Belgian Quinquennial, Pt. 2: Beer

I’m back again for the second in my series of posts recapping Our Great Belgian Adventure. We started off with food, and this time we’re staying pretty low on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with beer.


Belgium and beer go together like…er…Belgium…and…waffles. The two words are so intertwined in my mind that I can’t help but think of one when I hear the other. As I may have mentioned, we perceived Belgium to be somewhat of a beer utopia, and through our visit that perception turned to knowledge.

The pinnacle of my beer-drinking experience, not just in Belgium but probably for my entire life, came on the third day of our trip. I don’t remember how exactly I found it, but somewhere in my research I came across the Zythos Bierfestival, a token-based beer fest in Leuven, a college town just east of Brussels, that just so happened to be taking place during our visit. For €15 each, you got a “start pack” that included a glass and 8 tokens, each good for one 10 cl pour. For an extra €10, you got 10 extra tokens.

To get there, we fairly painlessly caught a train at the Brussels North Station (or Gare du Nord) to the Leuven Station, from (and to) which ZBF was offering a free shuttle, called the Pendelbus, directly to the event. We rode the Pendelbus there with easily 200 other people.

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Gulden Draak sighting.

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We arrived at ZBF with 13 tokens each at our disposal and just, like, way too many beers from which to choose. Belgium is known for making a million different types of beer, and all of them were available here. While it was hard to go wrong with any one choice, I wanted to use my tokens wisely, to both gravitate towards what sounded good, but also to try some of the more quintessential Belgian beers. You’re supposed to try a gueuze in Belgium, so I had a gueuze. You’re supposed to try a lambic in Belgium, so I had a lambic. And then I had 11 other tokens for oud bruins and quadrupels and tripels and saisons and whatnot.

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a few tokens in.

I had a feeling that when we were in Belgium that we would cross paths with someone else who lived in Denver, and I think we did at ZBF, but I’m not positive. On several different occasions, as well as on the Pendelbus back to town, we crossed paths with a guy who was sporting a Spangalang t-shirt. Kelly kept egging me on to approach him, but there was no point where I was drunk enough to choose to interact with him. I myself was wearing my Ratio hat, a clear sign for anyone who knows Ratio to approach me. And if you’re a Denver local and you know Spangalang, then you also know Ratio. So anyway, I don’t know. We never made eye contact, never recognized one recognizing the other. Maybe he was hesitant like I was, under-inebriated. Or maybe the Spangalang shirt was a gift and he only spoke Dutch. The mystery will forever remain.

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Reppin’ Ratio

When we got back to Leuven station, I wanted to explore the town a bit. But apparently on Sundays the entire city shuts down, and all that’s left is its beautiful architecture and sculptures of dudes pouring “wisdom” over their heads.

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Fonske

Belgium is also a place where you’re supposed to try a kriek. That was the first beer I had in Belgium, at A La Mort Subite, at about 6am Denver time, going on a full day without sleep. It was a weird first Belgian beer bar experience. The waiter called my beer a “cherry beer” seemingly mockingly, cigarette smoke (including that from our waiter) poured into the bar, and a busload of schoolchildren entered, exited, and then entered again, all at the height of my jet lag. The menu was also organized in such a way that I didn’t realize that I was drinking a house-brewed kriek, that A La Mort Subite was apparently also our first Belgian brewery experience. It wasn’t one that I would necessarily call positive, but in retrospect I’m going to chalk that up to the jet lag.

The next brewery we went to was L’Ermitage Nanobrasserie. Actually, the next brewery we went to was Cantillon but that was rather short-lived. Cantillon is also home of the Brussels Gueuze Museum. When we got to Cantillon, there was an incredibly long line of people holding tickets standing outside. Surely, we thought, this was the line for the museum, not the brewery. So, doing our best capital-A American impression, we walked past everyone in line and went inside, were immediately asked for our tickets, and walked right back outside.

Fortunately, serendipitously, on the way to Cantillon, we had walked past L’Ermitage. The day before we had tried L’Ermitage at a beer bar (see below), but otherwise it had not remotely been on our radar. I believe that what we stumbled upon was a satellite party for whatever was going on at Cantillon. I should probably mention that this was all happening on May Day, which is a national holiday in Belgium. €10 got you four tokens, and each token got you one 4 to 8 oz pour. They were pouring their own beer, as well as Cantillon’s and a third brewery, the Vermont-based Hill Farmstead Brewery (???). They were also serving up BBQ and crepes and it was generally just a good time. We used two tokens each, Kelly bought a shirt, and we went on our way.

