It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since my first annual List of People Who Don't Suck! A lot has happened since then. I may still be an agoraphobic hermit but I can no longer call myself a shut-in. I leave my house every week to commune with other charmingly damaged souls at my local psych-rehab, many of whom I've come to see as friends. I've come out of the closet with my long, silent struggle with gender dysphoria and I've found a sense of community within the queer movement that I've been searching for my whole life. I still don't technically have a job, unless you count being an unapologetic well-fare-queen (better my toilet paper than another smart bomb), but I am looking into volunteering at a local radio station, so Radio Free Happy Valley could be in my crystal ball. I've also managed to get a lot more people to this sight. Not nearly as many as I'd like but I've made a few tiny earthquakes out there in cyberspace and I promise you, dearest motherfuckers, it's only the beginning.
My original idea for this list came from the fact that the few people closest to me often complained about my widespread pessimism and general negativity. They would often ask me things like, "Is there anything you do like?" So I decided to devote an entire post at the end of the year to 16 people who actually don't suck. People seemed to dig it so I decided to make it an annual thing. So here I am a year later with 16 more people who don't suck. There are renegades, visionaries, iconoclasts and even a few people who I've come to consider friends. They're a tight minority of people who can actually manage to illicit something resembling hope from a wretch like me. I love them all and you should too.
* Ajamu Baraka- I had every intention of putting Jill Stein on this list. She ran a decent campaign as 2016's only pacifist choice for president. Sadly, however, since the election Jill has chosen to allow herself to become a pawn of the DNC's latest Russophobic witch hunt, calling for a Rust-Belt recount that could only benefit the queen of chaos, Killary Clinton. So, since I can no longer in good conscience say that Jill doesn't suck, I gave her spot to someone who actually fucking deserves it. Her VP, Ajamu Baraka. A legit black radical in the tradition of dudes like Stokely Carmichael and W.E.B. Dubois, who had the balls to call his former running mates recount bullshit and hopefully, just maybe, will have the balls to deny her the Green Party nomination in 2020. Come on Ajamu, we're counting on you.
* Angela Keaton- Since childhood, I've always secretly wanted a sister. Chalk it up to being a genderqueer child in a mostly cis-male household. But for whatever reason, I've spent most of my life collecting sister figures. None have been finer than Angela Keaton, antiwar.com's dangerously overworked executive director and all around libertarian riot grrrl. Bikini Kill's classic "Rebel Girl" could have easily been written about her. No one online has been more helpful, more giving, more patient or more kind to me personally than AK. In fact, there is probably about a 90% chance that if your looking at this site right now, it's probably largely thanks to her. I'm proud to call her a friend, an allie and a mentor. Angela Keaton is who I want to be when I grow up.
* Colin Kaepernik- I hate football but Colin Kaepernik is my favorite football player. Mostly because he seems to have devoted himself entirely to pissing off the average jock. I can't tell you dick about his stats or skills or weapons or whatever the fuck sports people care about. I can tell you, however, that whenever he makes the news, whether it's for protesting the National Anthem, calling out the American police state, defending the late Fidel Castro or refusing to throw his vote away on a sick fuck like Trump or Clinton, it puts a big shit-eating grin on my face. Keep up the good work Colin. It's nice to see an athlete in the news for something other than knocking his wife's teeth out. Steven A. Smith can eat my hairy asshole.
* Adam Reed and Matt Thompson- The mad genius' behind treasured TV cult classics like Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo, not to mention the best animated show on television, Archer. Adam and Matt have been making brilliantly sick cartoons since the turn of the Millennium and they have yet to disappoint me once. Absurd, vulgar, literate, profane and above all endlessly quotable- "Phrasing, boom!" "Slideshow! she's in it." "Chinatown's got something for errvrybody." -Their work has served as the airbag for the endless car crash that is my life.
