How can anyone sum up 2023 and make a prediction for 2024? We have just completed one of the most unpredictable, complicated, and unpredicted four-year periods. Who can even stand to make lists of winners and losers?
One thing is for sure, the number of deaths in the last two months has been inordinate: Matthew Perry, Henry Kissinger, Rosalynn Carter, Sandra Day O’Connor, Norman Lear, Ryan O’Neill, Mica Ertegun, Bobby Knight and Dick Butkus.
That is a lot of exits. God saved the best for last. Deaths usually come in “threes” — but this year was a cavalcade of finales.
Eight weeks ago, I accidentally stubbed and broke my pinky toe which stopped me cold. Imagine such a minor injury. It has been a major adjustment! Slower mobility, carrying a cane, wearing a cumbersome orthotic sandal or jumbo Hoka sneakers which makes me feel like a Clydesdale horse.
I learned that toes control balance and I was thrown off my rocker (and still am) despite my twice weekly physical therapy. It has been said that any injury after the age of 75 takes a toll. You are really never the same. I feel like I lost my quick-action multi-tasking reflexes.
I actually started to sink into a sense of confusion and hideous impatience with simple tasks. Injuries can do that. Vulnerability reigns.
But then I read Giorgia Lupi‘s intense account in the New York Times of her struggles with long-haul COVID. I suddenly related. And I am a “novid” (never got COVID) but felt her symptoms nonetheless. For three years she has struggled with extreme fatigue, headaches, low grade fever, back pains, insomnia, heart palpitations, brain fog, burning sensations, high anxiety and a whole lot more. Testing for her has been laborious and inconclusive.
The important point is how she feels like she lost her former life. She has kept up to date on her vaccines and is not an elder.
What got to me is how many people this year felt like they were suffering from “long-haul” of everything. Long-haul physical and long-haul economical shifts — it’s long-haul “fill in the blank.” And there is no antibody injection for any of it. That is what the current chaos (plus COVID aftermath) has caused.
We not only have “long-haul hate,” but we are weary from all the political litigious courtroom events. No wonder people have returned to viewing reruns of L.A. Law and Law & Order. The cast of characters is better and it’s all over and solved in 48 minutes. Politics is bad, but let’s not forget that despite the seriousness of the circumstances, we all suffer over time with the “bore of war.”
We constantly feel “on the brink” and “in transition period” but from what to what? In the meantime, we “self soothe” by shopping. Even if you live paycheck to paycheck. Look at all the boxes avalanching out in the streets from UPS stores. Or the mountains of packages taking over apartment house lobbies. There are no more “mail rooms.” Doormen are now “receiving managers.”
Even a lot of the first floors of department stores and boutiques look like picked over landfills — despite all the dazzling decor. Amazon trucks create dangerous double-parked gridlocks. FedEx stores are understaffed, and the line outside is filled with people “returning” gifts they got before Christmas. Is this all a result of “Joy to the World?”
I was really taken by 96-year-old Betty Halbreich (Bergdorf Goodman’s star Personal Shopper and “Director of Solutions”) recent Instagram holiday message. She admitted from her beautiful office overlooking festive 5th Avenue how apprehensive she felt. According to her, “the store is not as busy, and I am not so Ho Ho Ho.” Her heartfelt message had to do with just staying “safe and kind.” She only wanted “to get through the year-end and hope for a better tomorrow.” It was very sobering and real indeed!
Though the media loves to highlight the year end “Tops in Pops,” we are now all immune to those projections. For instance, Taylor Swift (Time’s Person of the Year) and Barbie (“Movie of the Year”) are really one and the same. Are they really cultural guideposts? Aren’t they just mass marketing stories?
All those middle-aged mothers (getting dressed in pink miniskirts) taking their daughters (or grandmothers in pink feather boas and toenail polish with their granddaughters) and finally getting out to a movie theater during the worst summer’s heat wave? It was a deluxe outing and movie theaters became literally “cool” again as air-conditioned hangers.
The “Swifty Moms” did the same by spending $1,500 and more to take their daughters to concerts to get friendship bracelets and a deluxe hotel room. So, were Barbie and Taylor breakthroughs in music and film? Hardly. It’s all about the money. Long-haul “ka-ching.”
It’s the same thing with Oprah, who became this year’s biggest “winner” by being the biggest “loser” (she lost 45 lbs) via Ozempic — the drug of the year. Although ketamine (Matthew Perry’s drug of choice and cause of death) might be coming in a close second.
The problem with Oprah is she didn’t admit she was using the drug till December 15th. Originally, she was proponent of weight loss the natural way with food portion control (she still owns Weight Watchers and supposedly now wants to include Ozempic in the program). Now Ozempic is supposedly going to be used for drug and alcohol addiction.
But the problem is the drug is expensive, hard to get, and not on any insurance plan. It was originally used for pre-diabetic control. Maybe Oprah had pre-existing medical issues she didn’t want to reveal. The bigger issue is will Ozempic get every overweight person thin and thus no more reason to fat shame anyone? Lizzo, are you listening? Goodbye to airplane seat safety belt extenders.
So far, a lot of wealthy celebrities have been Tik-Toking their immense poundage loss. But will they have to stay on the injections for life? And what will the long-term after-effects of this be? But never mind all that now — it’s a moneymaker!
And speaking of money — let’s not forget the cash flashers of the year — Jeff Bezos and his fiancée “Emmy-winning journalist” Lauren Sánchez. They managed to stay in our purview weekly with their sexy romps on their $500 million yacht. Showing off their inflated pecs, boobs, lips and biceps in various poses.
They finally made it into Vogue’s September issue (thank God for them) with AI looking photos by Annie Leibovitz. As one reader remarked, “the whole layout looked like an ad for Viagra Cologne.” The Daily Mail called Sánchez “the $165 billion makeover.”
I assume that is his worth, but it includes his/her renovations. Nobody knows what message they are sending with all this Kardashian-style attention. There is not enough discussion of philanthropy or any interest other than plans for bachelorette/bachelor parties in space, and rumors of Lauren starting her own clothing line so she doesn’t have to wear any more $4,000 Chanel belly shirts.
It seems Jeff’s obsession with space is because he has no interest in dealing with the horrific mess here on earth.
As for New Year’s celebrations, who is really “willing and able” or “feeling all that into it” considering our snow globe of problems. Everyone I know is sober and chooses to stay home, and not add to any more hysteria. Talk about the need to feel safe and sound. If not now, when?
But there is one celebrity I did take culturally seriously in these troubled times, it was RuPaul! He posted his “Boy Scout” message of “be prepared.” And who better? His tutorial on what and why he packs in his bag is highly informative and hilarious.
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Clearly RuPaul gave us a bit of an antidote to any present and future bouts of long-haul-itis:
— Just stay vertical in ‘24.