but not forgotten
casualties of the Iraq war and its aftermath, the crew of
space shuttle Columbia, the victims of the Iran earthquake,
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynahan, Sen. Strom Thurmond, Sen.
Paul Simon, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Katharine Hepburn,
Gregory Peck, Mr. Rogers, Bob Hope, Elia Kazan, Edward Teller,
David Brinkley, Donald Regan, Sir Denis Thatcher, Lester
Maddox, Edward Said, Warren Zevon, Barry White, Sam Phillips,
Nina Simone, Herbie Mann, Elliott Smith, Benny Carter, Edwin
Starr, Maurice Gibb, George Plimpton, Leon Uris, Alan Bates,
Buddy Ebsen, Art Carney, Charles Bronson, Robert Stack,
John Ritter, Gregory Hines, Buddy Hackett, Herb Brooks.
actors Richard Cusack, Karen Morley, Graham P. Jarvis, Nell
Carter, Anita Hui, Earl Hindman, Dame Wendy Hiller, Nedra
Volz, Trevor Goddard, David Hemmings, Marie Trintignant,
Jeanne Crain, Lynne Thigpen, Gene Anthony Ray, Jonathan
Brandis, Gordon Jump, Jack Elam, Penny Singleton and Donald
John Schlesinger; cinematographers Conrad L. Hall; film
composers Michael Kamen and Albert Sendrey.
Writers Carol Shields, Amanda Davis, William Steig, Alan
Dugan, John P. Saunders, Robert McCloskey, Herb Gardner
and Cecille de Burnhoff.
Journalists Michael Kelly, David Bloom, Elizabeth Neuffer,
John Regan “Tex” McCrary.
Musicians Robert Palmer, Tony Thompson, Erik Braunn, Howie
Epstein, Baba Olatunji, Noel Redding, Ruben Gonzalez, Felice
Bryant, Hank Ballard, Celia Cruz, Wesley Willis, Arthur
Conley, Sheb Wooley, Compay Segundo, Don Gibson, Frank Corelli,
Bobby Hatfield, and Adam Cox, Jeremy Gage and Matthew Fitgerald
of Exploding Hearts.
Athletes Warren Spahn, Dave DeBusschere, Althea Gibson,
Steve Bechler, Dan Snyder,
activist Rachel Corrie, Atkins diet inventor Robert Atkins,
former Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm, Sierra Leone
rebel leader Foday Sankoh, Hitler documentarian Leni Riefenstahl,
and Arthur Chaires, Schenectady’s first black cop.
Albany Democrat and labor leader Harold Joyce, civil-rights
attorney Arthur Kinoy, Hamburger billionaire Joan B. Kroc,
Racecar driver Tony Renna, and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s
first black mayor.
Congresswoman and anti-busing activist Louise Day Hicks,
billionaire Lawrence Tisch, Silicon Valley pioneer Eugene
Kleiner, and Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the
Keiko the whale, Dick the goldfish.
emergency preparedness kits; the rationale of searching
for nonexistent WMDs; Justin Guarini; “mission accomplished”;
Osama bin Laden; Kim Jong-il
and back again
Osborne’s singing career; SARS; Mad Cow Disease; Michael
Jackson’s molestation charges; Code Orange; www.crumbs.net;
the Tyler Arms veterans’ home; Col. Quaddafi; Jim Coyne;
Palestine; The Stooges
and back and gone again
hats; Stephen Glass; the Gitmo detainees; drilling in ANWR
and back and gone and back and, ad nauseum.
black and backtracked
and back smaller
back to the costumer
to an undisclosed location then back then gone to an undisclosed
location then back . . .
President Dick Cheney
gone but pardoned
Taliban’s oppression of women
and back with a nominal fee
make them go away
meters; Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard; Ahston and Demi;
“metrosexuality”; Friends; RIAA; the new Palestinian/Israeli
a runaway train
United Nations was against it. Europe was against it. Public
opinion worldwide was overwhelmingly against it. The pope
was against it. Inspectors found no WMDs; links from Saddam
Hussein to Al Qaeda and 9/11 never materialized; U.S. and
British government lies about Iraq’s alleged attempt to
buy uranium from Niger were exposed. As war loomed, multitudes
of passionate protesters choked the streets of major U.S.
cities to voice a level of dissent not seen in years, perhaps
decades. But it was to no avail: Plans for the invasion
of Iraq—even for its reconstruction afterward—were in the
works long before the fighting began, perhaps even before
Bush took office. Nothing was going to stop this war from
Byrd in the wilderness
by one, Democratic U.S. senators caved in to anti-Saddam
hysteria and administration pressure and lined up in support
of the invasion. Not West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, who stood
on the Senate floor day after day and offered impassioned
calls to reason that should have given other Democrats,
at least, a moment’s pause—and should have gotten more play
in the media. “To turn one’s frustration and anger into
the kind of extremely destabilizing and dangerous foreign
policy debacle that the world is currently witnessing,”
Byrd cautioned, “is inexcusable from any administration
charged with the awesome power and responsibility of guiding
the destiny of the greatest superpower on the planet. Frankly,
many of the pronouncements made by this administration are
outrageous. There is no other word.”
the pope pacifist?
from the leader of the world’s largest organized religion
often are treated as major media stories—especially when
they involve juicy topics like sex and birth control. And
papal visits to the United States always make the 6 o’clock
news. But the pope’s scathing denouncements of Bush’s impending
invasion of Iraq were virtually blacked out in the U.S.
media. If Bush chose to go ahead with this unjustified war,
the pope said, he would have to answer to god—but not, apparently,
to millions of Catholics who never heard the pope’s message.
thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don’t. I think
that’s old Europe.” With that one not-so-diplomatic statement,
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created a firestorm
of controversy. (“Cool down,” German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer replied.) Rumsfeld’s comments were indicative of
the Bush administration attitude toward bringing our biggest
continental allies into the coalition against Iraq, however:
“Do what we tell you.” The result? France, Germany and Russia
sat out the war, while Bush and his “poodle” (U.K. Prime
Minister Tony Blair) went ahead with the full support of
Italy, Poland and Spain.
next: pursuit-of- happiness maid outfits
absurd capacity for pettiness in the face of criticism reached
its embarrassing climax in March when the Congressional
cafeteria pulled the international equivalent of “Yeah,
well, your mama’s fat!” and renamed french fries “freedom
fries.” A café in California purportedly responded by naming
its own deep-fried Belgian-style taters “fuck George Bush
fries.” Would you like an oil pipeline with that?
one pissed off focus group
protests swept the country—and the world—so often this year,
it seemed like there was one every time we turned around.
