Bonus by numbers

Jan 3, 2001 at 12:00 am

Y2K came and went much like any other year. Did you have a GR8-2K or did you H8-2K? Hopefully, in 2001, we can get back 2 normal and stop mixing letters and numbers, 10-4?

OK, then, let’s get down to the year-end business. Did anyone get a Christmas bonus at work? I didn’t think so. Hopefully, you at least got to hear your boss say, “You gotta job, don’tcha? What else do you want?”

So, for the bonusless folks of metro Detroit, this week’s column is a bonus year-in-review summary of the best pop culture stuff of 2000.

Cable country

The best thing to happen on television this year was the remodeling of TNN into The National Network. At first, it didn’t seem possible — cable TV without the channel formerly known as The Nashville Network. Think of all the time you’ve spent stuck at people’s houses or in cheap motels where, no matter how few channels were available, there always seemed to be TNN and its country music-themed smorgasbord of “Southern” entertainment. If you haven’t already, tune in to the new and improved National Network, America’s new cable station for “pop.” Every 10 minutes or so, it features an announcement whose purpose seems to be to burn into viewers’ minds the following catchy slogan: “TNN. We’ve got Pop!”

From what I gather, this makeover was deemed necessary because TNN lost its NASCAR contract and acquired the rights to broadcast the World Wrestling Federation on Monday nights. I’m not a high-paid television executive or anything, but I don’t think substituting wrestling for stock car racing would trigger a revolt of TNN’s traditional viewing audience. Regardless, the reprogramming benefits everyone, because 1970s cop icons “Starsky & Hutch” are now on three times a day! Laugh at the haircuts and bellbottoms all you want, but this show was way ahead of its time, like the Velvet Underground, and we are only just now ready to truly appreciate it.

What spangled threads we weave

It’s difficult to pick one definitive article of clothing that will be remembered as the “hot threads” of 2000. No really goofy jackets, ugly shoes or offensive T-shirts jumped out of the stores. But I do remember frequently getting headaches from all the shiny clothing — shirts, pants, hats, shoes, etc. — that seemed to pop up for no apparent reason.

I do have a theory about the sudden popularity of clothing capable of blinding innocent bystanders. Fashion magnates must have a despicable plot to permanently damage all five senses of each and every American! Think about it; they first went after our ears with that fabric used for “athletic” suits and rain jackets — the kind that makes excruciatingly loud and annoying scratching noises with any movement. Now, we’re being blinded by glittery shirts, metallic pants, platinum jewelry and shiny shoes. What’s next, our sense of smell? Taste? Touch? Consider yourself warned.

Worthwhile flicks

There certainly were some good films last year, but seeing them took so much effort. To pay hard-earned dollars for the pleasure of being trapped in a dark room with people covered in perfume and cologne, making animalistic popcorn noises between the few scenes when they are not making inane chit-chat, is just too much for me to deal with. Three films that made dealing with fellow moviegoers seem worthwhile were Croupier, Dancer in the Dark and High Fidelity. And fortunately, David Lynch’s 1999 The Straight Story has finally been released on video for pleasant, in-home consumption.

Tunes to love

Music is much less dependant on social interaction (just plug in your portable CD player and ignore those around you). Therefore, it can be much more enjoyable. The best records of 2000, as far as I’m concerned: Grandaddy, The Sophtware Slump; Elliot Smith, Figure 8; Outkast, Stankonia; Dead Prez, Let’s Get Free; Merle Haggard, If Only I Could Fly; Johnny Cash, God, Love, Murder.

Shop again

The product of the year, that one most important piece of stuff in 2000 would have to be … the last thing you bought, whatever that was. Remember, despite that whole millennium hubbub, life didn’t change much at all. The stores still had stuff for sale, and we still went to stores to buy stuff. Everyone was happy. So enjoy what you bought and be happy, until the next must-have product comes along.

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