25 books, 25 albums, 10 breweries, 10 places to eat & 10 other places for 2015

preamble | books | albums | breweries | eats | other places

2015 was a year.  It was a nervous and risky, an angry and anxious, a confident, wonderful year.

In January, we sold the bookmobile.  In February, we flew out to Denver and found an apartment.  In March, we resigned from our jobs, donated most of our stuff to Goodwill, and drove the cats in our one remaining vehicle to our new home in Capitol Hill.  Nine months later, I can safely say that moving to Denver was the best decision we’ve (and I’ve) ever made.

Kelly got a badass librarian job.  I’ve settled into a service year with AmeriCorps, where I’m getting to try out two things I’ve always wanted to try: teaching math and coaching basketball.  I wrote one two-page short story and four notebooks’ worth of lesson plans.  We explored Denver inside-out, and, largely by virtue of moving four blocks away from The Denver Public Library, I read a lot of books, and I listened to a lot of music.

I experienced a lot of new things this year.  I’m here not so much to share some (eightyish) of those experiences with you, but to recommend that you experience all of these things for yourself.

Perhaps by now you know how I do this.  My books and albums lists are built from books and albums I first experienced in 2015, indiscriminate of release date.  I’ll occasionally, for one reason or another, elaborate on one of my choices.  I also try to include a sample of what to expect from each book, album, and place.  The books have links to excerpts (or individual stories from short story collections) and if not, to the book’s Goodreads page.  Each album has an embedded video of a song off the album.  The breweries, places to eat, and other places all include website links and (if applicable) photo links, which are often articles on/reviews of the place itself.  Uncredited photos were taken by Kelly or myself.

Please enjoy my list of way too many things, 25 books, 25 albums, 10 breweries, 10 places to eat, and 10 other places for 2015, and then go enjoy those things for yourself.

25 books for 2015

(NOTE: publication date is for original version)

(1)

zenos conscience

Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Calvino (1923)

(2)

exercises in style

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau (1947)

This book ought to be a Rhetoric & Composition course.

An unnamed narrator boards a very full bus and notices a man with a neck like a giraffe and a hat that has a plaited cord on it instead of a ribbon.  This man accuses the man next to him of purposefully stepping on his toes every time people get on and off the bus, and then flees to a seat which has just become available.  Two hours later, the narrator sees this man again, this time with a different man who is giving him advice about the placement of a button on his coat.

That’s the entire story.  But Queneau tells it ninety-nine different, delirium-inducing ways.

(3)

what we talk about

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (1981)

(4)

hard-boiled-wonderland

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World by Haruki Murakami (1985)

Gateway book.  The first of six Murakami books I read this year (currently reading:  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), and the best.

(5)

bark

Bark by Lorrie Moore (2014)

(6)

folded leaf

The Folded Leaf by William Maxwell (1945)

I want to turn this novel into a movie.

(7)

my documents

My Documents by Alejandro Zambra (2015)

(8)

tooth imprints

Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog by Mark Leyner (1995)

My inclusion of novels from Mark Leyner, Richard Brautigan, and Robert Coover are largely due to the excerpts of their work included in the fantastic anthology, Postmodern American Fiction, which I still haven’t finished.

(9)

orientation

Orientation and Other Stories by Daniel Orozco (2011)

(10-11)

dance dance dance  wild sheep chase

Dance Dance Dance (The Rat #4) (1988) & A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat #3) (1982) by Haruki Murkami

(Honorable Mention: Norwegian Wood [1987])

Told you.

(12)

at swim two birds

At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)

A story with a narrator who lies in bed all day writing a novel with a protagonist who lies in bed all day writing a novel where the characters take turns writing a story about inflicting harm upon their author.

(13)

go set a watchman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (2015*)

This novel complicates Atticus and Scout in important ways, and complements To Kill a Mockingbird nicely.  I can’t help but wonder if the south might be a little different now if this novel had been published sixty years ago.

