Your local fishwrap will be far more comprehensive on the topic than I can ever be, but as years go, this one could easily have been -- in fact, probably was -- extruded from Dick Cheney's anus horribilis.
Back in pre-Katrina August, we had a pretty lively discussion in these pages about which year was worse, 1968 or 2005. If the year had ended that mid-August day, I'm pretty sure 1968 would have won hands down. Post-Katrina, I think it's a wash. Bobby and Martin, meet Johnny Roberts and Sammy Alito, who are gonna pretty much dismantle everything you stood for. Newark and Detroit, meet New Orleans and Biloxi. Pacification, meet "clear-and-hold." My Lai, meet Black Prisons and waterboarding. COINTELPRO, meet George W. Bush.
It's profoundly creepy to contrast the cultural reactions to these pairings. Had it become generally reported that Lyndon Johnson had declared the Presidency immune to judicial oversight at any point at which the Presidency saw it fit to be so immune, what would have been the reaction from, say, a Kubrick? A Peckinpah? A Mailer, a Roth, a Wolfe? A Beatles, an MC5, a Sly Stone?
Purely rhetorical questions, of course. But among the many things that profoundly differentiate the two years is, of course, the availability of the emotional release of self-publishing, made possible by the Internet. It would have been utterly utopian to our 1968 brethren, the delicious idea that it is possible to bypass the starmaking machinery of the publishing and recording and filmmaking industries and make one's voice heard unmediated, directly to one's audience. Even the Beatles had to pass an audition, after all.
And this is where I come in.
While the Land That I Love may have had a memorably awful year, for me personally 2005 was perhaps the most enjoyable year I've ever had.
As is no doubt the case with many of you reading this, I became aware of blogging as a phenomenon during the frighteningly angry days of early 2004. (That's of course, to be carefully distinguished from the rabidly enraged days of December 31, 2005...) I came to crave the daily -- indeed hourly -- whiff of adrenaline I got from news that broke not on mediated, old-school CNN or my morning paper but raw, fresh, cast up on the computers of ordinary people just like me, sitting in Cubicle-Land.
Somewhere in the purple funk that followed that miserable smirking fratboy's electoral reanointment, racked with depression at my own feelings of helplessness and inadequacy, alarmed by the rate at which my middle-aged body and mind were deteriorating in a corporate world that demanded no real creativity from me, I found myself in desperate need to kick-start my brain and give myself reasons to get up in the morning.
Enter Neddie Jingo.
Picked from a Pogo cartoon, the pseudonym came to me one day in late December of 2004, as I was formulating ideas for the form this inchoate idea should take. On January 2 of 2005, I opened a Blogger.com profile and began refining a Blogger template that didn't offend my sensibilities as a graphic designer. My first post appeared Thursday, January 20, 2005.
Here's what's happened since then, as a direct result of this blog.
- Lance Mannion, may his fortunes ever increase, notices the thing in early February. Avatar of graciousness that he is, he features it in his "Guest Stars" list. Level of Suck: Negligible.
- I discover John Mobberly, Civil War Psycho, who snapped up Union stragglers and terrorized the Unionist farmers of this valley until somebody was moved to off him a week before Appomattox. He lived a mile from my house as the crow flies. An obsession is born.
- James Wolcott, patently a man of enormous discrimination and taste, notices Neddie Jingo in Lance's list, likes a post on Pogo, adds NJ to his Blogroll. Traffic, oh, about quintuples. Ego boost: immeasurable. Suckiness: Nugatory.
- Joe Bageant, one of life's Driven Saints, writes to say howdy, I dig the blog. I discover some time later that Joe's ancestor married into the Mobberly family, and by heroic effort I remain sane and continent in light of this freakin' amazing coincidence. We now speak regularly by phone. That sure doesn't suck.
- R. Stevie Moore appreciates a mention. He asks me to phone in a poetical/rhythmic phone message so he can make a piece of music out of it, a project he's doing with some of his acquaintances. I wind up reciting "You get a line and I'll get a pole/And we'll head on down to the fishing hole" in my best creepy child-molester voice into my cell phone while wandering around in my orchard assessing what needs spraying this year. I'm a nut that way.
- Andy Partridge rings up: He digs a post I've done on a minor but utterly brilliant song of his called "I Don't Know what Truth Is Anymore." That sure doesn't suck.
- Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged likes a piece on local historic gravestones. Traffic triples. This too fails to suck.
- My li'l brother takes the pseudonym Bobby Lightfoot (Gordon's boy, dontcha know) and launches the rawest, most honest -- not to mention pants-soakingly funny -- blog ever done. We're closer than we've been in years. Suck factor: Zero.
- Connie Derry writes & introduces me to her family, who trod these lands like giants a hundred years ago. Not one of 'em sucked. (Although a few had spongier characteristics when it came to Demon Rum)
- Kevin Hayden of The American Street writes, asks me to contribute to that group blog. Who am I to say him nay? Other Street regulars include Michael Bérubé, Jesus' General, PZ Myers, Barbara of MahaBlog. One is Majorly Intimidated, while noting that the company Sure Doesn't Suck.
- My most Googled post: The TV show Lost and Calvinism. TV Without Pity sits up & takes notice. No sucking there.
- The Power of the Blog: I get wind of a plot by some neighbors to petition the county government to pave our dirt road, which dates to before the Revolutionary War. I post indignantly, citing local history. A neighbor writes approvingly,. And another. And another. A coalition is born, and ultimately we defeat the measure. Viva the Blog!
- I notice a Commenter named Jeremy Cherfas, a biologist living in Rome. Some days later, I drop Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale on the floor on seeing a favorable citation of Cherfas' work in chimpanzee evolution. I amuse him? That sure doesn't suck.
- Sally Jenkins of the WashPost digs a fanboy piece on her. She pops in in email to say howdy. Wow. I amuse her? That too fails to suck.
- Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged asks me to help guest-post while she's out of town. I understand her blog's still standing, but not because of anything I did.
- Matt at the Tattered Coat asks me to help guest-post while he's out of town. I understand his blog's still standing, but not because of anything I did.
- Al Swearengen guest-posts. PZ Myers at Pharyngula is amused. Post hits the flippin' stratosphere. Koufax nomination ensues. That sure doesn't suck.
- Katrina. Fuck me.
- I completely fail to meet Barbara of MahaBlog, eRobin of Fact-esque, and Melanie of Just a Bump on the Beltway as we all stopped the war in Iraq in its miserable tracks, September 24, 2005 in Washington DC. Look: Cell phones sometimes suck, OK? XTCFan can tell you all about it.
- Colin McEnroe up t' Trinity Kollitch in that Connecticut uses Neddie as course material for his Master Class in blogging. Suck? I think not!
- Th' Fuckin' HARRIDANS!!!!! Me, Bobby Lightfoot, and XTCFan hit Jay's in Arlington like a ton o' motherfuckin' bricks. We ROCK THE JOINT. NO REHEARSAL, just rubbin' together of the Musical DNA. It's the TITS. GODDAMN that didn't suck!
- This Is the House Where the Murders Happened. Ghoulish interest in a 60-years-past quintuple murder draws the interest of some local folk. I begin a delicious local correspondence. More to come on that one!
- Our Harvest Being Gotten In hits with a bullet when it's picked up by Slacktivist. Another Koufax nomination ensues. Thanks in particular to Matt at the Tattered Coat for publicizing this non-sucking piece.
- Rosie O'Donnell makes Neddie Jingo's first (and no doubt last) ad buy. Actual money. Holy crap. Suck!
Most of all Wonder Woman, who anchors my life and makes me whole.