This is not a New Year’s resolution list.
No, this is a list of things I quit in 2016.
I don’t, however, consider this an accounting of failures. Rather, making the decision to set something aside and move on when it stops bringing you joy feels a lot like a gift you give to yourself.
New Kanye West music: Back in the day, Kanye’s music, specifically “Bring Me Down,” helped me get through the roughest period of my life. I wrote a blog post following his epic VMA rant against Taylor Swift explaining that despite all his arrogance and self-sabotaging, his music had kept me afloat. That post took off and opened many professional doors for me – and it felt like Kanye was saving me all over again.
But this year, I quit Kanye. His first five albums are masterpieces that I hold very, very dear. But the hot garbage that is “Yeezus” and “The Life of Pablo” make it so much easier to let Kanye go. You can be a fool who produces great music and I’ll still come to your rescue. But you can’t be a fool and make bad music.
The big “undercover with a border militia” exposé: I could tell I was in the minority when the buzz started to mount over journalist Shane Bauer’s piece detailing his experience working undercover as a private prison guard. I simply didn’t see what everyone else saw. First, the revelations weren’t very revelatory: There are fights in prison! Guards are underpaid and don’t care much about their jobs! Then there was the fact that I read Bauer’s piece just after reading this, from a woman reporter who went undercover in arguably more dangerous territory and was roundly criticized for doing so. That, coupled with the self-satisfaction bubbling under the surface of Bauer’s work, made me uncomfortable.
By the time he used the same shtick for a second piece in which he goes undercover with a border militia group, I was bored and annoyed. I couldn’t will myself through more than 500 words.
“Empire”: Like “Scandal” before it, I fell fast and hard for “Empire.” And like with “Scandal,” the drama eventually got too dramatic and absurd for me to hang with. Maybe “Star” will be my new “Empire.”
Whole 30: Don’t try this diet craze unless you want to shed your will to live along with a few pounds.
Too many email lists to count: Seriously, if you want a great resolution you can accomplish in a single day, just remove yourself from the many email lists you get and don’t read. I haven’t felt an ounce of regret over missing a 30 percent off sale at Sephora. Unsubscribe and be set free!
What VOSD Learned This Week
After proposals to build new housing in denser urban areas and rural, unpopulated areas were both rejected, Maya Srikrishnan explains one of the year’s big takeaways: No one wants new housing – anywhere.
Residents of Poway certainly proved that to be true – they were able to quash a veterans affordable housing project, and in doing so clearly articulated that their objections weren’t about traffic or parking. They were about disgust for low-income housing and the people who live in it.
If you’re wondering what the deal is with the two lawsuits recently filed against powerful union leader Mickey Kasparian, Andrew Keatts wrote a comprehensive breakdown of the accusations and explained how larger tensions in the progressive community factor in.
We know that the San Diego Unified School District has been spending more money than it’s been taking in, which means it’s now staring down some serious cuts. One problem, though: The district doesn’t seem to know how much it currently spends on the areas it plans to cut from.
Ashly McGlone also crunched the numbers for the other largest school districts in the county and found that “some got into the habit of spending more than they received, while others walked the line as closely as possible.”
I told you this would be a week of looking back and reflecting.
We rounded up each staff member’s favorite VOSD story from the past year – this list is astonishing – as well as the most memorable photos, our five best podcast episodes, the stories from outside VOSD that we loved reading and the craziest quotes.
And Kinsee Morlan noted one lovely trend from 2016: There are more women leading San Diego arts institutions than ever.
What I’m Reading
• How Adam Driver became a movie star. (New York)
• He was an unarmed, 89-pound boy. And, thanks to laws crafted by the NRA, his killing was deemed reasonable. (The Trace)
• There have been a lot of great reflections from political reporters about what the last year on the campaign trail was like, but this piece from Sabrina Siddiqui about her experience covering the presidential race as a Muslim is a standout. (Guardian)
• And speaking of reflections from political reporters, David Fahrenthold, the most impactful journalist of this presidential campaign, caps an incredible year with an account of how he came to suspect something was amiss with Donald Trump’s charitable donations. (Washington Post)
• This essay about becoming ugly and the performances women put on for men gave me all the feelings. (Jezebel)
Line of the Week
“In America, men have always ruled, and right now I wonder if they always will.” – A depressing but fitting bookend to the year that was 2016.