I owe it all to Craigslist. That’s never a good thing–after all, if you’re indebted to Craigslist, they could force you to buy all those ugly oriental rugs that no one seems to want. But the fact is that I am.
Had it not been for Craigslist, I would never have found the ad Eye On Annapolis put up for columnists, including one for a high school student to write about local issues. I’d had little to no writing published at the time and was incredibly nervous when I emailed a tentative resume. I assumed I was going to go through an extremely thorough and intimidating vetting process, with writing samples and all, like I went through when I’d gone to apply for work at What’s Up? Annapolis and “generously” received an offer to come in for 10 hours a week and enter data without pay. But this was different. It was friendly, amicable, and offered no such intimidating initiation as a newbie to the publishing process would come to expect. He invited me to start on in with my first column.
And I did.
And then I wrote forty-six more.
This is my forty-eighth column for Eye on Annapolis, and it comes exactly on the one-year anniversary of my tenure here as featured local politics/school issues/nightlife columnist and special consultant in charge of snarkiness. And, folks, I’ve truly enjoyed it. Thank you so much for being a captive audience through the good and bad columns, the innocuous and the provocative ones, et cetera. I’m glad I never took that ten hours a week filing data because I prefer to spend those hours giving you something entertaining to read. And, of course, knocking Justin Bieber down off his high horse.
Doing this has been so great. I’ve been able to share my opinions with people, and hopefully give them some insight as to what our generation is thinking. I’ve learned so much about local politics, and just realized during a late-night wikipedia binge that the guy I debated in the comments section a few columns back once ran for governor as a libertarian back in 2002. I’ve been able to share my writing with people who hopefully enjoy it and take a little away from it too.
With that word of thanks, let’s take a stroll back down memory lane at last year’s array of issues and columns. A lot has happened last year. Old fads, like the Jonas Brothers, faded, new fads like the Tea Party sprang up, and I was always here to cover the Annapolis angle from my perspective.
I began with a column about swine flu. Remember it? That thing they called a pandemic? It killed about as many people as a can of creamed corn. Just goes to show you how we panic too easily.
I then followed it up with a pre-homecoming column about dance rules. It uses the phrase “people grinding to the chicken dance”, so you know it has to be either really good or unreadable after having been spammed by PETA commenters lambasting me for using ‘grinding’ and ‘chicken’ in the same sentence.
And after that came a post-homecoming column about how my then-girlfriend would rather text than dance. Needless to say, she soon proved that she liked breaking up with me even more than she liked texting.
Then I made waves by proving that freshmen would make better politicians than…actual politicians. I’ve got the lobbying industry behind me on this; instead of the cash-filled envelopes they have to dole out these days, they would only have to supply us with free shutter shades.
Then I tackled a few school issues, none of which schools particularly care about anymore. And they say students have short attention spans. I noticed that teachers’ attention spans are especially short when you ask them about that woman you saw them holding hands with in Whole Foods.
After that, since it was that time of year, I complained about my relatives authored a piece about Thanksgiving and homelessness. I realize that the mental images of pumpkin pie and a homeless guy sleeping in a dumpster don’t go well together; I was hoping to receive some free pies from people who found themselves without an appetite after associating pies with sleeping in dumpsters.
I followed that with a timely advice column on what to get your teenagers for Christmas. Some of the most obvious solutions were hiding in front of your face the whole time–I mean, what guy wouldn’t love nine ladies dancing as a present?
Then I went on to talk about some educational concepts I didn’t get. No one stepped up and answered my question about opposite colors, but that was OK because the art teacher just gave everyone an A on the final without checking anyway.
Next came my first review of Annapolis nightlife with an appraisal of Navy Basketball. Watching a pickup game at the park would be more entertaining and wouldn’t involve sitting through smarmy promotions for pizza places.
And then came a column on gender roles between teens in today’s society. Chivalry isn’t dead, it’s just been redefined to mean the guy texts the girl first.
And finally, to wrap up 2009, a two part series on the big pop culture events of the year for our generation, otherwise known as proof that our education has failed us (unless I was mistaken, schools were teaching that presidential inaugurations were more important than Megan Fox, but based on my observations…not the case).
After returning from vacation, for the first article of 2010 I shook my finger at Anapolitans for allowing gang activities to persist. Gang activities still persist. My finger is not nearly as powerful or daunting as I think it is, I suppose.
Despite the crushing realization that it did not wield irrefutable power over all, my finger still accompanied me to a production at the Bay Theatre Comnpany and dinner at a local restaurant, which I reviewed here. After watching a play about an invisible anthropomorphic rabbit, I expected a little more magic from my fish and chips than I received.
Following the disappointingly non-anthropomorphic fish and chips, I had to take some midterms. I wrote two columns about them. The columns were more exciting in the midterms, but in my opinion, neither had enough explosions.
After that, there were a few scandals about some illicit relationships between teens and authority figures, so I wrote about those. Anne Arundel County teens now have whole new levels of bragging about sexual exploits to work up to–the fact that she was hot won’t cut it anymore, it has to be in the news.
I used my next column to tackle an issue of which not too many people were aware–snow. By ‘not too many people’ I meant not the people who drive the snowplows.