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Our next brewery visit was not without its embarrassments. I had planned it all out. We would get off the Hop On Hop Off bus (see Pt. 3: Brussels Card) at Tour & Taxis, walk to En Stoemelings, then make it to MIMA before they closed. Pretty much none of this went as planned. It should have been sign enough that the Hop On Hop Off bus skipped the Tour & Taxis stop and instead dropped us off a half-mile further from En Stoemelings. But it wasn’t. I knew basically nothing about En Stoemelings, other than that they brewed a few beers. But I was determined to get there. All I had to get us there was an offline version of Google maps and my marking of where En Stoemelings vaguely appeared to be on my Hop On Hop Off map. We walked (read: marched) 1.5 miles of unredeeming road, got to where my maps indicated a brewery should be, and found…a school. We walked a bit in a few different directions and then I, feeling completely defeated, prepared for the mile and a half walk back to anything of interest. On the way back, we paid a little closer attention to this place we had walked by, called Greenbizz, that had appeared to be a giant storage facility but in reality is more of a business incubator.  Its tenants were listed outside and, sure enough, En Stoemelings was one of the tenants.

We made our way back to their warehouse and quickly came to the realization that this was not what you think of when you think of a brewery. It’s a brewery insofar as they manufacture beer, but not a brewery that you would walk a mile and a half to get a beer at. There was no taproom, or waitstaff, or cash register. It was strictly a place where they brewed beer. The owner, clearly busy doing other things, asked us in Dutch and then to our confused faces in English, “May I help you?” We said something to the extent of, “We would like a beer, please?” As though it weren’t obvious to us already, he explained to us that they weren’t, as of yet anyway, that kind of brewery, but added that since we’d walked to the middle of nowhere to find them that we deserved a beer. He told us about the three kinds of beers they brewed, and we each chose a different one. This being a new, or at the very least uncommon, experience for him, we could tell he didn’t know what to charge us and landed on €5, basically saying it as a question. Kelly paid him, he went back to what he was doing, and we drank, a little too quickly and awkwardly to fully appreciate it, what Kelly referred to as “pity beer.” Afterwards we walked back to civilization and made it back to MIMA in time, only to discover that they were, and had for some days been, closed while installing a new exhibition.

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pity beer.

My favorite brewery experience was at Brussels Beer Project, a crowdfunded brewery in the Dansaert neighborhood that specializes in collaboratively created experimental beers. After discovering that MIMA was closed, we walked on to BBP. And that had actually been the plan – En Stoemelings, then MIMA, then BBP. Despite ourselves, the last part actually went according to plan. And because of this, BBP doesn’t really come with much of an anecdote. We just kicked back, tried a few beers, took a few photos. I got my Belgium beer souvenir in the form of a BBP hat. We went back the next day for some more. So, uhhhh, yeah. If there’s one brewery you try while you’re in Brussels (or Paris, or Tokyo), make it Brussels Beer Project. Those guys know what they’re doing.

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Our default place to get a drink in Brussels was at the Delirium Village, an admittedly touristy campus of interconnected bars that serves just about everything Brouwerij Huyghe has to offer as well as an overwhelming number of guest taps. The Village has eight different bars, but we stuck to two of them: Delirium Café and Delirium Monasterium. The café had your standard Delirium selection, as well as a somewhat dauntingly named one called La Guillotine and a good number of guest taps. It was decorated with old beer signs, with all of the signs for the same brand next to each other so you could see how the signs evolved over time. It was very dark in there and I guess we didn’t get any good shots of this, but here are some photos we did take:

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Endless taps, plastic cup, and Le Guillotine.

The Monasterium, as the name suggests, served primarily trappist beers. It was decorated, perhaps not surprisingly, like a monastery.

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The Village also dead-ends into the Jeanneke Pis, the sister statue of the infamous pissing boy. So all-in-all it is a very weird place with very exceptional beer. And that’s why we went there three different days.

Now, gather ’round as I relate to you a Brussels beer bar mystery.

Mondays are a day where seemingly the entire city shuts down. Most museums are closed. Art galleries are closed. Many restaurants are closed. Every park we tried to go to was either closed or taped off. It probably didn’t help that the only Monday we spent in Brussels was sandwiched between Sunday and a national holiday. So, understanding that a lot of things would be closed Monday (not necessarily every park, but still), we set out for an explore day. Brussels is the capital of Europe and headquarters of the European Union, so we walked through the European Quarter where all the EU buildings are located. This area was not immune to incredibly weird art.

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This guy has no idea what’s going on.

