Year in Review 2010
but Not Forgotten
Robert Byrd, Elizabeth Edwards, Ted Stevens, Charles Mathias,
Lech and Maria Kaczynski, Miep Gies, Howard Zinn, Daniel
Schorr, J.D. Salinger, Lena Horne, George Steinbrenner,
Blake Edwards, Dennis Hopper, Tony Curtis, Lynn Redgrave,
John Forsythe, Art Linkletter, Leslie Nielsen, Patricia
Neal, Jill Clayburgh, Malcolm McLaren, Teddy Pendergrass,
Captain Beefheart, Mitch Miller, Peter Graves, Gary Coleman,
Bob Guccione, Mark Madoff, and Paul the World Cup oracle
Filmmakers Arthur Penn, Stephen J. Cannell, Art Clokey,
Sally Menke, Irvin Kershner, James MacArthur, George Hickenlooper,
Bud Greenspan, Ronald Neame.
Actors Gloria Stuart, Kathryn Grayson, Robert Culp, Maury
Chaykin, Pernell Roberts, Tom Bosley, Vonetta McGee, Zelda
Rubenstein, Rue McLanahan, Barbara Billingsley, Dixie Carter,
Lisa Blount, John Crawford.
Musicians Kate McGarrigle, Eddie Fisher, Pete Quaife, Teena
Marie, Jimmy Dean, Mississippi Slim, Richie Hayward, Marvin
Isley, Ronnie James Dio, Harvey Fuqua, Jack Parnell, Herb
Ellis, Solomon Burke, Johnny Maestro, Jay Reatard, William
“Buddy” Collette, Jane Jarvis, Michael Been, Al Goodman,
Mark Linkous, Jack Brokensha, Stuart Cable, Bobby Charles,
Ali-Ollie Woodson, Micky Jones.
Writers Erich Segal, Jose Saramago, Lucille Clifton, Harvey
Pekar, Beryl Bainbridge, Arthur Herzog, Barry Hannah, David
Markson, Tuli Kupferberg, David Mills, Dick Giordano, Robert
Dana, George Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Laura Chapman Hruska,
Carlos Montemayor, Jacques Martin, Stephen Morse, David
Severn, Liz Carpenter, Evelyn Cunningham.
JFK speechwriter and advisor Theodore Sorensen; educator
and social activist Dorothy Height; activist, convict and
poet Marylin Buck; political cartoonist Paul Conrad; film
producer Dino De Laurentiis; photographers Gary Gross and
Corrine Day; dancer Marina Semyonova; animator Bill Littlejohn;
comedian Greg Giraldo, chess grandmaster Larry Evans.
Sports figures Bob Feller, Sparky Anderson, John Wooden,
Don Meredith, Ralph Houk, Bobby Thomson, Don Coryell, Ron
Santo, Merlin Olsen, Pat Burns, Jack Tatum, Mike Cuellar,
Gil McDougald, Bob Probert, Dorothy Kamenshek, Willie Davis,
Maurice Lucas, Andy Irons, Erica Blasberg, Robin Roberts,
Manute Bol, Jose Lima, Mosi Tatupu, Jim Bibby, Ernie Harwell,
Dr. Tom Little, the optician and humanitarian from Delmar
who was slain in Afghanistan.
UAlbany graduate and accused Craiglist killer Philip Markoff.
The world’s oldest verefied living person, Kama Chinene;
the world’s shortest man, He Pingping; the world’s oldest
Girl Scout, Marianne Elser Crowder; and the World’s Ugliest
Dog winner, Miss Ellie.
Paladino, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle
and Still not Conceding
Hevesi, Steven Raucci
Going to Prison
to Spend More Time With His Family
and Back Again
Large Hadron Collider, AHL hockey in Albany, Pauley’s Hotel,
Dryer, Pavement, Devo, PiL, Faith No More, Tron, Yogi Bear,
Chilean miners, Conan O’Brien, royal weddings, Keith Olberman,
Joe Scarborough, UAlbany language and theater departments,
state workers, Al Roney
and Back and Gone Again
Lark Tavern, Revolution Hall, Don Weeks
Going . . .
convention center, Times Union paper boxes, Harry
Potter movies, Newsweek, Spiderman the Musical,
Boght Arts Center, Four Loko
Camera Jackson, Snookie, bad 3D, Sarah Palin, Twilight,
Brian Scavo, Justin Bieber, Sillybands, Sex in the City
of the Tea Party
was a strange phenomenon this year. Middle-class, mostly
white people started dressing in Colonial American garb,
waving Gadsden flags (“Don’t tread on me”) and screaming
“Follow the Constitution” at Demoncrats (er, Democrats)
and members of the lamestream (er, mainstream) media. They
like to draw little Chaplin (er, Hitler) mustaches on pictures
of President Obama and spend a lot of money on items pimped
and/or sold by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. And they don’t
seem to be going away.
