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The year in review 2006

 

Gone but not forgotten

Gerald Ford, Coretta Scott King, Saddam Hussein, James Brown, Robert Altman, Jane Jacobs, Ed Bradley, Betty Friedan, Kenneth Lay, Augusto Pinochet, Caspar Weinberger, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ann Richards, Lloyd Bentsen, Al Lewis, Maureen Stapleton, Peter Boyle, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Mickey Spillane, Buck Owens, Gene Pitney, Lou Rawls, June Pointer, Syd Barrett, Billy Preston, Anita O’Day, Arthur Lee, Katherine Dunham, Joseph Barbera, Ahmet Ertegun, Gordon Parks, Arif Mardin, Aaron Spelling, Kirby Puckett, Floyd Patterson, Steve Irwin, and the casualties of the war in Iraq.

Also, Dubai ruler Sheikh Maktoum; Saparmurat Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan; Tongan Prince Tu’ipelehake and Princess Kaimana; Alfredo Stroessner, former dictator of Paraguay; George Field, founder of the National Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies during World War II; My Lai massacre hero Hugh Thompson; Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; Russian KGB agent turned dissident Alexander Litvinenko; and Iva Toguri D’Aquino, aka Tokyo Rose.

Actors Joseph “Patrick” Crenshaw, Moira Shearer, Franklin Cover, Phil Brown, Richard Bright, Darren McGavin, Dennis Weaver, Lew Anderson, Paul Gleason, Robert Donner, Jan Murray, June Allyson, Barnard Hughes, Bruno Kirby, Mickey Hargitay, Tetsuro Tamba, Phyllis Kirk, and Sid Raymond.

Writers Wendy Wasserstein, Paul Clinton, Alan Shalleck, Peter Benchley, Stanislaw Lem, R.W. Apple, Sid Adilman, Bebe Moore Campbell, and John Heath-Stubbs.

Musicians Bryan Harvey, Derek Bailey, Janette Carter, Gene McFadden, James Yancy (aka Jay Dee), William Cowsill, Barry Cowsill, Bruce Hart, Sarah Caldwell, Cindy Walker, Nikki Sudden, Pio Leyva, Bernard “Buddy” Seigal, Jackie McLean, Proof, Daniel McKenna, Soraya, Johnnie Wilder, Freddie Garrity, Grant McLennan, Billy Walker, Vince Welnick, Hiroyuki Iwaki, Gyorgy Ligeti, Claydes Charles Smith, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Milan B. Williams, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Astrid Varnay, Danny Flores, Raymond “Boz” Burrell, Paul Vance, Sandy West, Marijohn Wilkin, Betty Comden, H-Bomb Ferguson, and Will Westbrook.

Sportscaster Curt Gowdy; former Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler; TV host Louis Rukeyser; CBS news correspondent Christopher Glenn; New York Times former editor A.M. Rosenthal and former managing editor Gerald M. Boyd.

Film directors Richard Fleischer, Vincent Sherman and Gillo Pontecorvo; cinematographer Sven Nykvist; animator Alex Toth; National Lampoon cofounder Robert K. Hoffman; and cartoonist Martin Nodell, creator of the Green Lantern.

Activists Omololu Falobi and Dana Reeve; legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler; heart-transplant pioneer Dr. Norman Shumway; Dr.Eugene Landy, therapist to Brian Wilson; Capricorn Records founder Phil Walden; Edouard Michelin, CEO of Michelin Tires; Mr. Softee founder James F. Conway; Hooters chairman Robert Brooks; Elma Gardner Farnsworth, who helped her husband Philo develop the TV; Royal Bank of Scotland banker Neil Coulbeck, who was questioned on his ties to the Enron collapse.

Local notables Teri Currie, artist and Metroland photographer; Albany Police Detective Kenneth Wilcox; University at Albany President Kermit Hall; New York State Trooper Joe Longobardo; poet Pat Covert; and Tony Tirino, founder of Albany’s youth recreational soccer program.

Gone and forgotten

The Winter Olympics, Jeanine Pirro, Ned Lamont, Tom Suozzi, John McCain’s maverick status, Albany’s First Night, Michael Brown (FEMA), Michael Brown (Albany Common Council), Saratoga Winners, the Hudson Duster, Floyd Landis, The West Wing, Russell Crowe, stability in the Middle East, “Stay the course”

Gone and back again

Democrats, Ed Dague (via blog), Michael Jackson, Howie Mandel, Bob Saget, Revolution Hall, Rocky Balboa, Smashing Pumpkins, ABC (the band), racism and anti-Semitism, the nuclear arms race, dictatorship in Russia, Britney Spears’ panties

Gone and back and gone again

Sobriety in the Albany Police Department

Gone and back and gone and back again

Guns N’ Roses, Albany Eye

Gone and back and out and gone again

Lance Bass

Gone and we miss you

The Music Shack

Gone and we want you back

Consitutional rights, community policing in Albany, winter

Gone and still paying the bills

Alan Hevesi

Gone to Iowa

George Pataki

Gone and bitter

John Sweeney

Gone for 50

Christopher Porco

Gone to rehab

Mark Foley, Mel Gibson, Kate Moss, Pete Doherty, Keith Urban, Nicole Richie

Gone to hang with Xenu

Tom Cruise

Won’t go away

Gun violence in Albany

Going, going . . .

Joe Bruno, Tony Blair, Deadwood, compact discs

Going, going . . . but in denial

Bellevue Women’s Hospital

Please Go Away

Donald Trump, Tyra Banks, Jamie Foxx’s singing career, the Albany convention center, mayoral committees, Rachael Ray

Cheney shoots his load . . . er, hunting buddy

Perhaps we’ve seen so little of Dick Cheney because he’s been wearing camouflage. But on Feb. 11, he totally blew his cover—and almost blew 78-year-old Texas lawyer Harry Whittington’s head off. Due to a miscalculation (is it a faux pas to yell “Duck!” while hunting quail?), Cheney discharged his 28-gauge shotgun in Whittington’s direction, spraying his face, neck, and upper torso with birdshot pellets. Whittington suffered a non-fatal “silent” heart attack and landed in intensive care for a week. But Cheney turned out to be bulletproof: Whittington’s statement on the “accident” read, “My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice President Cheney and his family have had to deal with.”

