Bill Clinton can't recall events in the Oval Office that would appear highly memorable. Bill Gates can't remember crucial e-mail messages he wrote about his company's strategy. Hootie and the Blowfish have released a third CD, plainly oblivious to the reception given their second. Yes, the '90s seem to be passing without notice, sliding into obscurity like so much bilge water under the bridge to the 21st century. By next year, amid all the millennium chatter, the decade is destined to be forgotten entirely.
We're here to correct that oversight. We've consulted local leaders and asked them to reflect on the decade. We've looked back at the compelling trends of the day and organized them into lists. We've reviewed the entire nine years of Time magazine covers. We've done everything we can to celebrate the '90s while they're still here. And the conclusion we've reached: no
one has any idea what the '90s are about, beyond the basic picture of ever-widening butts planted in front of an ever-widening array of high-tech channels, all of them broadcasting Monica.
The elusive, characterless quality of the '90s may stem from the fact that we spent the better part of the decade recycling the clothes, music, food, TV shows, and impeachment proceedings of decades past. From flares to fondue to the Flintstones, it was a nine-year exercise in strip-mining the trash heap of American culture. Of course, there were a few innovations, like Ross Perot's Reform Party and electronic catalog shopping.
Still, if there's one unmistakable trend to the '90s, it's that the cycle of nostalgia—from fad to fade to revival—is getting evermore compressed. Your cargo pants are going to be passé and cool again before President's Day. So let us be the first to say that we're over the '90s. Now let's bring 'em on back!