Daniel Handler: I am spending the last chunk of 2023 and the first of 2024 spelunking my way through some haphazard research into sculpture and other visual arts. Here are thirteen images I came across in my research.
Design for a castle, 1539:
Back view of the Great Buddha of Kamakura (built in 1252):
Brancusi, Three Penguins:
Callot’s etching of Two Pantaloons:
Claes Oldenburg’s Giant BLT:
Deakin’s portrait of Barbara Hepworth:
Designers of Lincoln Center with its scale model:
Frank Lloyd Wright’s redesign of Suite 223 at the Plaza Hotel for his own use:
Gilbert and George as the Singing Sculpture:
Illustration of Jupiter seated triumphantly on a bed of defeated giants:
This is another poll that didn’t fit into chickfactor 19!
What were you wearing in 1992? Like what was your style? What was your uniform of choice?
Claudia Gonson / The Magnetic Fields (pictured): Hoping that you will dig up some of the many great photos you took of me. In one of them, I am wearing a “New Jersey Is For Lovers” shirt that I still occasionally wear, although it is full of holes now and best suited for night wear. I found it at a Goodwill in Honolulu (!), summer of 1992.
Janice Headley (CF/KEXP): Thrift-store vintage dresses with mens’ blazers and oxford shoes. Black-and-white striped tights with fake Doc Martens and XL band tees as a dress. Big eyeglasses because my parents deemed me too young for contact lenses.
Daniel Handler: Whatever was on the floor of my room.
Ed Mazzucco / Shelflife Records: Worn out jeans, flannels and Doc Martins.
Kristin Thomson (Tsunami, Simple Machines Records): Golf jacket, cutoff cord shorts with tights, baggy t-shirts or Japanese baseball uniform tops
Clare Wadd (Sarah Records): Well, we didn’t have any money so clothes weren’t really a thing for us. Mostly skirts and t-shirts, black tights, flat shoes. I don’t think I could afford DMs then, though I always wanted some. Lots of jumpers in winter.
Stuart Moxham (Young Marble Giants): Same as now, jeans, shirt, brogues. I have a lot of jackets.
Alicia Vanden Heuvel (the Aislers Set, Poundsign, Speakeasy Studios): Baggie t-shirts, doc martins, flannels, hats, and black eyeliner. I was a goth/grunge teenager who just had her life changed by Nirvana and the Breeders.
John Lindaman: I think 1992 was square in the middle of a horrible Hawaiian shirt and long hair phase. Apologies to all.
Beth Arzy: Fred Perry tops, thrift shop brown cords, Mary Jane shoes or flowery 60s dresses. Band tee shirts. Cardigans and jeans.
Peter Momtchiloff: A western shirt, a suede jacket, and horrible black Levi jeans
Theresa Kereakes: 1992 found me wearing a uniform of pleated plaid skirts, black tights, black turtlenecks, string of pearls, and before you think, “preppy beatnik” I always wore Doc Martens. I worked at PBS and I treated it as if it were Catholic school.
Dickon Edwards: I think I was trying to wear stripey blue and white matelot t-shirts, alongside band t-shirts, plus jeans. The whole hooded top look associated with ‘Madchester’ had died away by then, and I think the whole grunge explosion had left everyone in simple band t-shirts and jeans.
Kevin Alvir: I was a child, so like gigantic t-shirts that doubled as a tunic with umbro shorts.
Tracy Wilson (Turntable Report): Vintage dresses, thrift store cardigans, saddle shoes, Bettie Page bangs, and a Sanrio bag—likely Little Twin Stars or Hello Kitty.
Gail CF: Vintage raincoat, black shorts with leggings underneath, fluevogs, flannel shirts, enormous indie Ts, Mr. Friendly backpacks.
Fred Thomas: It was a transitional time, and I’m pretty sure I mostly wore band shirts (Misfits, Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Black Flag, etc.) and big, huge skater pants.
Pete Paphides: the search for a classic button-up cardigan like the ones worn by people’s parents in the 1950s and 1960s is a lifelong pursuit.
What were you wearing in 2002?
Claudia Gonson / The Magnetic Fields: Height of the 69 Love Songs era. I wore a selection of tight sports jackets in very bright colors, some of which make a word when you zip them up- “BER-LIN”. “BROOK-LYN”. Etc. Also, I was obsessed with British caps.
Daniel Handler: Suits, when I went out.
Ed Mazzucco / Shelflife Records: Corduroys, Gingham shirts and Jack Purcells
Kristin Thomson: Maternity wear, but not the stuff that makes you look like an infant.
