Starting in 1999 I've been ringing in the new year with a self portrait that starts 1 second before midnight and ends one second after. The first ones are back at http://paw.kylecassidy.com -- my old Photo A Week photo blog -- back when to do a photo you had to pull the film out, roll it up in a tank in the closet and fill and empty it with a series of chemicals and then dry it and print it and scan it on a flatbed. It was sometimes a challenge to do one a week. How the world has changed in these eleven years. Now I can have a photograph up on the web seconds after it happened. With the passing of the venerable Kodachrome last week many Old Timers and Hipsters have been weeping in their Tilly hats. I'm not really sad to no longer have to put my photo in a cardboard mailer and send them to Kansas before I get to see that I've left the lens cap on or forgotten to set the film speed to 64.
In any event -- this year for the first time we were invited to the NYE party of Science Fiction luminary Gardner Dozois who was a brilliant young writer in the 1970's and then became editor of Asimov's Magazine of Science Fiction and over the past forty years he's won fifteen Hugo awards (only four of which we could find). Talk revolved much around authors they knew in the past, Vernor Vinge & Fred Pohl occupied much of the discussion with stories of convention and cryptic notes and there was much laughter.
As midnight approached I found a spot to put my camera that wouldn't be knocked over by phaser blasts at midnight and popped open my iPhone and turned to the Atomic Clock where I discovered something incredible -- the time shown on the television was delayed ten seconds -- perhaps in the event that Dick Clark suddenly let loose with a stream of profanity that would wither a teamster -- but the keepers of the time, at a time we all think of as critical, were not doing their duty. They were not even flashing a banner at the bottom saying "ten second delay, please begin your cheering at 11:59:49" -- no, they were shifting a moment of universal celebration on a whim. And now I realize that most likely every single NYE self portrait I've taken -- with the exception of one done on the street has been not really of the passing of the old year into the new, but of the fresh new year waving it's arms and leaping about wondering why I'm so late to the party. Here is another gift of technology the last decade gave us -- not only may we take a photo at midnight and show it seconds later to the great and vast world -- but we can know when midnight is.
But if this celebration can be made arbitrary -- if NBC and CBS can conspire to tell us that 2011 is still 2010, and we will believe them -- why wait till late at night to do it -- why not have Dick Clark declare midnight at a more reasonable hour -- like 8:00 pm so we can all get to bed on time? I feel cheated -- institutionally.
That's Garder on the left sitting next to novelist Peter Heck
And in other news, Today, January 2nd, Tom Purdom has declared Asimov's day in celebration of the great man's birthday. Tom says that to properly celebrate Asimov's birthday, everybody should write a novel today.
If you don't have a novel in you in the next 12 hours, how about a short story? It's past noon, Isaac would have written three already.
So I raise a pen to yesterdays visionaries of tomorrow: may your midnights always have been at midnight.
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