Let's Talk 2000

"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"

New Year's '97 Edition, January 1, 1997, Volume 3, Issue 1, a bi-weekly bulletin

Topics covered in this issue:

The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field: Talk from the Forum: New Millennial Sites: Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking the pulse of 2000 A.D."

Happy New Year from the Millennium Doctor! Amidst year-end phone calls, and family cheer, I am making last minute preparations to ring in 1997 as a banner year for bimillennium preparations. Just yesterday I was at Times Square to get the latest scoop for you, my esteemed millennial celebrants. Tonight, however, like millions, I will take in Times Square by TV, as we celebrate the New Year Cuban style by sipping Spanish champagne, eating 12 grapes and partying heartily with family and friends.

As we close out 1996, the end-of-the century birthday bash never looked brighter. On the eve of 1997, Talk 2000 participants from New York to Sydney, from London to Buenos Aires are taking satisfaction that 1996 was a goodyear.

This was the year that the millennium became mainstream.

As one year-end story put it, "President Clinton promised to build a bridge to it. The pope entreated followers to 'overcome laziness and mediocrity' to prepare for it. Computer programmers lost sleep over it."

For those wanting to confront the dark side, FOX TV gave us a premier series called "Millennium." And for those who prefer a light high in the heavens, tourism promoters in Israel/Palestine began to plan "Holy Land 2000."

1996 was also the year that broke the ice in terms of millennium legislation, as the self-proclaimed "Millennium Society" took their case to the U.S. Congress. Various commercial interests also worked behind the scenes to strengthen their "brand name" on the year 2000. While secularists published the first year 2000 calendar bearing a Zero-Year designation, to herald a new start to the hoped-for era.

On the academic side, millennialists hosted international conferences on the Year 1000 and the Apocalyptic mood at this millennium's end and a leading world-issues think tank appointed a millennial scholar as its first fellow.

So if your New Year's 1997 seems tame tonight, don't worry. Get your rest. You'll need all the strength you can muster in two years as the world begins its millennial era of 1999 to 2001 with a bang, to usher in the next 1,000 years!

So lift your glass tonight with me as we welcome 1997 as a Talk 2000 cyber-community. Here's a toast to that magical year 2000--and to all of you who have filled 1996 with so much marvelous millennial meaning.

News from the Field:
"Here is the latest news on year 2000 efforts."

New York, NY--An estimated 500,000 people will attend the Ball Lowering celebration tonight in Times Square, "The Crossroads of the World." Another 300 million will watch by TV as Dick Clark, the ageless host, marks his 25th TV New Year's Eve celebration in New York city. The worldwide satellite feed from Times Square begins at 11:30 p.m.

Planners expect revelers will begin gathering in the Bow Tie of Times Square at sunset as the New Year's Eve Ball is lit and visible at its highest position on the flagpole at One Times Square. The evening anticipation hightens as search lights (9:00 pm) and laser lights (10:00 pm) create a "cathedral of light" in the sky above Times Square.

By 11:00 p.m. some 20,000 glittering pom poms and 20,000 balloons are distributed free by the Times Square BID Sanitation crews clad in bright red uniforms, and preparations are finalized to drop 3,000 pounds of world famous New Year's Eve confetti from 13 building tops.

For 92 years Times Square has been the center of worldwide attention on New Year's Eve, beginning in 1904 when the owners of One Times Square began conducting roof-top celebrations to usher in the New Year.

Since 1907--the year of the first Ball Lowering celebration--this tradition, initiated by "The New York Times," has maintained its purity. Now attracting a half million people to Times Square and seen by 300 million television viewers worldwide, the famous Ball Lowering celebration has become a universal symbol of welcoming the New Year.

Since 1992, the Times Square Business Improvement District (BID) has continued the tradition by making the celebration at One Times Square more exciting and telegenic than ever. One year ago, the New Year's Eve Ball was refurbished and revitalized for the first time in 48 years. Made of aluminum and weighing more than 500 pounds, the Ball is six feet in diameter, illuminated by 180 Sylvain 75-Watt halogen lamps. Now capable of emitting computerized light patterns, the Ball also has 144 glitter strobe lights and a powerful 10,000 Watt internal Xenon lamp. The Ball's "skin" is covered with 12,000 large rhinestones. But true to Murphy's Law, the first computerized Ball Lowering last year was not glitch free! Source: Times Square BID, (212) 768-1560.