(14)

As-she-climbed-across-the-table-jonathan-lethem

As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem (1997)

(15)

tetherballs of bougainville

The Tetherballs of Bougainville by Mark Leyner (1997)

(16)

speak

Speak by Louisa Hall (2015)

(17)

continental drift

Continental Drift by Russell Banks (1985)

(18)

bagombo snuff box

Bagombo Snuff Box: Unpublished Short Fiction by Kurt Vonnegut (1999)

(19)

TheUniversalBaseballAssociation

The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. by Robert Coover (1968)

Fantasy baseball, circa 1968.  Incredibly tragic.

(20)

woman-italian-petrella-review

An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey by Richard Brautigan (1994)

Idiosyncratic journaling as coping mechanism.  Also incredibly tragic.

(21)

sportswriter

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (1986)

(22)

ways-of-going-home

Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra (2011)

(23)

jimmy corrigan

Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (2000)

(24)

CITYbyCITY_mechFINAL.indd

City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis by Keith Gessen & Stephen Squibb (ed.) (2015)

Essays about American cities, since the recession.

(25)

citizen

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

#BlackLivesMatter

(top)

25 albums for 2015

(1)

i love you honeybear

I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty (2015)

When I was young, I dreamt of a passionate obligation to a roommate.

My year in music began with Father John Misty’s Bored in the USA, and it didn’t get better from there (though Tame Impala came close).  I Love You, Honeybear was also, due to the quality and magnitude of the Central Library’s music collection, one of few albums I actually purchased this year.

(2)

tame-impala-currents

Currents by Tame Impala (2015)

(3)

black messiah

Black Messiah by D’Angelo and The Vanguard (2014)

(4)

alvvays

Alvvays by Alvvays (2014)

(5)

multi love

Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2015)

(6)

alabama-shakes-sound-and-color

Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes (2015)

(7)

content nausea

Content Nausea by Parkay Quarts (2014)

(8)

isles

Isles by Wild Belle (2013)

(9)

LS.Michael.cover

Michael by Les Sins (2015)

(10)

Was-Dead-Reissue-Cover

Was Dead by King Tuff (2008)

(Honorable Mention: King Tuff [2012])

(11)

innerspeaker

Innerspeaker by Tame Impala (2010)

(12)

YACHT-SML-Cover

See Mystery Lights by YACHT (2009)

(13)

foil deer

Foil Deer by Speedy Ortiz (2015)

(14)

littleneonlimelight

Little Neon Limelight by Houndmouth (2015)

(15)

girls in peacetime

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance by Belle & Sebastian (2015)

(16)

Tennis-Ritual-In-Repeat

Ritual in Repeat by Tennis (2014)

(17)

run-the-jewels-cover-1373904337

Run the Jewels by Run the Jewels (2013)

This album was going to make the list anyway, but Killer Mike’s six-part conversation with Bernie, which you should definitely watch if you haven’t, took Run the Jewels to another level for me.

(18)

illmatic

Illmatic by Nas (1994)

(19)

Cayucas-Bigfoot1

Bigfoot by Cayucas (2013)

(20)

village green

The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)

(21)

AviBuffalo_20PT ALT PACKAGE 1 UP

Avi Buffalo by Avi Buffalo (2010)

(22)

feelin good

Feelin’ Good by Nightmares on Wax (2013)

(23)

ABT040 TOPS LP-Jacket 11183 v2

Picture You Staring by TOPS (2014)

(24)

amygdala

Amygdala by DJ Koze (2013)

(25)

heems-eat-pray-thug1

Eat Pray Thug by Heems (2015)

#25 could have been any number of albums.  John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts deserves an honorable mention.  I also enjoyed this year’s new releases from Modest Mouse, Wilco, and TV on the Radio.  But I think I enjoyed them because I enjoy the bands, not because the albums outrank any of their previous material.  If I’m going to listen to a Modest Mouse album, Strangers to Ourselves would be like my eighth choice.  Eat Pray Thug is a unique, and important, and tragic album.  I find myself listening to it less often than the others, because I gravitate more towards the other artists, but in two years it’ll probably be the only one of those four albums I listen to anymore.

(top)

10 breweries for 2015

(1)

IMG_3948

Ratio Beerworks

(2)

IMG_0889

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company

(3)

baere

Baere Brewing Company

(4)

co brew

CO-Brew

CO-Brew is a homebrewing supply store.  They also do homebrewing events in-store, including demonstrations and brewing parties.  They also brew their own beer, and, because of everything else they’re known for, it might be one of Denver’s best kept secrets that CO-Brew makes some of the best beer in the city.  They also make that beer available for $1 for a four-ounce taster.

