2011: A Selective Year in Review

I’m lazy, and so are you. More importantly than that, I’m modest enough to know that you are likely inured to the year-end opinions of yet another commentator’s take on the most rehashed and warmed-over of 2011’s major events, and so I’ve limited mine to the very few that I feel are most important, or the very few that I was able to recall through a blurry haze of Cabernet, Vicodin, and spoiled ahi tuna.

#1. Keeping Up with Mammoths Earlier this year Russian and Japanese scientists claim that they may be able to clone a woolly mammoth using DNA extracted from the nucleus of a cell from the thigh bone of a dead woolly mammoth. More recently, those scientists have said that a wooly mammoth will likely be cloned within five years, which begs the question: cannot the world be satisfied with just one Khloe Kardashian?

The real danger in cloning a woolly mammoth is not the possibility of some Jurassic Park-like catastrophe or the introduction of an invasive species into an unprepared ecosystem. Rather it is the risk that said mammoth marries a black basketball player and lands a lucrative product endorsement gig with a fragrance company promoting a unisex perfume that must surely smell slightly better than Donald Trump’s flatulent anus. What with a global economic crisis, AIDS, and a prospective seventh season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, has not the world suffered enough?

#2. Ted Williams Remember how a year ago, the story of the venerable Ted Williams and his golden voiced roadside serenade enchanted a nation still reeling from the theatrical release of Burlesque? It turns out that homeless guys with criminal records holding up cardboard signs on the side of an Ohio turnpike don’t always prove reliable analogues for a broken economic system reflected in an accelerating class disparity and a concentration of wealth in the smallest of the upper class tiers. Sometimes the guy soaked in his own piss is just another asshole who can’t hold a job because he prizes a 40-ounce of Mickey’s over personal hygiene.

Rather than another reminder of why a degree in communications is about as useful as Emily Post’s Rules of Etiquette on Herman Cain’s bookshelf, Americans instead hailed Ted Williams as a beacon of good fortunes in troubled times, patting ourselves on the back with heartfelt accolades at our collective ability to look past the piss-stained, unshaven and weather-worn exterior and see the soul of a man fit for our most venerated profession: radio voice talent.

And when homeless radio man Ted Williams was briefly held by L.A. police after a heated exchange with one of his nine illegitimate children that eventually boiled over into a physical altercation, Williams defended his honor and his reputation by telling reporters, “I wanted to bring it to a close by just saying ‘shut the hell up and let me talk to your mother.’”

When the person telling you to shut up so that they can talk to your mother has a voice so richly textured with a velvety tenor, one should expect immediate compliance with the direction, which is why the blame for our hero’s near-arrest lies squarely with illegitimate daughter number six, who can only be described as nothing short of a total bitch for having the temerity to quarrel with her golden-voiced abandoning alcoholic father.

Or at least, that’s the belief we all must cling to. Otherwise we might look like assholes for venerating this guy in the first place …

#3. Anthony’s Weiner America is either running to save the undeserving Ted Williams or proverbial George Benton (of Mark Twain’s short story) or pillorying another public figure whom we ought to see as a plausibly beneficent leader—flaws and all. But recriminated flaws in another provide the perfect mask for our own, and if there is one flaw that we could all be said to share, it is of wanting to tweet college-aged coeds photographs or our semi-erect penis, which invariably brings us to Anthony Weiner, Democratic Congressman of New York state.

We all know that Anthony Weiner was busted for tweeting pictures of his underwear-clad inguinal area to at least one unfortunate college student in Seattle, which proved disastrous for Anthony Weiner’s political career. The case of Anthony Weiner exemplifies another way in which America, priding itself on some insensate concept of exceptionalism that distinguishes it from all other paltry attempts at civilization scattered annoyingly about the rest of the world, might take a cue from Europe, where a politician’s sex life, so long as it doesn’t transgress the bounds of legality, is understood to have little to no bearing upon their duties of governance.

