The New Year is less than a day away, don’t despair

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It appears everyone hates 2016. I mean, really hates the year of their Lord, 2016. Could it get any more twisted? Not much really. Let’s face it: here in the City of Angels there’s only about seven more hours of it left. In fact, if you’re living in Perth, Australia it is now over and 2017 is already starting to get twisted.

  • Update: I just saw a Facebook post from my friend Vinnie who gave a good list of reasons why 2016 was great. I stand corrected: there is one person I know who thinks this year has been great. There’s always at least one joker in the deck.
Blue Linckia Starfish on the Great Barrier Reef (Wikipedia)

This just in from Australia: in 2016 the Great Barrier Reef went through the worst bleaching plague in recorded history so the government has pledged to do all it can to save the reef, which is one of the great natural wonders of the world. But at the same time they are about to okay the operation of the largest coalmine in the world.

On one hand they are trying to save the reef from extinction, but on the other they want to assist in the warming of the planet by allowing a 100-square mile coalmine to begin operation so it can ship 44 million tons of coal — the dirtiest of fossil fuels — to India.

For those who don’t know — and lets face it: we live in the United States so we rarely see actual climate change news printed anywhere — the warming trend of the oceans is killing off many reefs around the world. Reefs, like the Great Barrier Reef, are the building blocks of life on Earth.

So, maybe life in Australia will get a little more twisted in 2017 than it was in 2016. But probably not as twisted as life in these United States. Twenty-one days from today Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as our 45th president. Try saying that three times without vomiting.

Instagram meme

Here’s an interesting phenomenon that started with the ascendancy of Donald Trump and is only going to grow (and thereby cause more twisting) in 2017: the number of so-called “patriotic” Americans taking sides with Vladimir Putin against their fellow Americans. Putin, one of the most oppressive dictators in the world, the guy who works at undermining the United States at ever opportunity. We’re talking about Republicans here, not Democrats. Remember the good old days when Democrats were accused of being Russian sympathizers?

A couple days ago my friends and I had a short but interesting discussion about the term “fellow travelers.” My friends were unaware it was once a term to describe American Communists and their sympathizers. Which brings to mind the film, Hail, Caesar. It’s a Coen Brothers film with George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum Jonah Hill and a host of others. It’s about a bunch of Fellow Travelers … and I’ll just leave it at that. Don’t want to be a spoiler on the last day of the year.

Ever wonder how two people can direct one film? I could never do anything that complicated and involved with any of my brothers or sisters.

One day, in a time long, long ago (early 1970s) in a state far, far away (Florida) my two eldest sisters and I were sitting about doing nothing after having just shared a big bowl of cannabis. Well, it was a little hand-held pipe so maybe it wasn’t that big, but that’s not the point.

At any rate, we were about 1,500 miles away from the parental units so we were quite relaxed about getting high in the house. Now, as kids, when Mom and Dad went shopping on Saturdays we would lay around the house until someone say the old man’s car pulling up. The lookout would shout: “MOM AND DAD ARE HOME!” And we would then scurry about doing our chores so it didn’t look like we had been lazy.

So anyway, there we were in Florida laying about being lazy, as smoking pot will do to most of us when all of a sudden I jumped up and yelled, “MOM AND DAD ARE HOME!” I swear my two older sisters — who shall remain anonymous because I love Cheryl and Mary Lou — jumped out of their seats and began cleaning up the little trailer home were we were living at the time.

You probably had to be there and to have grown up in our family to appreciate the humor of it. But Mary Lou got me back: She and Cheryl went out one night and left me home to watch my nephew, who will remain anonymous because he truly was innocent back then. On her way out MLou gave me a book to read, to occupy my time.

That thick tome was The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. If you saw the movie, especially the 2000 Director’s Cut that featured all the scenes cut out of the original version because they were too frightening, then you have some idea of just how terrifying the book was, especially in 1973. I read it in one sitting, being too frightened to put it down and go to sleep.

From “The Exorcist” Warner Bros

When they came bebopping through the door the next morning, there I was, still curled up in the fetal position reading the book. It wasn’t until I read the last word on the last page that I was able to fall asleep. I still have nightmares from that book. The movie, which I saw a few months later, just served to give those nightmares actual form and faces.

So where were we? Oh yeah, the horror of 2016, which is about to become the horror of 2017.

