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There's no way to dodge time's constant march.

Byline: Bob Welch The Register-Guard

Before all this sesquicentennial stuff streams - like the aftermath of an Oregon rainstorm - into the wastewater culverts and heads for some forgotten sea, let's let it soak in a moment.

Not with the typical look back at our state's 150 years; we're already doing that. But with an atypical look ahead.

No, not to predict what life in Oregon might be like in 2059 when the state will celebrate its bi centennial - time to replace that outdated Matthew Knight Arena? - but to ponder what now will look like from then.

Think about it: Fifty years from now, will our times be seen as arcane and quaint and outdated - as 50 years ago seems to us today?

Intellectually, I want to say sure. Every generation looks back at previous generations with at least a touch of historical arrogance, as if "now" marks the summit of cultural significance. And as if previous generations were nimrods who just didn't know any better. ("Dad, did you honestly think those super-sized sideburns looked good?")

Intellectually, sure, 2009 will seem quaint from 2059. But part of me just can't make the leap, can't imagine that we could look back at the iPodian Era with nostalgia, can't imagine my older son, then 79 - whoa - saying wistfully to a grandchild, "Why, I remember having to surf the Internet through spam-drifts six feet high just to get my online school assignments."

Our living room decor includes two century-old screen doors from my wife's grandparents' farm, an antique typewriter and a hand-crank wall telephone from early in the 20th century. They look cool. But I can't imagine a nostalgic-themed 2059 living room looking equally cool with, say, a microwave oven, laptop computers and a bouquet of cell phones.

Fifty years ago, you'll hear, times were simpler, nobody locked their doors, everybody knew everybody in their neighborhoods. But even accounting for our tendency to block out less cozy thoughts - say that little Cuban missile thing - there's truth to the simpler-times argument.

Given that, will 2009 be 2059's good ol' days? When times were simpler, nobody locked their Facebook pages, everybody knew everybody in their Yahoo chat rooms?

Will purist football fans pine for the sweet smell of synthetic turf instead of whatever greased lightning they're playing on in 2059?

Will adults wax nostalgic about their childhood video game ventures in the same way adults today might about homemade forts, Wiffle Ball baseball and "Stand By Me" journeys into some forest?

I can't imagine it but, yes, they probably will. Because history is relative to the generation looking at it. I might think it ludicrous to consider aging Gen-Xers in 2059 crooning to the oldies of Justin Timberlake and Coldplay, but, then, the Beatles formed 50 years ago next year. After the band's American debut in 1964, my parents probably would have thought it ludicrous to consider me, at AARP age, someday getting sentimental when hearing "And I Love Her."

In 1959, The Register-Guard's special section on Oregon's centennial focused heavily on turn-of-the-century logging. In 2059, will there even be logging? Hard-copy newspapers? Will someone pick up an antique book - say "The Audacity of Hope" - and say, "Wow, don't see these anymore."

Face it. As sophisticated and cutting-edge as we might see ourselves now, we will, in 50 years, be seen as musty, archaic and obsolete. Nothing escapes the march of time, not even new, large, state-of-the-art buildings such as the Knight Arena.

In 1976, for example, Seattle's eye-popping Kingdome opened to great fanfare. It was imploded at age 24. Why? It was considered musty, archaic and obsolete.

For a YouTube clip of the Kingdome implosion and other info, see Welch's blog at www.registerguard.com/blogs. He can be reached at 338-2354 or www.registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:City/Region Columnist
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 17, 2009
Words:630
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