While I know the following will completely
sound like the foolish, knee-jerk exclamation of a clueless Valley
girl (circa summer 1995), let me say it anyway — “Like,
how is it almost 2004 already?”

Mira Levitan

I don’t mean, “Wow, these 11 months have really
flown by!” No, no. I mean, “Wow, these four years have
really flown by!”

The age-fearing ramblings of a soon-to-be college graduate?

Yes, of course. But, think about it for a second and then decide
if I deserve your wrath (and that’s wrath, not wraith as in
“The Wraith,” the 1986 Charlie Sheen vehicle about a
drag-racing ghost out for revenge … come on, at least
someone must have made that mistake).

The year 2000. Even here in 2003, it still sounds like the
future age.

Way back in the Prince party year of 1999, we kept clocks
counting down the days until Jan. 1, 2000. Even though the true new
millennium started in 2001, the never-ending even numbers of 2000
were just too perfect. Like Richard Dreyfuss feels deep down inside
in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” this means
something.

I’m not talking about Y2K or any glitches in data. 2000
was a benchmark for society. A sort of Level Two in our videogame
culture. How many points do we have? Did we save Princess
Peach?

Somehow, somewhere we blew the Mario whistle. The 1999 stage is
a distant memory. Warp to 2004.

Kubrick and Clarke saved their focus for 2001. And Orwell, being
a baseball fanatic, picked the year the Tigers won the World
Series. But 2000 needed no sci-fi narrative to give us meaning. I
never expected the HAL 9000 computer to explode into reality in the
new millennium. And Big Brother waited until post-9/11 to enter the
United States, not 1984.

Not enough evidence? Then let’s move on to the red-headed
wonder.

When the year deuce triple zero finally rolled around, a very
important human being faced a decision with worldwide
consequences.

This beacon of knowledge and fashion sense had a hold of the
target demographic (18 – 34 years of age) from 12:35 to
1:35a.m. (1:35 til 2:35 in Metro Detroit, thanks Jenny Jones) four
nights a week (I never understood the Monday night repeat). And
with Mr. T by his side and Carl “Oldy” Olsen looking
down from his heavenly cloud, Conan O’Brien decided not to
change the “In The Year 2000” feature.

Flip on your “Back to the Future”-ish flat-screen
television, find NBC, avoid Mr. Leno at all costs and check out
some “Late Night.”

Conan still laughs at it today. Every time a featured guest puts
on the black cloak and whips out a flashlight. It goes a little
something like this:

 

Conan: Tonight, we’re going to look ahead into the
future.

Andy substitute: The future, Conan?

Conan: Yes, the future. All the way to the year 2000.

 

Then La Bamba sings the words.

Conan jokes, “We need to change that.” But they
never will.

(Just for fun, let’s include one of the predictions from
the most recent version of “In The Year 2000,”
featuring a Mr. Jack Black: “The recording artist once named
Pink will be called ‘Beige’ when people realize that
that’s the color you get when you mix her name with the crap
she records.”)

Back to the serious. While it’s funny that Conan still
uses 2000 as a symbol for all things future, it’s also one of
the littlest of signs in this great big world of ours that time
flows pretty damn fast. The year 2000 used to be seem a far ways
off. What do we have to look forward to now? The year 3000?

Maybe 2010? Nah, that movie sucked.

The answer I have come to accept (and that’s just in the
last five minutes of writing this column) is 2004.

The year 2003 welcomed cell phone cameras and iPod players into
the everyday. The year 2003 brought us legal file sharing, a
celebrity death or two a day, another kiddie allegation against
Michael Jackson and a war we could follow play by play on CNN.com
just like ESPN.com does for football Sundays.

Conan, you can keep 2000. I think the rest of us are ready for
what 2004 has in store.

Especially if that means a Rose Bowl bid.

—“Secrets” … Todd is superstitious.
Each week, before he writes his column, he kills a hobo …
with a hammer. Todd and his silver hammer can be reached at
href=”mailto:tweiser@umich.edu”>tweiser@umich.edu.

 

 

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