The decade from 2000 to 2010 — one that began and ended without anyone knowing what to call it — is finally nearing its finish.
You don't think it was bad? Harken back to the "good old days" of 2000 and compare them to the present. Back then we had a Democratic president about to hand off a budget surplus and a healthy economy to a Republican; now we have a Democratic president trying to deal with a Great Recession and oceans of red ink and debt left by that same GOPer.
In 2000 the last big storm to hit Houston was difficult to recall; in 2010 we still get nervous when a system enters the Gulf, thinking of Allison and Ike. For crying out loud, in 2000 Enron was a healthy, ongoing concern full of employees happily banking cash towards their retirements. (For all we knew.)
Yeah, when you compare 2000 to 2010, you get a pretty good idea just how demoralizing it has been. For instance:
Corner of Waugh & Westheimer
2000: Mary's & Chances
Two great legendary gay bars
2010: The empty hulks of Mary's & Chances
Soon to be two semi-trendy focus-grouped destinations.
Kemah Boardwalk area
2000: Ramshackle seafood restaurants
Threatened by development, but still a charming destination.
2010: The Kemah Boardwalk
Overpriced, uncharming, pseudo-festive development dominated by chain restaurants.
2000: Britney Spears
Can you believe she's only 18? Oh man, the things I would do to her...
2010: Justin Bieber
Can you believe he's only 16 and sucks that bad already?
Hot New Musical Trend
2000: Nu Metal
You like my new shell-toe Adidas, homeslice?
2010: The '90s
This flannel shirt is so comfy.
Hot Overheard Washington Avenue Line
2000: "Some asshole threw a bottle at me during the Hot Water Music show at Mary Janes."
2010: "OMG you guys, we got bottle service! How much is valet? LOL."
Hot Football Scuttlebutt
2000: I can't wait for our new football team!
How many Super Bowl rings do you think we will have by 2011? I say three at the least.
2010: We lost to who?!
(performs ritualistic harikari in front of Reliant Stadium ticket office.)
Guilty TV Pleasure
I can't believe that they have to eat bugs and not shower for days on end.
2010: Jersey Shore
2000: Tribal or barbed wire on your bicep, brah.
I will get a tattoo, as long as I can hide it from my boss, parents and pastor.
2010: A huge traditional chest piece, your knuckles and the tops of your hands.
So the world can see and marvel.
2000: Gonna miss this place once the new stadium opens.
Remember the time Jeff Bagwell hit that home run and I caught the ball?
2010: It's an eyesore, but it's our eyesore.
A gang of homeless people have created a utopian world inside the Dome. We suppose, at least, since no one ever goes in there to check.
Hot Texas Politician
2000: George W. Bush
If you can run Texas, you can run the United States.
2010: Rick Perry
Just because you run Texas doesn't mean you should run the United States.
Hot Stalking Apparatus
Whose car is that? She told me she wasn't dating right now!
2010: Facebook Wall
Jesus, what ugly children.
2000: Main Street line opens, other branches soon to come
World-class city, that's us!
2010: Main Street line still open, the rest a pipe dream
What? A Houston government entity overpromising?
Hot Sounding Board
2000: Message Boards
"Don't worry, I think Episode II will be much better."
2010: All caps on Twitter
Hey @starwars! Thanks for ruining the franchise. BTW, when does the trilogy come out on Blu-ray?
Hot Local TV News Eye Candy
2000: Dominique Sachse
Uncomfortably, almost painfully attractive, even a decade later.
2010: Jennifer Reyna
The only anchor we wake up at dawn to watch.
Hot Facial Hair
These new Mach3 razors really give you a close shave.
2010: Hobo Beards
What's a razor?
2000: A mortgage for everyone
Pay no attention to that APR.
2010: A foreclosed home for everyone
Pay a whole lot of attention to that APR, and hand over your keys.
2000: News, weather and traffic
"Watch out for the Katy, it's backed up bad right now."
2010: News, weather, traffic, white folks prone to screaming
"Watch out for the Katy...and liberals, and Obama, and Muslims."
Hot Astroworld Ride
2000: Texas Cyclone
"I had to wait in line an hour. Only puked twice."
2010: Barren, overgrown, empty field
"Magnificent new development coming!! Maybe. Someday."
A soothing, stretching, constructive workout.
Infomercials of guys who look like they're masturbating.
New York City Attraction
2000: World Trade Center
Two magnificent towers, just 25 years old.
2010: Ground Zero
A construction site, too many years old.
2000: New stadium, new era
Drayton McLane knows how to get things done.
2010: Not-new stadium, age-old mediocrity
Drayton McLane knows how to sell the team while the getting's good.
2000: Just two years from drafting Yao Ming
We have found The Dream's replacement.
2010: Maybe two years from Yao's official retirement
We have found The Dream of needy foot/ankle doctors everywhere.
2000: The International Space Station is opened
Ever since, there hasn't been a day without a human in space.
2010: Budget wars are opened
Ever since, there hasn't been a day when a NASA engineer hasn't worried about employment.
Disasters in the Gulf of Mexico
2000: Tropical Storm Beryl
Landed in Mexico, caused little damage.
2010: The Oil Spill to End All Oil Spills
Landed in Louisiana and points east, caused untold damage.
Ben Stiller-Robert DeNiro Movie
2000: Meet the Parents
Fresh take, with DeNiro showing his comedic side.
2010: Little Fockers
Episode Three of a series, with DeNiro showing his check-cashing side.
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River Oaks Shopping Center
2000: Same as it ever was
A little hoity-toity, sure, but a Houston institution.
2010: Morphing into suburbo-land
Bye-bye, Alabama Bookstop: You're traded for a West Gray Barnes & Noble. River Oaks Theatre, you're on the clock.
2000: Unpretentious, semi-faded, laid-back Gulf jewel
With delusions of grandeur that seemed always out of reach.
2010: Ike-recovering forgotten city
With delusions of grandeur involving being turned into another Kemah Boardwalk.
FOR A LIST OF THE GOOD TIMES OF THE DECADE, SEE OUR BLOG AT houstonpress.com/hairballs