Superwoman, Hello Orangeman
Democrats lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives,
thanks in very small part to the aforementioned teabaggers,
but in large part owing to the horrific economy and ongoing
the other hand, the Democrats retained control of the U.S.
Senate, thanks in large part to the aforementioned teabaggers,
who supported crazy candidates like Christine O’Donnell,
Joe Miller and Sharron Angle, who didn’t appeal to the great
mass of voters (even in Alaska).
21st Century Black Death
referring to the BP oil spill, of course. Though, in point
of fact, we like to think of it as the BP-Halliburton-Transocean
oil spill so no potentially blameworthy party is left out.
It began with a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon offshore
oil rig in mid-July, where more than a dozen workers were
killed, and ended three months later after dumping over
200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
It was a horror show from the beginning: BP didn’t seem
to be in any hurry to get information to the public; the
Obama administration was caught flat-footed and at first
seemed deferential to BP; the responses by state governors
Haley Barbour (Mississippi) and Bobby Jindal (Louisiana)
were clownish at best; and, while wildlife and habitat were
destroyed, BP’s CEO Tony Hayward bitched about wanting to
get his life back. It’s a shameful catastrophe that scientists
are only just getting a handle on understanding.
Dumps, and Other Acts Julian Assange May or May Not Go to
post-privacy world is upon us, and the powers that be are
shaking in their suddenly transparent britches. Like a hacker
renegade from a cyberpunk novel, Julian Assange has become
the face of radical information sharing, in the wake of
his organization WikiLeaks dumping a vast trove of confidential
U.S. government cables. While Assange’s legal fate hangs
in the balance (he faces sexual assault charges in Sweden),
the U.S. government and press scramble to adjust to this
new information paradigm.
Global Economic Collapse Rolls On
year, Greece and Ireland had to accept huge bailouts from
European banks to stave off collapse. Who’s next, Spain?
Portugal? Stay tuned.
only fair that a multinational corporation with assets exceeding
that of some small nations and an existential incentive
to advance its commercial interests should have the political
rights afforded to ordinary citizens, right? Well, that
was the decision arrived upon by the Roberts court in the
hugely controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election
Commission case. And the effects are already being felt,
as the November midterm elections resulted in an unprecedented
level of anonymous private campaign spending.
. . and a Comedian Shall Lead Them
news anchors Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert took their
game and cultural influence to the next level this year,
countering Tea Party hysteria with a Rally to Restore Sanity
and/or Fear, which drew more than 100,000 attendees. While
many bemoaned the absurdist event as a missed opportunity
to advance a progressive agenda, Stewart has been recognized
more recently as a prime mover in the passage of the 9/11
responders health bill, proving that the shtick has real
was much concern in the lead-up to passage of the Food Safety
Modernization Act that the bill would inadvertantly cripple
small farms and food producers with costly regulations meant
to clamp down on a growing rate of food contamination in
industrial agriculture. But it seems that farmers markets
can rest easy, exempting such operations from the largest
overhaul of the nation’s food safety laws since the ’30s.
Much for “Life” as We Knew it
headlines gushed that NASA had discovered a new life form,
but it didn’t come from outerspace; it came from California’s
Mono Lake. Researchers discovered the first known microorganism
to substitute arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components—which
might not sound like much, but it fundamentally changes
the chemical conditions that can allow for life, making
ETs almost inevitable. Equally groundbreaking was geneticist
Craig Venter’s ground-up construction of a bacterium, making
it the first totally synthetic lifeform.
Flying For You
Nature showed again that she has the final word when the
massive, continuing eruption of an Icelandic volcano shut
down European air travel this year.
Lame Can Pay
David Paterson may have had to abandon his reelection bid
this year after The New York Times released its long-rumored
“David Paterson Is Screwed Story,” but being reviled by
the electorate and legislators allowed him to be effective
for a few weeks. While the legislature basically refused
to make any tough cuts, Paterson manned up and made billions
worth of emergency budget cuts without the legislature’s
approval. What did he have to lose? Well . . . nothing.
York’s government is notoriously dysfunctional, but this
year the elections seemed to reflect how truly fed up the
state is. Republicans fought among themselves. Republican
establishment fave Rick Lazio was expected to easily defeat
Tea Party favorite Carl Paladino. But things got complicated.
Republican chairman Ed Cox backed former Democrat Steve
Levy in a three-way race. For a while it was every hatemonger
for himself, as the three attacked the planned mosque near
Ground Zero. But Levy eventually dropped out and Paladino’s
hateful rhetoric won
Republican hearts—handing Lazio a surprise defeat.
For Me or You’re Off the Christmas Card List!
