As the brutal Bush years draw to a close we can reflect on how we got where we are. The twists and turns of missteps and outright chicanery can dazzle the most savvy newshounds among us. I mean, who would have written a plot in which the Vice President of the United States was so craven as to plant a story in the New York Times and then refer to that story as evidence for the need to invade a sovereign nation in an act of “preventative” war? It’s preposterous and yet that is exactly what happened. The list goes on and on and continues to grow and it’s hard for mere mortals to keep up, nevermind understand.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when Hunter S. Thompsonkilled himself. I mean, how am I supposed to make sense of such a depraved creature as Don Rumsfeld? How am I to put George W. Bush‘s bumbling management into any sort of modern context? Who am I to distill into plain English the mortgage and loan/credit crunch/economic culture fuck we’re living? I am few, Taibbi is many.
Sure, we had Jon Stewart and (previous Upright Standing Man of the Year winner) Stephen Colbert to shed light on the hypocrisy and lunacy of the last eight years, but they are essentially nice and decent guys. Times like these require savagery and Matt Taibbi is not afraid to callSarah Palin “a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV.” This while the rest of the media was politely accepting her as representation of “middle America” even though they knew too what Taibbi was able to put in print.
Looking back, it’s so clear what was going on. A nation weary of years of war and a generation desperate to define itself in the shadow of their parents—who changed the world and reminded you of it on a daily basis—congealed around one man who would defy racial barriers and make everyone believe that there was something special about America.
Elvis Presley was a goofy, poor kid with a funny name and a ridiculous naiveté about his place in mid-century America and what it was to be “white” in the south. In January 1956 Elvis released “Heartbreak Hotel” and by April of that year it had changed the face of music and created rock and roll as we know it today (yes, it’s debatable which record is the actual “birth” of rock and roll but the cultural impact of Elvis’ first number one single is undeniable—just ask John Lennon).
From that January in 1956 until his death in August 1977 Elvis Presley was rock and roll. He encompassed the good and the bad, the dangerous and the pedestrian, the leather jacket and the jumpsuit. No, he wasn’t perfect but he molded and shaped a disparate palette of influences (blues, gospel, R&B, soul, and occasional jazz tones) to create an entirely American musical experience. And your life is better for it. More than fifty years later we at the dawn of what could be another rebirth for America.
“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
– Autobiography of Mark Twain
Stephen Colbert has taken a quick comment from America’s father of satire and built an entire career out of it—all at the expense of blowhards and cheap political dolts who bloviate for a party they don’t even support anymore but who pay their bills on time so why not keep shilling?
Writers seldom choose as friends those self-contained characters who are never in trouble, never unhappy or ill, never make mistakes and always count their change when it is handed to them.
—Catherine Drinker Bowen
When asked why he was willing to throw down two and a half million dollars to pay for Hunter S. Thompson’s farewell send off in a cannon blast last August, Johnny Depp replied, “All I’m doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out.” That alone is reason enough to elect him Emperor for Life, but GLONO doesn’t have that kind of power, despite what you may have heard. In addition to his contribution to film with stunning performances in movies like Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Donnie Brasco, Ed Wood, and Pirates of the Caribbean, to name a few, Johnny Depp was a good friend to a man Glorious Noise holds in the deepest regard. And that is why we’re awarding him the first ever Glorious Noise Upright-Standing Man of the Year Award.