2018 Year Enders

2018 Double Take

Long a purveyor and spreader of interesting art and culture in Western Mass, George Myers is a true Massachusetts hero. - DS


Here we are, flipping the final page on the 2018 Gregorian calendar where we culturally create some space for reflection, gratitude and an opportunity for renewal. One of the real upsides of the dreaded year-end list for me is to reaffirm all the memorable things that happened in life and use them as guideposts in making decisions for the coming 52 weeks. In no particular order, here are some of the things that really helped me feel like life on earth is worth living.

The music of Florist & Emily A. Sprague. Florist’s album If Blue Could Be Happiness was a wonderful discovery for me this year and is by far the record I listened to the most. It’s incredibly sincere, direct and present while maintaining an amazing otherworldly nature. Emily’s solo synth tapes are also beautiful and moving. I haven’t been able to see them live but their Tiny Desk Concert is definitely worth a watch.

Heather Benjamin‘s new book Cavegirl Monologue released by Sacred Bones is an absolute stunner. I’ve liked her work for a while now but having a full collection like this is amazing. Her work is an disorienting mix of playful and violent, simple line work with masterful design, it’s been a favorite to come back to and enjoy.
RamMellZee Exhibition at Red Bull Arts was a complete scorcher. I was pretty familiar with his work from Beat Bop, the dvd extras on Style Wars, the Biconicals CD and some more but I was in no way prepared for the extra terrestrial genius that this retrospective put on display. What once seemed like a truly wild creator became a full on master of the universe. Heavy origin stories for his characters, mythos and legends, linguistic warfare and everything in dayglow. The exhibition has closed but dig in to his work deeper if you can.
The film making of Penny Lane. I’ve long been a fan of her work starting with Our Nixon but this year with the release of Pain of Others I really felt the depth and weight of her work hit me (this is actually true of Robert Greene and his amazing film Bisbee ’17). What was a series of good films by a talented person fully formed as a coherent and powerful artistic statements. From her early shorts to Normal Appearances from this year Penny’s ability to redistribute the power of watching a story being told- her work regularly undermines what appears to be, if the subject, director or viewer are responsible and what is vs what appears to be- really kept me excited about the future of cinema. I can’t wait to see her new doc on the Church of Satan at Sundance this year!
Camp Cope “How To Socialize & Make Friends was another top album for me this year and getting to see the Australian band (along with the wonderful Sidney Gish) live at The Sinclair was the treat of all treats. The songs are incredibly direct and lyrical with a bass player that acts more like a lead guitarist. This is just their newest album but all their stuff is great and they’re one of the most true to the recording acts I’ve ever seen live which was so so great.
This year I had the honor to work on the film Milford Graves Full Mantis, the director Jake Meginsky is an old and close friend and showed me several rough cuts and I jumped at the chance to help in whatever way I could to bring the vision of Milford to the world. Getting to hang out with him and watch him perform after the premier at Rotterdam was really the most magical way to kick off the year.
Expressing Gratitude. My colleague read me a quote this summer along the lines of “gratitude not expressed is like wrapping a gift and never giving it.” It struck me along with a passage from adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy that said something along the lines of a system is built of relationships and the system is only as good as the relationships are strong. As such I’ve been trying to express my appreciation and admiration for people in my life in ways both public and private and to be sure to not take them for granted and to nurture them. Like Koffee said Gratitude is a Must!
Speedy Ortiz‘s and Sadie Dupuis’ work. I got to see Speedy Ortiz locally in a small-ish venue The Root Cellar here in Western MA and their setlist was like my greatest hits. In contrast I got to see them open for Liz Phair at the Royale in Boston and it was miraculous to see the band and their material so comfortable in each venue. They’re a really dynamic band- you can really just watch any member on a given song to appreciate it anew- and it was awesome to see them perform in two pretty different environments. Also, Liz Phair was realllllly amazing. Their new album Twerp Verse shows the band just getting better and Sadie published her first book Mouthguard which was a great addition to her/their body of work and provided yet another exciting way to experience their output.
Emma Kohlman‘s art work. After seeing an Awesome Tapes From Africa DJ night I got to check out Emma’s exhibit at the Jack Hanley Gallery in NYC. Emma’s work feels like the plant life from another – more perfect- planet and this was my first time seeing a solo show her work on a large scale and it was breathtaking. She’s constantly moving the dial and creating work that sits been figurative and abstract, real and potentially real. Highly recommend seeing it in person if you can!
Kabaka Pyramid! His new album Kontraband is so great, the whole album was on repeat and especially the Kaught Up and Borders singles. I was fortunate enough to see him this summer on my first trip to Coney Island along with Barrington Levy and Third World, that show was really fun, I was alone chilling in this amphitheater on the beach checking out two of my faves but seeing him live in RI at Ocean Mist was like leaving earth. It was a small-ish club of about 300 people and Kabaka and his band The Bebble Rockers played a pretty comprehensive two hour set that I wish I could re-live once a month. Really positive music, message and a really nice dude put this as one of my best memories of the year. Check him out if you can!
Looking forward to spending more time outside, with art and people I love in 2019.

Read on @ George’s excellent blog HERE, and patronize his arcade bar, The Quarters, dammit! – DS

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