Following the last two years of "informally" hustling for work, I'm formally launching a shop called HEFT Creative Strategies (logo courtesy of the always fab Ryan W. Bradley).
The focus in on creative strategy (not surprising given the name), coaching, story editing and training.
But it's also about helping human beings and organizations be their best selves through story.
Many wonderful people and organizations have supported me at some point during the last couple of years through contracting me to work on strategy, coaching, blogging/copywriting, storytelling, branding, idea making and/or inviting me to speak in their class, professional group or conference.
I want to thank them, and you if you're one of them, thank you for that.
I also want to invite them, or you, to let people know that HEFT is out in the world, and would very much appreciate you, whoever you are, writing a "Recommendation" about me on LinkedIn.
Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this, please know how much I appreciate any of you who've done anything to support me and if there is something you believe we can work on together, please let me know, I would be excited to talk to you about it.
Really excited for old friend Tim Walikis and the kick-ass Monkey Wrench on their new release Sasquatch Gold, so, you know the drill, right, do hit it, it's the good stuff.
I always think I will have some new kind of introduction to this post, but how can I? The year is the year it is, and was, and so in an otherwise really not terribly great year in so many ways, as opposed to a merely not terribly great year in so many ways, such as last year or the one before that, and for so many people at that, there was still good, because there is always good. There were books, television, music, podcasts, art, comedy and movies. Though even then, it's not enough, never enough, of any of it. But we do what we can and I did what I could do. And here we are, ignoring so much of the year, if only for a moment, to look back, and share what there is, and what there was, with you, now, totally, and yes somewhat belatedly. There was work, travel, family, crafting a "These Things I loved in the 2010s Will Change Your Life" post and I'm happy to blame all of that for the delay. Well, all of that, and this, there is a guest blogger this year: none other than pop culture consumer and son extraordinaire Myles Tanzer.
Cultural criticism and memoirs that read like personal essays and personal essay collections that read like memoir and cultural criticism. That sing. And explore sickness, art, nostalgia, pop culture, social issues, literature, the present, past and future, and everything in between.
Relief by Execution - A Visit to Mauthausen/Gint Aras, This Never Happened/Liz Scott, Go Ahead In The Rain/Hanif Abdurraqib, On Being Human/Jennifer Pastiloff, Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Bookmarked/Brian Evenson, So Sad Today/Melissa Broder, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel/Alexander Chee and Death Valley Superstars/Duke Haney
A Memoir That (#humblebrag alert) I offered consultation on in its most earliest stages and now it's out in the world and I xouldn't be prouder.
Leaving: One Woman's Story of Verbal Abuse/Marguerite Morris
The essay collection that was my favorite read of the year and I'm not sure how I didn't know it existed before now.
Slow Days, Fast Company - The World, The Flesh, and L.A./Eve Babitz.
Kick-ass short story collections by kick ass writers who, you know, kick ass.
For Other Ghosts/Donald Quist and Funhouse/Robert Vaughan,
Books from the terrific Tortoise Books.
Adult Teeth/Jeremy T. Wilson and Jenny in Corona/Stuart Ross
And one more, that gets To stand alone, because, you know, Joseph G. Peterson.
Books from the splendid 7.13 Books.
Besotted/Melissa Duclos and Not Everyone is Special/Josh Denslow
And books by the equally splendid founder of 7.13 Books.
No Good Very Bad Asian/Leland Cheuk
Not to mention absolutely kick-ass books that I was honored to promote and strategize around, which most definitely changed my life, all of which were releases by the quite wonderful, awesome to partner with, Green Writers Press.
Old New Worlds/Judith Krummeck, Dancing with Langston/Sharyn Skeeter, The Coffeehouse Resistance/Sarina Prabasi, Today My Name is Billie/Neile Parisi, Victoria Falls/James Hornor, Lifeforce/Annie Rodriguez, Offline/Brian Adams, Love, Sex & Mushrooms/Cardy Raper, PhD
Novels too. Substantive. And wonderful. By substantive and wonderful writers.
The Heart Crossways/James Claffey, on earth we're briefly gorgeous/Ocean Vuong, The Butterfly Girl/Rene Denfeld, Black Card/Chris L. Terry
And poetry. Never enough, really not, and so much more next year, promise (and I know, I promised that next year), but what I read, really fucking good this year.
The movies I was happy I got to see during a year where I did even better than last year, though still didn't see enough to satisfy my movie Jones.
