Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Miamians,
I have decided to publish my annual year in Review, my homage to my satirical inspiration Dave Barry, with a little bit of my unique brand of journalism, in two parts. Given that 2017 was the news version of a global pinball game gone bezerk and I like to write a lot, this seems more digestible. Consider this akin to the Batman prequels. Today’s blog will be Batman Begins and as I rev up my satirical/polemical voice, part two will be The Dark Knight. I hope you enjoy both installments and if for some reason, you don’t have the time to slog through it, just read whatever makes you laugh or simply laugh at me.
Besides, given my ancestral Russian roots and regular visits to gather news at Versailles, everything has been dutifully fact checked. Enjoy.
Ever take one of those college History or English finals when you think you know the material well, especially after you have gulfed down a good 700 pages over the last two days, barely stopped to socialize or shower, and wrote out a sample test essay or two? The self-assuredness abruptly changes though, when you open a blue book, get handed the test and realize that one, you never took the right notes during the lectures and two, you didn’t focus your 700 pages of reading on the principal topics.
First you panic a bit, then catch your mental balance. Though as you try to summon every bit of relevant knowledge you ingested, your brain turns into the intellectual version of Pole Position.
That’s a bit how I feel right now as I try to recap 2017 from memory. Think of trying to do an impromptu recall of all the characters from “A Midsummers Night’s Dream”, “The Odyssey” and everything an algorithm could cook up if we programmed it to create the oddest news headlines in what should be an intellectually and socially progressive world.
Nonetheless, here we go, though if my professor wants to merely grade the history final on the ability to fill up the blue book, then I should be okay.
2017 began as most days begin, frantically trying to charge my IPhone XXXII (Apple is trying to catch up with the Super Bowl), and being asked by Google Chrome if I want to update my default browser. I of course said “no”, though it would have saved me much agony had I agreed. (Topic preview alert). And so for the next 365 days, four times a day, Chrome which is the internet browser version of Harvey Weinstein, persisted in asking me the same question.
The year itself began as most years do, with the Annual “Let’s spend hours forming and writing out our New Years’ Resolutions, then see how quickly we can break them” competition. In my case, the resolution not to get bent out of shape over petty matters and to drive with a dab of maturity lasted a good hour.
The contest host was none other than Lord Voldemort himself, Vladimir Putin, who dropped a little hint at events to come when in his welcome remarks he said, “My fellow Resolution Dumpers, I hereby declare 2017 to be a year when Mother Russia reasserts itself as a global power by – (1) Unofficially annexing Washington DC and all governmental powers therein, injecting all possible Orwellian tendencies into a soon-to-be world leader – (2) Allowing blood doping to replace stretching & carbo-loading as the preferred pre-competition regimen (3) Making selective amnesia as a DSM best practice medical technique (4) Allowing “friends of the Russian government” and IT ministers unfettered access to Facebook and Twitter’s motherboard and finally (5) Potentially or at least in a hypothetical parallel universe, trying to influence the outcome of the Super Bowl (another Topic preview alert).
I don’t want to jump to conclusions and the prescience of Putin’s comments is debatable, but perhaps this is what we English teachers, journalists and I’m sure husbands to their wives refer to as “reading into things a bit too much”.
If you want 2017 in a nutshell, let’s just say the year began with Barak Obama as president and finished with casino mogul Donald J. Trump. See any of my previous blogs for more commentary. Mind you Mr. Trump had a hell of a career in the private sector and I’m not just talking about trips to the putting green in the middle of the night with interested “golf companions”.
But transferring executive power from Obama to Trump is a lot like kicking off the year at the Adrienne Arsht Center with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and finishing the year with Vanilla Ice or to use an entirely hypothetical local sports analogy, beginning the season with Giancarlo Stanton as your team’s best slugger and finishing with let’s say Christian Yelich. Of course the latter would never happen in the free-spending, rational mecca of Miami.