* Tulsi Gabbard- Slideshow! she's in it.... Sorry, hard to turn off, but aside from being in my own personal slideshow (if you have to ask, don't), the Representative for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District is also probably Washington's most consistent voice for peace since Ron Paul's retirement. Showing an endearing, Kucinich-esque willingness to piss off the cruise-missile progressives in her own party, the Iraq war vet and current Army National Guard MP has, in only the past few weeks, broke party protocol by becoming the first Democrat in Congress to meet with he who shall not be named at Trump Tower (wait, oops) in an attempt to convince the President Elect to stand by his word (or one of them at least) and fuck off out of Syria, then punctuated the point by introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would finally block tax payer dollars from flowing to ISIS, Al-Nusra or their derelict sponsors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If Tulsi keeps this up, I might have to rejoin the Democratic Party to vote for her in 2020. Not sure if I should thank or curse her for that predicament but she's definitely earned her place on this list.
* Thomas L. Knapp- Though he'll always be Tom the moderator from antiwar.com to me, Mr. Knapp has spent a lifetime righteously raging against the machine. From Act-Up to A.N.S.W.E.R. to his unofficial role as the Don Quixote of doomed third party candidacies, including his own, Tom is a tireless crusader for all the right things in a world too mad to appreciate it. He's also a friend who never stops teaching me new things, whether I want to learn them or not. He's made me a better writer and a better revolutionary and I thank him for this. You can find his work on his blog Kn@ppster and the Garrison Center where he serves as director and senior new analyst.
* Mitski- Mitski Miyawaki was already the best thing to happen to alternative rock in ages before she released her fourth album, Puberty 2, this year. A reverb drenched, heart breaking and fearlessly naked self-portrait of a biracial twenty-something woman trying to figure herself out in an increasingly xenophobic and chauvinistic nation. Puberty 2 is far and above the greatest album of the year, plunging Mitski into the realm of feminist rock visionaries like Patti Smith, P.J. Harvey and Courtney Love.
* Beppe Grillo- Beppe Grillo is insane. He also might be the best thing to happen to Italy since Antonio Negri (Google it, you rube). The politically incorrect, Ferrari driving, stand-up turned blogger turned cyber-anarchist anti-hero is kind of like a perverse mix of Ralph Nader, Abbie Hoffman, Willy Wonka and Tyler Durdin. At the helm of his equally idiosyncratic Five Star Movement, Beppe has repeatedly taken on the notoriously corrupt Italian establishment and won, most recently with his triumph over Italian Prime Minister and NATO play-thing Matteo Renzi's attempt to castrate Italian democracy via referendum which ended with Renzi's resignation after the Five Star lead "Vote No" movement left his dreams of Duce-dom in tatters. What's next for Beppe's radicals? Hopefully an even bigger victory in 2018 then their 2013 general election upset, which may see Italy join it's northern neighbors, Switzerland, in embracing direct democracy and rejecting the EU. Fingers Crossed.
* Matt Stone and Trey Parker- In 2012, Matt and Trey, the cheeky bastards behind America's most beloved, foul mouthed, animated social satire, South Park, found themselves at a creative in-pass. After over a dozen seasons and the surprise success of their Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon, they were bored with their meal-ticket but trapped in a long-term contract with Comedy Central. Most animators would have simply sucked it up and phoned it in. But Matt and Trey aren't most animators. They decided that if they were stuck in South Park then South Park would have to change. The results of this gamble? Miraculously, the show got even better. Stretching their brutally honest and poignant brand of satire into story-lines that lasted entire seasons and diving deeper into the development of their characters, Matt and Trey built on their already near flawless legacy and made the last several seasons of South Park, the best seasons of South Park, with this years twentieth season, an epic exploration of the nature of Trolling, sexism, anti-trolling and anti-sexism, brash and brilliant enough to enlighten and enrage everyone, myself included. Bravo.
