Friday, December 31

The 20 That Boated My Rock 2004

In the words of the great Edwyn Collins (who he you ask? Only the debonair godfather of the band that tops far too many polls as this year's best - Franz Ferdinand) it's time to stop "shilly-shallying" and get this lot down.

So here goes - in a not very particular order:

01: The World of Blogs

Laters I may namecheck some of my favourites, but for now a salute to the whole damn world, and not least to Blogspot for enabling us all to yarble on and on and on and on . . .

02: The Boston Red Sox, World Series Champions!

Fuck the Olympics - bunch of drug-addled freaks (not that baseball is exactly clean, but it's not quite so fucking pious as the world of Athletics, which appears not to notice that half the women in it resemble Popeye), and Arsenal's unbeaten season (mediocre 'Premier' league), THIS was the sporting achievment of the year.

And within the team, my personal hero was Johnny Damon, nay, Johnny of Nazareth (in the Bronx). And as he famously said, "I put on weight off-season the right way: drinking beer." Aside from his talent, and his top season stats, and his one bat annihilation of the damn Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS, his sheer cojones, in the current cultural climate of the US, in looking like a drug-addled hippie makes him my Male Personality of the Year.

And so to the female . . .

03: Britney Spears

Let's cut this balls about her being a chav. Ignore such fools, for they know not what they spout about.

This year, in the phrase I learned from the late, great George Costanza, she "stuck" it to America - big time. Indeed, she stuck it to the world. And yet she still released Toxic - my single of the year. Is that string motif Indian (Bollywood) or Arabic? You tell me. I thought it was the latter, and a further two fingers to everybody in embracing some muslim musical stylie, in our intersting times.

Yep: Britney is my Woman of the Year. Now bend over, baby, one more time . . .

04: Peep Show

Yes, Little Britain is very good, but THIS IS THE ONE, my friends, and Series Two saw new heights. Super Hans! Super Hans!

I fully expect it to clean up at the Comedy Awards of 2005 . . . Who am I kidding? Me! It already has in my own mind, though I know that the cretinesque world of show out there never shall learn.

05: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Is it me or was it a duff year for movies? Still, this shone out, despite the fact that I have limited time for either of the two principals, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Nor, for that matter, am I a great fan of director Charlie Kaufman's previous convoluted efforts eg Being John Malkovitch.

It took me two viewings to nail each and every moment of what was going on, but a class film announces itself on first sight, even if you do occasionally wonder What the Fuck?

A wanky side of me wants to pronounce that this film, along with Lost in Translation, represents a new sort of cinema: Cinema Blanco ie a cold, dispassionate cinema, the cinema of Uncertainty. Yeah: post 9/11 balls.

Anyway, whereas Lost . . . left me cold (much as I appreciated the appearance of the Jesus and Mary Chain on a soundtrack), and wondering how racist it was, Eternal . . . had me smiling away at what the director was doing.

At the same time, I must add that the film I've watched and rewatched most this year via DVD has been The Royal Tenenbaums, which was one of my faves of last year, along with City of God and Y Tu Mama Tambien. Aah, the pre-blog years . . .

(Incidentally, something I read this year which amazed me was that the great film critic Pauline Kael only ever saw any film ONCE - and on that one viewing she nailed it for posterity, time and time again. If true, it's odd - and remarkable, and a testament to her perception. If I recall, in the article I read it was as if she went to each movie 'for a fuck' - and some were more memorable than others.)

06: The New San Francisco Folk Scene

Okay, so it's my lazy way of banding together such musical luminaries as Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Vetiver - but as they've all appeared on each other's records this year, and a compilation or two, and - I belive - all hang out in SF, then it's somewhat forgivable.

Fabulous records by fabulous talents. And fresh, compared to the blah blah of much else around.

07: The Libertines

Probably my most-played (oh, let's use some Saul Bellow: my most loud-played) album this year - well, definitely since August. A mess, but a glorious one that, at times, scales, seemingly effortlessly, heights others spend six months in the studio flailing at, before splitting asunder.

Sadly, it appears that the Libertines have sped all too rapidly to the latter.

But there's still hope of joys to come. With For Lovers, and, at the death, Killamangiro, Pete Doherty has also carried two of the year's best singles. And let's not forget Don't Look back into the Sun, which was not even on the album.

He's a mess by all accounts, but he's also a fantastic talent - by any reckoning. And the link is to a feature on him in today's Guardian. Reading it, you will wonder how many more features on him there may be. If he were straight, he'd be my Man of the Year - if he were straight.

08: Aha Shake Heartbreak by the Kings of Leon

As good a second album as there has ever been, period. You know better? Tell me. It's about time their lyrics started to be appreciated too - they're great. Trust me: you can't be cooler than motoring to this album.

09: Morrissey @ Royal Festival Hall

One of my two fave gigs of this year - and a timely reminder of what *STAR* quality is. Enough said.