Speaking of resolutions, I will use the latter part of this annual Year-in-Review tradition, my journalistic catharsis, to share my resolutions, but before we look ahead to 2018, the year of “The Dog”, (not sure if that’s what we wanted to hear), lets look back on the Little House on the Prarie-like, I mean cataclysmic like Asian tsunami of 2004 and “The Day After Tomorrow” year of “The Rooster”. (FYI, while the Chinese perceive the Rooster as a proverbial mascot to the five virtues – civil responsibility, marital fidelity, courage, kindness, and confidence, lets just remember that the oft used term for rooster boxing matches is “cockfighting”. Just saying).
Obama’s Executive Actions:
In January, sensing he was just a few weeks away from being just another unemployed minority and perhaps, getting a bit of the seismic sense of the political earthquake to come, took full advantage of his executive action power by signing into law, or at least making public proclamations on the following policies:
(1) Ending the age old tradition of having loved ones and those on romantic-get togethers such as Valentines Day actually communicate face to face.
(2) Limiting the amount of digital screen time for adolescents, South Floridians and pretty much anyone with a lower than normal attention span, to 10 hours a day.
(3) Making breathing, reading and being able to add two digit numbers in our heads optional while making tipping every service worker including prison wardens, meter maids and tow truck operators a federal mandated 18 percent tip except those individuals such as teachers and cardiologists who deserve it most.
(4) Ending the almost 50 year “Wet foot, Dry foot” policy with Cuban migrants, a policy which was thought to be a necessary fast track path to Green Card status but in reality, had much more to do with the Cuban tendency to play Twister alongside a pool (Hence, wet foot, dry foot). While the policy did not play well with older local Cubans who felt it was another example of Obama kowtowing to the Castro regime, it was almost universally agreed that any Cuban migrant who took that much time, effort and forethought into making it to American soil and then wanted to travel back to Cuba on a regular basis should not exactly be rewarded for being homesick.
(5) Agreeing not to rebuke a UN censure of Israeli policy towards its Palestinian neighbors. This no-vote, which was tantamount to a rejection of the Bibi Netanyahu regime, played out very well in the international community, most of whom has a concrete understanding of historical events going back about seven years and thus forgot that every ounce of land Israel occupies has been gained through wars of self-defense. However when the tea bags were read, it was revealed that Obama did not counter the public criticism of Israel because he agreed with the UN declaration, but because Israelis who have moved to and built a life for themselves in North Miami still way overcharge for carpet cleaning, AC repair and Challah bread.
Speaking of which, when Obama broke bread for the last time with his many earnest White House and Foreign Service apostles he was quoted as saying ” I have to admit the last person I thought I would be writing this welcome letter to is Mr. Trump but at least I won’t have to throw out the Playboys Harvey Weinstein sent me. Besides, doesn’t everyone want their replacement to make them look really good by comparison. Just look at what happened with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady ( or wait maybe).”
Speaking of the legacy of questionable calls, and which brings new meaning to the term “D-Day”, Mr. Trump formally moved into the White House on January 21, but not before making the questionable but oft-repeated claim that he felt slighted by the reported size of his………………….. inauguration crowd. (See my Inauguration Day blog from January 23 –A Tale of Four Protests, well maybe 3 and a pot-fest) for which I am still confounded as to why (1) They gave out free week at various dispensaries around D.C. and having made the decision to do so, especially after seeing the tone of some of the protests that (2) They didn’t give out more.
Speaking of more, in his first two days in office, Mr. Trump learned more about American presidential history than he had in his previous 69 years. Although he couldn’t remember the first 42 presidents, he could remember that Thomas Washington and John Quincy Jefferson were some pretty “bad-ass hombres” and Trump was rumored to have told his wife, “Shit, had I known this was such a popular job among rich, white, landowning, womanizing males, I would have run for the Russian election a lot sooner.”
