* This is a fictionalized account of some shit that actually happened. All the names, locations, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. – JG *
As with most apocalypse / end times scenarios, there seemed to be a lot of mathematics floating around in the 1980s. One of the most memorable theories was that if you count the letters in the name “Ronald Wilson Reagan” it equals 666 which is, of course, the Number of the Beast. (Speaking of which, what a goddamn great third Iron Maiden album, right? Only our rigid Hardcore ideology could’ve prevented us from enjoying something as obviously pleasure-centered as that record – I mean, “Run to the Hills”? Come on, man – that’s fucking dirtbag heaven!)
1984 loomed large in the early part of the decade as well until, ahem, 1985 and then the whole Big Brother, blue filter, foot-stomping-on-a-face-forever thing started to kind of lose traction. 1988 held some special significance as well, since forgotten, but I do remember that the double 8 was meaningful in some cult’s Last Days calculations (similar to 1977 for Rastafarians – see “Two Sevens Clash” by Culture). 1988 was also the last year of Reagan’s presidency but soon enough that passed as well with no button-pushing or bombs falling, and with the ascension of Bush Senior it became more and more apparent that the world would end not with a bang but with a whimper.
If I’m being honest, coming of age in that time period kind of felt like being in one of those cults that predicted that the world would end in 30 days. When the 30 days passed and the world didn’t end there was some head scratching and a little sheepish smiling but after some re-jiggering of the numbers it would be revealed that the end would come in 30 months instead, and when that came and went, if anyone still cared the cult leaders would reveal that, huh, we meant 30 years. We were promised the End in the 1980s and when it never came, yeah, a lot of us felt cheated. How could you live through a ludicrously death-drenched decade like the 1980s and not come out the other side feeling that maybe all your struggles were for naught and that the last and greatest hopes for humankind were worth nothing because, in the end, nothing ever changed? History had been exhausted, and was apparently just repeating a technologically advanced tape loop of the 1950s.
Around 1990 or so I guess we all realized that it just wasn’t going to happen for us and we’d need to do something else with our lives than just Provide Witness to the Apocalypse. So some of us just started Mourning and never stopped, from Kurt Cobain to Princess Diana to the victims of 9/11 and beyond, endlessly grieving. Some just kept Fearing, and Christ knows there’s always been enough fears to go around – crime, the government, Negroes and their music, Muslims, terrorists, technology, gay marriage, gay soldiers and on and on and on. But the ones I feel the most for, the ones I feel the most brother- and sister-hood with, are those out there still counting the clocks that tell the time, still Waiting.