Let's face it, dearest motherfuckers, this year sucked. From start to finish, 2021 was a hard year for hope. The Pandemic that never ends never ended. To the surprise of only the gullible, Joe Biden turned out to be every bit as violently corrupt and tragically inept as the orange circus clown he was foolishly voted in to replace. And Appalachia got December tornadoes this year instead of a white Christmas. Santa can take this year of coal and shove it up his fat white ass. At least 2020 had the riots to keep us warm. Pretty much the only thing even mildly cathartic to come out of this year was Biden's fumbled retreat from the imperial graveyard of Afghanistan and even that came with a war crime that no one paid a dime for.
It was a harsh year personally for your humble genderfuck muckraker as well. Like many pathologically uncooperative Americans, my mental health just wasn't built to withstand another year of plague and pestilence. I spent so much time and energy just trying to keep my head above the waves that I barely had anything left to write with. When I wasn't choking down Elvis-loads of mind-bending mood stabilizers, I was fighting off the writer's block they all too often caused while struggling to please the increasingly delicate sensibilities of my left-wing audience. Truth be told, I spent more time than I'm comfortable admitting just trying to come up with reasons not to hurt myself and all too often came up short. But even in the pits of existential despair, there exists hope, and even in a year as all fired wretched as 2021, there were at least a few people who inspired me to drop the razor blade. A dozen people who miraculously didn't suck. About eleven to be exact, and this is the time of year to celebrate them, just before we put a .22 to 2021's head and put it out of our misery once and for all.
Jo Firestone- A few years ago, Joe Pera Talks with You came out of the woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and somehow miraculously became one the best shows on television over the course of three seasons on Adult Swim with nothing but the pure weapons-grade, unironic sincerity of a dovish choir teacher embracing the simple magic of small-town life in tumultuous times. But in its third season it was Joe's pint-sized survivalist girlfriend, the appropriately named Sarah Conner, played by co-writer and executive producer Jo Firestone, who really got to me. As the world in 2021 continued to spin out of control, Sarah's survivalism slowly began to melt into the realm of mental illness, as she struggled to cope with a society determined to return to normal in deeply abnormal times. Jo, who's own stand-up work is notorious for its raw vulnerability, does a brilliant job of capturing just how lonely it can be to be a woman on the political fringe and just how heroic the unironically sincere normies in our lives can be just by sticking around. Someday, I know I'll find a soft-spoken lesbian to build me a cabin in the woods.
Scott Horton- Scott Horton hates me. He made that pretty painfully clear when he refused to publish my unconventional gonzo prose on his brilliant site, antiwar.com, for being "bad journalism." Needless to say, the barrage of F-bombs in my response to this slur probably didn't exactly endear me to the man either. But in 2021 it's never been clearer that that son of a bitch is one of the good guys. After Afghanistan ended precisely the way he predicted it would twenty years ago, before it even began, Scott wasn't stingy about handing out the proverbial crow to all the mainstream fuck-wads who labeled him a whack-job for warning them, whether it was on his podcast, The Scott Horton Show, or his refreshingly post-partisan End the Damn Wars Movement. But the finest moment of Scott's bittersweet victory lap was undeniably the now infamous debate he held with the neocon architect of forever war, Bill Kristol, on Reason TV, which will go down in history as the most delightfully savage beatdown a pacifist has ever given a warmonger. Thank you for that moment of pure sadistic joy, you peacemongering savage. Now get a grip and publish my shit, goddamn you.
Andrew Coffee IV- Back in 2017, the sheriff's department of Indian County, Florida, launched a disastrous no-knock raid on the residence of one Black ex-con named Andrew Coffee IV, looking for his father on drug charges. After coming in blasting without so much as identifying themselves, Andrew did what any sane American would under these circumstances and shot the motherfuckers. Tragically, upon injuring one of the swine, the pigs fired back, murdering Andrew's girlfriend, Alteria Woods, in the process and then charged Andrew not just with three counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, but with the second-degree murder of the girlfriend they killed when he attempted to defend her. Usually, in this racist police state we call America, this is where the story ends.
But by some kind of early Christmas miracle in 2021 a Jury sided with common sense to find Andrew Coffee IV not guilty by reason of self-defense. But this is far bigger than one Black life mattering for a change. If a Black man in a redneck county can legally stand his ground against a police death squad, any of us can, meaning the pigs now have a 9mm reason to think twice before they play cowboy on someone else's private property. Sadly, for Andrew and America for that matter, he was still found guilty of being a felon practicing his Second Amendment rights and is now looking down the barrel of a thirty-year sentence from a vengeful court system. One step forward, thirty steps back.
Stella Morris- Few people suffered more this year than Julian Assange. Facing life in supermax hell after 11 brutal years of captivity for the high crime of being a goddamn journalist would give even a supine soul like Joe Pera a stroke. If it isn't agonizingly clear by now that the United States is using the corrupt international legal system to slowly murder Assange the way they did Milosevic, then you might be legally blind. The once resilient rebel with a cause has been reduced to a crumbling shell of his former glory, but his fiancé and the mother of his two young sons, Stella Morris, bravely keeps the fire alive and faces down the hoard of sycophantic tabloid scum who dare to call themselves journalists with the steely resolve of a provoked lioness. Her fight isn't just a fight for justice, it's a fight for love, and goddammit do we need that this year. Let's fight with her. We can't afford to let these fuckers win.
