Rock Writer of the Year: I don't know why everybody gave Rolling Stone's Neil Strauss a hard time for getting in bed with Jewel. Any of Neil's contemporaries would be thrilled to get under the sheets with anything that wasn't an inflatable promo item. Alternative Press provided a far superior example of pandering, as John Pecorelli profiled Marilyn Manson in the April '99 issue. The editors blithely allow Pecorelli to explain the sodden sales of Mechanical Animals: "While it's easily the band's greatest album in terms of artistic vision...sales have been disappointing?partially due to a nationwide ban from such massive retailers as KMart, Wal-Mart, and Target."
Yeah, that was the problem.
Let's also grant honorary status to actor David Strickland, who was finally driven to suicide by the humiliation of being selected to play a rock critic on Suddenly Susan. As an added debasement, the special episode that killed off his character?strangely, not due to terminal acne?ended with this note: "The Gods of Comedy Looked Upon You And Smiled."
Film Writer of the Year: No matter how you felt about Fight Club, it's hard to find a more ignorant statement than in Lou Lumenick's Post review: "The more you think about them, the more annoying the contradictions are in 'Fight Club.' Tyler lectures the narrator that 'self-improvement is masturbation'?but what a set of killer abs he's got!"
If you've seen the film, you know that Lou is the rare person too stupid to write about movies. If you haven't, ask around and then marvel at what passes for criticism. To be fair, however, the Post's film editor also deserves credit for his delusional ways. V.A. Musetto?who primarily interviews young actresses who do lesbian scenes?said this in his January wrap-up of 1998: "If there's any justice, Ian McKellen will get an Oscar for [Gods and Monsters]. But the movie may be way over the heads of the old geezers who hand out the prizes."
Judging from the official Post photo, Musetto is 97 years old.
Orwellian Moment of the Year: Communism gets a second chance, as TNT provides a happy ending to their film version of Animal Farm.
Unasked Question of the Year: "Where are the police? Where are the firemen? Where are the people in control?" asked a panicked Ruth Mahorn, as she tried to escape the riots of Woodstock '99. The better question would have been, "Where's my gun?"
Celebrity of the Year: As part of their oral services to Marilyn Manson, Alternative Press had David Daley interview young actress?and Marilyn's girlfriend?Rose McGowan. The proud liberal took this opportunity to provide a defining moment in obliviousness: "I listen to a lot of George Jones and Loretta Lynn. I love it. Some of it is hysterical. Have you ever heard Loretta's song 'The Pill' or 'One Song Away'? She pioneered the whole acting-white-trash thing."
Whore of the Year: It was pretty impressive how Judith Kelly Dempsey took the shine off sex workers, as the Long Island resident spent the year going from million-dollar madam to a $200 hooker. Still, the nod goes to Patricia Shannon. This social activist spent 29 years as Charles Kuralt's mistress, taking the portly journalist for all kinds of big bucks. He covered the cost of her failed business, paid for her kids' education and bought her plenty of property. Shannon's kids seem to have been raised to think this was all okay, even though Kuralt was married the entire time.
Anyway, Kuralt must have forgotten what Shannon was really doing for a living during this time. He forgot to make his final payment to the high-priced callgirl. Shannon, forgetting to be considerate of Charles' memory, promptly sued over property that she claims was promised to her. Mrs. Kuralt got a big posthumous surprise from her loving hubby. And men learned to keep the hookers paid up by the hour.
Pedophiles of the Year: Personally, I don't believe there's any such thing as a winner in this category. It's more of a salute from the NYPD. The cops are even polite enough to withhold his name. Here's what we know, though: Fourteen-year-old Phelicia Etwaroo died with her father and brothers in a Queens arson fire. The cops found out that Phelicia had a 24-year-old boyfriend, and they went out to ask the guy some questions. Good news, though?the guy had an airtight alibi, and the cops gladly went about their merry way. To be fair, maybe it's like libel laws. You can't molest a dead girl.
The popular media has its own winner. Thirteen-year-old Jesse Dirkhising had the bad luck to have been suffocated during kinky sex with two gay men. In the wake of JonBenet Ramsey, you'd think a story like that would burn up the newswires. But that's why there's the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. Stories like Jesse's aren't allowed to be told anymore. They're not fit to print, if you will.
Performance Artist of the Year: Again, this one isn't my idea. It's just part of what we've learned in the aftermath of the "Sensation" exhibit. Our Mayor said, "You don't have a right to government subsidy for desecrating somebody else's religion." Arnold Lehman, professional liar and director of the Brooklyn Museum, responded with, "We know the art in this exhibition is challenging and provocative, and even though some people might find it objectionable, we feel quite strongly that the artists should have the freedom to express themselves." Following Mr. Lehman's logic, let's have a round of applause for Buford Furrow.
