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How many times over the last ten years have you been embroiled in a conversation about what to call the last decade? The “Ohs”? The “Aughts”? I think part of the outpouring of relief two weeks ago when we entered the identifiable “Tweens” was due to having a commonly accepted label to put on our present historical period. When have the first ten years of a decade had anything in it worth remembering? What happened in 1905? What was the big news of 1810? Retro was popular in the 90s, but these days — sheesh! — you can’t swing a dead cat in a circle without hitting somebody who’s living like it’s 1899.
Is this a sign of national decadence and decline? The impulse to get back to a more wholesome time is surely behind the National Theater of the United States of America’s production of “Chautauqua!” at the Public theater.