Goodbye 2016, You Were More Foul Than Fair
This has been one foul year of our lord 2016. A lot of good people died. Even more horrible people accomplished horrible things. Poor folks were poisoned by the water they drank, black people were mowed down like fucking animals, transgender people were given rights by the president which were then denied by their local schools and politicians to lower the chance of rape. At the same time, legitimate rapists got off the hook because of how jail time would affect their future while on the other hand conservatives claimed death was an appropriate police-meted punishment for shoplifting.
Still, there was some good stuff. Obama cemented his legacy as a true progressive hero with a few executive orders benefiting LGBT and immigrant communities while also setting records for the amount of land he designated as protected.
Netflix unveiled some amazing TV like “The Get-Down” and “Stranger Things” to signal the future of the episodic medium but AMC’s “The Walking Dead” became a gimmicky sign that the “Golden Age of TV” is coming to an end.
Kendrick Lamar swept the rap Grammys but didn’t win best album. At least he was nominated, though; no black people were nominated for Academy Awards.
Were more unarmed black people killed by police this year than usual or did we just have more proof of something extremely disturbing that has been happening since the beginning of American history?
There was an increase in the number of police killed in America, which is also disturbing in a nation of law and order, though the big emphasis brought up by Blue Lives Matter was on black people killing police. Meanwhile Chicago has the most killings in 20 years.
Cleveland ended a city-wide championship drought (in basketball) while the Cubs finally got over the 71-year curse of the goat.
Weed became legal in 8 of 9 states that had it on the ballot in 2016.
Yet we also were victims of one of the most vicious and absurdist American presidential elections in the 20th-21st century, if not ever. This was a year when at least one side of the political discourse was nothing but a big pair of swaggling white balls. And that side won.
Killing the Breeze covered a lot of the important plot points, most of the major ones really, but of course we had our own swagger and looked for different angles or overlooked stories. Here’s a (by no means all-inclusive) KTB run down of 2016.
The year starts off with some painful deaths. Alan Rickman, who portrayed a character, Severus Snape, who was a central piece to the literary work of the 20th-21st century that has been shown to have increased the readership and acceptance of diversity in America’s youth, he died.
David Bowie, though, was the big death to kick off the year. He was a rock star legend who gave hope to all the freaks and weirdos, and everybody whose sexuality, identity and emotion didn’t match the lily-white status quo.
KTB hits the nail on the head with a smart article laying out the Trump gameplan of emotional plays and big lies while also exploring the “Trump is Hitler” tick.
GOP solons attempt to end Obamacare for 51st time. It fails again.
The Flint water crisis, in which local leaders decided money was more important than the health of the poor, is finally unveiled in all its filthy splendor.
And of course there’s KTB’s annual top hip hop albums of 2015.
The Oscars are so white.
And finally, Zika.
Maurice White dies. He was the founder of Earth Wind and Fire, one of the most influential bands of the 70s spanning from R&B to soul and funk and beyond, a group Rolling Stone credited with “changing the sound of black pop.”
Harper Lee dies. She wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a novel which inspired the world to reappraise black rights, and then published “Go Set a Watchman,” which depressed seemingly everybody who read it.
Dave Mirra dies at his own hand, a new take on the fight for athlete support when it comes to head trauma while the fatcats make their money on their grunts’ concussions.
Antonin Scalia dies, leaving behind a legacy of denying rights to the gays and everybody else not worshipful of religious hypocrisy. His last great declaration was about how he doesn’t actually believe in the separation of church and state. The senate refuses to approve a replacement for 10 months.
Hillary and Trump win Iowa. Well Trump didn’t win by the numbers but he won by the elevated opinion of him after it, especially since he said enough asinine, anti-American sentiments to sink most presidential candidacies before him.
Peyton and the Broncos beat Cam Newton and the panthers, pleasing Broncos fans, Manning fans, and people who think Cam’s an uppity negro for dabbing.
Phife Dawg dies. One of the true all-time geniuses of music, who brought poetic lyricism and pop culture knowledge to a genre just beginning to explore its own possibilities.
Garry Shandling, a brilliant comedian who would create a paradigm still being explored by comedians such as Louis C.K., dies.
Elizabeth Warren comes under attack from Bernie fans for crossing the Bernie bros.
Mayor de Blasio signs a NYC transgender access order, pissing off non-New-Yorkers who think it’s a call for men to molest girls.
Apple and big tech fights orders from the government to violate user privacy.
Georgia considers who’s more important to their Sundays – God or football.
Economist of the moment Thomas Piketty explains why Bernie’s revolution is a scientific fantasy.
Stanford swimmer Brock Turner is convicted of 3 felonies for raping an unconscious girl behind a dumpster and gets a couple months.
Prince dies. Prince, whose music inspired people of all races, creeds and lifestyles to see the world in a different way. Prince, who kept the world guessing as he changed names after he changed lives. Prince, another of our great luminaries. Prince dies.
