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The Lefties year in revue

Published 9:51pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We were Occupied in 2011 and preoccupied with Penn State and Herman Cain.
There may have been another highlight, if only Texas Gov. Rick Perry could remember, which means it’s time to refresh his memory with the 29th annual Lefties.
Charlie Sheen could be the face of 2011. Abuse substances until you’re canned from the best-paying job on TV playing yourself, lose another wife and your kids, then hit the road, selling your train wreck as entertainment to the tune of a reported $7 million. Only in the narcissistic Twitter age. The public is out for Tiger Blood, giving Comedy Central its highest-rated roast with this Martian rock star.
Transformation of our politics into reality television is complete.
Obama birth certificate-obsessed Donald (“I was leading in the polls when I left”) Trump recasts the Republican race as “The Apprentice” by hosting a debate Dec. 27 in Iowa a week before the caucuses.
Trump, who usually works with Meatloaf, Gary Busey, Jose Canseco, LaToya Jackson and former Dowagiac resident Sinbad, threatens to return as an independent candidate.
Cain leads us into suspension of his campaign with wisdom from the Pokemon movie.
Let’s hear it for Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor whose self-immolation lit the fuse on the Arab Spring, the first socially networked revolution.
Hosni Mubarak was out in Egypt, Moammar Gadhafi’s 40-year reign in Libya ended in his death, Osama bin Laden met a similar kind of swift justice and Kim Kardashian’s made-for-TV marriage lasts 72 days.
50-year anniversaries: The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, whose Madison Square Garden party included his first team-up with Bruce Springsteen since 1980 for “Old Time Rock and Roll”; and Walter Iooss Jr. as a Sports Illustrated photographer.
Four: Number of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time I actually saw live — Keith Richards (4), Frank Zappa (22), The Edge (38) and Roger McGuinn (95). Buck Dharma didn’t even make the list.
An earthquake/tsunami rattles Japan nuclear reactors.
This year’s girl: resilient Gabby Giffords.
Congress approval ratings evaporate with one non-accomplishment after another — unless you consider pizza a vegetable — particularly the debt ceiling debacle.
226 million: Number of U.S. vacation days unused in 2011 — equal to $34.3 billion worth of time.
E-mail and social networks are blamed for 60 percent of workplace distractions.
Nine books read: Life by Keith Richards, Here Comes Trouble by Michael Moore, Of Uncertain Significance by Michael Collins, Future King by Larry Pontius, Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane, It Wasn’t Always Easy, but I Sure Had Fun by Lewis Grizzard and four Michael Connelly novels.
TV: The Daily Show, Parks and Recreation (Aubrey Plaza, 27, made a movie with Sheen and was “trying to absorb his crazy wizard energy”), The Good Wife, Community, The Big Bang Theory, Survivor and Rock Center.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “I’m going to be the nominee.”
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich
•••
“(Gingrich) is smart and he is politically clever, but he is crippled by anger and flagrant, embarrassing self-regard. It’s fun having him around, but the notion that someone this volatile might be President is, as Newt might hyperbolize, one of the craziest ideas in American history.”
— Joe Klein, who has known the former House Speaker  for 25 years, in Time
•••
“Republicans clearly don’t want to win.”
— Mika Brzezinski
on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”
•••
“There’s no Reagan in the Republican ranks. There’s not even a George W. Bush.”
— historian Sean Wilentz
•••
“The Republican Party is screwed up in its head. It’s behaving in a very irrational way.”
— our former congressman David Stockman in Rolling Stone’s five-page screed, “The GOP’s Crackpot Agenda,” about the shared “radical vision to trash the environment, shred the safety net and aid the rich at any cost” while waging endless war. I nearly fall over when Perry, Mitt Romney, Gingrich and Michele Bachmann talk about war with Iran next.
•••
“Occupy is almost a new spin on ‘Gangs of New York,’ with all the turbulence among the urban poor during the 1860s … now it’s spreading all over the country. Take away their livelihood, take away their money, and people have to get up and protest.”
— director Martin Scorsese
•••
“I hope (President Obama) will start governing. This idea of ruling by consensus and keeping the Republicans happy was an enormous mistake. The surge in Afghanistan was an enormous mistake.”
— Roger Waters of Pink Floyd
•••
“The president has done almost nothing to deal with the climate problem. He allowed the usual cast of characters to carry the ball … big banks would be the biggest winners and Big Coal and Big Oil and Big Utilities were all given their share. And the public would get screwed. Energy prices would go up … Obama completely blew the chance to really be a great president … the fossil fuel industry is spending millions to argue that the best way to fix the economy is to burn more fossil fuels. You can’t turn on your television without seeing ads for oil exploration and fracking and clean coal. It’s really hard to compete against that.”
— NASA climate-change
scientist James Hansen
•••
“It’s so crazy that we can’t fix our roads and bridges. A first-world country is defined by more than just really good restaurants.”
— Joel McHale, star of NBC’s “Community,” too creative to be on the chopping block, and host of “The Soup.”
•••
“REM was like The Beatles for me.”
— “Parks and Recreation”
co-star Adam Scott
•••
“(General Motors) will sell more cars in China than in the U.S. in 2011.”
— Time magazine, Dec. 19

