As we’re only days away from New Year’s Eve, 2013 seemed to go by so fast. They say the older you get the faster the years fly by. If so, I must really be old because this one zipped by at hyper speed.

Locally, the year began on a sad note. On Jan. 13, Gussy Moran, born and raised in her beloved Santa Monica, and an international tennis star of the 1950s, passed away at the age of 89.

On Christmas day last year I called to wish Gussy a merry Christmas. Sharp as ever, she responded, “Right back atcha, Jackie boy.” A few weeks later she was gone. With great difficulty, I wrote her obituary for a noted tennis website.

But there was also a highlight for Gussy in 2013. On Nov. 3 at Reed Park, City Hall, due to the efforts of City Councilman Kevin McKeown, officially dedicated court one as the “Gussy Moran Stadium Court.” (Go Gussy!)

As for national “lowlights” in 2013, we’re still spending billions, if not trillions, in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The latter being the longest war in our history.) And yet we’re cutting back on food stamps and not extending unemployment benefits. What a country.

Another of the lowlights in 2013 occurred on the anniversary of the horrific shootings in Newtown on Dec.14, 2012. It was there that 20 helpless elementary school students and six educators were brutally murdered. On Dec. 14 this year, there was another shooting spree, this at a school in Colorado.

Locally, a disturbed young man on June 7 killed his brother, his father and three others, including a father and his daughter, as he made his way to Santa Monica College to do further damage. If it weren’t for the swift actions of local law enforcement, he might have done much worse.

Shamelessly, in 2013 no sensible gun laws were enacted by the do-nothing Congress, even though 91 percent of the country is in favor of background checks. (Including 70 percent of NRA membership!) How does 9 percent stop the will of the people? How is that a democracy? Apparently the answer is “don’t ask.”

I’d have to say the Affordable Care Act (known pejoratively as Obamacare) has also been a disappointment. I’m definitely no expert on the merits, but I still wonder why we are the only industrialized country in the world not to have universal healthcare. And for those against ACA, what is their solution for the tens of millions without healthcare?  Emergency rooms as their primary health provider?

I also don’t understand why in 2013, with two-thirds of the world’s countries having abolished the death penalty, we aren’t one of them. In fact, we’re the only western nation that still has capital punishment. With the death penalty we are in company with the likes of Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. Yikes!

The only encouraging note is that in 2013 support for the death penalty is at the lowest in 40 years. Also a growing number of conservatives are in favor of abolishing capital punishment, mainly because it’s so incredibly expensive to execute a prisoner, what with all the guaranteed legal appeals. (I can just hear some readers say, “So get rid of the appeals.” Oh well.)

Topping my list of 2013 highlights was the election in March of Pope Francis, who is devoted to social justice. Preaching grace, humility, peace and compassion, rather than living in the grand papal apartment, Francis resides in the modest Vatican guest house.  And instead of the Pope-Mobile, Pope Francis often rides in a 1984 Renault!

Also in my 2013 highlights is that chemical weapons are being destroyed in Syria without us going to war. I realize that war is very popular with some, but I consider it progress that we decided to pass on this one.

There was also a 2013 highlight in Russia. Remember when George W. Bush confessed that he had looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and saw his soul? I remember it because whenever I see Putin’s eyes the only soul I see is Satan’s. (And I don’t even believe in the devil.)

In 2011 in Russia female singers and human rights advocates, the punk band Pussy Riot, bravely opposed Putin’s repressive rule. As a result they were sent to prison for two years.

Last week, the last two members were pardoned by Putin. That didn’t stop these heroic souls from blasting the Vlad-Man again. (Which is more than George Bush ever did.) Personally, I think using humor is safer and more effective. To see what I mean go to YouTube and type “Putin on the Ritz.”

Back to my 2013 lowlights, which include the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination and the continued secrecy. How is it in a supposedly free country (key word being “supposedly”) our government refuses to unseal thousands of files? Frankly, it sounds more like Putin’s Russia. And yet we just accept it like good little sheep. All I can say is, where’s a Pussy Riot when you need one?

 

 

Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or via E-mail at jnsmdp@aol.com.

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