NSA Wiretaps

Foreshadowing what would be a turbulent autumn for the Bush administration, a Detroit District Court judge ruled in August that the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program—a program Bush was awfully fond of—is illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as well as unconstitutional under the First and Fourth Amendments. The decision is currently stayed pending appeal.

Choked on the laughs

In one of the supreme media moments of the year, President Bush had to sit there and take it when, at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, comedian Stephen Colbert dished it out. Staying in the character he plays on TV’s The Colbert Report, Colbert gave the prez a verbal beatdown. The crowd of Washington press and pols hated Colbert’s performance, but he became a sensation on C-SPAN, YouTube and iTunes.

Coalition of the leaving

Everybody who could leave, did leave Iraq this year, from thousands of Iraqis to our formerly stalwart allies Poland. The Brits are out in 2007; looks like we’ll be left to turn the lights out. Oh, that’s right: We never managed to get them turned on.

The saga of McSmackey and McChokey

Speaking of choking . . . it turns out that when congressmen, like pimps, allegedly have to smack a bitch, they stick together. Local blog Democracy in Albany nosed out that former Rep. John Sweeney (R, out-of-there), who allegedly knocked his wife around the house in a domestic “incident,” donated $1,000 to Pennsylvania Rep. Don Sherwood (R, also-out-of-there) a week before the election. Sherwood allegedly had choked his “20-something mistress” and paid her a couple of hundred grand in “hush money.” Some “astute tipster” forwarded the link to national blog Wonkette, which posted it and suggested that Sweeney and Sherwood could start their own caucus. Alas, since they both lost, this was not to be.

Elephants extinct in New York

John Sweeney wasn’t the only New York GOPer to go down last November. The Democrats took an open congressional seat in central New York; John Hall beat incumbent Sue Kelly in the 19th district; and Hillary Clinton won reelection to the U.S. Senate in a wipeout over . . . somebody. At the state level, it was a classic blowout, with Eliot Spitzer taking the governor’s mansion, Andrew Cuomo winning Spitzer’s old AG post, and Alan Hevesi winning reelection over a bowtied challenger. Sure, Hevesi’s out now, but the Democrats in the Senate and Assembly get to pick his replacement.

Dolphins nearly extinct in China

Rampant development and invasive fishing practices, scientists fear, have pushed the Chinese river dolphin to the point of extinction. Maybe if we dubbed the TV series Flipper into Mandarin and broadcast it into China, folks there would love the dolphin enough to save it. Hasn’t worked with those beloved Coca-Cola polar bear commercials here, though.

And on Day Two, Spitzer will change the world

Soon-to-be governor-elect Eliot Spitzer’s “Day One” campaign slogan became the political buzzword of the 2006 election in New York. The phrase, which was repeated ad nauseam within the media, encapsulated the outgoing attorney general’s reform agenda and promises to improve schools, restore ethics in government, cut taxes and revive the state’s economy. Spitzer, who’s well-known for his efforts in cleaning up Wall Street as attorney general, easily cruised to a record-setting victory in November, becoming the first new governor in 12 years.

‘Driving Mrs. Hevesi’ drove Mr. Hevesi out of a job

The election cycle looked to be relatively scandal-free for New York Dems. That was until September, when Democratic Comptroller Alan Hevesi admitted that he used a state employee to chauffer his wife. The “Driving Mrs. Hevesi” affair gave state Republicans their first realistic chance of victory for GOP candidate, bowtie-adorned Christopher Callaghan. (Callaghan, by the way, was the one who pointed out Hevesi’s fiscal irresponsibility.) Hevesi retained his title, however, only to resign in December as part of a deal with Albany District Attorney David Soares. The agreement also called for Hevesi to plead guilty to defrauding the government, but should keep him from serving any prison time.

Voters clean House, and Senate

Voters swept Republicans out of power during midterm elections, issuing a strong message of no-confidence to the White House. Voters rejected President George W. Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq, allowing Dems to pick up enough seats to control the House by 31 members. While the Senate split between 49 Republicans and 49 Democrats, it is considered to be Democrat-controlled thanks to two Democratic-caucusing Independents. The electoral takeover prompted Bush to acknowledge a need for “a fresh perspective” on the war and announce that he had accepted the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

One terrorist down . . .

In June, U.S. and Iraqi officials announced that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, had been killed in an air strike. The news was widely considered the most significant public triumph of the war in Iraq since the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. President George W. Bush called Zarqawi’s death “a severe blow to Al Qaeda” and “a significant victory in the war on terror.”

Arson in Alabama

A string of arson attacks caused alarm among faith-based communities in rural Alabama during February. Three college students were arrested and pleaded guilty in federal court, but they still face state charges. According to prosecutors, the first five fires, which occurred during the same night, resulted from an evening of underage drinking and illegal hunting that got out of hand. The next four fires, which took place four nights later, were supposed to throw the investigation off course.

A nice piece of carcass

On top of our list of weird news during 2006 is a story involving Bryan James Hathaway, a 20-year-old Wisconsin man who was charged with sexual gratification with an animal. The incident occurred in October, when Hathaway allegedly found a dead deer by the side of a road and had sex with the carcass.

From yellow jeep to orange jumpsuit

After nearly two years of referring to Christopher Porco as the “alleged” ax murderer, a jury made it official and found Porco guilty of attacking his parents with an ax, killing his father and disfiguring his mother. Porco, a native of Delmar, was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Secrets, secrets are no fun

Just days before Day One, it was politics as usual in Albany, where Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) held a news conference to announce that he was under FBI investigation. The investigation, which concerns Bruno’s business interests outside of the state Legislature, began in late spring, but was not exposed until December. The announcement caused bipartisan chatter about whether Bruno, the most powerful state Republican, should step down.

Injected with drama

Floyd Landis’ comeback victory in the Tour de France prompted excitement among Americans who were proud to see the first tour without cycling icon Lance Armstrong end with the yellow jersey on the back of another U.S. cyclist. The celebration lasted for four days, the time it took before it was announced that Landis’ doping test was positive for unnaturally high levels of testosterone. While Landis denied and appealed the claims, Tour de France officials, who still considered Landis the winner, declined to call him the 2006 champion.

