[1/6/12 note] This will be the last reprint of my 2011 Year in Review.
Yesterday I got an email asking why I did not include the European financial crises in my review. Those crises were not specific to 2011, they began a few years ago (one might say they began when the Western world switched to Reaganomics). So, I agree that the financial condition of Western Civilization is an incredibly important topic, but it has been going on for years.
Previously, I had been asked why I didn't include "Arab Spring" in my overview. I didn't think of it. I know that sounds odd, because it's exactly the kind of thing I wouldn't generally forget about.
But, I did; and I go on record here saying that the events surrounding Arab Spring are extraordinary and will likely change the course of human history.
And, now on to the items of interest from 2011 that I did cover:
Thirty years after her expose of life as a Congressman's wife in Washington, D.C., the former Rita Jenrette is back in the public eye.
I know: you didn't even know! Neither did I, until a few weeks ago, when she appeared in the pages of The New Yorker!
Jenrette was the wife of Rep. John Jenrette (D-SC) who, in 1980, was entrapped by the FBI in the ABSCAM scandal. During the myriad investigations, it was revealed that her husband had been cheating on her.
After an appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, Jenrette gave an interview to Playboy that appeared in the April 1981 issue. The article featured nude pictures of the Congressman's wife. Hey, it was Playboy, and she was hot. In a later book she created a sensation by telling the tale that the Congressman and she made love behind a pillar on the Capitol steps.
Thirty years later, the New Yorker article discusses her current project of renovating and restoring her home, Villa Aurora, in Rome.
Villa Aurora is a 500-year-old palace. Fit for a king. Or at least a Prince and his princess.
YES! Having married Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rita Jenrette is Her Serene Highness the Principessa Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. That is, "Rita" to her friends and "Your Serene Highness" to the rest of us.
Letter from Rome: The Renovation
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Wills, the popular son of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, the most popular princess of all-time (yes, even bigger than Grace Kelly) is all grown-up.
He is a philanthropist and a military veteran, he is the second-in-line to the British throne, and until April 29, 2011, one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet.
When he awoke on the morning of April 30, 2011, he was the newlywed husband of the former Kate Middleton, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
In a fairytale wedding that rivaled that of his late mother and his father Charles, Prince of Wales, the 28-year-old prince and his bride charmed the world.
The king is dead, long live the king.
I was never a fan of Steve Jobs, but he sure made waves in 2011 when he died young. I have always been less-than-impressed by his expensive proprietary inventions and his leadership of a multi-billion dollar company that uses slave labor and refuses to pay a dividend to its shareholders (that is, it owners).
But, the world mourned, and then moved on.
The Governor of Wisconsin announced that he was given a mandate to destroy his state government and distribute as much of Wisconsin's wealth to the already-wealthiest citizens.
He is the subject of a recall campaign that has gained a remarkable amount of momentum and will likely lead to a vote on his removal from office.
He might lose.
Occupy Wall Street, NYPD, Tony Baloney, and Poo
Kalle Lasn, a founder of Adbusters, probably did not realize exactly how successful his call-to-passivity would be when he urged his readers and followers to occupy Wall Street.
They did! Literally!
Thousands of people in New York, and millions of people across the land, occupied the locations that represent the avaricious downfall of American capitalism.
The people who are doing the bidding of the billionaires who are destroying our nation are people like Scott Walker (see above), Barack Obama, and Michael Bloomberg. They and their cohorts have set their sites on the elimination of worker protection and the dismantling of unions.
Wisely, however, they are protecting one particular union: the police union. You see, these guys knew there'd be trouble eventually, and that there will likely be more trouble, and if they paid-off the cops by protecting their unions and pensions, the cops would do their bidding.
So, spineless men and women earning less than a hundred grand a year, dressed up in space-age military garb, attacked, beat, maced, stomped, dragged, sexually abused, humiliated, and arrested fellow American citizens engaged in peaceful protest.
I used to respect cops. All of them. Even the bad ones. I've always told my daughter that cops are important people, are the real heroes in New York.
I've stopped telling her that.
The New York Police in one split-second changed from being the most amazing heroes holding the mantle of 9/11, to being a despicable gang of thugs attacking American taxpayers exercising their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for redress.
What rationale was used for the police attacking citizen occupiers?
The New York Police beat their neighbors and fellow citizens to a pulp because a billionaire a few blocks North decided that there were sanitation issues that trumped Constitutional rights.
These horrible, horrible New Yorkers, hiding behind their badges, sold their souls for a retirement fund, and took orders from a man who thinks poo is more important that the Constitution.