New York state Republican Party had an excellent chance
to capitalize on voter anger and win a few statewide races
this year. Unfortunately, their standard bearer in the governor’s
race was Carl Paladino, a Buffalo millionaire who couldn’t
stop yelling at everyone. He cursed out the media; he cursed
out his friends; he cursed out voters. And the Repubs didn’t
win a single statewide race.
Paladino flamed out, what was a voter to do? Waste a lot
of time pondering the reasonableness of Libertarian candidate
Warren Redlich? Oh hell no, not with eccentrically
bearded Rent is 2 Damn High candidate for governor Jimmy
McMillan in the race. Sure, he wanted to bulldoze the Adirondacks,
but his core issue is solid—the rent is too damn
Out of Jail Free
thought they had him—former New York state Senate Majority
Leader Joe Bruno, that is. The feds got a jury to convict
on two counts of the “honest services” law, a judge sentenced
Uncle Joe to two years in the federal pen, and then the
U.S. Supreme Court tossed out the portions of the law Bruno
was nailed under. Suckers! Spitzer couldn’t take out Bruno;
what made you think you could?
years ago, Democrats managed to wrest control of the state
Senate away from Republicans, who held the chamber for decades
and grew fat with corruption and greed. Finally in control,
Democrats wasted no time in copying their Republican counterparts
as the Democratic leadership was involved in scandal after
scandal. They would like to heap all the blame on a thin
majority that allowed crazies like Sens. Pedro Espada and
Ruben Diaz to hold their votes for ransom, but not one member
of the soon-to-be-ex majority should have a clear conscience.
Meet the Feds
Pedro Espada and his pals in the Republican minority held
the Senate hostage for months last year, so it was only
a matter of time before his longtime ethics problems caught
up with him. He was named majority leader despite his continual
failure to comply with campaign finance law. His reputation
cost him reelection in November, and then finally in December
the federal indictments came pouring in as Espada was charged
with looting his nonprofit, Soundview Health Center, for
personal gain. It couldn’t have happened to a douchier guy.
Tea for You!
may have been the year of the Teabagger nationally, but
locally they couldn’t pull it together. Perhaps the most
poignant example of it was when Albany Assemblyman Jack
McEneny—who barely lifted a finger to campaign—handily defeated
Tea Partier Deborah Busch. Early on election night, McEneny
asked Metroland to call his opponent and ask when
he should expect her concession call. McEneny was right
to be cocksure, despite it only being early in the count;
he won by an overwhelming margin. Murphy’s Law
Scott Murphy did a wishy-washy job of representing his district
after now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to greener
pastures. His indecisiveness lost him his bid for a full
term and the district was rewarded with meathead, ultra-conservative
He Pleased Nobody
to be ex-Gov. David Paterson vetoed a law that would have
put a yearlong moratorium on hydrofracking and gas drilling,
then signed an executive order doing more or less the same
thing for a shorter period of time.
Mayor Harry Tutunjian is determined to demolish Troy City
Hall. The Troy City Council seems just as determined to
stop him. Why can’t you people just get along? We have an
idea: Why not turn it into a museum of brutalist architecture?
It’s a perfect setting.
Always Remember Your First Time
rumor mill may be churning out the idea that Albany Mayor
Jerry Jennings is all set to be the next state commissioner
of the Office of General Services, but let us note that
the mayor is still doing new things. For instance, he just
issued his first veto, effectively shutting down Public
Bath No. 2, a well-loved swimming pool. The kids thank you,
Up Your Minds
large number of officers in the Albany Police Department
signed a petition to have a vote to get rid of their current
union, an affiliate of Council 82, and start a new one.
Then when it came time to vote, the effort failed by one
vote and dozens of cops didn’t even take part in the election.
Not Pass Go
April, former Schenectady City Schools’ facilities manager
Steven Raucci was convicted of 18 charges of vandalism and
intimidation against his “enemies” among fellow school employees.
The entire region was shocked to learn that one of our major
metropolitan school districts was being run like a criminal
enterprise. Raucci is now serving 23 years to life in state
Collins has made a fresh start as manager of McGeary’s,
but the Lark Street neighborhood simply isn’t the same after
a fire gutted the Lark Tavern. In the weeks that followed,
support flowed in from patrons and fellow restaurateurs
to help find work for the displaced employees, but the building
presently stands empty, leaving unanswered questions regarding
where all the money went and what will happen to the Center
and Out of Our Backyard
was a rollercoaster year for state wildlife pathologist
Ward Stone, when a Times Union story reported on
allegations of misconduct, leading to the veteran scientist’s
suspension from his weekly WAMC call-in show In Our Backyard
and his eventual resignation from his post. Some Stone supporters
believe the allegations and TU story were calculated
retribution for volunteer toxicology work Stone had been
doing, investigating potentially cancer-causing emissions
at Ravena’s LaFarge Cement Plant.
agriculture advocates have been on the move to overturn
a decade-old ordinance forbidding residents to keep chickens
within Albany city limits. The law was passed to keep out
noisy roosters, but there’s a strong case being made that
hens can be a cheap and healthy addition to the urban foodscape.
