By 1998, the U.S. was gearing up for a new millennium. Y2K was coming. So was Jesus. With all the hysterics on the horizon, 1997 was arguably the last year that the '90s could hang loose in all their Chumbawumba glory.
When City Paper began, computers still had floppy drives. It was in 1997 that Memorex debuted a blank, recordable CD, and they weren't cheap. CD singles were flying off the shelves in droves at big box retailers, including Hanson's "MMMBop" and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" remake following Princess Diana's death on Aug. 31.
Also passing ten years ago were Mother Teresa, the Notorious B.I.G., John Denver, and the Hale-Bopp comment. The latter came as close as it would to Earth until the year 4397, prompting the Heaven's Gate faithful in California to don their sneakers and call it quits.
In the wee hours of Jan.1997, Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House, only to be found guilty of ethics violations two weeks later. (Isn't he considering a presidential run in 2008?) Clinton started his second term, and the U.S. jobless rate in May dropped to 4.8 percent, the lowest since 1973.
On Sept. 27, the militant Taliban group seized Kabul in Afghanistan. Soon thereafter, Iraq expelled all U.S. members of the UN arms-inspection team. On Nov. 12, two men were convicted of attempting to blow up the World Trade Center. America, while shaken, remained prosperous and contentedly at peace, except for the conservative right, who were eager for a war-profiteering leader who just said no to blow jobs.
1997 was a bad year for O.J. Simpson, who was found liable in a civil suit. It was also bad for fans of White Zombie, Soundgarden, and Porno for Pyros, who all called it quits. Then there were the one million people who showed up for a free Garth Brooks concert in Central Park, whose opinions are irrelevant. Fortunately, O.J., Clinton, and Saddam Hussein agreed that the demise of the Presidents of the United States of America ("She's lump/she's lump/blah blech blah") was a boon for everyone.
Ten years later, we burn DVDs with the greatest of ease. City Paper is full color and rockin' harder than ever. Hanson just released a new album, and they're going on tour. No wonder the whole world hates America.
Here's to 1997, and getting back to that peaceful comfort, however ugly and obnoxious, in 2017.
• You could smoke, play video poker, and drink from mini-bottles all night long in bars all over town
• Gene's Haufbrau was a membership-only club
• You needed a key to get into Moe's Crosstown, which was called Moe's Tap Room back then
• Andolini's pizza, soda, and salad deal was only $3.95
• A.C.'s was literally "up all night," closing long after the sun came up
• 96 Wave liked us
• Our editorial assistant was a guy named Sam Adams, who legitimately claimed to be a descendant of the John Quincy Adamses
• David Beasley was governor
• Cumberland's was still on Cumberland Street
• Wavefest featured Ben Folds Five, Blue Dogs, David Byrne, Cracker, Jayhawks, Junior Brown, Cowboy Mouth, Son Volt, Wilco, Seven Mary Three, and Jump Little Children and happened behind the recycling center on Romney Street
• Kickin Chicken was a delivery outfit located way out on Morrison Drive
• Joe Riley was mayor
• The American Theater had a room called Virtual Reality South, where you could play multi-player computer games like Quake and Duke Nuke 'Em
• Tattooing was a popular trend, but still illegal in S.C.
• Pluff Mud Productions was putting on plays at The Windjammer
• Fiona Apple was playing the King Street Palace
• Josh and Jonas Pate premiered their locally-filmed movie Deceiver, starring Renee Zellweger
• 39 Rue de Jean was a Houlihan's restaurant
• Calvin Gilmore's Serenade, a Hollywood musical revue, went off nightly at the Charleston Music Hall on John Street
• The 5th annual Worldfest film festival screened a slate of indie films
• Warren Place was still being built and Upper King Street was still largely boarded up and abandoned
• The KGB district (King-George-Burns) was full of crackheads, street kids, and bums, not Urban Outfitters and American Apparel stores