New Year’s Eve Torture

New Year’s Eve Torture

Groan. Another year whips by and here am I facing the worst, most torturous time of the year.

For, if ever there was a holiday I can’t stand and would love to see sink into oblivion, it’s New Year’s Eve. I’d be happy to skip it altogether and may even start a petition to do so.

First, its very arrival means the holiday season is coming to a close, and everyone must get back to business—whether it’s a nine to five office job, working as a (terrifying) clown in the circus, or playing a round of golf a la Tiger Woods. Continue reading

Dead Birds Tell No Tales

When it comes to the case of the birds falling from the sky on New Year’s Eve, I don’t care what they say. The mystery is not solved. I’ve been around the block at least 1.2 million times, so I should know.  Those birds that flew over Arkansas on December 31st, and plunged to their deaths, were not done in by fireworks. If you ask me, there was something bigger at work here.

Here’s why:  It strikes me as suspicious that these birds would fall to their deaths on account of fireworks.  Our nation is religious about its fireworks. We hold firework displays every Fourth of July, every New Year’s Eve and amusement parks like Disneyland and Sea World hold them just about every day.  So why now would these birds start succumbing to noisy fireworks?  If that was the case, then we’d see thousands of birds falling from the sky year round!  We’d become so used to it, that we wouldn’t even notice if a bird landed on our head.

If you ask me, what really did them in wasn’t anything of biblical proportions. Nor was it aliens. And certainly, it wasn’t life imitating art, as in the Arkansas birds taking a page from Alfred Hitchcock’s frightening film, The Birds, where crows nearly peck to death Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor. I doubt any of these birds even saw the film or read the script.  Nope.

In all likelihood, what got to them was flying over Arkansas. Face it, there’s nothing in Arkansas but mountains, valleys, thick forests and plains. Oh and something called the Ozarks. Plus, Arkansas has more caves than you can shake a stick at.  Which means lots of nighttime darkness, and no markers to let the birds know whether or not they’re heading in the right direction. No lights guiding their way through treacherous mountains and caves. And plenty of opportunities for getting into trouble. Get my drift?

So, I wonder whose bright idea it was to take the route through Arkansas.  I suppose it was the leader of the flock, assuming all flocks fly in a “V” formation, so that the very first bird is the leader and gets to map the route. I’m figuring it must have gone down something like this:

Bird #1: Hey, man, I know a shortcut.

Bird #2: Really? Because the last time you said that, we lost half our team when they got sucked into an airplane engine.

Bird #1: Trust me. This time I know what I’m doing. I gotta feeling tonight’s gonna be a good night.  It’s New Year’s Eve, so what can go wrong? All we have to do is fly across Arkansas, and we’ll cut 30 miles out of our 2,000 mile trek.

Bird #2: Arkansas? What’s that?

Bird #1: It’s only the best place to fly across because there’s nothing there! No city lights to blind us, no major airports with planes taking off. This time, it’ll be clear sailing all the way! I guarantee it.

And so they flew and the rest is history. Of course this doesn’t explain how all the birds died in Louisiana, Kentucky, Italy and Sweden.  Nor, why 40,000 crabs bit the dust in England and two million dead fish were found in Maryland. Perhaps we finally crossed over into The Twilight Zone, but don’t ask me. I can only solve one mystery at a time.

Next Up:  This is Chavez Country continues with Part Three, Family Reunion

Mr. New Year’s Eve

Before there was “Dick Clark’s Rockin’Eve,” and before there was “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly,” there was only one man who owned the annual celebration in Times Square:  Mr. Guy Lombardo.  Along with the Royal Canadians, Bandleader Guy Lombardo was known for his big band, swing style of music and for making New Year’s Eve a night to remember.

Bandleader Guy Lombardo, Mr. New Year's Eve

Beginning in 1929 on radio, and then transitioning to TV in the 1950’s all the way through 1976, the year prior to his death, Mr. Lombardo’s name was synonymous with the world-famous celebration in Times Square. What’s more, he and he alone is credited with popularizing the use of “Auld Lang Syne” at New Year’s celebrations in America.

Well, as far as my family was concerned, New Year’s Eve just wasn’t New Year’s Eve without watching Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians ring in the New Year on TV. How we looked forward to tuning in and watching him entertain us with his warm, homey smile and his baton at the ready. His music had a smooth style, easy on the ears, and he rang in the New Year with a panache and elegance that hasn’t quite been seen since, and is long gone from our cultural landscape.

I remember looking forward to watching Guy Lombardo on TV. When he came on live from the Roosevelt Hotel or later, from the Waldorf Astoria, it meant the New Year would be here soon. Like any kid, I loved being able to stay up. Even though we were in Queens, just a subway ride away from Times Square, we never got to see the ball drop in person. I suppose my family wasn’t interested in being pushed and shoved by the crowds the evening’s festivities would attract, or standing outside in the cold, frigid Manhattan air.  So, from the comfort of our home, wearing our flannel pajamas, we’d gather around the black and white television console like millions of Americans, to watch Mr. Lombardo conduct the Royal Canadians.

For Guy Lombardo was and always will be Mr. New Year’s Eve.  And somewhere, up in the sky, at this time of year, he must be holding his baton again and smiling. I bet anything, he’s thrilled to pieces to know that we’re still singing his signature song, “Auld Lang Syne.”  Let’s take a cup of kindness yet and let’s sing another chorus for Guy Lombardo and for all the memories he gave so many of us. And, let’s give a toast for the delight he brought to the greatest generation and to those of us who are their children. Those of us who remember.

Indeed, thinking of Guy Lombardo on this night of all nights, brings me back to our little brownstone in Flushing.  When we were young and greeting a new year was still exciting, and not necessarily a reminder of getting older and the sands of time slipping away sort of thing.

Happy New Year, Mr. Lombardo.  Happy New Year, Everyone!