Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Smug Year-End Review

Well, everyone else is publishing one of these 2010 retrospectives, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t muddy the waters as well.  I shall call this: “Superlatives of 2010!!!!”  With just that many exclamation points.

Feel-Good Story of the Year (Which Every Media Outlet in America Instantly Recognized as a Hanging Curveball): The “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Los mineros de Chile!” chant at the rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners in October. My only question is, did anyone follow up with a conversation about mine safety regulations? Hello? … Hello? …

Global News Story of the Year, Nominee #1: collapsing economies. US, almost, a while ago; Greece and Ireland this year; and this cannot be over, can it? Note to self: do not forget about the numerous national economies which have NEVER been in good shape, the ones in which they don’t even have a decent water supply, or the ones in which the local government leaders think it’s in their best interests to step on their own people’s figurative necks.

Global News Story of the Year, Nominee #2: the weather. Jeff Masters, founding meteorologist of Weather Underground, said, “In my 30 plus years of being a meteorologist I can’t ever recall a year like this one as far as extreme weather events go, not only for the US but the world at large.” For local confirmation, please chat with my friends in Delaware, who had no idea what to do with 28 inches of snow arriving in one shot; or chat with my mother about the five and a half feet of water that visited her basement this spring, and she lives nowhere near an actual river or body of water.

Organization That Produced the Loudest, If Not the Greatest Number of, Faintly Dangerous Attention-Getters: the Tea Party. Honorable mention: the NBA.

The “You Do Realize What You’re Saying, Don’t You?” Award, Nominee #1 (of a frighteningly large number): Sharron Angle, Nevada senatorial candidate, for this badly veiled threat: “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They’re saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?” WE turned around pretty quick at that one.

Most Dispiriting Discovery, Nominee #1: This was the year in which President Obama discovered that, in spite of his wish to instill Change, Washington politics are so spectacularly entrenched that compromise (ya gotta give a little to get a little) can indeed feel like getting screwed over (ya gotta give a little to still get nothing out of your opponents…!).

Most Dispiriting Discovery, Nominee #2: Christine O’Donnell.

Best News, Nominee #1: The official pullout of US combat troops from Iraq. Now if only we can figure out what to do in Afghanistan. Hint: same thing. There’s a reason they call Afghanistan the “graveyard of empires”. Just ask the Soviet Union.

Best News, Nominee #2: the trade of Randy Moss from the New England Patriots to the Tennessee Titans. If you’re a Patriots fan, anyway.

Most Conveniently Ignored Building: the Islamic mosque near the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. –The one that’s been there since the 1970s.

The “Where Are They Now?” Award: victims of the earthquake in Haiti, all the way back in January. Right about where they were, I think.

Easiest Easy Decision Made Difficult: the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Yet another example of institutionalized discrimination finally dealt with, in some respect. And check it out! A political campaign promise is actually fulfilled. And who knew we’d actually be thanking Joe Lieberman for his work on something?

Biggest Event Planner Disappointment: Opt-Out Day. Mass protests of new (and fairly “oo! get your hands outta there!” personal) TSA airline-travel security measures were planned for the biggest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving. Reports seemed to indicate that a lower-than-expected number of people loudly refused to submit to either the patdowns (easy there, sailor) or the full-body scans which didn’t constitute porn but didn’t exactly remind people of Victorian portraits either.

Most Dangerous Decision: The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision made in Citizens United v. Federal Election commission: essentially, government cannot restrict spending by corporations for political campaigns – because it is the corporations’ First Amendment right to support candidates as they see fit. Which is to say, officially, money is speech.  What about people who don’t have much money?  …Yeah, I thought so.

Least Perceptive Public Relations Statement: “I want my life back,” said BP CEO Tony Hayward, lamenting the amount of time and effort it was costing him to deal with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by an explosion at one of BP’s offshore drilling rigs. Well, he got his yacht races back pretty quickly. The wildlife being killed by that oil spill could not be reached for comment, but it probably wanted its life back too.

Most Unfortunate Irony in a Public Statement: “We…insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved.” This, from Pope Benedict XVI, while issuing an apology for years of sexual abuse of children by priests … an apology which marked the end of the Roman Catholic Church’s Year of the Priest.

Simultaneously Best and Worst Way to Leave Your Employer: Airline flight attendant Steven Slater grabbing two bottles of beer and sliding down the emergency chute after being abused by a passenger.  If you have to burn a bridge, make sure it’s a bouncy fun one.

Scariest Excuse for a State Governor: Arizona governor Jan Brewer. Virginia, Minnesota and even Massachusetts offered occasional faint competition this year, but honestly, if you heard this lady give a speech, she was both ominous and incompetent simultaneously. Extra points awarded for seeming to be just plain heartless and mean.

The “Still Out There” Double-Meaning Award: North Korean “dear leader” Kim Jong Il.

The “Can’t Decide Whether I’m Behind Him or Not, And Feel Like I Should Know” Award: Julian Assange of Wikileaks.

The “Hope Springs Eternal” Award: Virginia Thomas, wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something,” she said in a voice mail left for Anita Hill, asking Hill to apologize for accusing Justice Thomas of sexual harassment nineteen years ago. (In the process, Mrs. Thomas probably said more than her husband reportedly has said from the bench in his entire Supreme Court career.)

False Equivalency Award: George W. Bush. “I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” he (or someone) wrote in his new memoir, Decision Point, saying he still feels badly that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. Not as sickening a feeling as that endured by any father or mother of a US soldier who has been killed in Iraq since 2003. But undoubtedly sickening.

