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Chuck Klosterman unpacks the ’90s and turns some gems

The 1990s was a decade marked by two cataclysmic events: Fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the collapse of the World Trade Center in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the brief interval between these events, Americans felt safe from dangers danger abroad. It seems that neither the collapse of the Soviet Union nor a rising China can harm us.

Today, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia threatening Ukraine and Xi Jinping’s China threatening America’s economic self-sufficiency, it is easy to turn the 1990s into America’s last great era. Equal Chuck Klosterman writes about the decade in his new book, The nineties, “Communism, and whatever threat it allegedly posed, is over. There is only one superpower left, and that is America.”

Why doesn’t the United States do more at home and abroad in these relatively calm times to make its own life and that of the rest of the world better? It is a question that lies at the heart of The nineties and a question that Klosterman, a writer of wide knowledge, is well suited to answer. He has published fiction and non-fiction, is a music journalist, and is an Ethicist for New York Times Magazine.

Klosterman said of the 90s: “Looking back, it was an incredibly easy time to be alive. “The United States has experienced a prolonged period of economic growth without the complications of hot or cold war, making it possible for America to focus on its own survival as if the rest of society were mostly wasn’t there.” The Internet has arrived, but it has not arrived with full force. In 2001, daily newspaper circulation was 55.6 million, roughly the same number as 40 years earlier.

Klosterman is most revealing when discovering what underlies an event or person we think we already know. He explained how the triumphant Gulf War that President George H. W. Bush led in 1991 did not bring the political benefits Bush had hoped for. When voters remember the Gulf War, they think of Norman Schwarzkopf, the burly general in command of the Allied forces, and Colin Powell, the wonderful Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Klosterman points out that associating with them had a damaging effect on Bush. With their presence, “Bush has turned into a great character that no one wants.”

With equal ingenuity, Klosterman explains how Friend, the hit CBS sitcom about six twenty-first college graduates living in New York City has been around for 10 years despite seemingly nothing more than the group’s dating problems. Klosterman commented that the show began in 1994 in a way that reassured audiences. Generation x (those born between 1965 and 1980) are bogged down in parenting or bound by a full-time job.

There are more than enough of these insights in Klosterman’s book to capture our attention as he quickly moves from topic to topic. The problem is that organization is like a collage of The nineties is also a weakness. Book is not dated, nor is it based on in-depth chapters on a single subject.

It is difficult to know the basis for inclusion and exclusion in The nineties. When it comes to literature, David Foster Wallace’s novels Infinite Jest and the memoirs of Elizabeth Wurtzel Prozac Nation caught the attention of Klosterman, but Philip Roth, whose creative work thrived in the 1990s but was not, like Wallace and Wurtzel, a Gen Xer, was not mentioned despite the scope of his literary career. his study. Similarly, Klosterman does not refer to the landmark 1992 case of Planning Parenthood in Southeast Pennsylvania sues Casey in which the Supreme Court upheld women’s fundamental right to abortion as guaranteed in Roe v. Wade but also said a state has the power to regulate abortion if it does not create an “unwarranted” burden on a woman.

“Were we thinking more deeply about the 90s while this decade was going on, could our lives be better in the 2000s?”

As a result, when we get to the end The nineties, we’re not sure if we have the full story despite the material that Klosterman has assembled. That’s too bad, because what his book does is plainly the ’90s provide a preview of issues that will become more extreme in the new century.

A typical case: beat black racing driver Rodney King in 1992 by Los Angeles police officers after a high speed chase. The officers were acquitted of assault by a state grand jury, despite video footage showing them beating King with batons as he lay helpless on the ground. Nearly three decades later, beatings and acquittals are still very much in the public memory when George Floyd, another black victim of police brutality, died in 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police after when arrested for withdrawing cash. a fake 20 dollar bill. This time, the officer directly responsible for Floyd’s death received a lengthy prison sentence. The current outcome is an improvement over the King’s ruling, but what hasn’t yet followed is what is most needed: nationwide police reform.

Similar connections between past and present are due to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, a decorated military veteran. In the first case, a truckload of 1,300 pounds of urea nitrate was used. In the second case, a rented truck loaded with 5,000 pounds of explosives was the weapon of choice. The deaths — seven at the World Trade Center, 168 at the Alfred P. Murrah Building, are a tragedy, but few compared to the nearly 3,000 deaths attributed to 9/11 attacks. The lesson that should have been learned in the ’90s – the government needed to reframe how it kept ordinary citizens safe from terrorists at home and abroad – was never overcome.

Were we thinking more deeply about the 90s while this decade was going on, could our lives be better in the 2000s? It is comforting to think so. From our current vantage point, the ’90s seem like an age of both naivety and lost opportunity – claims we would never have made about the present.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/chuck-klosterman-unpacks-the-90s-and-turns-up-some-gems?source=articles&via=rss Chuck Klosterman unpacks the ’90s and turns some gems

Russell Falcon

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