2016 is one of those years that shouldn’t have been.
It’s a leap year we could rather have skipped over entirely.
2016 was rung in with over 1000 female revellers getting robbed, sexually molested or raped by Arab males during New Year’s festivities in the German city of Cologne.
Dismay against the country’s refugee policy is voiced. Europe, as we witness, is neither as united nor as free and welcoming as it claims to be. Border fences go up, “jungles” near Calais will get uprooted, right wing fanaticism and populism are gaining ground.
The world changed for the worse. Quite frankly, 2016 can fuck right off and die.
We lost Eagles guitarist/singer Glenn Frey, and Colin Vearncombe (“Wonderful Life”). Cancer took David Bowie two days after his 69th birthday and a new album, actor Alan Rickman (also 69), Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, and rude-mouth singer/songwriter Clarence “Blowfly” Reid.
And that was just January.
Other notable deaths of the year include Muhammad Ali, Beatles producer George Martin, astronaut John Glenn, cartoonist Jack Davis, horse whisperer Tamme Hanken as well as actors Götz George (Schimanski), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Erik Bauersfeld (Admiral Ackbar), Anton Yelchin (new Star Trek), Robert Vaughn (the Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Gene Wilder, and Bud Spencer.
As if David Bowie wasn’t enough of a headliner, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Prince were summoned to the great gig in the sky, too.
The world of music also closed the curtain on Richard Lyons of Negativland, British conductor Sir Neville Marriner, keyboardist Keith Emerson and bassist Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer), bassist Aaron Huffman (Harvey Danger), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), and Rick Parfitt (Status Quo).
And these are just some of the “people of note” with meaning to the author. They dropped like flies as this was being written.
It’s impossible to list every famous or important person that passed on during the year, nor would it be fair to downplay the lives of those “less famous”. 2016 had its share of natural disasters that caused scores of deaths — but none were as rattling as those caused by humanity itself: mass killings.
They started off in January when 13 tourists were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul. 32 people died during three coordinated suicide bombings in Brussels in March. In July, a Tunisian man steered a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, killing some 85 people.
Racial tensions in the USA flared up as black civilians fell prey to trigger-happy white cops. In response, eight officers were killed by black shooters in two separate incidents in Dallas, Texas and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
An American of Afghani heritage murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the worst mass killing of its kind since 2007. A teenage suicide bomber killed some 50 people at a wedding ceremony in Turkey.
Meanwhile in Germany, a Pakistani asylum-seeking youth injured four Hong Kongers on a train in Würzburg with a hatchet and knife. An Iranian-German teen went on the rampage in Munich and killed nine people (of not German ethnicity) near a McDonald’s. Two days later a Syrian asylum seeker killed two people with a döner knife in Reutlingen; the very same day another Syrian refugee detonated a bomb at a wine bar in Ansbach, killing only himself but wounding 15 civilians. The incidents were not related.
Rounding off the year, another Tunisian so-called refugee copied the French low-tech method by hijacking a truck and ploughing it into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing eleven people. The 12th victim, the truck’s original driver, might have even prevented further carnage prior to getting shot for his efforts.
It is no longer restricted to shitholes like Africa or the Middle East where religiously fanatical groups of rogues and demagogues rule the roost. As the “Panama Papers” leak revealed, the perpetrators of corruption and kleptocracy are our own neighbours, yet move their shady deeds offshore. Politics, greed and economics evil bedfellows make.
The Syrian city of Aleppo and its inhabitants are reduced to rubble. Barack Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba since 1928. Fidel Castro died a few months later.
There was a failed coup attempt to overthrow Turkish president Erdoğan.
Britain voted to exit the EU. America elected Donald Trump as its next president.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from power a few days after the green-watered Rio Olympics ended. Portugal won the UEFA cup.
The first round-the-world solar powered flight was completed.
The first known death caused by a self-driving Tesla car occurred. Not long after, Elon Musk announces plans to colonise Mars. Chinese moon rover Yutu ceased to operate after a total of 31 months, well beyond its original expected lifespan of 3 months. The European Space Agency launched another four satellites for its own Galileo positioning system.
Apple told the FBI where to stick their iPhone backdoor.
Samsung’s Note 7 flagship phone gets recalled and discontinued after batteries begin exploding en masse. Blackberry decides to get out of the hardware business altogether.
In 2016, millions of MySpace, Linkedin and Yahoo user credentials were published online in unrelated incidents after having actually been breached years before. Verizon still wants to buy Yahoo, and Microsoft buys Linkedin.
The Mirai botnet commandeered millions of IoT devices and took down much of the internet in a DDoS attack of unprecedented worldwide scale.
Google closed down Panoramio. Twitter killed Vine.
Germans are now allowed to watch music videos on YouTube (via regular means).
Star Trek celebrated 50 years since its first airing.
Wikipedia turned 15. The Internet Archive turned 20. Linux turned 25.
The word “Utopia” is 500 years old. It is not a place I want to live in.
Kim Kardashian apparently got robbed in a Paris hotel. The Wachowski Brothers became the Wachowski Sisters. Bob Dylan receives a Nobel Prize for literature!
In the UK, sales (in raw monetary units) of vinyl outstripped digital downloads for the first time whereas those of compact disc remain in constant decline. I spent most of the year adding and updating hundreds of CD entries in the Discogs database.
I also sat down to watch Super Bowl 50 and returned to a previous conclusion: American Football is an unbearable sport to watch. The halftime show was no less painful.
What I finally did get to see and thoroughly enjoy was the short-lived sci-fi series Firefly. Other great viewings were The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Deadpool and, to round off the year, Rogue One — complete with CGI renderings of Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Princess Leia. Carrie Fisher passed away a few weeks later following a heart attack; her mother, Debbie Reynolds, followed suit one day thereafter.
And thus the year 2016 endeth.
YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments. – Ambrose Bierce
A few glimmers of hope aside, it was wrought with death, shocks, disappointments and technical failures. Even circumstances at work are getting progressively intolerable.
2016 can kiss my sweet arse goodbye.
Image credits: BBC, Bild, Billboard, forwallpaper.com, Getty, Kim K, LucasFilm, Reuters, Sky, Time, and elsewhere via Google.