Ron Kaye: Trying to extend a 5-second spotlight

If you ever tried to spot the Glendale Rose Parade float on television on New Year’s Day, you know you had to stay glued to your set and never blink — you only get a passing glance.

So what do you think would happen if you put the highest-paid reality TV star, fashion maven, socialite and sex symbol that is Kim Kardashian atop the 2013 float as Glendale’s celebrity queen for a day?

Know this: She has more than 16.7 million followers on Twitter, ranking her 10th behind the likes of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna and President Obama. A Google search shows she is the butt of 891,000 pages of “Kim Kardashian jokes,” while her declaration last spring that she wanted to run for mayor of Glendale produced 495,000 results.

And there were 6,490 entries in the first 48 hours after Councilman Ara Najarian announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that he’d love to invite Kardashian to ride on Glendale’s Rose Parade float on New Year’s Day.

“One or two words from Ms. Kardashian are worth hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars. She certainly would get us more than five seconds,” Najarian told his colleagues.

Say it ain’t so, Ara. This is staid old Glendale where tradition rules and has ruled with regards to the Rose Parade float for the past 98 years, due in part to the likes of longtime Councilman Dave Weaver — protector of the float tradition as an important community event, not fodder for the tabloids and “Entertainment Tonight.”

The suggestion to make the parade more fun and generate publicity for the city has set off a firestorm of criticism, with dozens of comments on the Glendale News-Press website, some calling Najarian stoned out of his mind, deserving of a black eye and worse. Even some Armenians suggested Kardashian was a terrible role model for children and tarnishes the city’s image when there are so many high-minded citizens worthy of honor.

Najarian was still having a laugh when I caught up with him after he floated his idea, talking like a guy who may have stepped into a Rose Parade controversy but who felt he would come out smelling like roses.

“What the heck, this is New Year’s. People have to have fun,” he said. “There’s too much tension. This should be a fun thing. We should be laughing, making jokes — not making it into such a gloom-and-doom situation. Everybody just needs to lighten up.

“Maybe we’ve lost our sense of humor. I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere of people hating government or people don’t want to have a break from their worries. I don’t know what it is.”

A politician who is serious about everyone having fun, at least on New Year’s Day? You mean even if the end of the world is coming and we’re all going to die in a rising tide of the seas or all our jobs going overseas, even if our cities are going broke and our state is beyond repair?

Maybe the numbers showing the extent of Kardashian’s fame suggest the gloomy mood in America is just a façade, a relic of our Puritan history — covering up the fact we have stopped reading newspapers, magazines and serious books in favor of spending most of our free time, and more than a little work time, on trivial pursuits and watching sports, entertainment and gossip shows.

Maybe we are having fun, but we don’t want anyone to know it.

Personally, I never paid much attention to Kardashian, and never looked at her infamous sex tape. But I’m all aboard Najarian’s plan and suspect the City Council will agree to invite her on Tuesday.

“It’s New Year’s Day, let’s celebrate for heaven’s sake,” he said. “We’re designing caricatures, making glitter, putting some mirth and merriment into the whole thing, wearing goofy hats and blowing horns — what better person than Kim Kardashian to get the name of Glendale out there, promoting our city and associating us with her exotic and expensive brand? This is one of the best ways to do it — and at no cost to the city.”

He added one last thought, “I’m not going to die on the hill over this.”

And then another: that she’d have to pay a price for the honor, just like making an appearance at the new Bloomingdale’s store or at the grand opening of the Museum of Neon Art, “anything that would help us put our city in the spotlight.”

RON KAYE can be reached at Share your thoughts and stories with him.

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