The amount of people who showed up to demonstrate against
the looming war in Iraq was staggering. People all over
the world—literally, from Thailand to Brazil to Switzerland,
and everywhere in between—came out to protest Bush’s complete
ignorance of international laws and dismissal of the United
Nations in order to attack Iraq. However, the media consistently
underplayed the number of people that came out to be counted,
and our president called the throngs of people “focus groups.”
U.S. Department of Defense decided to allow journalists
to tag along with troops and platoons during our invasion
of Iraq, and news audiences were introduced to the idea
of embedded journalism. While some questioned what effect
these circumstances would have on the journalists—how critical
is a reporter going to be about the men and women in whose
hands his life rests?—there is no doubt such access produced
some of the most intimate and awe-inspiring images of war
known to man.
sure blowed them up good, didn’t we?
for some good news, the U.S. military made a bid deal out
of killing Saddam’s kids. Yep, we got Odai and Qusai—blew
the spoiled little shits to bits. Turned them into Swiss
cheese, really. Then we paraded their carcasses around on
Arab television to prove that we did it. It affirmed some
things about the U.S. of A. in the Muslim world: One, that
we killed Saddam’s kids. And two, that we can be just as
brutal as they were.
not a doll! It’s an ACTION FIGURE!
to kill in full flight gear, this 12-inch tall doll is an
homage Bush’s landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln on
May 1 to announce the end of major combat operations in
Iraq. (Ha!) The Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush doll
was sold exclusively through KB Toys for a mere $39.99.
The limited edition appeared to be sold out before Christmas.
down in Baghdad
the oh-so-charming term for posting one’s thoughts, opinions,
and daily banalities online, became big news this year,
earning serious coverage from the likes of the Gray Lady
herself. But among the dreck, some compelling and news-breaking
blogs rose to the surface. Most famous perhaps was the blog
of Salam Pax, a young and sardonic Baghdad resident who
chronicled the build up to and aftermath of the U.S. invasion
to a breathless audience. He now has a book, and the movie
can’t be far away, but meanwhile the blog keeps going.
it’s so unpleasant to talk about death
Thanksgiving photo-op with troops at the Baghdad airport
hardly atoned for his failure to attend funerals of soldiers
killed in Iraq—or even to acknowledge the body count, now
at 478, four times the number of U.S. personnel killed during
the “official” war, rising daily, with no end in sight.
Clearly, then, it would be too much to ask of Bush to acknowledge
the awful toll of Iraqi civilian deaths, estimated to be
well over 3,000 during the war alone.
is this, Crawford Gulch?
immortal words of Civil Administrator L. Paul Bremer—“We
got him”—uttered when American forces captured Saddam Hussein,
were added to the annals of history along with the administration’s
other gunslinger phrases like “Let’s roll,” “Dead or alive”
and “Bring ’em on!” It’s enough to make one long for the
days of “This aggression will not stand.” It didn’t make
the American armed forces look any better when video was
released of a medic inspecting Hussein as though he were
a chimp; the pope didn’t like it one bit. And by the way
Mr. Rumsfeld, where is Osama?
all sexed up
massive row between Tony Blair’s government and the BBC
over reports that officials had pressed for the “sexing
up” of a dossier on Saddam’s weapons capability had tragic
results. David Kelly, a Defence Department scientist and
former weapons inspector in Iraq, took his life after Blair’s
government named him as the BBC’s anonymous source. An extensive
inquiry involving 74 witnesses has just wrapped up. The
report due at the end of January is expected by many to
be one of the final nails in the coffin of Blair’s reputation.
we know he has a weapons program, where’s the fun in that?
the Bush administration’s attention focused soundly on one-third
of the axis of evil, Kim Jong-il of North Korea was feeling
neglected. So in January North Korea became the first country
to (officially) pull out of the nuclear nonproliferation
treaty, and Kim announced he had intercontinental missiles
and was itching to use them. But Kim hadn’t tried to kill
the elder Bush 10 years ago (at least not that we know of),
and so his high-stakes game of chicken was met with diplomacy,
leading to multilateral, though inconclusive, talks in August.
a little yellowcake under the table?
verdict is finally in: it really is sex that gets you impeached,
not lying. Despite some fairly loud calls for it, Dubya
managed to avoid impeachment even after it was revealed
that one of his only concrete pieces of proof that Iraq
was developing nuclear weapons—documented uranium yellowcake
purchases from Niger—was not only a complete fabrication,
but the CIA and State Department had told him so for months
before he put it into his State of the Union address.
President Bush uttered those 16 words about Iraq uranium
from Niger in his State of the Union speech, former ambassador
Joseph Wilson was a little bit surprised. See, he investigated
that charge for the State department, and found it had no
basis in fact. Wilson went public with this information.
Shortly thereafter, conservative columnist Robert Novak
on a tip from “senior administration officials” revealed
that Wilson’s wife was a CIA operative. This not only ended
her CIA career, it may have been a violation of law. Wilson
claimed the intent was to have a “chilling effect” on other
potential whistleblowers. Bush said they would find and
“punish the leakers.” Maybe . . .
right hand talks to the left
President Cheney claims he has nothing to do with Halliburton,
the company he was CEO of until 2000. Funny then, that before
the war began, Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton
subsidiary, nabbed a two-year, $2.3 billion contract to
clean up Iraq’s oil fields, not to mention $300 million
in contracts for rebuilding Afghanistan, including the construction
of a new U.S. embassy in Kabul. The kicker: Cheney is still
on the dole from Halliburton, earning a “deferred salary.”
But he’s got insurance that says he gets paid even if they
go under—which he says frees him of any conflict of interest.
Tell us another.
still haven’t gotten him
yeah, that bin Laden cat. Well, sure he’s still out
there, roaming the nether regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan,
making video proclamations and firing up Muslim radicals.
But we did get Saddam and all of his weapons of mass
destruct—oh wait. Well, our at-home security tips, like
stockpiling duct tape and plastic sheeting, to safeguard
from future terrorist attacks certainly made the country
. . . well, a laughingstock really. And it’s not like we
can just pressure the Pakistani government to crack down
on the tribal lawlessness in the border region that allows
bin Laden to remain free or anything.
Lynch and Shoshana Johnson both served in Iraq as part of
the 507th Maintenance Company. Both were taken prisoner.
