Another Year's End, dear readers (The Corsair sips, Auld Lang Synish, with a touch of romantic melancholy, a Chateauneuf du Pape 1999). For the tenth year and running -- has it really been that long? -- we present you with The Corsair Pirate Year End Awards (Part I; the rest, my dears, as the last days of December unfold ... stay with this blog). Every blogger/Tumblr worth their salt nowadays has year end awards and 'this thing of ours' is no goddam different. It's in the kool aid that we all drink from. 'Tis the season to be snarky, and all that jazz. So, without further ado, The Corsair presents The Pirates -- more credible than the Golden Globes, and able to leap tall Publicists in a single bound -- my 2013 year end awards. Basta!
Literary Mystery: Gore Vidal. Was Gore Vidal a pedophile? In these United States of Amnesia -- as Gore Vidal used to call it -- we love a good redemption story. Even Scarsdale doctor murderer Jean Harris got a second act. There are however, two crimes that are unpardonable: serial killing and pedophilia. This year even though Christopher Buckley destroyed his father's "secret 'Vidal Legal' file" on Gore Vidal (which is odd, considering Bill Buckley considered himself a libertarian), the rumor that it contained alleged proof that Vidal was a pedophile actually made it into the NY Times. Two members of Gore Vidal think that there might be merit to the allegations; many friends deny the claims. It might be noted -- at least Gore would want it to be noted -- that a literary critic at the Gray Lady was so enraged by the gay subject matter in The City and the Pillar that he banned reviews of his next five books. The mystery remains.
Why? The George Zimmerman celebration. Whether or not one agrees with the legal arguments for the acquittal, one thing is for certain: he wasn't a hero. Even if you believed that under Florida law he was not guilty of murdering an unarmed 18 year old named Trayvon Martin, he was not worthy of the valorization -- and there really is no other way to put it -- that he received from the opinion hosts on Fox News (and the fools who bid on his "art"). A heroes welcome was what the piggish swine-man received, and didn't deserve especially as we learn more about his deeply flawed character. Wonder why minorities and young people and suburban moms have so much trouble with the Republican party at the national level, hmm?
Political mood: Polarized. In the corner to my left, weighing in at 47 percent: The Tale of Two Cities! And in the corner to my right, weighing in at making over $500,000 a year: The libertarian zeitgeist. As the two parties moved further into their respective corners, the vital Center -- even in the United States Senate -- evaporated. The moderate Republican as well as the moderate Democrat (think Daniel Patrick Moynihan) is rapidly becoming an extinct creature. And ... that's not a good thing.
Image of the Year: The College of Cardinals went in an entirely different direction. Who could have forseen such a radical departure from the most conservative institution on the planet eart? Pope Francis, from Argentina, stood against the Libertarian wind of selfishness-as-a-virtue, showing that -- in the words of the wonderful Emma Snowden-Jones, goodness and kind acts still have value in this world. This image of him embracing a severely disfigured man is truly one for the ages.
Origin of the feces: In one of the most scatological of incidents in 2013, the Carnival Triumph -- ! -- the so-called cruise from hell, ended up stranding passengers on a five day excursion into what can only be properly construed as a hot port-o-potty. From the intrepid LA Times: "Debbie Moyes, 32, of Phoenix said she was awakened Sunday by a fellow passenger banging on her door, warning people to escape .. 'People were hoarding food -- boxes and boxes of cereal, grabbing cake with both hands,' she said. Toilets stopped working and the 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew had to urinate in sinks, she said, and eventually red plastic bags. She saw sewage dripping down walls. Sometimes people slipped on it, she said. Soon, the ship began to smell. 'It was like a hot port-o-potty,' Moyes said, and when the ship tilted, 'it would spill.' She scrawled a message in mascara on a sheet and held it aloft upon her return 'Triumph RIP: Rest in Pee.'" Charmed, I'm sure! Sounds positively delightful.
