Happy New Year!
Today is the first day many Americans are returning to work from their holiday breaks. 2008 is over and 2009 is on. Blogs will get back to business as normal, and the search for the 10 best albums of the year begins all over again.
So here’s my question for the first cerebral day of 2009–with so much promise in the upcoming year and so much to celebrate from the previous one (though it did have its share of crappy moments), why does the start of a new year always suck?
(left: Don’t judge a year by how it starts…or finishes.)
Being the king of all letdowns–New Year’s Eve that is–I’ve lowered my expectations and have learned to not expect much during the final hours of any given year. I’ve tried to enjoy New Year’s Eve, but no matter how I fandangle it, I never come out a winner. I’ve been to parties, thrown parties, seen live music, paid really high cover charges to get inside a dance club that was so packed you could barely lift your arms to remove your coat (let alone bust a move on the dance floor), and even did the Times Square thing. None of them ever lived up to the hype.
Because I don’t enjoy starting a new slate of twelve months on the wrong foot, I now spend my New Year’s Eve in front of the television set with a few select family members, eating left over holiday food. It may not sound like a bunch of a fun, but it always lives up to its low expectations.
New Year’s Eve television is usually pretty underwhelming, but this year I found it to be more so than ever. It began with a Rocky marathon on Versus concluding with the crappiest sequel of the entire franchise, Rocky V. Want to be letdown on New Year’s Eve? How about Rocky Balboa discovering that he has irreversible brain damage, ending his legendary boxing career.
Right after Rocky lost his Philadelphia mansion, I began flipping between the various network and cable countdown shows. MTV centered their night around Miley Cyrus and featured a handful of power-pop bands I couldn’t even name. Two minutes was more than enough for me, so up next was MTV-alum, Carson Daily. He had about as much charisma as the dried-up Christmas tree in the corner of my brother’s house. It seemed like the letdown of New Year’s Eve got to him a couple hours early.
Ryan Seacrest delivered the I’m-going-to-fill-the-shoes-of-Dick-Clark-whether-you-like-it-or-not routine and FOX showcased the long-past-his-prime, Robbie Knievel, jumping over a (man-made) volcano in Las Vegas. FOX was apparently so desperate for viewers that they even featured four different computer animated scenarios detailing how Knievel would die a fiery death if he didn’t land his jump perfectly.
The music performances weren’t much better. It was great seeing the Ting Tings on network television, but awkward explaining to a living room of non-Ting Tings fans how a band consisting of only a drummer and guitar player could also produce a mysterious bass loop (I felt their pain, if I’m hearing a bass, I wanna see where it’s coming from too). The Jonas Brothers were horrible, and T.I. performed with full-on a band, making me wonder why hip-hop groups never bring their turntables on network television?
When midnight neared, we curiously turned back to Seacrest’s party to see if Dick Clark would make his annual appearance. He did. Half of the room thought it was touching, the other half thought it was silly that he just doesn’t retire.
As he’s done since his stroke (and though he can’t help it), Clark slurred the last ten seconds of his countdown making everyone in the room wonder when exactly the New Year began. At midnight my wife and I folded laundry, my brother and his wife washed dishes, and we all watched Knievel successfully jump his motorcycle over a fake volcano.
Happy freakin’ New Year!
(Trust me, 2009 will get better.)