Sunday, December 31, 2023

A Few People Who Actually Didn't Suck in 2023

 "I am going to make it through this year if it kills me!" I find myself singing that desperate chorus from the Mountain Goats' classic "This Year" repeatedly pretty much every year around this time but I've never needed to believe those lyrics more badly than I do now in the final days of 2023. I could say that 2023 fucking sucked. That's the way that I've started a lot of these annual lists of the few people who seemingly miraculously actually didn't. But somehow that just doesn't seem to cut it this year.

The most accurate way that I can put it is that 2023 peeled me alive. Just when I thought that nothing could possibly be more nauseating than the pointless proxy quagmire in Ukraine, Bibi Netanyahu and his coterie of Ashkenazi ethno-terrorists declared total war on the starving children of Gaza and proceeded to pulverize preschoolers into mush with American ordinances. As if that weren't heinous enough, this horror show seemed to coincide like a conspiracy with a series of personal therapeutic breakthroughs that have brought my own long suppressed childhood trauma up like spiritual vitriol. 

Long depressing story short; I spent the holidays watching my inner child dragged bloody and screaming from the rubble in Palestine over and over again before being tarred and feathered as an antisemite for being a little fucked by the experience.

So, yeah, 2023 fucking sucked. 2023 can eat a flaming train of dicks. Fuck that year and whatever twisted god who came up with it. But, as always, 2023 did still provide us with a few people who didn't suck, a few people who were actually downright heroic, providing a much-needed silver lining to an otherwise toxic storm cloud of a year, and I'm here to swallow a gallon of my own vitriol and praise them because many of these people actually helped me to survive this awful fucking year and maybe, just maybe, their example will go on to help me prosper in the next one. So, let's now thank that twisted god for a few people who actually didn't suck in 2023. She could learn a thing or two from these people.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti- I'm probably going to get my fair share of shit for this one but quite frankly, I'm too goddamn pissed-off to give a fuck. Once in every generation or so, a revolutionary movement manages to capture the imagination of the pissed-off lumpenproles of this world by simply catching the empire we despise with its pants down. Past generations have had the Black Panthers, the Tupamaros and Anonymous. This one has the Houthi rebels and regardless of your own personal politics or creed it is hard not to admire a rag-tag army willing to take on Babylon with such rugged charisma and smirking zeal. While most of the world has stood by helpless while the United States has used Israel to obliterate Gaza like a fucking lawnmower, the Houthis, a half-starved renegade militia from one of the poorest corners of the earth have nearly single-handedly held this imperial conspiracy to erase the Palestinian people accountable with a series of increasingly daring pirate stunts against the western world's global shipping empire in the Red Sea.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti is not the leader of this rogue band of Shia renegades but this senior political official for the artists formerly known as Ansar Allah has become the unofficial spokesman for the movement since it overthrew Yemen's American-backed dictatorship in 2014 and his literary defiance rings out like church bells in a damned world, boldly declaring after America announced the creation of a 10-nation naval task force to end the Houthis guerrilla blockade against the blockaders that "America's announcement of the establishment of the coalition of shame will not prevent us from continuing our military operations until the crimes of genocide in Gaza are stopped." All of this from a nation that has barely survived its own Yankee proxy genocide which has taken no fewer than 377,000 Yeminis. The world needs the Houthis and Allah knows that the Great Satan deserves them. 

Manuel Esteban Paez Teran- At least 33 transgender and gender-diverse Americans were murdered in the last 12 months alone but at least one of us went down swinging this year. Manuel, known as Tortuga or Little Turtle to their comrades was a fellow gender outlaw and Queer anarchist who was brought down in a hail of police gunfire as part of the embattled Stop Cop City Forest Defense that has been formed by volunteers from across the country to protect the South River Forest of Dekalb County, Georgia from being colonized by a massive police state training center. The cops claim that Tortuga fired first with a handgun they had legally armed themselves with and while the available evidence points to something far more sinister, with Tortuga's body being riddled with 57 bullet wounds, including in the palms of their hands, I find this to be irrelevant. Even if Tortuga did pull the trigger, they did so in defense of another slice of the commons being annihilated by eminent domain. Either way, they died a martyr for the cause of a stateless society and a hero to trans people like me who refuse to become just another statistic without a fight.

