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)

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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.

(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)

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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.

(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.

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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)

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)

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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)

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:

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Krog Street Market, Atlanta, GA

conservatory

Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall, Houston, TX

central market

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.

(7)

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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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(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)

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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.

See?IMG_0299

(11)

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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.)

(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)

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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.

(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.

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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.

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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.

(11)

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.

(14)

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)

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Return to the Moon by EL VY (2015)

(8)

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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)

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Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest (2016)

(13)

awaken_my_love

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

(14)

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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.

(4-5)

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Coperta

&

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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.

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(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)

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

twenty-five albums & two novels for 2011.

I am not much of a diarist.  So far as I can tell, the two real purposes I maintain this blog are (1) to recommend music (and this is the primary reason I have come to perform maintenance on it today) and (2) to, well, maintain a sort of portfolio of writings that I have personally deemed worthy of self-publication (if you are here for the cat videos, you’ve come to the wrong place).  However, the period of time that has occurred since my last writing (where I aptly made my leaving town mixtape available), has been momentous.

At the end of June, I quit my (part-time) job and packed up and left Austin (which, as far as I can tell, is the greatest city in the history of civilization) for my hometown, and, still having yet to defeat that (library) job market, I moved in with my parents.  I was pretty much living the American dream.

In late July, I had an interview with Harris County Public Library (my third for this particular library system) at the branch library at which I (or whoever got hired) would work.  And i remember leaving that interview with the distinct feeling that that job, and that library, belonged to me, and that I belonged to them.  Three days later (barring a failed background check and/or drug screening), it was so.  I found an apartment across the street from the library in early August and started work a few days later.  It is the best job I have ever had.  And I save so much money on gas.

I was unemployed for forty-six days.  I am one of the lucky ones.

In October, my girlfriend of a year and a half returned, voluntarily, from her adventures abroad and – again, voluntarily – moved in with me – here, uprooted, in Greater Houston.  I am one of the lucky ones.  In Late November, I proposed to her.  Since then, things have been pretty much as awesome as before, just with a 10,000% increase in how frequently one or both of us is asked, “So, when’s the wedding?”, and an increasing amount of comfort using the word fiance.

Here is another reason I consider myself lucky:  I am capable of discernment.  I take particular pride in my musical discernment – that is, my ability to tell good music from not good music.  One of my Professors in library school often mentioned the quote, “Never apologize for your reading taste.”  I have ambivalent feelings about this quote.  On the one (let’s call it my right) hand, the librarian in me thinks, yeah, I mean, these people’s horrible reading taste is what keeps public libraries extant, but on the other hand (call it Lefty), the discerning part of me thinks, can’t people just read good books?  And if we shouldn’t discriminate reading taste, should we also not discriminate tastes in music and movies?  And, well, how is that even possible?

We should all be so lucky as to be discerning, and maybe we all are.  Maybe I have just discovered the primary difference between an E student and a S student.

All of that to say, I have discerned two year-end lists for your perusal, (1) twenty-five albums and (2) two novels for 2011.  Per usual, the lists are comprised of albums/novels which I listened to/read during the year – these albums/novels were not necessarily released this year.  I personally think it’s more telling.  I’m not trying to make a time capsule for 2011; I’m trying to make a time capsule for my 2011.  (Maybe I am a diarist.)

Twenty-Five Albums for 2011:

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Nothing is Wrong by Dawes (2011)

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Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys (2011)

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Disintegration by The Cure (1989)

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…Endtroducing by DJ Shadow (1996)

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Maximum Balloon (2010)

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The Queen is Dead by The Smiths (1986)

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Odyssey & Oracle by The Zombies (1968)

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Gloss Drop by Battles (2011)

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Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio (2011)

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Astro Coast by Surfer Blood (2010)

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The King of Limbs by Radiohead (2011)

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Relax by Das Racist (2011)

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BiRd-BrAiNs by Tune-Yards (2009)

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I Am Very Far by Okkervil River (2011)

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The 1975 CBS Demo Session by Talking Heads (1975)

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Cults (2011)

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2011)

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Check Your Head by Beastie Boys (1992)

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Kaputt by Destroyer (2011)

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Cape Dory by Tennis (2011)

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w h o k i l l by Tune-Yards (2011)

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Days by Real Estate (2011)

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Yuck (2011)

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Elephant Eyelash by WHY? (2005)

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Treats by Sleigh Bells (2010)

Treats is an album unlike anything I have ever heard before.  Listen to it.  And while you’re at it, listen to all of these.

Two Novels for 2011:

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The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (2010)

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The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace (1987)

NOTE: I also read Infinite Jest, Consider the Lobster, and 3/4 of Oblivion.  All of them are well worth your time and patience.  But The Broom of the System, hands down, is my favorite of the four.

As always, I welcome counter-lists and -suggestions.  Thanks for your time.  Keep it real.  Et cetera.

 

P.S. Happy twentieth birthday to my brother, Anthony.