While 2014 was a very good year for The D-Man, the same can’t be said for a number of prominent public figures.
Take Jian Ghomeshi. He once had it all: a youthful appearance despite being middle-aged, a high profile gig as the popular host of CBC Radio’s Q, a ubiquitous presence in Canada’s arts & entertainment scene. But following the death of his father, it all went downhill when he was suddenly fired by the CBC. Shortly thereafter he posted an infamous Facebook statement on his public account (now since deleted) in an attempt to try to get ahead of a very damaging Toronto Star expose on his behaviour around women.
He claimed he liked rough sex and so did his partners. But the women who spoke to the Star (and later Maclean’s Magazine & the CBC itself) strongly countered that assertion by claiming what he really liked to do was abuse & harass them in variously disgusting ways. (The earliest accusations date back to the late 80s when he was a university student.) As more and more disturbing stories surfaced, Ghomeshi started losing all his lucrative gigs. Three of his alleged victims complained to police. An investigation began and, much to my surprise, he was ultimately arrested. His next court appearance happens early next year. His lawyer publicly stated he will rigorously fight the charges. I hope he loses.
After attempting on two occasions to write about his stunning fall from grace, I had an idea. I decided to seek out a public library copy of 1982, Ghomeshi’s best selling teen memoir (which will no longer be published), in an committed effort to write something original about the growing scandal.
While Woody Allen continues to make one movie a year & occasionally direct an actress to an Oscar (Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett being the latest this year), his past haunted him big time in 2014, as well. After his estranged daughter Dylan Farrow wrote a damning, powerful piece for Nick Kristof’s New York Times blog about how Allen abused her when she was just a child, it opened up an uncomfortable but necessary public conversation about sexual assault and privileged celebrity perpetrators.
I ended up writing eight pieces about it: Damaging Woody Allen Details From A 1997 Connecticut Magazine Article, the three–part series Damning Woody Allen Details In 1993 Child Custody Decision and the four–part series Forgotten Woody Allen Revelations From Mia Farrow’s 1997 Autobiography.
Girls creator Lena Dunham’s inappropriate childhood behaviour towards her younger sister erupted into controversy after a conservative website printed excerpts about it from her book of essays, Not Your Kind Of Girl. It triggered a couple of painful childhood memories of my own which led me to write Lena Dunham & The Importance Of Childhood Boundaries. The original draft included a section on Jian Ghomeshi but was correctly taken out because it felt out of place & it made the essay way too long. In a weird way, I’m grateful I finally had the chance to make peace with this part of my life. I’m in a much better emotional head space now.
Then-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would love to forget all about 2013, the beginning of the end of his one term as mayor. But that proved impossible when reports of a second crack video (along with the release of other odd videos & audio clips) caused another major ruckus in the spring of 2014. After a controversial two-month stint in rehab, he was then diagnosed with a rare cancer just weeks before the Toronto civic elections. (Doug filled in for him in the race for Mayor.)
I had written four times about Ford in this space last year. Two more entries surfaced this year: the satirical Rob Ford (a song parody (just the lyrics) of Iggy Pop’s I’m Bored) and Rob Ford’s Political Hail Mary which was later posted with a slightly different title on Huffington Post Canada. While he recovers from his serious illness, the now bald ex-Mayor is still at City Hall as a Counsellor (the safe seat he decided to run for instead of continuing his doomed reelection campaign). Absurdly, he’s planning to run for Mayor again in 2018. How about focusing on getting healthy, instead?
President Barack Obama continued to flounder in 2014 as the NSA scandal continued to grow, the CIA’s ongoing history of War On Terror torture slowly went public & his Democratic Party lost the Senate in the November mid-terms. But he still has his fans like this former aide who wrote a revealing article for Rolling Stone, another piece that ended up on HuffPo.
Speaking of politics, Israel’s savage assault of the Palestinians in Gaza inspired much outrage worldwide. Since I’m no Max Blumenthal or Rania Khalek when it comes to covering this beat with the full honesty & integrity that it deserves, I wrote three poems about the unfolding genocide instead: There Is No Tomorrow, Only Yesterday; Darkness Inside and Spilling The Blood Of Innocence. Some of the explicit imagery graphically depicted in Innocence did not come from my imagination. I saw photos of murdered Palestinian children posted on Twitter looking exactly the way I described them. Now that the International Criminal Court is going to get involved, here’s hoping the brutal, illegal, longterm occupation of Palestine at the hands of the endlessly vindictive & unaccountable Zionist Israeli government comes to a swift end.
Politics was a recurring theme of other poetry I wrote in 2014. 12 Years A Slave is about being a detainee in the American gulag in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. Professor Nothing is a knock on no-nothing TV “experts” while The Truth and Waves Of Dissent are both slams on President Obama’s numerous, egregious human rights violations.
Encounters with difficult women on Twitter led to four more poems. Self-Righteous Fury was inspired by an overheated argument regarding a controversial John Grisham interview. I defended his remarks, she made outrageous, unfounded accusations against me and even made a bizarre threat to have my HuffPo gig taken away. What a twit. Thank goodness for the Block button. After some serious online flirtations & even some sexting with a very sexy Canadian feminist, I wrote Lust Never Sleeps & Perverted Thinker as tributes. A month later when it all went to shit (she unfollowed me after one too many sexually charged DM’s that she previously said she thoroughly enjoyed), I composed the tempestuous You Hurt Me First. We haven’t communicated since. I blocked her phony ass.