If you do visit Belgium, I highly recommend downloading the USE-IT app in advance. It’s geared toward “young travelers” and uses local knowledge to map out things of interest. AND the maps work offline, which is great when your phone is an ocean away from its network. USE-IT also maps out various walks so that you can take sort of self-guided tours throughout various neighborhoods. From the EU we followed one of the walks around for a little bit (or as best we could since we couldn’t walk through the parks) until we got to the Flagey neighborhood in southeast Brussels. Flagey had been on my radar from my research, but once we actually got there, nothing was really calling to us. So we started back north towards more familiar areas and came upon this bar called Contrebande. This is where things start getting strange.

Overall the experience at Contrebande was great. They have a rotating set of two monthly taps from none other than L’Ermitage, as well as a pretty spectacular bottle selection. Our server was an aspiring actor whose mom lives in California and was extremely personable in telling us what other great bars were nearby while also assuring us that we were at the best bar in town.

Here’s the strange part. When we arrived, we were the only customers there, and the place was silent. After surmising that we were American, another guy that worked there used his laptop to find the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 on YouTube, and started playing it.

I know what you’re thinking. (1) How do you know they did this because you’re American? and (2) What’s so strange about that? Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 is a perfectly enjoyable thing to listen to at a bar. Well, (1) I don’t but I’m pretty sure, and (2) just wait.

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After Contrebande, we were heading to some bar or another when we stumbled upon another bar that had piqued my interest in my pre-trip research, La Porte Noire. It was one of those serendipitous, “oh that’s where that place is” types of things. From the street you have to walk downstairs to get inside. It very much has the feel of a cave, but is really a cellar that “once served as a kitchen for the nuns of the Alexien Convent.” And you’ll never guess what was playing when we got there.

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That’s right. It was Awesome Mix, Vol. 1.

Now, this felt like more than just coincidence, and I had (and continue to have) a lot of questions. How was it that two completely unrelated bars, in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, were playing the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack 30-45 minutes apart? How successful was Guardians of the Galaxy in Belgium? What about the sequel? Why weren’t they playing Awesome Mix, Vol. 2? It’s on YouTube. Is this just the standard for what Brussels bars play to appease Americans? Was this just a glitch in the matrix? I resolved to spend the rest of our trip finding the answers to these questions, but there was no other point in time where we heard Awesome Mix, Vol. 1. Only at these two consecutive beer bars.

Themed bars are also a thing in Brussels, and we couldn’t not check out a couple of them. One was a puppet-themed bar right beside the Manneken Pis, called Poechnellekelder, and the other was a skeleton/coffin-themed bar in an alley around the corner from the Grand Palace, called Le Cercueil. Both were incredibly fun, but this has been a fairly long post, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The last place we went for a drink had such an unappealing name that I had all but dismissed it. Brewdog. A Scottish-turned-Columbus, Ohio brewery with taprooms all over the world? I’m still not even sure what it technically was. Their taplist was about 2/3 Brewdog beer and 1/3 guest beer. I had their barleywine, we played shuffleboard upstairs, and that was that. The experience was better than the name.

Brussels grocery stores also have a very generous selection of extremely reasonably-priced beer. The one near our hotel sold bombers of Lupulus Blonde for €4. In terms of cost efficiency, grocery beer is definitely the way to go, but the prices at the bars and breweries we went to were typically cheaper than their American equivalents. And did I mention this was all Belgian beer?


Thus concludes my love song to Belgian beer. Tune in next time for part three of my series, where I’ll talk about how we gamed the system by buying Brussels Cards.

17 books, 17 albums & 17 places for twenty-seventeen

preamble | books | albums | places

Well, we made it. But we haven’t got much time before your internet service provider charges you extra to look at free WordPress blogs, so we’d better get moving.

2017 was a year. It was a year that was graciously one day shorter than its predecessor, so there’s that. It was a year of blah blah blah blah blah. Let’s move on, shall we?

Please enjoy this year’s list of fifty-odd books, albums, and places I discovered in 2017. Per usual, these are all things that I suggest you discover for yourself, and I have worked to make it relatively easy for you to at least begin to do so. Books have links to excerpts (when available). Albums uniformly include videos and Spotify links. Places link to web presences and should be read as a sort of photoessay. Non-credited photos taken by yours truly or #mywife (and used with permission).

17 books for 2017

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lincoln in the bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017)

I read this book twice. Once on its own, once while listening to the 166-narrator audiobook (incidentally the only audiobook I’ve ever listened to). George Saunders’ first novel. Postmodern historical fiction. Won the Man Booker Prize. Just read it already, what are you waiting for?

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Zeroville by Steve Erickson (2007)

This year’s gateway book. The first of seven Steve Erickson books I read this year, and the best of the lot. Kind of excited to see what James Franco will do with it.

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One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel (2017)

The first book I read this year (as an ARC), motivated in part by a George Saunders blurb. Brutal and horrifying. Five stars.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

This book is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, and exceptionally written.