Some so-called Republicans are now on the side of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. You’ve probably seen this … phenomenon … on Facebook and Twitter. They prefer Putin to Obama … Back in the day, as much as I disliked Richard Nixon, I never preferred Leonid Brezhnev to Nixon. I never preferred Yuri Andropov or Konstantin Chernenko or even Mikhail Gorbachev to Ronald Reagan, the worst president in my lifetime.

As bad as Reagan was — and he was a terrible, anti-Middle Class president — the Soviet Union and its leaders were despicably worse. Food shortages, gulags, repressive policies with no free speech, no freedom of expression — they banned jazz and rock’n’roll for chirsssakes — it never occurred to me to say, “Leonid Brezhnev is the kind of leader America should have.”


But the worst came from the President-Elect himself when he praised Vlad via Twitter (what else?). You have probably seen it by now if you’re reading this. Trump and his minkies believe a foreign leader — one that is opposed to U.S. policy — over U.S. intelligence agencies — all 17 of them — about the Russians hacking into the emails of our political parties. Some justify or excuse the Russian meddling in our elections because: A) under Presidents Bush and Obama we (our government) has built the most sophisticated surveillance apparatus in world history and B) the U.S. has a long history of meddling in the elections of many countries. Well okay, that makes what Russia — Vladimir Putin — did acceptable.

There is the great multitude on Facebook who are condemning this act by Trump … and then there is the minority, the Trump acolytes that are praising Trump for praising Putin. We used to call what Trump did treason. Some of these same Trump supporters still call Jane Fonda a traitor because she went to North Vietnam during the war and sat in the seat of an anti-aircraft gun. It’s, at the very least, inconsistent.

Vladimir Putin during his days in the KGB (Wikipedia)

Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator who invaded a sovereign nation (Ukraine) and is occupying parts of that sovereign nation. The dictator who jails and murders journalists (Trump would love to be able to do that, no doubt), who jails and murders political opponents (something else Trump no doubt admires) — Vladimir Putin, for former KGB spy chief.

We haven’t even mentioned the wealthiest, most racist least educated presidential cabinet in history. The fact that he is picking people with zero to not much experience to run key departments of the federal government — and in many cases people who want to do away with the departments they will now lead — is absolutely astounding.

As inconvenient as it may be, the fact the President-Elect Trump ditched the press pool to play golf this morning doesn’t bother me. The incoming president is a douchebag and if the press still believes a President Trump is going to become more presidential in any way, shape or form than he is now … well then maybe the mainstream media is a little screwed up.

Yes, 2017 is going to be far more twisted than 2016.

In 2016 we lost David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, Alan Rickman, Glen Frey, Umberto Eco, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Doris Roberts, Muhammad Ali and many more pivotal individuals in our society and that is heart-breaking enough, but then this happened on Friday: December 30: it only took 48 seconds for Amanda Nunes to knock out Ronda Rousey in the latter’s comeback fight. In sports the mighty always fall … except for the New England Patriots. What’s up with them? They may not win the Super Bowl every year, but they sure make the playoffs every year.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots
(Claudia Gestro)

Oh yeah: Tom Brady. It helps to have the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. I say that as a devout — DEVOUT — Packer fan that believes the universe revolves around the trio of Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

The Rams moved back to Los Angeles and had their worst season in many, many years. The San Diego Chargers lost their bid to stay in San Diego so they will no doubt be moving north. The Los Angeles Dodgers started the season with a new manager (Dave Roberts) and made it to the National League Championship Series … only to lose to the Chicago Cubbies. A 108-year tradition down the drain.

Jerry Garcia (guitar) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums) of the Grateful Dead, circa 1978 (YouTube)

The Lakers hired a new head coach (Luke Walton), who happens to like the Grateful Dead … sounds like the right choice to me — and once again Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers is injured. And once again they are the fourth best team in the NBA.

Twenty-sixteen is almost over, but is there any reason to look forward to 2017? How does the song from Annie go?

“The sun will come out tomorrow
So you got to hang on ’til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow
You’re always a day away”

Well okay … Happy New Year — I hope.

Actually, I still have over 100 Grateful Dead recordings on my various electronics devices. Same with Frank Zappa. Well, I’ll get through 2017.

Top photo courtesy of Tribune Publishing company