By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
New York became fun again in 2011!
Thanks to a global economic meltdown! The lingering desperation in the air brought down our emotional walls, and New Yorkers became friendlier and more open than we've been in ages, most of us no longer propped up by elitism as we reached out to one another like we were having a massive midlife crisis together—in a good way.
Even better, activism replaced bottle service as we saw the rise of Occupy Wall Street, a grassroots movement hating on the corporate greed and corruption that has led to drastic social inequality, unemployment, and crappy pizza. The marchers stomped against financial institutions all over the city—and ultimately, the world—while the OWS home base at Zuccotti Park brought back a '60s-ish rebel-yelling community, complete with old-style folk singers, fringed ponchos, and new-style celebrity drop-ins. (What would an anti-bank protest be without Capital One spokesman Alec Baldwin? And what would a thriving home base be without capitalist giant Bloomberg clearing it the hell out, celebs and all?)
Like the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street targets the way our economy is run, but The New York Times took pains to point out that at least OWS is against the right people. That became clear with their detailed demands, like minimum wage for members of Congress and "removal and arrest of all CEOs responsible for the Great Recession." The generation being propelled into the hopelessness of someone else's making wasn't going to take it in a prostrate position, even if incidents of police brutality and neighborhood antagonism were trying to wet-blanket the excitement. "Get a job!" yelled the idiots, forgetting that this uprising was happening because there weren't any!Well, at Least His Job Will Be Open
As unemployment stayed at unworkable levels, President Obama's popularity plummeted even more than my money-market fund. Still, he managed to squeeze some triumphs through the gridlock of our deadeningly partisan political system. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was shot down in September, finally closing one of the darker chapters in U.S. military history. (Do you really want to launch bogus wars, then hire a doorman to turn away soldiers based on whom they sleep with?) Whatever their sexuality, troops no longer had to keep fighting in Iraq, Obama mandating them home by the end of the year (though he had no jobs for them). And as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approached, Osama bin Laden was creamed in May, proving that Dubya hadn't really been trying all that hard—no, really!
In the midst of playing out all these life-and-death issues, the president had to make time to provide his long-form birth certificate to the world, so he could shut Donald Trump up for a second, generously not demanding that Trump show his immigration papers from Queens or his certificate from the Hair Club for Men in return.
That moment of diversionary absurdity would have been a perfect time for the entire planet to implode, but alas, everyone had to wait until May 21 for that to happen, according to fulminating radio host Harold Camping.
We dutifully packed our luggage and held on for the Rapture as promised, but Camping shockingly turned out to be wrong, so he simply rescheduled the end of the world for a later date! More packing!
As the globe kept spinning, the Republicans were forced to choose from a bevy of intolerant oddballs in hopes of regaining the White House and undoing whatever human rights advances had taken place in the past three years. Overexposed Sarah Palin wisely decided to stick to TV, by golly, but Michele Bachmann seized her chance at the Big Top while trying to live down mounting reports that the counseling clinic she and husband Marcus own has urged people to pray away the gay (something one wondered if colorful Marcus needed to start doing himself).
But you couldn't pray away Herman Cain, as the seeming joke candidate and his relentless 9-9-9 tax-overhaul plan gained prominence right next to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and all the other nightmares. Cain (a/k/a "6-6-6") wouldn't go bye-bye even after old sexual-harassment charges surfaced around the same time his manager smoked during a badly conceived campaign commercial. When adultery claims hit the press, Cain still swore he was able, proving there was hope for Obama after all. But then he decided the bad press he was getting could hurt his wonderful family, so he went back to square 0-0-0 and dropped out. Not his actions, mind you—the write-ups about them! Family values are so vulnerable to being reported on!Politicians Made for Strange Bedfellows
But these screechy hopefuls were behavioral icons compared with the year's truly self-destructing politicos, which we learned about thanks to Rupert Murdoch's nonstop phone hacking. (I mean hack coughing. Or maybe it was just WikiLeaked.) Cain's alleged antics paled next to those of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who 14 years ago fostered a love child with his hotsy-totsy housekeeper. The moment this tawdry news dribbled out, Maria Shriver said, "Hasta la vista, baby"; son Patrick Arnold Schwarzenegger changed his Twitter name to Patrick Shriver; and I turned my Jingle All the Way poster into a crotch guard for my Conan the Barbarian doll.
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Thanks for the memories and perspective. The photos are beyond the beyond. I suggest a guest writer spot w/ Villanche for the Oscars...your insight would make it relevant. Cheers, dear Musto!!!
After reading Michael's cogent assessment of the nightmare that was 2011, I finally understand why my sciatica attacks were so bad this year.
Oh Michael so true, so true! It twas a rich year for gossip. Life is butt a dream. A heavily fluoridate drinking water dream. There is so much more that you could of hit on. Butt there is always 2012? Hit em hard, and hit em low girlfriend. We are in store for a very mean, vindictive, and vengeful year from the right-wing evangelicalized Christians. And your wrong on one point. They are not hell-bent on turning back 3 years of civil-rights gains and advances. Theyare going for the last 30 or 40 years of human rights advances! In the worst ways! Theyare mean, hateful, and take great pleasure in the suffering of others. But please Michael, more, more, more. And much more Cutting. After all one should fight fire with fire! It is our future that is at hand. On-guard.
Musto got Trump perfectly, also the OWS protester and Sheen. But he's not femme enough to pull off Kardashian or Bachmann. Some men can do drag, and some, well, should just stick to men's clothes (when in public). I know because I was once asked to be in a photo of two guys, dressed for a wedding, and the other guy won the coin toss and got to wear the bridal gown and veil while I had to wear the tux. I told them that I would have made a better bride than that galumphing galoot, but I was outvoted, and the photos turned out all wrong (BTW we're both straight men) and I was only able to say "I told you so."