(5)

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What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Amirah (2017)

My favorite short story collection from this year. I started an International Reading Club at my library where we read a short story set in another region of the world and then discuss it over some snacks from that region. “Light” from this collection was the first story we read.

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We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2017)

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay anthology, one per year of Obama’s presidency and one in the aftermath of what’s-his-name winning the presidency, is both depressing and thought-provoking. A lot of these essays are available online. Read some or all of them.

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Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2017)

The title really says it all. A quick, important read.

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The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)

One of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for years. The longest, eighth best book I read this year.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

Really enjoyed the show Hulu made out of this, so I read the book with the visual realization fresh on my mind. Would recommend both.

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Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano (2017)

Shea asks the questions you didn’t know needed to be asked, like “Who would have the better 1997-98 season if they changed places, Karl Malone or a bear?” then answers them definitively. Hilarious and fantastically illustrated.

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These Dreams of You (2012) & Shadowbahn (2017) by Steve Erickson

Sister novels, and the second and third of what I would call masterpieces by Steve Erickson.

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The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon (1956)

A book about the West Indian immigrant experience in ’50s London. Another candidate for my International Reading Club.

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Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Nicole LeBlanc (2003)

Narrative non-fiction. Nicole LeBlanc spent ten years with this family and put together something extraordinary. Reads like a trainwreck.

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X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century by Chuck Klosterman (2017)

Another really good book of essays that you can find the majority of on the internet.

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The Prank by Anton Chekhov (1882)

A self-selection of Chekhov’s comic stories. This was my introduction to Chekhov and I loved it. I tried to read a different compilation, The Essential Tales of Chekhov, afterwards and just couldn’t get into it, so I think this is where I have to stop with Chekhov.

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Player Piano

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut (1952)

Vonnegut’s first novel, and the last of Vonnegut’s published works for me to read. Not his best and not his worst. He hadn’t yet found that vintage Vonnegut voice, but you can see it in there peeking out. I read this after reading Ginger Strand’s The Brothers Vonnegut, a biographical account of Kurt and his brother Bernard’s time at General Electric, which is really the backdrop on which Player Piano is satirically set.

NOTE: Next year I’ll be participating in Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge. It’s an opportunity to beef up on my Reader’s Advisory skills by foraying into genres I haven’t traditionally gravitated toward. I mentioned last year that, since I wasn’t participating in any challenges this year, that I’d have the opportunity to read some of the more time-consuming novels I’ve been putting off. I knocked Augie March off that list, but several others remain unread. Fortunately, a couple fit the criterion for the Read Harder Challenge, so I will almost definitely read them in 2018.

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17 albums for 2017

Looking at this list, I tended to stick to what I knew this year. A lot of my favorite artists put out new albums, and so that took up a good bit of my album-listening this year. A lot of these albums are really good, but I’m not sure anything from this year will ultimately impact my all-time favorites list. But that’s just me.

This is also the year I primarily started using Spotify, which has both altered the way I listen to music and the amount of music I listen to. Spotify is both a discovery tool AND gives me access to pretty much any artist, album, and/or song I can think of. The result, for me, has been a tendency away from listening to albums and towards listening to individual songs.

All this to say that maybe I’m not the best authority on albums here in the year 2017 (but maybe check out my playlists?). Nevertheless, these are my seventeen favorite album discoveries of the year.

(1)

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Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings (1973)

(2)

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american dream by LCD Soundsystem (2017)

(3)

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MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent (2017)

I like to read the title of this album as “Más seduction”. Happy Birthday, Johnny knocks me out every time.

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Sleep Well Beast by The National (2017)

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Guppy by Charly Bliss (2017)

Indie pop. Twee AF.

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power corruption and lies

Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order (1983)

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Abandoned Mansion by Dr. Dog (2016)

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Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile (2017)

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yours conditionally

Yours Conditionally by Tennis (2017)

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Science Fiction by Brand New (2017)

Goes to show that the 2004 version of me is still in there somewhere. I will defend this choice as necessary.

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Colors by Beck (2017)

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antisocialites

Antisocialites by Alvvays (2017)

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Rocket by (Sandy) Alex G (2017)

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hugofthunder

Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene (2017)

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a dream in sound

A Dream in Sound by Elf Power (1999)

I did a bit of exploration of the Elephant 6 label this year. Let this be its representative.

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everything now

Everything Now by Arcade Fire (2017)

This album is difficult to rank. If you turned this into an EP, it’d be pretty solid. As a full-length, it’s hit or miss. Not sure whether my enjoyment of Put Your Money On Me is ironic or not. We saw them perform at an under-booked Pepsi Center this year, and I genuinely don’t know if the under-booking was orchestrated by the band as some sort of statement on consumer culture, or because nobody liked the new album. Either way, we wound up in seats way more expensive than what we paid, and I experienced one of my favorite live performances of all-time. Ultimately, the concert is probably why Everything Now gets a spot.