Good Boys, Knives Out, Britanny Runs a Marathon
Movies I was happy I got to see because my children said it must be so, but also because Netflix definitely wanted us to.
Always Be My Maybe
And a movie I really enjoyed, but only went to because one of my children really loves WWE.
Fighting with My Family
Superhero movies good.
Spiderman: Far from Home and Avengers: End Game
Superhero movies that are not superhero movies, more origin stories and which I remain conflicted about in terms of quality, but the lead was pretty mesmerizing.
Sequels and reboots that were more than fine enough, but it doesn't matter, because the goodness is baked-in.
Zombieland: Double Tap and John Wicke 3: Parabellum
Well-crafted movies I really liked.
The Irishman, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, Ad Astra, Us
The best crafted movies of the year that weren't quite my favorite movie of the year.
Booksmart, Little Women, Marriage Story, The Farewell, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The quite well-crafted movie that is probably the best movie of the year.
But the movie that is ultimately, probably, my favorite.
Movies I still hope to see.
Midsommar, Waves, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Queen & Slim, Dolemite is My Name, Captain Marvel, Honey Boy
New music which I yet again listened to not much of this year, but I still listened to these. Okay, not true, I'm still really not sure what to do in this post-CD universe, or how to listen, or even how to talk about what I liked this year, but maybe I'll figure it out in 2020. Maybe.
Music I got to listen to live, which was not enough, and I always somehow fall way short on year after year.
Sharon Van Etten, Billy Bragg, Steve Miller Band
Music I got to listen to live that was amazingly joyous and made me happy, jealous and elevated all at once.
Matt & Kim
Television shows I kept on watching, finshed watching or caught-up on, that were actually, mostly, usually very good, and got in the way of reading, thinking, getting work done and sometimes sleeping, but ultimately made me very happy.
Stranger Things 3, GLOW, Handmaid's Tale, Westworld, Daredevil, BoJack Horseman, Black Mirror, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I'm Sorry, Barry, Better Things, Succession
Television shows that rebounded nicely from earlier missteps.
Television shows that rebounded nicely from earlier missteps that I'm going to miss.
Television shows that ended, regardless of steps, mis- or otherwise, that I'm going to miss.
Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Affair, Crashing, Jessica Jones, Punisher, Casual, Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies
Television shows that ended, regardless of steps, mis- or otherwise, that I'm going to really miss.
Catastrophe, Fleabag, You're The Worst, Lodge 49
Television shows I would have continued to lovingly re-consume, again, and again, summer after summer, because my children say it must be so, and annually at that.
Freaks and Geeks
(Though do note, Netflix dropped Freaks and Geeks from its line-up and we we're scared and confused heading into 2019, again, first world problems, I know, and so we went with All Night. Yup.)
Television shows I lovingly consumed, or continued to consume, because my at least one, or both, of my children said it must be so.
Black-ish, American Housewife, The Goldbergs, Single Parents, The End of the F***ing World, Bigmouth, F is for Family
Also, shows I tried to catch-up on and mostly did, with children, and not, and mostly, really liked.
Insecure, Party Down, Killing Eve, The Carmichael Show, The Bodyguard, Sharp Objects
New shows, and mostly quite good.
Russian Doll, Sex Education, The Other Two, Dead to Me, Shrill, Watchmen
And limited run series that were shocking in their audacity, quality, sadness and triumph.
Chernobyl, Unbelievable, When They See Us
Theater, none, horrible, tragic, stupid, but stand-up comedy, yes.
Christina P, Chris D'Elia, Jen Kirkman
Art exhibits, way too little, and less than last year, so there's that. And that's terrible.
Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech | Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Manet and Modern Beauty | The Art Institute of Chicago
Podcasts I still listen to again and again, if sometimes inconsistently at that.
WTF with Marc Maron, Other People with Brad Listi, The Slate Culture Gabfest, Heavyweight, Serial
And one-off podcasts, for now, apparently, that just mostly killed.
To Live and Die in L.A., Running from COPS, Dolly Parton's America
Books I just didn't quite read, or finish, by year's end. But I will. Soon. Promise.