(5)

mockery

Mockery Brewing Co

(6)

IMG_4117    IMG_4112

Tivoli Brewing Co.

(7)

fiction

Fiction Beer Company

(8)

great divide

Great Divide Brewing Co

(9)

lowdown

LowDown Brewery + Kitchen

(10)

twisted pine

Twisted Pine Brewing Co.

(top)

10 places to eat for 2015

(1)

bijus

Biju’s Little Curry Shop

The best and only little curry shop in town.

(2)

cheeky monk

Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe

Belgian beers and bangers and mash.

(3)

work and class

Work & Class

Meat, family-style.

(4)

sassafras

Sassafras American Eatery

Cajun-style brunch and Bloody Marys.

(5)

vesper lounge

Vesper Lounge*

Vesper comes with an asterisk.  Sure, they make the best chicken pita I’ve ever eaten, and their Sunday Cheeseburger Special – $10 for a draft and burger with your choice of cheese – is one of the best deals in town.  But Vesper seems to pride itself in being a dive bar.  It’s like the entire wait staff has conspired together to refuse to give you water, yet they are always sure to ask if I want a shot for the road.

(6)

moes bbq

Moe’s Original Bar B Cue

Pictured above is what I eat every time we go to Moe’s: a ‘Bama-style pulled pork sandwich, with two quality sides.

(7)

Centro-Interior

Centro

I’ve only been once, on our recent trip to Boulder, but their tacos are some of the best I’ve ever had, not just in Colorado, but anywhere.

(8)

***EVENT HEADLINE HERE***

Subculture

#1 in quantity of meals eaten at/from a place, but I’ve also never had a sub from Subculture I didn’t like, and I’ve tried a lot of different subs.

(9)

dos santos

Dos Santos

More tacos.  The presentation is nice.  The taste is even better.

(10)

avanti

Avanti Food & Beverage (A Collective Eatery)

Great concept and a great space.  A food hall with seven different restaurants to choose from, as well as a full bar with a reliable taplist.

Preview of 10 places to eat for 2016:

(1) Torchy’s Tacos

(top)

10 other places for 2015

(NOTE: all photos in this section were taken by Kelly or yours truly.)

(1)

IMG_0330    IMG_0320

The Denver Public Library

I imagine paradise as The Denver Public Library.

(2)

IMG_0675      IMG_0679

Denver Art Museum

Our introduction to the Denver Art Museum was an exceptional one.  Kelly has a friend whose mom is a docent there, and commonly gives guided tours to high schoolers.  She used her membership to get us in for free, and then proceeded to take us on a four-hour guided tour of the museum.  My favorite was the Sandy Skoglund set piece (above left), which has since been removed.  Kelly particularly enjoyed it because she somehow got me to pose for this photo:

IMG_3652

(3)

IMG_3723

The Big Wonderful

The sign says it all.  A seasonal outdoor market in RiNo with live music, food trucks, craft vendors, and a “Wonderful Hour” where it’s buy-one-get-a-mystery-beer.  It’s a place where, every time I go, I think, ‘You know what’d be perfect here? A bookmobile.’

(4)

IMG_0978     IMG_0981

Railyard Arts District (Santa Fe, NM)

I could write an entire essay on our Thanksgiving trip to Santa Fe, but I’ll limit myself to a few words on my favorite area of Santa Fe.  The Railyard Arts District is home to Second Street Brewery, Violet Crown Cinema (didn’t see a movie there but they have a good taplist), a year-round farmers market, and the Last Friday Art Walk, where on the final Friday evening of each month the art galleries and museums are open to the public.

(5)

IMG_0702    IMG_0732

IMG_0717    IMG_0670

IMG_0701    IMG_0331

River North Art District (RiNo)

The murals are fantastic, but RiNo is also home to my two favorite breweries, two of my top three places to eat, AND The Big Wonderful.  Just an all around great neighborhood.

(6)

IMG_4114    IMG_4115

Denver Flea

The location of the Flea, an occasional weekend pop-up market, varies, but it is always a good time.  The first one we went to was in a parking garage on Blake St., and the one pictured above was at the Sculpture Park and Performing Arts Complex.