There’s something in the veggies

It started in September, when bagged spinach was pulled from the shelves at grocery stores nationwide, restaurants refused to serve the leafy greens, and the Food and Drug Administration issued an alert of an E. coli outbreak to consumers. Weeks later, just as salad lovers were comfortable digging back into the green stuff, E. coli fears spread to the nation’s fast food junkies, as the E. coli outbreak spread to food linked to Taco Bell.

Attacks from the right

When the Federal Marriage Amendment—a measure to constitutionally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman—failed to pass the Senate in June, gay-rights advocates cheered, but their delight was short-lived. In July, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that there is no constitutional mandate for gay marriage. That was followed by midterm elections in which seven states passed ballot propositions banning gay marriage. Even Massachusetts’ status as the only state allowing gay marriage has come under attack, as lawmakers considered a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex unions.

Will you civil union me?

While it refused to give legality to same-sex marriage, New Jersey’s legislature entitled gay couples to all the rights and responsibilities of marriage allowed under state law when it passed a bill allowing civil unions in December. The new law allows same-sex couples several benefits, including adoption, hospital visitation and inheritance rights.

How did you fail? Let me count the ways . . .

Just in case he didn’t believe midterm election voters, the Iraq Study Group, also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission, slapped an additional “Failure” stamp on President George W. Bush’s forehead. The commission, which was formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend new policy, developed 79 recommendations for radically overhauling the strategy in Iraq. Included among the recommendations were a call for gradual withdraw and direct talks with Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and Syria.

Couric to women hosts: Musical chairs, anyone?

When former NBC Today show co-host Katie Couric accepted the anchor position at CBS Evening News, it set in motion a chain of seat-swapping in TV-land. Meredith Vieira, former co-host on ABC’s talk show The View, stepped up to replace Couric. Rosie O’Donnell made another attempt to be somebody by settling into Vieira’s vacant seat. The music stopped before party pooper Diane Sawyer could make a change. She stayed put as co-anchor at ABC’s Good Morning America despite rumors that she might move to ABC’s World News Tonight.

Shhh! Don’t tell . . .

News of three University at Albany football players accused of repeatedly raping a female student spread quickly through the Capital Region in October. Many criticized the university’s public handling of the allegations, questioning its failure to address the issue swiftly and openly. The university’s police department also was criticized for its failure to immediately report the allegations to the district attorney’s office.

Schenectady will be watching you

A plan to place 15 wireless cameras in downtown Schenectady was approved by the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority in November. The cameras are intended to ensure the safety of people downtown and will pan, tilt and zoom to capture broad images of the area. The digital feed will be archived and made available over a secure Web connection.

Charter chatter

Proposed changes to the city charter were soundly rejected by voters in Saratoga Springs. The proposal called for the creation of a strong mayoral form of city government. Opponents of the changes criticized the process, calling the proposal rushed, and made the claim that the city didn’t allow enough opportunities for citizen input. The debate livened up Election Day, with picketers from both sides chanting and carrying signs at corners in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Cancer prevention in a syringe

One of the biggest health developments of the year came in June when the Food and Drug Administration approved Merck’s Gardasil, the world’s first vaccine that prevents cervical cancer.

Not going anywhere

People took to the streets this past spring to protest against legislative attempts to heighten penalties leveled at illegal immigrants. Weeks of ongoing protests turned into months of protests that spanned most of the Southwest and stretched throughout the country, into Ohio, Illinois, New York and Washington D.C. The protests culminated in the Great American Boycott on May 1, prompting more than one million people to protest, skip school, skip work, and not shop.

Jungle junkies

Thirty members of the powerful Arbor Hill/West Hill gang were charged this October in a sweeping indictment of racketeering and conspiracy. Many of the defendants are looking at decades in federal prison.

Now that I have your attention, Mr. President

“For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.” The Rev. Jospeh Lowery received a standing ovation when he scolded President George W. Bush in February at the funeral of Coretta Scott King. The Rev. Lowery, along with former President Jimmy Carter, used the funeral service for the late, great civil-rights leader’s wife to express their distress for the direction the country is headed—a direction, they noted, that stood in sharp opposition to the legacy of the late Kings.

Habeas Corpus is, like, so 1215

In their continuing effort to torture the hell out of anyone deemed an “enemy combatant,” the Bush administration, along with the kowtowing 109th Congress, succeeded this fall in pushing through the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This legislation, which makes the Patriot Act look like the Bill of Rights, did nothing less than roll back nearly every civil liberty afforded by the Constitution and 800 years of civilization. The terrorists must be quaking in their keffiyehs now.

My, what a deadly looking missile launcher you have

There was a lesson to be learned: If the person you are borrowing money from pulls out what he claims to be a missile launcher, run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Had Mohammad Hossain done just that, he might not be looking at spending the next 30 years of his life in prison. And also he might not have gotten his imam, Yassin Aref, involved in the yearlong FBI sting that ended with the two men convicted on terrorism and conspiracy charges.

If you destroy it, they won’t come

That seemed to be the principle Troy City Hall was working under when the orders were given to remove the classic marquee from the front of Cinema Art on River Street. The theater, which for the past few decades has been operating as a porn theater, came under attack after a group of sexually adventurous adults were busted for meeting inside the private business to engage in acts very similar to those occurring onscreen.

One small problem with that health insurance

It wasn’t legal, or so said Troy City Hall this fall. When a city audit discovered a deal worked out in the 1980s with 99 former Troy city workers to insure them and their spouses was not OK’d by the City Council at the time, the insurance policies were revoked. It wasn’t a popular move, leaving dozens of retirees uninsured, but it was the only move the city argued that it could make.

Iran’s leader kindly becomes new bogeyman

If it weren’t for those bellicose Middle Eastern leaders, who would the United States have to fear? (Oh, right, the communists.) Iran’s sixth president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hadn’t even been in office for a year before his belligerent, from-the-hip posturing drew the ire of the White House. It is hard to outdo calling for wiping Israel off the map, as he did at his inauguration in 2005, but in 2006 he gave it his all. From drawing a line the sand over Iran’s nuclear power, to his constant call for Israel’s annihilation to his jaw-dropping denial of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad continually succeeded in delivering the fearmongers in our country the goods.