The Don Quixote Quixotic Move: tie to Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner. Instead of waiting things out, these relatively youngish men -- in American politics, at least -- decided to throw caution to the wind and run for political office in 2013. As a result, the press in the media capitol of the world was merciless. We learned, quite frankly, a whole lot more about their danky sex lives that we really ever wanted to know. Both lost (of course). And, finally, one cannot help but wonder if they had waited, say, a half a decade or so, would anyone really have cared about their disgusting voodoo as much? Then again, neither Spitzer nor Weiner are known for -- how does one put this kindly? -- self-control (Averted Gaze).
Book of the Year: Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. We loved Donna Tartt's Secret History so much that it influenced our choice of Philosophy and the Classics as a college major in New England. Then, after a lackluster second novel, we wondered if she could live up to all the hype. Donna Tartt did. Tartt came back with The Goldfinch, the must-read of 2013. "Tartt’s title 'character' is not a fictional person but rather a 17th century Dutch trompe l’oeil painting of the same name," Victoria Zhuang of The Crimson writes. "Before the novel begins, readers are greeted in the title pages by a scaled-down color print of the 9x13” piece: a lone goldfinch, chained to part of a wall, quietly stands and returns the gaze of its viewer. Like this painting, which glows modestly but lacks the full fire of a large Old Masters tableau, the novel is impressive but not overwhelming in artistry." A gorgeous novel. We cannot wait to see what Donna Tartt does next.
Cinematic Trend of 2013: Existentialism. Robert Redford -- who probably did not have a "scrotal lift" -- and Sandra Bullock both turned in Oscarworthy performances, alone on the screen for the full length of their respective films, against harsh, forbidding landscapes. Are we living in a golden age of character development? Several new films are about to be released that focus, intensely, on single characters. Riddick, on the minimalist end of the character-development spectrum, was released few months ago. On the maximalist end of that same spectrum, Sandra Bullock performs in Gravity, Robert Redford performs in All is Lost and Mia Wasikowska performs in Tracks – all soon to be released. Riddick is driven by special effects and one-dimensional bravado; Gravity, All Is Lost and Tracks all take character-development, in its rawest forms to the outer limits. A schedule this top-heavy with these levels of character development is quite rare. If Bullock and Redford get nominations and the "king of all knickknacks" then what does this say for the future of films? It says, for one thing, that existentialism is on the rise.
Digital Rumor of the Year: Nick Denton is "buying" Business Insider. There are some overlaps, particularly with Valleywag and some of Gawker's media content, but, no. How did this rumor even get started? There were never any facts. Apparently, Denton and the obscenely pink Henry Blodgett once sat down at Balthazar. Huh? This blogger has also gone to Balthazar with Nick Denton, but "rumors" of him "buying" The Corsair never materialized (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). It must have been a slow day for the digeratti ... Methinks Blodgett and Denton were having a little fun at the expense of the gossipers.
Strangest Foreign policy Move: Navigating the Scylla of neoconservatism and the Charybdis of realism is ... Dennis Rodman. "The Worm" popped up in, of all places, the DMZ for, representing all instisutions, Vice. In one of the most surreal episodes of foreign policy, Rodman, an ex-of Madonna, palled with the Hermit regime's dictator over b-ball and instigated himself in complicated nuclear relations.
The Instant: Marco Rubio does Poland Spring. Why did this go viral? Mainly it went viral because it ahows that the bloodlessness with regards to the poor notwithstanding, teabaggers are actually human beings that are possessed with the same hungers and bodily needs. Teabaggers are not cold, unfeeling mandroids, no matter how they vote on the floor of the US Senate!
Epic Rant of the Year: Kanye on Jimmy Kimmell. This intrepid blogger was once of the opinion that Kanye was the "better half" of Kimye. That might not be the case. the supposedly more media sophisticated of the KimYe collabo went off script in one of the most mesmerizing televised moments of 2013 in the Fall. Jimmy Kimmel, one of the more interesting television personalities of the year, was wise enough to sit back and shut the fuck up. Borborygmus was the ensuing yam-yam.