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The B-52’s (1979)

NOTE: I’ve created a playlist with all of the videos I’ve included in this section for ease of access. Here it is:

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17 places for 2017

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Home

2017 was one of the grimmest years on the darkest timeline that is American history, but for me, somehow, it was a year of successes. After a second year of teaching kids math, I returned to the library world, and am both loving and kind of kicking ass at it. After I started the new job, we bought a house. Its location is pretty much as close to ideal as it gets, as you will see from what follows. Since moving, I also bought and paid off a new car, and completely paid off of my student loan debt.

(I would accept a less personally successful 2018 if we could turn the House and Senate next November. No matter how good things have been for me as an individual, I’ve woken up every morning in 2017 angry and ashamed at the direction American leadership has taken.

But anyway.)

(2)

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The Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project

I don’t know what I’m supposed to call this place for short. Their website is sojournerbeers.com. Am I supposed to call them Sojourner? Anyway, I call this place Intrepid. Hands down my favorite new brewery in Greater Denver. Incredibly inventive and flavorful beers, including a Turkish Coffee Stout and the best IPA I’ve ever had, their Basil IPA. I have both met realtors here and taken my coworkers here for Happy Hour. Pairs well with First Friday Art Walks.

(3-6)

Food Halls

I spent time in three different metropolitan areas (metropoles) this year, and food halls were a common bond between the three. My favorite four were as follows, in the following order:

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Krog Street Market, Atlanta, GA

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Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall, Houston, TX

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The Denver Central Market

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Stanley Marketplace

I have an ideal version of what a food hall is supposed to look like: an abundance of food vendors with an interesting, reasonably priced variety of options; a local beer selection that you can carry around with you; ample communal seating at which to eat and drink.

Atlanta overall had the best food halls. Krog Street is my representative here, but Ponce City Market was also pretty fun. It checked all of the boxes and provided the best overall atmosphere. To get there from where we were staying in Cabbagetown, we had to walk through this amazing graffiti-filled tunnel:

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So it gets bonus points for that.

Conservatory in Houston was also pretty great. A kind of grungy, literally underground food hall, it also checked all of the boxes. It has a communal space but it also has walls. We sat in a booth in the corner of a room on the other side of four arcade games, drank beer, and ate some incredible Vietnamese food.

I think Denver is still in need of food halls that check all of the boxes. The Denver Central Market has a really fantastic selection (the shakshuka at Izzio is one of the more memorable meals I’ve had this year). Curio emphasizes cocktails and has a lacking draft list, and the inside communal space is claustrophobic. The outdoor patio, which you have to really commit to, faces the most contentiously gentrified street in Denver. Stanley Marketplace is overly compartmentalized, without enough emphasis on communal seating. You are going there to eat at Annette OR Denver Biscuit Company OR Stanley Beer Hall, not to eat a biscuit sandwich while getting a flight from the beer hall. We just had our office holiday party there, and it still isn’t entirely clear to me as to whether we should have taken beer from Cheluna into the communal area. I also did library outreach at the Stanley when The Big Wonderful had their Summer market there, so they get bonus points for letting us have a White Elephant there without too much trouble, and for helping to create this photo:

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I’m really hopeful that Zeppelin Station will be Denver’s first food hall to really check all the boxes (NOTE: Avanti mostly serves Dogfish Head), and won’t be surprised to see it at the top of my list next year.

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The Dillery

We went to The Real Dill‘s pickle distillery for their five-year anniversary party back in May. We screen printed anniversary shirts, ate pickle pizza, won crowlers from Spangalang, and drank a lot of pickle-inspired drinks. Needless to say, it was a pretty great time. Kelly captured my enthusiasm fairly well.

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Sawyer Yards, Houston, TX

A lot of things about our visit to Houston blew me away. The aforementioned Conservatory was one of them. The weather was another. It snowed in Houston for the first time in eight years the day after we got there. Then the next four days were the four most beautiful days in Houston weather history*. On one of those beautiful days, we went to Sawyer Yards, a campus of artist studios and small businesses, including Holler Brewing Co., which, along with City Acre, was among the best new breweries we visited. We happened to be visiting during one of their monthly markets, where vendors set up outside with this incredible art wall as the backdrop and most of the artists’ studios are open. It is such a wonderful celebration of Houston’s arts and culture, and it was the Houston experience that blew me away the most.

(*using my personal sample of ~7,700 days)

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Velorama Festival

Disclaimer: Kelly won us tickets to this.

