Pearls of wisdom about life and death in 2016

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
December 31, 2016 - 5:00am Updated: December 31, 2016 - 6:32am

KAMLOOPS — Mostly, 2016 sucked. The weather was awful, politics was a mess, and a lot of good people died.

We all look at the past through our own filters. Here are some abbreviated pearls of wisdom, offered by this biased observer as the year unfolded, that give but a taste of 2016.

Jan. 12 – It seemed Monday as though the tributes to the late rock star David Bowie would never end….

Indeed, Bowie, who died Monday from cancer at the age of 69, was a legend who did music differently and arguably better than anyone else.

Not everything he did was good, but it was unique… from the simply irritating Changes to the weird Ziggy Stardust to the haunting Space Oddity, surely one of the most brilliant and eerie pop tunes of all time….

Feb. 20 — I was hoofing it down the sidewalk on Lorne Street, working on my 10,000 steps, when I saw a young woman decked out in running-store spandex coming towards me at a brisk pace.

“Good morning!” I said cheerfully as she approached….

She ignored the greeting, carefully avoiding eye contact, and went on by.

Is it terrorism? Is it ageism? Is it generational? Is it Lorne Street?

Whatever it is, there’s something wrong here. There was a time when people said, “Have a great day!” When they smiled or nodded at each other as they passed on the sidewalk.

March 23 — Is it just me, or was everyone in Canada hoping Rob Ford would beat cancer, conquer his demons, and become a positive influence on civic politics, someone to look up to for having been “there” and come back?

Ford died on Tuesday at the age of 46.… As years go by, his poor choices will forever be a part of his legacy, but we’ll always think back with a degree of fondness for the sheer ballsiness of the man.

April 11 – Even big guys like KGHM Ajax are capable of public relations mistakes and they’ve pulled off a doozy with their decision to elbow City Hall out of the picture on community benefits for the proposed copper mine….

As a result, what has been a polite and cooperative relationship between the City and KGHM Ajax has instantly become strained.

What was KGHM thinking?

May 19 — Anti-Trudeau editorialists and politicians who let their conservative values dictate their view of the world are having a field day with the elbowing incident in the House of Commons this week.

.…The incident is bad news for Trudeau and his government, and has thrown them off-stride, but let’s move on to the business of government and governing.

June 4 — Len Marchand Sr., back when he was in the Trudeau government in Ottawa, once said to me, “I’m not a robot.”

…. When Len said it, he was explaining that while politicians have a responsibility to listen, they also have a duty to lead.

…. As news of his death yesterday morning quickly made its way around the coffee shops and onto the national news, there was genuine sorrow at losing this man…. He represented what politics should be like, not what it so often becomes.

July 21 – It’s hard to fathom, based on witnessing several presentations Wednesday and reading the media accounts of others, how the travelling panel on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal will help the federal government make a decision….

The exercise provided an opportunity for the public to speak but it’s hard to imagine there was one shred of new information or insight from it that added to what has already been said.

August 6 — I’m convinced that sporting events should be left to sports writers to tell us what’s going on, and that news reporters should stay out of it.

News reporters just aren’t any fun — they want to turn everything into a dire social situation…. Sports writers, on the other hand, just want to give us the score….

Over the next couple of weeks, I will watch the Rio Olympics, likely every day, without guilt…. We can worry about all the big issues and still pause once in awhile to catch our breath and glory in the positives. Isn’t it better to come together to celebrate, rather than out of tragedy?

Sept. 2 — Terry Lake announced Thursday he won’t run in next year’s provincial election…. He exits provincial politics at the zenith of his political career — he runs one of the most difficult of all portfolios, health, yet has retained widespread respect within the Christy Clark government, the public and even his opponents.

Oct. 20 — (Donald) Trump is a desperate man, but he’s no longer a threat to become president. In the dying days of the campaign, and with the last debate finished, we can rest easy knowing he won’t be in the White House.

Nov. 12 — A laundromat on Seymour Street was visited many years ago — maybe 25 or so — by a man who could have been anyone with some dirty socks and underwear that needed washing.

He was an entertainer, passing through town with his band on the way to someplace else….

(Leonard) Cohen, Canada’s greatest poet and arguably our greatest songwriter, died this week…. His lyrics were always clever, insightful, inspiring; even though he was fascinated with human suffering, he always gave us new insights into ourselves….

Dec. 17 — ….Was a time when a politician’s greatest fear was being caught in a lie. (Donald) Trump has turned that upside down, fibbing so much that the public believes half of what he says and doesn’t seem to care whether the other half is true or not.

…The tyranny of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four — in which nameless propagandists toil 24-7 to revise history and forge “facts” to ensure the lies of government can never be proven — has arrived.

….There’s big money and big power in fake news. If we can’t trust what we read and hear and see in the media, how can we know what’s real and what’s not?