Somewhat unbelievably, here we find ourselves on the last Friday of 2011. We hope this year has been a good one for you. As for us, well, we can’t complain too much. After all, this is the post in which we get to brag a little: The most-read stories in the Voice for the year. Whee. Previous top stories include 2008’s post by David Mamet, “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal“; screenwriter Josh Olson’s “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script,” in 2009, and last year’s “Is This Woman Too Hot To Work in a Bank?” by Elizabeth Dwoskin. (Read last year’s hits if you’re so inclined).
But on to this year! Here are the 20 stories of 2011 that you all read the most…
#20. “Facebook Imbeciles Think Japan Tsunami is Karmic Payback for Pearl Harbor”
After a tsunami hit Japan in March, Rosie Gray noticed that SOME people on Facebook and Twitter were actually suggesting that the disaster and loss of life that ensued was “karmic retribution” for Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
As Rosie pointed out:
These small-minded jingoists are forgetting two things: 1) The U.S. actually dropped two atom bombs on Japan at the end of World War II, killing up to 150,000 people, and 2) There is no such thing as “karmic payback” when it comes to devastating natural disasters.
#19. “Top 5 Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows”
On the eve of the Black Eyed Peas’ performance at this year’s big football event, Luis Paez-Pumar gathered the absolute worst of “the dark cloud that hangs over most Super Bowls,” i.e., the halftime show. New Kids on the Block appearing at the 1991 Super Bowl halftime after children sang “It’s a Small World” only made it to number 2 here, which means, well, just read the list. So that we can prevent these crimes from ever happening again.
#18. “Our 10 Best Things to Eat in Manhattan’s Chinatown”
Robert Sietsema was at it again, journeying far and wide to taste and then to tell us what to eat, and what to avoid at all costs. In this post he emphasized budget dining because, “Buddha knows, we need it now more than ever.” Delicious and cheap? Sietsema, you are too good to us. Warning: This list will make you ravenous, a hunger helpfully tempered by the name of one dish: “Tingly Lamb Face Salad.” Hm.
Ah, Dan Kois. We love you almost as much as we love the Twilight saga, and that is A LOT. Too much, some might say. But how could you not? As Kois writes, “Yes, Bella and Edward marry in Breaking-Part 1. And they do it. And Bella gets pregnant with some kind of Miracle-Gro demon spawn that breaks her ribs from the inside. That’s just the beginning of the shit show that is Condon’s film, barely adapted by Melissa Rosenberg from the first half of the last book of Meyer’s series.” There are now 79 comments on this post, causing some to tweet that “The comments section for Dan Kois’ review of “Breaking Dawn” will make you weep for humanity.” Read it and weep, if you must — you’re following in the footsteps of many.
#16. “9/11: The Winners”
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of September 11, Graham Rayman wrote of the people for whom “the terrorist attacks have been a gold mine.” Take, for example, former volunteer firefighter Vincent Forras, who “has turned 9/11 into a high profile career that has taken him on overseas trips, gotten him photographed with mayors, governors, princes, and pro athletes, had him interviewed by national television personalities, has yielded a range of financial benefits, and an endorsement from none other than Don Imus for U.S. Senate.” Except, many say he’s a phony, manipulating half-truths in order to benefit from the tragedy of September 11. “Is it sacrilege to point this out?” Rayman asked…52 commenters responded.
#15. “The Red Cross’s Accidental Drunk Tweet Is Adorable”
What’s better that an organization that does good deeds? An organization that drunk tweets, of course. And then laughs about it. The Red Cross turned what could have been a sticky PR situation (the Red Cross drinks! And tweets about it!) into an occasion to show off their sense of humor and their love of Dogfish. Many were amused, and the “rogue tweet” went on to inspire a donor campaign with pledges using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. (For the record, the Red Cross promises the Tweeter was not drunk.)
#14. “McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal — I’m Retching!”
