I remember when I was a kid, my parents used to watch the Dick Clark Rockin New Year's Eve from Times Square, and we'd watch the ball drop live on TV.
It always looked like something amazing to us, there in small-town Southern America.
I lived in New York in 1997 and had the opportunity to go watch the ball drop. How could I pass that up?
The first thing I was amazed by was how many cops there were, and how efficiently they were herding people around up there. Certain streets were one-way to control the flow of crowds. And there were security checkpoints set up all over the place; not everybody got searched or frisked, but eveybody got eyeballed at the very least, and there were drug dogs out, too.
Of courses, anybody visible drinking alcohol was quickly seized by the cops, and if they weren't hauled away by the humorless 90s cops of Rudy Guilliani, at the very least their alcohol was confiscated.
It was really cold, below freezing, and I went around 10 or so and stood in the crowd for a while. I had a pint of vodka in my pocket. I can't remember if I didn't have a girlfriend at that time or if she just couldn't go out with me that night for some reason.
And I stood there for a while longer.
Among the tens of thousands of other folks. Mainly seemed to be meatheads from New Jersey.
Mostly just standing there.
Finally, bored and cold, I gave up and went back downtown by 11:00pm, and managed to get into a bar I went to often at that time on Ludlow Street, and saw in the New Year there amongst the 90s hipster doofuses. I made out with a chubby girl, and was then amazed to find she had started work at the same language school I worked at a few weeks later.
Small world, eh?
I saw in the year 2000 on Koh Phangan in Thailand -- read about that in TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY -- and while it was a fine way to celebrate, those big parties always tend to be a bit anti-climactic, really. I mean most people are dancing and drinking, but a considerable number of people at really big parties are people who don't often go to big parties, and they tend to be irritated or bored.
Wasn't it Hunter S. Thompson who said he never went out on New Year's Eve, because he considered it amateur night?
It's small parties where you have the serious fun. I went to a few of those in Russia, of courses. Where you get the whole group making out, rolling naked in the snow, shooting fireworks out of their pants, etc.
(But we had plenty of better parties NOT on major holidays, for the same reasons mentioned above -- there are always people at a New Year's Eve party who don't go out often and don't want to do anything stupid.)
I look back at my teen and college years and I'm kind of drawing a big blank. I do remember one when I was about 19 where I had to take a girl to the hospital because she took a bunch of acid and flipped out, and I was in the hospital parking lot at midnight. (Fortunately I was with one of those small town slut types, and we were fuck buddies before that term existed.)
But I for some reason remember my adolescent years, 13 or 14 or 15. They used to have these all-night comedy marathons on HBO, featuring George Carlin and Richard Pryor's famous specials and filmed concerts.
I remember watching those and being totally engrossed, even though I probably didn't fully understand at least half of the things they were talking about at that time.
But undoubtedly, my fondess for obscene language developed there.
So if you don't have any parties full of bored and irritated people to go to, check out those specials. And a Happy Fucking New Year to all of you!