This just touches on a few of the myriad of failures that have taken this country down from a flush economy and world leadership to a foundering ship of state. Of course there are many positive efforts being made to right the ship…many committed activists and entrepreneurs trying to make this world sustainable, as well as some amazing young talent, like the astounding, divine operatic voice of ten year old Jackie Evancho who could make the most cynical atheists do three hail Marys and put a dollar in the collection box. And let’s not forget two unlikely GIANT championships in the NFL… New York (2007) and in Major League Baseball…SanFrancisco (2010). Of course, also deserving of mention is Obama’s late 4 th quarter end runs around the recalcitrant, reactionary Republicans, effecting some compromised legislation…but legislation nevertheless. All in all, however, it’s been a losing decade. Let’s hope that we learn from our mistakes and, at least, play .500 ball for the next ten years!
Okay….here we go:
1) Bernie Madoff and the Boys
What else can be said about this audacious thief and his make-believe money? Only that he is not the only irresponsible jerkoff out there playing God with people’s savings, hopes and dreams. Lookout folks…there are many investment ‘counselors’ hovering around senior centers, cocktail parties, churches and synagogues, clothed in pious attire, just waiting to sell you a bill of goods.
2) Jerry Brown
This political animal and brilliant rhetorician has never gotten over losing to Clinton in the ‘92 primaries. Using a provocative radio show on the Pacifica Network in the mid 90’s to launch a base for his hypocritical mayoral campaign in the foundering city of Oakland, California, Brown interviewed radical, progressive visionaries, yackety yacking about the innate corruption of American politics. Calling himself a ‘retired politician’ he then went on to retrench himself in the game in a pathetic 8-year stunt as Oakland’s mayor. Supporting business interests over people’s and tenant’s rights, Brown forsook the principles of his “We The People” radio show and went on to the Attorney General’s office only to quickly give that up for another shot at the governorship. We can only hope that Jerry can comeback with more than the usual banter and blabber. But based on his first pronouncement… that ‘the public schools must tighten their belts’…I wouldn’t count on it.
3) Mike Singletary
Finally fired after a miserable 2 ½ year run as the San Francisco 49ers head coach, Singletary, with his pugnacious energy and virtually zero emotional intelligence, has left a reasonably good team scratching their nuts and wondering: when, where, why, and why not? So long Mike, you were a Chicago Bear of a player 25 years ago. But the fans, the league, and yours truly could not ‘bear’ to see you stay. With all the head traumas and hernias going around, we don’t need another bull in the ring!
4) Michael Vick
This sadist should have been sent to Dogville, or some similar alternative society for his crimes against man’s best friend. Instead, after a nominal couple of years in the pen, he is greeted back by the league and captured by the Philadelphia Eagles as a multi-million dollar redemption project. Rather, let’s see him scramble his way from a pack of Rotweillers and Pit Bulls!
5) Spiderman on Broadway
This 65 million dollar, high-tech extravaganza has to be the final blow to the “great white way.” It hasn’t even officially opened and already there’ve been enough busted bones and concussions to rival any day on the field in the NFL. It’s pretty hard to match the arrogance of performers flying across the orchestra pit, and the audience at large, at the mercy of computers, cables and bungee cords. With all the derivative do-overs, inept original scores, and contrived nonsense that has come to define ‘Broadway’ these days, Spiderman, and its pigheaded producers, take a back seat to no one in the supercilious stupidity department. Indeed, it easily takes top-ten honors for the worst performances of the decade!
6) Radical Joy
This semi-theological reconstruction of common sense has been floating around theological circles for some time now. It’s an enticing ontological attempt at re-perception but it only serves to obfuscate the root causes of many negative experiences. In essence it suggests we apply consciousnesses to situations that ordinarily defy an experience of joy. This consciousness would then enable us to receive new information and find some sort of elation in the direst of circumstances. It cites the anecdotal story of the Jews dancing in ecstasy at times in the midst of their forty year foray through the miserable desert after their exodus from Egypt. But with all due respect, I find it difficult to believe much dancing went on in the Sinai, unless one considers the likelihood of dehydration and sunstroke precipitating such experience. Likewise, I can’t recall any footage or stories of dancing in Dachau or celebratory rejoicing in Auschwitz. In the final analysis there is no substitute for a better reality, and the veritable, radical joy that a reconstructed reality can bring to us all. Better still, why not look into the concept of “Radical Oy?” A study of the origins and implications of this colloquialism could shed centuries of light on the plight, hopes and aspirations of one of the world’s most fascinating and controversial cultures.