Musical Instrument of the Year: World Cup vuvuzelas.

Second Most Recent Example of a Coddled Professional Athlete Drawing a Pass for Behavior That Would Spell Permanent Ostracizing for the Rest of Us: Tiger Woods.

Most Recent Example of a Coddled Professional Athlete Drawing a Pass for Behavior That Would Spell Permanent Ostracizing for the Rest of Us: Michael Vick.

Best AND Worst Marketing Ploy: LeBron James spending an hour on ESPN before declaring, humbly, that he was “taking [his] talents to South Beach” and the Miami Heat.

Best Sporting Event Audience Participation Moment: fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers, greeting LeBron James upon the occasion of the Miami Heat’s first 2009-10 regular-season visit to James’ former home court.

Best Early-Season Sports Result: best record in the NBA as of December 25 belonging to, not the Miami Heat, but the San Antonio Spurs. Somewhere in Texas, Tim Duncan is chuckling quietly.

Team You Kinda Had To Root For, Even If Very Few of the Players Are From That City: The 2010 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

Sporting Event in Which the Players Were Believeable When They Said They Were Thrilled to Be There: the NHL Winter Classic, Boston Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers, at Fenway Park. (Anyone remember that?)

Most Briefly Yet Forcefully, and Least-Deservingly, Vilified, Semi-Pro Athlete: John Shuster, inconsistently successful captain of the struggling US Olympic curling team at the Vancouver Games in February. Happily, most people once again think he’s somehow related to a guy named Simon, if they think of him at all.

The Actress Wisdom Award (Zero-Irony-or-Sarcasm Division): “Your face tells a story – and it shouldn’t be a story about your drive to the doctor’s office.” –Julia Roberts, saying no to Botox.

And Still My Favorite Public Person, When Push Comes to Shove: Michelle Obama. Asked what accomplishment she was most proud of after her first year at the White House: “My kids are sane.”

Least Meaningful Controversy: Conan O’Brien vs. Jay Leno.

Latest invention that I don’t have the grit to try and figure out: Kindle. I like turning pages with my own darn fingers anyway, thanks.

My own personal arts-related discovery of the year: the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Look these people up on YouTube and have a giggle.

Famous Persons No Longer With Us (some of whom I’m embarrassed to say I’d forgotten about till now):

Manute Bol, absurdly tall basketball player. Robert Byrd, US senator from West Virginia; Ted Stevens, US senator from Alaska. Richard Holbrooke, US diplomat. Lena Horne, jazz singer. Dame Joan Sutherland, opera singer. Irvin Kershner, director of (among other things) The Empire Strikes Back (nerd alert). Leslie Nielson and Peter Graves, two thirds of the cockpit crew of the movie “Airplane!”. Mitch Miller, a bandleader whose Christmas album was the first record I ever wore out (age about 7). Elizabeth Post, he reported politely and with perfect etiquette. J.D. Salinger, author (this news was just sad, and all). Daniel Schorr, truly intrepid journalist. Jean Simmons, an actress I should have paid more attention to before. John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach, at age 100. Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian Olympic luge competitor who died violently at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Mosi Tatupu, New England Patriot running back. Don Kent, legendary Boston meteorologist. John Henning, veteran Boston political reporter. George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, of the New York Yankees. Pat Burns, former hockey coach of both the Boston Bruins AND the Montreal Canadiens. Jill Clayburgh and Tony Curtis, actors. Elizabeth Edwards. Bob Feller, Hall-of-Fame baseball pitcher. Billy Taylor, jazz pianist.


Hardest, Strangest Words To Type: any sentence beginning with “George N. Parks” and ending with “passed away”. While the untimely passing of a college band director may not qualify as a national or international news event … well, perhaps it might, actually, within certain contexts. Click upon this link or paste it into your web browser and read an article that describes why we may have lost a larger contributor to American music than we even may have thought: http://artsedresearch.typepad.com/blog/2010/09/george-n-parks-1953-2010-a-life-in-context.html

And then read this article – it’s perhaps a bit less strictly scholarly, definitely more personal; but another very apt description, from UMass drum major Aaron Staluppi … the same view, from a different angle: http://halftimemag.com/articles/11-2010/11-2010-behind-the-baton/starred-thoughts-about-george-n-parks.html


My current Facebook status says, “Happier New Year.” May 2011 be so. We live in hope.


P.S. And check it out. Not a single Fox News reference. I am the very model of restraint. Clap for me.


January 1, 2011 - Posted by | band, baseball, blogging, celebrity, entertainment, Facebook, Famous Persons, football, GNP, government, heroes, journalism, literature, marching band, media, movies, music, news, politics, science, science fiction, social media, sports, technology, television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. This is the first 2010 retrospective I’ve read, and it’s so complete that it shall also be the last. I laughed, I sighed, I clapped.

    Comment by hilary | January 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. R-I’m clapping for you. You are my first retrospective as well.

    Regarding Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it reminds me that people with less, have less of everything, whether it is free speech, or access to law/Courts. It is quite apparent that “money talks” in the law; people without capacity are woefully under-served. I could go on all day, whether about middle-class’ ability to litigate financial injustices to the indigent population and the representation given to them in the district courts…

    Comment by Eric | January 1, 2011 | Reply

  3. What a wonderful retrospective! I laughed out loud several times and nodded my head many times more. Bravo!

    Comment by Joe McCoy | January 2, 2011 | Reply

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