As we approach the new millennium, many of us are finding it hard not to preface even the most footling observation with “As we approach the new millennium,” the cliché of choice for those already halfway across that bridge to the twenty-first century. On the eve of a new millennium, a few of us are whiling away the dying hours of the old millennium by savoring the most delicious deployments of this formulation. My favorite to date came the other day from the director-choreographer Tommy Tune. Asked about the more graphic passages of his autobiography, he remarked: “As we head toward the millennium, it just seemed coy to act like you don’t have a penis.”

Cut out that sentence, and save it for when your great-grandchildren ask you what the fin de siècle was like. Tune’s remark should not be seen merely as a claim to the millennial significance of his own particular penis but rather as...

 
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