of a primarily text based interface. YouTube was a major catalyst in turning the internet into the multimedia platform it is today. The site was the most democratic form of media distribution ever invented, handing to the laymen the opportunity to turn their private home videos and amateur mini-movies into cultural phenomenon at no cost whatsoever. Sure competition was stiff but, when a video did break through the cacophonous din and "went viral," shared from one user to the next like an internet social disease, the impact was felt from coast to coast, water-cooler conversations all but dominated by suggestions of clips to view.

Given the multiplicity of content on YouTube, its interesting that the website still has the reputation of being, essentially, the worlds biggest interactive collection of America's Funniest Home Videos. Though there is no Bob Sagat lurking about making cornball jokes, it is true that many of YouTube's biggest smashes were of this low-fi, pratfall variety: Cats playing piano, skateboarders flying off of ramps, Helen Keller falling of the stage in an amateur production of The Miracle Worker (my personal favorite). The more asinine the better, America's appetite for the silly knew no limits. And, given YouTube's five-minute video time limit, such easily digestible folderol made sense.

While these videos are without question a popular dimension of YouTube's appeal, the power of the website resides elsewhere. In the political arena gaffes by candidates are inevitable. Only in the aughts however could a gaffe be recorded once and then easily accessed by millions of users over and over and over again. (And linked to on Facebook pages and blogged about and twittered and....) Those campaigns not hip to this sea change often found themselves embarrassed and recoiling, like incumbent Virginia Senatorial candidate George Allen who, caught on tape in 2006 using the racial slur "macaca" at a rally, was later forced to apologize for the slip. Yeah, he lost. Many other such political moments got the YouTube treatment, changing the democratic process in America forever.

Creative entrepreneurs have also taken advantage of the site, in some cases transforming their YouTube videos into full-blown careers. Performer Liam Sullivan went from unknown to comedic sensation when he posted his now classic "Shoes" music video on YouTube in 2006. When Philadelphia videographer James Rolfe began comically reviewing the bottom-of-the-barrel video games of his youth, the persona of "The Angry Video Game Nerd" was born. Rolfe even had a cool theme song. Before long he was hired by to be an exclusive feature of the site. Jeffery Self and Cole Escola were two unemployed 20-something friends just bored enough one day to start posting irreverent YouTube clips under the moniker the VGL Gay Boys. After a video about gay marriage in California went viral their popularity skyrocketed. Hollywood came a-knocking and before long the duo had their own TV show on Logo television, a gay Rowan and Martin for the internet age. The VGL Gays Boys, like Liam Sullivan and the Angry Video Game Nerd, are but a few examples of the awesome opportunities granted anyone with a computer and imagination in the 21st Century. The world of YouTube is littered with such success stories.

YouTube created its own universe of memes. Reaction videos to 2 Girls, 1 Cup being a paradigmatic example, much of YouTube became a matter of call and response in the aughts; a single video inspiring a slew of responses, remixes and parodies. Yes it was funny when we heard the audio tape of Christian Bale excoriating a crew member on the Terminator set, a verbal parade of purple profanity and mean-spirited sarcasm to make David Mamet envious. It was even funnier, however, when the clip was overlaid onto the viral sensation "David at the Dentist," the whole becoming so much more than the sum of its parts. Even narcotic use was effected by the site; the (legal) psychtropic Salvia came to be known as the "YouTube drug," the substances five-minute high perfect for recording and uploading for all the world to see. Video trends took on a life of their own. Beyonce's Single Ladies dance is almost better known because of its myriad parodies than for the original video itself. Yes, the aughts were a decade when pop culture could be endlessly rejiggered to one's own taste. After Chris Cocker gained national attention for screaming "Leave Britney Alone!" into his computer screen it was hours, not days, before parodies started to proliferate YouTube. Even celebrities like Seth Green got into the act with his own spoof of Cocker's teary-eyed missive, acutely aware that going viral is the way to stay relevant in 21st Century media.

