It's a brave world after all, it's a brave new world!

They're not just faces on tortillas or reflections on walls. Everywhere, real idols are appearing -- J.Lo! Barbra! Brad & Jennifer! Angelina! Russell! Mariah!

Published May 25, 2001 7:00PM (EDT)

"During a recent appearance outside a Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard, the 'J.Lo-city' (as some have called it) was so potent that a handful of construction workers could be seen sobbing."
-- from "Every Move She Makes," a profile of Jennifer Lopez
by Ned Zeman, Vanity Fair, June 2001.

Meanwhile, on Pico Boulevard, an impromptu sidewalk concert by Barbra Streisand had the Sikh community enthralled, and traffic was backed up 10 blocks in every direction. "It's Barbra-licious!" enthused one turbaned fan.

And down in Santa Monica, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt strolled hand in hand along the pier, leaving fast-food workers and tourists swooning in their wake. Revived with smelling salts, some at the scene admitted that they were in a state of "Aniston-ishment." Others likened the feeling to winning a dream vacation in "Pitt-y City."

An outbreak of fainting was also reported at LAX, where Tina Brown, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart surprised luggage handlers with a blitzkrieg makeover. One dazed skycap admitted to feeling entirely new levels of self-esteem after his encounter, which he gingerly characterized as "surrendering to living in the O-buzz, kind of."

This phenomenon quickly spread outside the confines of Southern California. In San Francisco, a heavily disguised David Arquette was examining soy-based marinades in a neighborhood Safeway, but a gaggle of joggers quickly recognized the wacky star of commercials and films, despite his false beard and sunglasses, and began running in tight circles around him, chanting, "Day-vid! Day-vid! Day-vid!"

In the parking lot, Courteney Cox Arquette, waiting in the car as her husband completed his shopping, began tapping her fingers absently on the wheel. To her delight, shoppers started to follow her rhythm, then burst into a spontaneous version of "I'll Be There for You."

The Arquettes were so moved by this display of affection that they took everybody out for lattes at a nearby Starbucks. Asked to describe the whole experience, one self-described "soccer mom" said, "Oh, it was Monica-licious, I suppose, though mere words cannot limn the sublimity of it, really."

At a truck stop in Nebraska, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, en route to the grand opening of a new multiplex in Lincoln, were serenaded by a booth full of truck drivers, singing a note-perfect version of "Shape of My Heart" by the Backstreet Boys. Two waitresses, Madge and Barb, fainted and had to be rushed to the hospital. Whether they were more overwhelmed by the music, or the proximity of Mr. Prinze Jr. and Ms. Gellar, is difficult to say.

Speaking at a Republican fundraiser in Virginia, Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan began singing "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad" in a passable baritone. Response was muted and puzzled, until Vice President Cheney leaped to his feet and confessed his undying love for Cher, who appeared almost magically at his elbow to sing "I Got You Babe," reducing the normally subdued Mr. Cheney to open weeping.

In New York, the unremarkable sight of Woody Allen slouching down the street was the apparent cause of at least seven seizures. And in Chicago, Ben Affleck -- in town to maintain the illusion of total ubiquity -- brought a tidal wave of convulsions among the Polish-American community, an event cautiously dubbed by healthcare professionals as "Affleck-tion."

All across America, regular Janes and Joes are stopping in their tracks, jaws dropping, dazzled by the beauty and talent that everywhere surround them now. It's Russell Crowe! It's Angelina Jolie! It's Regis! And John Cougar Mellencamp! And Mariah Carey! Look! A Boba Fett impersonator! And he's singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic!"

We weep with joy as our shiny idols appear before us. We are trembling, twitching, speaking in tongues, all troubles forgotten, as we stumble forward into a glorious future.

By Merle Kessler

Merle Kessler is a scriptwriter, lyricist and humorist. Some may be more familiar with him through his bitter alter ego, Ian Shoales. He lives in San Francisco.

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Jennifer Lopez