10: Franz Ferdinand and Fiery Furnaces in Concert

And here's gig #2. I saw this tour down in Brighton on a Monday night in the early spring, and it was a great gig, the Furnaces doing their weirdo prog Bluberry Boat thing, and the headliners doing what they do. I'm not as enamoured of them as the rest of the western world seems to be, but they were great live that night.

11: Arrested Development

The TV show, not the moribund band. One more reminder to thick critics that Americans are more than capable of handling irony - and all the other comic forms - thank you very much. You would think that Seinfeld would have ended this nonsense a decade ago, but idiot wind is always in the air.

Well, I could easily prattle on, but suffice to say that there are many, many things I would like to do with Maeby (Alia Shawkat) - when she's of age, naturally; and it's a joy to see the Larry Saunders Show's Hey Now Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) back on British screens.

12: The Shield

Well, I know: US peeps may have seen Series 3 last year, but it was here this, so it's in. Man, it rocks. And apparently, Glenn Close is to play the dominatrix head of precinct in the next series! Oh people: reasons for living, reaasons for living . . . even if your life is shit - hang in there!

I should also give a nod to the under-rated Boomtown, though I'm afraid that is relief pitching to the Mighty Shield.

13: Blackpool

By some distance the best drama series that Britain has produced since the unimpeachable Our Friends in the North - and yes, that's high fucking praise, and it even overrides my default piss-taking re anything produced north of Hampstead Heath.

Arise David Morrissey: what a fantastic character actor! And the writing . . . well, take this sample line: Ripley Holden (Morrissey) to policeman: "I'd tell you to kiss my arse, if I didn't think you'd enjoy it."

Add on the admittedly not new idea of interpolated songs, sung by the actors (see Dennis Potter) but hey! the songs they sang along to: The Smiths were there, man.

14: I Am Not An Animal

The animated gem of the year, disregarding the Simpsons because, well, because they're always so damn good.

This series was slightly patchy, but when it was good it was very, very good. Sample line: "To London, and let me at the cocaine baguettes!"

15: Tube Gossip

Not a blog site, but a web site that had me in hysterics week after week, because I think that every entry is true!

Go down BOAT DRINKS and the link is there: you won't regret it.

16: The Sopranos

Again, like The Shield, this may have run in the Us late last year, but we got the Steve Buscemi scenario this year. It is simply imperious (though I have read some recent raves about The Wire, another HBO job, set among drug dealers in Baltimore - and boy, it does sound good: BBC or Channel 4, get it the fuck over here NOW!).

17: Love Is Hell by Ryan Adams (with a little help from me)

Boy, do I get some stick for sticking up for this guy! And he doesn't help, by throwing out somgs aand albums like Ford trucks. So this double-album behemoth had to be tamed ie trimmed by me, to one killer 16-track CD.

Sure, there's an element of pastiche (at times more than an element) and you can roll off the influences (Dylan, Lennon, The Smiths, Lloyd Cole, Jackson Browne - hell, the whole goddamn singer-songwriter canon), but the songs are there.

18: Chronicles by Bob Dylan

Aah, if you only wouldn't clap so hard. It's not perfect ie it's not quite as shit-hot wonderful as some eg the New York Times would have you believe, but at times he soars - in a snortingly funny deadpan manner, if you see what I'm getting at (if you've read it).

19: Little Britain

Well, I wasn't sure at the get-go that there would be a slot, but there is. Patchy, patchy, patchy, but when it's good . . .

Oh, and back in May (see entries), I walked around the Lower East Side with an Andy "Yeah I Know" T on, and no local fucker had the slighest clue what it was all about. I guess that, like the success of The Office, by next May they will.

20: Collected Stories by Vladimir Nabokov

And finally, a ringer. But a desrved one, as, artistically, it pisses on the rest. The stories themselves are 70 years old; this collation itself is a decade old, but they were new to me, and they've soared over all else I've read this year.

To think this guy was in his twenties when he inked these limpid gems. I'm astounded. Boy, he does beat you up with his talent!

There is another personal reason for engineering this particular entry: by the spring, I expect to be an expat in Berlin, where the great man wrote and based most if not all of these short stories, along with novels such as Despair.

The alert may have spotted that my previous entry bears evidence of a little preliminary swotting re German slang. Well, one must oblige and pick up the idiom; also, I want to be aware of when I'm being called "der wixer"!

Needless to say, I'm very much looking forward to some prime moesen saft (Calling cards most welcome).

The shift to Berlin, though a mere thumbs space along the longitude line of a study room globe, and less than a typical cuticle in lattitude, may entail a change of blog title etc. But between now and then, while I may well be hither and thither, arse aching with the grief that accompanies any move, rest assured: the pure yarbles shall keep on a-coming . . .

Happy New Year everybody!

As I finish, the Thames is twinkling in the moonlight, and 'we' (none of your business! Anyway, it's 'we' as in Psycho!) are off out to see a few million blown on fireworks.

Here's to a Pete Doherty of a night . . .


posted by DD @ 19:43 


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