The amount of content on YouTube now is staggering. Getting ever closer to the fantasy of watching whatever you want to, whenever you want to, and for free, YouTube has changed media consumption forever. Not one to let a major internet hub fall into other hands, Internet giant Google purchased YouTube in 2006 for over a billion dollars, eventually discontinuing their own YouTube-esque service "Google Video." With camera phones now offering instant YouTube uploading there will be no limits to peoples ability to document and share their lives with the world. Hell, we're there now. YouTube was the aughts' most perspicuous example of the paradigm shift toward user-driven content in mass media. The question is whether at the end of the next decade there will be any big-media left whatsoever, or will YouTube be all; the whole of media completely decentralized and fragmented yet located and uploaded onto one website? It's possible.

You AUGHT to remember.

Monday, December 28, 2009

#5 - American Idol

It was the decade when...

An Idol was no longer a golden calf.

American Idol - A series of memories

I remember Kelly Clarkson, voice sand-papery as Tom Waits after a bender and as teary as a newly crowned beauty queen, squawking her way through the First Season's climatic ballad A Moment Like This for what felt like the 20th time. Indeed, American Idol became a new kind of Miss (or Mr.) America for the 21st century. Only bigger. Kelly Clarkson couldn't have known it when she became Idol's first reigning champ but, the show was about to change (and dominate) the music industry in the aughts, the winner all but guaranteed a one-way ticket to super-stardom. And the runner-up, in the case of the Justin Guarini (he of Sideshow Bob coiffure), a one-way ticket to total irrelevance.

I remember Clay Aiken, eliminated during prelims, getting the chance to redeem himself as a wild card selection by singing Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, nailing every note and giving Idol one of its greatest, and cheesiest, performances ever. Somewhere Barry Manilow was smiling. Clay would go on to win America's heart but lose the competition. Ruben Studdard, a performer whose repertoire of gestures while performing consisted of a numerous ONE. (Smile earestly, Place hand to heart, then reach out. Keep smiling) took the top spot. Clay, you were robbed. But it's OK because now you're a big happy gay daddy.

I remember Fantasia (easily the best name for a pop star since Madonna), acting like she had already won the competition, sitting down stage center, delivering George Gershwin's Summertime with more soul than any American Idol contestant had ever before or would ever again. When the single mother took the prize later on in the season, it all just felt like a bygone conclusion. Fantasia remains, despite her lack of mega-selling records, at once the rawest and most polished talent Idol has discovered.

I remember Dunkleman. Sorta. Do you?

I remember William Hung, a man who did the impossible. From an ocean of horrible auditions - a veritable smorgasbord of delusional losers, attention hungry pranksters, ostentatiously costumed narcissists, and mentally unstable psychos - one man sunk so low he reached new heights. William Hung, performing the now definitive rendition of Ricky Martin's She Bangs at his American Idol audition, was so atrociously awful, so deliciously inappropriate, so the opposite of talented, that the "singer" became nothing short of a celebrity in his own right. Public appearances followed, as did a record deal. Some of Idol's top 10 contestants can't boast that. Was Hung a performance artist whose act demonstrated a deconstructionist critique on the concept of "talent" and "fame?" Or maybe he was just the kid in the class who didn't know that he was being made fun of. Probably the latter. Hung, alas, dropped out of UCBerkeley to pursue his music career. The Grammys have not been forthcoming. Hung's fame brings to the fore one of Idol's most troubling elements: its cruel, (admittedly) hilarious, and ethically dubious audition process. Sure, many of the show's more over-the-top wanna-bes are cognizant enough to realize the nature of the dog and pony show that they are about to put themselves through. Many court the shame. But a great swath of the contestants appear truly convinced of their own aptitude for Pop stardom, only to be laughed out of the room by the judge's panel (and, through extension, by America). These individuals, often decidedly void of social skills and marginally disturbed, are paraded in front of a snide and salivating public who, eager to gawk at the freaks, live vicariously through the judge's caustic and dismissive remarks. William Hung was a success story of a sort I suppose. To call it a triumph of mediocrity would give Hung too much credit. Perhaps his narrative is more a revenge of the un-gifted. And, like most revenge, it's ultimately unsatisfying. And so we are left with question: Who was this joke on anyway? Hung? Or us?

