Tag Archives: turn of the millenium

Olympic Cuervo Gold

I think I’m getting old. I’ve reached yet another crossroads in my life. Something happened recently which has given me a deeper understanding of myself and my family. Just as the scorpion has its sting, certain families share certain ineffable qualities. The Kennedy’s, for instance, have a propensity for dying violently in middle age.

I have come to understand that my family is inclined… TO PARTY! Woooo! Whoop whoop yeow!… See what I mean.

The first indication of this should have come early in my life when, as a boy of six, I would drive my Hot Wheels across the smooth service area of the wet bar in the sunken living room of our split-level middle-class trophy home.

The bar was seriously underused, however, as my parents had little time for parties by that time in their lives. It was the 1970s and they had shifted priorities to real estate and wholesales. I never did see the family booze station given its due respect. I can’t ever remember seeing ole Pop pouring Glenfiddich over rocks; nor can I recall Mumsie searching for the freshest olive in the fridgette. So far as I knew, a martini was a magic potion that British spies would quaff so that they may find evil bimbos more attractive (but then that would make me a British spy).

I can only think of one time that my parents returned home from a party. But they weren’t drunk. They were “feeling good”. It was a suppression of information, I suppose, and it certainly worked. I just can’t imagine either of my parents hugging the ivory bowl and bringing back up the Shepherd’s Pie they’d had for dinner.

By the time I was seventeen, the family wet bar had been weened down to the more common “liquor cabinet”. Ah yes, that wonderful depository that every teenager knows so well, at once both sacred and taboo. A collection of aged spirits that adults only ever consider when moving time comes and there’s a few extra boxes in the U-Haul.

As always, the parents were away one weekend so the best friend and I decided to “raid the cabinet” and throw a shindig. Not a Dean Moriarty sort of affair but pretty damn close, man. We lined up more than forty bottles across the kitchen counter; we had the bartender’s recipe guide; we had the ability to concoct well over 100 variations of booze, booze and mix. Dino would have been proud.

By the time the police showed up, many a Coors kingcan had been shotgunned by the revellers. Some neighbors had been accosted by several of my guests (you know how former co-workers from summer camp can be). And a couple of sexually-active teens were getting frisky in the master bedroom.

“What seems to be the problem, officer?” It was neither the first nor the last time the words would leave my mouth.

Years later, after my father’s passing, I came across the old wet bar’s glasses, cocktail-size and adorned with politically-incorrect cartoons of drunks and whores. Artifacts of a bygone era of entertaining where every woman wore a skirt, every man wore a tie and Nat King Cole crooned from the phonograph at 78 RPM. Party games with a carrot on a string were de rigeur. All bottoms were up.

Those glasses were an anthropological diary of social twenty-somethings in the 1950s. And they are what got me thinking about my family this way a few years ago.

Now, it has been confirmed.

On New Year’s Eve, at the turn of the millennium, as the world ushered in a fresh future for its children, my sixteen-year-old niece Laura took advantage of her parents’ absence and threw a house party for some thirty or so friends.

When I first heard of this, I was video-green with envy. Though Laura’s effort did not reach sufficient pitch to be shut down by the police, she had nonetheless one-upped me by concerting multiple strategies of subterfuge to manufacture a well-timed superior affair on what could be the most important party night of her life.

Eventually, my jealousy turned to pride. My niece had entered the dragon’s lair and faced the beast with brazen congeniality. A generational family torch had been passed in the Olympics of playing host. Gold medal, girl, gold medal.

As punishment for her deception, Laura was instructed to call the parents of every one of her guests to apologize for concealing her party’s unsupervised circumstances.

What a little show-off.

CAMERA 1, where are you?

Occasionally, Acts of God are shown on television. Because they are so very rare, miracles, when witnessed on a media so saturated with middle-of-the-road content, are quite amazing to behold.

I witnessed a miracle on television yesterday.

If you were part of the 75% of the population which statistically stayed home for New Year’s Eve or if you happened to be channel surfing when it happened, you too may have witnessed this miracle.

Every channel worth its weight in solemnity had some sort of slow-dissolve coverage. Clicking on the remote like a game show buzzer, I surfed from France’s exploding Eiffel Tower to Norwegians peacefully playing music on instruments carved from ice to the Pope trying hard to move to Nigerian musicians trying hard not to move in 90°F heat to previously-taped footage of celebrations throughout Asia and Oceania. I was everywhere at once.

