I am going to turn in my Year in Review a bit early. I’ve been on a “just get it out of the way” kick of late, actually paying bills and writing papers before deadline. Besides let’s face it, 2016 was a rather boring year with the exception of all the “fake” happenings so there’s not much else to do.
“Objectively” speaking pretty much nothing out of the ordinary happened. No cloud-splitting, rock the boat types of challenges to the existing order, nothing so unexpected that we started singing trite song lines like “The changes they are a coming”. Nothing.
Scientifically speaking, I think it’s safe to say it was such a dull year, the earth slowed its orbit around the sun. continental drift and plate tectonics as we know it ceased, gravitational pull reversed course as did population growth.
Things felt so humdrum it was as if all 7 billion of Earth’s inhabitants were perpetually stuck at the DMV while simultaneously completing Sudoku puzzles and reading the metro section of their local paper. It was that soporific.
And we needed it. We needed an emotional break from all the sound and fury of 2015 when things just got out of hand. We just needed a year to catch our breath to prepare ourselves for the chaos to come in 2017. Just in the first six months alone, South Korea will welcome a new presiden and 2018 World Cup qualifying begins in Trinidad & Tobego and Curacao.
Things will be absolutely insane.
Besides, I’m sure many S. Floridians are already reeling from the fact that Dolphin Stadium changed its name for the first time in at least decades and Hialeah elected a new mayor in so ethically impeccable a manner that not even the Russians could complain.
And I will go out on a limb to my 10,000 blog followers by stating that I am sure most of you feel exactly the same way about 2016.
If there are going to be monkey wrenches, curveballs and major developments that throw off our mental paradigms, we need to be forewarned.
Could you imagine how unprepared we would have been if lets say a former reality TV show founder/real estate mogul/inspiration behind the movie Jackass was elected president of a once-establishment dominated, free-election promoting nation lets say, ah well lets keep it local, the good old U.S. of A?
Could you imagine if a baseball team from a Windy-ish city that hadn’t won a World Series since Theodore Roosevelt was president all of sudden ended the drought and captured the elusive crown?
Sorry for mistaking windmills for giants.
Could you imagine if Cuban dictator, the last breathing link to the Jurassic era and eyewitness to the great meteorite said to have killed off the dinosaurs, finally kicked the bucket? Miamians would go running down 8th street with the same enthusiasm and a few more pots and pans as when Lebron decided to take his talents to South Beach.
Could you imagine if 2016 was the type of year when people used guns for reasons others than protecting themselves against Dick Cheney on a seasonal hunt? Could you imagine the uproar if there was any gun-related violence at all?
Needless to say, if any of the aforementioned events took place, you would accuse me of hanging out in trendy coffee shops in a more liberal-minded state, lets say, Colorado.
Dream on friends. Not 2016. This was a white bread, what you see is what you get type of year. No Steve Harvey moments when just when you have been told things are supposed to be one way, we find out to be the exact opposite.
Here’s just a little bit of proof of how boring 2016 was.
Charlie Sheen didn’t make the news. Neither did Sri Lanka’s top table tennis and billiards players. Alabama won the BCS. Serena Williams won Wimbledon. Alabama elected a Republican governor. There were fewer than 10,000,000 accidents on the Palmetto Expressway. The media admitted it misreported one or two stories. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing.
Lets conjure again. Could you imagine how it would feel if really really nutty stuff happened like the smartest (I use the term loosely) Bush son and his 100 million dollar war-chest could not get past 4th place in any GOP primary? Could you imagine if normally self-restrained, gun allergic policemen on a moment of unexpected weakness and higher-than-expected stress, resorted to abnormal uses of force? Could you imagine if some multicultural pockets of Europe had to experience violent terrorist acts or speaking of Europe, a normally mild-mannered and politically neutral country such as Great Britain opted to vote itself out of the EU?
Again you would say, maybe it’s time to consider spending your free time somewhere other than Colorado folk festivals.
These things don’t happen in our now safe, predictable world. Maybe in 2015. But we learned our lessons, once again redefining ourselves as practical humanoids, constantly keeping things in perspective, learning to separate the important from the trivial, the wheat from the chaff.
In other words, why waste our precious emotional and journalistic capital dithering over “faux” controversies like email servers, Howard Stern-esque lewd videos featuring presidential candidates, Hollywood break-ups, Olympic swimmers involved in post-competition escapades and plagiarized speech lines.