We’re pretty sure that this is the first use of “retching” in a Fork in the Road headline. At any rate, it’s definitely the most successful. Robert Sietsema was not pleased by McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal, “none too appetizing as it sits, swamp-like, in its shorty cup,” he writes. “Here and there a bit of green or red apple skin glinted, but it did little to dispel the idea that I was about to eat something emptied from the sink trap.” 97 people were moved to comment, including some who felt very strongly about their love for Mickey D’s.
#13. “Our 10 Best NYC Restaurants of the Last Two Centuries”
In another epic one from Fork in the Road, Sietsema chronicled the best restaurants of New York’s last 200 years. Some of them are actually still in business. We recommend making them a part of your 2012 culinary journey. As for the others — perhaps it’s better if you just read about them. For instance, take Irish immigrant William “Billy” Niblo’s early locavorism: “bald eagle shot on the Grouse Plains of Long Island” and “hawk and owl shot in Turtle Grove, Hoboken,” served at Bank Coffee House in the 1800s. Yum.
#12. “Scientology’s Cruise Ship as Prison: The Voice Interviews Valeska Paris”
A very big one of Tony Ortega‘s 234 Scientology posts this year was the one in which he interviewed Valeska Paris, who says she was held for 12 years against her will on Scientology’s “floating cathedral and cruise ship” Freewinds. During this time, Tom Cruise was brought aboard the ship by church leader David Miscavige for…not even kidding…his birthday party. 258 people were inspired to comment.
#11. “Donald Glover is More Talented Than You”
Bill Jensen‘s interview with Donald Glover, the cover story of the paper in mid-April, just before the start of the “I Am Donald” tour — a live show combining hip-hop, comedy, and viral sketch video that went through 23 cities in 33 days — found a wide audience of Glover-lovers and the occasional Glover detractor. Who is Donald Glover? Quite a lot of things, as it turns out. And, if not more talented than all of us, certainly more driven. “Right now, I refuse to even have a dog. No girlfriend. I don’t want anything tying me down. I want to be everywhere. I don’t see a limit for me. I want to do everything,” he says. We’re impressed.
#10. “We Have Obtained a Copy of MTV’s Standard Real World Cast-Member Contract”
Camille Dodero got her hands on a copy of an unsigned Real World contract, which goes on for some 30 pages. She helpfully also gave highlights, for those without the time to peruse the whole shebang. Among them:
• You may die, lose limbs, and suffer nervous breakdowns. (Stipulation 1)
• If you undergo any medical procedures while involved in the show, they carry the risk of infection, disfigurement, death. (4)
• You may be humiliated and explicitly portrayed “in a false light.” (12)
• If you contract AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases while filming [“gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), Chlamydia, scabies (crabs),’hepatitis, genital warts, and other communicable and sexually transmitted diseases or Pregnancy; etc”], MTV is not responsible. (7)
• Interacting with other cast members carries the risk of “non-consensual physical contact” and should you contract AIDS, etc. during such an interaction, MTV is not responsible. (7)
• You don’t have STDs, but accept that other people on the show might. (18)
• You grant the Producer blanket rights to your life story. (49)
• The Producer can do pretty much anything they want with your life story, including misrepresent it. (49)
Note to self: Never sign a Real World contract.
#9. “Yes, Ladies, You Can Walk Around the City Topless”
After a woman was photographed strolling the Bowery shirtless (and, yes, braless too) on an especially hot day this summer, Esther Zuckerman asked NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne for his thoughts on the subject — specifically, was the woman breaking the law? The answer was no: “The state’s highest court established long ago that women have the same right as men to appear topless in public. Absent a link to some commercial enterprise or promotion, the woman’s lack of certain attire in this instance does not appear to be a police matter.”
This post, and its associated page views, ensued.
#8. “RIP New York Times Elizabeth Taylor Obit Writer”
Nick Greene‘s meta-obit for Mel Gussow, New York Times‘ theater critic and principal writer for the Taylor obituary, who died in 2005 at the age of 71, actually trumped our Elizabeth (never call her Liz) obit. Greene wrote, “Gussow had written over 4,000 pieces for the New York Times, one of them, apparently, was the Elizabeth Taylor obit they had ready to run for over half a decade.”
