An annual tradition (last year excepted) for two decades! This is my list of ridiculous people from 2017 (so far). If you're not named and disappointed, you're not a loser (wait a minute…), just not quite ridiculous enough in those categories. Pass me one of those rolls, please:
- The Greasy Gravy Award for oily publicity that makes the main dish inedible goes to the current official resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the thing on his head, and his staff for turning the highest office in the land into a storm of poorly thought-out soundbites as not just media distortions, but as a method of governance. On a good day. And there haven't been many good days this year.
- The Red-Tide Oyster Stuffing Award for carelessly poisoning an otherwise tasty dish goes to the entertainment industry. Not only did it substitute Rocky Mountain oysters for the actual main ingredient of this side dish — for decades — but it engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to cover it up. Admittedly, it was a much more successful cover-up than was Watergate, and an even lower proportion of the actually guilty is going to be punished or even publicly identified. And, as a bonus, we'll never know the works that could have been created including (just a couple examples under the letter "s") Annabella Sciorra, Léa Seydoux, and countless others (many still to be identified), and that's just one predator who has harmed the arts in one subfield so that he can substitute his personal aggrandizement for simple humanity or even doing his bloody job. And trust me: The truth is a helluva lot worse than even the appalling events being publicly displayed, and that's just as to the sex/power aspects.
- The Broken Wishbone Award for shattering dreams goes to the Customs and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security (Geheimstaatssicherheitsbüro), which thought it was a good idea to effectively repudiate and repeal DACA without even acknowledging a certain poem in New York harbor. (As the rest of the administration has demonstrated, acknowledging either simple humanity or the interest of the public not composed of one's existing campaign contributors would be just too much effort.) Next: All persons who are not protestant northwest Europeans, with long-form birth certificates so proving, will be invited to wear an appropriate yellow armband… probably manufactured at low cost in South/Southeast Asia (with numerous misspellings on the tag and a false "Made in USA" declaration)…
- The Golden Gristle Award for assertions far too difficult to digest (and usually stuck in one's teeth) goes to Douglas Preston and the rest of the protect-publishing-as-they-think-it-was-in-the-fifties crowd (of course, it wasn't). Keep in mind that my previous screed was the polite version.
- New Menu Item This Year! The Conspicuous Consumption Cranberry Relish Award for the most-outrageous example thereof goes to all of the assholes involved in the "Salvator Mundi" painting auction — the buyer, the seller, the losing bidders, the auction house, etc. Really. Four hundred and fifty million dollars. Which could have funded:
- 720 MacArthur Fellows
- Three years of the National Endowment for the Arts at 2017 levels
- Four times the compensation "agreed" for all authors that was "negotiated" (but later rejected by the courts) in the Google Books fiasco
- Over 29,000 person-years of minimum-wage museum ticket takers for an exhibition of the painting
And then there's the interesting question of which jurisdiction gets to benefit from the sales tax/VAT… oh, that's right, none of them. Nor a dime to da Vinci's heirs, whoever the hell they may be; or, for that matter, to da Vinci himself if he were alive and the painting remained in copyright.
- The Crabapple Pie Award for marketing something sour as something sweet goes to the leadership of the greeting card industry. Since I commented earlier this year, I've had to go through several more rounds of the same futile search.
- The Wilted Salad Award for the one part of the meal that's supposed to be "good for you," but is instead rather past its sell-by date, goes to Ajit Pai, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, for his position that the rate of return available to internet service providers is so low that they need more incentive to invest in the internet, which therefore requires abrogating net neutrality. But that rate of return is so low that none of the actors can afford to flout antitrust law by merging to even further consolidate internet access and power in a few historically untrustworthy hands, because that wouldn't be a good investment… Inconsistency with his own administration's incoherent, inhumane, and ahistorical support for making purported religious animus an exception to generally applicable civil rights and antidiscrimination laws (PDF) — and what that implies for the internet, especially any portion owned by a Hobby Lobby-type corporation — is just a moldy-tomato garnish.
- The Brussels Sprout Award for stinky, slimy, overcooked, gentrified little cabbages goes to marketing dorks who think contempt for and lying to the customer base is the best way to succeed in business, or the arts for that matter. Come on, you've heard about even faker awards? If not, you need to read more (about) science fiction.
- The Dried-Out Breastmeat Award for overcooking the books goes to the House Republican Caucus for its reinvigoration of trickle-down economic theory masquerading as a "tax reform" plan that would, instead, bankrupt the nation. Well, bankrupt it even more thoroughly than it already is. Of course, if you define your own constituency as "those who made big campaign contributions to me, and to hell with everyone else," this makes perfect sense as "constituent service"…
- The Rancid Drumstick Award for something that should be edible, but isn't, goes to self-published cookbook authors who can't be bothered to proofread their recipes… and wind up leaving out half the directions (and two-thirds of the ingredients!) for a "basic pantry item substitute" for their has-some-scientific-support-but-is-culturally-faddish diet. More than once, compared to their own website's versions of the recipes, which long predated the book. Especially when that results in wasteage of expensive, hard-to-obtain special substitute ingredients by inexperienced cooks.
Stop reading your bloody publicity materials and proofread your guruistic prescriptions, please. And I say "prescription" advisedly, because the particular examples I've encountered this year both concern diet regimes that, umm, substitute for other medical intervention.