It’s 2004 week! Since the last theme week we’re moving 64 years into the future (past) and it also feels that long ago since we actually had 1940 week. It’s been far too long but somehow I never found enough time to prepare a week full of seven posts. But now it’s here! I was 24 in 2004 and still at university. It was three years after 9/11 but apart from that I’m not really sure what to expect. The 2000s are still so hard to grasp for me, still too close but full of personal history that I’m probably also still digesting. But I look forward to this week because unlike 1940 this week will find some resonance among my readers (or I just have to remember to write a lot about spanking…). Ready, steady, 2004!
A whale explodes in Taiwan (no, didn’t remember that either). Facebook launches. An earthquake in Morocco kills 613 people. The Super Bowl Nipplegate travesty happens, sending people into embarrassment for it being such a big thing for weeks. The bombings in Madrid kill 191 people. Ten more countries enter the European Union, including Poland and the Czech Republic. Greece wins the European Soccer Championship (leading to the worst series of Greece/Rehagel puns in the history of German tabloids). A supermarket fire in Paraguay kills over 400 people (which no one remembers). The Summer Olympics happen in Greece. After several other attacks and bombings, Chechen fighters take over 1,000 people hostage in a school, ended by Russian forces two days later with over 300 killed. George W. Bush is re-elected driving many people in a state of resignation. Britney Spears marries twice. Fallujah becomes one of the deadliest battle spots in Iraq. The Po’ouli bird probably becomes extinct. Pantera’s former guitarist Dimebag Darrell is murdered on stage. Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh is murdered. The tsunami in Southeast Asia becomes one of the worst natural disasters of all time, killing at least 180,000 people. Ronald Reagan, Peter Ustinov, Marlon Brando, Ray Charles, Jerry Goldsmith, Fay Wray, Russ Meyer, Christopher Reeve, John Peel, Jacques Derrida and Yasser Arafat die.
Looking at the news made me remember 2004 much better. I spent a lot of time working at the sports department at the ZDF (one of the major German public television stations) in Mainz from where I observed a lot of the sports-related events (that I didn’t really care about), but also the huge impact the tsunami in Southeast Asia had on people who were donating money like never before. The list of terrorist attacks is also astounding (I only mentioned a few) and probably one of the highest in many years. It looks like another bleak year and I also remember the frustration when Bush was re-elected. No, frustration is the wrong word as I remember many activists basically giving up as there obviously was nothing to be done. If Bush could be re-elected with less controversy than Janet Jackson’s breasts, was there any hope? That sums up 2004 for me quite well.
Some famous songs of this year: Dragostea din tei by O-Zone (yes), Força by Nelly Furtado, Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back) by Eamon (how I hated this), Fit But You Know It by The Streets, Hey Ya! by Outkast, Let’s Get It Started by Black Eyed Peas, Mr. Brightside by The Killers, Float On by Modest Mouse, Yeah! by Usher (used in movie trailers for years to come), This Love by Maroon 5, Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand, Toxic by Britney Spears, First of the Gang to Die by Morrissey, Naughty Girl by Beyoncé, Can’t Stand Me Now by The Libertines, Numb by Linkin Park. It’s the usual mix of everything you liked, hated, had to admit is okay or feel bad for liking back then.
2004 was kind of a watershed year for my musical taste because it was the start of me discovering indie music (which really got things going in 2005). My favorite albums from this year show this:
- Interpol – Antics
- Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
- The Futureheads – The Futureheads
- The Cardigans – Long Gone Before Daylight
- Arcade Fire – Funeral
- The Thermals – Fuckin’ A
- John Frusciante – Shadows Collide with People and The Will to Death
- Muse – Absolution
- Kasabian – Kasabian
- Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill
- Beastie Boys – To the 5 Boroughs
- TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
- Stars – Set Yourself on Fire
- The Killers – Hot Fuss
- Ben Kweller – On My Way
- Badly Drawn Boy – One Plus One Is One
- The Divine Comedy – Absent Friends
- The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come for Free
- Nellie McKay – Get Away from Me
- Razorlight – Up All Night
I’m actually amazed by this list. It’s really the foundation for what my musical taste has become in the last 10 years and it includes some of my all-time favorites.
I tend to forget Germany in these overviews, but for television I couldn’t help but notice that it was the debut year for the Harald Schmidt Show and Ich bin ein Star – Holt mich hier raus. I don’t know what that means but it seems important. Some big shows end this year, like Sex and the City, Friends, Frasier while shows like Entourage, Rescue Me, Lost, Desperate Housewives and House debut.
I have seen six of the top ten movies of 2004 (or all six of the top six). Five of these ten are sequels, but do with that what you want. It’s also the year of Passion of Christ, The Aviator, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sideways.
I’ve seen at least 70 movies from 2004. My top 10 of this year:
- Kill Bill Vol.2
- Shaun of the Dead
- Gegen die Wand
- The Machinist
- The Passion of Christ
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement)
- The Aviator
- The Woodsman
Again, only a few books from 2004 I have read, including the two final books of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series (which I love dearly, especially that final sentence), Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America (which was not easy read but interesting), David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (that impressed me a lot), Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal (which was okay), Frank Schätzing’s Der Schwarm (better than I thought) and Juli Zeh’s Spieltrieb (one of my all-time favorite novels). Not a bad year!
I read a good amount of comics from this year (almost 200 issues) and while there are some good ones, nothing jumps out as particularly exceptional. It was an important year for Brian Michael Bendis as his Secret Wars and The Avengers run started here (and The Pulse which is forgotten but quite good). There are some great arcs from The Walking Dead and Gotham Central in this year, while it also saw the lesser parts of Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways run or the average beginning of Cable & Deadpool (which got better later). Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s WE3 is pretty awesome and I also want to recommend Emmanuel Lepage’s Muchacho, which is a great graphic novel about Nicaragua. It was also the year of DC’s Identity Crisis, but I’m still not sure what to think of that, though I don’t hate it as much as many others.
That’s 2004 in a nutshell. A lot of terrorism, a big disaster, post-9/11 fiction, many embarrassing events/scandals that make it hard for people to have a lot of hope for the future. Progress feels different.