Magnus Panvidya- My friend Magnus shocked the self-righteous left to its very core this year when the unapologetic Boogaloo Boi came on Jimmy Dore's podcast and revealed that his supposedly right-wing extremist movement is actually an armed anti-racist militia reborn on the streets in the wake of the police lynching of George Floyd from the embryo of a tongue in cheek meme about a second American Revolution. Magnus has gone all in on bottom unity, starting the revolutionary Unity Coalition to bring together groups of rabble rousers as seemingly far-flung as Libertarians and Antifa, and providing a much-needed armed contingent to Scott Horton's End the Damn Wars rally. You will still find left-wing imbeciles willing to slur social justice militiamen like Magnus as white supremacists, but in 2021 I've never met a white hetero cis male more committed to stomping out the flames of institutional white supremacy than Magnus Panvidya and I'll gladly die on that hill any day of the goddamn week. Bottom unity or death.
Abby Martin- During a Q & A at the COP26 gala in Glasgow (You know, one of those globalist get togethers where the 1% of big government and big business gather to be photographed caring a lot about the environment they casually ravage) Democratic Speaker for life Nancy Pelosi was looking to virtue signal with another softball question from her adoring press, so she announced, "I need a woman" and goddammit if they didn't find her one. Abby Martin, the renegade journalist behind The Empire Files, lit Nancy up like a Christmas tree with the motherfucker of all gotcha journalism sucker punches. In so many words, she demanded to know where the hell the millionaire congresswoman got off pretending to give a shit about the environment when she approved a deficit quadrupling budget for planet earth's greatest polluters in the Pentagon. Nancy and company stammered a bit as they shit themselves on live television before Pelosi came up with the most ludicrous excuse to duck further inquiry since the-dog-at-my-homework by announcing that they couldn't take any more questions because, "They need to clean the room. I didn't even know they did that..." Sometimes it's the little moments of humiliation that make life worth clinging to. Thank you, Abby.
Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker & Lucy Dacus- This year, the soundtrack to my life in doom times comprised largely of three brilliant albums from the three brilliant members of the short lived but legendary indie rock band boygenius who also happen to be three best friends and three women who refuse to compete for the fickle attention of the chauvinistic record industry. The first, Phoebe Bridger's lush and sarcastic apocalyptic serenade, Punisher, actually came out at the tail end of 2020 but made waves big enough in 2021 for those twits at the Grammy's to give her a few nominations to save their non-existent street cred. Then came Julien Baker, my personal favorite of the three, who updated her naked sober Christian folk rock with the reverb drenched agnostic gospel of Little Oblivions in which she bravely mined her own relapse for a heartbreaking tale of redemption for a whole country in recovery. But it was Lucy Dacus who really stole the show with Home Video, a slide show time capsule of 11 stories about all the awful people who made her young life worth remembering.
In a year dangerously low on hope for heartbroken Queer women like myself, it was three breaths of fresh air in the mineshaft of 2021 to hear three brilliant heartbroken Queer women like Phoebe, Julien and Lucy humbly and eloquently admit that they're fucked up too and maybe that's OK. To quote Lucy's "Please Stay", a song that may have literally saved my life this year, "begin, be done, break a vow, make a new one, call me if you need a friend, or never speak to me again, but please stay."
Erick & Jade Jordan- When I said that 2021 was a hard year for hope, I meant that 2021 was a hard year for bottom unity. I have devoted my short career as a muckraking armchair revolutionary fighting to bring the fringes of this country together to rip out the dark heart at the center of its evil empire. Whether you're Queer or straight, Black or white, left or right, it is the people on top that enslave us all and only a united front of the freaks on the bottom can overthrow them. This romantic notion of stateless post-partisan solidarity really took a beating this year and nothing beat it worse than Kyle Rittenhouse: a bougie, wannabe cop, militia imposter, who came to Kenosha looking for action and ended up blowing holes in more than just people. That case tore everything I spent years slaving over to shreds, pitting allies against each other in what the media turned into a senseless culture war courtroom drama that made my brain want to vomit.
But it was in the wake of that sensationalized circus that I found a shard of hope in Erick and Jade Jordan, a Black father-daughter team armed with AR-15's who were invited to protect the protests following Rittenhouse's acquittal from police state reprisals. Erick, 50, and Jade, only 16, were in Kenosha themselves the night of the bloodbath, defending a local restaurant, and like every other armed person there that night but Kyle, they managed not to shoot anybody by standing their ground at their posts and leaving the protesters be. They brought that same level-headed sincerity to defending many of those same protesters after the trial, showing a world gone mad with division what real solidarity looks like. There are quite simply too many rich gangsters out there killing poor people. We can't afford to be killing each other too. If we're ever going to survive another year of this imperial collapse, we're going to need to stick together to keep warm.
Increase the peace, dearest motherfuckers. But keep swinging until we bring this motherfucker down. Together. Together. Together.
Peace, Love & Solidarity- Nicky/CH