Can you believe that today is the final day of 2011? This whole year has been one that seems to have flown by, hasn’t it?
So, how was 2011 for all of you? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
Well, I’ll tell you, 2011 for me was a year that was sort of like a boomerang year. You know how sometimes you have a day that starts off bad, gets better midway through, and then ends terribly? That was 2011 for me in a nutshell.
The year 2011 began on a really terrible note. I had to have emergency surgery earlier in the year, which caused me to have my gall bladder removed. It was a very complicated surgery which required the doctor to remove part of my liver in order to remove the gall bladder. I realize that had I let it go, it would have eventually killed me, so in one sense, I am lucky that I ended up surviving. Of course, having a twelve-inch scar across your chest that will likely end up remaining for the rest of your life is a permanent reminder of the fact that you almost died, so how could you forget such a moment? Although the painful two month recovery afterwards certainly was no picnic.
2011 ended on a sad note as well for me in my personal life, as I had to say goodbye to somebody who provided happiness, great advice, friendship, and joy for a little over a decade. It’s never easy to have to say farewell to someone you love, and let’s just say that Pierette’s influence on my life will never be completely lost.
2011 began on a rough patch medically. 2011 ended on a tragic note in a more personal manner.
But, what about the middle months of the year?
For me, the middle of the year was absolutely fantastic. Certainly, it wasn’t all perfection, but it was definitely a high point. I reconnected with some old friends from my high school years (probably some of the only friends from high school), and I met some talented, creative, writer friends who have actually helped me become a better writer through their commentary, constructive criticism, and compassion.
(How’s that for alliteration at its finest?)
And of course, 2011 was also a big year for this site. It was on May 24 of this year that the first post on ‘A Pop Culture Addict’s Guide To Life’ was posted. Two hundred and twenty-five entries later, the blog is still going strong, and I have to say that none of this would have been possible without the feedback and support that I have gotten from all of you. To say that I want a career in writing is probably an understatement. I want to make a career out of writing, and my dream one day is to make a living doing the very thing that I love to do best. Knowing that everyone who reads this blog has given me so much support in this venture gives me the hope that my dream to make it big in the writing community can come true. So, for that, I wish to thank you all for helping me confirm it.
So, what should I talk about for the last day of 2011? For a while, I struggled with what I wanted to make the New Years Eve topic all about. There were dozens of possibilities out there. And given that New Years Eve falls on a Saturday this year, it would almost have to be expected that I end up doing a blog entry on an animated series, right?
Fear not, boys and girls. The Saturday Morning cartoon feature will return next week. But since today is a day that is meant for looking back on what the year brought forth, I wanted to feature a once-a-year program that did exactly that.
It was a show that for years was an annual tradition for me. Until recently, I never missed it, because it was the show that had the hottest entertainment of the year, sandwiched in a three hour long program.
And although a new host has taken control of the show for the last few years, it continues the tradition that began in the early 1970s by a man once dubbed ‘America’s Oldest Teenager’.
The show was also our ticket to the huge New Years Eve celebrations that go on every year in New York City’s Times Square. When I was younger, I used to think that going down to Times Square on New Years Eve was something that I had to do in order to get the real New Years Eve experience. Now that I am a little older, I’m realizing that the experience looks too claustrophobic for me to really enjoy it. So to have this show take us down to Times Square so we could watch the ball drop on New Years Eve from the comfort of our own homes was much appreciated. It was like we were magically a part of that huge party.
That show, of course, is Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve, an annual tradition that has aired on ABC since December 31, 1974, but began two years prior to that on NBC.
For the first thirty-one years of its lifespan, the program was hosted by radio and television personality, Dick Clark. In 2004, however, Clark suffered a stroke, and Regis Philbin stepped in as host for the 2004/05 broadcast. Since December 31, 2005, the program has been hosted by American Idol host, Ryan Seacrest. Every year, at 11:59 pm, the countdown begins to the New Year, and the host of the program counts down as the ball drops. At the stroke of midnight, the new year begins, and we can count on one tradition occurring around that time. Since the program began in 1972, we can count on Dick Clark giving his wife a New Years Eve kiss. Even after suffering his stroke, Clark continues to make appearances on the show, and like clockwork, we still see him kissing his wife every January 1, just after midnight.
Just take a look at one of these ball drops just to see what I mean. This is the one from 1994.
Hard to believe that clip aired eighteen years ago today. Yikes!