Stuart Moxham: As above
Alicia Aislers Set: Those were Aislers Set days and my favorite things to wear were stay pressed Levi’s, button up shirt, a tie or sweater vest, parka. Of course stripes because, Jean Seberg…
John Lindaman: All brown.
Janice Headley: Low rise bootcut jeans, spaghetti-strap tops, platform shoes, and baby barrettes in pixie-cut hair, because I was young.
Beth Arzy: Less garish dresses, Fred Perry tops, unmemorable skirts. Band tee shirts. Cardigans and jeans.
Theresa Kereakes: In 2002, I was on the road with a 200-person crew. T-shirts and jeans.
Kevin Alvir: Some sort of striped t-shirt with a jean and some purposely fun sneakers. The face of fashion: the look of an overgrown child.
Gail CF: I was working at a teen magazine in NYC. Casual, comfortable. Vintage dresses, motorcycle boots, gingham, sneakers.
Tracy Wilson: It’s a mod mod world.
Fred Thomas: Almost entirely thrift store attire, and I had yet to realize that synthetic fabrics weren’t really the way to go for me. Lots of polyester pants, ill-fitting cowboy shirts, tight polo shirts in springy colors, corduroy jackets, and I definitely had one of those garage rock caps that people wore in 2002.
Jim Ruiz: In 1984 I was a real thrift shop Mod, by the mid-’90s, these clothes had worn out and I was reduced to wearing pajamas as stage clothes or trying to dress like a college professor. Now, almost 40 years later, thanks to narrow lapels and skinny jeans and the internet! I am able to dress the way I’ve always wanted to, and better! Plus, I still have a full head of hair, and my former bandmate Allison has been cutting it for me. I feel really lucky, it’s crazy. Thanks for asking!
Dickon Edwards: Suits and ties!
Pete Paphides: May I refer you to my previous answer?
What were you wearing in 2012?
Claudia Gonson / The Magnetic Fields: I had a daughter in the summer of 2010 and don’t particularly remember the next 3 years. I did go on tour for over 2 months of 2012, insanely. I must have worn clothes.
Ed Mazzucco / Shelflife Records: Dark jeans, more gingham shirts and Onitsuka Tigers
Kristin Thomson: Skinny jeans, vintage tops or band t-shirt, zip up hoodie
Stuart Moxham: As above
Alicia: Same thing as 2002. Ha ha ha
Beth Arzy: Band tee shirts. Cardigans and jeans. Same as the above… Same as it ever was.
Fred Thomas: No more synthetic materials! A combination of basics (many pilfered from my job at American Apparel) and a few nicer, more interesting pieces either found in thrift shops or from high end men’s fashion retailers.
Theresa Kereakes: I moved to Tennessee in 2008, and it’s fairly warm for the most part. I like a sun dress and a straw hat.
John Lindaman: All grey.
Clare Wadd: Jeans a lot
Kevin Alvir: Hair with intention. A striking sweater or cardigan and fitted jeans.
Gail CF: Living in Portland so durable rainwear; red clogs; A-line skirts; cardigans; I basically dress like Paddington Bear in general. Hair: long with bangs.
Dickon Edwards: Suits and ties!
Daniel Handler: Cardigans.
Tracy Wilson: Space Age flight attendant
What are you wearing in 2022?
Ed Mazzucco / Shelflife Records: Gray jeans, hoodies, Doc Martins or Onitsuka Tigers
Kristin Thomson: Today, I am wearing my “Ripley” outfit. Army green long sleeved jumpsuit/flightsuit, sneaks.
Stuart Moxham: As above but with trouser braces and hats.
Alicia: Well, now I like to throw in some comfortable jeans, a soft sweater, old man slippers, maybe even sandals sometimes! I’m getting old. It’s time to embrace the inner Mr Rogers.
Beth Arzy: Have fallen in love with loafers and have many pairs of Adidas. Bit more conservative on the clothes side with more acceptable things in the wardrobe for work. More Fred Perrys. Band tee shirts. Cardigans and jeans.
Claudia Gonson / The Magnetic Fields: I am currently recycling some very old shirts that I found in my folks’ house a year ago. In college, like many, I wore loose baggy T-shirts. I found some pretty great ones from the late 80’s and early 90’s, souvenirs from a cross country trip in the early 90’s (Stonehenge in Maryhill Washington, Calamity Jane museum in Deadwood, S Dakota), Also, multiple shirts with artwork by Jad Fair. So, under my winter sweaters, I am enjoying wearing my old weirdo Tshirt collection right now.
John Lindaman: As many colors as I can bring myself to wear (still mostly grey).
