2011 was a heckuva year! It was my year, the Year of the Rabbit. We’ve done some great work this year as a people. And some stinkers, to be sure, but let’s forget all the bad things and concentrate on the sparkle times. Everyone loves a year-in-review list, and here’s mine in no particular order:
1. “The Clock” by Christian Marclay. I saw four or so hours of this 24 hour masterpiece at the Paula Cooper Gallery this February. I wrote about it here, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to put it on their top 10 things of 2011. Hell, it should go down as one of the top 10 amazing things ever. It’s a celebration of film and culture, but also of viewership and consumerism. It’s a 24 hour love letter to the movies.
2. “Love Is What You Want” by Tracey Emin at the Hayward Gallery. One of my undergraduate professors taught us that you can’t spend more than three hours in a museum and expect to retain anything that you saw. Emin’s show was one of the most comprehensive retrospectives I’ve ever seen, and to really absorb everything, you need to spend nearly three hours in the gallery. The result is triumphantly consuming. It was a great journey back through her work and also back through my memories of being an art student (a link back to my original write-up is here.)
3. Just Kids/The Chelsea Hotel. Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids was an incredible read. Her writing at times little embarrassing, using words like “chalks” instead of pencils (her crush on French poets is at high school tragedy level), but its heart and spirit are deeply moving. We all have a bit of Patti in us, or should anyways, and I was surprised by her lucidity. So much of the book is centered at or around The Chelsea Hotel that I couldn’t separate the two. The last time I stayed there was right after I read the book. It’s closed while it undergoes renovation, and none of us will ever go back to the Chelsea that was in the book. Shame.
4. Podcasts. I need people to read to me or talk to me for hours on end every day while I sit in my studio. Podcasts aren’t linked to 2011 in any tangible way, but there were a bunch of really good ones that I added to my stable of voices this year. Two of my favorites are “WTF” and “Walking The Room.” I listened/still sometimes listen to the Nerdist podcast, but I get super annoyed by the way Chris Hardwick steps on everyone’s speech. Plus, you get the sense that he’s a nerd that really wants to be a cool kid, rather than a nerd that says “fuck those cool kids.” So yeah, podcasts.
5. London’s Free Museums. This is the way museum experiences are supposed to be. Not the way they usually are, where you pay $20 and then race through everything trying to get your money’s worth. There is a relaxing of the shoulders, a slowing of the pace in the museums of London. If you don’t see everything one day, you know you can come back the next. You can linger at one painting and walk past another without a second thought. It’s civilized. One can look at art on one’s natural body clock.
6. The Los Angeles Subway System. It’s a marvel, really. It’s a subway in an earthquake zone in the largest square-mile city in America. It has about 14 total stops. And yet, the stations are so elegant. So huge, so artfully decorated. It’s an ode to the 20th century. Bradford and I walked from the Arclight at Hollywood and Vine up to the Metro stop at Hollywood and Highland simply to ride the subway back to the Arclight. Los Angeles: where everyone seems high and time is always on your side.
7. Protests. The Occupy Wall Street protests are grabbing all the current ink, but what I’m referring to are the protests in Wisconsin this year. The governor is a complete fuckwit and has no business managing a Fleet Farm, let alone a state. And he finally pushed the good people of Wisconsin out of the bars and into the streets. Wisconsinites are a proud, keep-to-yourself kind of folks, but they got back to their Socialists roots and demanded respect and representation. I may live in Massachusetts, but I am a Wisconsin citizen at my core. You, rah-rah.
8. Technology. The iPhone 4S is a marvel. The camera in it is worth the price alone. It’s so pretty and perfect. Its made me think about how we’re in the middle of a quantum leap of sorts, akin to that of the Industrial Revolution. Our notions of connectivity and access are changing before our eyes, and the dust has not settled. It’s exciting, it’s slightly disconcerting, and our lives will never be the same again.
9. Melancholia by Lars von Trier. I love movies that make you shake with uncertainty at their end, because you’re not sure how you’re supposed to react. I burst out laughing when the credits rolled. It’s like my body didn’t know what else to do. It was the best kind of unsettling. I had similar experiences with Black Swan and Synechode, New York. All great films, depending on who you ask.
10. Chopin. Again, this is not a 2011-specific inclusion. But we all need to listen to him more. His is not just classical music, but rather it’s the soul of mankind music. And it’s so current. He’s my go-to guy in the studio, in the same way Tom Waits and Sarah Vaughn are my go-to guys. Whether I need to focus or need to clear my head, Chopin is it. I’m listening to him right now in fact.
And there you have it, the best of 2011. I hope you have a great holiday season with your families and friends, and I will write again in 2012. Merry Merry, everyone. Keep working.