But, that’s how much of a thrill it was. Certainly, as an adult, you’ve seen one ball, you’ve seen them all. But as a child who normally wasn’t allowed to stay up past midnight, New Years Eve was the perfect excuse to break the rules. For many years as a child, I can remember going out to the store the night before with my parents, stocking up on snacks such as popcorn, chips and dip, pumpernickel loaves with spinach dip, and Cherry Coke or Crystal Pepsi (or whatever the novelty soda was that year). Then we would eat said snacks and drinks while we stayed up to watch the various performances of the Rockin’ New Years Eve parties.
Granted, other networks would air New Years Eve specials as part of their holiday programming, and all of them tried to compete with each other by getting as many musical groups as possible to perform. But my family always tuned into Rockin’ New Years Eve because it was just better. It just seemed as though the ABC special (particularly during the years in which Dick Clark hosted) had more artists to choose from, as well as a wider selection of musical genres. One year, they might have had Mariah Carey. The next, they’d have Brooks And Dunn. It seemed for a while, every year got better and better.
Take the first year that I was allowed to stay up late to watch my first Rockin’ New Years Eve special. And thanks to YouTube, I now know when it was. It was Rockin’ New Years Eve 1989, and the only thing that I remember about that year (aside from it being the first one I ever watched) was that Richard Marx was one of the performers. It made sense, being that 1989 was a huge year for Marx in his singing/songwriting career. Here’s a clip of that performance below.
Check out that mullet, by the way. And, yes, I too sported a mullet in 1989. Don’t judge me, as I bet most of you men had that same hairstyle had you been around in ’89 too!
Of course, Dick Clark probably had a lot of experience with booking these music acts for the show. He was after all the host of American Bandstand for several years.
And here’s some trivia for you. The first Rockin’ New Years Eve aired in 1972, to ring in the year 1973. The musical guests for that year? Three Dog Night, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Helen Reddy, and Al Green, just to name a few.
Over the years, hundreds of artists would take part in the special. From The Pointer Sisters to the Spice Girls. From Blondie to Ke$ha. From Linda Ronstadt to Carrie Underwood, and everyone in between, there was something for everyone.
And the show has consistently been the highest rated program of all the New Years specials over the last few years. So even after 40 years, the program is still going strong.
Although, one could argue that the show has really only been on the air for 39 years.
See, back in 1999, everyone was all about everything millennium themed. When they weren’t building underground bunkers for the supposed Y2K disaster, they were wearing those tacky plastic glasses that were shaped like the number 2000. Granted, the year 2000 was a big year for me, as it was the year I graduated high school, but other than that, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Heck, I had to go to work at my part-time job back then shortly after midnight on January 1, 2000, so that wasn’t a great New Years Day at all!
But ABC was very much affected by the millennium bug. So much so that the decision was made to devote the whole day’s programming of December 31, 1999 to the welcoming of the new millennium. The event was known as ABC 2000 Today, and it was hosted by the late ABC news anchor Peter Jennings. The special showed various places all over the world ringing in the year 2000, as well as kept us updated on whether there were exploding bank machines and airplanes plummeting from the skies (there weren’t) as fears of the Y2K bug were later proven to be misguided.
However, as a result of this 24-hour long coverage, the Rockin’ New Years Eve special for 2000 was cancelled indefinitely. Although Dick Clark did do the countdown for that year (which only East Coast viewers in Canada and the U.S.A. got to see), there was technically no special for that year. It was brought back to much fanfare for 2001 though.
But whether it was 39 or 40 years, ABC is marking the event with a special retrospective program before Rockin’ New Years Eve 2012 kicks off, showcasing all of the highlights of the specials gone by. It’s slated to air on most ABC affiliates at 8 pm and will run for two hours. I’m posting this entry as early as possible so you are all aware of it because I think it might be fun to look back on the show, and see if we can remember where we were when the show originally aired.
Although it’s been years since I’ve watched the show now (partly because I find Dick Clark to be irreplaceable as host, and partly because I haven’t been overly impressed with 2000s music), I may end up tuning into this retrospective special, as there are several New Years Eve parties that I wasn’t alive to witness, and it would be neat to see how much the parties have changed over the last four decades.
And, who knows? Maybe I’ll even give the Rockin’ New Years Eve special another go-round...even with Seacrest at the helm.
I hope all of you enjoy the final day of 2011, and that you party responsibly. Don’t overdo it, don’t drink and drive, and make sure everyone is safe at your get-togethers.
And have a happy new year! I’ll be back on the first day of 2012 where there will be some changes to the blog.
But that’ll have to wait until next year. ;)