Clare Wadd: Jean even more. T-shirts, jumpers, currently vests. It’s still cold. Dresses when I go out, but still home a lot.
Peter Momtchiloff: A cardigan and pinstripe trousers
Fred Thomas: I now have way too many clothes, as some of the Jane’s Addiction shirts from 1992 and tight polo shirts from 2002 are still in rotation. I try to stick to more basic, streamlined presentation these days, but get inspiration from films, record covers, and other images that most people wouldn’t register just by quickly scanning my outfit.
Theresa Kereakes: Pajamas! “Work from home” means I ask myself, “Am I working in my PJs or sleeping in my clothes?” It’s all yoga pants and hoodies over band t-shirts purchased during the dark days of lockdowns as a way to put money into the non-touring economy.
Kevin Alvir: I wear what I wore in 1992…which is like a gigantic tunic with shorts.
Gail CF: comfy dresses, tunics, leggings, athleisure. Carhartt! I seem to be addicted to thermals and flannel.
Janice Headley: Big, thick sweaters and high-rise jeans ’cause it’s cold AF here in MI.
Leftover flank steak, fried eggs, homemade tortillas, Air BnB, Napa CA
5-minute egg, rye toast, off-season strawberries, home in SF
Peanut butter toast, my sister’s car after various ocean swims*
Clare Wadd’s Books I Read in 2021: the ones I loved and the ones that will stay with me 1. Dreamland, Rosa Rankin-Gee 2. I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain, Anita Sethi 3. Small Pleasures, Clare Chambers 4. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal 5. My Rock ’n’ Roll Friend, Tracey Thorn 6. Skint Estate: A Memoir of Poverty, Motherhood and Survival, Cash Carraway 7. Fake Accounts, Lauren Oyler 8. The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford 9. Mort Sur La Lande (Vera), Ann Cleaves/Claire Breton 10. Pirenesi, Susanna Clarke With apologies to the boys as none of them made the cut
Beth Arzy’s Top 13 Records The Shop Window, The State of Being Human Lancashire Bombers, Into the Sun Wild Billy Childish & CTMF, Where the Wild Purple Iris Grows The Umbrellas, The Umbrellas Massage, Still Life Hadda Be, Another Life Reds, Pinks and Purples, Uncommon Weather Swansea Sound, Live at the Rum Puncheon The Jazz Butcher, The Highest in the Land The Catenary Wires, Birling Gap Durand Jones & the Indications, Private Space Chime School, Chime School Shoestrings, Expectations Beth plays in The Luxembourg Signal, Jetstream Pony, Lightning in a Twilight Hour
Michael Azerrad’s Ten Best Vegetables and Fruits of 2021 1. Snap peas 2. Peaches 3. Ramps 4. Borlotti beans 5. Corn 6. Small russet potatoes* 7. Heirloom tomatoes 8. Golden Russet apples 9. Lion’s mane mushrooms** 10. Red Boston lettuce * Higher skin-to-flesh ratio ** Yes, I know they’re technically not a vegetable or fruit.
Gilmore Tamny’s Chronicle of Things of Note 2021 List. 1. I started talking to myself more, drinking my coffee black, painting in earnest, eating lots of wavy potato chips, wearing eye makeup (per resolution 2021), and getting up at 5:30 a.m. 2. Turns out, I like ambient/ASMR video. There are a lot of crackling fireplaces and candles. Are the auteurs morally obligated to show responsible fire safety? I found this question more central to ethical code than I would have thought. 3. I drank coffee and made a to-do list at about 6:00 a.m. while watching a pre-recorded video of myself drinking coffee and making a to-do list about 6:00 a.m. on youtube as part of the Non-Event TV 24-Hour Fundraiser 4. I decided I wanted to grow my hair long at least once before I croak, whether it is flattering or not. 5. I enjoyed hearing Mero (of Desus and Mero) describe watching the Jan. 6 insurrection. 6. My tomato plant grew and grew and grew and finally produced one single chestnut-sized tomato. 7. Cottagecore? Hmmm. 8. I need a soap dish and discovered in resulting search I have a fairly narrow and inflexible idea of the soap dish I want. 9. Was on the receiving end of possibly the dirtiest look someone’s ever given me. No threat, –just weary disgust. 10. After watching and reading about secret societies in history, I tried to figure out a way to talk about secret societies without sounding credulous. Harder than I might have thought. 11. I found a good gingerbread recipe. Works very well with substitutes to make it vegan. 12. I discovered a friend was named after the Hawthorne story “The Old Stone Face.” 13. Learned: always close the door – car door, outside door to your building, your own apt./condo door – and lock it behind you (watch enough true crime—you’ll take my point). Stalin was involved in a bank robbery. My cat doesn’t just want me to throw any toy—but a specific toy—bouncy ball not wool ball, rattle mousekins not stuffed mousekins, etc. Hull isn’t where I thought it was. Lenin and Trotsky were Freemasons. 14. Sciatica. 15. While practicing genuine gratitude for having a roof overhead, union job, good human friends, and cat friend, I stopped smothering my distress to death with gratitude. 16. Miriam Toews’ book Fight Night is great. Gilmore Tamny lives and works and frets in Boston, MA.