Screwhead of the Year: In his only honest statement of the past seven years, Bill Clinton complained that the leaders in Northern Ireland were acting like barroom drunks. This prompted a typically wrong-headed response from Mr. Jim Nicholson: "As an Irish-American, and one who has suffered the effects of alcoholism in my own family, I believe his remarks are offensive, and he should apologize personally for them." This self-contradictory idiot is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Expect to be saluting President Gore in the new millennium.
Social Activists of the Year: Any regular reader knows how the Daily News' editorial board got that Pulitzer this year. Simply put, these people roll over more than Webster Hubbell. Still, the craven newspaper hit a real low with the March 29 issue, whose second page featured a boxed humiliation labeled "An Apology." It seems the paper had covered the fashions worn at the Academy Awards, and captioned a glamorous photo of Jennifer Lopez with the words, "Reformed Tramp." "The caption was intended to refer to her change in dress from her former look to her new look," cowered brave News CEO Fred Drasner, adding, "We sincerely apologize to Ms. Lopez for any inadvertent inferences that might be drawn from the inappropriate caption."
So, why not make this the "Bitch of the Year" category? Check out Drasner's closing line: "We greatly appreciate the responsible way in which the leaders of the Latino community have brought this problem to our attention and worked toward a constructive resolution." Yes, why should the leaders of the Latino community waste time worrying about the oppressed? There's movie stars with powerful publicists who need their attention.
Racist of the Year: Jana Wolff spent this year with the field all to herself. Her "Lives" essay in the Feb. 14 New York Times Magazine was flawlessly offensive, as the lily-white liberal wondered how to ensure that her adopted son would be able to "be black." (The first step began at age two and a half, when the child was informed that he would always be oppressed because of his color.) Jana used the piece to primarily explain how she's less of a mother than a social engineer. The punch line, however, was in the short bio at the end of the piece: "Jana Wolff, the author of 'Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother,' lives in Honolulu."
Douchebag of the Year: As always, the competition was intense. But this year's winner actually takes home a double honor, since this column formally retires the word "douchebag." The term is sadly common now, and has lost much of its comic impact. The same can't be said about people like Carl Silverman. This meddling househusband was outraged when he wasn't able to take advantage of the Church Bulletin Day discount offered by the Toronto Blue Jays' farm team in Hagerstown, MD. A lawsuit, naturally, followed. So did a sympathetic article in The New York Times, though the closing lines summed up the sad life of this busy litigious atheist: "I'm not out to fight other people's battles... If other people want to fight other battles, great. The Church Bulletin Day is my battle."
Eligible Bachelorette of the Year: Alison Stern certainly took the lead toward the final months, even though you'd be dealing with embittered stepchildren and a witty natural father. Then a rich idiot writer named Robert Bingham thoughtfully ODed on heroin. He left behind more than a promising career and a wasted life. He also left behind a massive inheritance and a wife named Vanessa Chase. Now, let's think about this: Vanessa married a heroin addict who was in line to inherit a fortune. This means she is either the stupidest or smartest woman in Manhattan. In either case?and assuming that Robert had his will in order?East Village musicians should start lining up for the brass ring.
Man of the Year: Let's celebrate the positive trend of identifying manhood with being a responsible father. After his hammer-slinging son was rightfully taken down in a hail of bullets, Dr. Norman Busch wasted no time in complaining. "These cops were trigger happy," he said. "My son did nothing to provoke the cops into having to kill him." Call me sentimental, but I like to think that?in a similar situation?my own father would be just as willing to become a lying sack of shit. It's not likely, but it's a nice dream.
Woman of the Year: She was originally slated as "Liberal of the Year," but that would mean actually having to come up with a "Conservative of the Year." Instead, Lynn Samuels gets to stand out as a stain on her general gender. Besides, the New York Press Best of Manhattan issue already proclaimed her "a good liberal" for all the wrong reasons. Yes, it's impressive that she's willing to call for Clinton's impeachment over the Waco genocide. But this column is more impressed with how she consistently dismisses other issues.
I only listened to Samuels on WABC once this year, but that's all it took to appreciate her self-obsessed nature. She stated very simply that she doesn't care if Taiwan gets taken over by China. Even better, she didn't pretend that Bill Clinton isn't a rapist. That crime doesn't matter, however, since "the rape was in the 1970s." Clinton rape women, and she don't care. I guess this could have been "Feminist of the Year," but why insult any real feminists that may still be out there?