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Carrie On!

The American Idol finals inspire Beatlemania-like frenzies on the Richmond Strip

I've made a New Year's resolution. When I masturbate, I'm no longer going to say 'Seacrest out' when I reach climax.-- Zach Galifianakis

Well, kids, it's over. No matter how you see it -- long national nightmare or cause for public pride and celebration -- Fox's megahit American Idol has wrapped for the season. It's such a megahit, in fact, that our own Fox 26 and the party station KPTY (104.9 on your FM dial) have found it necessary to come together for a season-ending shindig at everyone's favorite adult arcade, Dave & Buster's. That's simply something you're not going to see for Malcolm in the Middle, even the finale.

I arrive early to ensure a good spot in a cramped, tiny "ballroom" just off the side of D&B's famous midway, which is teeming with, as Fox star Bernie Mac might say, grown-ass men playing video games and collecting tickets to buy fantastic crap. Don't they know American Idolstarts in less than 15 minutes and, more important, happy hour ends as it begins!?

I take a seat and survey the room. Fox 26 balloons hover above tables draped with red, white and blue vinyl Fox 26 signs. It looks like a 14-year-old's birthday party, albeit a 14-year-old who's forsaken Spider-Man for the lamest theme party ever.

I'm joined by Idol fanatics who are batshit nuts for the two finalists, Bo Bice and Carrie Underwood. When Mo' of KPTY's Mo' in da Mo'ning Show asks us which contestant we hope to see win, all the ingredients for a riot are right there.

Mo' introduces a few assorted characters from his show and Fox 26, all of whom will help guide us through the night. He fails, however, to explain why his station -- home of hip-hop, R&B and, lately, reggaetón -- would co-sponsor an event whose two finalists (a country girl from Oklahoma and a good ol' boy from Alabam') would never find airtime amid KPTY's Lil Jon, Daddy Yankee and Frankie J orgy.

The show begins, the crowd goes nuts. Idol castaways from this year start the show with a ho-hum Beach Boys medley. And by "ho-hum" I mean friggin' terrible. It's going to be a looooooong night.

During commercial breaks, assorted Fox 26 blowhards give away Idolprizes. There are CD carriers, T-shirts, ball caps and other swag. This is interrupted by blasts of ever-present feedback from a PA system run afoul. The commercial break feedback routine becomes so predictable that by the end of the night a kid at the table next to me begins plugging his ears every time Idol host Ryan Seacrest says, "We'll be back after this break."

How, you may ask yourself, could Fox take two hours to reveal the show's winner? Easy: red-carpet interviews, corny/hilarious skits, backstage banter with the judges, season flashbacks, more group songs by other Idol losers, more season flashbacks, Bo and Carrie singing the same ditties they sang a night earlier, and more hometown reactions.

It's true. Folks in both Bo's and Carrie's home states are very moved by their respective entrants. Alabama Governor Bob Riley goes so far as to declare May 26 a state-recognized Bo Bice Day, which, more than likely, is the first time in Alabama's storied history they've lavished such an honor on someone who has been busted for coke. Perhaps his look -- a well-styled King of the Jews -- makes such an offense more forgivable. But who knew half-assed renditions of the Ides of March's semi-forgotten hit "Vehicle" could get a guy so far? What a country!

Carrie, who resembles a younger Faith Hill, gets misty-eyed seeing a stadium full of Okies from Muskogee (literally) scream their affections for her. "Just look at the impact you've had across the country," Seacrest intones, as if Carrie were the Red Cross or Martin Luther King or something.

We're more than halfway home. Commercial break. Cue feedback. I head to the midway to give my beaten eardrums a break. There I spy a young woman taking her own pause from Idol madness.

"Bo or Carrie?" I inquire.

"Carrie. Bo is a hippie," she states.

She isn't alone in this opinion. Throughout the night a Napoleonic young man in full Astros garb at the next table has had pointed things to say about most of the cogs that make the Idol machine run. Seacrest: "Fag!" Simon Cowell: "He's gay!" Scott Savol: "That fat-ass can't sing!" Randy Jackson -- wearing white shoes with pink laces: "Oh. No. He. Didn't! Fag!" Also of the opinion that Bo's a hippie, he freaks like a teenybopper at the Beatles' first stateside performance anytime Carrie's face graces the screen. Guy's poor girlfriend looks mortified.

The contestants have just been told that aside from a record contract, the winner also will be given the use of a private jet for a year. It's an eerie proposition for Bo, who's just finished singing with the remnants of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Carrie wins. Half the crowd goes apeshit. Perhaps they're related. In a sign of good sportsmanship, Jesus and Faith Hill embrace.

The crowd at D&B's is very emotionally invested. Lots of husbands one-upping wives with "I told you so!" and Carrie-fan sisters "nanny-nanny-boo-boo"-ing Bo-fan brothers.

Auditions for next season will be held in Austin. Road trip, anyone?

 
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