* Birgitta Jonsdottir- I love Iceland. The Volcanoes. The black sand beaches. The quirky art rock bands. It's little wonder that the island is my go to destination whenever I threaten to leave this goddamn country for one reason or another. And, in spite of global warming, Iceland's actually getting cooler, thanks largely to the rise of Wikileaks vet Birgitta Jonsdottir and her Pirate Party, who threaten to return the island to it's anarchist roots, with their recent electoral gains based on their promise of direct democracy, net neutrality and the worlds first crowd-sourced constitution. They are also pushing to offer full refuge and citizenship for Edward Snowden. Save a cottage for me Birgitta. I should be along shortly.
* Mariela Castro- There's a new revolution going on in Cuba and it's better than radical, it's queer. After decades of stagnant Soviet era homophobia, Cuba has jumped to the forefront of LGBT rights in the global south and it's largely thanks to Mariela Castro, the daughter of current president Raul Castro and late feminist revolutionary Vilma Espin. As director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, Mariela has nearly single-handedly made queer liberation an integral part of the Cuban Revolution, even going so far as to pass a measure that provides sex-change surgery free of charge as part of Cuba's National Healthcare Program. Mariela has added to the already legendary revolutionary legacy of the Castro's and seems poised to bring that legacy into the Twenty-First Century.
* St. Vincent- There are far too few truly unique voices in music today and you would be hard pressed to find one more unique than Annie Clark's who has set college radio on fire as St. Vincent. Her music is undefinable. A veritable genre upon itself, shape shifting seamlessly between pop and avante garde, digital and analogue, overt and subliminal, until the borders evaporate entirely, the distinctions are non-existent and what your left with is something akin to a new language. One no one can speak but her. But one we somehow all understand regardless. St. Vincent isn't an artist. She's an alchemist, a magician, a witch. And I can hardly wait to hear her next spell.
* Adam Kokesh- I was born in 1988 but I miss the Sixties. I'm not talking about Woodstock, the Kennedy's and all that Tom Hanks approved, limousine-liberal bullshit. The hippies can eat their flowers. I wanna know where did all the flaming dollars go. The Sixties I miss were defined by Malcolm X, the MC5 and Karl Hess. And that's why I love Adam Kokesh. The one modern-day activist who truly embodies that renegade spirit of yesteryear. Whether he's shouting down war pigs like like Alberto Gonzales and John McCain or loading a twelve gauge on Freedom Plaza, the decorated Iraq War veteran is the living embodiment of the Second American Revolution he has promised to peacefully ignite. And Adam has saved his greatest stunt for 2020, when he aims to mount a campaign for the presidency on the platform of liquidating the Federal Government entirely. Don't get me wrong, that's one revolution that this mutualist well-fare-queen isn't quite ready for yet. But that doesn't mean that the very thought of it doesn't put a great big smile on my bearded face and a great big hard-on in my panties. Mmmmmm! You smell that? Smells like flaming dollar bills. Smells like 1969.
* Lisa Reid- They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Well, behind every great gendequeer there's a great mother. After all, they made us this way, didn't they? Regardless, they don't make them any greater than mine. Lisa Turner Reid is more than just my mother. She's my best friend. And if that makes me a fag, then I'll wear that slur with pride. Our relationship is kind of like the Gilmore Girls, only Lorelei is a Catholic zealot and Rory is a 300 pound, bearded, anarchist with gender issues. Through everything, through the blasphemy and the mental illness and the Lyme disease and the gender dysphoria and the foul language and the prescription drugs and the blatant anti-Americanism, my mother, the conservative daughter of a Marine Corps. officer has stood defiantly by my side and I couldn't possibly thank her enough, so this spot on my blog will have to do. Mom, you're politically and spiritually nuts but you definitely don't suck. To quote Neko Case- This tornado loves you.
Well that's it folks. That's my fucking list. Sixteen people who matter. Sixteen people who make this fucked up planet worth fighting for. Sixteen people who don't suck! Since this will probably be the last post I write this year, I wish you all a happy holiday, regardless of whatever that fucking holiday is. And if you don't have one, make one. If you've taken the time to read my latest ramblings, you more than deserve it.
Peace, Love and Empathy- CH