(The Flea would, ahem, also be a great place for a bookmobile.)

(7)

IMG_3699

Clyfford Still Museum

Great art in a great space.

(8)

IMG_0884    IMG_0735

Denver Art SocietyArt District on Santa Fe

Santa Fe is also alive with murals and has a First Friday Art Walk, but if I had to pick one place on Santa Fe to visit, it’d be Denver Art Society.

(9)

IMG_0336

Civic Center Park

Seems like there’s always something going on at the Civic Center, from Civic Center Eats to music and fireworks on the Fourth of July to markets on Cinco de Mayo and Earth Day.  It’s a great space, and I’m glad to see it utilized so, well, civically.

(10)

IMG_3629

The Source

The Source is a great indoor market that also houses a brewery (Crooked Stave) and two places to eat (Acorn and Comida) that didn’t quite make the lists.  Go make an afternoon for yourself here sometime.

(top)

Thanks for reading, and remember to vote for Bernie in 2016.

Consider the Little Free Library

Little Free Libraries aren’t exactly new to me, nor to Colorado.  Most days I’ll walk by one in my neighborhood.  The one at the History Colorado Center comes to mind.  I even photographed one when Kelly and I visited last July for our anniversary.  Look:

IMG_0327
i have no idea where this is.

That trip, incidentally, was the trip where we decided we were going to move to Denver.

It isn’t difficult to find a Little Free Library.  But most people aren’t going to littlefreelibrary.org’s map of registered Little Free Libraries to find them.  More often than not, your first encounter with a Little Free Library is going to be by chance – while you’re empty-handed, or anyway bookless (or anyway without a book you’re ready to trade away just now).  So if you want to use that LFL, you either have to acknowledge its location and plan to return with books to exchange at a later time, or you take something now and leave nothing in its place.

For this reason, it’s important that the LFL be located somewhere that is well-peopled – so that there are enough people that acknowledge it and return with materials to donate to even out the people that take something and leave nothing.  This, unfortunately, does not appear to be happening (at least with the LFLs I have personally encountered).

When I last checked History Colorado’s Little Free Library, it had one copy of a recent (!) New Yorker and one book that nobody is ever, ever going to read.  If anyone was ever going to read it, it would have already been taken by someone (say, a transient).  What I’m saying is, it was empty.  Sorry, History Colorado.  There is no incentive to regularly visit this LFL (unless you enjoy passively giving books away to transients).

Now, there’s no reason to condemn or criticize any Little Free Library.  It’s encouraging and inspiring to see anyone want to reach out to their community in the name of sharing and literacy, whether it is a suburban family who places one in their front yard or the Byers-Evans House (another History Colorado site), whose LFL is inaccessible when the museum is closed.  LFLs are nothing if not well-intentioned.  And maybe the LFLs in suburban neighborhoods are thriving.  But those are insular, used only by that neighborhood’s residents, if at all.  They are not well-peopled by anyone outside of that neighborhood.  The form is, well, everywhere, but the function (again, of the ones I have personally come across) leaves something to be desired.

I believe that we (we!) can optimize the utility and cultural impact of Little Free Libraries if we (we!) do two things.  First, we construct LFLs at the best locations.  Second, we fill (and build) them with materials with which people actually want to engage.

So, then, where are the best locations?  As mentioned above, well-peopled spaces are key.  Community gathering spaces.  I have a bit of experience in finding these types of spaces and establishing a library presence at them.  What I’d like to see done here is very much in the spirit of what we accomplished as The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library – collaborating with local businesses, event organizers, and cultural institutions to take libraries out into the community.  But instead of a pop-up library inside of a 22′ truck, there’d be a series of permanent (albeit smaller) libraries located at well-peopled spaces throughout the community.

Two places immediately sprung to mind when I first began thinking on this: The Source and The Big Wonderful.  Little Free Libraries would work beautifully at both.  The Source is an indoor marketplace open daily; The Big Wonderful is a weekly (seasonal) outdoor market.  Both are local- and artisan-focused.  Both are planned destinations for thousands of people every week.  Both encourage you to look around and stay awhile.  Both encourage you to make repeated return trips.

