bonfire of my vanities

My summary of 2008 via a “best of post.” Some of the items on this list may have actually been born before 2008, but listen, I’m really egocentric, and if I hadn’t experienced them yet, then they didn’t really exist. So, then, here is the Dude’s Best of ’08:

Album: Bon Iver – The MySpace Transmissions
I can barely tell you the individual track names for this EP. Whenever I play it, I just let it loop through over and over, I feel like it’s one awesome 18 minute song.

Artist: Cloud Cult
Amazing indie-indie vibe from this eco-friendly tribe of artists.

Song: Architecture In Helsinki – Like It Or Not (Version 2)
This song is an absolute blast. It kind of holds the spirit of the music scene that i was most attracted to in ’08.

Song For When You Have To Clean The House and You Really Don’t Want To: Busta Rhymes – Don’t Touch Me Now
My daughter accidentally introduced me to this song via the Dance Battle. I then proceeded to play it daily for about three weeks. Sorry ’bout that

Live Show: Reckless Kelly – Gruene Hall, December 28
We really just lucked out and stumbled into this show. Gruene Hall is Texas’ oldest dance hall, and RK is Texas’ best band. It was a match made in alt-country heaven. Absolutely nothing Nashville about it. Just raw and real.

Reckless Kelly Live @ Gruene Hall

Reckless Kelly Live @ Gruene Hall

Book: Dan Kennedy – Rock On: An Office Power Ballad
I like to think that if I wrote a book, that I would write like Dan Kennedy. I like to think that, but it is not anywhere close to reality. Dan writes with fantastic wit and transparent honesty. Try this excerpt on for size:

“I would be lying if I didn’t admit that, like a lot of the other 18,321,745 grade school kids that the census bureau says were living in the U.S. suburbs in the seventies, my early love of music led to daydreaming that maybe one day I’d be a rock star myself. Maybe you were doing this sort of daydreaming, too. Your resume may even look a lot like my own. A brief review:

  • Fourth and fifth grade: Started /lead several lip-synch bands that rehearsed and mimed the bittersweet radio songs of 1976 in Jason Mace’s garage. We played brooms and gardening tools, and our set list was basically whatever was on the radio at the moment we turned it on, mostly mid-tempo odes to lost love written by men I always pictured as bearded, very tan, and wearing white slacks and maroon silk shirts with the first four buttons undone. Men who wrote mostly of meeting new lovers while still lamenting a recent divorce. Sometimes the metaphors for lost love were thick and guarded: a horse running free and not returning when its name was called, for instance. Women back then sang a little more openly and less metaphorically of the rigors of love and lust, preferring scenarios of, say, magic men with magic hands, and hoping their mothers could try, try, try to understand that he’s a magic man. We lip-synched those songs just as emphatically as the ones from a man’s point of view. Jason especially identified with the material back then because his mom and Bob were always arguing about whether or not they had made a big mistake in getting remarried after both having had first marriages that wound up in divorce. During the more emotional parts of songs I’d look over at Jason to make sure he was okay. To lighten things up, I’d give him one of those mid-song nods and knowing grins that you see musicians give each other on stage occasionally.
  • Seventh grade: Nearly flawless gig as DJ for Valentine’s Day Dance at school, the only real glitch coming when I had to fall back on playing “Stairway to Heaven” three and a half times in a row for reasons I won’t go into now, locking peers into roughly twenty-four-minute slow dance. Threats to my welfare were hollered by both boys and girls; even the substitute-teacher chaperone looked pissed by the third time.
  • Four-year hiatus after “Stairway” incident: Frankly, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever want to work with music again.
  • Eleventh Grade: Reevaluated, regrouped, and reemerged at age sixteen with my first band. I played guitar and sang in our power trio. We played at parties. We covered “Repo Man” by Iggy Pop and also played a slightly out-of-tune version of Agent Orange’s version of the sixties surf classic “Wipeout.” Our set list took about seventeen minutes to play through, and then we would simply play it over and over again at different tempos.
  • After high school: Worked a bookstore job and the requisite record-store job, and later took a job in a wholesale record warehouse near Sacramento. Then I quit the northern-California agricultural-town rat race and drove to Austin, Texas, to finally get serious about starting a career as a singer-songwriter. I returned from Austin to my previous record store job after about a week and a half of what I like to think was a matter of being ahead of my time.”

Business Book: Rob Walker – Buying In
I loved Groundswell for the shortcut it afforded me in explaining the social media landscape to my colleagues, but personally Buying In served me more. Excellent insight into the human syche, and a great debunker of some marketing mythology.

Movie: Juno
Brilliant and fun. The Dramatic and me, we loved it a lot.

“Thanks for having me and my irresponsible child over your house.” – Mac MacGuff

Actor: Heath Ledger
Before Dark Knight, I wasn’t that much of a fan. But seeing him make Morgan Freeman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine look like ordinary actors…wow, that was impressive.

SNL Sketch: Justin hosts SNL in two minutes flat
Just watch it, and enjoy.

Photograph: A Floating City With Junkyard Roots
This entire collection tells a beautiful story.

A Floating City With Junkyard Roots

Floating City With Junkyard Roots -

App: Tumblr
Guy introduced me to Tumblr in the summer of ’07, and I thought that it was pretty cool. In ’08, I became addicted. Explore the possibilities of Tumblr, and you’ll be blown away.

Site: MOKB
I respect the taste of MOKB a ton. It is rare to come across a featured artist that isn’t absolutely stunning.

Business Site: MarketingCharts
My daily must read for business. This really is an essential resource for marketing folks. Or data geeks.

Looking forward to see what ’09 holds, I’m out of words now…


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