I remember "nice judge" Paula Abdul promoting Idol on Seattle local news, sounding like she had spent the morning doing body shots to help the Quaaludes go down easier. She was rarely more coherent on the show.

I remember Melinda Doolittle singing like a superstar week after week and then, maddeningly, acting as demure as some virginal giesha during her interactions with the judges. Having misplaced her neck week after week, Doolittle nonetheless consistently displayed utter showmanship with her full-throttle, highly focused and vocally controlled performances. To make My Funny Valentine tolerable to hear yet again is an achievement. To make it one of the best performances in Idol history? That's a miracle. Her Achilles's heel: the girl couldn't take a compliment. It's hard for America to put you on a pedestal if you act like a doormat. She was voted off before the finals.

I remember Simon and Ryan, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Just kidding. I mean, that's silly. I mean, it's not like they are making homophobic gay innuendos at each other all the time or anything. I mean, not on a show that only featured an (kinda) openly gay contestant in its most recent season. I mean, nah, they would never kiss, in a tree or elsewhere. I mean, that would just be gay.

I remember Sanjaya's hair. We must all worship Sanjaya's hair. A pompadour of endless mutability, the skinny Indian boy's one-of-a-kind coiffure gave a far better performance on Idol than the singer did, Sanjaya himself being Idol's worst top-10 contestant in the show's history. But the hair, that was a thing of beauty. A piece of modern art to be displayed in a museum and pondered over. Or perhaps vacuum sealed and dissected in a lab. Or maybe pickled and left in the catacombs of a church the way they do the rotting appendages of Saints. The locks of Mr. Malakar are a national treasure and must be preserved!

I remember some blond boy bursting out into strange popping noises in the middle of his song. Trying to bring a unique spin to his performances Blake Lewis utilized his mad skillz as a beat boxer on America Idol in the biggest effort yet to turn the art form into a mainstream trend. And the boy was good. Since Blake's second-place finish, the results have not been promising; Beat Boxing remains a fringe music style. Were all of Blake's efforts for naught? Not really. There are some consolations to be had. For example, everyone knows who you're talking about when you reference "that beat-box guy."

And finally, I remember Adam Glambert, who, employing the magic of eye liner, black hair dye and vocal cords of indestructible carbon microfiber (well, one assumes) gave artistically limping American Idol (Lambert would have eaten the previous season's runner up, Bop! magazine ready David Archuleta, for breakfast) a shot of pure Ziggy Stardust-quality. Deeply anachronistic, Lambert's theatrical, glam-rock persona was a throwback to a musical era of high artifice, ambiguous sexuality, and musical experimentation. Perhaps this is the reason that, despite the consistently brilliant performances delivered by the leather lunged rock n' roller, the more palatable, "good 'ol Southern boy," Kris Allen ended up snatching the prize away from Glambert's black fingernailed hands. America's tastes remain guarded. David Cook, that's edgy. Adam Lambert, that's full on Studio 54 territory. But Kris Allen's victory was Pyrrhic; since the finale the media coverage has been focused not on the apple-cheeked winner but on his flamboyant runner-up.

You AUGHT to remember.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

#6 - The Great Recession

It was the decade when...

The free market cost us a whole lot.

Greed was very good in the aughts. Goaded on by the radical free-market zealots populating the Bush administration, the American economy resembled not so much a self-regulating system in the invisible hand paradigm of Adam Smith as it did a full-blown Reno casino with the taxpayers tied to the roulette wheel. And like a frothy-mouthed gambling addict on a lucky streak, there is no stopping the madness until it was too late. During the better part of the aughts, for the sharks within the financial system, times were good indeed: the Cristal champagne flowed at crowded velvet-roped clubs, credit was loose, and the word "bonus" came to mean a nothing short of a small fortune. The Masters of The Universe were back, "the hostile takeover" being replaced by "the credit default swap" as the archetypal dubious financial transaction of the decade. Complex mathematical financial models, totally inaccessible to laymen, became the backbone of our financial system, an apparatus so complex that even its practitioners didn't fully understand how the economy was working. All that mattered was profit, and, for some, there was plenty of that.

