Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Vintage, Retro, Old School—and countless others—are all slang references for a particular type of ambience within areas of the arts like music, movies, and fashion which have been, as of late, rather prevalent. Sometime after the end of the 90's and the death of Grunge, a new (old) aesthetic started being embraced. The return of 70' garage punk and 80's Synth pop--or now, emo indie rock with low-fi airy rhythms that hearken back to summer nights of honest ignorance-- would be somewhat tolerable if they weren't so fleetingly successive.

The Strokes, The Vines, and Interpol were trendy "like" two years ago. Today it’s Broken Social Scene, Franz Ferdinand, and the Hot Hot Heat-- for me at least. Even in fashion: Two years ago it was the light denim with a light stone wash and the vintage logo tee with the obligatory ice breaking entreaty. Today it's suede Asics and the requisite casual blazer. The speed with which aesthetics change has much to do with the celerity of our modern lives.

It's always interesting, however, when you get the chance to see a serious throwback in your own young life. 60 years from now, when I'm old and grey, what will my posterity be pilfering from the corpse of my pastiche of an aesthetic? -- Not much it seems; because it's a simulacrum of everything that preceded it.

But the serious-- deadly serious--throwback I mention is what seems to be taking place in Russia. This, today from Reuters:

The Kremlin leader said on Monday he wanted a new election law to limit the number of political parties and to have full control on nominating regional leaders to combat terrorism following the bloody Beslan school siege in southern Russia.

Critics immediately accused Putin exploiting the grisly siege, in which at least 327 hostages died, to amass power.

While expressing sympathy for Putin's desire to go after "terrorists" following the Beslan crisis, the bombing of two Russian aircraft and a Moscow subway bombing in the last month, Powell said Russia must balance this with democratic freedoms.

"We understand the need to fight against terrorism ... but in an attempt to go after terrorists I think one has to strike a proper balance to make sure that you don't move in a direction that takes you away from the democratic reforms or the democratic process," he said.

Putin has been, for some time, attempting to recentralize power back into the hands of the executive. With the oft-used aphorism that Russians like a strong, autocratic leader-- more like, are habituated only through contingency-- the rebuke against the Putin power grab hasn't been stern enough from nearly enough places: Powell doesn’t count anymore.

Powell, I think, has greatly degraded his rhetorical credibility, given that he's been the front man for all the damage control for the White House. He's been shoveling shit and doing all the heavy lifting for the past four years.

While Putin, as evidenced in the Khodorkovsky case and the recent Russian elections, seems keen on reassuming the gross state power of a Stalinist-type Soviet Union, the self-styled Reagan wannabe has remained silent. This clearly isn’t the type of retro throwback the world needs, the implications of which may prove intractable in the coming years.

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