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Why I call it “For a minute there, it seemed like something was happening.”
My new chapbook-length poem is available today!
Okay. Okay. I know. I was bridge-and-tunnel. I paid for a parking spot at the station in Babylon, had a monthly ticket for the Long Island Railroad. I read the Times and The New Yorker to and from work, as the air-conditioned cars squealed and flickered along the south shore.
At night, I’d leave the bars early and run down 7th drunk and exhausted so I didn’t miss my train.
But once I climbed out of Penn Station again the next morning, I was a magazine writer, in Manhattan. A pop culture writer. A member of the goddamn vanguard…figuring out how to type funny copy on all kinds of topics at light speed.
It was 1996 and we were trying to keep up with the internet, and the internet was fucking amazing.
But in 1996, in Clinton’s America…the last superpower standing…in New York City…amazing.
I was doing what I’d always dreamed of doing. I was making money with my pen…er…keyboard.
Of course the internet was killing magazines as fast as we could print them. And we knew it. Also, I felt like I was slumming as a specialist in chicks-and-beer jokes, and would soon make the leap into graduate school to…what?…become a better writer? (Brilliant move, young John!)
But in that moment, the world felt like it was changing fast…and for the better.
And I’m pretty sure it was, until the attacks of September 11, 2001.
And that’s why I call this chapbook-length poem “For a minute there, it seemed like something was happening.”
A time after search engines but before social media. After the Cold War but before the Endless War. After Grunge but before whatever happened after Grunge. The final days of the old media and the birth of the new, when “the stolen beat was the new arms race.”
A poem about hope and loss at the end of the millennium.
all the scrolling neon signs almost blinding
as I drove through New York City
at the happy end of a violent century,
a vision of the next epoch
a religious logic to bind the dark and the bright
and that, that, as my Manhattan heroes would say,
that would be alright.