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March 2012 Volume 14 , Issue 3 submit to us!
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21st+Century+Problems
by Alexandra Gilwit -- Contributing Author [Email This Story]

January 4th, 2017. The world didn't end. It never actually does, probably because the definition of the world ending is so vague. There's no pot-bellied villain with a Napoleon complex and a mutant power spawned by a toxic chemical spill, leaning over a large lever attached to a box that says 'BOMB', and counting down the seconds till he can watch his home planet ripped to shreds from the safety of a moon base. Nor, is there a race of aliens that, whilst looking for a new home, find ours favorable and attempt to enslave us as they turn our atmosphere into Argon gas...yet.

Nope, December 21st 2012 ticked by with nothing more than a prank phone call, made by a hacker in London to President Michelle Bachmann, telling her, "I bet you use Tampax Pearl, it's all about that absorbent braid. Makes all the difference." That story made national headlines. Mrs. Bachmann said in a Press Conference in D.C. "I use a DIVA cup, it's better for the environment. You see, Republicans care about the environment too!" A writer for the Washington Post unconsciously misheard and ended her statement with "sometimes" causing a stir in the democratic legislature as well as a well-received film by the notorious, Michael Moore. Experts predict that the Senate is going blue come next election.

So yeah, everything continued, "As is." We are still pumping out carbon emissions and watching our economy flip-flop on the ground like a fish on dry land while Millionaires cheer each other with bottles of Crystal on 11 Wall Street New York, new York, WALL STREET. They all had stock in Gold. Fact: In a depression the only thing that ever seems to move up in the stock market is gold.

'Remember Populism?' A grey-bearded bum will yell between swigs of his half-pint of So-Co, reminiscent of Dan Akyroyd in the commercially successful Eddie Murphy film, Trading Places, while a woman in a tweed business-suit uses her ipad5, paused on the new Katy Perry video, to shield herself from his yellowing spittle and foul-breath.

No. She should have said. No one does. William Jennings Bryn died with the last talk of a silver standard. The U.S. will forever be tied to Gold, Our favorite yellow gem outside of diamonds. Why, I often wonder, are we so obsessed with gold and diamonds? 6 years ago, astronomers discovered that the burned out corpses of stars, White dwarves, dead stars, are actually spheres of diamond cores, several times larger than our planet, floating in wait of any cosmic burglar.

China has already begun production of an automated rocket that can go and procure as much of the diamond core of our nearest dead star, as possible. They say the trip will take 50 light years, and once completed should thoroughly depress our economy. They ALSO say that this might start a war between the U.N. and china. Theoretical space travel starts wars now. 21st century problems.

In the event of a war, I will gladly sit back and watch and smile to myself, knowing that in just 5 billion years, our own sun will die and then our galaxy can be the richest in our cosmic neighborhood. Astronomical suburbia.

I wake up on the morning of January 4th from the sound of a garbage truck backing up, the beep beep beep of its warning signal and then the splash of kinetic waste. Normal day. I reach for the extra EXTRA large t-shirt I got because they ran out of the mediums at that day camp job I took in high school, and pick it up. That's when I notice the vortex. Staring back at me through the collar of my shirt, like a psychedelic eyeball, a window to another dimension. I knew this out of intuition and deference to the critically UNSUCCESSFUL television series, "Sliders."

Knowing deep down, that any world must be better or at least more interesting than my own world, having been unemployed for 5 months now. I wasted no time in traversing the dimensional gap, by way of putting my t-shirt on.

When my head reappeared on the other end, I felt a genuine sense of disappointment. Everything seemed to still be "As is". A quick perusal of my rent-controlled apartment in the city of Chicago told me this much. Everything was the same. I bet even the strapping Jared Bromwell still stood me up at the sixth grade dance in this universe as well.

There was one new thing I did notice; a new phallus. Not my own, I was still a woman. I saw it through my bedroom window, it was in the shape of the Chicago spire, a project I remembered had failed a few years back from a lack of funding. And there it was. Erect and pumping with massive amounts of electric energy, shining brighter than the morning sun; a veritable golden gem of the metropolitan horizon.

