The number 69 is a powerful force in our culture. There is of course the allusion to a known sexual act, but there is also the reference to the year 1969 and the monumental impact the events of that year had upon American history and entertainment. ’69 is Woodstock. ’69 is a man on the moon. America is fascinated with both ’69 and 69. And it is likely due to the strength in numbers and in power of the Boomer generation.
But what of the numbers that live in the shadow of 69? 68 is a number coyly referred to in rap lyrics—once again referencing a sexual act, but one that is one-sided in regards to participation. And if 69 is the number of mutual sexual satisfaction and the spark of a cultural revolution in America, what is 96?
96 is an ending as surely as 69 is a beginning. It is a severing of a bond, a turning of one’s back on another. It is a year belonging to “Generation Catalano,” a minuscule generation sandwiched between the plentiful Gen Xers and Millennials. ’96 is perhaps a moment of stagnation—a pregnant pause between the decimation of the Crack Era and the terrorist attack of September 11th that changed the trajectory of America. It is a strange and fascinating year that does not get the recognition it truly deserves. In some ways it is the beginning of the end.
Culturally, it is perhaps my favorite year. What 1969 was to rock, 1996 was to rap. The musical climaxes that took place within the two genres are clearly evident. And I’d argue that it was also an exciting time for comics, television, and film as well. And yet even though such great creative heights were reached, ’96 is not afforded the reverential treatment within our culture that ’69 enjoys.
I’d like to change that.
My pitch? ’96. The work would be an anthology set in the year 1996 and each story would illustrate the severing of a romantic bond. In addition, each story would take a popular song from ’96 as its thematic reference. Do I have song preferences? Well, I’m pretty flexible, but I’m taking the hard stance that “All That I Got Is You” and “Lovefool” must be included. I think it’s a great idea for an anthology—one that likely sounds more somber during the current pitching process than it would be during its actual execution. For not all breakups are unhappy ones. And as we all know, 96 is only 4 steps away from keeping it 100.