Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome to the future.

So the local news was running a blurb on the travel warnings for spring breakers in Mexico this morning, warning them to stay within one block of the beach, while camera footage showed an Acapulco swarming with grim-eyed, black-uniformed men with slung German assault rifles.

Wow.

If you had told me when I was in high school that, in order to take spring break in Mexico, we would have to remove our shoes before boarding the plane, walk through a machine that used fancy rays to let an hourly-wage security guard examine our crotchal areas in black & white 3-D, get frisked to make sure we weren't carrying anything as dangerous as a plastic spork onto the plane; that once on the plane they would charge us to use a blanket and we could only get up and pee at designated times under penalty of law; and that when we got to Cancun or Acapulco, there would be so many HK-toting Federales standing on street corners to protect tourists from the ongoing war with the narcotraficantes that it looked like Mardi Gras at Checkpoint Charlie, I'd have asked you who won the Cold War.

We're living in the dystopian future of a Bruce Sterling novel.

35 comments:

Firing Pin J said...

It is surreal to see the pictures from Mexico with students walking by while police presence is everywhere. It's starting to look like L.A.

OA said...

You can get drunk and contract an STD for a hell of a lot less money and hassle in Panama City. Damn, people, buy American.

Anonymous said...

Dystopia:

Yeah, just think I used to laugh at the soviets for requireing internal passports to travel within their country

Have you tried to get on a plane recently without yours?

Tam said...

I stopped flying around the time of 9/11.

Michael said...

Looks like the war on drugs started a war.

Joanna said...

The weird part is, for me and my age group, this is normal. I'm not saying it's right, because it isn't; but it isn't out of the ordinary, either. Kind of like how I was surprised (in an 'oh, yeah, of course' way) when I watched a movie from 1998 and the characters didn't have cell phones.

Tam said...

Joanna,

Yeah, I've been watching some old Law & Order reruns ('92-'94) on DVD: Cops using pay phones, typewriters on desks, old-school pushbutton desk phones...

The funny thing is that, while clothing styles (at least in office attire) haven't changed terrifically much since then a lot of the rest of the stuff is as dated as Happy Days.

OA said...

"The weird part is, for me and my age group, this is normal."

Your age group? Weren't you born in the early mid-80's, at the latest?

Cybrludite said...

Could be worse. The Brits have woken up to find themselves living in a certain Anthony Burgess novel...

Tam said...

OA,

Right, which means that the REAL ID Act was rammed through when she was a teenager.

If you were born in late '86, then 9/11 happened before you were old enough to drive, the Patriot Act was passed when you were in high school, the Brady Bill went through when you were seven, they haven't made a transferrable machine gun in your entire lifetime...

Anonymous said...

'We're living in the dystopian future of a Bruce Sterling novel.'

Or William Gibson...potato-po-tah-to.

Matt
St Paul

robnrun said...

It is that feeling of 'normal' for those of us under 30 which is so worrisome. I realized it the other day when I was looking up a point on CT's (where I live) gun laws. They are generally considered to be a mass of red tape, and they are when one really looks, but to me they have actually been less trouble than I had expected. Why? Because (partly due to also spending a decade in Canada and the UK) I am accustomed to masses of red tape in every aspect of my life.

That I happen to be horrified by the amount of government involvement in my life is due to my peculiar mix of family background (New England hill farmers), my own personal philosophy, and my training as a political historian. For most people my age, forms in triplicate for every movement...they don't know anything else, it started in elementary school. Frogs in a kettle is a particularly hazardous idea when the water is turned up over a space of generations.

OA said...

Tam, it was her last sentence that fuddled me.

Tam said...

OA,

"Tam, it was her last sentence that fuddled me."

Yes, but if you were born in '86, you would have been twelve in '98. Twelve is long ago and far away by the time you're in your twenties. (And if my memory is anything to go by, it's just a clutter of vague and disjointed vignettes twenty years after that...)

OA said...

You really don't remember 12?

RevolverRob said...

The normalcy of Government intrusion into our daily lives and the acceptance of it, by an entire generation (basically those under 30 years old), is amazing to me. My generation accepts the fallacies of things like warning labels on products (and in fact, I've heard people say, "This is dangerous, it should have a warning label!"). As another commenter wrote, forms in triplicate are well known and realized.

On a personal note, I've never purchased a firearm without filling out a 4473 and dealing with the Brady Act. Nor have I purchased a suppressor, short barrel firearm, AOW, or machine gun from anyone other than a so called "Class III" dealer.

Getting onto an airplane and removing your shoes, being degenerated by airport security? Normal. When I watch an older movie, I'm ~amazed~ that people used to be able to smoke inside of offices, airports, and hospitals. The common movie line, "Sir, you can't smoke in here." Just seems like a "duh" moment to me. So, heavily armed police and a war on drugs? That's every day normal to me too.

The sad part is, most people in my generation don't even realize there was a "normal" before this one that wasn't filled with government intrusion, massive amounts of drug violence, anti-smoking/drinking/sexing/eating propaganda (ok less of it at least). So they have no idea how things have changed.

-Rob

Tam said...

OA,

"You really don't remember 12?"

