- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 30, 1999

Everybody wanted a piece of the millennium.
The M-word has been wedged, hammered, plastered, incised, embroidered, blow-torched and draped upon thousands and thousands of events, ideas, edibles, wearables, potables, polls and parodies.
The millennium was blamed for hysteria, depression, frenzy, hype, paranoia, fever, price gouging, sexual dysfunction, dread and innovation, among other things.
It has also been the ultimate revenge of the cocooners.
Many weary folks simply want to pass from one eon to the next eating popcorn and watching a video with someone who is reasonably pleasant.
A recent Harris poll, in fact, revealed that 80 percent of those surveyed will huddle somewhere agreeable with friends and family.
And who can blame them? Millennial anything has been mighty shrill. And of course, the purists know that the true millennium isn't really until next year, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.
But hey, that hasn't stopped most revelers. And oh, the variety of it all… .
New York may spend $7 million dropping its brand new Waterford crystal ball and tons of confetti over Times Square this year. But Port Clinton, Ohio, won't be outdone. The tiny fishing town on Lake Erie will heave a 20-foot fiberglass walleye pike onto the town square at midnight.
"Port Clinton is the place to be," Mayor Tom Brown noted.
Then there's Dillsburg, Pa., founded by pickle man Matthew Dill. The town plans to lower an 8-foot papier-mache pickle onto the town square from a firetruck ladder.
Religious leaders in San Francisco, meanwhile, defeated a hotel's plans to inflate a seven-story blue martini glass on Union Square, complete with a 10-foot olive. A prayer vigil will be held there instead.
The millennium has given rise to the noteworthy, the earnest, the hair-raising and the poignant.
The M-word has been, simply, a kind of cultural catchall a catalyst for a kind of loony sense that time was slipping away. Something was ending. Something else was beginning. Alpha. Omega.
As the year shut down, the media was rife with top 10 lists, predictions, quizzes, time lines and the best and worst from 10 centuries. Gaudy programming on global revelry clashed with dire documentaries on year-2000, the millennium's evil twin.
Millennium merchandise went off the scale. Makers of more than a thousand items applied for an official "Millennium" designation with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in fact.
Choices have included year 2000-festooned Barbie dolls, housewares, board games, diapers, men's dress pants, marriage certificates, sirloin steaks, underwear, sunglasses, chocolates, cigars, sports equipment, beer, clocks and high-heeled shoes, among other things.
General Mills brought out a "limited-edition cereal" made of little 2s and 0s aptly named Millennios. The box can be used as a time capsule. Kellogg's followed suit with something called Marshmallow Blasted Froot Loops 2000. Miller Beer declared it the "Millerennium," complete with corresponding packaging.
There is a 1,200-pound Millennium Safe available in seven designer colors for the stylish paranoid, designed to withstand "sledgehammers, power saws, carbide disc cutters and drills."
Pet owners can consider the $45 bejeweled millennial "Mood Collar" for their beloved furred one the gems change color when the dog or cat gets crabby or magnanimous, as the case may be.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency felt called upon to seriously recommend that animal owners keep a "Pet Disaster Kit" on hand for New Year's Eve, just in case the pet in question was experiencing any year-2000 difficulties, presumably.
The kit, FEMA advised, should include "pet foods and treats, drinkable water in plastic bottles, pet medications and medical records in a waterproof container, current photos of your pet in case of loss… ."
Hoteliers and event planners spooked the public early with accusatory "Where will you be on New Year's?" questions, and some very expensive answers.
Hotel rooms are still available in all the choice locations, cruises remain underbooked and many high-profile bashes were canceled due to lack of interest.
There are exceptions, though.
One man fretted so much over his millennial accommodations that he rented a room at the Times Square Marriott Hotel in 1983 before the hotel was even built. Another group rented out the Seattle Space Needle for the millennium back in 1994.
Let us not be too harsh on this millennium madness, as dopey as some of this stuff is.
Though cultural catchalls like this can be annoying, inconsistent and fake, they have a certain giddy innocence about them a vulnerable charm.
In reality, all this hoopla has a very short shelf life. It is disposable. The millennium will be passe soon, the many icons and trinkets and paraphernalia devolving into collectibles and nostalgia.
Here's a sampling of what's out there:
For those who are remaining resolutely at home on the big night, there's the $15 "Stayed Home 2000" commemorative medallion from Portland Mint at www.stayedhome2000.com.
"Stay home and be proud of it," they advise. "Those who say you should go out and party are just foolhardy ne-er do wells."
Wired magazine determined 100 people, things and concepts that would not survive passage into the new millennium the "third you-know-what," they say.
On the list: gravity, luggage, local TV news, wrinkles, first novels, jet lag, leaf blowers, breast implants, the penny, the two-party system, golf, political spinning, the Beatles and Elvis.
Not to be outdone, Durex, a London condom maker, gathered some tasteless statistics.
The manufacturer polled 5,000 young people in 14 countries to determine that half of them "hope the fireworks of the millennium celebrations will end with sex."
Canadian youngsters, apparently, were the most hopeful of the respondents, followed by the British, Poles and Czechs. Rest assured, though. For once, American children were not polled.
The bored can always log onto the "Webcast of the Century" Web site, which is located at newyears.earthcam.com, which features live video cameras in five cities around the world.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth has given the entire country the day off on Dec. 31. And no wonder. Pubs have also been authorized to serve alcohol for 36 uninterrupted hours, rather then their normal 11 p.m. "time, gentlemen, please."
Then there are celebrations for those who step to a different drummer.
The solemn "New Year's Eve Party for Peace" is actually a protest march staged by anti-nuclear groups at the Nevada atomic test site, about 65 miles from Las Vegas.
The First Millennial Foundation, meanwhile, is thinking about the future. The far future. The group wants to colonize space.
"In the year 3000, our descendants will be looking back at the Earth from a vantage point out among the stars," noted foundation member Marshall Savage.
For their part, the laid-back folks of Berkeley, Calif., are gathering up unwanted firearms and melting the guns down for a millennial sculpture.

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