(Artvoice 4 January 2001)
Nine Thoughts on the Millennial Moment
I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve, thinking about the new millennium, which starts tomorrow. I don’t know what’s coming, but looking back....
—It was a year in which the Supreme Court’s partisan whoring did the institution of justice more harm than all the crooks and their cronies the other side of the bench ever could. I heard someone refer to it as the “Obscene Court” the other day and I couldn’t find a reason to argue with him.
—It was a year in which the states’ rights Republican party went to court to prevent a state from counting legitimately-cast ballots and in which the federally-focused Democrat party went to court to keep the federal government from interfering with a state court in a voting rights case. For someone like me, who came of political age during the civil rights years, that was an absolutely bizarre bit of cross-dressing by both of them.
—It was a year in which we elected a president who is as close to Jerzy Kosinski’s Chance in Being There as I’ll ever see in this life. You remember Chance: the who guy who never thought anything, said anything or did anything, and who was therefore regarded as so deeply wise by the politicians he chanced upon they wound up pushing him for national office.
—It was a year in which all the hatred of intelligent women the far right could muster was still not enough to blind voters to the fact that Hillary Clinton would make a fine senator for the state of New York.
—It was a year in which people who secretly believed their votes didn’t count so it didn’t matter if they gave it to a Johnny-one-note narcissist, and who thought Florida was just a place old people went to die and young people went to snort coke, got some things to think about.
—It was a year in which Ralph Nader taught us that just because a guy hates corporations and the people who run them doesn’t mean he gives a damn about anything or anyone else.
—It was a year in which the scholarship and determination of a single New York Supreme Court Judge—Eugene Fahey—forced the previously all-powerful binational Public Bridge Authority to stop serving its distant corporate masters long enough to begin behaving like a decent corporate citizen right here in Buffalo.
—It was a year in which ordinary people starting taking Buffalo back from the people who’ve made such a mess of the place: there will be full environmental impact studies before any Peace Bridge expansion or convention center development take place; Children’s Hospital won’t be shut down until the people who want to move it show they’ve got a design that will replicate the present services and enough money to make sure it’s all there when the construction is finished; the Commercial Slip will be developed for the historical treasure it is, not encased in acrylic and buried. Hooray for all those individuals and groups who decided they’d had enough of bad design, bad planning, and bad ideas.
—It was the year Bill Clinton ended eight years of being a damned fine president, and the year Pat Moynihan ended 24 years of being a damned fine senator. I’m gonna miss those guys.