I remember lots of individual incidents. I can picture the faces of a few friends and teachers. I could maybe draw a map of how to get to various classrooms or the library or the cafeteria or the floor plan of my friend's treehouse... Like the Starship Enterprise, the only parts that exist were the parts I had scenes in; the rest of it was just "Generic Corridor A".

But ask me to write a complete narrative of my life (let alone a thumbnail sketch of the larger world) in the Nineteen Hundred and Eightieth Year of Our Lord? Nope, couldn't do it.

Kevin said...

"We're living in the dystopian future of a Bruce Sterling novel."

Which is why you need one of these.

Divemedic said...

Are these the "Crazy Years?"

Are we seeing the downfall of the American Empire?

Firing Pin J said...

I don't remember 12 very well. Though apparently disco was still cool and everyone used wood paneling on every wall and used green furniture.

perlhaqr said...

Matt: I was thinking Gibson myself.

I read Neuromancer in '84. Never particularly wanted to live in Chiba, though...

The biggest part of "being 12" I can remember is my parents getting divorced and moving from Hawaii to Albuquerque. I remember watching the downfall of the Soviet Union on TV around that time, and the first Gulf War in roughly the same time period (which according to Wikipedia means I'm conflating roughly a year and a half long period into one episode, which I think demonstrates your point quite neatly.)

Joanna said...

OA: I was born in 1983. Reagan was out of office by the time I was 5. The Soviet Union fell when I was about 7 or 8. 9/11 and the Patriot Act happened during my senior year of high school. All the crap that's gone down since then means that all I really know are the new systems because I didn't get here in time to experience the old ones.

D.W. Drang said...

You kids get off my lawn!

Turk Turon said...

I spent a week in Acapulco in 1986. The cops patrolled in pairs with M1 carbines. Nice to know they've upgraded.

Mexico has some extremes of wealth and poverty that we don't have in the states. It was dangerous even then. Most middle-class homes were surrounded by walls, and on the top of those walls, broken glass bottles had been set into concrete to discourage climbers.

The place we stayed was called Las Brisas, and is located within an old walled fortress on a hilltop just south of town. It's literally a walled compound.

Mexico is beautiful, but I wouldn't go back there. I'll take Key West any day!

Spring Break? This year consider South Padre Island, kids.

OA said...

Joanna, as I said above, it was the cell phone thing that threw me.


D.W. Drang said...
You kids get off my lawn!


And get a damn haircut. You people look like the 1977 Penney catalog.

Joanna said...

OA: The "oh, yeah" surprise was that aside from a main character calling a house phone from a pay phone, everything else about the movie (Fight Club) was just the same as now. It was more of a reminder of how much things can change in a decade than anything -- and how easy it is to *not* notice the changes if they happen at life's pivot points.

OA said...

Ahhh...fight club. Want to have fun with a guy that says it's one of his favorite movies? Tell him to watch it again, but to look for the homoerotic subtext. Then tell him to read the book (it's much further along those lines).

Note: Not something to do with a guy you like.

The Jack said...

Matt. There's a reason Gibbson gave up doing "future" stuff.


http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/source/qa.asp

Also 9/11 had us end up in a Tom Clancy novel.

Joanna said...

From everything I've seen, the homoerotic subtext is actually a joke on the reader/viewer -- once the big reveal comes and you have to reinterpret the whole movie, you realize you've been had. (Which is one reason I love that movie.)

rickn8or said...

"I'd have asked you who won the Cold War."

Does this answer your question??

And I didn't begin to feel old until Number Two son borrowed my '71 Nova toy and returned it with the comment "Gee Dad, the guys think it's neat the way you moved the dimmer switch down to the floor."

rickn8or said...

"this" should be THIS

OA said...

Joanna, not only is Chuck Palahniuk gay, but several gays I had a lit class with in college not only pegged him for gay (he wasn't "out" at the time) but a violent gay, at that (homosexuals have the highest rates of abuse), which they said came through loud and clear in the movie, and certainly the book. They said the joke was on all the straight people who didn't get it and ran around quoting it, like it somehow made them tough. Hell, they were having the discussion with the gay lit professor who was in agreement.

Give the book a read.

reflectoscope said...

Rickn8or - Thanks, I forgot about that one.

Jim

Anonymous said...

Turk Turon >> Mexico has some extremes of wealth
>> and poverty that we don't have in the states.

...yet.


The Jack >> 9/11 had us end up in a Tom Clancy novel.

Did Tom Clancy predict the dystopian police state?

Dixie said...

If you were born in late '86, then 9/11 happened before you were old enough to drive, the Patriot Act was passed when you were in high school, the Brady Bill went through when you were seven, they haven't made a transferrable machine gun in your entire lifetime...

I was born in early '86, so any transferrable full-auto is almost my age. I wonder how long the receivers will hold out? Heck, parts of me aren't holding up that well... (chuckle)

Are these the "Crazy Years?"

Are we seeing the downfall of the American Empire?


Yes. Mass psychosis, massive unrest at home, unstable neighbors, and an incompetent government. On the bright side, I think that the Capitol will hold up better than the Colosseum has.