Links, Lists, Liars, Laziness

So I have a number of beefs with the end of the year albums and singles lists at Pitchfork and The AV Club, which I will get to momentarily, but a few things first:

Check out the new audioplayer (“Audioklept” on the sidebar) that WordPress has kindly made accessible. I’ll try to update it regularly with awesome-to-moderately awesome tuneage. Now playing: the sweetly saturated sonic screams of Emperor X: the true indie rock.

Ricotta Park has had a makeover. The site looks great, and it looks like Nick will start posting regularly again. Check it out.

Some of the most enjoyable reading I’ve done lately comes from The New York Times Magazine Year in Ideas, via Tomorrowland. Highly recommended!

You can now easily access the marvelous adventures of Dr. Van Keudejep in one place, courtesy of Troglodyte Mignon. Very nice.

 Dr. Van Keudejap 's interrupted suicide - He lived happily ever after, thanks to the tiny troglodyte. - art by troglodyte mignon

Dr. Van Keudejap ’s interrupted suicide – He lived happily ever after, thanks to the tiny troglodyte.

On to the lists. For the past few days, Got to be  a Chocolate Jesus has been counting down the year’s best albums. I’m in accord with most of his top five, posted today:  TV on the Radio, The Fiery Furnaces, Destroyer, and Joanna Newsom, all faves of mine made the cut, as did The Mountain Goats, a  band I’ve never really listened to. If you were to swap out The Mountain Goats with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s fantastic comeback LP, The Letting Go, I think that would be my top five.

So yes and well now my beefs: first up, like many of you (I’m guessing), I hate hate hate Pitchfork; nonetheless, I visit those jerks daily, as I have for the past seven or eight years. This is the site that gave a “0.0” to The Flaming Lips’ aural odyssey Zaireeka without even listening to it. My major beef with P-fork is that The Fiery Furnaces’ Bitter Tea wasn’t recognized at all; neither did their Top 100 tracks of 2006 find room for Neko Case’s “Star Witness,” which was the best song of 2006. Sure, there were plenty of places where we intersected, but on the whole, their list reaffirms my belief that, in addition to being hacks, these guys have no taste (I blame the editor–some of P-fork’s writers, like Dominique Leone and Drew Daniel have true talent).

Now, The Onion’s AV Club really let me down–generally I love these guys: they’re way less pretentious than most of the music and media blogs, and they tend to have a critical approach fashioned more in the tradition of Creem or classic Rolling Stone. However, they chose The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America–a completely overrated, derivative, and ultimately boring piece of trash–as album of the year. Furthermore, The Decemberists–a band repeatedly given the undeserved descriptor “literary”–also cracked their top ten. Defenders of these loathsome bands usually say that the haters “don’t get” the “meta-cool” of The Hold Steady or the “hyperliterate” Decemberists: they’re wrong: there’s nothing to get: these bands are boring. Just because somebody calls bullshit on something you like doesn’t mean that they “don’t get” it–in the case of the aforementioned hacks, I totally “get it”: these bands lack originality and talent.

Now, on to an artist that I truly “don’t get.” The Liars’ Drum’s Not Dead topped many year end lists, and plenty of my friends loved this album. I didn’t hear what the fuss was about, although I’ll certainly give it a second shot. Maybe it’ll click (that’s how it went down with TV on the Radio). Any fans out there who “get it” and who are willing to explain it?


2006 Superlatives

 Best Book I Read in 2006:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

Best Book Published in 2006 that I Read in 2006:

I read plenty of fantastic books this year, but I don’t think any of them were published this year (although I’m sure that plenty of great books came out this year. I’m always playing catch-up). The closest I think I can come is a paperback of Dave Egger’s collection of short fiction, How We Are Hungry, which came out in October of 2005, actually (to plenty of mixed reviews–but I liked it a lot!). I will also read Egger’s What Is the What as soon as possible. Maybe this Christmas break (feel free to send me a copy). Here’s The New York Times Book Review Top 10 of 2006, and courtesy of the American Library Association, the TTT (the Teen’s Top Ten, popularly known as “the titties”).

Least Enjoyable Book I Read in 2006:

God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia by Cornelia Walker Bailey (with Christena Bledsoe). I’m sure lots of people would really enjoy this book, in fact, I recommended it to a few of my students. Not for me though.

Most Likely to Succeed:

Ricotta Park will storm the nation (if Nicky Longlunch ever decides to start posting again). 

Most Likely to be President:

Barack Obama?

Best Dressed:

Saddam Hussein always was a sharp dresser–

Saddam Hussein

–but after some {ahem} troubles–


–he had a fabulous makeover! Saddam looking dapper and energetic, yet casual and academic (oh, and seriously pissed)–


Best Movie I Saw in the Movie Theater in 2006:

I’m pretty sure it was Litle Miss Sunshine, although I also enjoyed the movie where Will Ferrell was a race car driver.

Best Movie I Saw in 2006:

The New World (dir. Terrence Malick). This film is beautiful. You must watch it (twice).

Best Album of 2006:

Lots of contenders–M. Ward’s Post-War, Joanna Newsom’s Ys,  Destroyer’s Rubies, OOIOO’s Taiga, Girl Talk’s Night Ripper –all were great (and I know that I’m forgetting dozens)–but The Fiery Furnaces’ Bitter Tea didn’t leave my CD player for months…in fact I’m sure it’s still in there.


Best Song of 2006:

“Star Witness” by Neko Case. Crafted from images that at first seem vague, “Star Witness” relates the haunting tale of a tragic accident. And the worst part of the accident is how mundane the whole scene is to everyone besides the speaker: “This is nothing new/No television crew/They don’t even put on the siren.”

Most Overrated Album of 2006:

The Crane Wife by The Decemberists. The Decemberists are so boring.

Best Live Performance of a Musical Group:

The Fiery Furnaces at Common Grounds (Gainesville, FL). One of the best concerts I have ever attended. The kids danced as The Fiery Furnaces deconstructed their songs, rearranging them into new suites, punching in and out of different albums. The true rocknroll.

Most Disappointing Live Performance of a Musical Group:

Wilco at The Florida Theater (Jacksonville, FL). Wilco didn’t seem to know that they were playing in a theater. Jeff Tweedy seemed completely annoyed at the crowd for not boogeying to the jams. Wilco’s performance came off like a simulation of a band that was really “into” the vibe–like they had watched films of themselves to improve, like a football team or something.

Best New Product:

Okay, boxed wine is nothing new, but in 2006 I started gleaming the cube. Boxed wines stay fresher longer than wine from a bottle, and are generally much less expensive. This summer I found my habit–which a prejudiced few might think declasse–validated by the cultural elite. I attended a pre-wedding party in a cave in the south of France this summer; Damien, the winemaker (it was his cave) served us box after box of delicious wine, trumpeting the superiority of the box as a vessel. So see.

Worst People of 2006:

Check out my previous post for some superlative hatin’. 

Man of the Year:

I wasn’t on the committee this year. I understand that they might have met in Orlando this year. This guy John Griffis heads the whole thing up. I’m sure he has a MySpace account. I really don’t know who won. I think this guy Andy won.

Woman of the Year:

The woman of the year is my darling wife Christy, of course.