GOODbye. GoodBYE! Get outta here. Go on. Amscray. Feh. Fooey. Wish I’d never met ya.
All my life I could never figure out the fuss over New Year’s Eve celebrations. Oh I know, it’s pretty obvious, an excuse to party; hope and enthusiasm for the future; a marker. But it’s an artificial marker.
Jan. 1 is not a different day, in any way you can see, than was Dec. 31. The White House is still orange and the Lakers lost again. Often a whole batch of different laws go into effect 1/1 where you live, but you don’t really know what they are, do you? Except recreational marijuana in California. And because of that you’ll never bother to find out about the other laws.
And the fuss! It’s monumental! How many people jam into Times Square, even when it’s nine degrees this year? (The answer: about two million.) How many cities across the world shoot off millions in fireworks? How many people will get their pockets picked, their cars stolen, or return home to find the place ransacked and robbed? Happy New Year.
Jan. 1 wasn’t always the artificial marker. In England they celebrated the New Year on
March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, known as Lady Day (“God Bless the Child”?), until 1/1/1752. The Brits resisted the imposition of the Gregorian calendar, as a papist
plot, for 170 years. Imagine the great material that provided for 16th and 17th century
Eddie Izzards. That year England and its colonies switched over, jumping overnight from Sept. 2 to Sept. 14. Quipped Benjamin Franklin, “It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on September 2, and not have to get up until September 14.”
CAESAR LIVED ON!
He fixed the Roman calendar with his Julian one in 46 BC, so the first widely celebrated (with Roman candles, no doubt) New Year’s Eve countdown (wait! — someone shine a flashlight on that sundial…) was 1/1/45 BC. He was assassinated a year later (probably not because of the calendar), and it continued in use for more than 1600 years! Not bad, for something that was 11 minutes off. (However, Caesar salad has lasted even longer.) The Gregorian calendar is still 26 seconds off, so if you think you will still be here in 4909, you will be faced with making up one solar day. (Don’t complain, says Ben.) Some Orthodox churches still use it today, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, to calculate the dates of important moveable holy feast days, like Trump’s birthday. (We don’t really know what day he was born, because… well, you know.)
(And that is my clumsy New Year’s tribute to longtime SMDP columnist Jack Neworth and his well-known style, because he wrote me a hilarious email that should have been a column but… well, it was too personal. Hope this makes up for that, Jack. Have a great 2018. Whether you want to or not. Stock up on Cheetos, eh?)
BUT THIS YEAR
Yeah, bring on the fuss, fire off the Roman candles, because 2017’s departure is
something to celebrate. In all my years I’ve never seen a year so stupendously and unrelentingly awful. Politically, environmentally, economically (for the 99 percent), socially, meteorologically, personally. Even the Pope said 2017 sucked. (Slightly different translation.) Not saying 2018 couldn’t be worse, but we can pray, and discuss, and march, and vote (if we make it to November).
I have tried to write less and less about the national scene because it’s exhausting, emotionally. I think most of us feel that exhaustion. We can rally around a cause or two or three but they have been coming in droves. That’s why the international marches on Jan. 20, the Women’s March, may be a good release. Maybe even bigger crowds than last year will make people realize we do have the numbers, the votes, the stamina, to overcome the big money that supports corruption and oligarchy.
Don’t vote for a single Republican, anywhere! Don’t vote for a single City Council member who has contributed to the ruination of our fair and fragile city! (I know, subject to interpretation.) Demand transparency and fiscal responsibility! (It’s your money!) Work for candidates who will represent the will of the people!
32! — My standard sign off at the bottom of each column changes slightly each Jan. 1. I have just celebrated the end of my 32nd year in Santa Monica, all at the same address. I give thanks, always. I love Santa Monica, and that’s why I fight for her future.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is one thing you — yes, you!! — can do to make Santa Monica a better place? This week! Will you commit to doing it? Will you let me know, please? (email at bottom)
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: Last week — “‘And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.’ — Rainer Maria Rilke (note: this is intended to be hopeful, I’m sure — at this moment in history I find it terrifying)” — what a difference a week makes. I am now, for no particular reason or event, determined to be unrelentingly optimistic. Here’s why:
“Pessimism never won any battle.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” — William James
“Optimism doesn’t wait on facts. It deals with prospects. Pessimism is a waste of time.” — Norman Cousins
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”– Winston Churchill
“Don’t let your failures define you—let them teach you.”– Barack Obama
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”– Anne Frank
“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” — Theodore Roosevelt
“The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little.”– Mark Twain
“The basis of optimism is sheer terror.”– Oscar Wilde
“Relax. They’re not going to kill us. They’re going to TRY to kill us. And that is a very different thing.” — Steve Voake
“My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.” — Henry Rollins
“As long as there is coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” — Cassandra Clare
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else
in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org