These are the types of spaces at which Little Free Libraries should be built.  Natural community gathering spaces.  Event destinations.  At farmers markets like the ones on Old South Pearl Street and Highlands Square.  Other co-working and The Source-like spaces such as Industry, Avanti, and Taxi.  The Big Wonderful’s sister site that houses the Denargo Farm & Truck food park and the Friday Night Bazaar.  Public spaces like Cheesman Park or the Civic Center Cultural Complex.  This, obviously, is not an exhaustive list, nor should it be (and what do you want from me, I’ve only lived here for ten weeks), but you get the idea.

I do realize that The Denver Public Library is located within the Civic Center Cultural Complex (the 4C), but events like Civic Center Eats and the People’s Fair aren’t necessarily stimulating library attendance, and DPL isn’t really doing much in terms of outreach to get people at the 4C to go inside the library.  They did have their DPL Connect book trike set up at the Earth Day fair, but all they were doing was giving away withdrawn books.  I remember this well because, after taking Richard Ford’s Canada off their hands, I stood in front of their stand while I gawked at a shirtless dude (re: transient) dancing with middle fingers raised to New Radicals’ You Get What You Give in front of some radio station’s tent.  But if all you’re doing is giving away books for free, you don’t really need to put all those resources and personnel towards doing so.

In an ideal world, this Little Free Library project would be in collaboration with Denver Public Library.  LFLs would be a great place for DPL to redistribute their withdrawn books, and DPL would be a reliable resource for making sure LFLs are filled (perhaps with some library card applications and brochures alongside the books).

And with which types of materials are people more likely to engage?  That’s harder to gauge.  Ranganathan’s second and third laws of library science come in handy here: every reader his or her book, and every book its reader, respectively.  Every person who comes upon a Little Free Library should find something of interest, and every item in the LFL should be of interest to someone.  This means the LFL’s collection should be diverse, and that if you are donating materials to it, you should be proud of what you’re putting in there (i.e. you’ve either personally enjoyed it or you could see someone enjoying it).

I do think the Little Free Library “Take a Book, Return a Book” motto and Ranganathan’s laws of library science oversimplify what it means to be a library.  They are both too book-centric.  As The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library, we touted ourselves as “purveyors of information and culture, of literacy and entertainment.”  And really, that applies to all libraries.  But information, culture, literacy, and entertainment are not limited to books.  If a LFL truly wishes to have something for everyone – to truly represent a library – then its collection should be expanded to include other sources of information, culture, literacy, and entertainment – CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, zines, magazines, small instruments, crafts, seeds, tools, works of art, etc.

I also mentioned parenthetically that LFLs should be constructed with engaging materials.  There is no stagnant image of what a Little Free Library looks like, or should look like.

see?

This LFL at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Downtown Manhattan created by the architectural firm Stereotank is pretty much flawlessly designed.  There is space to comfortably spend time inside of the library, as well as peepholes all around it so you can browse the collection from the outside to see if going inside is worth your time.  This inside-out type of design is extremely engaging and interactive, and is really the kind of Little Free Library I’d like to see built in these (particularly outdoor) spaces.

For instance, every time I walk past the empty red telephone box outside of Pint’s Pub, I think about how awesome it would be if it were transformed into a library.  And who knows.  Maybe we can make that happen.  I’m sure there are plenty of other spaces around town that are readymade for a rogue library – old newspaper boxes, for instance.  Or whatever this used to be:

I’d also like to approach this, at least in part, as a public art project, where a Little Free Library’s form is the main, or at least a complementary, draw.  This mean’s collaborating with Denver’s makers – street artists, painters, sculptors, woodworkers, welders, architects, other DIY folk – to put the aesthetic of the construction itself into focus.  Again, there is no good description of what these installations would look like, but this robolibrary is a pretty good example:

Another natural community partner with this project would be the Denver Tool Library, “a place where community members can share their resources, whether that means tools, time, space, skills, or ideas, so that everyone becomes more inspired, productive, and empowered.”  Sounds like a place to get stuff done, and where a project like this would be celebrated.