(Johnson could be seen, traumatized, with other captured
soldiers in a controversial Iraqi TV news report.) Lynch
suffered a head injury and broken bones in her right arm
and leg, thighs and ankle. Johnson was shot through both
ankles. The Army determined that Lynch has a “temporary”
disability, while Johnson’s is “permanent.” Lynch will receive
80 percent of her monthly salary as disability pay, while
Johnson will receive 30 percent. Lynch’s story was hyped
by the Pentagon and turned into a TV movie. Johnson’s was
not. Lynch is white. Johnson is African-American.
leave a guy alone, unless they’re leaving him alone
to the United States’ engagement in Iraq, former U.N. weapons
inspector Scott Ritter was seemingly everywhere—radio, TV,
the lecture circuit—decrying the Bush administration’s agenda.
Ritter warned that there would be no weapons of mass destruction
found and that U.S. involvement would inevitably bog down
and lead to needless loss of life. For his prescience, the
ex-Marine intelligence officer was the subject of an operation
that stunk of smear: It was reported that in June 2001 Ritter
had been busted for soliciting sex online from an underage
girl. What was less well-covered was that the case was adjourned
on contemplation of dismissal, the records sealed, and the
prosecuting D.A. fired for mishandling the case. Nevertheless,
Ritter was suddenly persona non grata on the American airwaves—which
seem to prefer the right to right.
the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 ring any bells?
That’s PATRIOT Act 2. Yes, in January, as the mechanisms
for war in Iraq really picked up, the Justice Department
floated an effort to even further expand the power of the
government for domestic surveillance and intelligence gathering
while decreasing oversight and public access to information.
The provisions of this act were so egregious that even the
new right, from William Safire to Bill O’Reilly, decried
it, and thankfully the Justice Department appears to have
back burnered the proposal.
a genocide compared to a ficitional anthrax lab?
U.S. troops continued to try to stabilize a conquered Iraq
and track down nonexistent WMDs, horrific interethnic violence
raged in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite numerous
pleas for help, the United States didn’t send troops. France
did. Maybe they’ll cut us out of the diamond contracts.
to be scared out of your wits?
case you were too dense to take anything away from those
color-coded threat advisories, the Department of Homeland
Security unveiled Ready.gov earlier this year—a keen new
Web site spelling out, with little pictographs even, how
to prepare for a terrorist attack. This was the site that
recommended creating an airtight pod in your home with duct
tape and plastic sheeting to stave off poison gasses. The
media had a field day, the hardware stores cleaned up and
we were all made safe from all of those biological weapons
we can’t quite seem to find in Iraq.
found!! (In Texas)
it’s not a joke about oil rigs or the noxious shrub. In
April, anti-government white-supremacist William Krar was
discovered to have in his possession (unlike, say,
Jose Padilla) a sodium-cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands,
more than a hundred explosives, half a million rounds of
ammunition, and dozens of illegal weapons. It was considered
the most lethal arsenal uncovered in the past 20 years.
But Krar’s capture wasn’t trumpeted, or even mentioned,
by the feds or the national media. It might have confused
our idea of who the bad guys are.
are terrible diseases
the absence of a single recorded smallpox case in more than
20 years, President Bush called for some 10 million U.S.
healthcare workers to take the potentially deadly smallpox
vaccine earlier this year, in case of terrorist attack.
Only 39,000 took him up on the deal to get a vaccine that
kills or causes serious-to- life-threatening diseases in
1,000 of every 1,000,000 vaccinated. Most of them are more
worried about their kids getting the flu, catching SARS
by traveling, or buying hamburgers for fear of Mad Cow disease.
really, you’ve gotta pick one of them
that the membership of Internet activist powerhouse MoveOn.org
is in fact representative of progressives and their dilemmas,
no Democratic candidate got a majority of the vote—and therefore
MoveOn’s endorsement—in June’s widely reported first-ever
online primary. Top vote-getter Dean (44%) claimed victory
anyway, while second-place Kucinich (24%) declared himself
the winner in terms of “exceeding expectations.” More people
voted than in the 2000 Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses combined.
Vermont. Who knew?
surprise of the political year was the rapid rise of “People
Powered Howard” Dean in the crowded competition for the
Democratic presidential nomination. A balanced-budget libertarian
doctor opposed to the war in Iraq who managed to raise so
much money from small donations that he backed down on a
promise to stay publicly financed, Dean became a “phenomenon”
in short order. The front-runner designation was sealed
by a media frenzy and a Gore endorsement, but polls across
much of the country show that things are still far more
up in the air than we’re led to believe.
always have Nashville
presidential candidate Al Gore surprised many by endorsing
Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination,
rather than his own former running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Friends of the former couple, who asked to remain nameless,
expressed sympathy for the senator—whom they described as
“crestfallen”—but little surprise. “When it comes right
down to it,” said one, “Joe’s a bit of a stick in the mud.
Always going on about the degeneracy of urban music and
whatnot, you know? They weren’t cut out for one another.
But Joe’s a survivor, he’ll be all right. And, just between
you and me, I know another Reaganite Democrat who’s always
admired Joe’s ethics and might just want to form a new political-action
committee . . .”
this is why Gore endorsed him
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean raced to the head of the pack of
presidential hopefuls this fall thanks in large part to
a pervasive Internet presence. Taking advantage of the hugely
successful Meetup.com Wed site—where vegans, dog lovers
and Harry Potter fans can meet people just like them—Dean’s
campaign signed up, spread the word and the folks have flocked.
Dean’s is the most popular link on the site, with 163,000
Lieberman, John Kerry, and Dick Gephardt all entered 2003
with a feeling of calm entitlement to the Democratic nomination—the
centrist party stalwarts, well-fitted into the Washington
groove. They expected a gentlemen’s duel, but instead found
themselves face-to-face with an irrepressible governor of
a tiny New England state who had a lot of money and a lot
of followers. After many months of hoping he’d go away if
they ignored him, the aristocrats cracked and made Dean
the man to attack, calling him at once too much like Bush
and too radical lefty to win.
Sharpton is the only presidential candidate who can say
he was both James Brown’s road manager and an ordained minister
by age 10. And just to prove how much fun the good reverend
is, he hosted Saturday Night Live in early December
and sang James Brown’s “I Feel Good” complete with booty
shaking amusement. Sharpton is, however, still at the back
of the pack according to current polls.
you we should’ve done a focus group first
Dean’s well-intended but impolitic comment about Southerners
with confederate flags sounded racist to blacks, condescending
to white Southerners and too good to be true to Dick Gephardt,
who pounced on Dean for appealing to people “who disagree
with us on bedrock Democratic values like civil rights.”