And why should we turn to Europe, crusty old monarchical vestige of familial inheritance and decadent landed gentry that it is, whose yoke we so proudly shirked some two hundred odd years ago and later welcomed its refugees at Ellis Island? Perhaps we should take note of them because while the economic disparity in the U.S. has so steadily and alarming increased over the past thirty years, Europe’s economic disparity has remained historically less and its social mobility far greater.

And Europeans show bare tits—nipples and all—in their advertisements, which makes two things we might borrow from our cousins across the pond.

And so Anthony Weiner went the way of Eliot Spitzer, whom you’ll recall famously enjoyed paying for sex with aspiring singers destined for careers as one-time American Idol contestants. And as you may further recall (not to tell tales out of school) he reportedly enjoyed his intercourse while modestly dressed in only his socks. So if images of Silvio Berlusconi’s liver-spotted, veal-toned thighs straddling a coked-out pre-teen weren’t enough to terrorize your holiday sleep, just imagine Eliot Spitzer’s pasty bald-headed pate in the throes of deviant passion while adorned with knee-high black stockings soaked with a day’s worth of prosecutorial perspiration.

What these two men further have in common is their shared aggression toward the unscrupulous and predatory practices of Wall Street and the financial industry at large. Eliot Spitzer, also known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street”, became famous for combating financial deregulation and confronting financial industry giants in an attempt to curb what he saw as the excessive pursuit of profits at the expense of the common investor and taxpayer. Long before the public’s familiarity with mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps in the wake of 2008’s financial meltdown, Eliot Spitzer was actively engaged in limiting the financial reach and therefore risk inherent in black box derivatives. Had he and others like Brooksley Born and Elizabeth Warren been more successful, we might have better spared ourselves the ultimately predictable financial calamities that mark our present crisis.

And Anthony Weiner, the easiest lay-up butt of every office comedian’s joke—what about him? Anthony Weiner, you may recall, was also no friend of Wall Street and garnered some notoriety when he went after the company Goldline for deceptive sales practices designed to hawk unreasonably priced gold coins as some sort of investment strategy to a naïve and susceptible Fox News watching public. Weiner thereafter drew the ire of the unequivocally not insane former Fox News host, Glen Beck, a paid spokesman for Goldline who did not appreciate Weiner’s irksome accusations against his (financially) well-endowed employer.

And so sex socks or no sex socks, prick-pic tweets or no prick-pic tweets, might not our preference for one political leader to the next be better predicated upon something more tangible and meaningful than one man (or woman’s) private sexual proclivities between consenting adults? Has the expulsion of Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner served the interests of improving our economy, your retirement savings, or access to affordable healthcare? And if not, might it then be more than rhetorically cogent to argue that expelling the alarmingly few politicians working on behalf of those interests is a less than sapient impulse? The answer to the confounding number of double negatives and qualifiers in the preceding sentence is an unequivocal ‘Yes’.

#4. Osama Bin Bleedin’ This year saw the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, which every newscaster was required to report at least once as the assassination of Obama. Most intriguing however was the fact that the international terrorist mastermind lived a life indistinguishable from a rural Kentucky meth-head, spending his days cloistered in a sparsely furnished compound composed of stained plaster walls, piles of rotting garbage, and mason jars filled with personal lubricant. If we can’t forgive Osama the deaths of some 2,000 innocent people in the September 11th attacks, then I’m sure that we might all forgive him the countless hours of what must have been rigorous and exuberant masturbatory sessions that could only have marked the high point of each day.

For a man revered amongst his own people as the Michael Vick of terror (although at the local animal shelter Michael Vick himself is the Michael Vick of terror), he was never able to translate his prestige into anything even approximating front-room pussy, leaving the prospect of sitting on the ground in a windowless room with a vat of KY and a pixilated image of Nicole Richie in a two-piece a welcomed holiday from the unshaven legs and halitosis waiting down the hall.

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