Dave Schlenker’s Year in Review: Dear 2020, Good Riddance

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Posted December 30, 2020 | By Dave Schlenker, Special to Ocala Gazette

Illustration by David Vallejo

Dave Schlenker

Writing a year-in-review for 2020 is like writing an obituary for the bloodthirsty school bully, the one voted Most Likely to Rob an Orphanage.

He’s gone. Words need to be said. But nobody has anything kind to say.

Deadly pandemic. Racial injustice. Collapsing economy. A bile-boiled presidential election that was more nails on a chalkboard than nail biting.

We had to search hard for smiles in 2020. We found a few, but mostly we found items that were, at the very least, interesting and awkward (we’re looking at you, Giuliani Hair Dye!).

Let’s start with the good old days, a golden age we called …



  • A ball drops, people pass out and, upon waking up, they vow to be healthier humans. Democracy is solid. Newspapers are gasping, but we have Twitter for accurate, unbiased information.
  • Most people are talking about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s brexit from the Royal family. Seeking a quieter life with less drama, they settle in Los Angeles.



  • According to social media, NASA proclaims brooms will balance perfectly on their bare straws on Feb. 10 due to the day’s gravitational force. Videos of standing brooms saturate the Internet, while the rest of us learn what NASA already knows: Brooms fall down on Feb. 10. As they do every day.
  • The U.S. Senate caps a long, partisan impeachment process by acquitting President Donald J. Trump in a case centering on Trump’s maybe perfect/maybe illegal call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Seems so long ago. It was a divisive time, but we were able to yell at each other without masks and we had plenty of toilet paper.



  • The coronavirus is snowballing in the United States. Nothing funny about that. Nor is there anything funny about the new Netflix documentary series “Tiger King.”

Well, there is nothing funny about “Tiger King” if you are a good human being, that is. The rest of us could not get enough of this dung-delicious chronicle set in the tiger-collecting business. This true story has everything you are not supposed to like in TV, but it does not have redeemable characters. None. Not a good human in the bunch.

It is the runaway hit of the year, pulling in 34 million viewers in its first 10 days. We felt guilty for watching, sure, but our punishment was the rest of 2020.

  • As entertainment venues cancel shows across the country, the Reilly Arts Center in Ocala launches a digital performing arts series, streaming live concerts. Musicians from many genres perform for thousands of people from an empty auditorium.

No snarky comments. Just a shout-out to great ideas during dark days. Same goes for Ocala Civic Theatre, which resumes plays and adheres to social distancing by filling seats with cardboard cut-outs of theater-loving people and dogs. Truth.



  • Zoom meetings become the norm for workplaces. In dire economic times, savvy businesses snap into action with creative strategies such as “YOU ARE ON MUTE!” and “Our profits are … hang on, Doodles is pooping on the rug again.”
  • Alcohol distilleries – including Ocala’s James Two Brothers – start turning booze into hand sanitizer. Seriously great idea, just as long as they are able to keep making alcohol for the rest of 2020. Not that we need it or anything.
  • During a brief, shining moment on April 17, an eight-pack of toilet paper was available at a southeast Ocala supermarket.



  • George Floyd is killed by police in Minneapolis. Protests over racial injustice and police brutality take to the streets (including in Ocala). No jokes here. Just a plea for empathy. Treat each other with compassion and respect.



  • Amid heated protests in Washington, President Trump goes to the White House bunker for a short time. He later said he was simply inspecting the bunker. But as the election rotted into a steaming pot of awfulness, the rest of America tries to book the bunker on VRBO for all of November.



  • It is a big month for the word “continues,” as all the bad things of 2020 continued. The words “dumpster fire” make significant gains, as “rigged” prepares for heavy rotation.
  • Kanye West announces his bid for the 2020 presidential race. Meghan and Prince Harry call their real estate agent again.



  • Our renewed hunger for Florida man stories collides with politics when a naked man shows up at a polling place during the primary election in Leon County.

“A man possibly wearing a mask and nothing else showed up at one point at the Faith Christian Family Center on Laura Lee Avenue,” The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

“He did not attempt to vote, but he briefly greeted voters,” said Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley.

I love the use of “possibly wearing a mask,” as apparently witnesses were not – for the first time since April – glaring at a stranger’s face.



  • The first presidential debate – another pillar of American democracy – erupts in Cleveland with the decorum of a prison rap battle. Americans urge Elon Musk to hurry and colonize Mars.
  • Nearing the end of the alphabetical list of 21 Atlantic tropical storm names for 2020, the World Meteorological Organization announces storm names will come from the Greek alphabet.

If the storm season then sucks up all the Greek names, WMO will name the storms after “Tiger King” characters.



  • A former FSU fraternity surrenders a smuggled pot-bellied pig named Petunia. The pig is checked by veterinarians and then recruited by FSU Head Coach Mike Norvell.
  • Hilton Garden Inn opens in downtown Ocala. Rudy Giuliani celebrates with a speech in front of Hill’s Garden Center in Iowa.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Ocala as one of the best places to retire. The Villages responds by selling another 6 million homes to retirees in Lake County.
  • In Ocala, a severe gut punch suddenly silences the national clatter, as beloved Police Chief Greg Graham is killed in a plane crash. Tears are shed for a truly good guy – one who gave out his cellphone number to residents demanding racial justice and protesting police brutality.
  • Weeks after Graham’s death, we slowly get back to the business of protesting mask injustice by glaring at each other in supermarkets.
  • We end the month celebrating Halloween by hoarding candy for quarantine and glaring at each other in supermarkets.



  • AdvisorSmith ranks Ocala No.1 in the nation for the greatest number of small business owners among mid-sized cities. Plus, Ocala did not have any naked people at the voting booth in November and was declared free of smuggled college pigs. We cope with crisis well.
  • Joe Biden is declared the 46th president of the United States at least three times. Maybe more. Trump changes the lock to the Oval Office.



  • Remember Alexey Navalny, that Russian opposition leader who was poisoned earlier this year? And Vladimir Putin was all, like, “Poison? Nyet! That’s crazy talk.” Well, we learned in December that not only did Putin’s posse poison Navalny, they put the poison in his underpants, which, according to the assassination community, is very effective. Except in this case.


Navalny survived. Then he tricked a Russian agent into confessing the whole plot, which means the Russian agent had better watch his underpants VERY carefully.

And perhaps that’s where we should end this year-in-review. 2020 was the poison in our underpants.

But 2021 offers us the possibility of toxin-free underwear, sanitizer-free alcohol and cretin-free entertainment in which the characters do not feed their spouses to tigers.

Happy New Year. May 2021 be filled with kind words and ample toilet paper.


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