It's hard to write a humorous, satiric or even vaguely amusing column about the year that was just tossed into history's garbage bin. 2013 truly was a time when many of us felt the need to shower multiple times a day - after listening to the news, after watching what passes for music and dancing on TV, after hearing an explanation from a politician about anything. All these things made me want to scrub myself with steel wool to get the stench off.
Recently, one of TV's highest rated shows was a rerun of two I Love Lucy episodes that aired over fifty years ago. I Love Lucy originally aired at 7 PM. My mother would rush through dinner and the dishes so she could be done in time for the opening credits. You see, boys and girls, back then there was no DVR, no CD's to rent, no computer to click on and watch an episode whenever convenient. TV was a family activity because you watched it together when it was on or you didn't see it at all.
I'll willingly admit that TV in those early days conformed to a standard of dubious credibility. Married couples could not sleep in the same bed. If they were even sitting fully clothed on the bed, one foot had to always be on the floor. It gave us kids a fairly weird sense of married life that the sixties would soon dispel with a bang... or was that a bong? But however much TV in the fifties may have represented a fairy tale ideal that never really was, it still beat hell out of watching Miley Cyrus do just about anything she did this year. Talk about needing a shower. That's why a 50-year-old rerun beat out anything else on TV Christmas week.
The fifties also presented us with an idealized vision of our politicians. Their affairs, sexual predilections, strange quirks and other un-pleasantries were swept under the carpet by an accommodating press corps. Now with iPhones and tweeting, politicians out themselves in all their horror, leaving the press corps to try to catch up with the sleaze they are tossing about so freely. How any politician with the name Weiner could possibly do what Anthony Weiner did and not think it would destroy any chance of a serious career in politics if only because of the play on words his pictures offered... actually, given the actions and intelligence of most politicians in DC today, I guess Weiner figured he had a shot.
2013 was the year my disgust and contempt for our current government spread across the board to encompass the judicial, executive and legislative branches. While the subpar humans inhabiting the houses of Congress this year may have gotten most of the publicity because they were just so outstandingly bad, the executive was doing all it could to run the legislative a close second. It's hard to fathom how an administration that won a second term based on tech savvy in pinpointing micro voting blocks and getting them into voting booths could so screw up a web site roll out. Had they simply handed the job off to Amazon, we would have all received our new health plans dropped to us from drones in less time than it took most people to try and log on to Healthcare.gov.
Then there's the Supremes. I think they should have just closed up shop and gone home after giving personhood to corporations in 2010. While I appreciate some of their more tortured rulings since then - the one on the Affordable Care Act is an all time classic - calling corporations people defies the common sense of any and everyone except, apparently, judges and corporate CEO's. I've said it before and I'll say it again, until Microsoft offers to host the family holiday dinner, I do not consider it human.
Last, but certainly not least, we must look locally at what passes for responsible governance here in Alaska. Tennis courts that took precedence over libraries; millions of federal dollars left on the table because our governor doesn't think Alaska's poor deserve health care; Don Young's disappearing act; the Port of Anchorage as financial sinkhole.
Yep, goodbye and good riddance to 2013. Finally seeing it in the rearview mirror is about the only good thing I can say about it.
Elise Patkotak's latest book, "Coming Into the City," is available at AlaskaBooksandCalendars.com and at local bookstores.
By ELISE PATKOTAK