Little did they realize that their reprehensible behavior would spark people across the nation to Occupy.
When Inspector Anthony Bologna (an embarrassment to law enforcement, New York and humanity) confronted four 20-something women involved in the protest, and sprayed them directly in the face with pepper spray, he gave Occupy more publicity and more sympathy than a year of occupation possibly could.
When Tony Baloney was filmed attacking unarmed girls, Americans of every stripe were equally appalled and an amazing amount of public opinion shifted from being pro-police to being pro-Occupy.
Occupy is now an integral part of the American landscape to a degree the Koch Brothers' Tea Party will never enjoy.
The police have lost the respect of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of New Yorkers.
When I pass cops on the sidewalks of Midtown Manhattan, they are almost always looking down. I avert my eyes if they look up. I no longer say hello, or nod and smile.
My congressman was a successful politician who was as progressive as elected officials are allowed to be.
He sent provocative photographs of himself to the wrong people.
Anthony Weiner is my former Congressman, and his seat has been filled by an idiot Republican hell-bent on destroying America.
Good job, Congressman Weiner. By the way: fuck you, you asshole.
Osama bin Laden
Speaking of fuck you: the line "fuck you and the boat you came in on" comes to mind when I think of the year Osama bin Laden had. Only it is fuck you and the boat you went out on.
American intelligence pinpointed the terrorist leader at an address in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group clandestinely entered the compound and killed him.
Then they spirited the body out Pakistan, onto a Navy ship and dumped it at sea.
Thinking-people are targets for the derision of stupid, violent, right-wing Americans.
A couple years ago, Sarah Palin published a map of the United States with scope sight symbols on congressional districts that she and her fucked-up Tea Party cohorts were targeting.
Gabrielle Giffords' district was one of them.
Palin's tea party wish came true when Giffords was second amendmented during a community outreach event.
Having survived the attack, Giffords has made a remarkable recovery.
Leah Kardos – Feather Hammer
Contemporary classical music has always been an odd notion to me. When the term ambient music was coined it helped to describe electronic music created in the style of classical music.
Ambient music has grown in many different ways, and electronics have allowed talented musicians to create sounds that the Beethovens, Bachs, Tchaikovskys, and Wagners, never imagined.
In 2011, record label bigo & twigetti released Feather Hammer, the new work by musician/pianist, composer/producer Leah Kardos.
A resident of London for the past many years, Leah was born, raised, and educated in Australia. As a student at University of Queensland she won the Gold Coast Composition Competition [twice], and worked with Queensland Symphony Orchestra resident composer, Nigel Sabin, as a member of the Young Composers Program. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Music Composition.
More than any other composer or musician of her generation, Kardos has embraced the challenge of taming modern electronic tools in the composition of her work.
Feather Hammer is the fruits of that challenge. Engagingly listenable and attention-worthy, the cuts also work as ambient sound that tickle the brain when you don't even know the sound is there. Hardly invisible, each track is intricate and dynamic, reminiscent of David Bowie's "Low" album.
The record is one of the most amazing musical releases of 2011.
Buy Feather Hammer and listen and enjoy.
The song "Me And Mr. Jones" has been called "derivative" and Amy Winehouse has been called a poseur.
All of this was before she died, of course. Now the critics rarely say anything critical.
I liked Amy Winehouse and all of her songs.
Her death is a loss for the world, and her legacy reverberates more than Steve Jobs', but perhaps not as much as the legacy of . . .
I know, you thought she'd never die. Me too.
Rest in peace, Liz. Tell Michael Jackson we still love him.
Dead Enz, Kyle G. Brixton
The hottest software company is about to go public, raking in serious scratch. Only one problem-the mysterious death of their programming wizard!
It's 1984. The era of the desktop computer has dawned. Software companies are sprouting around the country like mushrooms. The biggest buzz in the financial press is about Locust, Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its president, David Hedges, is already out of the box with a line of high-end business products. He`s itching to go public-and make his hundreds of millions-and Wall Street has his IPO all lined up.
His ace-in-the-hole is lead programmer, Rusty van Handle, whose piece of Locust will bring him a bundle. Though van Handle is a hot-shot in the digital world, he has a different reputation around town:
There's his plan to muscle-in on a real estate deal and take the property of an elderly black woman in the South End, and his claim that he owns half of the break-out pop band, Dead Enz, whose lead singer, Sal Ianucci, he regularly supplies with cocaine. Actually, van Handle was a regular supplier of cocaine to many, and he had mountains of the powder.
The day before the IPO, van Handle's body is found splattered on a street in the South End. Wearing handcuffs.