Mike Slumberland: The list nobody wants… my top new jazz/jazz-adjacent records of 2021 1. Nat Birchall – Ancient Africa (Ancient Archive of Sound) 2. Tara Clerkin Trio – In Spring (World of Echo) 3. Emanative & Liz Elensky – The Volume Of The Light (Home Planet) 4. Sam Gendel – Fresh Bread (Leaving) 5. Makaya McCraven – Deciphering The Message (Blue Note) 6. Natural Information Society – Descension (Eremite) 7. Sons of Kemet – Black To The Future (Impulse!) 8. Emma-Jean Thackray – Yellow (Movementt) 9. Rosie Turton – Expansions and Transformations: Part I & II (no label) 10. Wildflower – Better Times (Tropic of Love)
Angelina Capodanno’s 2021 lists (Team CF, also Sony Music / Legacy Creative + Packaging, Brooklynite, Destroyer’s #1 fan)
My favorite 2021 albums: 1. Hand Habits – Fun House 2. Bachelor – Dooming Sun 3. Cory Hanson – Pale Horse Rider 4. Wednesday – Twin Plagues 5. Colleen – The Tunnel and the Clearing 6. The Mountain Movers – World What World 7. ANIKA – Change 8. Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg 9. Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment 10. Painted Shrines – Heaven & Holy
Plus 13 more albums I liked a lot: Nightshift – Zoe The Goon Sax – Mirror II Pip Blom – Welcome Break Lewsberg – In Your Hands Kiwi Jr – Cooler Returns Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime Jane Weaver – Flock John Andrews and the Yawns – Cookbook Caleb Landry Jones – Gadzooks Vol 1 Snapped Ankles – Forest of Your Problems Weak Signal – Bianca Goat Girl – On All Fours Circuit does Yeux –io
Favorite Concerts Yo La Tengo Hanukkah + Low + Fred Armisen @Bowery Ballroom Yo La Tengo Hanukkah + 11th Dream Day + Joe Pera @Bowery Ballroom Young Guv @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room Sweeping Promises @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room Wet Leg @ Baby’s All Right Mdou Moctar @Motorco Music Hall
Favorite things I watched: PEN15 The Velvet Underground The Wire The White Lotus Syracuse’s surprise Sweet 16 run in the 2021 NCAA tourney The Card Counter Insecure Curb Your Enthusiasm Breaking Bad
Favorite things I read: But You Seemed So Happy – Kimberly Harrington Love and Trouble – Claire Dederer Empty: A Memoir – Susan Burton Blow Your House Down – Gina Frangello Somebody’s Daughter – Ashley C Ford Sleepovers – Ashleigh Bryant Phillips Detransition, Baby – Torrey Peters
Favorite Podcasts The Experiment Let’s Talk to Lucy The Devil’s Candy: The Plot Thickens Radiolab – Mixtape Ali on The Run Running Rouge Shattered
Broken Greek by Pete Paphides – lovely, just lovely, but you all know this, right?… you no doubt all have it already, and have been similarly enjoying it (both physically, and as an audiobook) throughout lockdown, listening to the accompanying playlist, thinking about your own childhood, remembering your own teen music obsessions… also, not bragging, but the last gig I went to was the book launch (Chrissie Hynde! David Arnold! Mike Batt! – basically, a better lineup than Live Aid) and the last non-partner hug I had was from Pete!
Jackie Mittoo – working from home has meant listening to more music during the day, and after a few weeks of trying different playlists to see what was easiest to work with (I went through a lot of Dungeon Synth, ’60s soundtracks, and ambient tracks), I settled on instrumental reggae, ska, rocksteady and dub, which in turn has led to a minor obsession with Jackie Mittoo records… solid gold…
Spun Out of Control – a cassette label that went vinyl during 2020 – broadly they release creepy electronic not-soundtracks to nonexistent horror films that have become the actual soundtrack to a LOT of walks through empty West London streets this year… treat yourself to the Sleepers by Hattie Cooke:
Double Deckers – “The chocolate bar is structured in two layers; a lightly whipped nougat layer, with a lower layer of cereal “crispies,” these are then coated in milk chocolate”… need I say more?