Hunger/Roxane Gay, Walk in the Fire/Steph Post, Coyote Songs/Gabino Iglesias, White Girls/Hilton Als, Pax Americana/Kurt Baumeister, no good for digging/dustin m. hoffman, The Man They Wanted Me To Be/Jared Yates Sexton, Friday Afternoon and other stories/T.D. Johnston
And now for my guest blogger, the Myles Tanzer, the best of the year and the decade.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
BEST OF THE YEAR
TOP 10 FILMS
- Knives Out
- Little Women
- Marriage Story
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Uncut Gems
Zombieland: Double Tap
TOP 10 TV SHOWS
- The Act
- Big Mouth
- The Good Place
- On My Block
- The Politician
High School Musical: The Musical- The Series
One Day at a Time
TOP 10 ALBUMS
- Cuz I Love You- Lizzo
- Dedicated- Carly Rae Jepsen
- Happiness Begins- Jonas Brothers
- Head Above Water- Avril Lavigne
- Homecoming: The Live Album- Beyonce
- K Bye for Now (SWT Live)- Ariana Grande
- Lover- Taylor Swift
- Six- Cast Recording
- Thank U, Next- Ariana Grande
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?- Billie Ellish
Fine Line- Harry Styles
Hot Pink- Doja Cat
K-12- Melanie Martinez
No.6 Collaborations- Ed Sheeran
SHE IS COMING- Miley Cyrus
BEST OF THE DECADE
TOP 25 FILMS
- A Star Is Born (2018)
- Blockers (2018)
- Booksmart (2019)
- Bridesmaids (2011)
- Brooklyn (2015)
- Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
- Crazy Stupid Love (2011)
- Flower (2017)
- Frozen (2013)
- Girls Trip (2017)
- Hidden Figures (2016)
- Hunger Games Series(2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015)
- I, Tonya (2017)
- Ingrid Goes West (2017)
- Inside Out (2015)
- Into the Woods (2014)
- Knives Out (2019)
- Little Women (2019)
- Parasite (2019)
- Pitch Perfect Series (2012, 2015, and 2017)
- Searching (2018)
- Selma (2014)
- The Help (2011)
- Wreck It Ralph (2012)
- Zootopia (2016)
TOP 25 TV SHOWS
- The Act
- American Horror Story
- Big Mouth
- Black Mirror
- Bob’s Burgers
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- The Goldbergs
- The Good Place
- The Office
- On My Block
- One Day at a Time
- Parks and Rec
- The Politician
- Pretty Little Liars
- Raising Hope
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
*COMPETITION SHOWS: Amazing Race, America’s Got Talent, Face Off, Glow Up, Next Food Network Star, Skin Wars, and Top Chef*
*REALITY SHOWS: 19 Kids and Counting, Cake Boss, Dance Moms, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians*
*OCEANIA SHOWS: Back with the Ex, Dance Academy, H2o: Just Add Water, Little Lunch, and Yummy Mummies*
TOP 25 ALBUMS
- 1989- Taylor Swift (2014)
- 21- Adele (2011)
- 8 Letters- Why Don’t We (2018)
- A Star Is Born- Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (2018)
- Cry Baby- Melanie Martinez (2015)
- Cuz I Love You- Lizzo (2019)
- Dedicated- Carly Rae Jepsen (2019)
- Electric Light- James Bay (2018)
- Ella Mai- Ella Mai (2018)
- Expectations- Hayley Kiyoko (2018)
- Glory Days- Little Mix (2017)
- Golden Hour- Kacey Musgraves (2018)
- Happiness Begins- Jonas Brothers (2019)
- Lemonade- Beyonce (2016)
- Lover- Taylor Swift (2019)
- Nation of Two- Vance Joy (2018)
- Phoenix- Rita Ora (2018)
- Prism- Katy Perry (2013)
- Rainbow- Kesha (2017)
- Sweetener- Ariana Grande (2018)
- Teenage Dream- Katy Perry (2010)
- Tell Me You Love Me- Demi Lovato (2017)
- Thank U, Next- Ariana Grande (2019)
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?- Billie Eilish (2019)
- Youngblood- 5 Seconds of Summer (2018)
Most finally, there are many people to thank for making this a good year or just rule in general) in spite of all that has been going on and feels like still will be. And I'm most definitely overlooking some, a lot maybe, and I apologize for that, but there you go.
