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Barfly Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien

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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

I hesitated to write a millennium column; I assumed everyone else would be writing one, so why bother. But Net Listing's webmaster pointed out that mine would be the only millennium column to appear on this web site (which is all that really mattered to him) so I "volunteered." And I'm glad he was so persuasive, really, because it gave me the opportunity to reflect a bit on what it all meant to me.

It felt, really, like being a voyeur at the world's biggest party, and what a party it was. In this century of technology, we all witnessed technology stride triumphantly into the new millennium, as television and computers brought the entire world together in one masterfully orchestrated celebration. On seven continents, and in 200 countries, people of every race, creed, and ethnicity put aside all that separates them to revel in one spectacularly bright shining midnight.

And except for the fireworks, which seemed to be everywhere (except at the Hollywood sign) each celebration held some new surprise, some magical moment. From the heady exuberance of the dancers on the walls of the Sydney Opera House in Australia, to the celebrants basking in the splendor of St. Basil's cathedral in Red Square, everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. Over the course of the day and night, through technology Jules Verne could only have dreamed about, we had the extraordinary privilege of visiting the temple at Angkor Wat, Tienamen Square, the Acropolis, the pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Washington Monument. We were in New Zealand, Taiwan, on the Ginza, in Bangkok, Cambodia, India, the Czech Republic, Greece, South Africa, Ireland, Bethlehem, Berlin, Italy, Newfoundland, New York, Brazil, and Las Vegas. And that's only a few of the places we were, as the cameras worked their wonders and the faces of couples kissing and strangers hugging filled our screens.

And perhaps the most fascinating spectacle of all was that in so many cases, but for the unique backdrops reflecting the pride and essence of each country, everyone looked the same. No, not the same, because that was the beauty of it; everyone looked like they could have been from anywhere, because to a large extent, they were. There were Americans in Tokyo, and Bulgarians in Times Square; there were Koreans in England, Norwegians in Mexico City, Japanese on the Copacabana beach. Everyone was everywhere, and it looked just right.

Some of my favorite moments? Well, the doves in Bethlehem brought an unmistakable lump to my throat, and although I didn't see them, the notion of a German choir performing in Israel strikes a chord. Charlotte Church's remarkable fourteen year old voice, Bono's touching tribute to Clinton's role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, the strains of Lennon's "Imagine" (which I'm sure he did) echoing around the world, and that climactic dropping of the ball in Times Square, which for as long as I can remember was the only way I celebrated the passing of another year; they were all favorites.

But there were other moments, ones that made my mind wander a bit, or made me smile, or think, and I want to mention some of them too. The brilliant fireworks display on the Thames, excessive perhaps, until one thinks about the bombing raids over the same river endured by that country a brief sixty years ago. And the Queen, looking the same as she has always looked, reminding me of my grandmother, who looked the same when she was thirty-five as when she was sixty: dowdy, matronly, older than my mother of seventy-six looks now. What would she have thought of all this.

The celebration on the mall in our nation's capitol made me proud; I can't help it. It was elegant and dignified, but still joyous, tremendously entertaining, and full of all the hope and excitement of the new millennium. "America the Beautiful," sung in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial was, indeed, beautiful. And watching Chelsea's adoring look every time she glanced at her father reminded me of how enduring our children's love is, and how astounding their capacity to forgive.

Maybe the most amusing moment for me came when gifted magician David Blain engaged Peter Jennings, Charlie Gibson, and Barbara Walters, all stationed in different parts of the world, in the same card trick. It was brilliant and mystifying as always, at least for Jennings and Gibson who followed Blain's instructions to the letter. But Barbara Walters, notwithstanding her sophistication, intelligence, glamour, and hundreds of interviews with heads-of-state and world-renowned celebrities, could not get it right. She shuffled wrong, she put the cards face up instead of down, and she counted incorrectly, looking as puzzled as my mother does when attempting to program her answering machine. It was a funny moment.

It all seemed so flawless, so filled with peace and love. For one day, it made us forget; it gave us hope. It was the fulfillment of all our technological visions, made more so by the fact that the highly touted Y2K problems never happened. In a moment of cynicism, I mentioned that the whole Y2K threat was probably dreamt up by the water bottlers, battery manufacturers, and Y2K software producers for the purposes of lining their wallets. But maybe not. Maybe everyone just did what they were supposed to do, and did it extremely well. In the year 2000, I guess anything is possible.

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