Congressmen will be boys

Who can forget those rosy cheeks, that Cheshire grin, those glazed-over eyes? Yes, Rep. John Sweeney made the 20th District proud—and amused the hell out of the rest of the Capital Region—when he posed for a down-and-dirty photo-op at frat-house kegger this past summer. Of course, the scandal caused by those photos was nothing compared to the cataclysm that was to come.

Stoner turned senator

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) became an overnight darling after his rousing, powerful speech at the 2004 Democratic Party convention. With the publication of his second memoir last year, the country watched as the young senator’s supporters prophesied an Obama bid for the 2008 White House. Obama, along with Hillary Clinton, is the name most bandied about as a real contender in the growing pool of Democratic presidential maybes. Oh, and he inhaled.

GOP power broker sings

He looked like a mobster in a black trenchcoat and matching black fedora, walking out of the federal courthouse where he pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts. He was fond of dropping lines from mobster movies into his business negotiations. But Jack Abramoff, former Republican lobbyist, hasn’t played it cool since being sentenced to more than five years in prison. Word has it, the onetime Washington, D.C., superstar has spent the past year singing like a canary to the feds. They even set him up with an office so he could rat out his former associates.

Caught with his hands in the kinky jar

But really, did it come as any surprise to anyone when a gay prostitute outed Colorado superchurch pastor Ted Haggard? Sure, it was funny that Haggard was outed in retaliation for his support of a ban on same-sex marriage, but at this point, the irony of a straight-laced, judgmental right-wing wanker chasing prostitutes and snorting meth is beyond cliché. At least the prostitute was of age.

RIP Brad Will

The 36-year-old American reporter and documentarian died in Oaxaca, Mexico, in October, gunned down, allegedly, by Mexican officials. He was reporting at the time on the uprising in the volatile southern Mexican state.

Video blogger goes to jail

It was a bad year for journalists: killings, intimidation, litigation, layoffs, Katie Couric. But with the jailing of Josh Wolf, the year went from bad to landmark. Wolf, a California-based video blogger, videotaped a riot and posted an edited version of what he taped on his blog. The police saw the blog entry, asked for the whole tape and Wolf said no. So Wolf, who is not protected by shield laws, went to jail for contempt of court.

Democracy, the American way

Millions took to the streets of Mexico in July when Felipe Calderón assumed the presidency amid allegations of scandal, vote tampering, and intimidation. His opponent, leftist Andres Manuel López Obrador, lost to Calderón by a less than 1 percent margin and swore to continue fighting in the streets until justice was served. By justice, of course, he meant when he would be recognized as “the legitimate president of Mexico.” Obrador finally abandoned his hopes of unseating Calderón and is now campaigning to start his own, separate government.

Reagan must be spinning in his grave

With the New Year swearing-in of Bolivian President Evo Morales, the stage was set for the “deep, socialist revolution” that Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez would call for 12 months later. In 2006, the voters of Latin America in country after country—Chile, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador—bolstered Chavez’s revolution by putting in power, or returning to leadership, strong socialist leaders. And Chavez, perhaps giddy from his growing power, even inferred in a speech to the United Nations that President George Bush was “the Devil.”

50 gunshots later

Sean Bell, 23, lay dead on his wedding day. Leaving the New York City strip club where he and his friends were partying, Bell was gunned down by five undercover cops. Two of his friends were injured in the barrage. All three men were unarmed.

Welcome aboard our sinking ship

Why Robert Gates wanted to take the job of Secretary of Defense is beyond us. But apparently the former CIA man couldn’t turn the president down. Then again, Gates is a member of the Baker Commission, the revered group that simply everyone believes will magically fix the debacle in Iraq. Trying to clean up the mess left behind by the disastrous Donald Rumsfeld sure seems like a thankless job.

Cultural entertainings for make benefit Metroland editorial staffings

Borat (the clueless Khazak reporter played by Sacha Baron Cohen) and his hijinks did more damage to productivity in the Metroland editorial office than MySpace and cell phones together this year. He also captivated the world, caused international incidents, marched on the White House, proved that the hype machine works for good movies, and even garnered Oscar talk.

Any time is a good time for war!

This summer, after the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Israel launched a full-fledged assault on Lebanon. World powers looked on as casualties mounted and the recently reconstructed country was turned to ash. Toward the tail end of the conflict, Seymour Hersh revealed in a New Yorker article that earlier in the year (prior to the soldier’s kidnapping), the White House and Israel had discussed plans to launch an attack.

If it don’t work, don’t talk about it

If there was a report the Bush administration didn’t like this year, it likely no longer exists. Reports that indicated that the Bush administration environmental policy was hurting the environment were canceled or censored. Economic reports showing large layoffs in previous years were done away with. Census data that has increasingly shown that Americans are making less money and are underinsured are no longer collected. Battles in Iraq that yielded large casualties have been labeled classified. Bush also made great headway into restricting the freedom of the press. (We wrote more here, but it was censored.)

The Blair witch

England’s once-popular, Bill Clintonesque, moderate Prime Minister Tony Blair found himself struggling to hold power as his constituents punished him for his unpopular support for the war in Iraq and his Bush-cuddling habits. After narrowly winning reelection, Blair promised in 2006 that he would step down before the end of his term—he just forgot to give an exact date.

Not forgotten

Almost a decade after Princess Diana’s death, documents were released that purportedly showed that the car crash that cost her life was caused by drunk driving. The investigation also revealed that the United States had been spying on the princess. Tabloid types were left unsatiated.

Wedge issues no more

As autumn set in this year, the Bush Administration tried desperately to trot out its favorite wedge issues—gay marriage, immigration and stem-cell research—in a last-ditch effort to retain their majority in Congress. But it seemed voters had clued in to the bigger issues of the midterms like . . . let’s say . . . the war in Iraq.

With guns blazing

The summer in Albany was dominated by the sound of gunfire ringing out in streets of West Hill, Arbor Hill and Center Square. After two separate shootings, Police Chief Tuffey, in an odd attempt at some sort of reassurance, told the press that police were only blocks away from the shootings and in one case had even talked to the victims minutes before they were shot. Apparently, police presence is no longer a deterrent in Albany.

Shoot the messenger

In May, at a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Albany District Attorney David Soares warned the Canadian government about the perils of copying the United States’ war on drugs. When he returned to Albany he was greeted with tongue-lashings from Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and Police Chief James Tuffey, who apparently had nothing more pressing to worry about.