Mitski Miyawaki- Few artists have given more of themselves to their audiences than Mitski and the genre conquering auteur really outdid herself this year, releasing the brilliantly titled The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We, her 7th album, quite possibly her most naked, and somehow, miraculously her most successful. Mitski scored her first Billboard Hot 100 charting single with the gorgeous gothic country ballad "My Love Is Mine All Mine" but it was a far lesser played deep track called "I Don't Like My Mind" which may have literally saved my life this year. "I don't like my mind, I don't like being left alone in a room, with all its opinions about the things that I've done. So yeah, I blast music loud and I work myself to the bone..." How does she do it? How does she read my soul like a fucking book? No single line has ever captured why I write better than this. Mitski may be a brilliant singer-songwriter and I may be but a lowly muckraker on the fringe, but regardless it's hard to be any kind of artist who traffics in near-masochistic emotional transparency, but it helps not to have to do it alone.

Yocheved & Oded Lifshitz- Regardless of what those race baiting sycophants in the Zionist Lobby may tell you, an intifada is not a genocide. It's a popular uprising against tyranny and it takes people of all races and creeds to make it successful. Yocheved, 85, and Oded, 83, are an elderly Israeli Jewish couple who were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 from their kibbutz in Nor Oz. But they are also lifelong peace activists who have devoted their lives to holding Israel accountable for its sins. Yocheved made this painfully clear when she became one of the first hostages released after 16 days in captivity only to shake one of her captors' hands and wish him "Shalom" on live television. When asked by the mercenaries in the Israeli press why she would do such a thing, the elderly Jewish woman simply replied that the big bad Arab terrorist had treated her with "care" and "gentleness."

Naturally, the Zionist Lobby were besides themselves, but Yocheved also spoke just as frankly about the atrocities she witnessed in Nir Oz and had reportedly even berated Hamas Chief, Yahya Sinwar in the tunnels, demanding to know how her captor wasn't ashamed of himself for his crimes. Oded, a veteran journalist who was one of the first Israelis to report from the ground on the Sabra and Shatila massacre and who devoted his retirement years to campaigning for the rights of Bedouin tribes and Palestinian refugees, remains in captivity and Yocheved remains in the streets protesting the genocidal war waged in his name. Israel has nothing to do with Judaism. It is tireless rebels like the Lifshitz's who represent the true spirit of the Jewish people and it wouldn't be an intifada without them.

Julien Baker- I'm not sure if a straight person can completely comprehend what a band like boygenius means to Queer people, especially Queer women like me. To see three of our own who have struggled in the relative obscurity of the indie scene for years conquer the charts with an unabashedly Queer document like "the record" and do it completely on their own terms without having to sell out a single inch of their integrity is literally unprecedented. It's the biggest win for punk rock since Nirvana and while I adore Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker will always be my favorite of the boys because she reminds me the most of myself, if only on the inside. This tiny soft butch pixie with a voice bigger than dynamite. I've carefully watched her grow from her humble beginnings as a timid and barely sober Bandcamp cult phenom to the powerful and courageous woman that she is today, and it gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can do the same.

Ahed Tamini- The IDF has killed thousands of children, but they can't kill them all because some children fight back. Ahed Tamini became an unlikely symbol of Palestinian resistance by spending the better part of her childhood fighting back. Raised in an activist family in the embattled West Bank village of Nabi Salih, Ahed grew up under siege with her family home raided more than 150 times since she was born. She also grew up in resistance, with her parents, brothers, and sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles all engaged in weekly protests against the long-slated destruction of their ancestral home. 