One of the stops on my picture-box journey was Amsterdam. There were thousands of people dancing in the street – disco boomed from massive Peavey amplifiers. People were hugging and screaming, “I love you, Everybody!”, into any available camera. Never before had so many smiles been shown in primetime. As CAMERA 1 panned across the throng of joyous Dutch revellers, the frame came across one young man as happy as any. In his hand, CAMERA 1 clearly showed, was a super-size hand-rolled “cigarette”. The shot was held for atleast 3 or 4 seconds. CAMERA 1, upon realizing the the man was smoking the largest joint ever rolled, carefully panned away to some lights shining on a calm old building.

But it was too late. The miracle had already occurred. Millions of people all over the world had been shown some Dutch kid smoking a spliff in public. Granted, that may not be unusual for Amsterdam but some countries – some censors – would have your hands removed for such acts.

Seeing CAMERA 1 realize what was in his frame was the kicker though. Perhaps his delay was the result of second-hand smoke. It was one of those moments that makes television worth watching – unprogrammed and real. A refreshing change from the most demographically-structured New Year’s Eve I may ever experience.

Methods of Mass Distraction

I remember a day several years ago, shortly after a few hopeless Nike-friendly computer geeks covered themselves with purple shrouds, I was sitting on a sofa at my friend’s downtown flat. The Chancellor and I were watching his two piranha take some goldfish to task as we ruminated on the coming turn of the millennium.

“I’m going to be in a cabin in the woods,” I told him, “with a woman, a dog and an assault rifle.”

“Why?” asked the Chancellor.

“You think the crime rate is high now? On December 31, 1999, it’s gonna go through the roof! From September on, people are gonna be losing their minds. They’re gonna be coming in through the windows!”

“Who’s going to be coming in through the windows?” asked the Chancellor.


Since that day, a few more wars have sprouted up, a few have shut down, some embassies have been bombed (some “on purpose”, some “by mistake”) and a few more kids have shot up the schoolyard. However, I must admit that the prophecies I made on that day with the Chancellor, his piranha and their goldfish have failed to come true.

Certainly, there are some who also believed in the encroaching world riot and went the cabin-lover-dog-rifle route but the need for such action has simply not materialized. And frankly, I must say, I’m disappointed.

There have not been enough mass suicides, not enough prison riots, not enough social breakdown. What would have been the perfect display of Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection (accelerated and condensed for consumption) has become the biggest Molotov dud that my paranoid mind has ever concocted.

You call this the turning of a millennium?! The teams haven’t even showed up! I guess the anarchists just don’t have their sh*t together. Perhaps they’re too selfish to be martyrs.

So what was it that turned the tide? What took the fight off the streets?

One word: THIS.


Since the Internet became a commercial entity, millions of us have turned on, typed in and dropped out. We have replaced our mailboxes, conversations, libraries, shopping malls, newspapers, and ourselves with the binary P’s & Q’s of a central processing unit. Mind your 10000’s and 10001’s, McLuhan-San!

Since it was developed post-Sputnik, the Internet (née Arpanet) has had mass media written all over it. No doubt its many creators and legal guardians expected an eventual trickle down effect which would open the medium’s doors to the public.

For those of us who’d been hoping 1999 would be the year that the effluvium of humanity would find its way into the gutters of history, the timing could not have been worse. The murderers, thieves, psychos and scum will not be coming in through the windows – they’re too busy playing Yahoo! Checkers.

The riots have been replaced with a computer bug. How fucking pathetic.

If it seems to anyone that this is not the case, if it seems that there is more crime, more conflict, more struggle than in the past, it only seems that way because of the overwhelming speed and intensity of the numerous mass media. The world has become more difficult to decipher than a Jethro Tull lyric.

Before the teletype, it would have taken weeks, perhaps months, for some lost Pony Express rider to inform me about a mass killing or civil unrest on the other side of the country. By which time, the answers to the questions one naturally asks about such an act would have already been answered. I would not “need” to concern my compassion with the event. I could stay focused on the job at hand – standing in a cold Alaskan stream, trying to get more gold in my pan and avoiding grizzly bears.

The truth is, nothing about us has changed. It is only the methods of mass identity delivery (AM/FM-TV-WWW) that keep morphing into stickier and more distracting forms, until, eventually, many years from now, we’ll all be mucked up in each other’s bee’s wax and any sense of a personality will be, at best, an anomaly. A small price to pay for “peace”, I suppose; though dear Huxley might not agree.

As for me, I’m now most concerned with how the Chancellor and I are going to get the jump on the million other people traveling I-15 to Vegas for the turn of the “man-made abstract measurement”.

All the best to you and yours on this perfectly normal holiday season.