My top whatevers of 2010

I’ve never done a year-end wrap-up post here at kovenjsmith.com before, but this seems better than doing real work, so here we are. A few things that I liked (or at least noted) in 2010:

  • Most important conversation I had in 2010: At Museums and the Web in Denver in April this year, Bruce Wyman had a long conversation that began with him saying, “you should really consider applying for the Director of Technology job at the Denver Art Museum.” And here we are!
    • Honorable Mention: The conversation I had with Madelyn five minutes after that, in which she said, somewhat tentatively, “yeah, I might consider moving to Colorado.”
  • Best Concert: Tune-Yards at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Holy crap! She blew us all away with just a uke, a floor tom, her voice, and a bad-ass bass player.
    • Honorable Mention: Pearl and the Beard at Union Pool for the Farm to Folks fest. If you haven’t seen these peeps yet, you need to do that right now.
    • Honorable Mention Runner Up: The True Love Always reunion show at the Rock Shop. Seeing John Lindaman on stage always makes me smile.
  • Best Moment With Madelyn: After driving three days (in separate vehicles stuffed with luggage and cats) out to Colorado, we stopped at the overlook on the Denver/Boulder Turnpike at Mile 42 to see Boulder Valley all lit up, just before driving to our new house for the first time. Yeah, that was the shit.
  • Best Catfish Po-Boy Purchased From a Truck: This would be the catfish po-boy purchased while Nate Solas and I were on our way to see the bats fly out from under the Congress Bridge in Austin. The bats were somewhat underwhelming, but the po-boy was effing amazing.
  • Favorite New Record of 2010: Riposte, by Buke and Gass. Goddamn. I just started laughing the first time I listened to this; I can’t remember just straight-up enjoying a record this much in quite some time.
  • Favorite Record from 1969 that wasn’t released until 2010: That would be U.F.O., by Jim Sullivan. One of those rare re-discoveries latently touted as a “masterpiece” that might actually be just that. I love, love, love this record. There’s a fascinating backstory to this album as well (involving U.F.O.s and Jim Sullivan’s sudden unexplained disappearance); there’s a great interview with Light In the Attic’s Matt Sullivan on NPR about it here.
  • Most Improbable Concert of 2010 that I actually saw in 2009: The inexplicable Jawbox reunion on the Jimmy Fallon show. My old bandmates and friends Mason and Megan somehow were able to swing tickets to the morning rehearsal, in which Jawbox rocked “Savory,” FF=66,””Chinese Fork Tie,” and my all-time-favorite Jawbox song, “68.” Victor Samra ditched his duties at MoMA for the morning and walked a few blocks over to the studio to see the show with us. Trust me, you’ve never seen DC post-punk properly until you’ve seen it seated in a freezing-cold television studio.
  • Strangest concert experience also involving Victor Samra: This would be the Iron Maiden/Dream Theater show at Madison Square Garden. Victor called me early the day of the concert offering an extra ticket. I am not, nor have I ever been, an Iron Maiden fan (though I admit a certain begrudging respect for the technical facilities of my fellow Berklee alums Dream Theater), but when Victor Samra calls, you’ve gotta accept the charges. We ended up in MSG’s own private box, drinking Heinekens and eating risotto with people we didn’t know while watching the show. I have officially now eaten risotto at an Iron Maiden show. How many of you fools out there can say that?
    • Honorable Mention: The Medications show in Brooklyn that ended with the sound guy attempting to turn off power to the stage mid-set, and Devin Ocampo almost killing said sound guy with his guitar. Punk rock! Sorta!
  • Best Birthday Present: Madelyn gave me a bike for my birthday; it’s the first one I’ve owned (or ridden) since I was 12 years old. Now it is a vital component of my morning commute. Vroom.
  • Best Quote I Totally Agree With While Recognizing That Doing So Makes Me Realize That I’m Officially Old(er): That would be this quote from former NEA Chairman Bill Ivey, on the “Hide/Seek” controversy at the Smithsonian: “A sense of proportion is required as it is not a good idea to convert every small offense into a fight over principles.” Ivey summed up in just a few words what it took me an entire post to express. These are words to live by in 2011, kids.
  • Best Book I Read in 2010: Philip Jenkins’ Decade of Nightmares. Jenkins examines the decade 1975-1985 and looks at trends leading up to and following that decade, and manages to show how so much of what’s happening currently in America had its genesis in that decade. An excellent read.
    • Honorable Mention: Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, for much the same reasons as above.
  • Best Technology That Changed My Damn Life: Rdio, hands down! I got tired of waiting for Spotify to make its way to our shores, and opted for the music-streaming service Rdio instead. Jeffrey Inscho has a great post about Rdio that expresses why it works. I’ve discovered so much amazing music thanks to this service, particularly since Rdio has made big strides to license all sorts of independent music and make it available. The entire Now Again, Light In the Attic, Warp, Teenbeat, and Merge catalogs available for one low monthly price? Yes! Rdio has also caused me to stop purchasing CDs entirely, and to start purchasing LPs again–the record-as-physical-artifact has real meaning thanks to Rdio.
  • Best Moment In Which I Almost Peed In My Pants: That would be my best friend Don Undeen’s sudden emergence, complete with Mexican wrestling mask, as “El Museo” the day before Halloween at MCN 2010 in Austin. I wish that I had taken a picture of the force of nature that was El Museo; I haven’t laughed that hard in a loooong time.
  • Awright, I guess about wraps it up, y’all. Happy New Year–see you in 2011!

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3 thoughts on “My top whatevers of 2010

  1. As brief as it was, that Jawbox reunion/”show” was one of my top live music experiences, perhaps ever.

    And that risotto was one of my top culinary experiences of the past few years too.

    Happy New Year!

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