February 27, 2020

Let’s Drop the Needle on New Year’s Eve

Photo from Pixabay.

I love Los Angeles. It’s a great place to raise kids, a great place to be a Jew and a great place for a kosher burger. The weather can’t be beat, and as long as the earth isn’t quaking, the hills aren’t burning and Dodger pitchers aren’t handing out walks, there’s no place I’d rather be.

On one night of the year, however, L.A. is just plain lame: New Year’s Eve. The night we watch a replay of New York’s big party.

I’m especially irked by this deficiency because my wife, Nina, and I met on New Year’s Eve and got engaged on the same night a few years later. We certainly enjoy our anniversary and often celebrate with friends, but we’d love for the whole city to relish New Year’s Eve like we do, and that’s not going to happen as long as L.A. welcomes the new year by replaying the ball drop in Times Square.

Are we not a world-class city? Are we not, in fact, the entertainment capital of the world? Do we not therefore deserve our own iconic celebration? One we can share with the globe like the fireworks in London, Sydney and Berlin? We do. And I’ve got the answer. I’ve been saying it for years, and everyone who’s heard this idea instantly groks it. What’s needed is an impresario who can make it happen. If you’re the person who can save this city from New Year’s Eve lameness, here’s your blueprint:

Imagine a huge crowd gathered in downtown L.A. or on Hollywood Boulevard. We’re not freezing like in Times Square, but we’re just as excited for the countdown. On the massive video screens, an LP is turning on a record player. Its label is a glittery question mark. The needle hovers over the spinning record. For weeks, anticipation has been building as the people of the nation — or the world — submitted their votes for Song of the New Year. Is it a rap song? Rock? Country? Alt? Which artist will it be? TV hosts speculate on the mystery song, interviewing celebrities on the platform overlooking the crowd, which is being amped by a world-class DJ. Novelty hats and glasses abound. Every news station covers the event. Vegas is betting. Kanye and Taylor are favorites, but the smart money is on a new act that broke out on “America’s Got Talent.”

With a minute to go, the countdown begins and the needle’s arm starts dropping. Displaying a record player on huge screens might do until this phenomenon is established, but what the L.A. New Year’s Eve Needle Drop really needs is a massive record player, with an LP as big as Spielberg’s swimming pool turning 33 1/3 times per minute. The needle slowly makes its way toward the grooves and the crowd takes up the chant, “29 … 28 … 27…”

The Needle Drop app has alerted subscribers around the world. The mystery song is about to be revealed. Parties pause from Rio to Moscow as everyone gets ready to dance to the Song of the New Year. “15 … 14 … 13 …” Event technicians glance at their instruments, making sure the pyrotechnics, balloons, streamers, confetti, lasers and, of course, the Hollywood klieg lights are ready to rock as soon as the needle touches down on the huge, turning platter. “8 … 7 … 6…” All eyes watch the screens, now holding on a closeup of that stylus at the end of the branded arm. Sony could be a natural sponsor. Universal Music might be in on it. Perhaps Clase Azul is the official tequila of the L.A. Needle Drop. And a California sparkling wine outbid Moet Champagne. “3 … 2 … 1 …”

“HZSSHT!” A split second of static before the needle finds the groove and then the Mystery Song plays from a thousand speakers in L.A. and a billion smartphones around the world. A little bit romantic, a touch nostalgic, optimistic, quirky … the perfect song.

That’s how L.A. should do New Year’s Eve. Doesn’t that beat a replay of New York on a three-hour delay? If you’re the impresario who can make this happen, drop me a line. I’ll help you fill in the details and add a touch of ancient Jewish wisdom to the proceedings. But for heaven’s sake, let’s not allow another lame New Year’s Eve to go down in the entertainment capital of the world.


Salvador Litvak writes about Judaism for Accidental Talmudist.