Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 02:10:14 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Name This Decade!
This comes from this week's Village Voice, 8 October 1996, p. 46, The
Heimel Maneuver by Cynthia Heimel:
Slouching Toward the Millennium
So here it is October 1996, and we still haven't named our decade. I
know we've been busy, but this is ridiculous. This is a very big decade!
We've got a millennium coming up, for God's sake, and if we're not careful
this could end up being the Waiting Decade, which doesn't have nearly the
ring of the Me Decade, the Greed Decade, the Roaring Twenties, or the Gay
THE GAY NINETIES! You know, maybe this could work. It's already been
done, which, let's face it, is perfect for right now, when everything's been
done to death....
THE DIGITAL DECADE. Are we not all online? Do we not spend hours each
day waiting for AOL to add the fucking art already? [I think I love this
THE RECYCLED DECADE. ...
THE SPIN DECADE. ...
THE O. J. DECADE. I only put this one in to scare you. If someone
doesn't come up with a name soon, this one may win by default. ....
What the article ignores is that The New York Times ran just such a
contest just last year. I entered it. My entry made the final article,
"Names for an Era," 2 April 1995, section 4, p. 7.
A James Atlas article "Pinpointing a Moment on the Map of History"
started it all off. Now, some contests create new words and phrases, and some
don't. "Scofflaw" was originally a contest winner to come up with a
Prohibition term for an illegal drinker. There are contests for city
nicknames, such as Seattle's "Emerald City," and for sports team nicknames,
such as the Washington Wizards (formerly the Bullets).
A few years ago, I entered a contest sponsored by the National Cristina
Foundation to replace the words "handicap" and "disabled." My
suggestion--based on a name from world mythology--didn't win, and the winning
entry ("People With Differing Abilities") was probably deservedly forgotten,
but contests for words and phrases are not unusual.
If the contest is for a team nickname (such as the Baltimore Ravens),
the winning name will stick, because it HAS to. Words are different. They
have to fill some sort of recognizable need for the user. Also, the sponsor
should have clout. A President has an audience and perhaps can name a New
Deal or a New Frontier, but still, there's room for everybody. "Me Decade"
never came from Ronald Reagan!
My entry for our new era was "Cyberia." The entry reflected not only a
point in time, but also a place and a people ("cyberians"). It comes from
the Greek root "to steer."
The New York Times' article featured these suggestions: The Age of
Chuck, The Muddle Ages, The Internetcine Era, E-Poch, The Sandpaper Era, The
Cold War Lite Era, The Transnational Era, The Era of the New Meanies,
Kokusaika, The Great Opening, The Gray Nineties, Hot Peace, The Age of Haste,
The Citizens' Century, Awaiting Death, Silicon Age, The Age of Kakistocracy,
Fin De (Hammer &) Sickle, The Post Hoc Age, The Age That Even Historians From
Harvard Can't Name, The Age of Prejudice Begins, and The Present.
On 31 March 1995, at 16:08, I had received an e-mail from
review[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]nytimes.com:
"Dear Sir: Your submission is being considered for publication. Please
e-mail you full: Name, Address, Work and home phone number, And credentials
if any. The Week In Review needs this material as soon as possible. Thank
you for your time and effort. Ty Ahmad-Taylor, The New York Times." This
was on a Friday!
It was too late to respond with my credentials. We're naming a
decade--who has credentials? Actually, I was part of the American Name
Society--I _did_ have credentials!
The article stated: "The word 'global' appeared in more than 40 of the
names; the prefixes 'dis-,' 're-,' 'post-,' 'fin de,' and 'cyber-' (including
two cyberias and one cy-barbaric) popped up repeatedly. ... Here are some of
the editors' favorites. History will name the winner."
History will name the winner? Huh?
The Times really blew it. History doesn't name a winner! You don't
throw fifty names up for grabs! You pick a winner YOURSELF, and it's either
accepted or its not accepted.
And so, it's a year later, and there's another "Name the Decade"