Nah, not the American media and not the discerning masses who would never settle for anything less than the simple, absolute truth. We simply let any attempts at distortion or sensationalism go in one ear and out the other.
Besides we simply don’t have the time.
Which is good because despite our relatively obscure existence, we muggles are active folk.
And for those dozen or so Americans who were snowed for long stretches of time and exhausted all other options other than following the news on the brand new socials media platforms of Facebook and Twitter, here’s what we the crackstaff at our hyperbole-free, truth obsessed publication have determined are ten events worth remembering in an otherwise humdrum year.
(Other than Ben Carson and Atilla the Hun, the eight most prominent of the 9412 GOP candidates)
(10) The GOP Primary Season –
A field of 9412 GOP candidates including the Ghost of Christmas Past, Bob Sagat, Abraham Lincoln, Yosemite Sam and two mild mannered men from Texas and New York whose last names rhyme with Booze and Crump engaged in a several month slog through the cornfields of Iowa and sled paths of New Hampshire, collectively singing “We are Family”.
In Iowa, the aforementioned man whose last names rhymes with Booze, a man whose campaign slogan was “Speak softly and when you do, make sure never to sound like an evangelical preacher” defeated an even more bereft of words candidate ( the one who rhymes with Crump) leaving the second-place finisher to say:
“ Frankly I really look at this whole presidential run as a worthy learning experience, one that will allow me to become a more rounded and gracious person. It’s such an honor to represent the minority white strand of our rich cultural tapestry and I congratulate all of my opponents on realizing that it’s about the journey not the destination.”
Within moments of his comments, the Iowa media took note that Mr.
Rhymes with Crump” had just spent two days in a ski hostel in Colorado.
(9) Just hear me out
Speaking of Colorado, Kanye West, also from the mild mannered and soft spoken wing of American celebrity, accidentally spent a few days in Colorado learning how to snowshoe and make chai tea from scratch. After his workshops, Mr. West was said to feel a little looser in the lips, noting, in so ever humble a manner, that had he voted, he would have voted for the man whose last name rhymes with Grump, all of this after declaring his intentions to run for president before his children are old enough to vote.
Mr. West, who finally opened up about a host of other socially relevant topics, then went back to Colorado with Anthony Weiner, Ryan Lochte and the Governator himself who was quoted as saying, “ I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman”.
(Photo courtesy of Donald J. Trump – N.Y. Times photographer)
(8) Speaking of women, 2016 was shaping up to be the year of the woman…….and women bashing.
-Teresa May was elected prime minister of England
– A certain first lady to from Slovenia, knowing that women are good writers, kindly asked the current first lady Michelle Obama to help her with her convention speech.
-Hillary Rodham Clinton, an obscure former lawyer children’s defense lawyer from Arkansas, shocked the world by becoming the first female nominee for president, defeating 37 year old centrist firebrand Bernie Sanders, a capitalist and former hedge fund manager from Las Vegas.
– Beyonce and Katy Perry managed to amass more Twitter followers each than Twitter has subscribers.
– And in an indirect reference to women, Donald J. Trump, otherwise known as the man whose last name rhymes with Crump, accused his rival, Senator Alex Keaton (Hope you appreciate the reference), I mean Marco “My hair is not” Rubio of having small hands, which of course can mean different things to different people. As for the electorate, they went ballistic after hearing the news, leading to this sampling of reactions:
“He can’t handle the economy with such inadequately sized-hands” – Iowa voter
“We need a more hands-on president”, – New York voter, a comment which of course some candidates took literally.
“ I don’t know about you, but I think Trump will now win the GOP nomination hands-down. –
“I’m looking for a bigger and better handyman”.
-A bunch of gymnasts under the age of 17 took a break from snapchatting and and trying to find Picachu’s to do a bunch of acrobatics that most Muggles can’t even perform in a video game.
(7) Snap, save, disappear. Repeat indefinitely even while asleep
Speaking of Snapchat, a clever snapshot, 12 hour half-life app has hit a crescendo as its developers have capitalized upon the optimal attention span of anyone between 5-35 who doesn’t do gymnastics. I am still trying to figure out all the bells and whistles but until some ultra modern interactice platform such as face-to-face communication is developed, we will be able to use Snapchat.
