|Boat; Castro, Chile.|
Ooof. 2019. In the books. Almost.
Here at everygoddamnday.com, we ... well, stumbled forward, along with everyone else.
Last year's Facebook fall-off documented in State of the Blog, Year Six continued, reaching a nadir—I hope—of 49,645 hits in March, the first month below 50,000 since 2016.
With the autumn, however, some new dynamic kicked in. Now the numbers are rising again: December broke 72,000 hits. It can't be a surge in readership; more likely Web crawlers from China, bots from Russia, some other technological explanation. My estimate is that 25 percent of my traffic are machines of one sort or another; then again, that is probably also true for everyone else. Robots talking to robots.
The surge brought this year's monthly average to about 55,000 hits a month; last year's was 65,000.
So no cultural force, this. Yet still a creative endeavor—I almost said "literary endeavor" but that would be putting on airs. And it is a commercial proposition, thank you very much Marc Schulman, as Eli's Cheesecake returned to run holiday ads for the seventh consecutive year, and I put up covering editorial fire that actually seems to have resulted in orders.
I'm not the person to judge; I hope the blog did not too much mimic the general deterioration of our country and world under the nihilistic right wing nationalist madness which I'm not pollyanna enough to believe is going away in 2020. I'd put my chips on settling in and beginning to get serious about squelching dissent. Maybe that's the dim view. But all the optimists in my family are back in Poland in a pit, and I consider pessimism a survival strategy.
That said, we had our fun.
In January, we used the freer standards of the online world to parse "motherfucker" after an exuberant congresswoman used it to refer to our illegitimate president. In February, EGD listened to Trump's State of the Union address and saw the clear outline of his 2020 victory which 10 months has only made seem more prescient.
"Trump is going to win in 2020," I wrote. "He is going to roll the disorganized, bickering Democrats ... the whole anthill going in a hundred directions, unifying only to utter a quavering Charlie Brown shriek of 'How can we lose when we're so sincere?' after it's all over."
Still sounds about right; though of course I'll be grateful to be mistaken.
In March, my visit to Bob and Peg Ringham resulted in an in-depth piece on a common yet unfamiliar ailment, Lewy Body Dementia.
April might be the cruelest month, as T.S Eliot claims, but it found me in South America, and I ran 14 diary entries, my favorite being this, on experiencing tango in Buenos Aires. In May we had lunch with Goodman artistic director Robert Falls and got pulled onstage at The Second City. June reminded us that, loath our current administration as much as you like, it is more par for the course than freakish departure from American history, and sadly, "we are not better than this."
In July I kept the blog going despite being in Northwestern Memorial Hospital for four days, having my spine cracked open, an experience I began documenting toward month's end. In August I broke my rule against modest proposals and advocated landmarking the sign at Trump Tower, which, like all such efforts, went nowhere. In September, we went to see rugby played in Lawndale. In October we chatted with the editor of The Economist. November I managed to piss off the administrators at the elementary school at the end of my block by writing a whimsical piece about all the kickballs floating in their drainage marsh.
Which leads us to December. I wrote 6,000 words on sleep apnea, a tome which must have broken Mosaic Science, since Wellcome Trust shut down the web site after my article's publication. A coincidence, surely. I went back under the knife at Northwestern Monday morning, and have a few days of old surgical columns lined up. After that, I promise nothing.
Looking back over the year, like so much of American current events, I think we can say we survived, and are doing the best we can, and there are moments to be proud of, scattered amidst the gathering dread. History books will either note that patriotic Americans resisted our nation's slide toward despotism, or we'll all be tarred as the running dog effete liberal cowards who gnashed our teeth in frustration at the glorious rise of The Donald. Assuming that his successor, President Donald Trump Jr., allows history books. The battle to determine which it ends up being is still in full cry.