Tragedy of the Year: South Sudan. On the Occasion of their becoming an Independent nation I tweeted: "To the nation of South Sudan, a Republic, if you can keep it." Prognosis at present: Bleak. The youngest and poorest nation in the world might have to become in the coming year a Protectorate of the United Nations, like East Timor before it. It would seem that the racist Arab regime to the North is not the greatest enemy of South Sudan: it is the South Sudanese themselves. Truly sad. Runner Up: porn "star" Farah Abraham.
Comedy of the Year: Butt Naked. There is nothing remotely amusing about a warlord who recruits child soldiers and believes that bullets bounce off of his forces. Except, of course, when he calls himself "General Butt Naked." There is, politically speaking, a very thin line between coup attempt and slapstick comedy (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment).
Yours to Lose: Hillary Clinton. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton solidified her credibility in the one blank space left in her already formidable resume: the matter of foreign policy. Further, she showed, in working with the man who defeated her in a bitter primary, once and for all, that the Clintons now recognize that the party is bigger than the family. Hillary Clinton, clearly, is qualified and -- I would add -- deserves the Democrat nomination next time around. The only thing that stands between Hillary Clinton and the Presidency now is, perhaps, Hillary Clinton. The Presidency in 2014 is yours to lose -- or to gain.
Party of the Year: The Vanity Fair Oscar Party. The sheer unprotected starfuckery that goes on -- Oprah once declaring her love for Sidney Poitier, Scarlett Johannsen hooking up with Benicio -- it is, pound-for-pound, the best party around. "For all of the magnetic bodies that swirl around the Vanity Fair Oscar party—award winners, mega-producers, billionaires—there is one focal point of power in the room. It’s not the person toting the statuette for Best Picture (although Ben Affleck did cause a stir wherever he, wife Jennifer Garner, and Oscar turned up that night). And it’s not even Graydon Carter, the host of the weekend’s most exclusive event and Vanity Fair’s fearless leader," writes VF, in a rare moment of self-reflection "No—the locus of energy is a place, a specific spot exactly twenty paces from the front entrance of the Sunset Tower Hotel, just past the photo booth. It’s just far enough away from the pleading photographers and screaming fans outside, but not too far into the party that a person standing there could miss anyone important as he or she entered the room. It is, in short, where everyone wants to look."
Don't Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Done Split Ya: Historians of the future may regard 2013 as the year that CBS' venerable property 60 Minutes finally jumped the shark. John Miller's 60 Minutes story on the NSA. We obviously need a national security infrastructure. How else are we to anticipate and erase threats to our security? But in this libertarian age, so many voices -- far left and far right -- are all but calling for the end of all espionage agencies. Thanks to wikileaks and Edward Snowden, the paranoiacs are winning the debate. Enter: 60 Minutes (Averted Gaze).
Instead of offering a down-the-middle balanced look at intelligence post-Cold War in the terrorist age, they offer up for public consumption an infomercial. "The CBS newsmagazine was true north on the compass of TV journalism for me — proof that doing good journalism could also be good business in the world of commercial TV," As David Zuarick writes, more in sadness than in attack mode. "As is usually the case with loss of faith, it didn’t happen overnight. These days, everyone is ripping '60 Minutes' for the Lara Logan report on Benghazi that it had to retract in November, the infomercial-like report Charlie Rose did earlier this month with Jeff Bezos about his drone delivery plans for Amazon, and correspondent John Miller’s in-the-tank piece last week on the National Security Agency. In the case of the latter two, it wasn’t just that they were beneath the usual standards of '60 Minutes,' they were beneath the standards of shows like 'Access Hollywood' or 'Entertainment Tonight,' which will do anything to gain access to people they think viewers will tune in to see."