The deck chairs

In the middle of what seemed like many to be a crime wave in Albany, Police Chief Tuffey decided it was time to change a few things in the Albany Police Department. Although his plan remained shrouded in mystery for months, the two clear points were that the Arbor Hill and Pine Bush stations would close. After months of public outcry and meetings, it wasn’t clear if anything had changed, but the stations nevertheless did close.

Maf54: Did you spank it this weekend yourself? :)

Mark Foley’s page-loving ways changed the shape of the 2006 elections. Sure, the Democrats probably tipped off the press, but we’re thinking it might have been important for the public to know that the dude who was writing the laws to protect children from molesting creeps was also the creep trying to molest the kids. The Foley situation beautifully exposed the corruption and hypocrisy of the spoiled Republican administration. Of course, Fox news scrambling to do damage control found a way to deflect the blame from the Republican party—they simply labeled Foley a Democrat during a number of broadcasts.

Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!

The Republican Congress probably could have used old Rummy’s exit before the midterms. However, the Bush administration seemed to take the results of the election as a referendum on the stay-the-course agenda and its figurehead, Mr. Bitter Face himself, Donald Rumsfeld. Rummy got to laugh last, though, when he made everyone at the Pentagon feel a wee bit uncomfortable by sticking around until the last second before Robert Gates took over.

Please, Sweenster, don’t hurt ’em

A popular rumor about John Sweeney became a matter of public record when an incident report about a domestic violence call made to the Congressman’s residence was leaked to the press. Sweeney, who may not have been as politically savvy as some claimed he was, responded by insisting there were two reports, one real, one fake. He failed to deliver the “real” report.

Mr. Moustache

Although Metroland has a fine appreciation for badasses, we never really thought being an ornery badass was a helpful qualification for being a diplomat. However, John Bolton’s cantankerous old-pissy-guy attitude fits Bush’s take-no-prisoners, make-no-friends style of foreign policy perfectly. But Bolton did not win any friends in Congress while wearing his disdain for the United Nations on his sleeve and, after the midterms, he was forced to hand in his papers.

Journalism in wild, wild Russia

Being a muckraking journalist in Russia did not get any easier in 2006. Critics of the Putin administration have an uncanny way of ending up dead, and in 2006 Anna Politkovskaya, a well-known investigative journalist and trumpeter of Russian human-rights abuses in Chechnya, was found murdered in her apartment. Also, earlier in her career, Politkovskaya reportedly was jailed and poisoned.

Going nuclear

The first victim of international nuclear terrorism, spy Alexander Litvinenko, had a friend read a statement accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of the nuclear attack that left Litvinenko dying in a hospital bed. Litvinenko had been a critic of Putin in the past. British authorities traced the residue of the nuclear isotope that poisoned the spy through London and onto passenger jets. Russian authorities declined to help with the investigation.

Define “outsider”

Albany Treasurer Betty Barnette worried to the Times Union before the elections this year that “outsiders” were getting involved in the political process. Although it was not completely clear who she was talking about, the Democratic Committee races this year saw a number of mayor-approved candidates, including the mayor himself, lose seats to area politicians who aren’t exactly the mayor’s close pals.

The early bird . . .

With President Bush left hiding in foreign countries to avoid looking his defeated Congress in the eye, speculation ran rampant about who would vie to replace Bush in 2008. The field that once looked quite conservative quickly took on a more moderate tone with Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton looking like frontrunners. John Edwards was so anxious to announce before the new year that his Web site mistakenly revealed the announcement a day early. Once an assumed candidate, John Kerry was still too busy trying to take his foot out of his mouth to announce a run.

Liberal and fancy free

In the aftermath of the midterm elections that saw Democrats gain a majority in both the House and the Senate, national TV stations began to declare that “liberal” was no longer a dirty word. The press looked for reasons the conservative dynasty crumbled so quickly. Was it scandal? Was it Iraq? Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly insisted he would use it as a dirty word until Fox censors allowed him to use the word “pussy.”

Money dump

Politicians steamrolled ahead with a plan to build a convention center in downtown Albany despite the warnings of experts that convention centers don’t turn a profit, and usually end up over budget and acting as a drag on the tax base. A site for the convention center was chosen where the bus station now stands. Then, later in the year, it was announced that the center was already $40 million over budget.

Get on the trolley

Mayor Jennings announced the formation of the Recapitalize Albany Committee, which would be charged with refinancing and rebuilding the troubled city. Jennings immediately was criticized for not including minorities and more actual Albany residents. Jennings responded by appointing some Common Council members. Then, in the most sensitive move ever, Jennings took a trolley ride through Arbor Hill to see what needed fixing.

Silent education

2005 in Albany was dominated by a battle between City Hall and a citizens’ group that wanted modest reform to Albany’s City Charter. Mayor Jennings took the steam out of the reform by creating his own committee, and chaired it with Judge Larry Rosen, who had claimed the public needed more education before the reforms went through. In 2006, nary a peep was heard about the minor charter changes that Jennings’ personal committee created. So it was not a surprise on Election Day when a great many Albanians were confused by the reforms on the ballot.

No recount needed

Kirsten Gillibrand helped add the 20th district to the national wave of Democratic victories over Republicans wracked by scandal, but it was certainly no easy task. It was an ugly race from start to finish. Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney started things off in a nasty tone by attacking Kirsten Gillibrand’s family and mocking her for being a woman. But by the end of the race, Sweeney was preemptively running ads accusing Gillibrand of attacking his. Then one of the many scandals of Sweeney’s making caught up with him, and it was clear that the congressman’s family didn’t need protecting from Gillibrand, but perhaps from him.

Sweeney section 8

After his defeat at the hands of Kirsten Gillibrand, John Sweeney was not a happy guy. He stopped attending floor votes, murmured a lot about being bitter, and generally abandoned his duties as a congressman. Some report that his new basement digs were trashed and left in disarray. According to some, his behavior in his last few weeks in the U.S. Congress caught the attention of his own party, who are wondering how ethical his exit was.

Best friends forever

The on-air swooning of Alan Chartock over his “best friend,” Republican congressional incumbent John Sweeney, raised a lot of hackles in both the public and the political sectors. Chartock’s gushing over Sweeney tainted the station’s coverage of the race and has left a rift between the normally liberal-leaning station and the Gillibrand camp. Some also wondered about the connection between Sweeney and Siena College. Siena, whose polls consistently showed Sweeney winning the race by a wide margin until near the end, also received the benefits of grants acquired by Sweeney, and a number of higher-ups at Siena had donated to the Sweeney campaign.