Matt Rowan, Jacob S. Knabb, Jason Behrends, Jason Pettus, Moeses Soulright, Ryan W. Bradley, Steve Lafler, Lavinia Ludlow, Rob Funderburk, Greg Olear, John Barrios, Joseph G. Peterson, Michael Seidlinger, Gabino Iglesias, Adam Lawrence, Dave McNamara, Mike Smolarek, Beth Gilstrap, Duncan MacKenzie, Andrew Keating, Matty Byloos, Brad Listi, Michael Czyzniejewski, Ken Wohlrob, Myles and Noah Tanzer, Leza Cantoral, David Masciotra, Clayton Smith, Bryanna Tartt, Mel Bosworth, Paul Cohen, Todd Summar, Eric Vaubel, Megan Stielstra, Hosho McCreesh, W. Todd Kaneko, Jim Warner, Mathieu Cailler, David S. Atkinson, Debbie Pritzker, BL Pawelek, James Yates, Kristin Fouquet, Clayton Smith, Seth Berg, Maggie Manoyan, Amber Sparks, Mike McClelland, Lori Jakiela, Robert Vaughan, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Meg Tuite, Robert Duffer, Brian Alan Ellis, Keir Graff, Emma Irving, Joanna Topor MacKenzie, Jeff Linkenback, Anthony Michael Morena, Brad Wolff, Bob Hartley, Joanna Shroeder, Johnny Misfit, Greg Gerding, Victor David Giron, The Book Cellar, Gretchen Kalwinski, Michael Paige Glover, Jennifer Banash, City Lit Books, Marilyn Atlas, Matt Fitzpatrick, Art Edwards, Judith Tanzer, Kimberly Ann Southwick, Erika T. Wurth, Leesa Cross-Smith, Brian Gresko, Garret Schuelke, Shaindel Beers, Chris L. Terry, Kara Vernor, Adam Tanzer, Patricia Ann McNair, Sean Beaudoin, Sean H. Doyle, Ken Sherman, John Reed, Jerry Brennan, Serena Makofsky, Callie Nelson, Lauren Becker, Marisa Siegel, Brad Listi, Robert James Russell, Melissa Duclos, Brian Gresko, Lori Hettler, Sharyn Skeeter, Tobias Carroll, Christian Winn, Charita Cole Brown, Spencer Dew, Glen Binger, Neile Parisi, Steve Karas, Aubrey Cox Warner, Sarina Prabasi, Barry Graham, Jennifer Steele, Wendy C. Ortiz, Dave Newman, Jeremy T. Wilson, Steve Eisner, Donald Quist, Christine Maul Rice, D. Foy, Ben Drevlow, JH Palmer, Cari Luna, Amber Griffin, Elaine Soloway, Duke Haney, Dede Cummings, Rachel Slotnick, Judith Krummeck, Behn Reza, Alex Rhodes, Largehearted Boy, Cyn Vargas, Greg Santos, Allison Joseph, Alan Heathcock, Tony Brunelli, Keith Lesmeister, Sara Lippmann, Mikaela Shea Fowler, Ariel Rudolph, Giano Cromley, Zoe Zolbrod, Kali VanBaale, Tom Williams, Jennifer Pastiloff, Joshua Mohr, Amy Danzer, Patrick Wensink, Nicholas Barron, Stuart Ross, Alice Kaltman, Paul Cohen, Susan Messing, James Hornor, Rick Kogan, Amy Guth, Khloe Karova, Andie Lorch, Jeff Pfaller, Shaindel Beers, Christine Eberle, Volumes Bookcafe, Susan Messing, Leland Cheuk, Rebecca George, Robert James Russell, Donald G. Evans, Davis Schneiderman, Ray Charbonneau, Sam Slaughter, Gina Frangello, Steph Post, Rachel Hyman, Nick Ostdick, Len Kuntz, Pete Anderson, Terry Hiner, Alicia Del Real, Pam Hoadley, the Tomaloff's, Paula Bomer, Brandon Will, Melissa Faliveno, J. Bradley, Jason Fisk, Gint Aras, Yogi Roth, Eric Spitznagle, Beth Gilstrap, Ryan Ridge, Lisa Fay Coutley, Jeffrey Pfaller, Lee L. Krecklow, Keidra Chaney, Christopher Bowen, Liz Mason, Chris Tarry, David Olimpio, Jessica Kashiwabara, Micah Philbrook, Christoph Paul, Ines Bellina
For all intents and purposes, the lifespan of This Podcast Will Change Your Life overlaps with the 2010s. I started recording episodes before then, but I got it truly organized in February 2010, and here we are 200 plus episodes and ten years later. So, in the spirit of the end of the decade vibe, I began to wonder which episodes of the show were in the Top Ten for the 2010s in terms of traffic. Or if you prefer, Top Ten, all-time. What may not surprise you is the more recent shows just don't quite crack the top of the list. What also may not surprise you (if you read this blog with any regularity, and it's totally cool if you do not) is the top show of all time, because it was immediately so and has never budged or even really been challenged for the thrown. What is interesting to me is the enormous surge in traffic at the start of 2016 (especially for the special AWP episodes that year), but I also know that's when I tightened-up the show's iTunes page following the incedible surge in traffic for, wait for it... the top episode of all time. Anyway all that said, I love the show and I look forward to ten more years of it. Also, and without any further adieu, I would like to present you with the Top Ten for the 2010s (in order and with the original episode descriptions in play). Drumroll please...
