Monday, January 01, 2001

12 reasons to celebrate in 2001

You wanted an excuse to be joyous? The Stupid Desk has the answers

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There was no end of hoopla at this time last year, what with us turning from '99 to '00. This year, with '00 turning '01 and the real millennium opening, there's nothing. What the heck do we celebrate in '01?

        Funny you shuod ask. The Stupid Desk just happens to be sitting here with a list of 12 things to celebrate in 2001. Good things, bad things, dumb things too.

        • Celebrate getting there: Remember this time last year? People who had been working downtown for 25 years were getting lost going to work thanks to road closings, re-routings, one-way streets gone two-way, two-way gone one-way and the rest gone no-way.

        Wellsir, downtown is out of the woods, and if that's not a reason to party, nothing is.

        The major road rebuilding is finished, save one link from I-471 to Fort Washington Way, and that's due this spring. All that's left now are cosmetic touches — finishing sidewalks, planting trees — and then the dreaded orange barrels are greatly reduced.

        Major work in Northern Kentucky on I-75 south and I-275 west to the airport also is scheduled to be completed sometime this spring.

        • Celebrate fresh food: Meanwhile, somewhere deep in your 'fridge, last night's hoppin' john is still fresh and tasty, thanks to one Earl Tupper. This is the 50th anniversary of the year he began teaching America to burp a bowl and selling his food storage containers directly to householders. Within three years, 19,000 people were throwing Tupperware parties. And 190,000 people were looking for an excuse not to go to one and get stuck with yet another lettuce crisper.

        • Celebrate ladies' drawers: Lift a glass for the anniversary of Miss Amelia Bloomer's 150-year-old act of defiance. Namely, going out in public in, gasp, pants. They were baggy jobs, gathered at the ankles and modest as all get-out, but plenty of eyebrows shot up — Queen Victoria was not amused. But ladies who had been sweating out summers in dresses and a million or so ankle-length undie things jumped on the bandwagon. In Amelia's honor, they called the pants bloomers.

        • Celebrate Ohio going downhill: Yeah, it's winter and your nose is running and your feet are cold. What better time to think about summer and Ohio's lofty status in the roller coaster industry? Not only home to two world record-holders bookending the state in Cincinnati (Son of Beast) and Sandusky (Millennium Force), Ohio is also home to more adult coasters than any other state. (California has the most coasters, but only if you count juvenile and adult categories.)

        Celebrate by planning a downhill weekend — one day at Paramount's Kings Island, one at Cedar Point, and see why the theme park industry is all the time holding Ohio up as the standard.

        • Celebrate laundry day: Because you don't have to wash diapers anymore, that's why. Thank one Marion Donovan who, 50 years ago, cut up a shower curtain and invented the Booter disposable diaper. Manufacturers — as in men who went to work and never changed diapers, let alone laundered them — rejected the idea. Ms. Donovan financed production herself and eventually became a millionaire because babies are always going to, well, need a change.

        • Celebrate weekends: And do it with gusto, because up until 1926, we didn't have them. That's when Ford Motor Co. introduced the five-day work week. And if that's not bargain enough, it threw in the eight-hour work day, down from 10 in some places and 12 in others. It's a 75th worth shouting about.

        • Celebrate TV icons: I Love Lucy, as in “You got some 'splainin to do,” celebrates its 50th on Oct. 15. King of the Cowboys Roy Rogers and his good buddy Trigger rear back and celebrate the 50th of their TV show on Dec. 30. And Mr. Wizard (Don Herbert), who taught science to baby boomers — those of us who couldn't learn it became reporters — celebrates the 50th of his show on May 26.

        • Celebrate chads: They didn't have them in 1801, but they still managed a goofier election than the gem Florida gave us in 2000. The year 1801 saw a tie in the electoral college, then 35 votes by the House of Representatives to elect a president. When the dust settled, Thomas Jefferson was the one left standing.

        • Celebrate parks: That dynamo Calvin Coolidge signed a bill 75 years ago that established Shenandoah, Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. The latter (dedicated in 1940) is especially important, on account of without it, there would be no Gatlinburg and the nation's entire T-shirt industry would be a shambles. Not to mention the stretch pants and halter top industries.

        • Celebrate lights: Still got your tree up? Good. Drink a toast to the lights and one Mr. Thomas A. Edison, who 100 years ago started selling Christmas lights through his Edison General Electric Co. Meaning no more candles, no more burnt fingers, no more dead pine trees going up in flames, making for a really ugly Christmas surprise. The downside, of course, is stringing them with a spouse and two kids over your shoulder looking for bare spots.

        • Celebrate (and mourn) the Olds: That would be the merry old Oldsmobile, which 100 years ago became the first American car made in quantity. Six hundred of them, with a speedometer calibrated to a whopping 35 mph, rolled off the line that year, marking what historians consider the real birth of the U.S. auto industry. Then, as now, they were made to last till at least two days after the warranty expired.

        And now mourn it, thanks to GM's announcement that the Olds line is on its way to extinction. Meaning it's not your father's Oldsmobile anymore. Nor anyone else's.

        • Celebrate artsy heroes: Such as David. Michelangelo took his first whack at a mighty big slab of marble 500 years ago.

        Such as Moby Dick. It plunged into America's literary waters 150 years ago and, remarkably, is still boring after all these years.

        Holden Caulfield is not. The disenfranchised hero of Catcher in the Rye turns 50 this year.

        And for the musical among us, so does Amahl, young hero of Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera written for TV and one of the few where the fat lady never sings.

        In honor of all the above, mayhaps you should dress up in a poodle skirt (it turns 50 this year), play some Ping-Pong (it turns 100) and belt back a swig of Perrier (it's celebrating its 25th year in the United States).


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