What Dean said: ‘’I still want to be the candidate for guys
with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. We can’t
beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section
of Democrats.’’ Gephardt’s retort: “I will be the candidate
for guys with American flags in their pickup trucks.” Memo
to Dean and Gephardt: Pickup trucks are just as bad on gas
mileage as SUVs.
this is a debate, not a Cosmo interview
a year of struggling for media coverage of his campaign,
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich scored
a coup in the Dec. 9 debate by chiding moderator Ted Koppel
for focusing too much on how people felt about the Gore
endorsement and how much money people had rather than on
the issues. He got wild applause, and even mainstream commentators
gave Kucinich the nod as the best performance of the night,
even if they stopped short of saying he won the debate.
vu all over again
space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over California and
Texas on the morning of Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts
aboard. While the specific cause was a chunk of foam debris
that fatally damaged Columbia’s left wing during launch,
the commission that investigated the accident blamed NASA’s
dysfunctional culture as the root of the agency’s problems.
so this is a good thing?
his first address following the tragic loss of the space
shuttle Columbia, Pres. Bush waxed religious: “The
same creator who names the stars also knows the names of
the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle
did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all
are safely home.” In an earlier, ultimately rejected, draft
of the speech, Pres. Bush was to inform the American public
that the crew of the Columbia had been taken to the
astronaut farm while we were at school.
quite so big media
June 2, the Federal Communications Commission decided, in
a 3-2 party-line vote, to relax media ownership rules and
allow for greater consolidation among major media conglomerates.
Despite a virtual blackout by the mainstream media outlets—owners
of which would benefit the most from relaxed ownership rules—millions
of U.S. citizens wrote their congressmen to maintain the
status quo. Congress took note and decided to allow for
less consolidation than recommended by the FCC, a move that
is currently being challenged in court by the FCC.
you weren’t paying attention
of Britons took to the streets as President Bush was wined
and dined by British royalty. On CNN all we saw was Michael
Jackson’s SUV roll down the thruway. Coinciding with Bush’s
visit to London, two truck bombs explode outside of British-owned
hotels in Turkey killing 30 and wounding another 500. On
FOX News we saw the tailfin of Michael Jackson’s private
jet jutting out from a hangar. Police and protestors clashed
in Miami outside a meeting of the FTAA. Michael Jackson’s
mug shot was all over television. Hey, I know they’ll be
discussing the upcoming presidential election on the news
shows tonight, but I hear Tommy Hilfiger’s daughter and
Paris Hilton will be making out on Survivor. Wanna
so it wasn’t a banner year for serious journalism—what with
all the lying, cheating and taking credit for other people’s
work and so forth. From CNN’s suppression of information
about Hussein’s atrocities to protect their staff in Iraq,
to British journalist Jason Forlong’s manufactured coverage
of a missile launch assembled from stock footage, to the
spectacular debacle at the Times (Blair and Bragg
and LeDuff, oh my), the industry really seemed to be asleep
at the switch. Fortunately, there has been no similar crisis
in service journalism: The reputation of reporters covering
the thorny issues of speed dating, online dating, seniors
dating and “just-lunch” dating remains absolutely unchanged.
of this blurb may have been researched and/or reported by—even
written by—someone entirely different from the person who
will try to collect the check
Being in power ain’t enough
called it flight of the Killer D’s—and things far less flattering—when
51 Texas Democrats holed up in a hotel in Oklahoma to prevent
the necessary quorum to pass a GOP redistricting bill. What
got less attention was the fact that the redistricting attempt
was a bald power grab, out of line with long-established
redistricting norms: the once-a-decade based-on-the-census
lines had already been drawn, but Congressman Tom DeLay
thought he deserved more safe Republican districts, since
so many Texans were voting Republican (except for Congress).
A similar GOP power-solidifying gerrymandering attempt in
Colorado was thrown out by the courts; Texas’ eventually
did pass and is currently before a federal court.
you’ve heard about California is true
recall circus turned out exactly the way Republican strategists
planned it, with the woefully unpopular Gov. Gray Davis
getting the boot from voters, and Hollywood action figure
Arnold Schwarzenegger winning the race to take his place,
brushing aside a slew of last-minute sexual-harassment charges
like so many pesky enemies of Conan. How the business-friendly
but socially moderate Schwarzenegger will govern remains
to be seen, though his ties to the dark side of corporate
America are coming to light: The governor, who met secretly
with disgraced Enron CEO Kenneth Lay in 2001, has announced
he will settle the state’s energy-fraud lawsuits—intended
to compensate citizens for money gouged by the likes of
Enron during California’s energy crisis—for pennies on the
dollar. The terminator, indeed.
line forms here
economy was seriously harmed and slowed thanks to the huge
Los Angeles transit strike and the strike and/or lock-out
of 85,000 state grocery workers, the first grocery strike
in 25 years. Since mid-October, grocery workers have been
on strike opposing huge pay and benefit cuts, though a similar
strike affecting Kroger grocery stores in Ohio, West Virginia
and Kentucky was resolved early in December putting 3,300
employees back to work. Welcome to the jobless recovery.
your hands in the air, but first bend over
U.S. National Labor Committee issued a report that P. Diddy’s
Sean John line of clothing and Rocawear, which is co-owned
by Jay-Z and Damon Dash, both use the same Honduran sweatshop
to manufacture their clothes. In the plant, it is alleged,
workers are paid the equivalent of about 75 cents for each
$50 sweatshirt they manufacture. In addition, workers are
subject to mandatory daily body searches. Both P. Diddy
and Jay-Z denied the charges, claiming that there had been
a misunderstanding: The rappers stated that the facilities
weren’t sweatshops at all, but amusement parks simulating
the experience of one of their stateside concerts. “A quick
frisk, and less than a bucks’ worth of enjoyment from a
$50 product, you know what I’m saying?” Mr. Diddy explained.
only the Healthy Forests Initiative had been in place
raged throughout the West this year, especially in California,
where well over 300,000 acres were scorched. Relief aid
to Californians has so far exceeded $30 million, and some
economists expect claims to top $1.5 billion and cost the
California economy $2 billion. But it’s OK. President Bush
and the EPA have a new clear-cutting and pro-logging initiative
that’ll help clear out that pesky growth.