Disaster films – this year I’ve been watching a LOT of worlds ending, buildings collapsing, planes crashing, volcanoes erupting, diseases spreading, boats sinking and SHARKS… the Poseidon Adventure is the best one
Singing Streets app – I tend to walk the same streets for my daily exercise, it’s just easier not having to think… the Singing Streets app was launched at the start of September, and I found out, among other things, that Bryan Ferry’s Studio (where Prince recorded!), the house where Freddie wrote BoRap and the caff off the front of Common People were all on my daily route… I branched out to walks from where Dan Treacy went to school to where Syd Barrett lived (via the Troubadour, David Gilmour’s old flat, the Nashville Rooms and the Beggars Banquet shop) and from the studio where Buzzcocks recorded “What Do I Get?” and “Orgasm Addict” on 9 Sept 1977 to the place Bolan died one week later.
Discogs – Finally catching up with adding all my records to Discogs, realising how much utter rubbish I have, having a clear out, and using the money from any sales to treat myself to deluxe versions of Saint Etienne albums, and…
Paul Collins– I Don’t Fit In, the Paul Collins autobiography was announced over the summer, copies came with a 7-inch but postage from the states was crippling… a discogs sale for exactly the value of the book, record and postage, came in and I bought the book, all in a couple of minutes… I listened to a LOT of the Nerves this year too…
Joy Division – I’ve always dismissed them as a not-as-good OMD, with a good song I’m a bit bored of (you know the one) and a great song that keeps getting better (Atmosphere), but a combination of the Stephen Morris book (excellent, really funny, tragic) and the Transmissions podcast narrated by Maxine Peake has led to a reappraisal, and finally listening to a pair of 40-year-old albums… turns out they’re pretty good (not as good as OMD though)…
Very early pre-orders – ordering records, forgetting about them, and getting them in the post months later is great… in 2020 new ones from Taylor Swift and Kelly Lee Owens arrived as a surprise, as well as the reissue of Sisters by the Bluebells, and Forever by the Spice Girls… I’ve just checked, and there is still a Pye Corner Audio box set, the new Insides LP and another from Taylor Swift in the pipeline… roll on 2021
Nikki McClure (artist)
10 people I want to hug as tight as I can and I’m not much of a hugger
1. Lois Maffeo and I will eat tamales with her
2. My sisters who are quite far away
3. Oscar Soule, my college botany teacher who just dropped off raspberry jam
4. Amber Bell because she would then pass it on for me to everyone in Portland
5. My Mailman Craig who I repeated his name all day to remember it.
6. Marena at the Farmers Market who sells me bread every week and I put it in my basket that her Father made
7. Tina Herschelman and hopefully she is wearing cashmere
8. Aaron Tuller at Buyolympia because he’s not a hugger either
9. My Mother because she’s my Mother
10. Doctors and Nurses and Teachers and Grocers and Delivery Drivers. I think I heard another van pull up at my neighbor’s. I will hug my neighbor too and we will dance in the street.
Ten records I’ve been listening to obsessively this year, in descending order of repeats:
6 Women I’d Like to Personally Thank (I Was Trying for 10, but I Am Nearing Deadline)
Marcy Mays I’d like to thank you for your cowboy boots and for always being full-on ready to rock. Scrawl Forever!
Heather Lewis Thank you for coming up with my favorite drumbeat. Interested listeners may refer to “Midnight A Go Go” by Beat Happening to hear it.
Sara Lund The best drummers in the world have an idiosyncratic system of timing. Is it in their head, their hands or their feet? Wherever it stems from, Sara Lund’s drumming in Unwound not only withstood the art-damaged time signatures of Justin Trosper and Vern Rumsey—she elevated it. 100% fucking genius musician.
Stella Marrs Since we’re on the subject of drummers, has any performance more radically changed my views on and understanding of performance than Stella playing a snare drum with hands holding stiletto pumps? Her voluminous influence on visual and graphic art is well known, but she also resides in my life as a continual handmaiden to my blown mind.
Kathleen In 1984, I lived in Portland, Oregon, and walked across downtown to Satyricon once a week for a poetry night organized by Walt Curtis (who was inspiration for the older protagonist of Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noche.) It was more or less an open mic in which self-serious poets from Reed College would recite their verse and aging gay men would yell at them. (“You are an abortion!” was a favorite taunt I heard there.) One consistent feature of this weekly event was the pre-intermission arrival to the stage of a late-middle-aged woman named Kathleen, who would sing (a capella) the 1961 hit “Norman” and then return to her seat next to her ever-changing (yet gentlemanly) elderly date. Each of the 7 or 8 times I heard her sing it, it was so pure. And never once was it not entirely cheered on and welcomed by the otherwise vicious crowd. She is unforgettable to me and I wish I’d had the good fortune to get to know her.
