Tuesday, January 02, 2001

How Old Is Dick Clark's Lang Syne?

Once again I have missed out on the excitement that is New Year’s Eve.

All over the country, there are massive celebrations of the arrival of a new calendar page. Most famous, of course, is the one in Times Square, where tens of thousands of people gather to watch the giant ball drop. You’ll never see me there.

I’m much more comfortable watching the event on TV in my living room, which I know will be warm and measurably closer to an available bathroom. There’s zero chance that anyone at my house will be wearing plastic eyeglasses in the shape of the new year.

There’s even less chance that I’ll be killed by one of those stray bullets falling from the sky – the ones put there by idiots who celebrate by going outside and shooting their guns straight up. That’s a blatant flaunting of the law. No, not the Second Amendment. I refer to The Law Of Gravity! You think I’m kidding? Ask the two dead guys in California and the couple of hundred in the Philippines, all killed when bullets entered their heads from above, an angle rarely seen outside of firing squads that make their victims bend over.

The problem with observing the arrival of the New Year on TV here in St. Louis on Sunday night was that the local television stations ran the Times Square happenings on tape delay! So when Dick Clark counted down to the big moment on the local ABC station, we Central Time Zoners were watching something that had already occurred an hour earlier!

Do they think we can’t grasp the chronological concept? By the time we saw the magic midnight moment on tape, Dick had long ago returned to his hyperbaric anti-aging chamber, only to be awakened in the event of an emergency "Bloopers" special. Happy new year deja vu!

Truth be told, Dick does achieve something amazing with his "Rockin’ New Year’s Eve" show every December 31st. Because it spans not only time zones but also the calendar cusp, it manages to be among the lamest television programs of two different years at the same time. Not that Dick doesn’t do a fine job from his vantage point on Broadway. That whole job of counting backwards from 60 and complimenting the Mayor and the police department on the fine job they’ve done has got to be challenging.

No, it’s the rest of the show that sets new standards for bland entertainment -- the part that was pre-recorded in Hollywood sometime in October with a roomful of Californians who seem to have broken into Robert Downey Jr.’s happy-pill cabinet, dancing to lip-synched pop songs that are so tame even Radio Disney won’t play them.

Why didn’t any of the networks provide coverage of a New Year’s Eve event somewhere in the midwest for those of us in the central time zone? Surely, there was something camera-worthy happening in Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, or some other CT city.

You may wonder why I didn’t suggest they broadcast our St. Louis ball drop on New Year’s Eve. That’s because our ball drop happened on Saturday afternoon -- when Az Hakim muffed the punt return. That was one dropped ball too many for us Rams fans.

Maybe we can get the local ABC station to run last year’s Super Bowl on tape so we think we won again! Quick, get Dick Clark on the phone.