Merle Haggard dies. One of the last outlaw country singers, who woulda scoffed at the country music of today. Merle dies.
After a month-and-some-change armed standoff with Federal Authorities, a gang of GOP-hero militants were finally captured, with one member still at large.
“The Walking Dead,” basic cable’s most-lauded current show, resorts to more viewer-wagging cliffhanging in its season finale as a sign of the end of TV’s Golden Age.
Anti-racism protesters convince a noted college to end a Kentucky-Derby-themed party tradition.
As a Trump victory looms, Paul Ryan creates his own direction for the GOP.
KTB reviews albums for 2016, doing the legwork for you. You’re welcome.
A Colorado report comes out glowingly in favor of legal weed. Over the rest of the year, several more states would legalize the miracle plant.
Beyonce’s smash hit “Lemonade” blows up as a (possibly fabricated) indictment of Jay-Z’s philandering, turning Becky with the good hair into a household name.
Old Navy paints a picture of the new American family, no doubt inspiring anti-miscegenists to vote for Trump.
Harambe, a gorilla at a zoo, is killed when a woman’s baby falls into a gorilla pit at a zoo. More people protest this than many of the police killings of unarmed people. Some take it racial.
Leicester City wins the world’s most competitive soccer league despite a 5000-1 probability at the start of the season.
Populo-nationalism takes over the world with Austria’s long-tenured leader stepping down amid a hard anti-immigrant, close-borders faction. This will boil all summer long and lead to a series of disastrous votes.
Texas’ AG leads an anti-transgender lawsuit just because he and his ilk hate freedom and want perverts to only be able to molest people of their same gender.
Baltimore’s Freddie Gray cops go to trial.
Nevada primary voting issue spurs Berners to claim that Hillary engaged in bid rigging.
Supreme Court votes 7-1 to overturn an incorrect verdict that sentenced a black man to death for the murder of an elderly white woman. The lone dissenter? Clarence Thomas.
Muhammad Ali dies. One of America’s greatest athletes. A black man in a white world who was so disgusted by all the calls of “boy, fight” that he threw his gold medal into the ocean. A Muslim and an American Icon. The Greatest of All Time. So much could be written about Cassius Clay and Muhammad Ali, both for what he accomplished and what he stood for. But his death can only be honored and blessed.
Anton Yelchin dies. A young man with a promising future who is killed when his car rolls back and kills him by pinning him against his wall, a gruesome death by all accounts and a visceral incarnation of modern ways killing humanity.
Up-and-coming indie band Good English’s lead singer comes out in support of rapist Brock Turner and learns that apparently rape is actually a big deal.
Russia responds to Olympic allegations of cheating by sending ultras to beat the crap out of Brits in the UEFA.
LeBron leads Cleveland to an NBA title after a historic comeback from 3-1. It’s Cleveland’s first championship in any sport in 52 years. Kyrie Irving also had something to do with it.
Paul Ryan unveils voucher health plan that amounts to hoping the poor and very sick die quickly and with the least inconvenience to the rich.
KTB’s top 15 albums, mid-year rundown.
The first massively stupid populo-nationalism-fueled vote to rattle the Western world: Brexit.
Garry Marshall, whose impact on American entertainment and especially comedy, is still being felt, dies.
Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and writer, dies, luckily not having to see a man endorsed by neo-Nazis become president of the United States.
Alton Sterling is shot five times by police while being held down; a few days later Philando Castile is shot while reaching for his registration. Then a crazy man in turn opens up on Dallas police guarding a BLM rally. All just after a Frontline special report explains that the police crackdown movement espoused by broken windows proponents is ineffective and breeds mistrust.
Melania Trump plagiarizes Michelle Obama’s convention speech. Trump supporters don’t care.
Miami police shoot a black counselor trying to calm down a large autistic man. When the counselor asks the cop why he shot him, the cop says “I don’t know.”
Gene Wilder, whose Willy Wonka is the only real one and who with partner Richard Pryor explored race relations with the brutal honesty only afforded to great comedy, dies.
The Rio Olympics sees Michael Phelps break a millenia-old record, Brazil somehow manage to get it together despite rampant starvation and corruption (and Zika), Simone Biles become the most electric and revolutionary gymnast in modern history (if not ever) and Neymar lead Brazil to its first ever Olympic soccer gold, at home, and Usain Bolt wins his 9th gold to accomplish a historic triple triple. All of which we predicted. What we didn’t predict? The biggest d-bag in the pool Ryan Lochte filing a false robbery report after an alleged drunken vandalism of a Rio restroom.
The National Park service turns 100 during a year when Obama’s designation of federally protected lands surpasses that of all other presidents, despite Trump’s promise to turn federal lands back to the states.
