The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

December 28, 2013

Goodbye, good riddance to 2013

— Most folks are relieved to see 2013 in our rearview mirror. I know I am. Here’s why:

The Boston Marathon bombing reminded us that terrorists are still out there, even in our own country.

Whistleblower Edward Snow­den raised both scorn and praise from the country for his shocking political revelations.

Singer Miley  Cyrus took a walk on the wild side, twerking and displaying her Gene Simmons-esque tongue in an effort to promote herself and her new “mature” image.

NBC’s “Today” show continued its descent in ratings. Producers unveiled a new set, not realizing that the cosmetic changes need to include the on-camera talent, with their egos and off-camera drama dragging the ratings down.

Actor/activist Alec Baldwin continued with his ego-fueled tirade against anyone and everyone. The self-proclaimed liberal gave progressives a bad name by hurling anti-gay slurs at paparazzi and continuing his hissy fit meltdowns. Interestingly, the media let this slide, while recently castigating “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson’s recent comments on his religious views of gays. So much for fair and balanced.

Tragic shootings continue around the nation, while the Obama administration cries out for more gun control and cooler heads cite the real source: mental health issues.

Politically, 2013 was alternately a comedy of errors (Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, etc.) to a tragedy of errors (pick any Obama administration scandal: IRS, Obamacare debacle, the still-simmering Benghazi scandal involving both President Obama and possible presidential candidate Hilary Rodham  Clinton.)

There were a few things to celebrate in 2013. A new heir to England’s throne (Prince George) and a new, unorthodox, dynamic pope (Francis) who bring a sense of renewal and hope to an aching world.

In Pittsburgh, a disappointing Stanley Cup run for the Penguins and a disastrous Steelers season were soothed by the Pirates’ miraculous season, culminating in their first playoff series in decades.

Here in Johnstown, kudos are accorded to law enforcement agencies for their numerous drug busts around the area.

Finally, 2013 should be designated the Year of the Duck, not only for the popular reality show but for that wonderful giant yellow rubber duckie that gave Pittsburgh and the surrounding area so much joy and diversion from an otherwise trying year.

We also said goodbye to too many individuals who made the world a better place. Nelson Mandela’s recent memorial service was tainted with rogue hearing impaired translators and selfies of our president and world leaders. Other icons who left us were Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, astronaut Scott Carpenter, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Dr. Joyce Brothers and Abigail van Buren. Authors Tom Clancy, Elmore Leonard and Father Andrew Greeley also left us in 2013. Sports figures such as Donora’s Hall of Famer Stan Musial died, as did manager Earl Weaver and boxer Ken Norton Sr.

In the entertainment field we lost Ray Harryhausen,  Jonathan Winters, James Gandolfini, Cory Monteith and David Frost. Childhood television icons Annette Funicello and Frank Bank (Lumpy Rutherford on “Leave It to Beaver”) also left us much too soon. In cinema we lost Paul Walker, Peter O’Toole, Joan Fontaine, Deanna Durbin, Karen Black, Tom McLaughlin and film critic Roger Ebert.

The music industry lost an eclectic list that includes George Jones, Marian McPartland, Ray Manzarek, Eydie Gorme, Ed Schaugh­nessy, Richie Havens, Phil Ramone, Rise Stevens, Patty Andrews, Patti Page, Lou Reed and Van Cliburn.

All of these individuals made an impact on their generations and our society. We celebrate their lives in passing as we look forward to a hopeful and better new year …

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident. He writes an occasional column.

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