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

(1)

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?

(2)

zeroville

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.

(3)

one-of-the-boys-9781501156168_hr

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.

(4)

eleanor oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

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

(5)

what it means when a man

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.

(6)

we were eight years in power

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.

(7)

dear ijeawele

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

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

(8)

augie march

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.

(9)

handmaids tale

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.

(10)

basketball and other things

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.

(11-12)

these dreams of you shadowbahn

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.

(13)

lonely londoners

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.

(14)

Random_Family_(LeBlanc)_book_cover

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.

(15)

klosterman x

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.

(16)

the prank

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.

(17)

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.

(top)


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)

band on the run

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

(2)

american dream

american dream by LCD Soundsystem (2017)

(3)

MASSEDUCTION-Album-Cover-for-Web1-copy

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.

(4)

thenational-770x770

Sleep Well Beast by The National (2017)

(5)

guppy

Guppy by Charly Bliss (2017)

Indie pop. Twee AF.

(6)

power corruption and lies

Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order (1983)

(7)

abandoned mansion

Abandoned Mansion by Dr. Dog (2016)

(8)

lotta sea lice

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

(9)

yours conditionally

Yours Conditionally by Tennis (2017)

(10)

Science-Fiction-brand-new-album-art-2017-billboard-1240

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.

(11)

colors_beck

Colors by Beck (2017)

(12)

antisocialites

Antisocialites by Alvvays (2017)

(13)

rocket

Rocket by (Sandy) Alex G (2017)

(14)

hugofthunder

Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene (2017)

(15)

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.

(16)

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.

(17)

The_B-52's_cover

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

(1)

IMG_0246

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)

intrepid-taproom-700x325

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:

KrogStreetMarket_Atlanta_GA.0.0

Krog Street Market, Atlanta, GA

conservatory

Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall, Houston, TX

central market

The Denver Central Market

StanleyMarketplace-30-e1499443287572

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:

IMG_0117

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.

(7)

IMG_0609 IMG_0602

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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(8)

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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)

(9)

veloramawilco

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.)

(10)

IMG_0302

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.

See?IMG_0299

(11)

IMG_0082

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.)

(12)

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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(13)

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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.

(14)

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.

(16)

vitalroot-daniellelirette-011

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.

(17)

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.

(top)


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.

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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.