Recording Industry Association of America let the strong-arm
tactics fly this year, and lawsuits abounded. Hundreds of
people—from 12-year-olds in public housing to college kids
to grannies—were sued for illegally downloading music. The
RIAA drafted the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms to run its anti-piracy group and set up 1-888-BAD-BEAT
for people who wish to earn a $10,000 reward for tipping
them off to a pirate. Surprise, surprise, people are still
must be that liberal media again, confusing people. In August
that famously neutral network Fox News sued comedian Al
Franken for using “their” phrase “fair and balanced” in
the title of his book Lies and Lying Liars Who Tell Them:
A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox claimed people
might think they’d sponsored the book. Yep. Just like some
people think Dubya was a Rhodes scholar because he has a
for a few Bucks®
March, HaidaBucks, a tiny café on an island off the north
coast of British Columbia, received a cease and desist letter
from Starbucks insisting that it change its name and logo
(which, you guessed it, looks nothing like a mermaid) because
it was infringing on Starbucks’ trademark. The co-owners
are members of the Haida nation, which calls its young men
bucks. After the café put up a legal fight and garnered
widespread public support, Starbucks backed down, inelegantly,
by claiming the café had agreed to make “appropriate changes”
and not expand the business off the island. The owners say
they’ve agreed to no such things.
win the all-important battle for the hearts and minds of
young video-game players, Sony’s entertainment division
attempted to copyright the term “shock and awe” for future
use in a yet-to-be-developed video game earlier this year.
A fine choice for a video game title were it not military
shorthand for the effects of a blitzkrieg-style attack on
an enemy. As in, “We’ll drop so many damn bombs on the bastards,
they’ll be in awe and too shocked to fight.” Great message
for the kiddies, no? Facing a hail of criticism, better
judgment prevailed and Sony withdrew its copyright application.
Mae Washington-Williams, 78, went public with what she’d
known since she was 16: Strom Thurmond was her father. At
22, Thurmond had an affair with his family’s 15-year-old
black maid. Ms. Washington-Williams met her father at 16
and appears to hold no malice against the original Dixiecrat.
Thurmond, who died this year, made a bid for the presidency
on a staunch segregationist platform in 1948, and stuck
to that platform as a senator throughout the civil-rights
movement of the 1960s. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes
filibustering against the 1957 civil-rights bill.
after me: we are a modern and technologically advanced nation
the second time in two years, Manhattan commuters were walking
home across bridges, as the Great Blackout of 2003 swept
the northeast on Aug. 14, cutting off power to 50 million
people in the United States and Canada. While official reports
laid the blame at the feet of a few slow-moving operators
and some outdated procedures in Indiana, cranky muckraker
Greg Palast pointed out that blackouts have followed energy
deregulation across the world, as power companies are no
longer required to do pesky things like perform sufficient
we build it, will they come?
a long period of debate and compromise, a plan for new construction
at the site of the World Trade Center appears to have been
finalized. The new “simple and pure” structure, to be named
the Freedom Tower, will be the tallest building in the world.
The complete reconstruction of the site is expected to take
10 years, though the start-and-stop nature of the process
thus far calls that timetable into question—however, it
does appear that the “two vast and trunkless legs of stone”
proposed by the Ozymandias architectural firm finally have
been ruled out completely.
to the machines
soon to every voting booth near you—electronic voting machines!
Guaranteed to steal, if not your vote, at least your confidence
in a voting system! Code for these machines has been leaked
onto the Internet and is apparently so riddled with potential
points of entry for would-be election pirates that it has
become a really funny joke among computer geeks. We’d be
laughing too, but thanks to a federal mandate we’ll be electing
our presidents on these machines from here on out.
vs. Poor, round 643,000,000
World Trade Organization summit in Cancun, Mexico fell apart
in September when the 146 participating countries failed
to reach agreements on agricultural subsidies, trading rules
and market access. While many media reports chose to focus
on the political implications of the WTO losing credibility,
few got to the heart of how the trade organization’s policies
affect the world’s developing countries. Desperate to draw
attention to how WTO policies affect farmers in his country,
Lee Kyong-hae, a former president of the Korean Advanced
Farmers Federation, committed ritual suicide during protests
of the meetings. Months later, amid drastic militarization
and huge protests, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas
meeting in Miami chose a much milder package pushed by Brazil
over the U.S.-preferred model.
shalt not confuse church and state
got ugly in Alabama when Chief Justice Roy Moore of the
state supreme court refused to remove a 2.6 ton monument
to the Ten Commandments from the courthouse’s rotunda. A
federal judge ruled that the granite slab was an unconstitutional
religious endorsement and Moore was subsequently removed
from office by the Court of the Judiciary. What was crazier?
A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll from August found only
one out of five Americans approved of the monument’s removal.
we should rent a movie . . .
was a scary year on the nightclub scene—stampedes and fires
caused more than 100 people to die this year alone. In February
the club Epitome, located on Chicago’s South Side, was filled
with more than 1,500 people when a fight broke out and someone
sprayed pepper spray. People freaked and rushed the door,
but the door was blocked because too many people were stacked
up against it. The result? A whole lot of people injured,
and 21 dead as a result of being crushed or suffocated.
Also in February, at the Station, a West Warwick, R.I.,
nightclub, a fire erupted during a pyrotechnic display when
the Great White were playing a set. That fire ranks as one
of the deadliest fires in nightclub history, with 100 people
you only paid attention to CNN and MSNBC, the Washington
Post and The New York Times, you might think
that the only people who go missing in this country are
white, middle-to-upper-class girls or young women. Yes,
it’s terrible that anyone goes missing, but why is it that
Elizabeth Smart (the girl taken by gunpoint from her bedroom
in her Utah home) has become a household name when you’ve
probably never even heard of Alexis Patterson, a 7-year-old
girl kidnapped on her way to school in Milwaukee a month
before? Smart is white and Patterson is black. Any good
reason for the difference in coverage is missing.
gilded is your parachute?
Grasso, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, unapologetically
defended his promised $139.5 million retirement pay package
when news broke about it in late summer. Public investors
like NYS Comptroller Alan Hevesi called for Grasso’s head,
and he resigned in mid-September at the behest of the stock
exchange’s board. New York’s former Comptroller H. Carl
McCall served as Grasso’s temporary replacement and subsequently
got your reform right here
U.S. Supreme Court ruled the University of Michigan’s point-based
affirmative-action admissions policy unconstitutional this
fall. In her dreamily written opinion, Justice O’Connor
spoke of a color-blind nation of the future where such policies
would no longer be necessary. The court also upheld all
of the key provisions of the McCain–Feingold Campaign Finance
law, which bans large donations from corporations, unions
and individuals and limits funding for broadcast ads before
people don’t agree with you, try renaming what you want
time’s the charm. After two vetoes from President Clinton,
anti-choice activists succeeded in passing a federal so-called
“partial-birth abortion” ban. Despite supporters’ claims
that it bans only one specific, nasty, very late-term method,
the phrase “partial-birth abortion” was invented by anti-choice
groups, and the bill is vague enough to ban a wide range
of procedures in the second and third trimesters. The bill
also contains no exception for the health of the woman,
something the Supreme Court has said is a no-no. Pro-choice
groups call the law a straight-up abortion ban.
bad he has no idea what’s going on
years after his presidency ended, Ronald Reagan remained
a controversial figure. CBS dropped a bundle on a miniseries
about him for sweeps week, and then dropped it when right-wing
loudmouths mobilized against it. Then, some Republican diehards
decided it would be a good idea to replace Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, who created Social Security and led us through
the Depression and World War II, with Reagan’s smiling mug
on the dime. (Remember: you aren’t allowed on U.S. postage
stamps until you’re dead.)
