Happy new everything, everyone!
Here’s a list of my best stuff from 2015.
I do this every year, and it’s just my best stuff. It doesn’t have to be anyone else’s, but I’d love to hear your stuff too. So feel free to comment with your favorite stuff at the end here.
The album I enjoyed the most that actually came out in 2015 was Magic Whip by Blur; and I got to see them play this year too – something I though would never happen again since seeing them in the late 90s. No band creates such diversity of sound from album to album, while still maintaining the “oh-that’s-them” recognizability as Blur. Watching Damon Albarn laze across the stage, then pounce up with energy, only to stumble toward the crowd smiling and handsome in the atonal guitar grind…It’s still powerful, still amazing.
If you’d like to know what song was most blasted out my car windows this year, while like a moron I was singing at the top of my lungs, it was “This Is Not A Party” by The Wombats.
Other noteworthy albums – The Beauty Pill’s amazing and layered Describes Things as They Are, a John Zorn-worthy pop rock record. +Exit Verse’s self-titled debut left me wondering why I never felt so connected to guitar riffs before. I found myself singing, not just the choruses and verses, but the parts without words, too. + Faith No More created a metal album, Sol Invictus, that rivaled the brilliance Angel Dust. + I listened to a whole lot of Death Grips this year.
from Slow West
Where to Invade Next
In a sea (“sea” is a generous word) of mediocre LGBT-themed movies, obsessed with struggle or snark and not humanity, Carol and Tangerine are brilliant, powerful and lead the way forward, albeit on two very different paths. Real works of art. + Michael Moore’s excellent new documentary Where to Invade Next is an even rarer thing, perhaps: a work of optimism. + Slow West was not a perfect film, but it was a beautiful one. I was excited by it and even more excited to see what writer/director John Maclean (this was his debut) does next.
Also, extra shout outs to: A forgotten slasher film from 1981 – Just Before Dawn – screened at Los Angeles’s amazing vintage film house New Beverly Cinema. It’s a weird, unsettling, and gender-conscious horror movie. + The crazy, nonstop real-actual-blood fest of Roar, also from 1981 (what a year!) – a reality-meets-fiction movie about lots and lots of big cats. It’s fun and horrible.
As usual, I didn’t mostly read books that came out this year, so these are the favorites of what I read, not of new releases. This year, I also lived out a lifelong dream of reading a book a day, every day. I lasted about six weeks. It was amazing; my mind felt like it was on speed, even as I’d slowed everything down to sit in silence and scan the symbols on the paper.
The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira and The Hare by César Aira
Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide by Franco “Bifo” Berardi
Our Lady of the Ruins: Poems by Traci Brimhall
Campus Sex, Campus Security by Jennifer Doyle
Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
The Joy of Revolution by Ken Knabb
The Corn Wolf by Michaeil Taussig
From top to bottom here: Discovering César Aira’s novels was a huge highlight for me – their insistence on the magic of thought is intoxicating and playful.+Berardi’s great book on why so many mass shootings are taking place as our society is translated into a spectacle. + Brimhall’s book of rich and terrifying poems, a cold light that will turn in you a truth you might not have wanted to feel. + Doyle has written the bravest book on sexual culture in the US I’ve read in a long time, with particular emphasis on how our views of sexual assault are intertwined with dependence on the state. + Eltahawy’s book uncovered the hidden corners of my own misogyny and challenged them with a body of work so powerful, I could not help but surrender. +Ken Knabb enlivened my sense of what is possible and why I would enjoy engaging. + Finally, Michael Taussig bonds together myth, magic, theory, and Walter Benjamin in a stunning exercise of style.
Two books I need to give special mention to – Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and Dr. Chris Donaghue’s Sex Outside the Lines: Authentic Sexuality in a Sexually Dysfunctional Culture. I make small appearances in both. The former is a book on the reemergence (and pitfalls) of shame as a social strategy. It is funny, light, and still profound. + Chris Donaghue is one of my closest colleagues and best friend. His book is a stirring look at sex in our personal lives. He utilizes his years of clinical experience with a radical outlook. It’s the perfect book to change your life.
All right, folks, that’s it for now. Let’s hold hands into this new year. Much love,