•••
“(President Obama) finally got it in his head that he’s never going to get credit for anything he does. Maybe when he got Osama bin Laden, and the Republicans gave him 12 hours of applause.”
— comedian Bill Maher
•••
“My 11-year-old daughter likes Lady Gaga. My wife likes her. My cat even likes her.”
— Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher. Noel Gallagher has a cat?!
•••
“Nobody feels as if they have any representation in Washington, and they feel like Washington is owned by the corporations … I think that a lot of us had hope that Obama, being as bright as he is, would be a force for change.”
— David Crosby, who played Zuccotti Park with Graham Nash and a benefit for Japan disaster relief
•••
Belgium: A 541-day impasse ends Dec. 6 with the swearing-in of Elio di Rupo as prime minister and a cabinet. The country from which Dowagiac hosted a band in July is politically divided between the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south.
In other Belgium (and Indiana) news: Aug. 13 the State Fair in Indianapolis stage collapses in high winds, killing five fans and a stagehand. Five days later, more die at the Pukkelpop Festival. Forty-four survivors sue Sugarland.
14: Number of years in prison for corruption for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.
Or, 10 years more than Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray.
Great moments in live music: Sixth Generation in Buchanan, July16; and Dowagiac Elks Lodge 889, Oct. 8.
Gone but not forgotten: Steve Jobs, Harmon Killebrew, David Broder, Harry Morgan, Alan Sues, EMI (home to The Beatles and Pink Floyd; Citigroup sold its recording division to Universal for $1.9 billion and its publishing division to Sony for $2.2 billion), “Tommy” director Ken Russell, REM, Geraldine Ferraro, Michael Sarrazin, Andrew “Lonely Boy” Gold, Sidney Lumet, Cliff Robertson, songwriter Jerry Leiber, Joe Frazier, James Arness, Patrice O’Neal, Tom Wicker, cartoonist Bil Keane, Andy Rooney, Al Davis, Delores Hope, Eleanor Mondale, Kara Kennedy, Sen. Charles Percy, Frances Bay (rye lady on “Seinfeld”), Len Lesser (Uncle Leo on “Seinfeld”), Clarence Clemons, John Mackey, Betty Ford, Amy Winehouse, Jose Pagan, Elizabeth Taylor, Jeff Conaway, Paul Splittorf, Coasters lead singer Carl Gardner, Jim Northrup, Bubba Smith, Gladys Horton (who sang Please Mr. Postman for The Marvelettes), Sargent Shriver, David Nelson, Gerry Rafferty, Jack LaLanne, James Bond composer John Barry, Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy, Chuck Tanner, Maria Schneider, Dave Duerson, Charlie Callas, Duke Snider, Betty Garrett of “All in the Family,” Bob Dylan muse Suze Rotolo and Nixon impersonator David Frye.

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