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The Year in Review 2010

Gone but Not Forgotten

Sen. 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 octopus.

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, Bob Sheppard.

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.

 

Gone and Forgotten

Carl Paladino, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle

 

Gone and Still not Conceding

Joe Miller

 

Gone Job Hunting

David Paterson

 

Going to Prison

Alan Hevesi, Steven Raucci

 

Not Going to Prison

Joe Bruno

 

Gone to Spend More Time With His Family

Larry King

 

Gone Insane

North Korea

 

Gone Downtown

Tess Collins

 

Gone to Colorado

Chet Hardin

 

Gone and Back Again

CERN 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

 

Gone and Back and Gone Again

The A-Team

 

Gone and Missed

Tess’ Lark Tavern, Revolution Hall, Don Weeks

 

Going, Going . . .

Albany convention center, Times Union paper boxes, Harry Potter movies, Newsweek, Spiderman the Musical, Boght Arts Center, Four Loko

 

Please Go Away

Lights Camera Jackson, Snookie, bad 3D, Sarah Palin, Twilight, Brian Scavo, Justin Bieber, Sillybands, Sex in the City

 

Year of the Tea Party

There 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.

Goodbye Superwoman, Hello Orangeman

The 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 high unemployment.

Welcome Back, Harry

On 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).

The 21st Century Black Death

We’re 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.

Leaks, Dumps, and Other Acts Julian Assange May or May Not Go to Prison for

The 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.

The Global Economic Collapse Rolls On

This year, Greece and Ireland had to accept huge bailouts from European banks to stave off collapse. Who’s next, Spain? Portugal? Stay tuned.

E Pluribis Haliburton

It’s 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

Fake 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 political currency.

Clean Feed

There 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.

So Much for “Life” as We Knew it

The 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.

No Flying For You

Mother 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.

Being Lame Can Pay

Gov. 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.

Primarily Odd

New 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.

Vote For Me or You’re Off the Christmas Card List!

The 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.

The Weird Beard

Once 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 high!

Get Out of Jail Free

They 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?

Flipping Great

Two 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.

Scumbag, Meet the Feds

Sen. 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.

No Tea for You!

2010 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

Republicrat 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 Chris Gibson.

Again He Pleased Nobody

Soon 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.

Tutunjian SMASH!

Troy 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.

You Always Remember Your First Time

The 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, Jerry.

Make Up Your Minds

A 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. WTF?

Do Not Pass Go

In 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 prison.

R.I.P. Lark Tavern

Tess 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 Square mainstay.

In and Out of Our Backyard

It 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.

Giving a Cluck

Urban 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.

Standing Stegosaurus Rib Roast

It’s 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.

Cupcake Mania

They 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.

Cash for Clunkers

The 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.

Scouting for the Man

RPI’s 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.

Marvel Not Fans of Albany

Perhaps 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 government?

Doing It Right

Kudos 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.

A Beautiful Job

Kudos 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.

Hollywood On the Hudson

We 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 good.

Pint-Sized Punk

We 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?

Beautiful Game, Terrible Racket

What’s 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 . . .

Gone to Russia and Qatar

The 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?

The Only Time Sliding Head-First Down an Ice Shoot Will Earn You Precious Metals

The 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.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Controversy

Jonathan 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.

All Grown Up

Former 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 adulthood, kiddo!

And the Winner Isn’t

The 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?

Tro-lo-lo-lo-lo- lo-lo-lo

Keyboard 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?”


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