My New Year's ritual is spent sitting in the barber's chair under the ministrations of my semi-retired barber, an inveterate stock market player and die-hard Republican who argues persuasively (especially with a straight razor in his hand) that government hand-outs are the tool of the weak. He's worked all his life so someone else can sit on their ass? No sir. Head cocked back, blade scraping my neck, who am I to disagree? (I came within a hair of arguing during my early November haircut, but decided John Kerry wasn't worth it).
The annual tonsorial pleasure was extended - as is usual - by the crowd of other fellas enjoying their New Year's rituals. The place was packed. Manly Italian arias sounded their muted strains in the background. A pair of black-suited undertakers got their thick locks trimmed (the usual "they're dying to get in" asides got their usual guffaws all around) and one 94-year-old man celebrated his December 31st birthday with a cut and a shave. The wait worked in my favor; the atmosphere was soothing, washing away another year's worth of disappointments and putting off (for the present) the coming year's worth of fears.
I flipped through the guilty pleasure barbershop magazines - FHM, Stuff, Playboy, and Maxim - before giving into Time. And its Person of the Year issue. And its obscenity upon the face of American journalism. I speak of course about the faux granite visage of George W. Bush. Nancy Gibbs and John Dickerson are annointers-in-chief, phony and cheap propagandists who would make Pravda controllers proud, a pair of liars and disseminators whose pitiful and pathetic presence brings low everything about the Time brand. There, that's been said. And perhaps better by Matt Taibbi, courtesy of the hawk-like bird man Wolcott:
The "Person of the Year" issue has always been a symphonic tribute to the heroic possibilities of pompous sycophancy, but the pomposity of this year's issue bests by a factor of at least two or three the pomposity of any previous issue. From the Rushmorean cover portrait of Bush (which over the headline "An American Revolutionary" was such a brazen and transparent effort to recall George Washington that it was embarrassing) to the "Why We Fight" black-and-white portraiture of the aggrieved president sitting somberly at the bedside of the war-wounded, this issue is positively hysterical in its iconolatry. One even senses that this avalanche of overwrought power worship is inspired by the very fact of George Bush's being such an obviously unworthy receptacle for such attentions. From beginning to end, the magazine behaves like a man who knocks himself out making an extravagant six-course candlelit dinner for a blow-up doll, in an effort to convince himself he's really in love.
Brilliant. The hagiography of the mediocre, of the fearful, of the failed. My barber might even agree (as so many of my Republican friends do). Person of the year, perhaps. After all, previous "winners" include Charles Lindbergh, Wallis Simpson, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, William Westmoreland, and the Ayatollah Khomeini. As the NRA might say, nice grouping.
Failure of the year, definately. His. Theirs. Ours. Mine.