Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best Most Awesome Round-Up of Things that Occurred in the Year 2013

Hey! Here are a few things that happened in 2013:

I published another book!

I wrote a few stories, like this one about Black Santa, this one about a crow-killing cat, this one about selecting a new pope, this take on the legend of Sisyphus, and this one about a guy and his desire to get home to his beverage. I also wrote this poem about Spring and death and this musing about death and dying (it was a positive year, I swear).  I wrote this piece theorizing about the origin of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, this one about the meaning of "A Christmas Story", and this startling in-depth hypothesis about Maggie Simpson's vital role on The Simpsons.

Stoned Willy Poonhound made his triumphant return to the public's consciousness with this guide to building a snow mansion, this advice on navigating your way through Valentine's Day, and these columns showing you how to become the best poonhound you can be.

I sprained my ankle on the second day of the year.

I hit a deer and wrecked my car.


Rapper Vince Staples became a favorite, with his show-stealing verse on Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive"...

...and his own album Stolen Youth.

Probably my favorite album of the year was Run the Jewels (rap tag team duo El-P and Killer Mike), and their video for "A Christmas Fucking Miracle" is nothing short of amazing:

Those two guys really held it down as a group in 2013, after having 2 of the best albums of 2012 individually. And their concert in NY at Webster Hall was one of my favorite experiences of the year.

Matter of fact, I went to a few great concerts this year. Action Bronson at The Met in Rhode Island:

Souls of Mischief at the same place:

Nas at CitiField, after a Mets loss, on the hottest day of the summer:

Curren$y at BB King's in NYC:

I saw Danny Brown in Mass.; Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge (they put out one of my favorite releases this year, Twelve Reasons to Die) with his entire band at Toad's Place in New Haven; and The Beast Coastal Tour (The Underachievers, Flatbush Zombies, and Joey Badass with Pro.Era) at Toad's Place. I didn't have Vine yet for these :-(

And probably the best shows of all: Bonobo at Paradise Rock Club in Boston (the weekend of the Boston Marathon bombing) and more recently at Terminal 5 in NYC...

Detroit rapper/producer Black Milk's album, No Poison No Paradise, was an unexpected favorite of mine. I always liked his work, but he really outdid himself with this.

Detroit rapper Danny Brown's Old was another favorite. Danny remains one of the most entertaining people in the world.

Another one of the most entertaining people in the world had a good year. Well, good in the sense of providing me with entertainment. The gay fish genius put out an almost unlistenable, but still fascinating, piece of "modern art" in music form; he had a kid with the tabloid Goddess and named the kid "North"; he got eviscerated by South Park again; and lastly, most importantly, he had a string of rants that ranked with the best celebrity freak outs in history. All in all, it was a good year to laugh at (or with) Kanye West.

Anchorman 2 came out and actually didn't suck. That was nice.

Treme ended. Didn't even realize it was ending (with a five part 4th season? What is that?). It was a great series, especially if you like food, music, and New Orleans. It ended on a sad note, with the Chief (I always refer to him as Freamon) succumbing to cancer, but it handled the death respectfully, gracefully, and overall in an entertaining way, unlike some other series. And sorry, Family Guy, bringing Brian back doesn't change anything. The fact that resurrecting him was your plan all along makes it an even more deliberate and obvious cash grab.

Breaking Bad ended. Unbelievably good series, with an awesome, over the top, crowd pleasing final season.

Eastbound and Down ended. It had its ups and downs over the course of its run, but they ended on a definite high note with this season. Baleedat.

I discovered a very weird artist, Spark Master Tape, who I became somewhat addicted to...

He has many awesome videos and two free mixtapes. (We're still using the term "mixtape" in 2013, by the way, even though they are almost exclusively online.) To be honest, I didn't discover the bizarre Spark Master on my own, I found him through Blockhead, one of my favorite music producers/bloggers. Blockhead also put me on to Danny Brown a couple years ago, and this year, he showed me something else I will be forever grateful for: the unrated version of "Blurred Lines."

I also saw Blockhead in concert and got some rare cds/vinyl from him. Thanks Block!

12 Years a Slave was a great movie from this year. The scene where he is hanging from the tree, surviving by extending his toes, was one of the most powerful, uncomfortable scenes in movie history.

I didn't go to Africa this year. That sucked.

Nelson Mandela died. That really sucked. He was a folk hero, except he was real, and living at the same time as me.

A guy did fake sign language at Mandela's funeral. What the hell?

A few actors died, including Dennis Farina. He was great in Snatch and Get Shorty.

We bombed Syria and Libya and remained in Afghanistan. And now that we are out of Iraq, it will probably return to Civil War.

Even more sad and depressing than all that, Drake made a song that I like. It took me a while to admit it. It's still hard to do. If someone else made the song I would have enjoyed it much more, much earlier; in fact, I consider it a Majid Jordan song so I can fully enjoy it. It's very much a "pop" song and not a rap song, which is why I like it. Drake rapping is just impossible to take seriously. Over the course of the past year or so I have had more exposure to pop music than I normally do, thanks to driving a group of teenagers home every other day at work, and there's one thing I've learned: most pop music is hot garbage. Well, I knew that already, but now I realize that when you listen enough, a few golden pieces of corn shine through the fecal matter. Normally I would just lump all pop music together and ignore it, but being forced to listen to it has made me yearn desperately for anything pleasing to the ears, and I've come to enjoy many songs I never would have years ago. Plus, as I've gotten older, I'm a lot less uptight about music and can enjoy mindless tunes every once in a while.

This video, on the other hand, represents everything wrong with Drake: he's the type of guy to make a 
Miami Vice themed "gangster" video for a tender love song.

So that was my guilty pleasure for the year. Pop songs like Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (which spawned the amazing dance-off with Stephen Colbert and Walter White), "Blurred Lines", and Bruno Mars' "Treasure" aren't really guilty pleasures, they are just catchy songs. It's not their fault they get played to death. Another not-guilty pleasure is the Queen herself:

Beyonce dropped a surprise album and the internet simultaneously shit itself, so much so that I was tempted to buy a Beyonce album. I didn't, but the thought crossed my mind for a moment. The song above is one of the few I've heard from her "visual album" (nobody can just put out a regular ole "album" album any more). It's pretty much a perfect pop song for the year 2013. Good beat with some change-ups, simple lyrics, catchy hook, female rap-singing using current rap slang, a guest feature from Jay-Z with one of his strongest verses in ages, and a powerful singing voice on the chorus. My favorite musical moment of the year is when she says "in looooove" and hits the high note, followed by when she says, "can't keep your eyes off my fatty, daddy", "oh bwaby", and "surfboard...surfboard *giggles*".

Ok, to balance out the softness of that last paragraph, here is another one of my favorite songs this year:

That's "Eastside Moonwalker" by Freddie Gibbs, representing Gary, Indiana. He put out a great album, ESGN, that when downloaded actually carjacks you then beats any Drake songs off of your ipod. There isn't much subject variety on a Gibbs' album, but he knows his lane and has perfected it. He also did this: I'll always be a fan of Gangsta Gibbs.

More than anything, things remained largely the same for me this year, with some slight improvements: same awesome job(s), with a raise and more competent bosses in a better building...same great family, and same two beautiful nieces... with one more beautiful niece, Zoe, who arrived on 12-30-13!

And at the end of it all, there were the same great friends, hanging out at the same places...

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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