Why some people still yearn for the apocalypse. Plus: A beer-soaked argument for the re-segregation of baseball and an absurd portrait of two macho men duking it out in court.


The media is not actually done talking about Y2K. Some of us, you see, are bummed that the world wasn’t somehow forever altered on Jan. 1, 2000. We have our reasons for feeling this way. Some felt it all should have been more interesting. Others (read: Peter Jennings) simply want to believe all that hype wasn’t all for nothing. Others still believe we live in dreadfully stable, prosperous, mesmerizing times — where image triumphs over reality and money is seen as a virtue; disaster would be a welcome and long-overdue turn of events.

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Metro Times Detroit

“Apocalypse, please” by Metro Times staff

This list of 1,000 reasons the Metro Times staff is glad the last millennium is over is actually just a shortsighted itemization of tripe from the last 50 years in pop culture. A sample: Heaven’s Gate cult, Blue Oyster Cult, Ishtar, Jar Jar Binks, Virginia Slims ads … Like who isn’t pissed about “The Mummy”?

But the title — “Apocalypse, please” — sets the tone. It invokes many a person’s secret wish that the world would fall apart, forcing everyone to start life over from scratch at the age of 26, 38, 62 or whatever. It isn’t enough that we have to listen to the Blue Oyster Cult. Humanity must be punished for spawning such garbage.

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Feed, Jan. 4, 2000

Daily Feed by Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson is relieved that the turning of the calendar was not accompanied by “global technological meltdown, Ebola in the subways, or the Coming Of The Dark Prince.” At the same time, he is saddened by the lack of what he calls “visceral carnage.” He writes: “With six billion souls strapped onto Spaceship Earth, and not one of them capable of implementing a fiendish millennial scheme, you can’t help wondering if — at least in the Evil Genius category — we’re becoming a species of underachievers.” And I agree! Was nobody brave or smart enough to pull some large-scale prank that would have sent thousands into a temporary tizzy? But there’s really not much more to say about that, so Johnson spends his remaining paragraphs talking about Peter Jennings’ inane coverage of the festivities.

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New York Press, Jan. 6-12

“Preaching to the stupid” by John Strausbaugh

John Strausbagh is depressed not only because the event itself was a letdown, but because magazines’ “Millennial Issues” failed to enthrall. To this I say, Doy huh. Did anybody actually expect that Rolling Stone and the Nation would have something unique to say about the turning of a year?

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Wilammette Week, Jan. 5-11

“Bye, 2K” by Philip Dawdy

It was boring, says this cub reporter about the New Year’s Eve festivities in Portland, Ore. It was not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.

Thanks for that fascinating report, Philip Dawdy. Now back to you, Peter Jennings.

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Orlando Weekly

“Y2K complacent?” by Steve Perry

Don’t throw out that bunker! It’s not over yet! For reasons beyond the human scope of comprehension, the Orlando Weekly is highlighting this Sept. 16, 1999, news story on its Web site. In it, intrepid reporter Steve Perry complains that the media is really underplaying the impending threat of the havoc-wreaking Y2K bug.

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Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages, Jan. 5-11

“Year of the White Male” by Keith Harris

“Above all, 1999 was a great year to be a white man, as much in music as anything else,” declares Keith Harris in this end-of-the-year-in-music wrap-up. He then goes on to yammer about Limp Bizkit for paragraph after bloody paragraph. Perhaps we should also declare 1999 a great year to be a music writer without an editor.

The Village Voice, Jan. 5-11

“The Dis-Integration of Baseball” by Eliot Asinof

In this strange yet charming piece, the author talks about how baseball is no longer a national pastime and bemoans the corporatization of the sport as somehow un-American. Then he basically turns the mike over to a guy he met at a bar who argued that we should re-segregate the sport. “‘I played in the Negro Leagues in the old days,’ he said. ‘Traveled all over, had to eat racist shit everywhere but on the ball fields. There was great teams. Lots of great ballplayers … Then Jackie broke the color line … And pretty soon there ain’t no more Negro Leagues. TV and white clubs owned it all. Maybe it was good for the blacks in the big show, but it do no good for the 50 million in the ghettos. Blacks stopped playing the game, and then they stopped going to spectate, too.’”

Why this article works, I don’t know. It’s dreadfully unfocused and apropos of nothing. Yet it’s refreshing to see a writer who thought he had his subject nailed shrug his shoulders and say, Hell, I don’t know. Maybe this guy does. Do you?

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Long Island Village Voice, Jan. 5-11

“A Couple of Startling Facts” by Beth Greenfield

Beth Greenfield uses a current study being conducted on gay parents to talk about the sordid history of such studies. Anti-gay interests publish research that supports the claim that gay parents are bad parents, while gay proponents (including the lesbian researchers Greenfield profiles here) find evidence to defend their desire to raise families. Even this reporter has an agenda. Greenfield, who’s gay, interposes reflections on her own desires to have children and positive anecdotes from gay families with her reporting.

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New Times L.A., Jan. 6-12

“Battling babe-hounds” by Tony Ortega

With endearing self-awareness, reporter Tony Ortega chronicles an ongoing battle between R. Don Steele, the author of “How to Date Young Women” and “How to Dump Your Wife,” and Ross Jeffries, inventor of Speed Seduction, a method of getting women into bed using double entendres. Ortega follows the foibles of these ridiculous he-men wannabes from their Internet flame wars to an ongoing court battle. It’s a wonderful example of truth that’s stranger than fiction, and Ortega does an excellent job of capturing all the situation’s wacky nuances.

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“Accurate or Nearly Accurate Utterances …” by Gregory Galloway

Quiz time! One of the best features of my local alternative weekly, the East Bay Express, is something called “Overheard.” A reporter lists a movie, its showtime, location and two or three quotes from members of the audience. Gregory Galloway brightly turns this fun little riff into a matching quiz.

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New Times Broward/Palm Beach, Jan. 6-12

“Miracle Baby” by Julie Kay

This reporter has just discovered that sperm — get this — can be frozen, thawed, shot up a woman and wind up puking all over your good suit nine months later. Who knew?

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Postscript …

Last month, I pointed to a City Pages article about a guy who, when he quit his corporate job, sent out a manifesto to his co-workers that rocked some people’s worlds. Several readers wrote in asking to see the manifesto. The author himself has now contacted me with a link for your personal enjoyment and edification.

In October, I dismissed the marketing-driven rag Wine X as so much bottom-of-the-barrel swill. “Is there a smart, well-written, bullshit-free wine zine out there for wine-drinkers of modest means, but discerning tastes?” I asked. Robin Garr wrote to assure me there was — his! Blatant self-promotion aside, Garr’s Wine Lover’s Page does seem to fit the bill. It’s a straightforward, unpretentious read on the almighty vine — with reviews, forums and other delightful features.

Jenn Shreve writes about media, technology and culture for Salon, Wired, the Industry Standard, the San Francisco Examiner and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, Calif.

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