Obviously, this is just a thought experiment.  The last time I had this type of thought experiment, it slowly evolved into something big.  But it took time, and it required cooperation and support from my community.  An undertaking like this cannot be carried out by one person, but rather asks that local businesses, local artists, and local libraries work in concert with one another in the name of community and literacy.  It would require a big, collective effort.  But now that I’ve meditated on it for 1,600 words, I think I’m ready to get to work.

How about you?

25 books, 25 albums & 10 places to eat for 2014

I’m back for another roundup of books, albums, and eats that I would highly recommend you experience for yourselves.  Per usual, these lists are of things that I personally experienced for the first time in twenty-fourteen, and not strictly books, albums, and places to eat that debuted this year.

Please enjoy.

books | albums | eats

25 books for 2014

(1)

st lucy's home

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell (2006)

(2)

safety of objects

The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes (1990)

(3)

Why-Did-I-Ever

Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison (2001)

(4)

mezzanine

The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker (1988)

(5)

1004

10:04 by Ben Lerner (2014)

(6)

elect mr robinson

Elect Mr. Robinson For a Better World by Donald Antrim (1993)

(7)

wise blood

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (1952)

(8)

rachel papers

The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis (1993)

(9)

although-of-course_custom-68ada2df98079e3ca0df7dee75e4b597342ec285-s6-c30

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky (2010)

(10)

birdsofamerica

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (1998) *

(11)

rise and fall of great powers

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman (2014)

(12)

lucinella

Lucinella by Lore Segal (1976)

(13)

Chabon-Mysteries-of-Pittsburgh_24951562_001_Christies1-408x530

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (1988)

(14)

vampires of the lemon grove

Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Other Stories by Karen Russell (2013)

(15)

one more thing

One More Thing: Stories and More Stories by B.J. Novak (2014)

(16)

who will run the frog hospital

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore (1994)

(17)

Wolf-in-White-Van-Cover

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle (2014)

(18)

cant and wont

Can’t and Won’t (stories) by Lydia Davis (2014)

(19-20)

countdown city worldoftrouble_final

Countdown City (2013) & World of Trouble (2014) by Ben Winters

(21)

dud avocado

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (1958)

(22)

your fathers where are they

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers (2014)

(23)

third policeman

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien (1967)

(24)

magic christian

The Magic Christian by Terry Southern (1959)

(25)

dept of speculation

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)

25 albums for 2014, with audiovisuals

NOTE: 2014 was my second year as co-proprietor and curator of my own donation-dependent traveling library.  We had several hundred albums donated to us this year, and I (at least cursorily) listened to most of them.  So while I did do my fair share of music exploration independent of that, several of the items on this list are a direct result of the kindness of my community.

(1)

st vincent

St. Vincent by St. Vincent (2014)

* In an interview with Salon, Annie Clark explicitly stated that she read Birds of America while creating this album, and phrases like “birth in reverse” and “bring me your loves” were lifted directly from those stories.  Learning this (not to mention seeing St. Vincent live twice this year) enriched this album for me, as well as my reading of Birds of America.  Both, obviously, are highly recommended.

(2)

salad days

Salad Days by Mac Demarco (2014)

(3)

brian-eno-here-come-the-warm-jets

Here Come the Warm Jets by Brian Eno (1973)

(4)

black moon spell

Black Moon Spell by King Tuff (2014)

(5)

WYR0514tubejktnoguidlines

Sunbathing Animal by Parquet Courts (2014)

(6)

marry-me-by-st-vincent_-uafkz

Marry Me by St. Vincent (2007)

(7)

brian_eno_-_1974_taking_tiger_mountain_by_strategy

Taking Tiger Mountain by Brian Eno (1974)

(8)

they want my soul

They Want My Soul by Spoon (2014)

(9)

tom petty and the heartbreakers

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)

(10)

Tune-Yards-Nikki-Nack

Nikki Nack by Tune-Yards (2014)

(11)

held in splendor

Held in Splendor by Quilt (2014)

(12)

hit vibes

Hit Vibes by Saint Pepsi (2013)

(13)

Willie-Nelson-Shotgun-Willie-450408

Shotgun Willie by Willie Nelson (1973)

(14)

Thao-With-The-Get-Down-Stay-Down-We-The-Common1

We the Common by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down (2013)