How does it work? Lets say you are sneezing and want everyone to know just how staccato you can do so. Click on snapchat, turn the camera inward and let the world see you in action. The nice thing is it will dissolve in 24 hours so if you want to have the space to lets say, show the last penalty kick in the Copa America, you can snap that too.
Apparently Obama used snapchat to lobby on behalf of Hillary. I guess ten seconds was more than sufficient time.
(6) Messi pulls a Bret Favre
Speaking of soccer, Argentinians were surprisingly subdued when their beloved national team lost in their third or fourth consecutive final on a big stage.
Bad joke alert…
Not that I really care much about soccer, but I found it interesting that after losing the Copa America or “Copa something Latino” on penalty kicks, national icon Lionel Messi retired from the national team before he even finished shaking hands with the Chilean players. Within minutes, Argentina announced a two week state of mourning. During this fortnight of sorrow and suffering, and not that Argentinians are known for dramatizing things, but sacred cows were slaughtered, human sacrifices were performed, and President Macri vowed to return the Falkland Islands even though they are already British property.
Several months later, when life had returned to normal, Messi unretired to distract his fans from another piece of bad news.
(5) Panama Papers are a problem, but what exactly will they do.
In 2016 billionaires did surprisingly well for themselves. Apparently a billionaire “won” the national election in some tiny Western nation, I use the term “tiny” and “won” loosely. More on that later. But what the Panama papers, a set of legal documents with lots of paper and paper and paper about a network of offshore banks and shell companies, confiscated from a prominent Panamanian law office showed, is that, most countries are already run, or have been run by billionaires.
But rather instead of making billions off loose regulation codes and poor bankruptcy laws, these are simply kleptocrats who stash the billions in offshore accounts in a zillion different places only the kleptocrats and their accountants and their 50 mistresses visit.
The aforementioned Messi was implicated in the scandal. As were a bunch celebrities although not Charlie Sheen. As was Vladmir Putin, former Brazilian president Lulu Silva and pretty much every other head of state from countries without real traffic laws.
Upon hearing the news, a billionaire who shall not be named declared “ Why didn’t I think of that. I guess I can learn a thing or two from reading the newspaper.”
(4) Pokemon GO.. Play, Even in traffic!
Speaking of reading, for the month of July, pretty much everyone stopped reading. And I mean everyone who had downloaded the Pokemon GO App. I downloaded it too but only for the purpose of appearing to be half cool in front of my students.
Pokemon GO is a app that allowed any adult to get in touch with their inner 10 year old and any ten year old to have another reason to think that adults, particularly adults who try to be like kids, are Martians. The game in which players used 3-D holograms and GPS positioning to try to catch Pokemons virtually placed in Pokestops and other locations ranging from the bottom of the ocean to their employer’s nostrils even got people to exercise, visit public parks and attend classes which were nabbing locations. It was most the most downloaded app in its first week of inception in history and brought new meaning to the word “bumping into your friends”.
Over 40 million Americans, or just slightly less than the amount who still think Barak Obama is a hologram, played Pokemon GO, but many of these users became human versions of pinballs, banging into light posts, other people, oil wells and other hazards, all the while trying to operate a motor vehicle.
When asked when he liked Pokemon GO so much, 16 year old Sasha Obama said “It’s not like there is anything else going on the world”.
(3) 2016 Olympics in Rio make a splash – Got Zika?
Speaking of the world, the much embattled country of Brazil, a country which despite rampant corruption, corruption, crime, crime and being the epicenter of a microencephalitis epidemic, was granted the right to host the world’s most prestigious sporting events. Yes the same Brazil that has experienced 425 percent inflation and a government protected kickback scandal that bilked citizens and investors out of billions. This same Brazil, despite having not made any of its infrastructure Olympic friendly until maybe a month before the games, got to host the Olympics.
As it turns out, All’s well that ends well. Brazilians got their shit together and the Zika virus stayed off Olympic grounds. And the games themselves went great, with Herculean feats by many known and new stars including Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Katie Ledeckie and a bunch of people from a bunch of countries performing in a bunch of sports no one really knows how to play.
All was well except for one trio of competitors who lets just say, have excess chlorine in their cranial regions. One of the world’s most notorious silver medalists, Ryan Lochte, whose propensity for designer clothing is only eclipsed by his gift for tall tale telling, decided after a night of revelry, to go Johnny Depp on a rundown gas station bathroom near the Olympic village.