Gilmore Tamny A friend had a copy of Wiglet in his apartment and I picked it up to scan the contents, thinking it was a music zine. In it, there was a cartoon about having a job where you had to drive around all over the place and knock on people’s doors. But the panels ended before the actual job was named. So I wrote a letter to the zine address in Columbus, Ohio, and asked if the job had been delivering flowers or pizzas. I received a note in return that said, “I was a process server.” That brief letter of reply (in 1985?) brought Gilmore Tamny into my life and from then on she has been a total heroine to me. Who else can make a shitty job into a thrilling zine cliff-hanger? Who else can convince me to go on a 1-show tour, in order to drive to Columbus, OH and play at an All Girl All Star Hoedown? (With Scrawl! See above!) And who has combined metal chops and chutzpah in bands the Yips, Weather Weapon and in her side gig as a spokesmodel for the Mystery? And who follows their idle thoughts of, “Hmmm…maybe it would be interesting to become an expert in art theft and forgery?” into REALITY??? Musician, artist, novelist, poet, promoter and Bostonian Gilmore Tamny, that’s who. All hail.
Thank you, brilliant women.
Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket)
Books of Poetry I found especially useful this year:
Gwendolyn Brooks – Blacks
Anslem Hollo – Sojourner Microcosms
Robert Fernandez – Scarecrow
Samuel Amadon – Listener
Louis MacNeice – Autumn Journal
Caroline Bird – The Hat Stand Union
Ada Limon – The Carrying
Atsuro Riley – Romey’s Order
Elizabeth Bishop – Questions of Travel
whoever wrote Gilgamesh – Gilgamesh
Rachel Blumberg and Jeffrey Underhill (artists, musicians)
Top ten favorite foods we made in 2020 that gave us some slivers of happiness.
1. enchilada lasagna
2. cullen skink
3. bacalao gommes
4. vegetable shepherds pie
6. grilled scallops
7. pan con tomate with garden tomatoes
8. sourdough discard biscuits with fig jam
9. eggplant parmesan
10. gingerbread pancakes
Gilmore Tamny (Weather Weapon)
10 Things That Happened, I Noticed, Were Important to Me, or Were Merely Novel
This list does not include my shock, horror, and despair of the wider world. Take that as writ.
1. passed a dear friend on the street without recognizing her due to masks and fogged-up glasses
2. drew chinchilla plotting to destroy a Chihuly
3. thought New England spring 2020 tulip game absolutely outstanding
4. discovered the way I express love to my petfriend is to continually fret about their wellbeing and contentment, and the way I experience work anxiety is a tiny tasered sensation everytime I hear that arriving email bingbong
6. started a taut psychological thriller
7. took a class on Sea Monsters
8. thought about hypocrisy all the time—mine, yours, the world
9. FOOD: a) tried to bring iceberg lettuce back into my life b) bought a croissant crust frozen pizza, made a big deal about it, thought about doing a Zoom roundtable where we try/discuss en masse, but it still lays in my freezer withering c) discovered there is no room at the adjective inn for Snickerdoodle-flavored popcorn
10. had a fling with nonfiction: The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: The Amazing Story of How America Lost Its Mind Over a Plush Toy—and the Eccentric Genius Behind It, My Friend Anna, and Children of Ash and Elm. All highly recommend (not necessarily pub this year BTW).
Oed Ronne (The Ocean Blue)
Top Ten Episodes of The Rockford Files
1. The Farnsworth Stratagem
2. Quickie Nirvana
3. In Pursuit of Carol Thorne
4. The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club
5. The Mayor’s Committee from Deer Lick Falls
6. The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit
7. The Becker Connection
8. Requiem for a Funny Box
9. Dwarf in a Helium Hat
10. If the French Heel is Back, Can the Nehru Jacket Be Far Behind?
Chickfactor editor in chief Gail O’Hara
Top Ten Things I Miss About Portland
1. Eating! Especially at Back to Eden Café (RIP), Harlow, Kati Thai, Luc Lac, Maruti, the Sudra, Supernova, Cedo’s, Eb & Bean, Tarai Thai, Modern Times, including delicious big bowls at Bye & Bye and Sweet Hereafter, the best falafel and hummus and pickled veggies in the entire world at Cedo’s, the vegan pizza at Red Sauce, Pizza Jerk and Virtuous Pie, the hummus at Aviv, the breakfast, reubens and burgers from Off the Griddle, oh so many things! I’ve probably already lost a stone by being gone (not really). I wish I could order takeout of everything and have it delivered. Vegan heaven. Comfort food capital of the world.