Robertson: still a wacko
good Reverend Pat, ex-presidential candidate and still
host of cable’s 700 Club, is well known for his bizarre
utterances. (After Sept. 11, he and Jerry Falwell sat down
and agreed that the ACLU, homosexuals, feminists and their
ilk were ultimately to blame.) This year, when George W.
Bush called on Liberian president and accused war criminal
Charles Taylor to resign, Robertson said: “So we’re undermining
a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels
to take over the country.” We’d like to think it was simple
religious bigotry, and not Robertson’s $9 million investment
in Liberian gold mines, which might be lost in a post-Taylor
Liberia, that led him to such a characteristic statement.
you did in fact say I do
the Ontario Supreme Court ruled that gays cannot be excluded
from marriage, they added an extra little twist: the decision
was retroactive, so two gay couples who in 2001 had gotten
hitched the old-fashioned way—publishing the banns rather
than getting a license, which was denied them—are now considered
to have been legally married, becoming the first official
same-sex married couple in the world.
eye wedding rings
out the bubbly—and do it quick. In November, the Massachusetts
Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban
gays from the institution of civil marriage. People who
want to keep marriage for heterosexuals—because they are
doing so well with it, just ask the editors of Divorce
magazine—have threatened a constitutional amendment banning
same-sex marriage. The earliest that could get in front
of voters, however, is 2006, so gay couples are hoping for
at least a window of legality. Meanwhile, New York’s Dems
have said gay marriage is good in theory.
right, it’s the land of the free.
a surprising display of good sense, the Supreme Court overturned
a Texas anti-sodomy law, recognizing that what consenting
adults do in their bedrooms is their own business. Justice
Scalia, never one to get hysterical, said in his dissent
that the court had “largely signed on to the homosexual
Marcus McLaurin of Louisiana was forced to write “I will
never use the word gay in school again” over and over after
he responded to a classmate’s query about his mother and
father by explaining that he had two moms because they were
gay. His “student behavior contract,” made public by the
ACLU, reads, in part, “What I should have done: Cep my mouf
shut.” Note to Marcus: that’s because some adults aren’t
worth talking to.
guys? You were founded by a serial ax-murderer
election of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop
sent convulsions through the Episcopal Church, the American
branch of Anglicanism, which was founded by England’s Henry
VIII. While most New Hampshirans—and most Episcopalians—stuck
by their man, dioceses from Africa to Albany threatened
to split the denomination over the election. While that
hasn’t happened yet, legal squabbling has begun over who
gets church property if a parish secedes.
competing with Scalia for the hysterics award
Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania nearly (unfortunately not
quite) Trent Lott-ed himself by saying that decriminalizing
gay sex would lead to rights to commit incest, adultery,
and the ever-scary “anything!” His stupidity was immortalized
by sex columnist Dan Savage, who held a contest to come
up with a new definition for “santorum” and then energetically
promoted the winner: “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal
matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.”
don’t need no stinkin’ stop sign, I’m a congressman
several years of accidents, close calls, speeding tickets,
and unknown scores of would-have-been-tickets-except-he’s-the-governor/congressman,
U.S.Rep. Bill Janklow (R-S.D.) got in a scrape no one could
ignore: he killed a motorcyclist by plowing through a stop
sign at over 70 mph. Janklow said he became disoriented
due to a diabetic reaction, but the jury didn’t buy it.
Janklow was convicted of manslaughter and will resign from
the House in January. Still up in the air: if he’ll actually
serve any time behind bars.
wouldn’t listen to you if you were the last junkie on earth
so tacky to be addicted to painkillers. So ’80s. But then
again, so are Republicans. Conservative talk-radio personality
Rush Limbaugh admitted he was addicted to prescription painkillers
this fall and was absent from the airwaves when he went
into rehab. Rehab did not seem to detox him of any piss
or vinegar, however, as his return to radio was business
as usual. Rush had no comment on his previous calls to rectify
the racial imbalance in drug arrests by arresting more whites.
want? A flood?
and traditional (as in he wants his mass in Latin) Catholic
Mel Gibson spent much of the year work on a movie about
the Passion, to be released on Ash Wednesday. The project
stirred up quite a bit of controversy, including accusations
of anti-Semitism. The Pope recently gave it his thumbs up
(“It is as it was.”), but some say the Big Guy himself weighed
in first: In the fall, the actor playing Jesus and the assistant
director were both struck by lightning, on location. In
fact, the assistant director was hit twice. Maybe the Pope
needs to turn up his hearing aid.
sorry Miss Parks?
their surprise, OutKast are being sued by Rosa Parks for
using her name in a song (“Rosa Parks”) without her permission
on their 1998 album Aquemini. Although the suit began
in 1999, legal action picked up momentum again this December
when the U.S. Supreme Court gave Rosa Parks’ legal team
the green light to sue the multiplatinum Grammy-nominated
hip-hop duo for using her name as a song title, though not
for using it in the lyrics. The matter has been remanded
to a federal judge for pretrial hearings.
soon: a metrosexual near you!
do you get when you put five very gay queers in the same
room with one very straight guy? A whole lotta ratings!
This year was quite a good year for Bravo, the channel that
dared to go where no other channel would go: gay. Five loveable
gay guys were selected and put on a show (Ahem, Queer
Eye for the Straight Guy) in order to make over the
clueless straight guys of the nation. There’s a separate
queer eye for all the different ways a straight guy can
fuck up: one for culture, one for grooming, one for cooking,
one for interior design, and one for fashion. Ah, at last!
The best of both worlds—on Bravo.
ociffer, don’t you know who I am?
