It’s been an epic year to say the least. Plenty of ups and downs. We all know these, because they’ve received the lion’s share of news coverage. But what about the middle? That band doing solid journeyman’s work. Or the hotly anticipated followup novel that was incredibly mild. These are the people I celebrate today.
10. Central Market by Tyondai Braxton – I love Battles. “Atlas” is one of the best songs of the decade. So I had high expectations for singer Braxton’s solo disc. In what crazy directions would he go, unfettered by the other band members? Would he disappear down the rabbit hole of his own studio wizardry like Brian Wilson? The answer was a resounding not really. Central Market neither disappoints nor enthralls, hanging out at the top of the bell curve, afraid to ski down the slope.
9. “Zombieland” – This is why movie studios exist: I was entertained, I laughed, I left the theater and forgot about the movie a month later. I had to go to Metacritic and look up 2009 film releases to be reminded this existed. And was thoroughly middle-of-the-road.
8. The New Yorker iPhone “Brushes” App Covers by Jorge Colombo – This was novel the first time, though none of them carry the wit of Chris Ware’s Halloween cover. What we have are bland covers fashioned in a unique way. Bravo?
7. Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper by Julian Plenti – Interpol’s Paul Banks came up with a persona as developed and fleshed out as a Michael Bay protagonist. Which is to say, not so much. “Unwind” and “Fun That We Have” were good, the rest was decent. Pitchfork does a great job summing up how solidly ok the whole venture is.
6. “Entourage” – This season had some good moments (Matt Damon, everything Ari Gold) and some weak moments (we don’t get to see anything from “Gatsby”?). But I watched every episode, and I will watch the next season, probably out of habit. This season was like asking for a beer and getting O’Doul’s.
5. Peppered turkey and monterey jack cheese sandwiches – Consistently there in 2009, my go-to lunch when I was broke or lazy.
4. “I Love You, Man” – Every time I catch myself saying “totes my goats,” I wish I were quoting a better movie. If the director had just excised the “Slappin’ tha bass, mon!” scene, this Paul Rudd vehicle wouldn’t even have made the list.
3. Brooklyn Lager – Get over yourselves everyone. It’s inconsistent from tap to tap. Also, I would expect a beer named after an entire borough to reference more than just the Gowanus Canal.
2. March – Just so-so this year.
1. “Inherent Vice” by Thomas Pynchon – We get it, Pynchon really loves The Big Lebowski. We all do. And I thought aligning Pynchon’s typical miasma of paranoia with an überstoner’s unreliable reportage was a witty touch. But the best thing I can say about this one is it’s a good entry point for Pynchon novitiates, second to “The Crying of Lot 49.” The less said about this book’s heavy-handed final few pages, the better. (Fog! It’s a metaphor, get it?!)