By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Nineteen ninety-nine, the last year of the millennium, a time to... OK, hold it right there. Among the dozens of you reading this are no doubt some who just slapped their foreheads, muttered "idiot," and grabbed a pen to fire off a letter pointing out that 1999 is not the last year of the millennium. Since there was no year zero, you say, the new millennium doesn't start until 2001.
Uh-huh. And a peanut is not a nut, and George Washington's false teeth were not made of wood. Thank you. We know. Here's some information for you in return: Nobody cares. Now shut up.
Where were we? Ah, yes...1999, the penultimate year of the millennium (happy now, smarty-pants?), a time to reflect, to ask some serious, soul-searching questions. For instance, Where are the flying cars? Aren't we all supposed to be driving flying cars by now? And personal robots. Where are the robots? The year 2000 starts in a few days, and Buzz is still stuck in traffic on Stemmons, still doing our own laundry. It dawns on us that all those formative years watching The Jetsons might have been wasted.
At least we're not wearing silver lamé jumpsuits -- hot fashion in your cheesier sci-fi. This is a good thing for Buzz. Picture a pear wrapped in tinfoil.
But is that it, then? Is that the score on 1999? No flying cars, no robots, but we still get to wear pants? On balance, not a great year. Surely, there's some reason to be happy as the millenn...sorry...year ends. The Secret Society of Happy People thinks so, anyway. This honest-to-God, Irving-based organization, created in 1998 to persuade people to express happiness, produced a list of the "Top 10 happy events and moments for 1999."
"You don't have to be happy all the time to be a member," the 1,400-member society's cheerful founder, Pam Johnson, told Buzz. "The society encourages the expression of happiness, and we discourage parade-raining."
Despite the fact that "parade-raining" helps put food on Buzz's table, we were encouraged. Surely, we thought, the Secret Society of Happy People can find some reason to look back fondly on 1999.
Then we read their list.
We were not encouraged.
At No. 4 was "Kosovo families reunited."
This was bizarre. Genocide, refugees, civil war -- we asked Johnson whether this was a bit like the old joke, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" She says the listing was meant to celebrate that "folks are getting to go back into their homes" now that the bombing has stopped. We suppose she means those homes that were left standing and those family members who were left alive.
We set aside that list.
Undiscouraged, we turned to the home front, looking for cheer. If the secret society of heavily medicated people can find happiness in Kosovo and in a song that makes "The Macarena" sound like Mozart, surely even Buzz can find a silver lining in the news from Dallas in 1999. Let's see:
The Dallas Independent School District finally found a new superintendent. Unfortunately, he has all the charm of a kidney punch, only not as subtle -- our very own Slobodan in our own little Kosovo.
We kept looking.
Work continues apace on Dallas' new arena. It has a design, a name, and several more bushel baskets of taxpayer money headed its way. Sadly, the Mavericks still intend to play in the new arena.
We still weren't smiling.
The Trinity River project, Dallas' plan to turn a fetid, polluted river into a fetid, polluted downtown lake, has grown to include five suspension bridges whose nifty designs will distract any tourists foolish enough actually to look at the river below. We don't know how we're going to pay for them, but Dallas is a can-do city -- as in, all we have to do is collect and sell all the aluminum cans along the river's banks, plus the loose change found on any bodies floating there, and those bridges are ours.
Is everybody happy?
After months of exhausting work, a blue-ribbon panel delivered proposed revisions of Dallas' code of ethics to the city council, which wasted no time reading them. We mean that literally: Many on the council didn't bother to read them before deciding they would rather pass a kidney stone the size of a billiard ball.
You want to recall 1999? Think of 1998, and add a one.
Maybe you disagree. Maybe you think Dallas was just fine in '99. Perhaps you should apply for a staff position at boosterish D magazine. We hear they're short-staffed.
Still, we admit we could be wrong about 1999. Frankly, Buzz has been a bit cranky since...well, since birth. But we've been especially grumpy this year after remembering a long-ago elementary school exercise in which we calculated how old we would be in 2000. In third grade, 38 seemed ancient. We now know it's not. It's just middle-aged, which is much, much worse.
So maybe 1999 was a good year. To help you decide, Buzz has compiled a list of what we believe were the most notable local events in the past year -- or at least those that are worthy of a few wisecracks.