To enhance the countdown to 1997, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the Times Square Business Improvement District president Gretchen Dykstra recently announced that the international "Search for the Big Idea" is over, ending a global contest to come up with the best way to usher in the Millennium on New Year's Eve 1999.

Dykstra reports more than 640 suggestions from 21 countries were received and reviewed. The Big Idea-- a 24 hour global celebration at "The Crossroads of The World" was selected. This New York Times Square mega-celebration will salute the coming of the third millennium in all 24 times zones through gigantic television screens throughout the 12 block downtown area.

Times Square 2000 will begin at 7:00 a.m. EST December 31, 1999, when the New Year arrives in Fiji Islands. From then on, each of the next 24 hours will broadcast New Year's scenes from around the world in all their cultural glory. Plans call for simultaneous TV broadcast worldwide, subject to corporate sponsorship.

The five people who came up with the Big Idea, one from Belgium and four from the U.S. were flown into Time's Square this past October 29th to be honored by the Mayor and the BID at a press conference.

"New Year's Eve is celebrated in different ways around the world. Because of the rich diversity of New York City, we felt it was appropriate to use Time Square--the true 'Crossroads of the World'-- as THE venue to celebrate the world's cultures," said Dykstra. "As the clock ticks December 31, 1999, we here in Time's Square will acknowledge the Millennium as it arrives in every part of our world." Source: Times Square BID, (212) 768-1560.

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

In each issue of "Let's Talk 2000" I attempt the impossible. I try to summarize a month worth of conversations in 1,000 words! I rarely do it justice. This month's daily Talk 2000 Forum was especially rich in substantial dialogue on millennial hype and hope. If you want the whole enchilada to savor, retrieve the log of 80-pages. Write listproc@usc.edu and put this command in your e-mail: GET 2000ad-l log9612

On December 24th, Canadian Millennium Council leader David Woolfson (grtmill@idirect.com) wrote:

The past exists only in our memories, individual and collective, and can't be changed. The future is a realm of possibility and it can be shaped and created. The Millennium provides the opportunity to do just that.

I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in past disputes and conflicts. The only relevance they have is what we give them. Those who wish to bring these conflicts into the new Millennium can do so and live them over and over again until the Year 3000. What we may really be witnessing over the next few years is a "battle" between the old and the new.

AS A MEDIEVAL historian who has specialized in millennial movements, Boston University scholar Richard Landes (rlandes@bu.edu) could not let this comment slip by. Putting the past back into the millennial future, he writes:

One of the classic and tragic mistakes of millennial thought in the past has been to believe that the past can be wiped out by an act of will; the inevitable failure has frustrated and infuriated its believers into fairly predictable acts of will, many of them as ugly (if not more) than those of the world they had sought to leave behind.

I agree that the millennium is a window of opportunity, a chance to reorient our ways of thinking and being, acting and relating in the world and in community. but we will not do so successfully by wishing the past away like some kind of nightmare from which we will collectively awaken. it is not past vs. future or old vs. new that stands at the core of our dilemma, but self-destructive vs. constructive, contractive vs. expansive. one doesn't get away from things one doesn't like by fleeing, but by understanding and transcending. genuine social creativity comes from understanding and appealing constructively to the full range of human emotions, rather than setting up a icon of "the good", drained of all substance, and bound to shatter. the past is not our enemy, we are our enemy; our solutions must be rooted in who we are/have been/can be, not in what we wish we were.

Otherwise we end up with the kind of sound and fury and ugly failures that the 60s gave us. there is much to understand about our past that is terribly relevant in our moving beyond its negative legacies. and one of them is that messianic, apocalyptic, millennial fervor, no matter how optimistic and irenic and good-willed, can grow vicious and violent in the twinkling of an eye. from Peace of God to bloody Crusades, from Anabaptist pacifism to Munster, from Woodstock nation to Altamont.

PEACE ACTIVIST Steve Diamond (ommm7@rain.org) jumps in:
richard refers to the "ugly failures" the 60s gave us. well, richard, every era has its successes and failures... i like to think that the 60s broke open new territory in all levels of society, and mostly for the better! the civil rights movement, the free speech movement, the anti-war movement, the organic farming movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the women's rights movement, the affirmative action movement, the new age movement, to say nothing of the most powerful movement of them all, rock and roll! (laughter) after all, when those kids on the other side of the "iron curtain" began to want their MTV, they were unstoppable! and of all the many many many concerts around the country, there was only one Altamont.