Speaking of Russia, the only embassy that would be given tax-free diplomatic immunity during the forthcoming presidential term was of all countries, Russia. The reasons are a still a bit fuzzy but an unidentified White House spokesperson who is still unknown but whose name rhymed with Drawn Dricer said Russia “Needed to keep its money for Drood Bloping” and for a large slush fund traced to an account in Panama under the name of “Future U.S, Election Interventional Strategies and Conjugal Visits by a sitting U.S. President”.
Speaking of immunity, in national sports and in what can only be best approximated to the professional football version of the Corleone Family, The New England Brady’s led by one of Donald Trump’s most vocal cheaters, I mean supporters, Greg Brady fell behind by 27 points until someone by the name of James Comeys entered the field without permission and proceeded to as he was chanting the name “Tonya Harding” to accidentally hit the kneecap of the head referee, Billy Bob Clinton, with a crowbar.
Needing an emergency referee a man by the name of Michael Flynn, alias Valdimira Putina volunteered to serve as fill-in referee and in what the Bradys now refer to as the kind of anomaly that some would call 11th hour events in major national events but in reality is just “pure coincidence”, they reeled off 28 consecutive points in less than a quarter even though on several plays they were able to throw a 1st down pass during a commercial break and then were given rounding up privileges to 10 on any play from scrimmage of five or more yards.
To which the aforementioned Brady said in his postgame victory speech, “lemme tell you we just grabbed that momentum by the “pu$$E” and never let go” while Coach Comey Jr. said, “This is the same damned way we won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Last minute comebacks baby led by czar Vladimir.”
Speaking of ten, President Trump sent the first congratulatory phone call lauding Brady for his heroics in winning his record setting 10th Super Bowl (Trump is not one for numerical accuracy) and feeling an extra surge of joy since the Pats “kind of snuck in a victory when the rest of the sports world had written them off. “What some people like to call a cheater, I like to simply call someone who does not like losing”, Trump said.
But back to ten real things that happened. At least in my subjective recall of 2017. Feel free to comment on other noteworthy events in 2017, especially important ones such as the four new iterations of the IPhone, but for now, this will hopefully at least get me some credit on that history test.
I. The Travel Ban
The Super Bowl provided a nice diversion from the first two weeks of the Trump presidency, a rocky one to say the least. After the Twitter driven tirade about slandering the size of his inauguration crowd, Trump needed to do something drastic to steer attention away from his very small “inauguration crowd”. And diversion did he ever.
Trump, like 43 of his predecessors (we will leave Washington out), 19 of whom he can now identify by first name, wanted to chart his own path, make a name for himself as the common parlance states. Mind you he is the only sitting president whose popularity seemed to surge after advocating sexual misconduct, but he was looking for something more far reaching, pun intended.
So just as he figured out which side of the White House bed he wanted to sleep on (which was apparently the wrong side), he alongside with his senior policy advisor Steve “Darth Vader” Bannon, announced on a routine early Saturday morning, a 7 Muslim majority nation travel ban ostensibly to vet countries in which less than .001% of its residents play Fantasy League Football or have ever watched Jackass. However, speaking of jackasses, the designated countries were 7 of the only 14 countries in the world for which Mr. Trump cannot boast of having slept with one of its women.
Speaking of notches on the belts, the proposed ban, was based on general consensus, not particularly popular. “If I could take a belt to this proposal I would,” said acting Deputy of Protecting Presidential Sanity Melania Trump. The announcement brought more left-leaning righteous citizens to the streets since the previous weekend. However despite the groundswell of opposition, Trump saw some positives.
(1) He now knows how to identify Somalia and Yemen on a map, I mean not identify the precise location but at least the location of Africa and…
(2) He realized that there actually exists two other major branches of government, and a growing level of support for the unofficial fourth branch, “The Free Press”
(3) He learned that there are a bunch of other courts, often left-leaning, besides the Supreme Court and that…………..
(4) News travels quickly, especially bad news and especially when it alienates pretty much every ethnic group in the U.S. with the exception of a small band of Scottish, white supremacist pygmies.
(The last photo is a teaser of news event#2 and the rest of the ten. Stay tuned for more)