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Get It Straight in ‘98

by Mad Dog

     I spotted the new year coming from a mile away. The first tip off was the note on my Martha Stewart desk calendar to "chop down a tree to make paper for next year’s calendar." Then there was the arrival of Christmas—a pretty strong clue in itself. Next came People magazine's "100 People Whose Movie Studios and Record Companies Bought The Most Advertising So We’d Put Them On Our Cover" issue, which sold briskly in spite of the fact that we all guessed the Spice Girls would be number one. But the real clincher was when I blindly stumbled across my first "Year in Review" article. I don't remember what magazine or newspaper it was in but I'm pretty sure it happened in October.

     Since then I've seen thirty-four Best and Worst of '97 articles, twenty-six Ins & Outs, eighteen Hits and Misses, twelve What's Hot and What's Not, and enough year-end wrap-ups to circle the earth more times than the Mir space station, which in case you missed it, was awarded Best Comedy, Worst Overnight Accommodations, is so "out" that it’s hard to find an American without a death wish who’s willing to spend time on it, was nothing if not full of hits and misses, and is definitely "hot", but only because the air conditioning is on the blink again.

     There have been articles about the Year in TV, the Year in Music, the Year in Books, and the Year in Movies. I'm sure somewhere there was an article on the Year in Fondue Oil Recycling, the Year in Bellybutton Lint Sculpture, and the Year in Vegetarian Livestock Management. Unfortunately I didn't get to see them because I don't subscribe to all the magazines I'd like, which isn’t to say Ed McMahon and Dick Clark aren't sending me plenty of mail trying to remedy that.

     What bothers me most about these articles is that I get dizzy from the whiplash deja vu. Editors must believe the American public has a very short memory. Hey, nothing on these lists is over 12 months old! Sure it was big news that Princess Diana died, but is it time to rehash it already? And I think we all remember that UPS went on strike and held an important box of mine hostage for 2 weeks, but I can assure you no one wants to hear me tell that story again. If George Santayana had been forced to live through 1997 I’m sure he would have said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to spend January reading about it over and over and over."

     That's why the only year-end articles worth reading are the tabloids' predictions for 1998. At least these look ahead. While the Year in Review reminds us that over 200 people died when a Korean Airlines plane went down in Guam ("Honey! Guess what happened last August while we were watching reruns of the Bob Hope Christmas Special?"), the Weekly World News gives us a glimpse into the future by informing us that a talking dog will run for mayor of Guthrie, Oklahoma (though it doesn’t say whether it will win).

      And while it's nice to reminisce over the first women being allowed in the Virginia Military Academy ("It seems like just yesterday she was toddling around in Daddy's jock strap."), isn't it going to do you more good to know that before she died last January, psychic and astrologer Jeane Dixon predicted that in 1998 one of President Clinton’s old girlfriends of will be found dead in the Lincoln Bedroom and Hillary will be a prime suspect?

     For a nation of people who turn to the morning horoscope before Ann Landers, I'm confused by this preoccupation with the past. Sure, like most Americans I occasionally long for the good old days of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack, Vietnam, and polio. But then I stop and remind myself that to go back to those days also means having to put up with Jerry Lewis movies, Dan Quayle, and Tiffany all over again.

     So I suggest that we forget the past. Okay, maybe we shouldn't actually forget it, but for 1998—as a trial run—we could just pretend it's not the most important thing in our lives. We can ignore the 104th and 105th sessions of Congress, every Billboard Top 100 before the first one this year, and for those 13 of you who saw it, the movie remake of Leave It To Beaver. Then we can live our lives to their fullest and look forward to January of 1999 when there will be 238 Year in Review articles, 115 lists of the Ins and Outs, and God-knows-how-many itemizations of What's Hot and What's Not in the Coming Millennium. Who says there’s nothing to look forward to?


1997 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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