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The Column

That Better Be Your Foot
8/17/03

By now, most people have heard all the blackout jokes. Especially those of you involved in the blackout, since you had nothing better to do for a day and a half other than sit around in the dark and tell blackout jokes.

Despite my New York residence, I wasn't part of the blackout. I was in San Antonio for a show when it all happened. I did, however, feel a special bond with all the blackout survivors since the elevator doors in my hotel took a half-second longer to open than usual.

Actually, I was pretty concerned. I was watching the news when it happened, and--okay I was flipping through channels trying to find Sportscenter when it happened. But I passed by the news. Seeing footage of thousands of New Yorkers wandering in the streets of midtown, I immediately thought the worst: Barney's annual sale. When I remembered that the August sale is actually in LA, then I started getting scared. Okay, I only know that because I looked it up, but go with it.

I really was pretty frightened. Having lived through September 11th, hearing reports of a massive blackout with an unknown cause rattled me. After the 11th, I had said that I wouldn't run away from New York. If someone blew up the city, I'd lose most of the people who were important to me and I may as well go with them. So my thoughts had me wondering if that's exactly what had happened. Turns out that while I was concerned for the welfare of my friends and family, they were having the best damn time of their lives.

I've only spoken to a few people since I got back in town this morning, and most of them can't stop talking about how much fun it was. One of my struggling actor friends ended up stranded with a big-time Hollywood producer, and another met someone he's been dating since. Some got drunk for under $5, while others just partied in the streets. Of course there was no looting - everyone was too busy hooking up.

Well, there were three New York stores that were broken into during the darkness, which is several fewer than a regular day. One of those stores was a used furniture store. Now that's a poor decision - if you're going to risk prison for a trundle bed, at least make sure it doesn't have a grape juice stain. Ottawa, however, reported a lot of looting, which confuses me. As far as I know, there's nothing to take.

My favorite blackout moments are the press conferences by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was concerned that once power came back on, everyone would rush to put on lights and air conditioners and cause a similar surge. To prevent it, he told people to have patience once the power was restored. He told them this on TV. If you can't see why that's funny, you're probably a Bloomberg speechwriter.

My concern subsided as I learned that the blackout was caused less by terrorism and more by incompetence. Turns out that more than three hours before the whole mess happened, a plant in Ohio experienced highly unusual voltage fluctuations but didn't do much about it. The worker on watch was probably ensconced in an epic battle with a Jelly donut, and couldn't be bothered. For all you Simpsons fans, we've finally discovered where Springfield is. It's located squarely in Ohio, and Homer Simpson works the power plant.

Overall, everyone seems to have enjoyed the blackout, and I have to admit I'm jealous. My friends all have these cool blackout stories, and then they ask where I was and I have to say Texas. And everything is bigger in Texas. Except the power outages.

I find myself a bit jealous of those who lived through the blackout. Except the people stuck in the subways. Ick. But I wish I were a part of it - so much so that I ran around my apartment turning on all my appliances at once. Let me tell you - when your fuse is the only one that blows, well, it blows.

So I urge you, for my sake, please turn on all your lights and air conditioners and toasters at once. Sure, it will bring massive cities to a screeching halt, but won't it be fun?

Besides, I need something good to write about next week.

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