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Mostly it’s due to the Baby Boomers — which it seems is true of everything — that 2017 was such a tough year to watch in terms of celebrity deaths. The first Boomers were born on January 1, 1946 — an arbitrary date, of course, but consensus has a way of supplanting truth — and so this was the year that various of the oldest of them turned 70. Or the year that they failed to. As these early Boomers have dominated entertainment for most of the lives of people in their 40s through 60s, their loss (in not really unexpected numbers, given their ages) has been most deeply felt.
Among these first Boomers, in the Political Entertainment Division, was Donald Trump, born on June 14, 1946 — Flag Day, of course, as is appropriate for a hustler and huckster. Also among them, Bill Clinton, born on August 19, 1946. And George Bush, born on July 6, 1946. Apparently, you had to be born during a 67-day span of 1946 to make you an early boomer President — especially if you wanted to lose the popular vote. Two popular vote winning non-Presidents missed 1946 it by no more than 15 months: Hillary Clinton was born on October 26, 1947 and Al Gore was born on March 31, 1948. For reasons that are compelling yet unclear, this is probably the real reason that she didn’t become President.
But the Grim Reaper reaped none of those people, instead taking David Bowie, Prince, the Fisher-Reynolds pair, and so on. But how did it end? Cruelly. It took Sutter Brown, First Dog of the State of California. A story in the LA Times (hat tip to Martin Wisckol) ended with a quote from animal rights activist and Sutter wrangler Jennifer Fearing: “If we were all like Sutter, I think that politics could be a much better place.” My take is that if we were all like Sutter Brown, we’d be pre-linguistic and spend our time begging for table scraps and sniffing each others butts. Politics, in other words, would not be all that different.
You were a nasty year, 2016, but this — appropriately enough for a corgi — was awfully damned low.
2017 will probably be even worse, you know. We’re nowhere near out of Boomers and prescription drug overdoses continue to be a bull market. This year may someday be seen as the last of the Good Old Days.
The Year is Dead. Long Live the Year.