2. Playing indoor futbol with my team The Crusty Punks. They are the best! After 9 months of not playing, I feel sad and less powerful.
3. Chanting my head off at Portland Thorns games (also so sad that I won’t be seeing Crystal Dunn play a bunch of home games; also sad that Tobin Heath is technically no longer a Thorn; I will miss seeing Christine Sinclair and Lindsey Horan play a ton) I am starting a covert Rose City Riveters supporters group in my current home town if anyone wants to join. #BAONPDX
4. Screaming like a banshee and jumping up and down and swinging my scarf at Portland Timbers games; I never truly understood the meaning of sports until I became a fan of this team in 2011. My love for them; their love for the fans; the love affair between the Timbers Army and the players, so pure, so magical. The Magic Is Real. #RCTID
5. Karaoke!! Especially at Voicebox with like 8 of my friends. My standards: “99 Red Balloons,” “Buffalo Stance,” and I miss the group scream-along to any B-52s tune.
6. Beulahland: my footie-watching local, where I wasn’t crazy about the food but I dug the atmosphere, the people, the vending machine and the left-wing history. (sings) “Where everybody knows your name…”
7. Toffee Club! It was such a fun place to watch women’s futbol, like the Thorns and the USWNT, plus the cider selection and the people were so great. We all used to DJ there a few years ago. I guess I miss living in SCUSA (Soccer City USA): ya think?
8. Walking in parks with friends! Especially in Laurelhurst and Mt Tabor, the general overwhelming blossoming fertile bucolic pastoral beauty of the Pacific NW, the elephants and seals at the zoo, and the Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden. So much beauty.
9. Venues! There were three venues that I treasured the most: Doug Fir, which is ideal in terms of size, sightlines, coziness, sound, and everything. It’s underground and looks like a softly furnished log cabin. Mississippi Studios, which is just a wonderful space in every way, though I never was able to set up shows at either sadly. And of course Bunk Bar, which is the greatest in terms of working with them on events, they feed the bands fancy tater tots and big sandwiches, they pay artists properly and are easy to work with. The shows we did set up there were epic.
10. Record stores! Bookshops! Powell’s. Old movie theaters! Dive bars. Bridges and rivers.
11. My friends! Their dogs! Their yards. Their support and company and conversation. Still can’t quite accept that I’m not going back. (I know I’ll fall in love with my new home but I feel like life is in limbo so…)
Jen Sbragia (The Softies, All Girl Summer Fun Band, chickfactor designer)
1. Feeding and viewing hummingbirds on my porch 2. Walking through deep puddles in old rainboots that I have mended with goo I bought from the internet 3. Listening to podcasts about crimes and/or terrifying stories and then podcasts about self-help and mindfulness whilst cooking. 4. Coffee 5. Avoiding sugar long enough that a consuming a small chunk of dark chocolate feels like snorting a line of something 6. Fashion Plates and colored pencils 7. Potatoes in all forms 8. Snuggling with calm children 9. Not putting on jeans for almost a year and also witnessing the death of the skinny jeans trend and being like, “cool… bye” 10. Porch dates
What I did in 2020
Switched off the news.
Followed Peter Terzian on Instagram as he shared and contemplated photographs of himself. One a year up until the present. (He’s a very handsome 52.)
Wiggled around in the kitchen while listening to Jarvis Cocker’s Saturday-night Domestic Disco DJ sets in the spring.
Caught up with The World At War. All 26 episodes and 47 years after it was made.
Cheered on Sander Bos and Esther Perbandt in the first series of Making The Cut. Mittel-European fashion designers really do trump American ones.
Went to Germany, embraced lido culture, and took up cycling.
Missed drinking through the night with strangers at Milano’s on New York’s East Houston Street.
Bought lots of records from Monorail in Glasgow and Discreet (a.k.a. ‘New Sounds of Swedish Underground’) in Gothenburg.
Listened to Mikey Kirkpatrick’s daily live flute improvisations on Wild Lakes Radio.
Wandered through forests looking for deer and pondering the past and the future.
Watched lots of ski jumping and took up sledding.
Sent Christmas cards for the first time in three decades.
