The Now of Now
I finally got my copy of the Best American Essays 2018, edited by Hilton All and Robert Atman, and am devouring the essays. Here are a few favorite sentences from an essay that I just read, :Maybe the People Would Be the Times,” Luc Sante’s stories and reflections about the 1970s music scene in New York City and what is was to be part of the “now of now”:
You have arrived where you once wanted to be, in the dominion of music, the kingdom of the groove, the empire of rhythm. For better or worse you are living in youthville, where nine-tenths of the people you register in your field of vision are your age and more or less on your team, even though the scene long ago fragmented into affinity groups—this one eternally rocking, that one given to costume parties, others to champion-level drinking or filming themselves naked or experimenting with electronics or drafting militant screeds or following everything that is going on in London with painstaking fidelity to detail.
And the final paragraph about what is is to be long removed from the now or now. I won’t say what yer I have printed on my forehead, but it was deep in another century:
You check out the people on the street and note the year when they stopped: this one with the death's-head rictus 1973, that one in the Perfecto jacket 1977, her friend in the vinyl T-shirt 1979, those people looking like drunken ballroom dancers on an ocean liner 1980—and that's when you realize you have a year written on your own forehead and it's not the one that tops the current calendar. You have aged out of the struggle just in time for the struggle to be done with you. You will never again inhabit the great now, only a small and fragile instant that flips over every time you blink. Music will keep happening and you might like some of it or even a lot of it but it will no longer be yours. You will never be a star if you have failed to achieve that goal by now. All you can do is head to the dance floor in the burning disco where Chic is playing on an endless loop. These, the singers assure you again and again, are the good times.