Friday, December 29, 2006

it's been awhile

More than once lately, I've thought that the year that's about to end is 2007. Which I guess only shows how fast time has been moving. So how about some predictable Best of 2006 listing to get back into this long abandoned blog?


Mutual Appreciation, Children of Men, Babel, The Queen, Little Children, The Science of Sleep, Little Miss Sunshine, Friends With Money. Huh, I thought there would be more than that. I guess Fast Food Nation and Shortbus are in the honorable mention category. And there are a bunch of things I still haven't seen that I know will be great, like Half Nelson, Old Joy and Volver. And I have a feeling that Heading South is going to make the list when I watch it later this weekend. I also finally saw Last Tango in Paris this year, and loved it... what a sexy, sad Marlon Brando.

Music (I actually bought some of these albums)...

Joanna Newsom, Ys
Seeing her play in November was without a doubt the best show I saw this year, though that distinction is kind of meaningless, since there's really no way to compare what Newsom does to anything else. Webster Hall was sold out, and everyone stayed completely, reverently silent as she played, transfixed by her hands flying over her harp, and the way these songs sound like absolute art when they're performed. After she finished each song, there was a moment of silence, like everyone had been holding their breath. When she played "Emily" I actually cried. This new album is seriously Great, accomplished and beautiful and even humbling, in the way that things made by people of insane talent can be, when they are wonderful and ambitious without seeming put on. The Milk-Eyed Mender will forever make me think of Hale Street, of hearing Emily play it for the first time on one of those fresh, almost spring days when we had the doors open and were gardening in the backyard.

The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads
It's not that this is so much a stand out record, but I'm really happy it exists. And seeing them play a few weeks back, after buying the tickets months ago and anticipating a perfect night of delicious pop music with Allie back in town, was a great time. They played almost everything I wanted, including a long set where Evan plowed through some of my favorite songs (including "The Outdoor Type" and "Stove") by himself, without stopping and without ceremony.

The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
Cat Power, The Greatest
The Gossip, Standing in the Way of Control
M. Ward, Post-War
The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
Also, new stuff from Thom Yorke and The Blow. And approximately two and a half songs from Mirah's new remix album, Joyride.

The best books I read this year...

The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis
Rose of No Man's Land by Michelle Tea
The Seas, by Samantha Hunt
La Perdida by Jessica Abel
Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, by Nick Flynn
Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir, by Joe Meno
Adverbs, by Daniel Handler
A Fictional History of the United States with Huge Chunks Missing, edited by T Cooper and Adam Mansbach
Whose Art Is It? by Jane Kramer
Absolute Convictions, by Eyal Press
After I resisted reading it because of so much hype, it turned out that Nicole Krauss' The History of Love was really good.

There was also a ton of amazing reading for school, including the aformentioned Jane Kramer book, a giant book of film reviews and essays by Pauline Kael, and C. Carr's collection of pieces about the East Village performance art scene in the late 80's and 90's, which I'm still relishing.

Last weekend when every person I know was either out of town or had family around, I holed up inside and read Wonder When You'll Miss Me, by Amanda Davis. It wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Still, I went back and read the many, many tributes written about her at McSweeney's, and it was mind-blowing to see how many people she touched and befriended and inspired, how many people admired her as a writer and a person. I still have her short fiction collection, Circling the Drain, to read. It might be just the kind of depressing gem that will make perfect Arubian beach reading...along with the other books of critical essays I'm taking. What a nerd.

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