DCP writers and staffers revisit 2016’s darkest moments

Photo: On the Beat columnist Jim Bucher ruminates on his local worst of 2016, the closing of Hara Arena; photo: Jim Bucher


The return of ‘The Matrix’

By Morgan Laurens

We here at DCP heard a lot about the Matrix—the philosophical construct and the movie—this past year. It seemed as if, in the wake of the election, everyone was suddenly questioning the nature of their reality, via that overcooked Keanu Reeves vehicle from the ’90s.

But what if the truth were less sexy than that? What if the apocalypse already happened, but no one save Reeves noticed? There was no explosion, no biblical flood, no alien invasion or murderous cyborg revolt. It didn’t start “with an earthquake” as Michael Stipe suggested in 1987 or end with sinners left behind, as, um, “Left Behind” predicted.

OK, in the most literal sense, no, the world hasn’t ended. Clearly, we’re all still well enough to discuss red pill/blue pill implications. Our current cultural obsession with dystopian fiction (“The Hunger Games,” “The Road,” Children of Men”) seems to imply the end of the world will be precluded by a cataclysmic event, a single definitive occurrence that will wipe us from the face of the Earth. But the most realistic scenario might be the one posited in H.G. Wells’ early 20th century works: a slow, insidious decline, where the general populace is subjugated, day and night, to tedious, never-ending work. Sound familiar?

Maybe being part of the future means accepting that we’ve arrived at the most mundane of all possible endings: sitting in a cubicle, waiting in vain for someone to take a bat to that goddamn office printer.

Reach DCP Associate Editor Morgan Laurens at

I don’t want to believe

By Amanda Dee

As a writer and an editor, I exhaust my brain, my eyes, my ears hunting for the stories that make people tick, the headlines that make readers stop, and the words that fit precisely but in novel incarnations. By the end of every year, I’m ready for a hibernation period involving an eyelid tape job reversal of “A Clockwork Orange.”

Throughout the year, though, I admit, I hold strong to the tiny shreds of hope, be it a half off pizza on Mondays, a gut-bursting rising comedian / dope queen, or an episode of obsession over a Netflix release.

In a bout of dry exhaustion this past year, I tripped on that hope like a gangly naive teenager, running much too quickly to the guise of satisfying nostalgia.

The X-Files returned. A simple, six-episode return, but a return, nonetheless.

I rationed the episodes to get me through, one by one cracking the foundation of love I had built for it over the seasons and years. By the time Mulder and Scully met the Were-Monster, I still wanted to believe.

But that belief was broken, then grinded to oblivion by the Lumineers, as the camera focused on Mulder and Scully holding hands on that fateful porch, removing everything from the imagination.

Reach DCP Editor Amanda Dee at


The rot of empathy

By Dr. Mike Rosenberg

One of the best postmortems I read following the 2016 election was a piece called “Media, Morality, and the Neighbor’s Cow.” In this article, Neal Gabler makes the observation: “To identify what’s wrong with conservatism and Republicanism…you don’t need high-blown theories or deep sociological analysis or surveys. The answer is as simple as it is sad: there is no kindness in them.”

The lack of kindness is just as strong among many on the left who claim to share my own political views. I unfollowed as many lefties as righties on my social media feeds because of an unfortunate theme, among the comfortably well-off, that “things will get so bad that people will get woke.” Pointing out that “things getting bad” actually translates as “widespread human suffering” was dismissed with “sacrifices need to be made for the greater good.” Sacrifices of others, of course.

