Last year, the day after Christmas, I posted a few quotes from 2008 that I thought said something relevant, funny, or clever. I'm never one to quit beating a horse that has a few gasps left, so here are a handful of quotes from 2009. And since this is Christmas day, I should have even fewer readers than I did last year for this column.
NOTE: I kept a few off this list simply because we heard them so much, e.g. You lie! and Keep your government hands off my Medicare! But those two say a lot about the U.S. in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
You give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders. Jesse Ventura (who was on last year's list -- he could become a regular.)
So if I had to do it again, what I would not do is use the word "quaint" and the Geneva Conventions in the same sentence. Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (Other than the unfortunate word choice, Alberto apparently has no regrets. He also said it was cool to work in the White House. That word has lost all meaning.)
Always have bail money. 50 Cent. (Word.)
If my visual, literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis offends or outrages some readers, which seems inevitable considering that the text is revered by many people, all I can say in my defense is that I approached this as a straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes. That said, I know that you can't please everybody. R. Crumb (in his Introduction to The Book of Genesis Illustrated, which has to be one of the best books of 2009. The cover jacket gushes: The first book of the Bible graphically depicted! Nothing left out! You gotta love Crumb.)
Jazz won't go anywhere. Playing this music is not an option for the musicians who get bit by the improvising bug. Jazz becomes a necessity, as important as food or water for the musician. It's organic music that will continue to grow as long as humans still play instruments. Jason Koransky (Editor of Downbeat, writing in the 75th anniversary edition of the iconic magazine. Amen.)
Newspapers have become deadweight commodities linked to other media commodities in chains that are coupled or uncoupled by accountants and lawyers and executive vice presidents and boards of directors in offices thousands of miles from where the man bit the dog and drew ink. Richard Rodriguez (writing in Harper's Magazine in an article entitled: Final Edition: Twilight of the American Newspaper.)
What is it about Afghanistan, possessing next to nothing that the United States requires, that justifies such lavish attention? In Washington, this question goes not only unanswered but unasked. Among Democrats and Republicans alike, with few exceptions, Afghanistan’s importance is simply assumed—much the way fifty years ago otherwise intelligent people simply assumed that the United States had a vital interest in ensuring the survival of South Vietnam. Today, as then, the assumption does not stand up to even casual scrutiny. A.J. Bacevich (The War We Can't Win, in the same issue of Harper's [November] as Rodriguez's article.)
Now when the once-cocky Cutler walks onto the field, he looks like a man reaching for the doorknob to the motel room he's just discovered his wife rented with Dennis Rodman. Matt Taibbi (writing in Rolling Stone; you probably have to live in Denver or Chicago and follow the Broncos or Bears to really appreciate the irony and pathos of this quote.)
In these last few years, the winds of change have blown through Mexico -- citizens have more power, protests have managed to kick out the old administration. But they have only been able to improve relations with the cop on the corner, not defeat the march of crime. The madness comes back with new variations. Now we have a killer of old women, a cannibal who eats his girlfriends. Paco Ignacio Taibo (from the Introduction to Mexico City Noir, recently reviewed for La Bloga by Michael Sedano. )
I’ve tired of seeing the vibrant, dynamic literary output of my peers who work in Spanish interpreted through the single, constricting and somewhat outdated lens of magical realism. I say this as someone who has the greatest admiration for García Márquez, someone who, as a young man, devoured his masterworks with revelatory glee. Still, in the marketplace of Latin American letters in the US, this obsession with magical realism has had the unfortunate effect of erasing nuance and glossing over the great diversity of talent and voices that are out there. Daniel Alarcón (in his interview with Daniel Olivas for La Bloga.)
That's it for 2009. It was a tough year, but then it had it's bright spots. Time magazine says that we are in The Decade From Hell. Maybe. In my community, life has always been a struggle - there are just more of us trying to keep our heads above the raging waters these days.
Again, I've had a blast writing for La Bloga and only hope that I can keep up with my comrades who continue to produce outstanding and provocative articles for La Bloga, every day of the year. I wish everyone the joys of the season, and a truly happy new year. See you in 2010.