Liz Smith: Is The World Ending? For Fans of Davy Jones, It Already Has

Davy Jones / Nicollette Sheridan

And more from our Liz: Nicollette Sheridan still battling her “Desperate” producers (and perhaps her former co-stars!)

“Did you hear that the world is coming to an end on December 21, 2012?”

This is a question that was asked back in 2009 by author Ron Rosenbaum.

Ron went on to say sardonically that the Earth will be destroyed in some kind of fiery apocalypse, perhaps through a collision with a mysterious wandering celestial body called Planet X. Or through a reversal of gravity that flings us all into space.

This year, we are increasingly inundated with articles and TV programs about this because people just love to scare themselves to death. (As long as it is sudden and I don’t have to anticipate it too long, I think it’s probably a dandy way to go.)

The Mayan Long Count Calendar also seems to select December 21 as the fateful day. Ron asks, however, “Now, why would anyone believe that a primitive native Central American society knew centuries ago when the world would end? The only explanation, says he, is that it represents “a kind of cultural colonialism in which white people endow the minorities they have wiped out or repressed with mystical powers.”

Don’t worry! Remember all the dire predictions that have never come true. The world has been predicted to end ever since we invented priests, shamans and mystics.

So, stop obsessing over Rick Santorum as president of the United States. I know the idea is as spooky as an apocalypse-predicting ancient Mayan calendar, but it is just as unlikely to happen.

* * *

THE BOOMERS took quite a blow with the sudden death of Monkees singer Davy Jones at age 66. He, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork were for a brief period the most famous young men on earth, more popular than the Beatles. And much less worrisome for the parents of screaming teen girls. The Monkees — a band created especially for TV — were adorable, funny, clean-cut kids, albeit with slightly shaggier hair than you saw on television. (Unless it was a “Dragnet” episode, where all the long-hairs were dirty hippies.)

Davy was the diminutive baby-faced cutie — he had wanted to be a jockey before show-biz came ‘a calling’. Of all the Monkees, Davy was the one who was most comfortable with being a Monkee, and he was always the driving force behind a series of successful reunions over the years. Only Mike Nesmith — who had never much cared for his fame — disdained getting back together. But Nesmith was heir to a liquid paper fortune and didn’t need to go out on the road.

If the reaction to Davy’s death isn’t quite up there in Whitney Houston territory, it is still mighty impressive. All the front pages carried his picture, and most news shows led with him. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” not only made Davy a part of the roundtable discussion, but Monkees tunes were played at every break. It was sweet.

And just to give you a further example of how much Davy and the band meant to a generation of kids, Bruce Morrow — the famous “Cousin Brucie” — was compelled to extend his SiriusXM radio program from four to seven hours, as hundreds of people called in with their memories of a sweet boy and a sweeter time.

* * *

NICOLLETTE SHERIDAN, the once-but-no-longer “Desperate Housewife,” was ready, willing and apparently well-prepared yesterday to spend 13 hours on the stand, testifying in her lawsuit against ABC-TV and the show’s producer, Marc Cherry. Nicollette claims Mr. Cherry abused her verbally, physically, and kicked her off the show. This matter is practically ancient history now. Nobody ever expected Miss Sheridan to carry her grievances this far. But she’s still mad!

What has Hollywood slightly excited is the idea that Nicollette’s former castmates — Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman — might testify on behalf of Mr. Cherry, whom they all say they adore.

Nobody has said they adore Nicollette. Not publicly, anyway. The Misses Hatcher, Longoria, Cross and Huffman would like to remain employable in Hollywood, especially now that “Desperate Housewives” is coming to an end. The show has been running for eight seasons, though it seemed to generate the heat and attention for barely two. This lawsuit is at least good publicity. Ah, they should settle and bring Nicollette back for the finale. (Any woman who is willing to spend 13 hours in a courtroom defending herself has a lot of moxie. And she did sizzle as long as she lasted on “Desperate Housewives.”)

* * *

USA TODAY recently published a story about the coming five-volume dictionary from Harvard University Press. The tome will tell you the slang words for a variety of items — and how colorful and diverse this nation is when speaking, region by region.

For instance, they report that the The Dictionary of American Regional English, also known as DARE, gives us the word “bubbler” for drinking fountains in Wisconsin … tadpoles are called “pinkwinks” on Cape Cod … and in the Ozarks a “fence-lifter” is the expression for heavy rain.

When it comes to soft drinks all over the U.S. they cite “soda” … “soda pop” … the generic “coke” applying to everything fizzy.