7) Dr. Wong (AKA: Dr. Wrong)
During my hospital stay at Alta Bates in Berkeley, as I went into renal failure as a result of a blood disorder, the attending nephrologist, Dr. Wong, assured my family that there was no hope I could regain my kidney function. Apparently Dr. Wong did not consult with any of the other physicians and specialists before pronouncing me all but done for. It quickly became apparent that through dialysis and apheresis, that Dr. Wong was indeed a disguise for the real attending nephrologist: Dr. Wrong! Happy New Year Dr. Wrong. My kidney function is back, and so am I!
8) The Republican Party
Little commentary needed here. Like adolescent clowns, the Republicans (recently propelled by populist ignoramuses like Sarah Palin and Christy McDonnell) would rather win the game then play it sane. From healthcare to immigration reform to taxes, these blowhards have convinced too many voters that we should live in an anachronistic dreamland where the likes of Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and Gordon Gecko would lead us to believe that the greed that built this country can actually sustain it. Give Obama some credit here. He actually got some things done despite their sorry commitment to turn the clock back a century or so ago.
9) The American Non-Voter
In a country based upon the principle of the will of the people it is a pathetic testament to democracy that so many folks can’t get up off their keisters, give up a night or two of twittering and TV to actually make it to the polls and vote their interest. There is no law obliging people to do so, but given the sacrifices so many American men and women have made for our freedom… there should be! Look at the 20-30 year old demographic of voters who put Obama over the top in 2008. Once all the hysterical hoopla, and campaign bluster was over, only 20% bothered to take part in the critical mid-term elections of 2010! So, why not a civics test every 3 years for all eligible voters? Those who fail, or don’t bother to participate in the process, can then be deported to a country where they vote for you! Sounds draconian, but take a look around. Things aren’t going so well!
10) The Road Through the Serengeti
Here is proof that Black, White, Yellow and Tan are equal...at least equally oblivious to anything but convenience and profits. Work has already started on a 33 mile, double-lane highway through the path of one of nature’s most awe-inspiring events, The Great Migration of Wildebeests, Zebras, Antelopes and others across the Serengeti plains in Tanzania. Much of the projected loss in wildlife would come from road-kill, but the devastation would also result from easier poaching and other factors. Why the frenzy to destroy this breathtaking wonderland…one of the few places on earth that looks exactly as it did a million years ago? Cell Phones! That’s right! Those smart-ass little devices that have taken the world by storm. The precious metals necessary for their manufacturing are abundant in this area, and the Tanzanian government can’t wait to make a double-killing by bulldozing the shortest route from Lake Victoria to the coast, where they can export these materials to the ravenous, garrulous yackers, and texters who probably don’t give a damn either. There is an alternative that would go south of the Serengeti, but the government claims that “it wouldn’t be profitable, and that they’d lose potential business.” And guess who is supplying much of the Do Re Mi for the road? That’s right:The Chinese! Black, White, Yellow or Tan…it’s business as usual, unless the next decade brings the pressure to bear on this latest, ignominious assault upon our once natural world.
Last but not least: Marc Twang’s New Year’s Eve bomb at Strawberry Creek Lodge in Berkeley California. Twang had bombed before, but never in front of so many folks…mainly old farts from this Senior Citizen Home. Instead of giving them what they expected-Row, Row Your Boat, We Shall Overcome, etc…Twang performed a confusing hodge podge of original songs and instrumentals. “I suppose my sing-a-long: ‘Safe Sex’ didn’t quite get the rise from the ol’ codgers I was hoping for. If they had a hook there, they would have used it on me…for sure. Never again,” remarked the distressed Twangster. “Solipsism and traditional folk music will never get along!”