1. Episode One Hundred and Sixteen - Don't Be An Asshole, starring the Jen Pastiloff.
"We are so podcast. Quite Pastiloff. And so not assholes. We are also making shit happen, Wayne Dyer, Emily Rapp, manifestation, both The Manifest-Station, and otherwise, Lidia Yuknavitch, depression, beauty hunting, breaking the rules and much, much more. So do hit it, it just might change your life."
2. The AWP 2016 Edition Part IV - Dreamer, starring the Gabino Iglesias.
"We are so This Podcast Will Change Your Life. We are also the Gabino Iglesias, not to mention Zero Saints, La Frontera, undocumented immigrants, reading Spanish, code-switching, Elvish, Junot Diaz, Gutmouth, Bizarro fiction, literary citizenship, Klingon, pulp, Barrio Noir and so much more. So do hit it, it will most certainly change your life."
3. Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Three - The Prince of Darkness, starring the Alan Heathcock.
"We really are Alan Heathcock podcast and we are really excited about that. We are also Volt, the greatness that is The Heathcock, and greatness, Smoke, craft, validation, Oprah and The Secret, grief, Dirty Works, Saturday Night Fever, weirdness and much, much more. So, do hit it, because it will most definitely change your life."
4. The AWP 2016 Edition Part III - Not Sweating, starring the Kali VanBaale, Mathieu Cailler and Vanessa Blakeslee.
"We are so very podcast, and quite Kali VanBaale, Mathieu Cailler and Vanessa Blakeslee. We are also small presses, The Good Divide, growing as a writer, not boring oneself, Juventud, YA novels, awards and sales and marketing, Loss Angeles, the Vermont College of Fine Arts and much, much more. We are also certain to change your life, here, now, so please do hit it. Nice. Thank you."
5. Episode One Hundred and Thirty - This Is A Package Deal, starring the Aubrie Cox and Jim Warner.
"So totally podcast. And so Aubrie Cox and Jim Warner of Citizen Lit fame too. Not to mention Haiku - and hybridity, Jon Lovits - and love, Beach Slang, The Hold Steady, Ross Gay, Frogpond, Dave Eggers, community, connection, conversation, and so much more. So, do hit it, it just might change your life."
6. The AWP 2016 Edition Part VI - Being Wanted, starring the Chris Tarry.
"We are so podcast. We are also so Chris Tarry, and not Chris L. Terry. We are also ego, Roy Kesey, Canada, music, being a stay-at-home dad, and being fucking tired, How To Carry Bigfoot Home, podcasts, Breadloaf, wondering if you are as good as you were and the final edition of AWP 2016 podcasts. All of which is certain to change your life."
7. Episode One Hundred and Twenty-Four - A Lot Of Misfit, starring the Mel Bosworth and Ryan Ridge.
"We are so podcast and new year. We are also Bosworth and Ridge, old friends and new. Not to mention Evil Knievel, Frances Farmer, sort of, Johnny Depp, William Burroughs, The Third Mind, and the third eye, collaboration, success, happiness, Twitter love and small press everything. So, do check it out, it just might change your life."
8. Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Seven - Uncommon, starring the Eric Spitznagel.
"We are so very podcast. And quite Spitznagel. We are also The Second City, Old Records Never Die, Steven Colbert, Isabella Rossellini, Fast Forward, dead fathers, Vanity Fair, juicy testicles, Questlove, relationships, Elizabeth Crane, Men's Health, Ike Reilly and much, much more. So do hit, because it will so change your life."
9. Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Six - Still Mic'd, starring the Christine Maul Rice.
"We are so This Podcast Will Change Your Life. We are also quite podcast, not to mention the Christine Maul Rice, Swarm Theory, My Little Pony, Columbia College, linked stories, small towns, Hypertext Magazine, Hannah Montana, community, Chris Farley and much, much more. So do hit it, it will most certainly change your life."
10. The AWP 2016 Edition Part I - Not An Atonement, starring the David Olimpio.
"We are so podcast. And quite Olimpio. We are also once again AWP-centric for the next little while anyway, after conducting a whole slew of kick-ass interviews at this year's AWP conference in Los Angeles. But first, the David Olimpio, This Is Not A Confession and a lively conversation on a variety of topics including, but not limited to structure, atonement, not, polyamory, rules, Michael Phelps, child sexual abuse and much more. So please do hit it, it just might, will, change your life."
It would seem that I have the dubious distinction of blogging for so long about things that will change your life, as they have mine, always, that I'm onto my second decade-ending list. At the time of the end of the last decade I wrote the following:
"Are we jumping on the decade-ending bandwagon? Way. Still, when your goal is to change lives, its not always clear how you're going to accomplish this. So, as we began prepare our year-end Top Ten lists we started thinking about the last decade as well and like everybody else we thought we would weigh-in on what we liked and/or influenced us and/or brought us joy. Over this week we are going to hit books, movies, television and music. And then next week, or shortly thereafter, we will begin rolling-out our year-end lists. Cool? Great."
Can I write same and get away with that?
Which is not to say it's all the same as it ever was. When I wrote that last set of decade-ending lists I was still at the beginning of something. A ten-year period where I was getting started at all this, whatever this is is, blogging, influencing, promoting, sharing, podcasting, writing, especially writing, and still trying to find my way.
I still am.
But that's not going to change, I will always want to produce, consume, hype and fanboy more than I am. And there will always be new things to produce, consume, hype and fanboy about. So, today, this, is another sort of beginning, the end of something, a decade anyway, with another to come, and then, God-willing, another one after that, and so on and so forth.
I will not be running separate lists this week though, one decade-ending post seems fine, though I will run a year-end list as well in a couple of days. I am also sharing groups of my Top-Ten favorites over the decade, but not ranking or rating or anything like that. Nor am I doing a straight forward music list per se, records anyway, because I'm no longer sure how to listen to albums (is that even a word) in their entirety anymore.
But we'll see what happens, yes?
These Top Ten Books of the Decade Will Change Your Life.
Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson (2013)
David S. Atkinson has gone on to write many fine, weird, wonderful books, but nothing (or many books period) has quite affected me like the stories in this one. All awakening, coming of age and pain. Indelible.
Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith (2014)
What a beautiful introduction to a beautiful writer whose words glow and who makes sexy just so, you know, sexy.
Excavation: A Memoir by Wendy C. Ortiz (2014)
I read it in a fever dream and fugue state, really, I was crazy sick, but I can't imagine how else one can experience this book as it takes you in its twisty grip and never lets go.
Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010)
Art, making it, eating it, searching for it, and at all and any costs. Beautiful and nicely, oddly, touchingly matched by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (2015).
MEATY by Samantha Irby (2013)
As glorious a debut as you will find. Like a rocket ship, a fucked, funny, fantastic rocket ship.
Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children by Dave Newman (2012)
As absorbing and in touch with everyday life, the struggles and quotidian moments, as any book one could hope to read.
The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna (2013)
The boldest, most lived-in book I read, soaring and detailed. A triumph.
The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan (2015)
This could have been just as easily been Crapalachia (2015) or Stories V! (2011), because Scott is fact and fiction and fiction and fact and a blur of boundaries and stories that feel so real and visceral you can taste them.
They Can't Kill Us Until The Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib (2017)
Is there anyone who does pop culture, race, personal stories and political commentary better? No, really, please let me know, because I can't imagine who that would be.
We The Animals by Justin Torres (2011)
Of all the books here, this is the only one I truly stumbled into. How I didn't know it existed before I found it is quite beyond me, but it is tender and real time, a gut punch of the highest order.