Death and denial

When Albany Police Detective Kenneth Wilcox died in a car crash after spending a long evening with Aaron Dare at Albany bar Noche—and, according to reports, sharing a $900 bottle of Cognac—Times Union reporter Brendan Lyons included these and more details of the evening in his story the next day. This triggered an angry backlash from Wilcox’s grieving family, and from the police, who not-so-subtly threatened the newspaper and Lyons. Almost lost in the tragic story and resulting ugliness was the fact that the TU actually did a fine and responsible job of reporting the story, and that an Albany police officer was drinking before his shift.

Have a drink on me

The Albany Police Department instituted a zero-tolerance alcohol policy after Detective Kenneth Wilcox’s tragic death in a car accident, following what was alleged as hours of drinking at a downtown nightspot. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to take: On Nov. 12, officers William Bonnani and Glenn Szelest allegedly reported for duty after having been drinking. The investigation continues.

Au revoir, Macacawitz

He was cruising to reelection, and dreaming of the White House, when former Virginia U.S. Senator George Allen called an ethnic-Indian campaign worker (for rival candidate James Webb) “macaca” twice at a campaign rally. Though Allen said he made “macaca” up, it turned out to be a racial slur in Allen’s mother’s North African homeland—thus pissing off a lot of people. Then, when Allen’s Jewish heritage was revealed, he at first denied it, then backtracked—thus pissing off a lot more people. Needless to say, Sen. Macacawitz never recovered from these odious gaffes.

Penguins, not snakes, motherfuckers

The hypesters wanted you to think 2006 was gonna be all about snakes on a plane, but this was the year of the penguin. First, March of the Penguins waddled home with a Best Documentary Oscar, then the animated ’guins of Happy Feet tapped their way into the nation’s hearts. Get back under the rocks, reptiles.

It still hurts too much

Hollywood finally made movies about the tragedy of 9/11, but hardly anyone wanted to see them. ABC’s historically inaccurate docudrama The Path to 9/11 was unloved; critics praised Universal’s United 93, but New York City audiences booed the trailer; and only a few right-wingers had any interest in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. Maybe if Stone had added penguins . . .

Take that, sweater-wearing clowns

Uwe Boll, director of Bloodrayne and the Tara Reid-headliner Alone in the Dark, is widely acclaimed as the worst director in cinema today. (Yes, that’s including Renny Harlin and Michael Bay.) Tired of taking shots from critics, Boll issued an open challenge: He would take on all movie-critic comers in the boxing ring. Guess what? Boll kicked five critics’ asses. Maybe he should have tried to punch performances out of the likes of Reid and Christian Slater.

Really plugged in

As a promotion for their summer actioner Running Scared, New Line Cinema set up an online video game in which you, taking the part played by “actor” Paul Walker, would “perform” oral sex on his character’s wife. Yes, you read that correctly. You “won” if “she” had an orgasm. Let’s just outlaw Second Life now, shall we?

We are so not the champions (but we tied the champions)

The United States was (for once) fairly highly regarded going in to this year’s World Cup, but the Americans played uninspired football in two opening-round losses and did not advance. Italy—which played better and better with each game—squeaked by France on penalty kicks in the championship match (a result somewhat overshadowed by the now-infamous Zidane head-butt). For the Americans, the irony—and only bright spot—was that they were the only team Italy could not beat; the two sides scratched and clawed to a 1-1 draw in the opening round.

Goodbye, Sandra; goodbye, center

Samuel Alito won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court somewhat more easily than had been expected, in spite of stiff opposition from some Democrats, who were particularly concerned about his voting record and past statements on such issues as abortion, equal justice and executive power. In the hearings, he distanced himself from some early writings (in one case, claiming an essay was tailored to help land him a job) and was evasive on tough questions, but he also did not stumble and was confirmed 58-42. As expected, he already has shown signs of being a more conservative jurist than his predecessor, Sandra Day O’Connor.

We thought it would last forever

Irreconcilable differences claimed the lives of these seemingly picture-perfect marriages this year: Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe; Chris Robinson and Kate Hudson; Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe; rock band Sleater-Kinney.

We’re shocked it lasted so long

Also calling it quits in ’06 were Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock (she gets the china, they’ll both keep the hepatitis); Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown (some might say the crack had been showing for years); and Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (whose divorce proceedings proved too ugly for comment). Meanwhile, glutton-for-punishment Marshall “Eminem” Mathers and ex-wife Kim Mathers remarried, only to separate again after three months.

Oops, she did it again . . .

In November, pop diva Britney Spears filed for divorce from former backup dancer Kevin Federline after two years of marriage, and less than two months after the birth of the couple’s second child. The union outlasted Spears’ 55-hour marriage to one Jason Alexander in January 2004, which in turn outlasted Federline’s entire rap career.

Welcome to the Vajungle

To hell with the “nip-slip”: Hollywood bore witness to a new phenomenon this year, as a record number of starlets left their underpants at home before hitting the town. Britney Spears celebrated her newfound single status by spending most of November with her coochie out, while seasoned exhibitionists like Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan continued to leave very, very little to the imagination. (Celeb-stalking Web site TheSuperficial.com went so far as to say “Paris Hilton’s crotch is like the bathroom wall opposite your toilet. You’ve seen it so many time’s [sic] you forget it’s even there.”)

Stern-Sirius-Roth-VH

Howard Stern’s jump to Sirius satellite radio went as planned in January, and millions of listeners followed him to the subscription-only service. In June, Sirius won the rights to Stern’s entire back catalog of CBS radio shows—about 23,000 hours—which means those listeners should have much to digest in the coming years. Unfortunately things didn’t go as well for Stern’s terrestrial-radio successor, flamboyant rocker David Lee Roth—his morning show was canceled after only four months on the air. However, Roth may find himself back at work soon as Van Halen, again without a singer, have announced tour plans for 2007, coinciding with their likely induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this March.

