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Looking back at 2016, forward to 2017
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There’s so much riding on today’s column. The first one of 2017. At the end, you’ll either be saying “Why do I even bother reading that garbage?” Or, “Hey, that was pretty good! I think I’ll come back in two weeks.”

I truly want you to come back and visit again. Wait a minute. It sounds like there is some early January campaigning going on and Lord knows we’ve had five sacks full of campaign rhetoric that should hold us over until at least the inauguration is in the books.

I’ve never been a big fan of New Years’ resolutions. Most fade away before February and become as meaningless as giving up Brussels sprouts for Lent. Trying to get 2017 off to a start that will make it a banner year, here are a few thoughts on what might make it easier on us all:

• Nothing says I don’t want to talk to you like an unreturned phone call. Think about it. You call, leave a message, and receive radio silence in return for your trouble.

Instead of being offended when this occurs, look at it with a super-sized dose of reality: The person you called doesn’t want to talk to you.

Forget those “too busy” excuses. Whomever you called isn’t buying what you’re selling.

And that’s OK. Accept it, move on, and make sure you…

• Return phone calls when a friend or associate leaves a message. Remember how it feels to be blown off. Don’t reciprocate. Don’t emulate that behavior. Make a vow to get back to anyone who has taken the time to reach out to you.

What if you have to deliver unpleasant news? Hearing someone say something you’d rather not hear, whether for business or personal, is never a feel good experience. So make sure you are completely transparent.

Being involved with a fundraising project is difficult. But there’s a lot more respect for the guy who said he wasn’t interested than the folks who give you a “call me next week” whereupon they conjure up a Penn and Teller.

Doing a disappearing act and running for cover makes it nearly impossible for us to ask…

• The three most important questions we should ask of one another and others should ask of us:
1) Do I trust you?
2) Are you committed?
3) Do you care about me?

Anyone gives you a “yes” answer to those three inquiries is a keeper. They are someone you want to do business with, listen to, and have as a friend.

There’s one more: Take a look at PhD Richard Carlson’s 1997 book: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff.” There are so many pearls in it.

I’m pretty sure we’re going to do all right in 2017, although I’m worried about President-elect Trump’s inauguration. Word is that Madonna and Jay-Z have been recruited to perform in a concert that will be broadcast at the same time during the transfer of power, the rationale being people won’t watch our new president.

Maybe, along with the music, Michael Moore can premiere his new film “If he Wins, I’m Outta here. I mean it!”

I wouldn’t mind saying “Adios” to Alec Baldwin, Cher and all the other Hollywood nitwits who have a gargantuan-like inflated ego telling them they an opinion that matters more than yours.

Instead, looking back, it was satisfying to bid farewell to:

• Muhammad Ali: Met him and marveled at his soft voice while conversing, especially compared to his loud, brash manner of communicating once the cameras were switched on.

• Arnold Palmer: The glint of those eyes, the affable manner, even while on a walk at Bay Hill after he’d lost his wife.

• Merle Haggard: Sold him sausage from a meat counter in Bakersfield, Calif. I was too cool for country back in those early 1970s. I’d have loved to go back and have a mulligan on that one.

• Guy Clark: I had no idea who he was when I happened upon his show at the Bluebird Café in Nashville one night. I doubt I’ll have the experience of listening to a songwriter like him again. Chances are, you haven’t heard of him. You should catch up. His music is profound.

• Glenn Frey: The heart and soul of the Eagles. No wonder band mate Don Henley says there won’t ever be an Eagles reunion, “not without the guy who started the band.”
In retrospect, 2016 was unique. We could have made thousands betting we’d have a billionaire as our president.

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He plans on watching the inauguration, even if Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, John Fogerty and Garth Brooks are playing in that concert. Comments can be sent to