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Best of Times

June 14, 2009 - Joselyn King
Yes, the rock band Styx is coming to Wheeling Island Stadium next month -- transforming the Suspension Bridge into a time machine that takes us back to 1981, middle school and the "best of times."

But I wonder - as we are disturbed by today's headlines -- does the passage of time ever really change things?

The words of a popular Styx song from about 28 years ago (ugh) flashes back to memory like the beams of a strobe light. According to the lyrics, maybe 1981 wasn't "the best of times," either.

"I know you feel these are the worst of times . . . I do believe its true. When people lock their doors and hide inside, Rumor has it it's the end of paradise."


"The headlines read these are the worst of times. I do believe its true. I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide. . . I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise."

There was definitely some fear and longing conveyed in the words 28 years ago.

A quick glance back to 1981 headlines do show it to be a fairly violent time.

Ronald Reagan became president in January, and he and his press secretary James Brady would be shot only months later.

An unsuccessful assassination attempt would be made on Pope John Paul II, though Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was shot and killed later that year.

And there was lots going on in the Middle East. Iran released 52 American hostages just after Reagan was sworn into office, and Isreal bombed Iraq's Osiraq nuclear plant.

But there was some indication of what changes there might be in the future.

It was the year IBM introduced the first computer, and there was talk about newspapers someday going to the Internet. It was also the year of the first Space Shuttle launch.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, federal spending in 1981 was $678.25 billion. It's now expected to be at least $1.8 trillion for fiscal year 2009.

The federal debt in 1981 was $994.8 billion, compared to $11 trillion and growing today.

Not sure what all this means for now, or the year 2037. But I wonder what the mood of the world will be then, what works singers and philosophers will be producing, and what the headlines will say.

I do know I hadn't thought about the song "The Best of Times" in many years. As I recall, I wrote an editorial about it for the school paper in 1981.

And I can't help but think that Billy Joel needs to write a couple of more verses to "We Didn't Start the Fire." Whatever the time is, it will always have its challenges.


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