(15)

real estate atlas

Atlas by Real Estate (2014)

(16)

milkeyedmender

The Milk-Eyed Mender by Joanna Newsom (2004)

(17)

37526_de_la_soul_-_3_feet_high_and_rising_a

3 Feet High and Rising  by De La Soul (1989)

(18)

the-unseen-5019b2ea27b0f

The Unseen by Quasimoto (2000)

(19)

ShadowDJ-PrivatePressThe

The Private Press by DJ Shadow (2002)

(20)

RunTheJewelsRTJ2

Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels (2014)

(21)

logos

Logos by Atlas Sound (2009)

(22)

meters rejuvenation

Rejuvenation by The Meters (1974)

(23)

mumps etc

Mumps, etc. by WHY? (2012)

(24)

rising down

Rising Down by The Roots (2008)

(25)

red headed stranger

Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson (1975)

10 places to eat for 2014

(1)

birdhouse

 

My love for the guys behind The Bird House (and H-Town StrEATs) is nothing new, but Bird House gets the number one spot due to the sheer volume of fried chicken I’ve eaten since they opened.  “Fried chicken & badass sides” indeed.  Where else are you going to get shrimp and grits balls?

(2)

Cuchara_Restuarant_t580

 

I implore you to leave Cuchara in a worse mood than when you walked in.  Great food, vibrant atmosphere, incomparable art, and (at least both times I’ve gone) roving live music.

(3)

urban eats

 

I recently celebrated my (twenty-ninth) birthday at Urban Eats on the second day of their soft opening.  It was probably the single best dining experience I have ever had in my life.  And while that experience will be difficult to replicate, I fully intend for Urban Eats to become one of my go-to places to eat around town.

(4)

extshepherdpark

(5)

pita bites

 

Everything I’ve ever had from Pita Bites has been amazing, but the chicken shawarma and grape leaves lead the pack.  And the husband and wife who run it are two of the nicer fellow truckers I’ve encountered.

(6)

crisp_logo_w300

 

Go for the pizza and Friday night flights.

(7)

wokker tx ranger

(8)

ninfas on navigation

(9)

local foods

(10)

coltivare

 

Thanks for reading.  2015’s lists should look a little different, so make sure to come on back.  Hell, I may even write something else between now and then.

Cheers!

twenty albums, twenty books, ten trucks & ten restaurants for 2012

Albums / Books / Trucks / Restaurants

20 Albums for 2012:

(1)

dr_dog_be_the_void

Be the Void by Dr. Dog (2012)

(2)

alien lanes

Alien Lanes by Guided by Voices (1995)

(3)

channel orange

Channel Orange by Frank Ocean (2012)

(4)

Love This Giant by David Byrne & St. Vincent (2012)

(5)

dirty-projectors-swing-lo-magellan-608x608

Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors (2012)

(6)

key lime pie

Key Lime Pie by Camper Van Beethoven (1989)

(7)

young and old

Young & Old by Tennis (2012)

(8)

A Thing Called Divine Fits by Divine Fits (2012)

(9)

Lonerism by Tame Impala (2012)

(10)

wild-nothing-gemini-cover-art

Gemini by Wild Nothing (2010)

(11)

Underneath the Pine by Toro y Moi (2011)

(12)

nehru jackets

Nehru Jackets by Himanshu (2012)

(13)

three_eps

The Three EPs by The Beta Band (1999)

(14)

Radlands by Mystery Jets (2012)

(15)

sleigh-bells-reign-of-terror

Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells (2012)

(16)

theesatisfaction-awe-naturale1

Awe Naturale by THEESatisfaction (2012)

NOTE: THEESatisfaction also released a free EP called THEESatisfaction Loves Anita Baker, which is also very good, and which introduced me to Anita Baker.  I picked up her album Rapture from the library, and made a remixed version of her original “Sweet Love” with THEESatisfaction’s “Cabin Fever Sweet Love”.  I’m quite proud of it, and you can download it here.