Ahed stood out from a young age however, with footage of the fiery redheaded Arab girl physically confronting heavily armed IDF soldiers with her bare fists as young as 11 going viral on social media platforms across the globe. At 16 this habit cost her 8 months of her childhood in an Israeli military prison. In 2023, at 22, it cost her another 3 weeks and a savage beating before Ahed was released as part of the ceasefire prisoner swap. She remains unapologetic and unbowed. A wild-eyed reminder that Israel's final solution is damned to fail, because the IDF can kill millions of children, but they will never conquer the iron will of youth in revolt.

Sinead O'Connor- Even after all the heinous shit that came down like a storm to define this year of trauma and Nakba, losing Sinead was one of the most painful blows for me personally. That's because while Sinead may have taken her own life in 2023, the fatal wounds that finally fell her were delivered in 1992. That was the year that Sinead sacrificed a blossoming career to make a statement against the Catholic Church, which had taken her childhood and so many others, by tearing up a picture of the Pope on live television. That was also the year when my own abuse at the hands of that church began. I was a 4-year-old girl trapped inside the body of a boy and totally at the mercy of adults who went out of their way to humiliate me with nearly every form of abuse conceivable.

I remember Sinead in those years, debased, demonized and ridiculed, not just by the Church but by the supposedly liberal music industry that let them burn her at the stake while they cashed her royalty checks. I also remember Sinead's eyes, fierce and proud like pale blue flames. I was a child, and she seemed to be the only adult who could be bothered to stand up for me and she was destroyed for doing so but she also remained defiant to the bitter end. Sinead was a martyr for the voiceless, a patron saint of broken children, and we all owe it to her to ensure that her sacrifice was not in vain by being as loud as fucking possible, especially when it comes to crimes against children, from Belfast to Balfour.

Archie, Em, Bruce, Kiddo & Lily- A lot of people take the word family for granted and I was one of them before I found a home at a little duck farm called Misfit Manor. I was born strange but my parents have actually been exceptionally understanding for a pair of straight Catholics with a confusingly complicated child. However, I never really knew what it felt like to be truly understood by people like me until I stepped foot on that one-acre Queer autonomous zone in the middle of Trump Country where I was embraced by my second family, not in spite of my strange ways but because of them. This year has been terrifying for me. I have been mercilessly ravaged by emotional flashbacks that have sucked me back in time to chapters of my life that were so painful that I suppressed them for decades. I honestly don't think that I would have had the strength to even confront those demons without those beautifully strange creatures and all I can do is thank them. 

Thank you, Archie and Em, for opening your home to me and so many others and reminding me that love can still be unconditional.

Thank you, Bruce, for teaching this Queer loose cannon how to shoot straight and for performing the role of the heavily armed guard dog, keeping this space truly safe by any means necessary.

Thank you, Kiddo, for being stronger and smarter than any 11-year-old should ever have to be and for restoring my hope in a Queer future.

And thank you, Lily, my best friend, my sister, my north star, my guiding light, for repeatedly talking me out of indulging in my darkest urges, for seeing the good in me even at my ugliest, and for putting up with my advances for two weeks when my second puberty provoked me into falling in love with you. That got weird.

And thank you to all of my dearest motherfuckers, my crazed following of marginalized fringe people who have given me the audience denied to me by years of institutional silence. Being heard is the greatest gift I've ever received, and I love you all like family for giving it to me during an incredibly painful time in my life. Together, we will all make it through this year if it kills us.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

* This Year by the Mountain Goats

* Street Fighting Man by the Rolling Stones

* Rebel Rebel by David Bowie

* I Don't Like My Mind by Mitski

* Burning Too by Fugazi

* Rejoice by Julien Baker

* Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill

* The Parting Glass by boygenius & Ye Vagabonds

* True Blue by boygenius

No comments:

Post a Comment