“New Year's Eve is for young people,” is my newest motto, because the idea of putting on dress-up clothes (after eating for a week), going out and drinking a lot (after drinking for a week) and staying up til midnight (my god!) is clearly for the kids. Of course, this is said tongue-in-cheek, as I do have some NYE plans and, more obviously, if you’ll turn on any local NYE coverage you’ll see that NYE is actually for the old (“old” meaning “older than I am.”)
No matter where I spend NYE, part of the tradition is turning on one of the local stations and making fun of the concert, concertgoers, newscasters and camerawork from a station here in town. It began many years ago at a dinner party at my friend Sarah’s house, where we switched on the Navy Pier concert and saw that the blandish band Train was playing for the benefit of the middle-aged contemporary rock partiers who were going to tear it up since they had all gotten babysitters for the night. Sarah kept up the party for about five years and every year we joked that Train was playing again.
After my husband proposed to me on New Year’s Eve in 2007, our tradition has been to stay in that night, either with people over or not, and out of tradition, we check the local coverage to see if Train is still playing. I am pretty sure they are not, but there is still a version of the Train concert going on every NYE. Last year we had people over and focused in on Channel 5’s coverage, which appeared to be a sparsely-attended live show at a small theater in Rogers Park. The cameraman must have stepped outside for a cigarette break or something, because it looked like he had just set up the camera on a tripod and walked away, as people milled around in front of the camera, danced listlessly just in-frame or drunkenly groped each other in the middle distance.
The best part, though, was Channel 7’s coverage, as Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies covered yet another local shindig. I don’t want to say that Mark was drunk, but he definitely seemed festive. He made a few slightly off-color jokes that I wish I could remember, because there were a few “Did he really just say that?” moments, and Mark planted a big enthusiastic kiss on Janet at midnight. We rewound and rewatched the moment more than once.
So, if you’re like me and too old to go out on NYE but are young enough to ironically watch things and make fun of them, turn off Ryan Seacrest or Anderson Cooper and give local coverage a try. If you look closely, you might actually see something spontaneous and funny, unlike the tightly-controlled parties you see on the national stage. And I’m aware that I’m pretty much a jerk for doing this. After all, how cool can I be? I may not be dancing badly on live TV to Train, but I am also home on New Year’s Eve. So who really wins in this scenario? (A: Mark Giangreco and Train.)