Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best of 2006

I have already discussed many of the items on this list throughout this past year when I first encountered them. There are surely things that perhaps moved me more at the time, which I am no longer able to remember and that should be included on this list, and there are even more surely items, books, shows, and films that I did not encounter at all and that should definitely be on here. And so the narrowness of this list and how it is bound my own limited experiences cannot be emphasized enough, but even those narrow boundaries are wide enough to experience so many great things that have both affected me in some distinct ways and also inspired me to reach for more distinct things.

1. David Lynch, Inland Empire

2. Yayoi Kusama's show at Robert Miller Gallery

3. Roberto Bolano, Last Evenings on Earth
Overall, the trip goes smoothly. Driving out of the city both father and son feel cold, but as they leave the high valley behind and begin to descend into the state of Guerrero, the temperature climbs and they have to take off their sweaters and roll down the windows. B, who is inclined to melancholy (or so he likes to think), is at first completely absorbed in contemplating the landscape, but after a few hours the mountains and forests become monotonous and he starts reading a book instead. (131-132)

4. Samantha Hunt, "Three Days"
Her mother slowly drags a finger across the kitchen table and then does it again. Beatrice remains entirely still, frozen like a field rabbit, hoping that her mother will decide not to tell her whatever it is she wants to tell her. She can already imagine its perimeters: “Honey, I wish you would think about a job that offers insurance,” or, “I know a real nice young man you might like to meet, Bea.” But he wouldn’t be a nice, young man. He would be another forty-five-year-old divorced actor her mother had met through community-theatre projects, a man who also holds his hands up around either side of his face like the sunshine when he wants to make a point.

5. Cat Power, The Greatest

6. David Mitchell, Black Swan Green
"Locomotion" got all the girls doing this choo-choo dance in a snaky line. Then there was "Oops Upside Your Head," which's got a sort of rowing-boat dance to it. It's not a dance for boys. "House of Fun" by Madness is, though. "House of Fun" is about buying condoms but the BBC didn't ban it soon enough 'cause the BBC only spots secret meanings weeks after the dimmest duh-brain in Duffershire's got it. Squelch did this electrocuted dance that more kids copied to take the piss at first, but actually it worked. (There's a Squelch hiding in all great inventors.) Then "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads came on. That was the crucial song that made it more bonzoish not to dance than to dance, so now me and Dean and Floyd did. The D.J. switched the strobe light on. Only for short bursts, 'cause strobes make your brain blow up.Dancing's like walking down a busy high street or millions of other things. You're absolutely fine as long as you don't think about it. During the strobe storm, through a stormy night forest of necks and arms, I saw Holly Deblin. Holly Deblin's got a sort of India goddess dance, swaying but sort of flicking her hands. Holly Deblin might've seen me through her stormy night forest, 'cause she might've smiled. (Might isn't as good as did but it's miles better than didn't.) (273-274)

7. Gregoire Bouillier, The Mystery Guest
Maybe that was what this Sophie of hers expected of the “mystery guest”: to arrive at the highest possible conception of presenthood. Could that be what she had in mind? And so I kept walking the streets and going up and down the avenues and looking in every storefront; but wherever I looked all I saw was merchandise and more merchandise and nothing of value except the value assigned to each thing in its turn by society, and nowhere I looked did I see any object that seemed to incarnate anything more than profit and gain, and in every direction lay all the commodities of the world expressing nothing so much as a degraded idea of The Gift, an idea contrary and, in a word, hostile to the idea of The Gift rightly understood, and the last thing I wanted was to arrive at that party bearing a gift that would shed its mystique the moment the colored paper and ribbon had been torn aside. And all at once I saw why our societies use gift wrap, not for the sake of surprise but rather to cover up the fact that The Gift is based on a lie, as we inevitably discover every time somebody gives us something, yes, and we open it and, after that microsecond when we expect the deepest fulfillment of our desire, disgust and sadness wash over us and we smile as fast as we can and say thank you, the better to bury our chagrin at never once in all our lives receiving something more than what we’d hoped for. And this evanescent joy, forever disappointed, remains incomprehensible to us. (33-34)

8. The Concretes, In Colour

9. "Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s" at the Met

10. M. Ward, Post-War

11. Phillip Roth's Everyman
But how much time could a man spend remembering the best of boyhood? What about enjoying the best of old age? Or was the best of old age just that – the longing for the best of boyhood, for the tubular sprout that was then his body and that rode the waves from way out where they began to build, rode them with his arms pointed like an arrowhead and the skinny rest of him following behind like the arrow’s shaft, rode them all the way in to where his rib cage scraped against the tiny sharp pebbles and jagged clamshells and pulverized seashells at the edge of the shore and he hustled to his feet and hurriedly turned and went lurching through the low surf until it was knee high and deep enough for him to plunge in and begin swimming madly out to the rising breakers--into the advancing, green Atlantic, rolling unstoppably toward him like the obstinate fact of the future--and, if he was lucky, make it there in time to catch the next big wave and then the next and the next until from the low slant of inland sunlight glittering across the water he knew it was time to go. (126-127)

12. Spike Lee, When the Levees Broke

13. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

14. Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep

15. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain

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