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


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?



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.



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.


eleanor oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


band on the run

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


american dream

american dream by LCD Soundsystem (2017)



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.



Sleep Well Beast by The National (2017)



Guppy by Charly Bliss (2017)

Indie pop. Twee AF.


power corruption and lies

Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order (1983)


abandoned mansion

Abandoned Mansion by Dr. Dog (2016)


lotta sea lice

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


yours conditionally

Yours Conditionally by Tennis (2017)



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.



Colors by Beck (2017)



Antisocialites by Alvvays (2017)



Rocket by (Sandy) Alex G (2017)



Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene (2017)


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.


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.



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:


17 places for 2017




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.)



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.


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:


Krog Street Market, Atlanta, GA


Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall, Houston, TX

central market

The Denver Central Market


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:


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:


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.




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)



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.)



Rocky Mountain Lake Park



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.





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.


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


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.




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.



Hamburguesas don Jesus

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



The Noshery

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



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.



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.


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.


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)


zenos conscience

Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Calvino (1923)


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.


what we talk about

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



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.



Bark by Lorrie Moore (2014)


folded leaf

The Folded Leaf by William Maxwell (1945)

I want to turn this novel into a movie.


my documents

My Documents by Alejandro Zambra (2015)


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.



Orientation and Other Stories by Daniel Orozco (2011)


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.


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.


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.



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


tetherballs of bougainville

The Tetherballs of Bougainville by Mark Leyner (1997)



Speak by Louisa Hall (2015)


continental drift

Continental Drift by Russell Banks (1985)


bagombo snuff box

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



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

Fantasy baseball, circa 1968.  Incredibly tragic.



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

Idiosyncratic journaling as coping mechanism.  Also incredibly tragic.



The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (1986)



Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra (2011)


jimmy corrigan

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



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

Essays about American cities, since the recession.



Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine



25 albums for 2015


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.



Currents by Tame Impala (2015)


black messiah

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



Alvvays by Alvvays (2014)


multi love

Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2015)



Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes (2015)


content nausea

Content Nausea by Parkay Quarts (2014)



Isles by Wild Belle (2013)



Michael by Les Sins (2015)



Was Dead by King Tuff (2008)

(Honorable Mention: King Tuff [2012])



Innerspeaker by Tame Impala (2010)



See Mystery Lights by YACHT (2009)


foil deer

Foil Deer by Speedy Ortiz (2015)



Little Neon Limelight by Houndmouth (2015)


girls in peacetime

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



Ritual in Repeat by Tennis (2014)



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.



Illmatic by Nas (1994)



Bigfoot by Cayucas (2013)


village green

The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)


AviBuffalo_20PT ALT PACKAGE 1 UP

Avi Buffalo by Avi Buffalo (2010)


feelin good

Feelin’ Good by Nightmares on Wax (2013)


ABT040 TOPS LP-Jacket 11183 v2

Picture You Staring by TOPS (2014)



Amygdala by DJ Koze (2013)



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.


10 breweries for 2015



Ratio Beerworks



Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company



Baere Brewing Company


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.



Mockery Brewing Co


IMG_4117    IMG_4112

Tivoli Brewing Co.



Fiction Beer Company


great divide

Great Divide Brewing Co



LowDown Brewery + Kitchen


twisted pine

Twisted Pine Brewing Co.


10 places to eat for 2015



Biju’s Little Curry Shop

The best and only little curry shop in town.


cheeky monk

Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe

Belgian beers and bangers and mash.


work and class

Work & Class

Meat, family-style.



Sassafras American Eatery

Cajun-style brunch and Bloody Marys.


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.


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.




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.




#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.


dos santos

Dos Santos

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



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


10 other places for 2015

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


IMG_0330    IMG_0320

The Denver Public Library

I imagine paradise as The Denver Public Library.


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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:




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.’


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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.)



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.



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.



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.


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

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:


Nothing is Wrong by Dawes (2011)


Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys (2011)


Disintegration by The Cure (1989)


…Endtroducing by DJ Shadow (1996)


Maximum Balloon (2010)


The Queen is Dead by The Smiths (1986)


Odyssey & Oracle by The Zombies (1968)


Gloss Drop by Battles (2011)


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


Astro Coast by Surfer Blood (2010)


The King of Limbs by Radiohead (2011)


Relax by Das Racist (2011)


BiRd-BrAiNs by Tune-Yards (2009)


I Am Very Far by Okkervil River (2011)


The 1975 CBS Demo Session by Talking Heads (1975)


Cults (2011)


Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2011)


Check Your Head by Beastie Boys (1992)


Kaputt by Destroyer (2011)


Cape Dory by Tennis (2011)


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


Days by Real Estate (2011)


Yuck (2011)


Elephant Eyelash by WHY? (2005)


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:


The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (2010)


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.