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Every time period has its ups and downs, but 1996 will be something else. Are we thrilled to our toes about the Atlanta Olympics? Yes, but we're cringing about Izzy, the Games' purple-hided mascot, who will lead a schlock assault that could give the world a sugar headache. Meanwhile, environmentalists are preparing for a presidential election year. Pleasurably: It's the ultimate affirmation of democracy. Painfully: When the dust clears, they'll get four more years of Bill Clinton, who leaves most of them cold, or Bob Dole or Phil Gramm or Pat Buchanan, who leave all of them semicatatonic. What it all signifies--a premillennial metaphor? or just a very iffy year?--is anyone's guess. But this much we can say with a bold anticipatory wince: 1996 is upon us. Let the joyous ouch begin!