Love should be used to drug charges by now, and indeed she
was hit again this fall after an accidental overdose on
oxycontin. Love has lost custody of her child and been spotted
wandering around naked in a live-in rehab facility, yet
somehow got out to go club-hopping. December was a ripe
month for celebrity arrests: Parliament Funkadelic’s George
Clinton was busted for coke at the ripe age of 62; frontman
for the White Stripes, Jack White, was arrested on aggravated
assault charges for beating the b’jesus out of Jason Stollsteimer,
singer-guitarist of the Von Bondies, in a Detroit bar; and
Bobby Brown was arrested for battery for getting too nasty
with his wife Whitney Houston. Glen Campbell and Wynonna
Judd were also both recently nabbed for drunk driving.
just in: people the result of sex!
outlets were frothing in a fit of vicarious teen lust when
it was reported that a new sex game was sweeping American
schools. Color-coded plastic bracelets, each color signifying
a different sex act, were worn by participants; if a bracelet
was successfully broken from the wrist of the wearer, the
wearer was obliged to perform the act indicated. Eegads!
Teenagers are . . . are . . . are . . . doing it!
Yike! And, apparently, adolescent foreplay is . . . is .
. . juvenile! And what’s more . . . oh, settle down.
It was all bullshit anyway. Further investigation revealed
a shocking dearth of teens who would admit to participating;
seems they all just read about it on prurient news Web sites
shielding with mock indignation their childish fixations
on lithe young bodies. . . . tee, hee . . . . doing the
I didn’t do that other filthy thing I didn’t do either
Prince Charles (who is sooo not gay) issued a bizarre preemptive
denial of something or other (that was in no way gay), having
to do with something a former (not gay) servant claims to
have seen him engaged in with another servant (also sooo
not gay), or something like that. The (totally not-gay)
thing—that didn’t happen anyway—can’t be reported, because
of an injunction issued by a British court before the (very
my next trick, I won’t do anything at all—but backwards!
magician/performance artist David Blaine sat in a transparent
box suspended over the Thames River for 44 days without
food. Sat in a box. For a month and a half. Doing nothing.
Didn’t eat. Didn’t juggle. No card tricks. No ladies sawn
in half. No disappearing monuments. Nothing. Just sitting.
Legendary debunker the Amazing Randi is still at a loss
to explain to mystifying stunt.
want to rock with you, by any means necessary
legally embattled King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has reportedly
turned over the security of his home, the Neverland Ranch,
and the management of his affairs to the black separatist
group the Nation of Islam. Though Jackson’s lawyer and the
Nation of Islam’s official newspaper, The Final Call,
denied the claims, one of Jackson’s spokesmen has quit in
protest of the group’s presence at the ranch, and friends
of Jackson have made anonymous statements to the press that
the group has restricted access to the singer, and appears
to be influencing his decision making. There is no report
on whether or not the group’s leader, Louis Farrakhan, has
mastered the moonwalk.
of sound to include barbed wire
February, Phil Spector, 62, was charged with the murder
of Lana Clarkson, 40, a B-movie actress he’d just met. Spector,
a record industry giant for his impressive work as a pop
producer, has a reputation for gun toting and scaring the
heck out of the acts he’s worked with. Clarkson was found
dead at the entrance of his home in early February.
on March 10, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines told
a London concert audience “Just so you know, we’re ashamed
the president of the United States is from Texas,” she probably
had no idea of the trouble she was getting into. Radio stations—entire
radio networks—dropped the Chicks from their playlists,
former fans burned their albums, other country stars criticized
them, and they received death threats. After an initial
apology, Maines and company fired back with a strong defense
of free speech and a nude cover shot for Entertainment
Weekly. They ain’t your mama’s country girls.
beyond the grave
Zevon starred in a VH1 special, and had his highest-charting
album in decades. Johnny Cash released yet another bestselling
collaboration with Rick Rubin, as well as a multidisc set
of his unreleased American recordings; he also earned a
half-dozen MTV award nominations for the video of his gripping
cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” And they both found success
in spite of—because of?—dying. Meanwhile, Johnny’s better
half, June Carter Cash, released her acclaimed last album
before shaking off this mortal coil, and Tupac Shakur’s
latest posthumous disc, Tupac Resurrection, sold
briskly. Do you have to die to break into the Top 10 these
a year for love—that very special kind of love, celebrity
love. Let’s start with the one word that needs no elaboration:
Bennifer. How we swooned to the trials of Ben and Jen. Would
they? Wouldn’t they? Would she forgive him that trip to
the strip joint? Would he forgive her for hating Matt Damon?
Then there was the charming, camera-shy romance between
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. This had a
fairy-tale ending: She got knocked up and they married.
Things weren’t so swell for rapper 50 Cent and Vivica A.
Fox, however. When they phffted, he accused her of stalking
him. Fox claimed to have only learned of the break-up when
Cent told Howard Stern about it on the radio. (Ouch.) The
year ended on a joyous note, however, as America fell in
love with Paris Hilton.
75th annual Madonna year-end wrap-up
the one-time material girl’s new music didn’t exactly set
the charts on fire, Madonna certainly had a full year. She
kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the
MTV Video Music awards, and published a children’s book.
does more for the great state of New York than . . .
a nearly $12 billion deficit at the beginning of the year,
Gov. George E. Pataki was playing doctor to a state that
was fiscally ill. The bitter pill he prescribed was a budget
that slashed general education funds, abandoned healthcare
initiatives and forced SUNY tuition to skyrocket—all while
allowing corporate tax loopholes to remain open. The state
legislators called the governor’s budget heartless, and
produced their own plan, one that the governor called irresponsible
and vetoed. The Legislature in return overrode all 119 of
Eliot, where will you stop? You’ve uncovered corruption
after corruption on Wall Street. You, along with a host
of other attorneys general, have filed lawsuit after lawsuit
forcing the Bush administration to honor the Clean Air Act.
You were courted by Wesley Clark to be his vice presidential
candidate. A Spitzer 2006 political action committee has
collected nearly $2 million on your behalf for a presumed
gubernatorial bid still two years away. Our only question:
Should we prepare your coach to the White House for 2008
that mean that Jim Coyne thinks he’s Jesus?
this year former Albany County Executive Jimmy Coyne attempted
to purchase the Washington Avenue Armory with plans to turn
the decaying structure into a sports-concerts venue and
bring back the Albany Patroons. But from the start there
was an air of impossibility surrounding the idea—no Continental
Basketball Association teams exist on the East Coast and
Coyne refused to disclose any specific plans or his business
associates. When Mayor Jerry Jennings caught a whiff he
asked state regulators to halt the sale and they complied.