Stegosaurus Rib Roast
big, it’s greasy, and now it’s in Troy. After a fair bit
of controversy regarding the preferential tax breaks Troy
was cutting the wildly popular Syracuse micro-chain, Dinosaur
Bar-B-Que has stampeded into the Capital Region.
came in maintenance trucks and double-decker buses, with
a smartphone in their hands, to sell you tiny, personal
confections. It’s official: The designer cupcake fad has
taken the Capital Region by storm, with four mobile bakeries
jockeying for terrain. Check their Facebook pages and Twitter
feeds to get your fix.
area has become home to a slew of independent used video
game stores that sell those cartridges you begged your mom
for as a kid. Pastime Legends, Forgotten Freshness and Jay
St. Games are just a few of the local businesses where you
can pick up the treasures of gaming’s past.
for the Man
ultra-awesome EMPAC center got a look-over by the Marvel
brass in what was rumored to be a scouting expedition for
locations for Iron Man 3. Unfortunatley, it wasn’t
much long after that that Iron Man 1 and 2 director,
John Favreau, announced he would not be directing the third
flick. Word is that Marvel tossed absurd scripts at Favreau
in hopes that he would bow out because of his price tag.
We hope Troy didn’t scare him away.
Not Fans of Albany
revealing a bit about how their trip to the Capital Region
went, Marvel Comics plans to have a superpowered mutant
Phoenix incinerate Albany in one of its upcoming titles
due out in January. Is someone at Marvel peeved at our dysfunctional
to the board of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and
director Marcia White for another year of excellent arts,
entertainment and fiscal soundness. If they can pull it
off in this economy, they’re doing a hell of a job.
also to the Roman Catholic Diocese for the rededication
and ongoing restoration of Albany’s Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception. Hopefully it is, as promised, now ready for
the next 150 years.
On the Hudson
finally got a chance to see the final results of the two
films shot on location in downtown Albany, Salt and
The Other Guys. You know what? Albany looked damn
don’t like to say mean things about children. OK, a few
of us do. And the child a few of us want to say mean things
about is the kid movie critic Lights Camera Jackson. He
actually thinks himself capable of offering a useful opinion
about something like Inception. (“This story . .
. will appeal to only a certain group of moviegoers, who
love fantasy, sci-fi, mysteries filled with special effects,
flashbacks, flash-forwards and everything in between.” Ugh.
At least we can be sure he writes his own stuff.) If you
visit his website now—and please don’t—you’ll find The
Social Network, Yogi Bear and True Grit all rated
“B,” which must mean they’re equally good or equally flawed.
Hey kid: Why don’t you enjoy being a kid and leave the rest
of us the hell alone?
Game, Terrible Racket
that? Spain defeated the Netherlands in a—speak up—violent
final match of the—huh?—South African World Cup, in which
the United States—come again—advanced to the round of 16?
Fucking vuvuzelas . . .
to Russia and Qatar
world reacted in disbelief when FIFA, the world football/soccer
organization, announced that the World Cup had been awarded
to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. This was, many charged,
as transparently crooked as an election in Albany circa
1940 and as inappropriate as parts of Sex and the City
2 being set in Dubai. Really, WTF? And is the United
States really so bad at offering bribes?
Only Time Sliding Head-First Down an Ice Shoot Will Earn
You Precious Metals
Winter Olympic Games came to Vancouver this year to remind
us how depressing the season can be when we don’t have people
in spandex sliding around on frozen surfaces at high speeds
to divert us.
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Controversy
Franzen’s new novel Freedom received so much coverage
and celebration that it sparked backlash from commercial
romance authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner (largely
over Twitter), alleging sexism and literary favoritism in
the critical inner circle. However petty and ill-conceived,
the spat proved that some folks actually still care enough
about books to get angry at one another.
tween queen Miley Cyrus is all grown up. Sure, you could
figure this out by looking up her birthday; she turned 18
last month. You could also figure it out by following her
progress in the tabloids and at the gossip sites. Photographed
in skimpy outfits? Check. Performing more songs about sex?
Check. Photographed doing bong hits (allegedly of the strong
hallucinogen salvia divinorum)? Double check. Welcome to
the Winner Isn’t
Academy Awards added five more losers this year by doubling
the number of Best Picture nominees to 10. While it’s nice
to recognize more worthy films, did anyone really think
a sci-fi film like District 9 had a snowball’s chance in
Burbank of winning the big one?
Cat was sooooo 2009, but Internet memes are spreading at
a rate that makes the term “viral” sound lumbering. To cop
a phrase from one of the most pervasive YouTube videos of
the year, this stuff is “all the way across the sky.” But
in light of this instant transmission of culture, the question
remains, “what does it mean?”