Sometimes, you just cannot ditch the year fast enough. It’s a relief to bid "adieu" to some of 2014’s miserably low moments and people and things, and because I can, I’m throwing in a few others that I’d like to nudge closer to oblivion. Adios, and good riddance.
That TV show about the baby Dixie beauty queen and her family, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”: Its executive producer once told CNN that “we have so many subtitles, it’s like we’re making a foreign film in English.” Was it sociology? Mockery? Whatever it was, it is no more. The child’s mother is accused of taking up with a child molester convicted of messing with an 8-year-old relative of the cast. Runners-up in the “no-regrets” departure: “Sons of Anarchy” and “I Wanna Marry Harry,” which respectively coarsened us and deflated the national IQ just by being on the air.
Adios to King Juan Carlos of Spain. He acquitted himself well during an attempted right-wing coup in 1981 and provided stability in post-Franco Spain. But he abdicated this year in favor of his son after a thunderstorm of family and public controversies. For me, the worst was when the king -- the honorary president of the World Wildlife Federation -- went on safari and slaughtered a poor blameless African elephant. [Ten years ago, he killed nine bears in Romania; one of them was pregnant.] Runner-up: GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, who killed an elephant in Zimbabwe and cast it as an act of charity, killing a “problem” elephant which hungry villagers then butchered and ate.
Donald Sterling. QED.
Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. The place where Saddam Hussein tortured and killed prisoners is also where prisoners were abused by American military, the images of which inflamed anti-American sentiment. In the face of a Sunni insurgency, the Iraqi government closed the notorious prison and moved inmates elsewhere.
Flimsy, unsightly, polluting single-use plastic bags in California. They were banned by vote of the Legislature and signature of Gov. Jerry Brown -- unless the plastic bag industry manages to postpone the ban for two years by putting it to a public vote.
Conscious uncoupling, and the couple -- Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin -- that uncoupled. Enough, already. Whatever you call it, it’s still d-i-v-o-r-c-e.
Coyote-killing contests that offer money and prizes like belt buckles. The ban by California’s Fish and Game Commission means hunters can still kill coyotes, but not in competitions.
“Baby Doc” Duvalier, who died of a heart attack over a bowl of cornflakes. Like father, like son, this Haitian dictator-for-life (until he fled to France) managed to kill thousands of his countrymen and steal millions from them.
Tobacco products sold by CVS. An astonishingly welcome and pricey corporate stand against hypocrisy for profit’s sake.
Charles Manson, bachelor. “Star” Burton, 26, says she and the 80-year-old convicted mass murderer are engaged, that those murder convictions were ginned up, and anyway, he’s all about saving trees now. I know what you’re thinking but no, no conjugal visits allowed.
Turmoil in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department. L.A. County not only expects but should insist on a makeover after the convictions of half a dozen deputies for interfering with a federal civil rights investigation, the resignation of Sheriff Lee Baca and the election of a new sheriff -- only the fifth elected in the last 82 years.
The Great American Ebola Panic. Flu, measles, even falls from ladders killed more Americans than Ebola in 2014, but everyone wanted a piece of the scary story with great visuals of people swaddled in moon suits. As comedian Alonzo Bodden points out, the story disappeared the day after the midterm elections. Cross-reference: Benghazi conspiracy.
Potty-mouth Eric Garcetti. At the big televised party celebrating the Kings’ Stanley Cup win, LA’s mayor said, “There are two rules in politics – never be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never swear." He lifted a beer bottle [empty] and declared vulgarly, “But this is a big ------- day.” As Garcetti later told Jimmy Kimmel, “It was hockey; it wasn’t a match of lawn bowls.” And there’s my point. Coming out of Garcetti -- an elegant man, a Rhodes scholar -- it sounded more contrived than authentic.
The Sochi Olympics. Maybe the Russians’ best Potemkin village moment in more than 200 years. The hurried, high-priced, slapdash creepiness of the preparations, the snowless sub-tropical climate, the women’s figure skating judging -- ick. At least Vladimir Putin kept his shirt on.
The hoopla buildup to the West-Kardashian wedding. Unfortunately, we are still doomed to other manufactured “milestone” events in the lives of manufactured people. Evidently the Kardashians believe what the murderous Suzanne opines in the mockumentary “To Die For”: “You aren’t really anybody in America if you’re not on TV.” And they prove, too, that in America, anybody can get on TV.
Eric Cantor. It was an election that rattled the GOP establishment. Cantor, the GOP majority leader in Congress, had a 30-point lead and a 40-to-1 dollar advantage over his tea party-backed primary opponent. But in spite of being a pretty hardcore conservative himself -- a House rules change gave him singular power that prolonged the 2013 government shutdown -- Cantor fell, spectacularly.
Cliven Bundy-mania. The Nevada rancher who refused to pay 20 years of grazing fees, as his fellow ranchers do, became a martyr to antigovernment types who showed up armed when the feds tried to seize Bundy’s cattle as payment. (The sign at the camp entrance read, “MILITIA SIGHN IN.”) Bundy support shriveled after he pomposticated about the “Negro” perhaps being better off under slavery.
Desmond Hague. The CEO of a huge sports-concession company, became the ex-CEO not long after a video camera in an elevator recorded images of him kicking and abusing a year-old Doberman pinscher puppy named Sade.
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