(17)

alabamashakes

Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes (2012)

(18)

The-Drums-Portamento-608x608

Portamento by The Drums (2011)

(19)

Keep it Like a Secret by Built to Spill (1999)

(20)

Tom Tom Club (1981)

20 Books for 2012:

(1)

White Teeth by Zadie Smith (a gateway book if there ever was one, see below)

(2)

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

(3)

Cathedral by Raymond Carver

(4)

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

(5)

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

(6)

The Floating Opera & The End of the Road by John Barth

(7)

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

(8)

Post Office by Charles Bukowski

(9)

Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor

(10)

Short Cuts by Raymond Carver (previously)

(11)

Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

(12)

NW by Zadie Smith

(13)

Goodbye, Columbus & Five Short Stories by Philip Roth

(14)

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max

(15)

The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

(16)

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

(17)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

(18)

Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem

(19)

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

(20)

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

NOTE:  This list was originally written for the HCPL blog on 12/5/2012.  The links in the covers and the titles will direct you to each book’s record in HCPL’s catalog, from which you can reserve any of the above titles.  While all of the titles are currently available from HCPL, I still consider it a basically authentic list.  However, in the last few weeks, I did read DFW’s Girl With Curious Hair (which, incidentally, is not in HCPL’s system), as well as his posthumous essay collection, Both Flesh and Not (which is), both of which would have made the list had I made it today.

10 Trucks for 2012:

(1)

The Rice Box

(2)

Stick It

(3)

Bare Bowls

NOTE:  As co-founder of an aspiring food truck (slinging food for thought) myself, it has been important for us to acquaint ourselves with the food truck community.  A lot of that has been simply acquainting food truck food with our bellies for the past ten months straight, sort of feeling out behind the scenes who we want to work with, and where, all the while enjoying some of the best food in Houston.  The folks who run these first three trucks have not only embraced our project wholeheartedly and welcomed us into the community, but they also make some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.  The following seven aren’t too shabby either.  Actually, as a general rule, if you see a food truck in Houston, you should probably stop and try their food.

(4)

Ladybird

(5)

Bernie’s Burger Bus

(6)

Eatsie Boys

(7)

Pi Pizza Truck

(8)

Coreanos

(9)

Koagie Hots

(10)

Good Dog Hot Dogs

10 Restaurants for 2012:

(1)

Roost

(2)

Beaver’s

(3)

BRC Gastropub

(4)

Nabi (RIP)

(5)

Pollo Campero

(6)

Torchy’s Tacos

(7)

La Fendee Mediterranean Grill

(8)

La Guadalupana

(9)

Santa Fe Flats

(10)

Les Givral’s Kahve

Thanks for reading, and here’s to 2013.  Cheers.

fifteen albums for the seven-twelfths year

For me, July was a great month for music, and I’m glad.

I tried to sit down and do this at the end of last month but, obviously, failed.  I looked over the list of candidates for favorite albums for the half-year and was decidedly disappointed.  I put the notebook away and quickly forgot about it.

And then July started.  The new Dirty Projectors and Frank Ocean albums were released.  Amazon.com went apeshit and made a ton of good-to-great and/or lauded albums available for download for $2.99, or at least under $5 (including the aforementioned Dirty Projectors and Frank Ocean albums [if it isn’t under $5 at the time that you click on it: you snooze, you lose]).  I made the list again, and this time it’s more to my liking.  I have enough good-to-great albums to share with you now.

Without further ado:

Fifteen Albums for the Seven-Twelfths Year, 2012:

(1)

Be the Void by Dr. Dog (2012)

(2)

Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors (2012)

(3)

Alien Lanes by Guided by Voices (1995)

(4)

Key Lime Pie by Camper Van Beethoven (1989)

(5)

Young & Old by Tennis (2012)

(6)

Channel Orange by Frank Ocean (2012)

(7)

The Three EPs by The Beta Band (1999)

(8)

Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells (2012)

(9)

Portamento by The Drums (2011)

(10)

Awe Naturale by Theesatisfaction (2012)

(11)

The Flaming Lips and Heavy Fwends (2012)

(12)

Gemini by Wild Nothing (2010)

(13)

Nootropics by Lower Dens (2012)

(14)

Nehru Jackets by Himanshu (2012)

(15)

Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes (2012)

So, there you have it.  Fifteen recommendations.  Fifteen albums to Spotify (v.) before the end of the world (97 days?  142 days?  Who knows?).  Cheers.