Subsequently, I ran a column featuring the ins and outs of teen parties these days. The host of the particular party I used as an example still tells me how much she liked the party, which makes up for the obscure European soda.
Following this came a thinly veiled plea for dates my Valentine’s day column. A single guy writing a column on Valentine’s Day is like a guy dying of cancer writing a column on advancements in modern medicine. But I digress.
In the next column, I criticized the Superintendent and the school district for keeping school closed for two weeks with snow melting and roads more or less clear. I received very harsh replies from people who took issue with my expecting the government to do their jobs.
After The Great Sidewalk Debate, I reviewed a movie and some mall attractions. The column had less swordfights than the movie, but more convincing action–black text on a web page beats Pierce Bronsan in a horse suit any day.
Wanting to protect the sanctity of the mall so that the only blemish on its revered surface is a crappy movie starring Pierce Bronsan as a centaur, I wrote an impassioned argument against slots. I’m still opposed to it, although not too strongly, since the firefighters are for question A and I’d rather have a house and no principles than a burned-down house and a set of rather useless principles now that I’m homeless.
I then suggested that Mayor Cohen hire some teenagers instead of current City Hall employees. We’d do a much better job. They lose duffel bags full of cash; we just lose credit cards. And you can call and cancel those. Try calling the government and canceling cash.
Then I defended the county’s illegal immigrants. After all, America wasn’t founded on “Speak English or get the heck out”–it was founded on “I want gold.”
Next, I became the Better Business Bureau for a day and took on some irresponsible local businesses. Although I suppose the Better Business Bureau doesn’t recommend destroying public roads in order to draw people to your business.
I followed up with a return to the mall, including a photo essay on the ups (Fruity Yogurt) and downs (Hot Topic) of our town’s dog park commercial center (never mind, those were actually toddlers on leashes).
Next I posted a plug for the Annapolis Book Festival and an examination of why teens don’t read. It starts with a “T” and ends with “wilight.”
My next column congratulated a recent group of teachers that had won awards and examined what exactly makes a good teacher. I still maintain that ones with chronic illnesses are best, provided the substitutes know how to work the DVD player.
Then came a timely Earth Day column, and by timely I mean a week late. Hey, I was busy turning down the thermostat.
I then reviewed the new rec center. Three out of four stars isn’t bad, especially considering they made me give them my phone to rent a basketball. If the government is valuing basketballs equally with iPhones, there’s no wonder we’re bankrupt.
Next I tackled my pre-prom nervousness by tackling a few issues at once–the debt, unsafe driving, and Ehrlich. It was like trying to fight Godzilla in a pile of nuclear waste at a monster truck rally, but I did it. It’s called testosterone. And with prom coming up, I had a surplus of that. Now if only our economy ran on testosterone, we’d all be living like kings come late May.
Then came a column about prom at the Loews’ Annapolis Hotel. If you want to relive your blissful prom night memories through me, you can forget about it, because sixty percent of this column is about the chocolate fountain.
And after that I kicked off summer with a column about finals, summer jobs, and summer love. Not necessarily in order of importance, and if you read my top-10 list of embarrassing romantic failures you’ll see why.
Following that, I posted a column criticizing the new driving laws. Now, due to driving curfews, all those cool, rebellious 80s-movie late-night car excursions are illegal. And I had bought my letter jacket and scoped out drive-in movie theatres and everything.
Next came a column defending the oft-maligned Abby Sunderland. She did not ask me out. I know, neither did any illegal immigrants when I defended them. But still.
Then I both praised and criticized local officials for the good and bad things they’d done in the past few weeks. They’re capable of amazing things and great stupidity at the same time–sort of like a new puppy, except you can’t force them to dress up in a sweater and Minnie Mouse ears.
Next up was a theatre review of the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee production. Inaccurate spelling–it’s not just for the Tea Party anymore!
And, before I took a summer hiatus, I covered the Shadyside Fourth of July parade. It’s as interesting as a bunch of people decorating their SUVs with American flags can possibly be.
Upon my return, I made fun of a few political campaign slogans. Seth Howard has an awful lot of signs for being so “fiscally responsible”.
Then, I voiced my thoughts on the primary election outcomes and forecasted the general election. Based on the way this election season is going, I predict Common Sense will lose five thousand seats in the house and senate.
Next, I challenged Ehrlich’s road map to 2010 on the grounds that it was bland and nothing at all new. It’s certainly a more or less rational plan for a Republican, but being the most rational Republican is like being the world’s tallest midget.
Then I published a column about homecoming–specifically the process of finding a date. It requires a degree of finesse and suaveness–but if you’re in a pinch you can just buy a lacrosse stick.
And finally, my last column asked people politely to stop beating each other up. Society can be so demanding sometimes.
Thank you all for sticking with me all this time. I love you, I love writing for you, and I hope you love reading it. If you want to see more of my work, you can always check out my fan page at www.facebook.com/fishstark
It’s been great, Annapolis. And it won’t stop being great until I graduate. Or until Sarah Palin sues for libel. I’ll be back next week with an election column.
Editor’s Note: Seth’s take on Campaign Slogans was one of the top stories of the year with 1285 unique views to date.