Sub-Prime loan. The quality of the investment is advertised in its name. You think that people making, oh, 20k a year (if that) would know better than to buy a $500,000 home but, hoodwinked by mountebanks peddling low-interest rates and manageable monthly payments, these sad-sacks couldn't help but reach for the American Dream when the carrot of home-ownership was dangled above their heads. "What's an Adjustable Rate Mortgage you ask? Don't you worry your pretty little head about that, that's just technical gobbledygook." And as these real estate robber barons bundled and sold the mortgages to ever-higher strata of financial institutions, the real estate bubble swelled to the point that the whole American economy rested upon the ricketiest of foundations. The pillars of American finance were weighed down with mounds of bad debt that could never be repaid. What happened when all these checks suddenly came due? What happen when that adjustable rate mortgage, well, adjusted? Let me put it thusly: did you ever play Jenga?

After the housing bubble burst, the shock-wave rippled through our economy, all but leveling its totemic institutions to the ground. The wealth of America had become little more than a slight-of-hand trick orchestrated by a few ingenious and unscrupulous bankers who put momentary profits ahead of sound long-term financial planning.

The narrative of the collapse of 2008 is now legendary. A domino metaphor is almost too easy to describe what took place in the fall of last year; perhaps a Nagasaki analogy is actually more fitting: it all just blew up in our faces. A mushroom cloud of cash whose fallout will prove radioactive for years to come. Lehman Bros was the first to fall. The headline was almost unthinkable but, there it was on the front page: Lehman Bros. files for bankruptcy. It was clear that this was a whole new depth of fissure in the capitalist system. Washington Mutual followed suit, the biggest bank failure in American history. It was looking like 1929 again. Insurance giant AIG was next on the chopping block when the United States Government performed a deus ex machina, saving the institution (and maybe the nation) from total financial ruin.

The economic collapse did provide America a living receptacle of loathing, disgust and resentment. His name was Bernie Madoff and, if history is just, the "Ponzi scheme" is no more; "Madoff scheme" will do very well, thank you! Stealing billions (billions!) of dollars from his investors, Madoff kept up his deceitful charlatanism for years, the robust economy allowing him to delay paying the piper as long as business was good. When the bull turned into a bear, and a really mean bear at that, there was no where else to hide. Madoff was through, his investors were broke, and America finally got a sense of just how corrupt and insane the world of finance had become. Yet Madoff is something of a whipping boy. Though he was without question corrupt, Madoff was, in a sense, a product of a system that encouraged behavior which, if not downright illegal, teetered ever so close to impropriety. Viewing Madoff as a singular and isolated example of corruption is to to ignore the myriad Bernie Madoffs that operated within the confines of a deregulated and corrupt system. These 21st Century Gordon Gekkos may have not broken the law but they nonetheless plundered America, turning our entire economy into a big game of "hot potato." Guess who was left holding the vegetable when the music stopped? That's right. All of us.

If there is a silver lining to the bleak clouds that now hover over America it is to be found in the resurgence of liberal Keynesian economics. If the crisis of '08 doesn't put the final nail in the coffin of Monetarism then we are all doomed. The economic meltdown has thoroughly discredited lassez-faire mandarins like Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, the latter of whom finally admitted that he "found a flaw" in the system. "I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact." Well, about time you stopped jerking off to Atlas Shrugged and took a gander at the real world Mr. Greenspan.

"Experts" like Greenspan set the stage for this grand drama to unfold, blindly confident in the all-powerful wisdom of the "market." What we're left with is a disaster on a par with nothing in America since the crash of '29. But there is also hope. Hope of a future where greed may be kept in check by powerful regulatory forces and the "market" is utilized not as a grand schematic for all social organization but a tool, amenable to control, to help further the prosperity of society and welfare of the general populace. But, until these dreams are realized, we remain isolated in our private hoovervilles, singing the new anthem of The Great Recession: Brother can you spare a 401K?

You AUGHT to remember...