But again, all that is behind us now, to some extent. i believe personally that the movements" mentioned above have, on the whole, contributed to an expanding awareness, in our country in particular, which can not be denied and which continues to move (there's that word again) forward into the 21st century.

Now comes the Millennium Movement. oh my, no rest for the wicked! as they used to say in the 60s, if you need help, call a hippie. I wonder how the history books will write up the Millennium Movement? sometime around 2020, I suspect, we'll see the first reports of what we're living through now.

Anyway, have a great day. optimism breeds more optimism. I feel like we humans have a choice--is the glass half full or half empty? I try to pick half-full each time i'm faced with the choice.

RICHARD LANDES offered this final "P.S." to Steve Diamond's optimism that meditation and action can summon the coming new age:
ps. steve, let me suggest a meditation for you to test and deepen your commitment to optimism and real change. think of all the negatives -- either in the comparison 1900/2000, or in the legacy of the 60s. look at this dark side in the face, closely, and then come away committed to optimism. my guess is you will carry more weight. if you resist, you have to ask yourself: am i like a child who needs to see cheerful things only in order to sustain my happy mood? it's a little late in the game for that.

Here is a fascinating interchange, sparked by a plea to practice "total abstinence" when it comes to spinning out "meta-shitstorical" millennial metaphors. Read it and understand why even secular millennialists have not given up on the utopian dream.

In response to the opening of an advertising and entertainment-driven millennium site, peace activist Steve Diamond (ommm7@rain.org) asks:
> but what is a Millennium if it is just another big party?
> why not [more--] a Millennium of peace?
> why not a New Vibration for Humanity?

After reading this, Latino educator and activist, Emiliano zapata@(together.net) zapped back:
"Why can't the millennium be a time of total abstinence on the part of Euro-Amerikkkans from acting out their universalistic racist horseshit that does not come close to living up to the rhetorical bombastes which natural phenomena seems to inspire."

The phrase "universalistic horseshit" caught my attention, as two weeks previously, I was part of roundtable on "postmodern" culture. So I came on to ask Talk 2000 participants, "Is it a fair assumption to assume that the "meta-historical" or grand sweep of history viewpoints are out? How will this affect the millennium, given it tempts us to traffic in 'universalistic horseshit'?"

In response, Boston University millennial scholar, Richard Landes wrote:
I think "post-modern" is just a term for the state of disappointed millennialism that the failure of "modernity" (ie the most long-term, secular millennial project ever undertaken) has induced. but just like sexual appetite, the desire for the millennium will return, even to the "intellectuals" no matter how satiated/shamed/spent we might feel at the moment. meta-shitstorical will not go away very long, and, to paraphrase the Athenians to the Melitans, if you were in a position to, you too would engage in the ludicrous yet immensely powerful and consequential universal fantasies that continue to fascinate us.

New Millennial Sites:
"Here are new sites in cyberspace"

TIMES SQUARE:"The Crossroads of the World"
This year, Yahoo!, the world's best guide to the Internet, will host the official 1996 Times Square New Year's Eve web site from December 25th to January 1. Special live cybercasts from Times Square will be broadcast. Check at www.yahoo.com. In addition, the Times Square BID will launch a new site which provides info on celebrating the New Year's in Times Square for those interested in hotel reservations, restaurants, etc.

EVERYTHING2000: "All things millennial in one place"
Everything2000(tm) is a comprehensive web resource for all 2000 and new millennium enthusiasts. It is a commercial site that offers a balanced clearinghouse of millennium information representing diverse opinions, business interests, organizations, causes and events. Impressive debut this December even though special events creator John Locher claims it is a proto-type!

MILLENNIUM NEWS: "The Year 2000 Scoop from the World Down-Under"
Here is a new monthly online newspaper from down-under, devoted to covering the millennium scene from Australia. In the first issue of their "Millennium News" (November), editor Defyd Williams (defyd@lynx.co.nz) looked at various plans for the next three years--at home and abroad.

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://hcol.humberc.on.ca/talk2000.htm
Talk 2000 Newsgroup: bit.listserv.2000ad-l

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Publisher: Robin Wainwright, chairman, the Magi corporation
Editor: talk2000@rmii.com
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
(719) 636-2000 Phone
Publication keywords: events, millennium, society, groups
This issue of "Let's Talk 2000" is copyright © 1997 by Bimillennial Press, Inc.
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