Velorama was part bicycle race, part marketplace, part music festival. I didn’t much care about the racing, and anyway it was seemingly completely separate from the market and music, so I am judging it as a Festival by an incomplete set of metrics. We also realized a little too late that several Drink RiNo breweries were selling crowlers that you could take into the festival. But the real reason we went, to see The New Pornographers AND Wilco perform on the same stage, was an all-timer. (Arcade Fire’s show this year, as I have mentioned, was another all-timer.)

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Rocky Mountain Lake Park

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Berkeley Park

This one’s a two-for-one. I really love our new neighborhood. Just to the south on either side of us, right off I-70, are these twin parks, two blocks long and a half-mile wide, with lakes in the middle of them. It’s really surreal to be walking on a trail around a lake twenty feet from a major interstate highway.

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Kachina

We went to Kachina for Easter, and went back for our anniversary. It’s a great space with really good Southwestern food, including Navajo Tacos made with fry bread. Probably my favorite new restaurant in Denver. Kachina is inside the Maven Hotel, which also has a gallery (see below) and a cocktail bar inside of it, both of which have contributed to the overall Kachina experience. The alley behind The Maven is being developed into a “micro-district” called Dairy Block. I’m really excited to see how this area evolves in the next couple of years.

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(NOTE: Yes, that was a transition-by-Kelly-gesturing-towards-things. Now prepare for a transition-by-fry-bread.)

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44th lowell

44th & Lowell

Kind of cheating on this one because there are so many different places I love at 44th & Lowell. Since moving, Tocabe has become our go-to restaurant. Think Chipotle but with fry bread (!!!). Scratch Burrito is really inventive and delicious and has a great tap selection. Ragin’ Hog has some awesome barbecue and probably the best stew I’ve ever had. Billy’s Inn had me at potato boats and won Kelly over with their decor (see below). I grocery shop at Safeway and get gas at Safeway Fuel using my Safeway card. I haven’t even been to Mago’s Magic Shoppe but it can only add to this intersection’s credibility.

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Wheat Ridge Lanes

Did a little birthday bowling here. A twelve-laner, really great atmosphere, great animations. On West 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge pretty close to Colorado Plus. Will go again, and again and again, for the rest of my life.

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hamburguesas

Hamburguesas don Jesus

The name says it all. Mexican hamburgers walking distance from my house.

(15)

noshery

The Noshery

Neighborhood coffee shop and bakery with a personable staff. Also great for finding last-minute gifts.

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Vital Root

Representative Tennyson Street restaurant. Tennyson is a very good street for food, and wildly undercovered by Denver food journalists, which for me is ideal. Vital Root is an insanely good vegetarian/vegan restaurant, and a really interesting space, complete with patio herb garden, children’s play place, and three different types of water on tap.

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odyssey

Odyssey Beerwerks

Odyssey is very difficult to get to. It’s off of a hiking trail, but you have to cross a street and walk (or I guess drive) to the back of this network of warehouses. So not convenient, but a good space with good beer and usually a food truck on hand.

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Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with fifty-four new discoveries for 2018, if 2018 will have me. I’m also blogging for my library now. We’ll see if any of that effort transfers over here.

16 books, 16 albums & 16 places for twenty-sixteen

preamble | books | albums | places

2016 doesn’t seem like a year that I, or many people, will look back on very fondly. When you group things together so arbitrarily as having occurred in the same year (as I am wont to do), things get lumped together that shouldn’t, like our impending nuclear war with the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead in the finals to the Cavs. 2016 was confusing, but the great things about it should be remembered.

And what was great about 2016 is idiosyncratic. We each experienced 2016 our own way. What I would like to present to you are some dozen things I experienced for the very first time in 2016, a series of suggestions of things for you to experience in these waning days of American democracy, and, if possible, beyond.

As usual, I try to make these things as resourceful as possible. With a book or album, I believe it is the material itself that is going to convince you to pay attention to it, not what I have to say about it, and so I have tried to make that material accessible to you from wherever you are right now. For books, when possible, I have linked to excerpts and occasionally its full-text. For albums, I’ve linked to each album on Spotify and embedded a video of a song off the album. This year I made the Places section into a perhaps-a-bit-self-indulgent photoessay, which includes descriptions of my experiences, links and photos intended to convince you to go to each place yourself. Uncredited photos taken by yours truly.

Please enjoy.

16 books for 2016

(1)

city

Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma (2016)

Jansma is 2-for-2 at writing near-perfect novels.

(2)

the_way_through_doors

The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball (2009)

Gateway book via gateway story. I read every Jesse Ball book this year. This one blew me away in its inventiveness and its humanity. But really, you should read anything he’s written that you can find.

