"New Year's is the worst night of all to go out. People who don't drink or party all year suddenly going all Kanye on you."
Well said, Ashton Kutcher, in the movie New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve is a sham. It's a bridge-and-tunnel faux holiday invented by Dick Clark to keep Maroon 5's career alive and give idiots like Ashton Kutcher shitty movies to star in.
You'd think Portland would have outlawed it by now, seeing how it's at least as detrimental to public welfare as plastic bags and smoking in parks, but no: It's as bad here as anywhere else, with venues jacking up ticket prices to Uber-during-a-humanitarian-crisis levels, drunk assholes from Beaverton stumbling through the streets with insufficient transportation to get them safely out of the city, and Pink fucking Martini.
Riff Raff once rang in the year at some warehouse in North Portland, and charged $300 to attend a pre-party in his hotel room. If there's a better encapsulation of the douche-tastic horror of New Year's Eve, I don't know if my mind could handle it.
There is, however, one good thing about New Year's Eve: Its federally sanctioned hangovers beget us New Year's Day. And New Year's Day is, quite simply, the greatest day of the year.
The Fourth of July might celebrate freedom, but New Year's Day is freedom—the freedom to do absolutely nothing. Dec. 31 is supposedly when we all hit the cosmic reset button to our lives, clearing out the cache of the past 12 months and promising, from that moment forward, to work toward being a better person. Then Jan. 1 is when we all say, "Oh, man, I need a day off." It's also got a rad parade, college football and a theme song by U2. (What does New Year's Eve have? That Black Eyed Peas song where they all yell "mazel tov"?) But y'know the real reason why "all is quiet on New Year's Day," as Bono sings over Edge's graceful droplets of guitar? Because no one is doing a goddamn thing, and they're all loving it.
It is a holiday without the faintest hint of obligation—no parties to attend, no meals to cook, no in-laws to visit, no dead historical figures to feel guilty about not taking a moment to reflect on. My first New Year's Day in Portland, I glued myself to a futon, drank a jug of Carlo Rossi and watched Commando, Team America, Timecop, Predator, Under Siege and then Commando again. Another time, I consumed five bloody marys and ate fondue while wearing sweatpants. In my younger years, when I lived in California, my friends and I took an impromptu trip to Vegas, stayed up all night, then drove home. Las Vegas is like if New Year's Eve took a huge shit in the middle of the desert and it became a fully functioning city, but still: We did it just because, on that day, we could.
I remember all of those afternoons better than any stroke-of-midnight make-out session or group bro-hug, and not just because I've successfully blacked out for most of them. A man once said, "True luxury is being able to own your time—to be able to take a walk, sit on your porch, read the paper, not take the call, not be compelled by obligation."
Y'know who that man was? Ashton Kutcher. You should listen to him. He played Steve Jobs.
GO: New Year's Day is Friday, Jan. 1. Do whatever the hell you want.