The rest (and there are certainly others I loved, and represented, or blurbed, all good, but this makes for fifty books in total this past decade, a good number, with these in no particular order at all): The Fugue by Gint Aras (2015), Belief Is It's Own Kind of Truth by Lori Jakiela (2015), Wheatyard by Pete Anderson(2013), Code for Failure by Ryan W. Bradley (2012), Addicts & Basements by Robert Vaughan (2014), Gay Zoo Day by Mike McClelland (2017), Gideon's Confession by Joseph G. Peterson (2014), The Damnation of Memory by Mark S. Brand (2012), Swarm Theory by Christine Maul Rice (2016), Volt by Alan Heathcock (2011), The Expanse Between by Lee Krecklow (2017), The Mimic's Own Voice by Tom Williams (2011), Salt Creek Anthology by Jason Fisk (2012), On the Way by Cyn Vargas (2015), Patricide by D. Foy (2016), Kinda Sorta America Dream by Steve Karas (2015), The Telling by Zoe Zolbrod (2016), Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry (2013), Aviary by Seth Berg (2017), Once I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra (2014), What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Boomarked by Brian Evenson (2018), Staggerwing by Alice Kaltman (2016), No Good Very Bad Asian by Leland Cheuk (2019), Barack Obama: Invisible Man by David Masciotra (2017), Broken Piano for President by Patrick Wensink (2012), Harbors by Donald Quist (2016), The Temple of Air by Patricia McNair (2011), Doll Palace by Sarah Lippmann (2014), The Dead Wrestler Elegies by Todd W. Kaneko (2014), The Place You're Supposed To Laugh by Jenn Stroud Rossmann (2018), What We Build Upon the Ruins by Giano Cromley (2017), A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post (2014), Mesilla by Robert James Russell (2015), Hustle by David Tomas Martinez (2014), A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst by Hosho McCreesh (2013), Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias (2015), The Voyager Record: A Transmission by Anthony Michael Morena (2016), DEBT by Christopher Bowen (2017), ENJoy: Stories by the Sea by Glen Binger (2017).
These Top Ten Movies of the Decade Will Change Your Life.
This could be Before Midnight (2013), it could be a lot of things, which is just to say, that Linklater makes movies like I try to write, raw, real, happening now and evolving over time.
The Florida Project (2017)
Such a lovely, lively, sad movie, and full of the kind of live-wire energy found in few movies except maybe the director's most excellent previous movie Tangerine (2015).
Fruitvale Station (2013)
If this isn't quite the beginning of Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan's world domination, it's a stunningly crafted piece of work. Devastating.
So many superhero movies I know, and so many good ones (and yes, maybe too many, for many), but so crushing this one, and literate, and everything I might have wanted as a kid, but didn't know I could ask for.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
My favorite movie all decade. Raw and slamming and so much fun.
Minding The Gap (2018)
Race and class and poverty and abuse, but just terrific, which seems like the wrong word, but isn't.
Nothing more beautiful all decade.
O.J.: Made in America (2016)
The most audacious work of recent memory as it takes on the full sweep of race and violence in Los Angeles and America. Not pretty. But impossible not to watch.
We loved this so much, I'm not even sure I can pinpoint why. I just know it was engaging and full of joy and tension and mystery. Bravo.
Winter's Bone (2010)
The young J Law alone makes this worth watching. That it's so riveting and scary and a picture into a world of poverty and violence so few of us witness makes it a stunner. Which isn't to overlook the director's other movie this decade, Leave No Trace (2018), no less riveting, and full of ache.
The rest (and again, in no particular order): A Separation, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, The Immigrant, Whiplash, Get Out, Green Room, Drive, 12 Years a Slave, The Kids Are All Right, Selma, Straight Outta Compton, Lincoln, Girls Trip, Parasite, Captain Fantastic, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Spring Breakers, Hell or High Water, Booksmart, Mud, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Marriage Story, Bridesmaids, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Inception, Slo-West, A Life in Walk, Inside Out, Ingrid Goes West, Deadpool.
These Top Ten Television Shows of the Decade Will Change Your Life.
A spy story, which is really a story about marriage, hopes, dreams, communication, all of it.
Striving, succcess, failure and trying to be the person you think you can be. Also weed, race, rap and magical realism. Nothing like it.
I hate to use a word like real, or refer to the greatness, abrasiveness and warmth of this show as a salve of Louis CK's ongoing horribleness, but it is that, and I love it.
So fucking weird, funny, surreal, and the most incisive exploration of mental illness, substance abuse, family in all its fucked-upedness, and celebrity, happening anywhere in any fashion.
