By Araceli Cruz
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
In a year fraught with social and economic turmoil, our country rallied under the powerful guidance of our leader, who inspired us, fought oppresson, changed minds, and switched outfts.
I'm talking about Lady Gaga, who continued to celebrate the rights of the outcasts and almost got "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repealed singlehandedly, also using her power to turn carnivores into vegans by sporting a meat dress that made it clear that steak was strictly for fashion. She is our trusted dictator and we are completely safe under her! (Or even on top of her.)
As for the real alleged boss in the White House? He soldiered on against a rising backlash, getting more and more caught up in the shitstorm of politics as it sometimes became unclear whether what he stands for has that much to do with what he votes for. At first, Obama fought to hold up DADT, even though he didn't believe in it—he wanted it shot down in an orderly fashion, by Congress—and the gays and Gaga were in his face, demanding a rapid end to the discrimination by any means possible. The repeal finally ended up passed by Congress, but not until we saw delays, an initial Senate defeat, and a nervous breakdown for military man/activist Dan Choi.
Meanwhile, though the Prez appears to be shifting in his views about gay marriage, he's still against it—whenever a mic is on, anyway. Some civil libertarian! Hilariously, the conflicted guy did an anti-bullying video telling gay kids they're not second-class citizens around the same time that he was playing with their rights.
As the administration limped along with all its crazy mixed messages, Tea Party conservatives gained power, selectively reading the Constitution to support their needs while pandering to fears and angling for more money and control. Their dour "parties" would have been way more fun if they'd only invited Johnny Depp's bug-eyed Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland to serve the tea. Instead, there was grudge queen Sarah Palin, and you had to choke on your crumpet when she refused to rule out a 2012 presidential bid. Dismayed liberals could only console themselves with the fact that last time around, Palin fled her position halfway through, then did a TV series rhapsodizing about the people she'd just given the middle finger to.
Of course Mama Grizzly had to compete for prime time exposure with her daughter, Bristol, who valiantly danced away all the energy she gets from not having sex. And this was great—it gave us a whole new way to jump off the couch and vote against the Palin clan.
Fortunately for us, the righties kept fucking up on cue and destroying their own causes, making it easier to just stay put and be entertained. Dr. Laura Schlessinger repeatedly said the N-word on her radio show to make a point, then quit and apologized, vowing to find a place where her freedom of speech would be more appreciated. (How about Fox News?) The equally potty-mouthed candidate for New York governor, Carl Paladino, told a bunch of rabbis that gays aren't godly creatures fit to have families, but when it became a front-page story, he decided he's always been for civil rights—just not when speaking to bunches of rabbis, I guess.
He lost big-time—and so did Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, after we were reminded that she's against abortion, condoms, and masturbation; she doesn't know nothing about separation between church and state; and she once dabbled in witchcraft. Talk about "warts and all."
Most deliciously, rabidly homophobic preacher George Rekers was caught touring Europe with a young guy commonly known by the wrinkle crowd as a rising star from RentBoy.com. Relax—the kid was only hired to lift luggage and massage Rekers's weary, old bones, not to work miracles.
'For Lease,' But Not Forgotten
With world markets still in tatters, it's a wonder anyone could rent a hustler to do anything. The U.S. economy managed to angrily inch upward all year, but with unemployment clinging to tragic levels, it was way too soon to call it a "recovery"; only commentator Juan Williams felt safe, having nabbed a high-paying new job at Fox News after saying he's scared of Muslims on planes.
Bookstores were fading faster than readers, and nothing could re-Kindle them as two New York Barnes & Noble spaces gave way to Trader Joe's and Century 21. But at least the city's long-abandoned storefronts were getting new life, the shuttered Virgin Megastore at the heart of Times Square taken over by a 90,000-square-foot Forever 21, which has brought some low-scale glitz back to our tourism epicenter that thrives on it. In fact, searching for discount outfits till 2 a.m. has by default become the city's liveliest nightlife—especially after you've run from a nearby performance of Spider-Man, terrified when the lead became aerially stuck hanging over you. (That show must be produced by Bialystock and Bloom.)
A few blocks west, the imminent Out NYC is supposed to be a gay resort hotel with all the trimmings, but rumors say the current financial state of the project is not very gay. Still, just the fact that someone's trying to create a splashy new complex gave anguished New Yorkers hope amid the "dollar pizza" signs and extra bike lanes for those who can't afford cabs anymore.