I got onto my laptop and that's when I found out. Beanie Babies! The doll that blinded a nation of stay-at-home-moms and children between the ages of 2 and 10, desired more than the coveted gold. Inflating the Market with the same zest as the Native American uprising of 1754 and proving that economic worth is NOT in the eye of the beholder.

I was floored. Ty Warner had done it. Turned characters like Snowy the Owl and Kangy the Kangaroo into dollar signs.

In 2003, as a final "fuck you" to the Federal Reserve the company released a limited addition golden nugget Beanie Baby to commemorate the standard in which it replaced. Strictly a collector's item, this baby looked like a heap of yellow cloth filled with a more consolidated degree of beans. It was affectionately named Goldie the Gold Nugget, keeping to its cutesy, adjectival theme.

I decided to take a walk. Breath in the plastic bean filled atmosphere. I watched as a 13 year old cursed her Droid, cellular phone, when it froze in the middle of a video chat with her most recent best friend, Lily, from Texas. Announcing to whomever was listening that her parents couldn't afford an IPhone. Her parents were more into Tomagatchis, or, perhaps, Tickle-Me-Elmos. How dare they recede from the norm.

I thought about my own background. My mother was one of those Ty toting women. Filling their emptying nest with thousands of lifeless black eyes pointed at their owners with seeming genial love. To be fair, she thought it was an "investment," paying my sister and my college tuition. If this had been true then every daughter in suburban America would be college educated or at the very least, Paris Hilton's best friend.

I read a census stat in this Beanie Baby Alternative Reality, and proved my own conjectures. Women were now statistically better educated than the average American male. A true feminist paradise, spawned from a race of underappreciated, underrepresented bored mothers. Daddy would be doing the dishes now.

And on top of it all, on his thrown of poorly sewn, Chinese exports, Ty Warner, the Wizard of Oz. Famously recognized for his personal reclusion at the very tip top of Chicago's own Chicago Spire. The only true International center of politics. Not a single soul, save his personal assistant, Jerry, had seen his face since 1999. A true figurehead, using Princess the purple Teddy bear to light his lifetime supply of Cuban cigars whilst thinking up future generations of tiny bean-filled dolls.

There was rebellion in this world, like any other. The cops were cracking down on counterfeit Beanie Babies. Fake babies. Congress passed a law prohibiting the placement of TY hearts on any doll, even the unadulterated. The black market swarmed with TY tag applicators.

In 2008, a woman received a lifetime sentence for murdering her ex-husband. Without expressing any sign of regret, she stated to her jury, "After our divorce he removed the TY tag of Brownie the Bear!" at which point the jury gasped. As she was escorted out of the courtroom after a close call of a hung jury, she yelled, "Brownie was one of the originals! He's worth millions!" She almost got the sympathy vote.

The Third Party political faction, the right right-winged Republicans, argued for the reinstatement of the gold standard. Led by recent convert, Ron Paul, the right right-wingers wanted a more stable standard to go by. Everyone else argued that doing so would put us back into a devastating depression.

Beanie Baby Hell.

And, to top it all off, there was a new movement, slowly but adamantly growing. Teanie Beanie Standard. Led by the founder Ronald McDonald, a growing faction of misrepresented citizens wished for a more qualified standard of currency, arguing that there were more Teanie Beanies than actual Beanies. Supported by physics and the overall ease of carrying tinier, lighter dolls as dollars, this group was quickly gaining support amidst the more rural parts of the World.

I'd had enough. Considering that I would be favorably richer in this reality I had briefly considered staying. But the idea of worshipping a doll with an unimaginative name and falsely stated innards -- not real beans but plastic beans - seemed worse than the U.S. presidents' slave owning, sexist faces on top of green paper covered in a light layer of cocaine.

I pulled my shirt off and retreated back to my failing planet.

 
 
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Features -- March 2012 -- Beginning Month Issue