(3)

the-big-clock

The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing (1946)

I’m no expert on this, but I’d wager that this is up there among the greatest noir novels ever written.

(4)

kafka_amerika_anchor

Amerika by Franz Kafka (1927)

Kafka maybe at his most accessible, and his most comical.

(5)

outsider-in-the-white-house

Outsider in the White House by Bernie Sanders (2015)

If only.

(6)

between-the-world-and-me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)

“This is required reading.” -Toni Morrison

(7)

pedagogy-of-the-oppressed

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (1968)

This is required reading.

(8)

violent-bear-it-away

The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O’Connor (1960)

Capital S, capital G Southern Gothic.

(9)

the-curfew

The Curfew by Jesse Ball (2011)

The second best Jesse Ball book I read this year.

(10)

drinking-coffee-elsewhere

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer (2003)

The best short story collection I read this year. Our Lady of Peace (linked above) was particularly poignant for me.

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bobcat-by-rebecca-lee

Bobcat and other stories by Rebecca Lee (2012)

The second best short story collection I read this year.

(12)

ham-on-rye

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski (1982)

Bildungsroman Bukowski. Pretty fantastic stuff.

(13)

but-what-if-were-wrong

But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman (2016)

This was already covered in the intro to my updated list of all-time favorite albums. But I will say that it made reading the simulation hypothesis explanation for ‘misremembering’ that Sinbad was in a movie called Shazaam more real to me.

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take-it-or-leave-it

Take It or Leave It by Raymond Federman (1976)

Metafiction, wonderfully crafted.

(15)

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Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (2016)

An alternate history where the South won the Civil War.

(16)

remainder

Remainder by Tom McCarthy (2007)

Maddening and horrifying. Four stars.

NOTE: This year I challenged myself to read 55 books. I met and, according to Goodreads, exceeded that goal by 1 book (there were a couple of rereads in there as well). I think my list reflects my preoccupation with completing my challenge. I’m not saying that all of these books aren’t worth your time, just that if I hadn’t taken this challenge that this list would look different (i.e. I put off reading several time-consuming books out of worry that they would keep me from reaching my goal). I’ve sworn off challenges for 2017, and think my 17 books for 2017 list will reflect that.

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16 albums for 2016

(1)

ram

RAM by Paul & Linda McCartney (1971)

2016 was the year I discovered solo/post-Beatles McCartney. Fantastic stuff. RAM would probably have made this list had I started a little later.

(2)

rtj3

Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels (2016)

Supposed to be released next year, but RTJ put it out a few weeks early and it turned out to be A Christmas F*cking Miracle. As you will see, RTJ’s previous releases got me exploring solo El-P and Killer Mike work this year. However, though it’s only been around three days, this one is decidedly their best work. At the moment, you can download it for free here.

(not on the new album but the gyst of the new album)

(3)

fear-fun

Fear Fun by Father John Misty (2012)

(4)

light-upon-the-lake

Light Upon the Lake by Whitney (2016)

(5)

sometimes-i-sit-and-think

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett (2015)

(6)

el-p-sleep

I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead by El-P (2007)

(7)

el-vy-the-national-return-the-moon

Return to the Moon by EL VY (2015)

(8)

thao-get-down-stay-down-man-alive

A Man Alive by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down (2016)

(9)

human-performance

Human Performance by Parquet Courts (2016)

(10)

psychedelic-swamp

The Psychedelic Swamp by Dr. Dog (2016)

(11)

rap-music

R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike (2012)

(12)

teens-of-denial

Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest (2016)

(13)

awaken_my_love

“Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino (2016)

(14)

comedysoundtrack.11183v9

We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic by Foxygen (2013)

(15)

mccartney

McCartney by Paul McCartney (1970)

(16)

sea-of-split-peas

The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas by Courtney Barnett (2013)

NOTE: 2016 was also a year of music projects for me. At the beginning of the year, I transferred about 1,000 songs I had backed up but hadn’t really listened to for five years onto my computer, listened to them all, and made two mixes (oldies and moldies) out of them. In August, I decided it was about time to update my list of all-time favorite albums, which took a couple months of my time. On top of that, I finally got a subscription to Spotify and started making mixes over there as well. All to say I spent much of the year dealing with albums I was already extremely familiar with, and another chunk of it using a music discovery tool that focused on individual songs, not full albums.

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16 places for 2016 (a sort of photoessay)

(1)

torchys

Torchy’s Tacos

Told you.

This is a photo from Torchy’ses [sic] grand opening back in February, where they gave away free tacos. In case it’s not clear, there is a line wrapped around the building of people waiting in the snow for free tacos. Through the magic of Twitter, Kelly won us two skip the line passes, which allowed us to avoid all of this, be seated immediately at the bar, eat free tacos, and drink free drinks. It was the most like royalty I have ever felt. For that experience, and the thirty or so experiences we’ve had there since, Torchy’s tops this list.