Speaking of difficult women, Devil’s Insight feels very reminiscent of Nobody Cares with its fictional, villainous portrayal of a callous temptress. I wish I could remember what exactly led to its creation.
Humourless Gesture took on Suey Park’s dopey #CancelColbert campaign (as did the essay How The Real Suey Park Is Just As Ignorant As The Fake Stephen Colbert) while The True Meaning Of Indecency and, to a lesser extent, Your Courage Is In Short Supply once again took poetic aim at Barack Obama apologist Sophia Bush (as did Sophia Bush’s Revealing Buzzfeed Interview & Warmongering Human Rights Activists).
Feminism and depression are not the easiest subjects to tackle in verse. You have to tread carefully or risk alienating large, vocal communities. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to me personally. While No More Depression, The Sadness Beneath (a eulogy for Robin Williams), A Life Of Deprivation & Switching Off The Darkness dealt with the sickening scourge of mental illness, I Am A Lie focused on slut shaming. It’s a tribute to Emily Lindin of The UnSlut Project who bravely shared her middle school diaries online about being both a victim & perpetrator of shaming girls for their sexual choices. The poem incorporates some of the darker real-life elements of her compelling writings into a fictional scenario. (Follow her @UnSlutProject. She’s great.)
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd knows all about slut shaming. She did it to Monica Lewinsky for years. When Lewinsky returned to the public eye in 2014, Dowd revisited the subject. That inspired me to write Three Past Examples Of Maureen Dowd Slut Shaming Monica Lewinsky, which was kindly mentioned here.
Maybe it’s because I follow and am friendly with a number of feminists on Twitter that I decided to join in on the #YesAllWomen hashtag which became a top trending topic in the immediate aftermath of the Elliott Rodger massacre. Many of the tweets I posted under that tag were compiled along with a few new ones in We Men Are The Problem, Not Women. It led to some interesting exchanges with a couple of male readers in the comments section.
I may have stopped predicting results for their monthly, overpriced pay-per-views (I’m a terrible prognosticator) and ceased being a regular, devoted viewer of their weekly TV shows, but that didn’t stop me from writing about the WWE on multiple occasions again this year. CM Punk’s sudden departure immediately following the Royal Rumble led to two tribute pieces: Why I Don’t Blame CM Punk For Leaving WWE and Thank You, CM Punk. (An earlier piece, How CM Punk’s Original “Pipe Bomb” Foreshadowed Several Key WWE Storylines, added almost 3500 hits to its current overall total of 5600.)
I also paid my respects to The Ultimate Warrior, complained about the WWE’s reliance on aging superstars of the past & missing, significant stories from The History Of WWE DVD, offered trivia about SummerSlam and the Survivor Series, and wrote about The Five Men Who “Retired” At WrestleMania. Looking back at the retirement piece, I probably should’ve included Stone Cold Steve Austin who wrestled his final professional match in a losing effort against The Rock at WrestleMania 19 in 2003. I forgot about it because it wasn’t billed as his last in-ring encounter. Oh well.
In the world of legitimate athletic competition, there was plenty of excitement for sports fans. The World Cup itself was full of stunning surprises: defending champions Spain utterly collapsing against the Netherlands in their first match (a rematch of the 2010 final), Germany’s hilarious decimation of humiliated host nation Brazil, England & Portugal’s early exit from the tournament (like Spain, they didn’t make it past the group stage). It was also full of doppelgangers. A few months earlier, the Winter Olympics provided plenty of drama of its own. When it was all over, I reflected on what I loved and hated about the event.
Back to politics for a moment. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave NBC an exclusive prime-time interview which was much praised. I posed my own unanswered questions to the heroic American. Meanwhile, explosive reports about Canada’s own surveillance state left me with even more questions for my own federal government. Finally, the transparently pathetic Michael Coren pretended to be a new friend of the gay community. Don’t believe he’s changed his views on homosexuality because he hasn’t. Until he supports gay sex, gay marriage and gay adoption publicly & privately, not to mention transgender people, don’t be fooled by his bullshit.
That leaves us with the world of entertainment. When I wasn’t reposting old MonkeyBiz CD reviews of Autobodies’ Rearranger and Dirty Penny’s Sage Against The Machine, I was honouring 6 actors who made remarkable movie comebacks and critiquing films like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Nightflyers, Mannequin, Movie 43, A Haunted House 2 & Edge Of Tomorrow. When I wasn’t making poor predictions about the Oscars, praising host Ellen DeGeneres’ surprisingly funny performance, and re-examining the influence of the meaningless Golden Globes, I was honouring MuchMusic’s 30th Anniversary and lamenting its forgotten, lost influence on Canadian pop culture.
You know, it’s amazing to me. I wrote far less this year than in 2013 yet The Writings Of Dennis Earl saw tremendous growth in hits & visibility. In fact, this is my most successful year as a blogger to date. You know things are going well when a piece you wrote three & a half years ago continues to be the most popular piece I’ve ever written. What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons? earned an additional 5100+ hits this year bringing the overall total since its June 2011 debut to over 27000.
So, as I always like to ask this time of year, what’s next for me? Can I carry this encouraging momentum into 2015 and beyond? Will there be more creative opportunities to expand my reach? Will my sex drought come to an end? And will I finally be able to get paid on a regular basis to do what I love most?
All I can say is stay tuned. In the meantime, Happy New Year, everyone!
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, December 31, 2014