With so much good writing in The Guardian, The Intercept, The New York Times and Vice in 2015, it was difficult to cover politics in an original way here. But then came Earl Cowan and the Canadian federal election.
Cowan, a cranky old conservative who supported Stephen Harper (and the Ford brothers), became famous for a split second in the summer after ranting at TV journalists over the Mike Duffy fraud trial. Once the media started playing his now infamous clip over and over again, he inspired numerous memes and parody Twitter accounts. Someone on Twitter found his Facebook page and told me about it which inspired Angry Conservative Supporter Earl Cowan’s Facebook Postings, my most popular original piece this year. Unbeknownst to me, Frank and Maclean’s wrote similar articles around the same time. After his brief moment of infamy, Cowan has since dropped out of sight. Someone should give him a talk show.
When one of Margaret Atwood’s National Post columns was suddenly removed from the web then reposted with noticeable edits, I asked why. (I wasn’t the only one.) And when Toronto Star columnist Michael Coren suddenly announced he was no longer Catholic nor anti-gay, I noted how he hasn’t reversed all of his awful political positions.
Politics remained a prevalent theme in my poetry this year. Fragile Things was inspired by a prominent, thin-skinned American pundit who was stunned to find that few agree with his irrelevant views. Activist Civil War notes the ongoing problem of political infighting, something I’ve experienced a number of times myself on Twitter. Blind Assassins takes poetic aim at Obama’s drone assassination program while It’s Not Our Fault, National Insecurity and America’s Self-Interest Always Comes First criticizes Obama’s support for dictators and the war on Muslims. The New Nixons references Obama and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s authoritarian impulses. Cruel Charade knocks a certain former high profile Liberal strategist who never took a stand on the 2003 Iraq Invasion but now is all for the war on ISIS while simultaneously being a fierce, stubborn defender of Apartheid Israel (even though he doesn’t believe that term is justified), while the harsh Despicable Lie and the more resigned You’re Not Listening mark the likely end of a long standing public dispute with a certain Chicago PD actress who stopped talking to me more than two years ago.
My biggest regret this year was getting into a pointless fight with someone well known on Twitter. It was over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It started with a tweet: “Why does anyone take WikiLeaks seriously?” Unaware of the context when I saw it, I got pissed off and foolishly responded. Because of his support for the scary and cruel GamerGate (of which this person has been a target of harassment for months), his criticism of feminists and the controversial sexual assault charges he’s been facing for almost six years now, this person understandably despises him. In turn, I support his website’s commitment to exposing excessive government secrecy & criminal acts and deplore his persecution by President Obama and the DOJ. (For the record, I don’t support GamerGate or harassing women online.)
At the time of the argument, I asked “where’s the proof” Assange raped anyone. (JANUARY 7 UPDATE: I just remembered I also tweeted that Assange was never formally charged nor imprisoned. Totally wrong. He did turn himself in to British authorities, was arrested and temporarily jailed before being released on bail.) Offended by the question, she blocked me. (Annoyed, I blocked her, as well.) In retrospect, it was a dumb thing for me to write having now read WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy which extensively documents the accusations against him. (Assange, who has a reputation for being an aggressive womanizer, does not come off well.) A day or so after it ended, I went through a week of panic that turned out to be unrelated (I wasn’t eating enough and was very gassy, a problem I’ve been having off and on ever since). But once I calmed down, I wrote Absence Of Reason as a way of documenting the incident since I’ve deleted my side of the argument. (If I had a do-over, I would’ve either not responded at all to that tweet or acknowledged Assange’s flaws while still defending the importance of WikiLeaks as a check on government power.)
Another unfortunate incident on Twitter led to You’re Sweet. A vaguely worded tweet from someone I was friendly with led to a carefully worded question that didn’t get a full answer. So a carefully worded follow-up was posted and next thing I know, I’m getting reamed in a series of direct messages for asking in the first place. I apologized (I really shouldn’t have. I did nothing wrong.) and I got a condescending response beginning with the words “you’re sweet” which angered me so much I wrote this poem that one commenter thought was about a child. (This person is about 10 years older than me.) I know it was just words on a screen from someone hundreds of miles away who I’ve never met in real life but it freaked me out for a whole week and I became very uncomfortable with the idea of ever talking to this person again. So I stopped and felt immensely better.
I Always Have To Smile and A Labyrinth Of Pain were attempts to write about street harassment and low self-esteem from a woman’s point of view, respectively. Speaking of low self-esteem, Nobody’s Type is how I feel about myself because of my numerous physical problems, unemployment status and current living situation that I believe are all unattractive to the opposite sex in comparison to more sculpted musclemen who don’t live at home and are living their dream lives. Prison Of Fear focuses more on personal doubts about pursuing progress.
Other autobiographical poems this year included Fearful Lens about a real-life childhood bully I haven’t seen in almost 30 years (and hope never to encounter again), An Unreasonable Man (which is really about a family member but could also apply to me) and A.F. about a seven-year childhood crush that turned out to be a total waste of time and energy. Flames Of Resentment and A Better Way To Feel Bad, on the other hand, are self-explanatory works of fiction.
Speaking of made-up stuff, let’s move on to the world of professional wrestling. I was saddened by the death of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, my favourite wrestler as a kid, and the retirement of AJ Brooks, the former multiple-time world champion. I was deeply angered by Hulk Hogan’s exposed racism and Mick Foley’s stunning lack of outrage over it. (He was remarkably silent about Jimmy Snuka’s arrest for murder.) And I listed what I consider to be the worst WrestleMania matches of all time. Perhaps I overstated the case against Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole at WM 27 in retrospect. I recently rewatched the match on Lawler’s It’s Good To Be The King DVD release and there were a couple spots that worked. Still, because Cole is more of an announcer than an athlete it remains a lousy match, just maybe not as bad as I originally assessed.
Last year, The Writings Of Dennis Earl was accessed almost 40000 times. This year, it’s been accessed almost 40000 times. (Hits are only up by almost 200.) While I can’t complain about the consistent numbers (the small drop in postings didn’t make any significant difference), I was hoping for an expanded audience.
All the more reason to start rethinking the future of this place, what to keep doing, what to stop doing and what new ideas to finally pursue. Honestly, I’m growing fed up with politics and would love to focus exclusively on entertainment, whether it’s pro wrestling, music or movies. It sure beats getting into stupid Twitter fights with people you once admired.
Seeing all those movies and writing more reviews here than I had in years rekindled my love for the cinema even though I prefer watching everything now at home on DVD. Having put up with a lot of crap in 2015, I’m hoping to see a lot more good stuff in 2016. We’ll see how that goes.
In the meantime, I want to thank you, my readers, for visiting, for reading, for commenting, for linking, for following and engaging. I read every message you send me, good & bad (well, except for that long-winded email), and appreciate every one of them. I hope you’ll keep coming here to peruse the growing archives and check out my latest material.
Thanks for reading and responding. Happy New Year.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 31, 2015