2016, the little year that absolutely could not, is almost over, and with the exception of people for whom it was a raging success — morticians and neo-Nazis, in the main — most of us are eager to see the end of it. Starting out, as all years do, with the unlimited promise of the new and the possibility of growth, transformation and, yes, perhaps, true happiness, 2016 has soured into that one guest at your cocktail party who is still there at 4:42 AM and promises to let you get to bed after he tells you one last amusing story from each of the last seventeen times he saw the Grateful Dead. I normally don’t cotton to end-of-year reviews that appear before we’re even ordering Thai food to avoid having to eat the last of the leftover turkey hash, but given that this is a year in which we are calibrating our hopes to an even point between hoping that President Donald Trump will merely be massively corrupt and negligent on a scale not seen since Nero and hoping that President Donald Trump will actually destroy all human life in a nuclear firestorm because a talk show host insulted his tie, I’m willing to make an exception. Let’s get this over with.
1. SEX. Normally, this would be both the beginning and the zenith of my whining, but I’m gonna be honest with you folks: things are going great on the sex front. No one of my advanced years should be having good sex; they should be complaining to a wizened, bespectacled physician and/or groundskeeper about their lumbago and/or plumbago. However, facts are facts, and the facts are, this socialist is getting some. Sadly, this doesn’t mean all is well in the world of sex: our new head of state is a likely sexual predator, as are our most beloved comedians, musicians, football coaches, radio personalities, ministers of the Gospel, television stars, film directors, and actuaries, probably. It’s almost as if unaccountable power, wealth, and fame is a recipe for abusive behavior! Things have gotten so bad that a well-known dating app has informed us that we have to learn 37 new genders, and we are so relieved that we’re pretending this will fix everything.
2. DRUGS. Many states — though, cursedly, not the one I live in — have decided that, what with the planet basically disintegrating before our eyes and all, maybe it’s not that important that we put people in jail by the hundreds of thousands for smoking marijuana. The trend towards recreational marijuana legalization is fortuitously timed, as President Trump has named to the post of Attorney General a man who thinks casual drug use is only slightly less of an abomination before the law than being a Negro who does not know his proper station. Elsewhere, heroin is making a comeback, robbing us of entertainment figures who future generations will pretend are more talented than they actually were, and the plague of meth is devastating communities of people who are too poor for us to care about.
3. ROCK AND ROLL. Frankly, I have no idea what is going on in music anymore. I am an old man who gets winded walking down a flight of stairs to steal my neighbor’s newspaper, so I just assume all music today is crafted by an AutoTuned recorder played by an enigmatic Norwegian. The question has arisen, however, as to what kind of ‘art in opposition’ will emerge in the era of Donald Trump; if early indications from trend-setting rap person Kanye West are any indication, the answer will be “pretty embarrassing, I bet”.
4. THE ENVIRONMENT. 2016 was the hottest year on record, which we all complained about during the summer but secretly were thankful for most of January and February. A bunch of animals that you can’t eat or safely play frisbee golf with went extinct, and Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Barrier Reef, and other distant tourist attractions were permanently shuttered, but all in all, America responded to the imminent total destruction of its own livable habitat with the gusto of a man spending his last unemployment check playing keno because he’s positive he’ll get another job before the rent is due in four days. Recurring doomsday-scenario lead actor Donald Trump believes that climate change was invented by the heathen Chinee to drive up maintenance costs at his tacky hotels, so it’s pretty unlikely anything will be done about this until we’re drinking our own blood for hydration purposes, but surely future generations will understand that we needed them to die by the millions so that we could get ingredients for our dinner delivered instead of walking three blocks to the bodega.
5. CELEBRITY DEATH. People — especially people of the non-famous variety, who inexplicably still outnumber celebrities even in the age of reality television — die all the time, so there’s something somewhat disingenuous about engaging in performative shock when an 85-year-old who spent much of the prime of his life inhaling whatever narcotics came within ten feet of his head keels over. This is only going to become more pronounced since, as noted, there are now more famous people than there have ever been, and if by the grace of God we live long enough, we’re going to be required to have an opinion about the demise of Star Wars Kid, the “Chocolate Rain” guy, and Chicken George from season 1 of Big Brother. That said, 2016 has been especially brutal in terms of beloved figures dying young, and the news that Sharon Jones probably died of a stroke induced by watching good ol’ Donald Trump win the election just seems like the Grim Reaper is making fun of us.
6. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS. I’m going to skip the obvious about how America has elected a rancid bucket of puréed carrots with a persecution complex to the Presidency. However, it is worth pointing out that right-wing nationalist governments are now in control of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Japan, Russia, and India, leaving Germany as the world’s great beacon of freedom, democracy, pluralism, and hope. It has been remarked that God has a sick sense of humor, but this is a little on the nose, don’t you think? Essentially, in terms of whether or not mankind has a future, we are being asked to bet on whether famine, environmental destruction, and a lack of clean water will wipe us all out before there’s another global war.
7. TELEVISION. On the upside, though, TV has gotten really good, right?