Colin Kaepernick takes a knee during the national anthem to protest police killings and the racist states of America in general. Unfortunately he would go on to say he didn’t vote and reveal himself as being more or less lazy and full of shit.
Jose Fernandez, a young Miami Marlins pitcher with the world in his hands, dies in a drunken boating accident.
Alexis Arquette, the performer who’s been trans since before it became so accepted, and looked good doing it, dies.
Perennial woman-hating woman with a strong anti-ethnic vibe Phyllis Schlafly dies, one of the few positive ticks on this year’s death toll.
Officer Betty Shelby shoots unarmed black man Terence Crutcher after her husband, a chopper pilot watching from the sky, says he looks like “a bad dude.”
The Standing Rock Sioux protest the Dakota Access pipeline project going into their water source and are met with dogs, pepper spray and the government’s pitbulls, the po-lice.
Conservative white people show their first ever concern for a black man not getting enough credit as Clarence Thomas is given a small corner next to Anita Hill in the National Black History Museum.
Trump is caught on audio telling Billy Bush he likes to grab women “by the pussy” and kiss them without asking because he’s so powerful they won’t stop him. Billy Bush is fired. Trump’s supporters don’t care.
In one of the really good moments of 2016 (though even this is debatable if you ask purists), Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize of Literature, the first American since Toni Morrison in 1993.
While digging through Anthony Weiner’s computer the FBI finds Huma Abedin’s emails to Hillary Clinton and makes insinuations that indictments are coming down the line. The FBI keeps up the ruse while most early votes roll in because, well, they HATE Hillary Clinton.
Leonard Cohen dies just after Donald Trump becomes president, making our hangovers that much worse. Though Kate McKinnon’s cold open of the post-mortem SNL in which she sings a haunting version of “Hallelujah” (isn’t every performance of that song haunting, though?) felt like a perfect way to sum up that hideous week.
Sharon Jones, one of the greatest songwoman divas most people didn’t know about (leader of the Dap-Kings, the backing band to Amy Winehouse), dies.
Cubs win the World Series, ending the 71-year curse of the goat. Harry Caray cheers from his apple-covered grave.
Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. Time to break the glass, folks. Just don’t lose your head.
Fidel Castro dies.
A Brazilian Cinderella story comes to a fiery end when a plane carrying a scrappy professional soccer team on its way to the South American championships crashes, leaving only 6 survivors.
December starts out with the death of Alan Thicke after a hockey game he played in with his son. A favorite TV dad whose son, Robin, has crossed race and genre boundaries with his sweet pipes.
George Michael dies too, another brilliant and talented musician who was younger than he should’ve been at death and who came out on TV during a time when the mainstream was just starting to accept that gay people are actually people.
It’s revealed that Russia did in fact interfere with our elections, likely because Trump has a wet, sloppy crush on Putin. Trump supporters still don’t care.
Minnesota football players protest suspension of several of their band of brothers for rape. Turns out that it’s likely the players did actually rape the girl. Their noble stand all of a sudden doesn’t look so respectable.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is briefly the subject of a failed boycott from conservatives and goes on to clear well over a hundred mil in its opening weekend and lifts Disney to the first ever studio haul of $7B.
Speaking of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher, whose Princess Leia stood as a role model for a whole generation of feisty, strong women, dies. Carrie detailed her lifelong bouts with alcohol, pills and depression in a series of great novels, memoirs and a movie. She doctored tons of film scripts and even appeared as a nun in a Jay and Silent Bob movie. Her princess became a general, her demons became inspiration and Carrie Fisher became a part of us all. A day later her mother Debbie Reynolds, of “Singing in the Rain” and Molly Brown fame (and an overwhelming number of films, stage shows and TV shows), dies.
Ending on a Low Note?
Yeah, December has been pretty rough. There was also a warehouse that doubled as a den of artists and home for men and women in the LGBTQ community that caught fire during a rave and killed a bunch of people and destroyed a bunch of homes. But I want to send us into the New Year with some hope.
Just the other day I was discussing with KTB’s Editor-In-Chief Kwaisi whether it was really that awful of a year or if the constant 24-hour bombardment of news, especially the news that arouses ire and fear as is the soup du jour of most media outlets, made it seem so. There’s also the fact that we’re spoiled Americans so our all-time worst year consists of the wrong person becoming a democratically-elected president or the deaths of celebrities vs., say, having your hometown flattened and family and friends killed (Aleppo, now that was possibly the greatest tragedy of 2016).
The Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction was halted as they look at how to accommodate the Standing Rock Sioux’s demands but that can still come back and likely President Trump will push it through alongside the Keystone XL and every other pipeline project as he slurps down gallons of big oil crude.
I mean, yes, there’s a lot of work to do. We’ll all have to take a more active role in our government, giving time and money to organizations we care about and calling our lawmakers on the reg to keep them in line.
But at least there’s officially an ebola vaccine.
See you next year.