Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Comes to a Close

I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing that when Gregory was inventing the calendar some 2000 years ago, he had been a little more avant garde in his thinking. His arbitrary decision to have the year reflect the life cycle—gestation, birth, life and death—is all too literal for me. What if, for instance, the new year began in June? Sure, Greg would've had to move Memorial Day back, but only by a week or so—it could have a similar proximity to la fin de l'an that Christmas now enjoys. And yes, the arc of the year would be off since there'd be this big lull in the middle when everything is cold, dark and nasty (except in Los Angeles). But think how perfect New Year's Eve in Times Square would be: by June 1, the weather is warm but not yet hot, so that the melange of aromas that will permeate the city a few weeks later are still brewing beneath the streets.

To be honest, though, New Year's Eve has never really been one of my favorite holidays. I like to drink but I don't like to get drunk—I have been drunk, of course, but I don't like it (especially the next day). Being with Catherine has ensured that I've had someone to kiss at midnight for the past 18 years, but I remember only too well ringing in 1990—a few short days before Catherine would arrive in NYC and we would begin our lives together—alone in our new apartment because I was uninterested in the parties to which I'd been invited (I could have gone out, I chose not to, you see). I have frequently enjoyed celebrating on December 31st—the soon-to-be-late Ohio Theater has been the scene of two especially fantastic events—but if someone starts a "New Year's Rockin' Eve" group on Facebook, don't expect to see my name on the list of fans.

All of this leads up to the thing one sees most frequently as the year comes to an end: lists. The best. The worst. The most played. The biggest stories. The year in pictures. What I did and I didn't do. What I'm going to do in the new year. What you should or shouldn't have done before today and should avoid doing after Wednesday.

Now, I'm not being entirely critical of "Best/Worst" lists: I read them every year because I, too, want to know how surprisingly intelligent or predictably stupid the rest of the world is compared to me. Of course, some of the listmakers fit into neither of those categories: I was not surprised by the intelligence of ModFab's 2008 theater list, for instance: it was as well-considered as I expected it to be. He sees much more theater than I do—especially Broadway and Off Broadway—so the only plays in his Top 10 that I even saw were numbers 10, 6a and 1. My favorite radio station has posted both their 97 Best countdown and the djs' picks for the top 20 albums of 2008; I may quibble with some of their choices but that's really just a matter of taste. But apart from these, I haven't come across any lists that have altered my opinion of lists: perhaps if I saw more movies or read more books...

So I have no list for you. And no deep insight into 2008, apart from what I've already shared here (and I think we can all agree that very little—if any—of my insight was deep). I hope 2009 is better for all of us and I think it can be. I don't think this will be my final post for 2008 but it is the one in which I wish you all a happy new year and all the very best in 2009.

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