(2)

yak-yeti-exterior

Yak & Yeti Restaurant & Brewpub

Perhaps the primary motivating force behind our considering a move to Arvada. We’ve gone for the lunch buffet a couple of times, and it is some of the best Indian/Nepalese/Tibetan food I have ever had. They make some of the tastiest beer in the Greater Denver Area as well, including their ridiculous Chai Milk Stout.

(3)

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Denver Botanic Gardens

Think these pictures speak for themselves, but this next one doesn’t.

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At the Botanic Gardens, they have this setup where there is a giant succulent inside of a large ceramic pot that you can spin and, hanging above it, a kaleidoscope. When you spin the pot around and look through the kaleidoscope this, for an instant, is what you see. I put the lens of my camera phone to the eye of the kaleidoscope, and this is the photo it captured.

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coperta-ext02

Coperta

&

the_royal_ext01

Royal

We went to both of these places for the first (and only) times when my folks visited back in November and because of this are inseparable in my mind. Both were sort of serendipitous experiences. Coperta was like our third choice for dinner that night, and Royal I’d never heard of before we happened by it while exploring the Berkeley neighborhood. Both were candidates for the single best meal I ate this year – Coperta with its orecchiette, Royal with its multiple varieties of poutine and framed pictures of “royalty” on the wall. And both are places I need to revisit.

(6-7)

rosenbergs

Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen

&

hi-rise

Hi Rise

Bagels, baby!

I’d give the slight edge to Rosenberg’s in terms of quality and atmosphere, but (in the grand scheme of our simulated existence) these two places are basically the same. Points to Hi Rise though for being able to see this mural out their window.

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South Table Mesa, Golden, CO

Great for drink-hiking and posing as giants.

(9)

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Coors Field

I went to three Rockies games during the 2016 season. Don’t think they won any of them. Still, attending a baseball game is infinitely more enjoyable than watching one on TV.

This experience pairs best with a stop at Ian’s Pizza by the Slice  across the street from the ballpark before the game.

ianspizza_mac_denver

(10)

new-belgium

New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO

Another serendipitous experience. Kelly and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary in Fort Collins during the weekend New Belgium just so happened to be throwing their 25th anniversary party. When we got there, two spots immediately freed up at the bar and we got a flight of beers made specifically for the party. Afterwards we took advantage of a free photobooth and this photo was created.

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(11)

banded-oak

Banded Oak Brewing Co.

Best new neighborhood brewery, seen here getting a paint job by two of my favorite local artists, #TheWorstCrew, Jaime Molina and Pedro Barrios. High ABV and barrel-aged beers, all delicious.

(12)

new-image

New Image Brewing Co.

Checked this place out on our most recent daytrip to Arvada. It had a great vibe and a beer menu that demanded we order a flight (and that did not disappoint). They also have a promising food and cocktail (!) menu that I look forward to exploring in the future. Overall it has the feel of, if it were in my neighborhood, it’d be my go-to place.

(13)

beryls

Beryl’s Beer Co.

We first encountered Beryl’s minutes after Sunday evening trivia had begun. We were competitive, but could never make up those opening questions we missed. We also came during Sunday evening trivia the second time we went to Beryl’s. That time we sat out trivia (or anyway the turning in our answers part of trivia) and opted instead to play foosball and somehow lose the ball down one of the legs of the table.

(14)

jessup-farm

Jessup Farm Barrel House, Fort Collins, CO

More delicious barrel-aged beers, this time in the middle of an “artisan village“, conceptually brilliant but for some reason in the middle of the suburbanest part of Fort Collins.

(15)

melitas

Melita’s Greek Cafe & Market

Gyros and Greekfast six blocks from my apartment. Plus more photo ops for me to look like a giant.

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(16)

zeps_menuboard_new

Zeps Epiq Sandwiches

Been going to Zeps since its OG days as Quiznos Grill. It’s the Quiznos guys giving artisan sandwiches a go in this spot five blocks from my apartment, and, in my opinion, it’s been very successful. Unfortunately, pretty much every time we’ve gone it’s been empty. Hopefully its name change will get them more customers?? Also, I know this may sound silly, but they have a really good soda fountain.

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Thanks for reading, and if we still have internet by the end of 2017, I’ll see you then.

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

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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.

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10 breweries for 2015

(1)

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Ratio Beerworks

(2)

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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.

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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)

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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:

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(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.

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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.

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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.)

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Clyfford Still Museum

Great art in a great space.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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