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.

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!