Murder? Accident? Suicide?
The Locust IPO goes on hold, and may burn-out entirely. The press is all over the scandal. David Hedges is livid and uses his influence to make sure someone-anyone-is nailed for the crime.
Kyle G. Brixton is the pen name for two Boston area writers. Beauty To Die For is the next in this series.
At the far end of the music industry and musical spectrum are laurels for resting the tribulations of teenage pop singer Rebecca Black.
With a little bit of money and a lot of faith, Black and her mother invested in a vanity recording of "Friday" which was written and produced by Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson.
The song is inane and teeny-bopperish. It doesn't sound any worse than most of the other mindless pablum released by the music conglomerates.
At 13 years old, Rebecca Black was an unlikely candidate for super stardom, and the path has been fast and infuriating.
When a comedian with a Twitter account dubbed it "the worst video ever made," the dams were breached and the attention flooded over Black, her mother, and the record label. The traffic at youtube.com sky-rocketed, and download sales turned from a trickle to a torrent.
Yes, even I purchased the MP3.
Sony and Cher were huge pop stars in the 1960s and 1970s. They had hit songs and successful public appearances. They had their own variety show. They had a baby girl they named Chastity. They separated professionally and romantically. Cher went on to become a HUGE star and Sonny went on to become a tedious Republican elected official in the dullest part of California.
Throughout the years, Cher was photographed with her assorted romantic partners. Her daughter was often in tow. Her presence at these times exposed and oddly maternal side of Cher that nobody in the press ever appreciated. Cher could have relegated her daughter to a lonely life of boarding schools, tutors, nannies, drivers and security guards. Instead, (for better or worse) Cher provided a life of boarding schools, tutors, nannies, drivers and security guards, in which she, as her mother, was very present.
As an adult, Chastity came-out as a lesbian.
Cher did not handle it with the aplomb you might expect; but, in the end the mother supported the daughter unequivocally.
Time went on and Chastity's life became her own. She built good and bad relationships with different partners. As she became more an more independent, she began to question her gender-identity.
In 2011, Chastity became a transgendered man and took the name Chaz. The transformation has included chemical and surgical alterations.
Many were shocked.
Many were not.
I was not. Here we have a young woman who watched the most important female authority figures in her life embrace surgical enhancement: plastic surgery, breast enhancement, tattoo make-up, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It should surprise nobody that this very rich young person would consider chemical and/or surgical solutions for an emotional problem. Children of Hollywood often do this.
Chaz was completely public about his transformation, having the entire process documented for public consumption.
The outrage was amusing, the acclaim well-earned. Then things took a sad twist: Chaz accepted a contract to appear on "Dancing With The Stars"!
What little credibility he was able to muster with the general public was now compromised and his life turned into a freak show. Just like his mother's.
Drug addicts and alcoholics are sometimes sad, and sometimes amusing.
In the case of Charlie Sheen, the level of amusement is priceless. No amount of money can purchase this entertainment; and if a team of writers had created the story as a script, nobody would buy it.
Known for violence, bad relationships, and heavy drinking (not necessarily in that order), Sheen took a turn for the worse when he went public with criticisms of the people with whom he worked.
He became an Internet sensation and his insane life became a travelling circus. Literally. People bought tickets to watch him stand on a stage and rant on and on (like a drug addict) about the things he finds most notable. Himself mostly.
I am a fan.
I want this ride to go on for a long time.
If Sheen gets sober, and I hope to God he does, I hope he maintains this level of crazy in his new life.
"It's OK To Be Takei" took the place of "It's OK To Be Gay" when the right-wing rose up in arms against gay and lesbian youth who were promoting the OK-ness of homosexuality.
George Takei, actor and activist, is a homosexual who does not hide his lifestyle from the world. He has taken it upon himself to make it OK for kids to be who they are. He is an ardent and tireless advocate for the rights of young gay and lesbian people around the world.
You go girl!
As a leftist, it is easiest for me to blame the Republicans for all that is wrong with America. I believe that supply-side economic theory is at the root of all of America's economic, social and political problems. Because the supply-side economic theory when put into practice is most often referred to as Reaganomics, and Reagan is the mother of all Republican saviors, it is easy to blame the Republicans for this situation. In reality, though, the Democrats are just as giulty and should be held as accountable as their right-wing cohorts.
One embarrassing facet of supply-side economic theory is the unbridled avarice that it promotes and celebrates. When America's econmy was run with Keynsian economic theory, there was avarice, but nothing compared to the celebration of unmitigated greed that is Reaganomics.