Coyne has since filed a lawsuit, seeking for redemption
in what he called “the biggest betrayal since Judas.”
hear they’re coming for my potato chips next
July 24, 2003 it became illegal to smoke tobacco products
in bars and restaurants throughout New York state. While
many lauded the decision as a major public health initiative,
bar and restaurant owners have lambasted the law saying
it will severely hurt their businesses. According to wire
reports, many afflicted patrons and businessmen have been
so distraught by the news they’ve had to step outside for
it up, Lark Street
it was just a horror wasn’t it? They tore up the sidewalks,
funneled traffic into those little lanes and then they slaughtered
the trees all in the name of revitalization. The inconvenience
was almost too much trauma for Lark Street to bear. Some
hack political-poster artist plastered the street’s construction
equipment with pixilated, error-riddled posters of Mayor
Jerry Jennings with “I Hate Trees” scrawled across his head.
Now it’s all said and done and folks have found a new sense
of irritation—the decorative cobblestones in the intersections
and how they’ll be the cause of multiple car accidents this
winter. Oy. Maybe Lark Street’s nickname, “The Heart of
Albany’s Downtown,” should be renovated as well—“Lark Street:
A Beautiful Place to Bitch About.”
County Dems got it all wrong
a local chapter of the NAACP and a community activist alleged
that the voting maps adopted by the Albany County Legislature
in late 2002 shortchanged the county’s growing ethnic-minority
population, the body’s Democratic majority rebuffed the
charges. Eight months later Albany County Dems swallowed
their pride, and the old maps, when a federal judge halted
this year’s legislative elections and required the legislature
to redraw its maps to provide for adequate minority representation.
T-shirts heard round the world
to hear a story? A couple of guys walk into a mall one day
and buy some T-shirts. One says “Peace on Earth” and the
other says “No War with Iraq.” Both guys promptly put on
their shirts, displaying ever so quaintly their disdain
for a pending war. Next thing you know, mall security asks
the two guys to remove their shirts. It’s mall policy, he
says. One guy says “No” and is arrested for trespassing.
Word gets out and the whole world is pointing and laughing
at this silly little mall in Upstate New York—a mall that
is owned by a company asking for tax breaks to build an
even bigger mall where you won’t be allowed to wear other
T-shirts. Pretty unbelievable, huh?
pimping that big yellow smiley face, can’t you take a joke?
April a couple of buggers at RPI created a Web site spoofing
Priceline.com’s slogan, “Name Your Own Price,” and applying
it to shopping at Wal-Mart. You could name your own price,
download and print your own barcodes and go shopping—kind
of like Wal-Mart itself, which due to its size can set its
own prices with distributors who must capitulate or lose
a huge share of the market. Kind of cute, right? Wal-Mart
didn’t think so and they threatened the unnamed hackers
with a lawsuit unless they pulled the Web site.
been a tough run for Albert P. Jurczynski, Schenectady’s
departing mayor. During his tenure the city’s been rattled
by a police corruption scandal, caught unprepared for snowstorms
and seen its finances all but wither away. Under Al’s watch
the city’s bond rating was recently downgraded to the lowest
in the state, and Metroplex, an all-powerful yet unaccountable
public authority, has vastly increased its power. At least
with his sweet new gig in Gov. Pataki’s Office of Small
Cities, Mayor Al will be able to prescribe the Jurczynski
treatment to developing metropolises throughout the state—getchaself
Cide, we hardly knew ye
Springs-born horse Funny Cide became a local phenomenon
when he nearly won thoroughbred racing’s biggest prize,
the Triple Crown. And even though he wasn’t able to run
in the Travers, we loved him still.
let the door hit you on the way out
(seven years) UAlbany president Karen Hitchcock resigned.
Some say that this was the result of a lost power struggle
over the future of nanotech with SUNY system chancellor
Robert King (who also happens to be Gov. Pataki’s good pal).
We’d feel more sorry for her if she hadn’t supported wiping
out acres of on-campus natural habitat to build ugly (and
useless) housing for graduate students.
of Rensselaer Police Chief Rick Fusco filed a $3 million
lawsuit against Mayor Mark Pratt and several current and
former members of the police force for creating an “extremely
hostile work environment.” The bad blood started when the
mayor suspended the chief for being drunk at a crime scene,
a charge that was not true. The chief then had the mayor
arrested for, essentially, stealing city gasoline. This
was thrown out of court. Maybe the W.C. Fields solution
for settling disputes between world leaders should be employed:
The mayor and the chief could meet in the Amtrak parking
lot, and battle it out with socks filled with horse dung.
just for gray-haired fundamentalists anymore
hip, loud, and more likely to carry graphic fetus pictures
than statues of Mary, the Rock for Lifers made their debut
outside Albany’s Planned Parenthood clinic this summer.
They raised eyebrows by videotaping the door and handing
out anti-contraception pamphlets, probably making some clinic
escorts think more fondly of their usual quietly praying
say intimidation, I say ballot security
Springs Republicans tried to take Skidmore College’s polling
place away in early 2003, then actively campaigned to students,
then intimidated them on Election Day. Aggressive Republican
poll watchers challenged voters at the college’s polling
place on the grounds that the college’s campus was not their
residence and therefore could not be their polling place.
Brendan Quinn, a Republican hessian who participated in
the Floridian hijinks of 2000, led the charge to effectively
discourage the mostly Democratic student voting block in
what were tight elections. The Republican mayoral candidate
was elected by a scant 77 votes.
part of hard-working law-abiding immigrant don’t you understand?
Ansar Mahmood, not a lot changed in 2003. The Hudson resident
and Pakistani native who was caught up in the post-Sept.
11 hysteria and detained for helping some friends get an
apartment spent the entire year in jail awaiting deportation.
But the year did see a massive increase in awareness of
his plight, with members of his hometown organizing tirelessly
for his release.
WMHT fired their in-house TV production staff, including
acclaimed documentary filmmaker Steve Dunn. Then they gutted
their classical-music radio station, firing the knowledgeable,
entertaining, long- serving and unionized on-air talent
in favor of a depressingly formulaic satellite service out
of Minnesota. With WAMC-FM having eliminated almost all
of their classical programming (and evidencing little thought
behind their use of music in general), the Capital Region
lost an essential cultural resource in WMHT-FM.
“phase one” rehabilitation of Albany’s Palace Theatre was
completed in time for a gala concert with Tony Bennett on
May 1. The seats were refurbished, the ornate architectural
details were exquisitely restored, and the entire interior
got a fine new coat of paint—to spectacular effect. Now,
if they’d just get that new marquee installed.
least they weren’t damaged in a nuclear explosion
Dec. 9, while loading 300-ton generators, the Dutch cargo
ship the Stellamare lost its balance and tipped over into
the icy waters of the Port of Albany, killing three crew
members. The unusual tragedy paralyzed the port while divers
looked for the missing crew. The generators were on their
way back to Romania after a stay at the Schenectady GE plant—where
they were having water damage repaired.