It feels like we have become so self-important, so caught up in our bubbles, that Cain’s post-murder question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” reads more as legitimate comeback instead of the depths of cruelty. And the worst part, for me, is the understanding that the building of the emotional wall—the rot of empathy and the depersonalization of each other—was the plan all along.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Rosenberg at or visit his blog at

Halting development

By Tim Smith

To me, the worst thing with a local impact was when my employer, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, finalized its plan to close the Montgomery Developmental Center in Huber Heights. This is a residential facility that has housed and served adults with disabilities for more than 30 years. In 2016, the department continued moving local residents into community group homes or to other centers in different parts of Ohio. This action also impacts over 200 employees, as well as the city of Huber Heights. I don’t feel bad for myself because I’ll land on my feet, but I worry about how it will affect some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

The games

By Don Hurst

My worst thing of 2016 is the opening of the board gaming/craft beer bar D20, but 2017 was supposed to a year of unrivalled potential. I was going to stop drinking and spend more time with my wife. Those goals are dead thanks to 2016 and D20.

Don Hurst is a combat vet and a former police officer. He now lives in Dayton where he writes novels and plays. Reach DCP freelance writer Don Hurst at

More war

By Mark Luedtke

A suicide bomber killed U.S. servicemen Sgt. John W. Perry from Stockton, California, and Pvt. Tyler R. Iubelt from Tamaroa, Illinois, in Afghanistan in November, along with two unidentified American contractors. The longest official war in U.S. history keeps sending Americans home in body bags. For nothing but profit.

We always hear how U.S. troops protect our freedom. A rational examination of modern wars proves otherwise. The American people have gained nothing, but lost plenty after 15 years of war in Afghanistan. We’re less free, not more free. We’re not safer, richer, healthier, or more prosperous. The opposite is true.

For the benefit of Americans and everybody else, end the wars.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

For more of Mark Luedtke’s comments on the worst of the year, please go to pg. 10.


Hats off to Hara

By Jim Bucher

Wow, is it finally over?

2016, good bye and good riddance. We had a plethora of bad news that seemed to hit the headlines daily, but my personal “worst” was the closing of iconic Hara Arena and Conference Center this past August.

After long, protracted legal and IRS issues, the Wampler family had no choice but to shutter the facility and, with it, 60 years of awesome events and memories.

It’s so sad driving by, I tend to look the other way. But you know me, always looking for the silver lining.

Karen Wampler, former marketing/public relations director and co-owner of Hara, exclusively gave DCP an update:

“I’m enjoying my first real holiday in over 30 years that’s not laden with hockey games, truck pulls, and home shows. Our first grandbaby arrived on Christmas Eve, and I am, according to my son, “out of control.”

“There’s real time to spend with my parents as they battle their health issues,” she continues. “As difficult as it was to let go of Hara, there is something to be said for having time to focus on the W.O.H. (World Outside Hara).”

And some good news to report:

“After the first of the year, we’re looking at potential sites where we can revive the National Holiday Gift Show. If that goes well, we have similar plans for the Miami Valley Home Show, and possibly the Bridal Expo.”

“Remember all those early morning shoots you’d always end by saying Nowhere Else but Hara?” Karen asks. “We wish the shows could have stayed at Hara for another 65 years, but at least they’ll go on, just somewhere else, but not Hara. Not as catchy, but at least parts of Hara live on.”

And in all our collective memories, too!

For more of Jim Bucher’s comments on the worst of the year, please go to pg. 9.


A lost Prince

By T.T. Stern-Enzi

With Prince’s untimely demise, we won’t get to see his otherworldly presence on the screen again. After his appearance on New Girl, I was hungry a sequel to “Graffiti Bridge,” where we find out what happened to that guitar he tossed into the air after his blazing performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony concert. Or better still, a Jim Jarmusch buddy pic with Prince and David Bowie as a pair of immortal icons walking among us.

For more of T.T. Stern-Enzi’s comments on the worst of the year, please go to pg. 22.


DCP Publisher’s asshole of the year award goes to…

DCP Publisher Paul Noah’s Asshole of the Year award goes to California Judge Aaron Persky, who in 2016, sentenced convicted sexual offender Brock Turner to six months in jail and three months probation, when the max sentence was 14 years.

For more on the Brock Turner case, please go to pg. 20.

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