Goodbye monkey. Hello, fire rooster.
In China, or as our president-elect pronounces it, Chiina, 2016 was the Year of the Monkey, believed to be unlucky for people born in previous monkey years. In 2016, it seems, we were all monkeys.
The motto for monkey years is “Changeability without being constant leads to foolishness.” So here we sit, fools all, looking back in monkey time, looking forward to rosier rooster days.
It’s been a great year — NOT. We’ve experienced some bad hombres and nasty women and lots of deplorables — too many to count, really. We lost Prince and Debbie and Carrie and were made sad. From our Legislature, I lost Phyllis Kahn and Sean Nienow, two beautiful gifts to columnists. I have great hope, however, that fresh, ripe targets will emerge across the political spectrum. They always do.
On the upside, we gained a woonerf. We still have the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority to kick around, so there’s that.
We got through one president, deep sigh from half the population, and have a new president who should add either hilarity or abject fear, depending on the day and his mood.
For a journalist, it’s all news, even when it’s not all good. It’s an amazing job. One day you write about a terrorism trial, the next about a police-involved shooting that polarizes the city. Then a story drops in your lap about a cop who takes a shy kid under his wing and helps him negotiate life. Maybe you get to help a homeless man find his stolen dog, assisted by scores of readers who go a step further and find the man his dog, then a home, and finally a heart valve replacement.
Amazing. Just like life.
It all draws comments. Every year I like to look back, or I should say, am forced by my boss to look back, on the year’s output. I also skim through my haphazard log of phone calls and e-mails to sort the love from the vitriol, angst, slurs, taunts, threats (infrequent), requests for Vikings tickets (who do you think I am, Ted Mondale?) and offers of cash (kidding).
Certain words seem to resonate in those cherished comments from readers. “Idiot” is one. “Hack” seems popular, as does “nut job.” Yet, the phrases “thank you” and “how can I help?” exceed all others in messages, except of course for, “your prescription is ready at Walgreens.”
“Never do I agree with you, yet I seem to be able to get along with you,” said a guy named Jason.
“What will you do when your archaic, outdated career goes by the wayside?” inquired an apparently concerned reader named Adam. “I can’t wait for you to be out of work, you slime-peddling merchant of yellow journalist.”
Another, I’d like to think more enlightened, reader, wrote: “Thank you for giving voice to the working poor, and maybe, just maybe, tweaking the underdeveloped social conscience of those who regard the poor with contempt.”
“[You are] a Ponzi scheming fraud; and a hoarding, greedy one to boot,” said Adam, again. “A limousine lib at his finest. You won the lottery to be born when you were. Good riddance, propagandist.”
“Your column on Sunday was the talk and laughter of our caroling party,” said a woman who has an absolutely awesome caroling party.
“You are paid to say every problem is a Republican problem,” wrote Michael, a former subscriber from Edina. (Happy New Year, Michael, I know you are reading this.)
“Thanks for your column on the DFL cabal,” said one caller. “It’s nice to see a journalist who won’t kowtow to the powerful.”
“I read your disgusting article on John Stumpf, former CEO of Wells Fargo,” said a friend of Stumpf. “I have known John for over 30 years and he has more integrity than you could only hope to have.”
“I’ve lived in Mpls. for a very long time. I’ve never sent a comment to the newspaper or a writer,” wrote a guy who I hope is my neighbor. “Every paragraph of this column is beautifully crafted truth.”
“Donald Trump, was elected to roll back Obama’s evil, anti-American, globalist-socialist world agenda,” said a gentleman I’m guessing is not my neighbor in south Minneapolis. “America will be free again. January 20th, 2017 starts the first day of freedom.”
“I started to read your column with interest,” one reader began. Sorry, but I deleted the e-mail before I got to read the rest.
And finally, a dare:
“My challenge with most liberals is they want to intellectualize subjects instead of accepting simple answers,” he wrote. “Maybe you should also write to the 49 percent who voted for Trump. That is a true journalist, someone who can write articles for the whole audience, not just one side. Thank you for your time.”
No, thank you for your time. And for your opinions, those of beautifully crafted truth and those of slime peddling propaganda. May your New Year be a rooster, with fewer nasty women and deplorables, filled instead with caroling parties, freedom and simple answers.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @jontevlin