Under Keynsian economic theory, the recent depression spurred by the collaps of the financial system could not happen, because regulation would prevent banks and other financial institutions from pulling the shit they pulled on us in 2009.
Under Reganomics, individuals and companies are able to suck the lifeblood from any institution, and walk away unscathed.
Jon Corzine, former Democratic governor of New Jersey, took his company MF Global to ruin and stood idly by as over a billion dollars vanished into the pockets of people who will never be investigated, never mind prosecuted.
The Unraveling of MF Global
If ever any patriotic American considered voting against the single-party Democratic-Republican system; this election cycle would be a good time to vote Green.
The sports world needed another bad boy and sociopath like Newcastle needs extra coal. In Newcastle, they got both. Footballer (soccer player) Joey Barton, English bad boy extraordinaire, lashed out against his bosses, and took to the ether to air his grievances.
Overnight, Barton became a Twitter sensation. He exposed a side of himself that had never been seen by his fans and detractors. He is a smart man who can wax eloquently (in 140 characters or less) about Nietzsche, fascism, racism, van Gogh, social and cultural vulgarity, NPR, and parenting.
On the last topic, he and his long-time girlfriend had a baby boy at the end of 2011. Congratulations to them.
In my fantasies, Joey Barton moves to New York and joins Red Bull New York. With his criminal record, however, he probably would not receive clearance to work here.
Rafa, Rafa, Rafa.
In the "Open Mouth Insert Foot" department, Rafa Marquez used his lack of English language skills to denigrate his co-workers.
It is possible that the translation of his remarks made him sound worse than he really is. Or, he might be an elitist snob unable to accept criticism and failure, who hides behind an alleged language barrier to avoid direct confrontation.
I don't know if it is the former, the latter, or a little of both.
If you watched the game, there were individual errors that you can’t do anything about. If we look at statistics, I stole a lot of balls. I think I made two or three bad passes out of 30-plus attempts. I almost didn't commit any errors, so I am not worried.
I think I am playing at my maximum level and doing everything I can. I don’t have, unfortunately, four defenders on my level that can help me out.
Then, discussing Tim Ream, a young, promising American defender who has an international career ahead of him, Rafa offered:
Tim is still a young player with a lot to learn. He still has quite a lot to learn, and well, he has committed errors that are very infantile and cost us goals.Because he is perceived as a failure by many supporters of the team, there was no room for generosity.
See, Rafa Márquez blasts underachieving Red Bulls teammates
Management benched Rafa for the next match. When he returned to the team, he was booed by the supporters.
All his teammates took the high road. They deferred and demurred when asked to throw gasoline on the fire. In the end, his teammates rallied around him and while under this newly magnified microscope, Rafa raised his game and played very well as the season came to an end.
I am a fan of Rafa Marquez. I am a big fan of Rafa Marquez.
I am a fan and season-ticket holder of Red Bull New York.
I love my team and I love our marquee defender, even when he is in the pits.
There have been RBNY players who angered me. I would never boo one of my own players during a match, no matter how despicable I found them. RBNY fans who took this road, who booed Rafa after the controversy, took a lower road than Rafa. To boo your own team or one of its players is contemptible. I won't do it, and I was ashamed of my fellow supporters who booed one of our own in front of visiting teams and their fans.
Rafa Marquez returns to Red Bull Arena for the 2012 season, and I wish him the best.
Tsunami and Earthquake
Japan must be cursed.
NASA Space Shuttle
In an effort to further rob the United States Treasury of what little has been left behind by the supply-siders, NASA has cancelled the space shuttle program. Our anti-government government believes that his work can be better done by private industry.
They are wrong, of course; but, when you live in a society that has spent thirty years saying its government is bad, then that society will lose its effective government and surrender its treasury and abdicate its responsibilities to the corporate world.
The cancellation of the NASA Space Shuttle program is further proof of the end of American civilization.
I don't even support or agree with the space shuttle program, and I know its cancellation is bad for the American people.
More exciting than yo-yos and hula-hoops, but duller than streaking, the fad of planking took the spotlight in 2011.
Planking is lying face down in an unusual location, with both hands touching the sides of the body. When the physical feat is accomplished, the fad is completed by photographing the event and posting it on the Internet.
For a moment of schadenfreude, find one of the many great videos out there of failed attempts at planking. Generally the video shows the plank-er slamming face first into an inanimate object. I always laugh.
I know am going to Hell.
And so are you.
But not in 2011, because 2011 is gone.
May you have a healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2012.
Kyle G. Brixton
Kyle G. Brixton