I published this little riff on the horrors of that awful year 2014 on my blog on December 17, 2014, and it seems pretty ironic now, not only because of 2020, but also because of 2016. Gosh, in 2014, David Bowie was still alive, and the second book of my “Watt O’Hugh” trilogy came out, and, with the first book, got some attention and sold pretty well, so I am not sure why I was complaining, except that I am a complainer. (I note that there was “a massive epidemic” in 2014, and I compare 2014 to 1918. It is not to minimize the pain of 2014’s death count to admit that I didn’t really know from massive epidemics back then.) Anyway, for your ironic enjoyment, here is my a look back at 2014.
December 17, 2014: On January 1, I predicted that 2014 would be a pretty bad year – it was just in the air. There was almost a movie sense of foreboding when I walked out into that terrible underpopulated overcast Brooklyn gloom. There were a lot of real warning signs too, in America and around the world.
A lot of people didn’t take me seriously or thought I was joking. I gave a Q1 report that seemed to be proving me right, then a Q2 report that seemed to be proving me right, and by Q3, this year was too traumatic for me even to think about. 2014 was so bad, I really almost can’t remember how to spell the word “good.”
I believe that my prediction has been proven correct.
On the world news front, 2014 was one of the worst for death and destruction without a world war – really wretched terror and death, globe-wide. Do I need to list it? From Gaza, to Isil, to Egypt to Ukraine … A massive epidemic that shut down Africa; so many people dying now in Africa. Really, how much do people in Africa have to go through?
The world economy remains bad, worse elsewhere but still bad. Global warming is proving a reality that we’re doing nothing about because of rich America oligarchs. More species went extinct this year. For some reason, U.S. politicians think this is funny. (“Oh, the poor golden toad,” they laugh after a caviar lunch with the Koch brothers. “Ha ha ha. Liberals care so much about the golden toad. Ha ha ha.”)
The U.S. saw more gridlock, a slow economic recovery with the superwealthy widening the gap with everyone else, racial violence, an increase in school shootings. Obamacare remains under attack and could be gone soon … In entertainment news, I’ll never get over Bill Cosby, and almost everyone else whose name I still know died in just awful ways. And any year in which Lou Reed is still dead is a sad year. (Knowing that my childhood hero, Bill Cosby, systematically drugged and raped women over the course of decades makes 2014 seem like a Vonnegut satire, not like real life at all.)
Listen, it’s not my imagination – this really was a horrible year. I know you could take examples pro and con from any year, but it would be pretty hard to make a case for this being a good one. I mean, we had some bad years before – 1918 comes to mind, and I probably would not have wanted to be around in 1351. But this year is like 1918 and 1351 combined. Can you think of something really good about this year?. Ummm …. the Oscars were better?
People I know, other late-40ish men who have been out of work longer than they should, have had to listen to Paul Ryan lecture them on their dependency because after a lifetime of taxes they thought the government might help us. Instead it cut unemployment benefits.
What will it take for 2015 to be “good?” U.S politics is shot, but I’ll accept a Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, weak growth with no major economic collapse, no more police killing unarmed black people minding their own business (not a single one, not one) and a 25% drop in school and other public gun massacres. (Can we manage a 25% drop?) Internationally, all we can hope for is that the really extravagant level of outrageous killing declines somewhat. I don’t know what we can ask for in public health in Africa – maybe just a certain level of people-giving-a-damn?
Anyway, Happy New Year everyone.
Steven S. Drachman is the author of The Strange and Astounding Memoirs of Watt O’Hugh the Third, which is available in paperback from your local bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble; it is also available as a Kindle e-book.