However, and the details of the story are so absurd that they don’t merit a full retelling, the combination of chlorine, alcohol and probably some of Colorado’s Coffeehouse finest led Lochte to tell authorities probing his bathroom rage injuries that he and two other teammates were mugged entering the Olympic village.
This story was later, and it’s hard to believe that in law abiding, what you see is what you get 2016, proved to be a lie. Fortunately after three weeks of vilification and late night talk show fodder, Lochte’s story went the way of a snapchat when it was discovered that……
(2) Celebrities can get away with certain improprieties
A man who’s name rhymes with Crump was engaged in an off-the-record conversation about every 60 year old grandfather’s favorite topic, grabbing women by their genitals. Actually he may not have been a grandfather at that point but he was engaged to be married to a sultry Slovenian model and already had four kids. Now maybe what they say about men is true, that they never really grow up but whatever the reason, this man, who one day in the slightly distant future would seek a career change, gave a mini-TED talk about how celebrity status allows one to sort of make his own rules, even in the troublesome gray area of sexual harassment.
There was some interesting fallout from the video. The subject at hand was in the midst of a campaign for some obscure political spot and upon release of the tape to NBC, millions of women, decency advocates and members of his own party called for his resignation, saying “Politics has always been known for the highest standards of moral decency. We have already come so far in our attempt to de-objectify and empower women. We cannot have indecency and immaturity occupy positions of great influence.”
And what happened. The subject did not heed the calls to drop out of the race. Instead his popularity eventually surged, including among women, leading pundits to say, “There is something rotten in Denmark, or Moscow, or wherever such an illogical outrage is taking place.”
Speaking of outrages…..
(1) The grass is greener on the other side
2016, despite its almost universal ennui, led millions, if not billions of people to think the grass was greener on the other side. In fact, with respect to the neighbor’s house, my place actually is because my dog poops on his grass at least twice a day. But the itchy feet syndrome applied to lots of countries and institutions which one would have thought were fairly good with the status quo. I’ll name one in particular – Great Britain.
Brits usually are mild mannered folk who pride themselves on a fondness for decorum, bad food and a restless yet regal disposition. But over the summer, they got to have a national referendum on whether they should remain the captain of a 28 nation confederacy known as the Union of European Nations who have bought into an overpriced system of free borders, excessive membership costs and reduced ATM fees for participating members”. Or something simple like that.
The vote was referred to Brexit which is short for Brexit or Bre-xit, a type of epoxy glue.
The 18 million or so voters were enticed by a rumor that the ballot contained subliminal messages about Kim Kardashian and so on this balmy Wednesday evening in June, they hopped into cars, hoarded onto buses and voted on a choice that would forever change the European landscape and make it harder for Slovenians to travel to England to meet golf course owners for conjugal purposes.
After the vote one voter from a rural province near Manchester said, “I’m glad I got that out of the way. I’m not sure what I just voted on but no matter what, whether we have to leave our country, I just really enjoyed the tea and crumpets the pollsters gave me. And that I voted in favor of repairing London Bridge since my granddaughter keeps telling me it is falling down.
Another voter, this one from Leeds said, “This was so much fun, I think I will find a way for me and some of my blokes to go vote in the American election too.”
Honorable mention: (1) Rudy Guliani replaces Deepak Chopra as the world’s foremost transcendental guru, and (2) some minor mixup with an email server belonging to someone somewhere who is somewhat important but the issue hardly got any press. (3) Vladimir Putin, formerly known as Lord Voldemort, decided after meeting an older man on Tinder with some Russian business holdings whose name rhymes with Crump, that he wanted to maintain a long distance but more than platonic relationship with him. He proceeds to hack into the Tinder and other accounts of anyone who dared compete for his secret beau’s attention.
So that’s all folks, just a quick rundown of a slow, painfully monotonous year, a year in which fact triumphed over fiction, unity “trumped” division and certain individuals with big hands and small egos showed just how handy they could be.
It was a year with some sad moments too, especially for fans of Prince, the Cleveland Browns, anyone who prefers the logical side of their brain, and the 9401 candidates who did not win the GOP primary.
The nice thing about seeing this uneventful year come to a close is we are forced to look ahead, to greener pastures and hopefully a return to a little more chaos.
Although I kind of enjoyed the calm.
My only lasting complaint is where was Steve Harvey when he was needed most?