February 27th, 1932-March 23rd, 2011
December 19th, 1933-April 29th, 2005
#7. “The 20 Best Nicknames in the Big Mafia Bust”
Remember when all those mobsters got busted in NYC almost a year ago? Joe Coscarelli does. Or at least, he remembers their nicknames. Our favorite is still #11: JOSEPH CARNA, also known as “Junior Lollipops.” (Mr. Junior Lollipops, to you.) “Baby Fat Larry” is pretty good, too.
#6. “Movie Theater Gets Revenge on Obnoxious Customer by Using Her Voicemail in a PSA”
If the pageviews on this post are any indication, we really, really, really hate obnoxious people using their phones in movie theaters. Not that’s not a surprise — nor is it a surprise that what Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse did with the nasty voicemail that a woman left after being kicked out of one of their theaters for using her phone is the stuff of viral greatness.
#5. “NYC’s Ten Worst Tenants”
Elizabeth Dwoskin‘s cover story on the worst tenants in New York City — the hoarder, the scammer, the serial evictee, the fraudsters, the domestic-violence faker, the impaler — is a must-read. For one, to make sure that none of them are your neighbors and for two…the impaler!?
#4. “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight”
Martin Cizmar, Ellis Conklin, and Kristen Hinman‘s cover story was printed in the heady days of June, back when Ashton Kutcher hadn’t taken himself of Twitter over his little Joe Pa mishap. Which was nice, we suppose, because our own little Twitter war ensued with him over this piece, an exploration into Ashton and Demi and Sex Trafficking — particularly, the statistic, “hatched without regard to science,” that 100,000 to 300,000 children in America are turning to prostitution every year.
#3. “Guys Who Like Fat Chicks”
Camille Dodero’s piece about men who prefer “round bellies…double chins…flabby biceps…and breasts the size of [a] head” not only made it into Best Sex Writing 2012, it was also the third of our popular stories this year. And, fairly so, with lines like these:
“The skinny on Lawrence is that he’s charming, ‘impossibly smart,’ and a ‘bachelor”–he dates, but he’s keeping his options open. Since, he says, “99 percent of the women you see in magazines, I couldn’t get it up for,” the 28-year-old Upper West Side resident gets lumped into the Fat Admirer catchall, though he winces at the self-help-sounding moniker that has been adopted as an identifier. “Fat Admirer? Do I ever really say that? I just like fat chicks, that’s all.”
#2. “Vancouver Riot Kissing Couple Might Have Staged Make Out”
What everyone presupposed, at first, was that the “heartwarming and Photoshop-ready picture of a Vancouver pair making out during the post-Stanley Cup riots in Canada,” which took over the Internet in June, was legit. What Joe Coscarelli‘s post did was ask…what if that wasn’t the case?
In fact, they really were kissing, legitimately. Getty Images stringer Rich Lam attributes the shot to pure luck. This makes it no less heartwarming, of course. And, like all good mysteries, this one wraps up nicely:
The identity of the couple is no longer a mystery — it’s Scott Jones, 29, and his girlfriend Alexandra Thomas, the Vancouver Star reports. They spoke with Scott’s dad, Brett Jones. “She had actually been injured,” he said, keeping with the above version of events. “She had been knocked down by a shield.”
“He lay down next to her to comfort her. She was crying and he just kissed her to calm her down.”
“Love is real,” pronounced Joe.
#1. “Dear Single Women of NYC: It’s Not Them, It’s You”
Speaking of love: The biggest story of 2011 for the Voice was one about dating…and owning it. Whether readers liked it or not (and many hated it, and me for writing it!), it’s fair to say that this one resonated.
As for the guy at the end of the story…we’re friends now. I think. And, I stand behind the fact that there are good men in New York City, presuming you actually want to find them. But, seriously, figure out what you want, first.
Happy 2011, all, and on to even better things in 2012.