Hot, hot, hot

Internet inventor Al Gore became a movie star with the release of An Inconvenient Truth. In the film by director Davis Guggenheim, the former president-elect presents the scientific evidence for global warming and the potential consequences of global climate change, and offers ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. The film grossed more than $23 million domestically, and it is expected to receive a Best Documentary Film nomination at the upcoming Academy Awards. Meanwhile, in December, a 41-square-mile ice shelf was discovered to have broken free in the Canadian Arctic.

And the Oscar goes to . . .

The Academy Awards have given us some delightfully surreal television moments, but none more so than these two from this February’s broadcast: 1) Three 6 Mafia, along with a host of characters decked out in full pimp-and-ho regalia, performed their expletive-riddled Hustle & Flow song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” against a backdrop modeled after the whorehouse from the film; 2) Three 6 Mafia actually won the award, prompting host Jon Stewart to comment “For anyone keeping record, Martin Scorsese, zero Oscars. For Three 6 Mafia, one.”

Hey! Ho! Let’s go . . . home.

After 33 years, venerable East Village rock venue CBGB hosted its last shitty punk band (Patti Smith, actually) in October, driven out by, some would say, gentrification. (The landlord refused to renew the club’s lease.) Club owner Hilly Kristal has hinted that he will move the club, urinals and all, to Las Vegas in the near future, where we can only hope it will take up residence adjacent to 3121, Prince’s new Vegas nightspot.

Much ado about nothing

Spearheaded by a ferocious viral-marketing campaign, the year’s most-hyped film was Snakes on a Plane, which had blogs buzzing and dozens of parodies surfacing on the Internet a full eight months before initial screenings of the film. Unfortunately, the threat that star Samuel L. Jackson would kindly request the removal of the motherfucking snakes from the motherfucking plane was not enough to get patrons into theaters: Snakes earned $34 million domestically, barely making back its budget, and falling well short of box-office expectations.

Don’t call it a comeback

Rapper-mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter ended the “worst retirement ever” this year, reentering the rap ring with Kingdom Come. Widely expected to be the blockbuster smash album of 2006, the record debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart in November with 680,000 copies sold—the best one-week tally of Carter’s career—but by year’s end, it had barely cleared platinum. (For contrast, his final pre-retirement release, The Black Album, sold more than 3 million.) Considered by some to be a disappointment, others pointed to this as merely a symptom of the declining CD market.

You shave your balls with it

The debut of the Philips Norelco Bodygroom brought a disturbing level of pubic—er, public—awareness to a particularly hairy personal-hygiene issue. (Hint: The product’s Web site is www.shaveeverywhere.com.) Taint-shavers everywhere rejoiced.

Over 300 Million Served

The United States population hit the 300-million mark this fall. We thought the air seemed a little thin.

Total eclipse

This fall also saw the tally of dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq surpass the total number of civilians killed on 9/11. The tally hit the 3,000 mark on Jan. 1, 2007.

You can’t take it with you

In October, Forbes.com reported that Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain had officially become the richest dead celebrity, bumping perennial top-earner Elvis Presley from the number one slot for the first time since 2001. Turns out the King is still dumping most of his fortune on bananas and blow.

Big Brother wants to be your friend!

MySpace made stalking ex-girlfriends easier than ever in 2006, as the “social networking” (read: emo band haven) Web site grew to outlandish proportions. NewsCorp head Rupert Murdoch said in November that he expects the site could sell for $6 billion, more than 10 times what his company paid to acquire it less than 18 months prior. Meanwhile, Google picked up the highly popular YouTube site for a cool $1.65 billion, ensuring that the Numa Numa dance would be viewable for generations to come.

Once more, with passion

When Mel Gibson’s on the sauce, he calls things like he sees them. So when he was pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway for erratic driving in July, he just did what any drunken anti-Semite would do. After threatening to “fuck” an arresting officer and referring to a female officer as “sugar tits,” he just threw it out there: “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Not that we didn’t already know his feelings on the topic—anyone who saw The Passion of the Christ knows that Mel ain’t kosher. Gibson went on to release his Mayan-slaughter epic Apocalypto in December; the Jews have declined to comment on their involvement in that one.

That ain’t funny!

Michael Richards, once and forever known as Seinfeld’s wacky neighbor Kramer, seriously lost his shit onstage at a Hollywood comedy club in November, spewing a stream of racial epithets at a group of black men in the audience. Several creepy televised apologies and meetings with black leaders followed, with Richards writing his outburst off as an attempt at edgy humor, but the general consensus remained that he is simply a big, fat racist—and not a particularly funny one at that.

Straight-up assholes

It’s hard to say who is the bigger douchebag: O.J. Simpson, who wrote a tell-all—sorry, hypothetical—account of the murders we all know he committed called If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened (Note to O.J.: The words “would have” would have made that second part a bit less suspicious). or HarperCollins publisher Judith Regan, who green-lighted the project in the first place and booked some Fox airtime for an interview/promotional tie-in with the Juice. Thankfully good sense prevailed, as both the book and TV special were canceled, and Regan was canceled from her job weeks later for reportedly making anti-Semitic comments. Also making the douchebag hall of fame in ’06: Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump. Please, both of you: Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Drawing up designs for disaster

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten pissed off Muslims something fierce with the publication of 12 editorial cartoons featuring depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammed. The controversial cartoons, first published in Sept. 2005, were reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 countries, sparking both peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests worldwide throughout January. South Park neatly summarized the incident with a two-part Easter episode that lampooned Family Guy and the Comedy Central network, and culminated in an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.

Duck!

Over the summer, North Korea scared the shit out of everyone by firing off not one, not two, but seven long-range test missiles, assumed to be a part of the country’s very scary nuclear-weapons program, which the world has tried to get them to put the kibosh on since 2002. It seems those stubborn bastards just won’t listen.

Neocons jump ship

Prominent neoconservatives, once famously supportive of the president’s decision to invade Iraq, are humming a different tune these days. Pentagon insiders Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman, and former White House speechwriter David Frum—once part of a circle of powerful politicos dubbed the Architects of War—were among those who spoke out about their change of view on the Iraq War in an article in the January issue of Vanity Fair. Days before the midterm elections in November (much to the chagrin of some of the interviewees), VF posted an abbreviated version of the article on their Web site, citing the article’s information as so surprising and important that it should be accessible to the public before they voted. According to VF’s full article, when the shortened version was posted, “within minutes, George Stephanopoulos confronts Vice President Dick Cheney with Perle’s and Adelman’s criticisms during an on-camera interview.” Ah, the power of the Internet.

