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The 10 best arty and musicky and designy and webby things that happened this year, to the best of my memory

A meta-list of notable and memorable things from 2014, in more or less chronological order.

1. Getting to see Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring in person, albeit with about a thousand other sweaty persons stuffed into the Frick on the last day of this Dutch painting exhibit. I couldn’t get as close as I hoped, but it was still worth it. The painting is luminous.

2. St. Vincent’s better-than-ever live show in support of her best-to-date record. I love how she shreds. And shreds.

3. A trip to Vienna, where I took in the Egon Schiele- and Gustav Klimt-heavy Leopold Museum, and a day running around spying murals in Berlin, including this massive spaceman:


4. Graphic designer Adam Lewis Greene was looking for $37,000 to Kickstart the designing of a new Bible and wound up blowing well past a million dollars. Why? It’s a simple but cool idea: to present it in the format of a novel, with no chapters or numbers or annotation, with the possible benefit that someone might read it for what it means on the whole (and not to “aggressively” pull out single verses to clobber people with). It’s called Bibliotheca, elegantly presented with a font he designed especially for the project, and with stylish letterpress prints that caught my eye.


5. Boyhood. Coulda watched it for three more hours. It ended just as my interest was peaking.

6. Wait, is it still 2005? I wouldn’t have anticipated that both Spoon and the New Pornographers would put out fantastic releases this year – arguably the best of their careers? – ten years after the height of their popularity. Or whatever you call popularity in the world of indie rock. “Educated folks singers want my soul.” I’m feeling you, Britt.

spoon pornos

7. TL;DR Wikipedia: Wikipedia condensed for your pleasure, in this parody site from someecards. (Full disclosure: I’m a contributor, but if I wasn’t I’d still be on here all the time.)

conf call

8. The street art show at the now demolished but long defunct Precinct 21 police station on East 22nd St. in Manhattan. “four floors of dope.” I wrote about it in August.

9. Um, Too Many Cooks.

10. Lucius at Terminal 5. I liked Lucius’ more-or-less debut album in 2013, and I liked the band even more after seeing them live at the beginning of the year – the kudos they get for their live act is well-earned. This show was a homecoming for them after a year on the road, and it was a total home run, from the goosebump-inducing opener of “Go Home” to the ambitious crowd surfing to the confettied John Lennon Christmas-cover finale.



honorable mentions 2014

Swoon at the Brooklyn Museum, the (announcement of the) resurrection of Twin Peaks, Over the Rhine’s continued excellence in the musical space they call “reality Christmas,” The Juan Maclean keeping DFA dance music on the map, and – is this really the only book I can recall reading this year? – my New Yorker editor Bob Mankoff’s entertaining cartoon memoir.


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Where you put the comma makes a difference.

I’m just saying.


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My friend recently told me I had too many apps on my phone. Maybe, I said, but no harm in that. If you use it, even just once or twice, you might as well keep an application on there, right?

But there’s a word for it, he said, which is “overapplicated.” It means you’ve got too many for your own good.  I disputed this fact, but he doubled down on me, saying that no, I was pretty much a textbook version of it. “You’re so effing overapplicated it’s not even funny,” were his exact words.

Then I started to read the icons on my phone and I said whaddya know? Guilty as charged, man, Guilty. As. Charged.



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My New Year’s Resolution this year was to take free-falling classes. Oh, good! They have them here locally.

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Get Your Computer Out Of My Meme

This is not only what 5 MB of storage looked like years ago, it’s what 5 MB of storage looked like in the lap of one of those weird Victorian mothers who was conspicuously hidden in her own photo. You’re welcome.

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No Thanks

One thing that’s always bothered me about the Christmas season is this overemphasis on commercialism, where everything has to be for sale. It’s so excessive.

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Stray Shots

The camera application which I prefer to use on my iPhone is different than the built-in camera. It’s one in which you touch any part of the screen to take a picture instead of a single “shutter” button. It’s fine, except that it also means that in handling the camera – switching between hands, taking it in and out of my pocket, shoving it in my armpit as I fumble through my bag looking for something – the screen gets touched a lot. I think half of my pictures are of the accidental, oh-crap-I-thought–the-camera-was-off variety. But you know what? Some of them actually look kind of cool, especially when you gallery them. So I’m committing to this. If you need a wedding photographer and you don’t care if the pictures look like arbitrary screenshots from The Bourne Ultimatum, feel free to make me an offer.

(click image to open larger size in new window)





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