Is it the dialogue, timing, the messed-up chemistry, or the desire to make the unworkable work? I don't know, but other stabs at relationship and all the madness inherent therein pale in comparison.
Game of Thrones
It could have not made the list, but it was too big, too brash, and almost completely engaging to the very end.
Dude, what despair looks like, which I mean in the best way.
An elegiac and beautiful rumination on truth and grace and what it means to be free.
Call it a story about the rich, abuse, ego and the media, both new and old. That's all true. But in doing so, don't fail to call it a story about family in all its Oedipal and Shakesperian horror. Because it's so that.
Family, family, family, Jews and identity, so many, so much, and so fucked-up and messy and wonderful. Love.
With Extraordinary Special Props to these Limited Run series (and all somehow from 2019):
Almost too unreal to be believed, almost science fiction, but leaves one with the sense that no entity can be trusted.
See the above. But also see it for the most empathic and upsetting, yet uplifting police procedural ever produced.
When They See Us
See the above, and the above, and then cringe, cover your eyes, and keep watching. Infuriating and unprecedented.
The rest (yeah, no particular order): Justified, Orange is The New Black, Girls, True Detective, Big Mouth, Fargo, Insecure, Westworld, Black Mirror, The Fall, Broadchurch, Jessica Jones, Happy Endings, Orphan Black, You're The Worst, Mr. Robot, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Silicon Valley, The Handmaid's Tale, American Vandal, Watchmen, Lodge 49.
These Top Ten Musical Moments of the Decade Will Change Your Life.
Straight-up, I don't listen to enough music in the ways I was once accustomed to any more, though I listen to it all of the time, but there are albums (again, is this a word or concept any more) and shows, that broke through during the 2010s, and I don't know that I feel like trying to describe any of this, or them, because ultimately what I really feel, or felt, when I experienced them is joy, which feels like enough, right, yes. So here we go.
Courtney Barnett/Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)-Courtney Barnett-Chicago Cultural Center (2018)
Chance the Rapper/Coloring Book (2016)
Girl Talk/All Day (2010)
The Hold Steady-Empty Bottle (2017)
Jason Isbell/Southeastern (2013)
Jenny Lewis/The Voyager (2014)
Matt & Kim-The Riviera (2019)
Killer Mike/R.A.P. Music (2012)-Killer Mike-Pitchfork (2013)
Ike Reilly-Schubas (2013)
Sufjan Stevens/Carrie and Lowell (2015)
The rest (you know the drill): Billy Bragg-Lincoln Hall (2019), 21 Pilots-The Aragon (2014), Justin Earl Townes/Nothing is Going to Change the Way You Feel About Me Now (2014), The Peekaboos-Empty Bottle (2013), NAS-Riot Fest (2016), Run the Jewels/Run the Jewels (2013), Jamey Johnson/Guitar Song (2010), Julian Velard-Joe's Pub (2017), Kendrick Lamar/To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy/Kanye West (2010), Billy Joel-Wrigley Field (2016).
These Top Ten Podcasts of the Decade Will Change Your Life.
Other People with Brad Listi, WTF with Marc Maron and The Slate Culture Gabfest
The ongoing standby's, making my runs, drives, the laundry, day-to-day life and brain better and more joyful.
Dolly Parton's America
A rumination on storytelling, spirituality, race and sexuality, and just wow, fantastic, moving and wonderful.
Greatly loved, endlessly missed, and possessing of a weird, beautiful, searching energy.
I don't ever want to not be thinking about him.
S-Town and Searching for Richard Simmons
Both felt more than kind of voyeuristic, and at times just truly icky, while never being anything but wholly engrossing.
Running from COPS
From the creator of Searching for Richard Simmons, and anything but icky, fascinating and horrible.
There may be never be anything like the first season of this show in terms of appointment podcasts, and utter fascination, but the third season makes for a head-spinning, and terribly saddening, companion piece to Running from COPS.
The rest (and not so much, but yeah): Homecoming, Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan, To Live and Die in L.A., Heavyweight, In the Dark.
Which, may be enough for now, no? It is. But I'll be back in ten years, though more importantly, for now, I'll be back in a few days with my These Things I Loved in 2019 Will Change Your Life list. And that might I add, will include a special guest. Mysterious, yes? Yes. Also exciting. See you soon.
*On the occasion of her birthday.
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