January 02, 2003



Man of the Year: Hennepin County District Court Judge Harry Crump, who last fall issued an injunction blocking baseball’s plan to eliminate the Minnesota Twins. Therefore, the Twins continued to exist, won the American League Central division, and defeated baseball’s best team (the Oakland A’s) in the first round of the playoffs.

Quote of the Year: In Washington Square Park one day in August, while a group of NYU kids were attempting to shoot a student film, an elderly, homeless-looking woman who was nearby feeding birds got upset about appearing in the shot and started yelling at them. Her retort: "Who the fuck do you think you are, Antonioni?"

Film Critic Quote of the Year: "With dour killjoys like Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky serving as the public faces of progressive politics, the Republicans can't help but come across as the fun-loving party of pony rides, keggers, and free lap-dances." -The Onion AV Club's Nathan Rabin, reviewing the Chomsky doc “Power and Terror.”

Music Critic Quote of the Year: “Jay-Z's ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’ is an argument for Ebonics as a third language—right behind Spanish. It's so cool to say, ‘Fa-shizzle, my nizzle’ to a nondescript white person and have him respond back with ‘fa-sheezy, my neezy.’” –Trent Fitzgerald, in the Village Voice

Sports Talk Radio Quote of the Year: “"Vinny Testaverde is currently the fifth-best quarterback in New York, behind Kerry Collins, Chad Pennington, Drew Henson, and Charlie Ward.” – A caller to WFAN, before Testaverde was benched in favor of Pennington.

Headline of Year (Tie): “Armed Jews to Patrol Brooklyn,” and (in reference to a denial by former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog), “Whitey: I’m Not a Racist.” Both, it should go without saying, are from the New York Post.

Chutzpah Award Winner: Real-estate developer and World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein, who sued in order to get his WTC insurance settlement amount doubled to $7.55 billion- on the grounds that the two planes crashing into the two towers count as “two separate tragic occurrences.”

Eckstein Award Winner (for cool gentiles with Jewish-sounding names): Teen rocker Avril Lavigne, beating out sk8r boi David Eckstein.

Burn Your Siddur Award Winner (for embarrassing statements or actions by Jewish clergy): French Rabbi Pauline Bebe, who started an international fundraising campaign so that her inner-city Paris synagogue could move out of its neighborhood (which had “changed”), into one with fewer African Muslim immigrants.

The 25 Most Shameful Events of 2002 (in no particular order):
- After Senator Paul Wellstone is killed in a plane crash, his aide Rick Kahn uses his funeral eulogy to demand that the Republicans in attendance “honor Paul’s memory” by electing Democrats.
- A “divest from Israel” movement gains momentum on US college campuses.
- The baseball All-Star Game ends in a tie.
- Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty,” the least sexy video in the history of MTV.
- “A Beautiful Mind,” a mawkish film dedicated to proving the false premise that severe mental illness can be overcome by romantic love, wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- Opponents of US military intervention in Iraq spend over a year decrying the “rush to war.”
- Minnesota Viking Randy Moss takes a Minneapolis traffic cop for a low-speed ride on the hood of his Lexus; is somehow not suspended by the team.
- The World Wrestling Federation, due to pressure from the panda-fronted World Wildlife Fund, changes its name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
- Humorist Garrison Keillor, in successive Salon.com articles, spreads vague unsubstantiated sexual gossip about Norm Coleman, and then insinuates that Coleman had Wellstone murdered.
- The “Star Wars” franchise finally loses its last shred of integrity as the “Attack of the Clones” DVD is advertised with the tagline “Who Da Man? YODA Man!”
- Despite his indictment, conviction, imprisonment and expulsion from Congress, James Traficant receives 18,614 votes in his bid to reclaim his house seat.
- After members of the Cincinnati Jewish community sue to allow a Menorah to be displayed in a downtown park, local activist Kabaka Oba accuses the Jews of working with the KKK to undermine blacks.
- Philadelphia sportscaster and former NFL player Vai Sikahema is caught on camera licking a horse’s ass.
- “The West Wing” regresses from the smartest show on television to a weekly dose of creator Aaron Sorkin’s masturbatory political fantasies.
- Ted Williams dies; his greedy son has him cryogenically frozen.
- The anti-Strokes backlash, and the anti-“Sopranos” backlash.
- Senator Trent Lott states publicly that America would be better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected president.
- New York Post gossip columnist Neal Travis publishes the unsubstantiated rumor that Mets catcher Mike Piazza is gay; smitten by the resulting bad karma, Travis drops dead a month later.
- Michael Jackson makes the goofy assertion that the reason his 2001 album flopped is because he’s black.
- Kirby Puckett is exposed by multiple former mistresses as violent and abusive, is arrested for sexual assault, and divorces his wife Tonya.
- After Jerry Falwell calls the prophet Muhammad a terrorist on “60 Minutes,” a riot breaks out in India in which nine people are killed.
- In what National Review calls an “anti-small market hate crime,” two drunken, shirtless Chicago White Sox fans run out onto the field of Comiskey Park during a game and beat up Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa.
- Spurred on by noted hip-hop expert Bill O’Reilly, hundreds of angry callers pressure Pepsi into firing rapper Ludacris from his endorsement deal.
- Eminem taints his otherwise perfect year by picking a fight with a puppet (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) at the MTV Video Music Awards.
- And at year’s end, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, and (probably) Osama Bin Laden all remain tragically alive.

Posted by Stephen Silver at January 2, 2003 05:42 AM
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