Dawn Sutter Madell (Agoraphone)
I found it hard to concentrate on much besides music, but here is a top 10 list of things that distracted me from 2020
1. ancestry deep dives 2. schitt’s creek (which I had never watched) 3. true crime (podcasts, doc-series) 4. gardening for myself 5. gardening for others 6. freaks and geeks re-watch 7. running 8. Cassi Namoda art 9. His Dark Materials (the show) 10. cbd
13 Highlights in a Low-Life Year
1 Gonsalves Portuguese Seasoning (an indispensable part of our pantry) 2 Open E Tuning (courtesy of Johnny Marr’s “Headmaster Ritual” guitar tutorial on YouTube. Now I use it on everything, just like the Portuguese seasoning) 3 Arch Cape, Oregon 4 Kamala Harris 5 John was Trying to Contact Aliens doc. on Netflix 6 Anarchist Jurisdictions (There were no delays getting our Holiday packages either to or from Portland—go figure.) 7 Michael Galinsky’s photo archives 8 KMUN Coast Community Radio, Astoria, Oregon (especially the rockin’ Backbeat program, and the ship report) 9 Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983–1987 compilation (Captured Tracks) 10 City of Dreams: a tasty unfiltered/citrusy pale ale from Ft. George Brewery in Astoria, OR. 11 Takeout Cocktails: an idea whose time has come, and hopefully outlasts the pandemic. 12 O & H Bakery’s Almond Kringle: Maybe the sweetest thing to ever come out of Racine, WI 13 Cawston Press’s Rhubarb soda (hard to pick a favorite flavor—their Elderflower Lemonade is also right up there.)
Evelyn Hurley (Cotton Candy)
Top 10 walks & bike rides I made in 2020
#10- The walk from my house to Central Square, Cambridge. A utilitarian walk usually made to complete chores.
#9- The walk from my house to Whole Foods on Beacon St., Somerville. The sidewalks are usually really crowded, and there seems to be a lot of pedestrians who don’t know how to socially distance and also share the sidewalk, and the intersection at Inman Square is kind of annoying. But other than that, it gets me where I need to go pretty quickly.
#8- The bike ride from my house to my office. Thankfully there wasn’t as much traffic as usual, and it’s not a relaxing or easy bike ride, but it was nice to be back in the office even if it was only for one day a week.
#7- The walk from my office to the library stacks. I used to think it was ordinary, now I find it exhilarating!
#6- The walk from my office to Trader Joe’s and the Trillium beer garden. I always come back to work with delicious goodies in my bags!
#5- The walk along the beach in South Boston with my friend Viktoria and her adorable dog.
#4- The walk up Buffalo or Seneca Street in Ithaca, NY. It’s a brutal hike up this street, but you get your entire workout ring closed and it’s a thrill to successfully achieve the hike!
#3- The walk from my house to the Cambridge Brewing Company, two blocks away.
#2- The bike ride from the Provincetown Ferry to Race Point Beach, Cape Cod. I only did it once this summer, but it was hard and totally rewarding.
#1- The daily walk I took from my house over the Longfellow Bridge and back. I’d head out after WFH was done, or I’d finished making dinner, this jaunt was my daily dose of sanity. I’d listen to books on tape, podcasts like “Rock and Roll Film Club,” new music, Folklore” from TS was in heavy rotation, or I’d talk to friends on the phone. I have far too many pictures of the sunsets, which were often technicolor and always gave me hope.
Hope 2021 is good for everyone and we are all healthy and safe.
I have spent all day trying to absorb the death of LD Beghtol, with whom I shared a stage and a cognac many a time. His extravagant voice and personality lent charm and drama to his bands Flare, The Moth Wranglers, and the New Criticism, as well as his unforgettable vocals on The Magnetic Fields’s 69 Love Songs. In lieu of a photograph I am posting what may as well have been a portrait, from a book by Edward Gorey we both admired. Listen to something gloomy tonight, with a touch of melodrama and panache, to remember a man who turned every room into a velvet-draped literary salon. Mr. Beghtol, the world is diminished.
What I keep remembering is at the first Three Terrors show, where Stephin, Dudley and LD were singing the saddest songs they could think of. LD sang “Pretty In Pink” with me on synthesizer and I screwed up the intro, so he only sang a few words and the we had to stop. But the few words, “Caroline laughs and it’s raining all day” gave away the surprise. So the start-over was particularly awkward. LD waited for the murmurs to die down—he did always hate a chattery audience—and then we started again and his vocals were so sad and relentless that everyone was transfixed. Everyone made the journey with LD to the place where this was indeed the saddest song. That’s what he did: he brought the theatrical moment, the drama, the gesture. And he could transfix you.