|our favorite man-freak|
Favorite Freak: Olivier Zahm. There is something oddly endearing about Olivier Zahm. He is more charmingly oily than disgustingly filthy, he is more buttery escargot than inky squid. He is sort of like Terry Richardson but far, far less disturbing. There is a human component to Olivier. No one could ever imagine a skeev like Terry Richardson capable of falling in love, or even crying publicly over lost love. Olivier does, and his crie du Coeur is downright distinguished and essentially manly, albeit in a French sort-of-way. From NYMag: "Even in the dead center of a Paris winter, when the sun hasn’t been out for hours, if not days,Olivier Zahm’s eyes are all but invisible beneath the Coke-bottle-thick prescription amber lenses of his Ray-Ban aviators. Seeing him in public without them would be like spotting a unicorn in the Jardin du Luxembourg.'I like the look,' he explains. 'I also have a problem with migraines. I’m sensitive to the light. But the world is much more beautiful in color.'Zahm is sitting at his desk in his office on Rue Thérèse, a few blocks from the Palais-Royal and just down the street from the apartment he shares with his girlfriend, designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi, and their 6-week-old son,Balthus Billy. 'I’m not a baby fan,' he says, 'but when you have one, it is very joyful. I change diapers. It takes two minutes.'" If Olivier Zahm did not exist then we would have to invent him.
A Pregnant Pause: Prince. A Prince of what? A Prince of FREAK. Now I know why there are so few interviews with Prince. He sets ridiculous conditions and believes the ridiculous excuses he makes. Reporters cannot tape record Prince because Prince -- so impossibly narcissistic -- thinks reporters will "sell his voice." Who the fuck would be in the market for a tape recording of Prince? Also: Price frowns on reporters taking notes. So -- how the fuck is the interview supposed to get communicated to the public at large. Essentially, if you interview Prince -- like this reporter from Billboard does -- you have to recreate the fucking conversation in your head in the hotel room afterwards. Finally, according to the awesome Alexis Tirado, Prince said, while humping the floor at a recent concert, "I just got my own self pregnant." Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
A Dangerous Game: Can you say along with me geopolitical clusterfuck? Saudi Arabia is playing an incredibly dangerous behind-the-scenes game in the Middle East. Because they no longer trust President Obama to safeguard their interests they are: a) in a de facto alliance with israel, Turkey and the Emirates against Iran, b) in a proxy war with Iran in Syria, and, c) are actually funding Al Quaeda elements in Syria even though one of Al Quaeda's main goals is the overthrow of those whoring, whisky-drinking infidels, the House of Saud. But .... they can't trust President Obama. As we are at present trying to figure out the Daffy Duck espionage methodology of the House of Saud, they are probably sipping 24-four year old single malt off the fake breasts of 24-year old Russian hookers. Go fucking figure.
Change. President Obama. I know it is fashionable to say, without any hint of irony, that Obama is no different than Clinton or Reagan or -- to take things to the nest level of ridiculousness -- say, George Washington. To wit: Obamacare, the Asia Pivot, the end of the Iraq war, the wind-down of the Afghanistan War and the historic engagement with Iran. Obama really is different, clearly, than the last four administrations. Also: look at how he behaves at his inaugurations. Further, note this from p6: "President Obama led a conga line, took part in a 'Gangnam Style' dance-off with Usher, and even did the electric slide at his celebrity-packed inauguration bash at the White House." Would George Washington dance off Gangham style with Usher? Quite the contrary: George Washington would order Usher whipped for lack of productivity on the plantation! Change we can believe in!
Best in TV: Homeland, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Masters of Sex and Boardwalk Empire. Each of these shows is a superlative example of good television after their own fashion. If this blogger had to pick one we'd probably go in for Breaking Bad, because the show is over. But there is also Boardwalk Empire, the sepia-toned historical drama that had an incredibly compelling narrative this season, and some of the most richly drawn and played characters on all of television. Runner Up: The melancholy conclusion of Treme.