Take your backpack to school, not the steak knives, you brat!

Albany High School experienced a rash of violence this year, prodding Mayor Jerry Jennings to offer the use of three metal detectors in the school. The addition of the metal detectors comes after last year’s decision by the school to randomly search students for weapons. Apparently, it didn’t have the expected effect, and now, the high school looks like an airport.

If a network airs and no one can watch it, does it exist?

The English-language version of Middle Eastern news network al-Jazeera hit the airwaves on Nov. 15, broadcasting from studios in Qatar, Malaysia, London, and Washington, D.C. While the new network has achieved success internationally, the only way Americans can view the controversial channel is through obscure satellite providers or by paying a fee on al-Jazeera’s Web site. So those of you hoping for a news network with a perspective different from the balderdash we have now will need to wait yet another year. Sorry, folks.

Jill Carroll kidnapped, released

Jill Carroll, a Christian Science Monitor reporter covering the war in Iraq, was kidnapped by insurgents on Jan. 7 in Baghdad, and was held until March 30, when her captors released her unconditionally. Carroll’s kidnapping received a great deal of media attention, both for her high-profile status and the three videos released during her captivity, the last of which showed Carroll praising her kidnappers and denouncing the American occupation of Iraq (Carroll later said her captors forced her to make the statements). Carroll was the 31st journalist to be kidnapped in Iraq since March 2003, and narrowly avoided being among the 139 reporters killed since the war started.

Big drag

On July 10, the most expensive public works project in U.S. history fell apart—literally—when 12 tons of concrete fell from the roof of a tunnel in Boston, claiming the life of 38-year-old newlywed Milena Del Valle. Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney stopped his presidential campaign long enough to wrest control of the ensuing investigation from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and force MTA chairman Matthew J. Amorello to resign. Too little, too late, Mitt—where were you when the Dig had been declared a safety risk years earlier?

Why don’t you sit the next one out, Champ?

It was not a good year for Jeanine Pirro. She started the year on a low note, having just dropped her Senate bid last December. Then the FBI informed her she was under investigation for allegedly wiretapping her husband in an attempt to catch him in an extramarital affair. Then Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo walloped her in the state attorney general race in November. At least you have family, Jeanine.

Clinton kicks some Fox News ass

Fox News reporter Chris Wallace thought he could sneak a fast one by Bill Clinton, asking the former President why he didn’t do more to prevent the events of 9/11 in an interview that was supposed to focus on Clinton’s work with the Global Initiative. Wrong move. Clinton laid the smack down, angrily refuting Wallace’s “conservative hit job” point by point, all the while finger-wagging his way to an overwhelming rhetorical victory. Conservatives derided Clinton’s “crazed rant” as behavior unbecoming of a president. Unlike, say, lying to the American public to gain support for a war you weren’t even bothering to plan for.

Bad day for the Amish

Continuing a string of autumn school shootings, a 32-year-old Pennsylvania man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pa. on Oct. 2 and shot and killed five girls ranging in age from 7 to 13 before killing himself. The ensuing media frenzy could have easily overwhelmed the tiny Amish village where the shootings took place, but what the American public saw instead was a community quietly mourning its lost daughters, truly exemplifying grace under fire.

Not quite the top of the class

This year’s lurid media obsession was the Duke university lacrosse case, in which three white members of the lacrosse team at Duke University allegedly kidnapped and raped an African-American stripper at a team party. The case set off racial tensions in Durham, N.C., and, to a lesser extent, around the nation. A lack of DNA evidence caused district attorney Michael B. Nifong to throw out rape charges in December, but the players still face kidnapping and sexual offense charges.

It was all downhill from there anyway

Less than two weeks after being found guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud-related charges, former Enron executive Kenneth Lay died of a heart attack while on a skiing trip near Aspen, Co. By dying, the 64-year-old Lay avoided the imprisonment the country had been clamoring for, robbing the victims of Enron fraud one final time of what was rightfully theirs.

TomKat welcomes the tomkitten, and, of course, the accompanying press

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had a pretty eventful year in 2005, and they had an impressive follow-up this year, what with the arrival of their new baby, Suri (who one Metroland editor is convinced was named to sound like Cruise’s hometown of Syracuse—you know . . . Suri Cruise, Syracuse . . . eh, nevermind), and their extravagant wedding in an ancient castle in a small town in Italy. Ironically, little Suri was born on the same day and in the same hospital as Brooke Shields’ second daughter, Grier (Tom Cruise had battled Shields earlier in the year about the ethics of taking anti-depressants to battle postpartum depression). Though frequently speculated, it’s still unclear if Holmes had a silent birth, which is a birthing procedure advocated by Scientology, the whacked-out so-called religion to which Holmes and Cruise subscribe.

I killed JonBenét! Oh, wait a minute, I’m just crazy

Wild-eyed nutcase John Mark Karr caused quite a stir in mid-August when, after being tracked down in Bangkok, Thailand, by Thai authorities, he admitted that he was guilty of murdering JonBenét Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen who was brutally killed in the basement of her Colorado home a decade ago. Suspicions arose about Karr’s guilt; even tests were conducted to prove whether he really did commit the crime. DNA tests later proved that Karr, in fact, was not JonBenét’s killer, and charges in that case were dropped Aug. 28. He was immediately arrested on child pornography charges, which were also later dropped after investigators lost the computer they had confiscated from him.

This just in: Lindsay Lohan is a trainwreck

What a year for our favorite crash dummy, Lindsay Lohan! The girl just can’t get a break. From getting into several car accidents with her paparazzi stalkers to releasing a well-meaning but typo-ridden eulogy for director Robert Altman to trotting her vagina out like it’s this season’s edgiest accessory, Lohan has made an impressive amount of celeb faux-pas. The girl has pretty much earned a permanent residence on Page Six thanks to her way of hard living—which, in this sense, refers to the swirling cloud of booze, drugs and parties she consistently resides in—not to mention her mish-mash of overpublicized, indecipherable e-mails. Here’s our Public Service Announcement especially for Ms. Lohan: Girl, cut the shit before you hurt yourself. Well . . . we mean . . . more than you already have.


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