After a Fashion

What was up with that tacky television coverage of Austin's local New Year's Eve celebration? Find out inside!

HAPPY NEWS YEAR? I had so many problems with Austin's New Year's Eve Celebration and News 8's coverage of it that I don't know where to begin. Well, we could begin with last year's coverage by News 8 of the A2K Celebration ... my favorite part was the seemingly unattended camera that allowed legions of drunk people to behave stupidly in front of it, spouting beer and obscenities -- but I guess that's ancient history now, and for all practical purposes, everyone celebrated the rare occasion of a new millennium last year, so we'll just overlook that. This year? No excuse. It was pretty much of a non-event with very few "plays" to warrant the play-by-play commentary, and if we can't come up with anything more interesting than that, why is it being covered? You can do a story about hoards of drunk people on Sixth Street any night of the year, but why do it at all? It seems ridiculous that for all the diverse interests in this city, our major celebrations are drunkfests that are an extension of the fratboy-gone-wild routine that regularly compromises Austin's quality of life. The city seems to do a fine job in organizing the Fourth of July celebrations; isn't it possible that they could put a little more effort into New Year's? Surely News 8 is aware of the weakness of the event -- the amount of floundering for something to say made that clear. Being able to keep up a coherent and informative commentary about absolutely nothing is very hard work. The young female anchor, who shall remain nameless, needs to practice a little bit more at home before she again subjects the viewing audience to her blithering "Golly Gee Whiz" approach to reporting. The breathless pronouncements that she had never seen so many people in one place would lead the viewer to believe that this was the reporter's first visit to a "big" city. Her misconception that there were "hundreds of thousands" of people present may indicate a need to drop by an optometrist very soon. Then she admitted that she had just moved here three months ago ... fortunately we had Andy Langer's wry remarks to keep the evening in perspective.

... And then there's that star: $2,800 for a tacky Styrofoam-and-mirror star is lipstick money for Budweiser. If they really want to thank all the drunk people in Austin, and do the city a favor, perhaps they could consider something like free cab service for the night to keep their loyal patrons from getting behind the wheel of a car. Of course, if Budweiser's going to be passing out favors, the first thing they can do for us is remove the Bud Light sign from beneath the star. The sign is so oversized next to the star, and was being buffeted so hard by the wind that it wasn't possible to raise the star up all the way, and the raising had to be aborted. Next, we could just get rid of the star all together. A single dazzling star in a midnight sky looks like magic: a universal symbol of eternal hope. A single dazzling star in a midnight sky hanging from a crane looks like a special effect from a B-movie. A single dazzling star in a midnight sky hanging from a crane and with an obnoxious Bud Light sign swinging from it looks like trash. And what do we do with trash these days? Why, put it on TV, of course, broadcasting our shame across the airwaves.

News 8 is a great idea with some very capable people behind it (they win my respect simply for having Cheryl Bishop covering fashion), but it seems like they have a tendency to underestimate the intelligence of their viewers. Lord knows it's hard to please all the people all the time, but with the eyes of the world being turned more frequently toward Austin, let's try and get past the one-size-fits-all mentality. Austin has such an incredible concentration of smart people that surely we deserve better. How 'bout it, News 8? Maybe you could work with the city to produce and cover a New Year's event that doesn't end with singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall"?

I'M SUBMITTING MY EDITOR ... Our friends at the stylish new Vylette boutique in the swank Davenport Village shopping center, in association with Innu salon and La Traviata restaurant, have begun accepting applications for a Free Valentine's Makeover & Romantic Dinner for Two for some lucky girl. Simply send a photo and brief letter about yourself (or your girlfriend) to: Vylette c/o Leigh Royce, 6003 Mesa Dr., Austin TX 78731, and the lucky winner will be the recipient of some head-to-toe style magic. Call 347-7878 for more info.

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New Year's Eve, Bud Light star, Budweiser, Vylette, Innu, La Traviata, Valentine Makeover, News 8, television, Davenport Village

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