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 Ray J’s dick was patient zero.

When our species’ extinction is studied by the aliens, they will reach the conclusion that the decay of our society was made irreversible in 2003 when Ray J air-mailed his D.N.A. to Kim Kardashian on film.

Sure, there had been other pariahs – Paris Hilton, Chyna, Kendra Wilkinson – but society gave them the appropriate reaction: intrigue followed by a brief period of self-copulation, and then, the final stage, apathy — we didn’t care anymore. The train wreck existed, but it was out of sight out of mind.

With Kim K it was different. Every facet of Kardashian life dominated every corner of the Internet. Journalism became free advertising for the Titanic that wouldn’t stop speeding into the side of the iceberg.

Every selfie, faux relationship and bit of detritus spewing from Jonathan Cheban’s mouth – I hate the fucking fact that I know who Jonathan Cheban is – analyzed on social media.

Sure, most of us say we don’t care, but the facts are the facts: clicks drive content. If Kardashian articles didn’t result in big web traffic, publications wouldn’t post them.

Maybe it was the chickens coming home to roost: Regan gutted the department of education and the endowment for the arts; kids diets exclusively became a heaping dose of imitation beef and high fructose corn syrup (the U.S. is the greatest country on earth? We can’t even make the best soda, Cane Sugar…use Cane Sugar you cheap assembly line son’s of bitches).

We spent most of our childhood in front of the radiation box in the living room, now we have come of age: A stupid, sloth like generation.

And Gen X and Boomers, don’t be so smug. You created us. You created the mess around us.

Of course Trump is President! America loves mediocre. We are fucking stupid. We can’t even get simple things like equality and workers’ rights right.

As I write this, the number 1 trending thing on Twitter is “Things I yell when I cum.”

I’m not trying to judge anyone.

No saint am I – I’ve done terrible, amazing, embarrassing things — after 3 a.m. In Providence once I… I probably shouldn’t.

I’m just asking, is the best we can do as a society, in terms of mobilizing and spreading a message, cum jokes? Forty-seven percent of the population couldn’t be galvanized into voting against Donald Trump – or in fairness, against Hillary ‘Shitty’ Clinton in the Democratic primary.

I’ve lost my train of thought. My rant, I think is over.

The point is this, 2016 fucking sucked.

It sucked. I lost my mom – my biggest supporter, my (God I wish I told her this when I had the chance) my best friend.

And somedays, it’s hard to be optimistic about a future without her.

2016 fucking sucked! It seems like it sucked for just about everyone.

The year started with David Bowie dying.

Prince died.

Harambe died.

Princess Leia died.

The guy who invented the Red Solo cup died.

Alan Rickman died.

The guy who wrote Hotel California died.

Phife Dawg died.

And these are just the inconsequential celebrities.

My brother put it best when he said, “What I wouldn’t give to have a celebrity whom I’ve never known on a personal level – who I bore no connection other than appreciating their work from afar – have been my biggest loss of 2016.”

I’m not even going to go into the things that really matter – systemic oppression; violence perpetrated by our own law enforcement on people of color; wealth inequality; Trumps cabinet.

We are fucking doomed: 2016 sucked, 2017 could be worse –probably it will be worse. A mushroom cloud waits for us over the horizon.

Election night pretty much vacuumed away what little hope most of us had left in this country. How can I buy a house with the mound of student debt I am carrying?

Then I remember the good things:

My family.

My Dachshund, the one who barks at everyone and pees on everything.

Basketball.

Sweet, sweet basketball: the learned religion.

It’s hard not to be optimistic when thinking of the power of hoop.

Basketball binds poor city blacks, with poor rural whites; basketball binds Croats and Serbs; basketball binds Germans and Israelis; basketball binds Chinese and Japanese.

People who have hated each other for centuries get on the court and share the same thread of humanity.

God, I love this game.

In 2017, in the absence of hope, I want hoop. As much hoop as possible.

I want Milos Teodosic to play in the NBA.

I want Iceland to win a game at Eurobasket.

I want to Demarcus Cousins to become the player and the person he is supposed to be.

I want to shoot baskets in Indiana.

I want to shoot baskets at Rucker Park.

I want Steven Adams to finally play for the Tall Blacks.

I want someone unexpected to sneak into the NBA Finals.

Most of all I want meaning. Basketball gives meaning.

Life must be about meaning.

It just must be.

#Ballislife2017

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Noah Perkins
Noah has had articles published by a variety of publications including The Bangor Daily News; The NENPA Bulletin; and Monthly Basketball (Japan). His column ‘Heaven is a Playground’ has been featured on ESPN Radio. Noah was also called a "thirst troll" by Tom Arnold once.