By Eric Longabardi
Only two days until 2011. So what will 2010 be remembered for? Honestly, not much, in my opinion. Let's recap: The "big" stories of the year nationally were Facebook and Wikileaks, two things I think history will soon forget. Here in Newport, the big story was ... sorry I can't recall. Maybe last week's deluge?
You want a BIG story: Back in 1968 science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke envisioned that humans would be traveling from Earth to Jupiter by now. Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey and Peter Hyams' 1984 follow-up, 2010, showed us how it all went down. In the sequel, astronauts went back to find out why a murderous computer named HAL didn't want to be turned off. Shows you what those guys know earthlings haven't even been back to the moon, and we first were there more than 40 years ago!
Now the end of 2010 is here. The once-rapid progress made by humankind has slowed to a crawl. Sometimes, it seems to me, things aren't progressing at all. That wasn't always my outlook. In 1982, for instance, I was graduating from Newport Harbor High School, and the world seemed new and full of potential. Even New Year's Eve with Dick Clark on TV and a bottle of champagne still seemed exciting then! (of course, the bubbly was only after turning 21 in 1985! Whew ... that was a close call).
These days, when New Year's Eve is just around the corner, I look back just as much as I once looked forward. Maybe it's a symptom of age. Are Depends and the Hair Club for Men closing in fast? Not sure, but I did turn 46 this year. As I look back, not much in Newport Beach seems to have changed. When I was growing up here in the '60s, '70s and '80s, we use to do one thing most of the time: head to the beach—to surf, body surf, goof off, find girls. You name it. Whatever it was, it seemed we could find at the beach. The beach remains, and it still attracts kids doing the same thing I was doing decade ago.
As I grew older (and wiser, of course) I started working so I didn't have to beg my mom or anyone else for cash. At the age of 14, I proudly forged the signature on a work permit to get my first job at a fast food joint: Del Taco on Bristol Street, just off the corner of Irvine Avenue (and it's still there). After a little time making burritos, tacos and trying to make the world's largest fresh-grated, hand-smashed cheese balls, I moved on to McDonald's just down the street (yep, it's still there too!) but that gig only lasted a week.
My career advanced rapidly. By the age of 17 I was running a small limo and private party valet parking company in Newport out of a hotel kiosk across the street from what was then Orange County Airport—renamed John Wayne Airport in 1990. I still remember walking into my bank at Fashion Island with the week's bag of cash and tellers giving me a look that seemed to say: "Damn, kid, where you getting all that cash? You a drug dealer, or what!" The hotel and the bank I use to frequent are still here today. Not much has changed, just the names. Although Newport Coast used to be the O.C. dump. Other than that, things look pretty much the same around here. (You'll see in a minute that the reference to John Wayne Airport was nothing more than a slick writing trick designed to set up the next twist in this meandering column.)
After a great Christmas week with my daughter and family, my better half and I set out for Fashion Island's Big Newport theater to see a "new" movie last Monday. As a fan of all things John Wayne (remember that JWA reference now) I had sworn to never see the new True Grit, a remake of one of The Duke's most classic films. After hearing the movie was receiving great reviews from critics and friends alike, however, I quickly caved. I bit the bullet and set off to see what Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and the Cohen brothers had to offer me in 2010.
The original is the kind of movie you would think nobody would ever remake. I mean, come on! John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn—the only role Wayne ever won an Oscar for. Gen-Xers these days have no idea of who John Wayne was. Still, a remake ran the risk of being viewed as a public abomination and near sacrilege, even possible career suicide for anyone who tried to trample on national icon Wayne. But they took the risk and remade the movie. And they did, as the Duke might say one "helleva" job of it.
Although I'm no movie reviewer, I will tell you I thought Jeff Bridges did the The Duke proud with his updated, slightly darker version of the character and the story. The rest of the cast was stellar, and the movie is a winner. Bridge's is bound to follow Wayne to the red carpet of the Academy Awards in 2011.
What was old has been made new again.
On the drive home from the theater, I thought to myself: Back in 1969 when the original True Grit came out, I was 5 years old and in kindergarten in Newport-Mesa Unified trying to master tying my shoes. Now 41 years later I was seeing a remake of a movie starring a Newport icon, in a Newport Beach movie theater and I was back living in Newport Beach. Only days shy of 2011, I had gone back to the future in a very Newport kind of way.
"Out with the old and in with the new" popped into my head. The old saying echoed again and again. I thought to myself: Time moves forward, but most things stay the same. Only the names, dates and faces change. When ringing in the new year on Saturday, whether you're kissing your better half (like I will be doing) or hoisting champagne for a toast and singing the traditional tune Auld Lang Syne (no, it's not "old ang zine." Look it up!) remember this: What is new may actually be old, and what is old can be made new again.
It all just depends on your state of mind, your experiences and perspective.
Ooops, almost forgot: In other news, the world as we know it will end in 2012 (just in case you didn't see that Hollywood disaster movie at the end of 2009 like I did).
-Editor note: Originally published Dec. 30, 2010