I am just wondering if they also included the word “dope,” because that’s what Coca-Cola used to be called down in the South. For instance, in a new novel by Robert Goolrick, Heading Out to Wonderful, the author describes a small Virginia town as “the kind of town that existed in the years right after the war (post 1945) where the terrible American wanting hadn’t touched yet, where most people lived a simple life without yearning for things they couldn’t have … the general store … had slabs of bacon and loaves of thin-sliced bread and canned vegetables and penny candies in glass jars on the counter for children. Cokes and brightly colored Nehi pop rested in a metal box. He continues:

“My mother called it ‘dope,’ sometimes saying to my father, ‘Let’s go down to the store and get a dope.’”

Yep, that’s what people used to call a Coca-Cola because they believed cocaine was part of the mix.

And they didn’t know exactly what cocaine was anyway.

10 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    There was cocaine in Coca-Cola when it was first concocted, but the cocaine was soon greatly reduced and finally eliminated from the recipe in the ’20s or thereabouts. Coca for coca leaf, cola for the African kola nut, a natural source of caffeine and supposedly the basis for the flavor. Dunno about that part, because I have never had a kola nut. But I do love my Cokes!

  2. avatar Lila says:

    The Mayan Long Count ends on 21 Dec 2012. Then they start a new Long Count. I think the Europeans just misinterpret this.

  3. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Right you are on both comments, Lila, but then, up until the late 1800’s, you could purchase cocaine and laudanum, which contains opiates, as in extracts from the opium poppy or its seeds…just like morphine (also available at the time), heroin, oxycontin, etc., over-the-counter. No one thought much about it at the time. And no, I am not condoning the habitual, casual use of opiates. The facts are just the facts.

    Most archeologists believe that the Mayan Long Count was simply meant to restart on December 21, 2012. There are two other Mayan calendars as well, and at least one is cyclical and repeating. For those who insist the Nostradamus also predicted this date, please get your facts right. Nostradamus is infamous for neglecting one particular detail in his volumes of dire predictions…there is not a single date specified. The Mayans lived every single day according to the details of that day expressed in their calendars. If the calendar’s prediction stated that it would be a day of sadness and poor for planting, no one planted, and no one dared smile no matter what joyous event transpired or how perfect the weather. If it said it was a bad day for snakes, everyone watched out for snakes, but if it predicted that someone would actually be bitten, they expected this to happen and took no precautions until the event occurred. There is an archeological school of thought that the Mayans abandoned many of their greatest cultural centers based soley on the calendars’ statements that these centers would fail at a certain time and date.

    No more irrational than Ragnarok, the Apocalypse, Armageddon and the Second Coming or Aleister Crowley and the Golden Bough (or Reverend Jim Jones and Heaven’s Gate, I might add)…but still…

    • avatar Lila says:

      My big theory on the Mayan calendar is that they ran out of disk space, ha! And this year there should be a hell of a New Long Count’s Eve party in some pockets of Mexico.

      Did not know that the calendar actually prescribes the characteristics of each day. What a drag, actually.

      Drought has long been one of the theories on the collapse of the Mayan civilization, but just recently a new study calculated the decrease in rainfall over time, and what the impact was on soil moisture and open water availability. Seems to support the drought theory. But if they were knuckleheaded enough to abandon their cities just because the calendar said to do it, well… Darwin had some thoughts on that sort of thing.

  4. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    Thanks for your kind and lovely words about Davy Jones. He is one of only three celebs I ever had a serious crush on, the other two being Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy. Of course I was only eight when the Monkees finally packed it in, but my heart was broken. Davy Jones was always the consummate gentleman and I wish him and his family godspeed.

  5. avatar HauntedLady says:

    It feels like part of my youth died with Davy Jones. He was a cutie and I’m sorry he’s gone so soon.

    Desperate Housewives jumped the shark for me early in the second season . It’s time for it to go to that Great Rerun Season in the Sky.

    Even if the world ends in December, what can you do about it anyway? Getting worked up won’t change a thing, one way or the other.

  6. avatar Jon T says:

    Alas, Nicollette wouldn’t be able to come to DH back unless it was in the form of a flashback or an evil twin. They killed her character off in a car crash.

  7. avatar JCF4612 says:

    RIP, Davy Jones. You brought us all a lot of pleasure …

  8. avatar Dan Patterson says:

    My granddad (born 1885) called Cokes, “dopes” all his life. He didn’t approve of our drinking them, either. I admit I’d like to try the “original recipe” but I doubt that’s going to happen. I just wish they’d go back to cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Oh well, I don’t drink them anymore anyway.

  9. avatar maytaguide says:

    I love reading your column, but I would not get misty eyed about recalling America in 1945, a time when women began returning to the home and kitchen to perform their “natural” duties as housewives after working in factories and other jobs to support the war effort, and African-Americans still had no civil rights or equal opportunity/education despite the fact that Afro-Americans bravely served their country in the military. Were there special names for blacks only public restrooms and drinking fountains? Was there a special name for sitting in the back of the bus? America has serious problems now, but 1945 was not a golden age.