Best of 2009

A death in the family, a marraige, some new kids, and a few trips between Honolulu, New York, Bangkok, LA, and Salt Lake City made 2009 a very reflective year. I began 2010 in Chicago on New Years Day, and for some reason I almost feel like I’ll be there the same time next year. Back to Bangkok tomorrow. My 2010 resolution may come off as rude and though I won’t mention it I’ll say it’s dispositional. Below I’ve listed what I liked about 2009.

Music
In 2009 Chicago band Califone returned with the album All my Friends are Funeral Singers, like a soundtrack for the city of bricks (of stone and “broad shoulders”) in the opener “Giving Away the Bride” and the sound of aging in the song “Krill”. Both songs bracket where 2009 took me, unlike some of the other favorites which remind me of exploring “the new” and that there is something beside “come back” albums by The Church, Wire, or Peter Murphy covers of David Bowie worth listening to.

Califone “Funeral Singers”
The Veils “Sun Gangs”
The Big Pink “A Brief History of Love”
Chrisette Michele “Epiphany”;
The Church “Untitled #23”
Peter Murphy “Space Oddity” (single)
Pet Shop Boys “Yes”
The XX “XX”
Health “Get Color”
No Age “loosing Feeling” EP

Honorable Mention: Alicia Keys “The Element of Freedom”

Books (in English)
I liked Daniel Mendelsohn’s take on 9/11, film and criticism in his collection of essays (as I presented a paper on the subject) called How Beautiful It Is And How Easily it Can Be Broken; and in fiction two friends borrowed my copy of Miles from Nowhere (Nami Mun) to confirm to me how great it was to read against the predominance of ‘lonely city’ narratives–that Katie Rophie related to a strange sort of anti-sex male narcissism in the NY Times Sunday Review of Books last week (“The Naked and the Conflicted”). While presenting my 9/11 paper in NYC, i was kind of reunited with the lower east side that Richard Price’s Lush Life speaks to quite colorfully. And speaking of colored travels is Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey, where he narrates life in a Chromatocracy–a society divided into colors. Since a lot of my writing on Thai politics is related to aesthetic divisions, well exemplified in a recent Absolut commercial where a gang of citizens carrying yellow flags fight riot police with pillows). While Noise: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth probably wasn’t what it could be, the concept of the collection alone make it well worth reading. 2010, at least in the English language, begins with a 2009 issue of Granta devoted to Chicago writing.

How Beautiful It Is And How Easily it Can Be Broken, Daniel Mendelsohn
Miles from Nowhere, Nami Mun
Lush LIfe, Richard Price
Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
Noise: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth

Miscellaneous Events
Going back to Thailand was kind of a big deal, so I’ll elaborate on that below. But the other highlights of 2009 are all sort of wound up in injuries, broken strings, and new forms of mental fitness that include New York City, a broken rib, jogging, shows with the honolulu-based musical project City, and reconnecting with some old friends while backing into some overly politicized relationships with some new friends. I feel like some of the most common blog tags I’ve used provide more descriptives for these events: cinematic landscape, mezzanine, global grammar,cuts, cutting, wave.

Thailand
I really appreciated visits from several Hawaii people that centered my disposition, for the while. I liked Indian food near Memorial Bridge (Sapan Phut), hanging out at Rama 8 Bridge, the Baiyoke Tower, the 2 mile pedestrian walking tour I know as the Green Bridge between Lumphini Park and Asoke, friday afternoons discussing Thai literature at Chula, and kicking back to indie rock at Lollipop (formerly “Lullabar”) on two occasions. I liked cruising at that restaurant called Someday on Ekkemai 21 (or somewhere around there) with Yo, Vincent and them, and crashing these three parties: the Banyan Tree Chef expo, Men’s Health magazine 3 year anniversary party at Fuse in Thong Lor (what a joke), and a networking social event at Windsor Suites Hotel for tour guides and hotel industry reps. You do it for food and the free stuff, and you learn something new about people each time. I got pretty vexed by TCDC (Thailand Creative and Design Center) for slow connections and strange dispositions, sidewalks around the Democracy Monument for short circuiting my visual comprehension of how ‘state of emergency’ and ‘birthday’ are different, Siam Paragon for being what it is, public parks for putting chairs and stages across jogging areas (and Thammasart University did this as well), and taxi cabs for too much dissimulating.

2009 was reflective, so 2010 should be pivotal.

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