Everything Else, 2018 Edition

My top songs, everything I listened to, and all of the other moments that made 2018 the year that was!

My Top Songs:

Everything I Listened To:

I made a playlist for every month this year of everything I listened to individually (excluding albums). Check it out. This will have additions through December 31.

Favorite Non-2018 Discovery:

Grateful Dead. Duh.

Other Stuff:

Personal: Getting engaged to Ali! Finally getting the opportunity go overseas! Moving into a house. Walking across Abbey Road with Camie and Cory. Getting to see a show at Preservation Hall in New Orleans! Meeting musicians I admire all year long.

Travel: FINALLY WENT OVERSEAS! London and Paris. Amazing. I flew fifteen times this year. Places I visited: Austin, London, Paris, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Asbury Park, Atlanta (first time!) Toronto, Minneapolis, New Orleans for the first time (so good!), Brooklyn, and the requisite Milwaukee trips.

Concerts: I attended 46 concerts so far in 2018. Maybe a few more? Here’s the list.

Health and Wellness: Arthroscopic knee surgery, bronchitis, sinus infections. Still did the Race to Wrigley 5K on a bad knee. This was not a banner year health-wise. More massages, acupuncture, still all good things.

The Hold Steady: SHOW 100! October 13, 2018. To get there, I did 20 THS shows in one year, including my first ever shows overseas. It’s the the most-ever in one year for me, eclipsing my 2009 record of 18. Ended the year at an all-time total of 106. I went to everything outside of the three San Francisco shows. Really great experiences, Massive Nights III may be the best four run stretch I’d ever seen. Best band, best people. New singles were great and everyone seems to be enjoying the live bootleg series.

Wrestling: Witnessing the biggest independent show ever with ALL IN. Went to Starrcast, met a bunch of great wrestlers. Pretty much any NXT PPV was good, including the North American title latter match WrestleMania weekend. Attending NXT Takeover: Chicago with Ali was great. Getting to witness Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet live. Daniel Bryan winning the title back. Hard to pay attention to so much of it but the indie stuff captured my imagination this year.

Food:

Atlanta: Octopus Bar Varsity, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Jang Su Jang

Chicago area: Gideon Sweet (RIP), Craft Donuts + Coffee, Duck Duck Goat, Girl and the Goat, Kitakata Ramen Ban Na, Mockingbird

London: Dishoom, Beigel Bake, Harrod’s, Dark Sugars, all the pop ups at Camden Lock.

Paris: Les Philosophes and the cool crepe place at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

Philadelphia: Pat’s Steaks – had all of the ‘big 3’ after this one – Jim’s is the best. Reading Terminal Market.

Toronto: Egg Bae, Bar Raval, Baker Bots

New Orleans: Commander’s Palace, Cafe du Monde, Mother’s, NOLA, Port of Call, Tableau, Parkway Bakery and Tavern, District

New York: Lilia, Frankel’s Delicatessen, Peter Luger’s Steak House

More Music:

Big Sky Hunters released an album this year called Distance and it is very good and I feel lucky I got to be there when they recorded most of it.

Telethon’s Modern Abrasive is excellent and you need to hear this, as well as last year’s The Grand Spontanaean.

The End of the Beginning

This is a brand new decade. It can’t be any newer. The one that ended yesterday seemed to go at a traumatically brisk pace. The 1990s seemed to exist way longer than they actually were. This, in part because there was a mélange of cultural moments, styles and ideas that shaped each year and still make them easy to define. This decade? Not so much. Every cultural phenomona seemed to hit at once, and then linger. There were so many things happening, they packed every square inch of calendar space.

The two-thousands are the first decade I can remember from beginning to end with clarity. Most of my formative years- the things that shape your life and set you on the course you’re on now happened. It was a unique time to be growing up, because instead of the glacial change and relative peace of the decade before it, the world seemed to rise and fall just as I hit highs and lows as well.

This decade was a hyper intense cycle of life and death, war and despair, hope and loss and and an overwhelming amount of information coming all at once. So much, I’ve struggled writing this because I don’t know exactly what to include.

It was an insane time to grow up – both good and bad. The wars, the endless stream of controversies, the first two presidential elections are some of the least proud moments – but at the same time, there was the music, the movies, and the people who worked to make this world (and my life) a better place.

I feel privileged to have had a front row seat. I got to form my opinions on a world that was experiencing growing pains just as I had mine. I learned nothing was easy, dreams can die, and things don’t always turn out the way they’re supposed to.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit fatalistic. If I’ve learned anything else: there’s almost always second chances. There are ways to get the things you want. There are ways to better yourself and the world around you.

There’s always the time to dream bigger and make them a reality.

I now know more than ever, this is my chance to.

2009

I felt like Lewis and Clark traveling in a sedan caravan.

I suppose what I remember most about my first excursion this year was that endless stretch of Ohio that bleeds into Pennsylvania – the precipice between the hills that age and become mountains when you cross the border. It’s like watching the evolution of nature with each mile. These memories are at the crux of every road trip. You have the enthusiasm at the get go, then the reward at the end. The middle – that’s where the magic is.

I find myself thinking about these middles a lot more than what bookend them. I think that’s what I like most about traveling – getting there. There’s nothing more than getting to lay your eyes on things you haven’t seen before. Sometimes it’s boring (ie: cornfields) or exhilarating (ie: the Appalachians). I constantly find myself in awe that I’m actually doing it, escaping from my house and making a future for myself. When I was younger, I don’t think I afforded myself that kind of freedom in my head. I had my own restraints. I honestly didn’t think I was going anywhere – nor did I really know I had the power to.

I guess that’s why I do it now. That’s why I’ve been to so many different states (and one other country) in this past year. I’m making up for lost time. I want to experience it now, not wait for some other time that I don’t know that I have. I understand how that may sound morose, but it’s true. I constantly feel I’m working against a clock.

I feel I’ve woven a pretty nice tapestry: Baltimore, D.C., New York City (x2), Albany, Buffalo, Urbana-Champaign, Bloomington, Iowa City, Toronto, Minneapolis (x3), Madison, and Memphis. The problem with this is that I haven’t gone that far West of the Mississippi, but I’m working to rectify that as early as January.

You’ve been a part of these memories – reading, encouraging, experiencing with, filling in the blanks.

Coloring in between my lines.

Portrait of the Author as a 10-year-old

After years of searching, I’ve found the Holy Grail of my personal writings.

Picture 6

It’s the ‘Goosebumps’ Journal I wrote in from 1996-1997.

I initially thought it was lost to the sands of time. I know I hadn’t thrown it away, but I didn’t know where I put it either. Walking on to the loft where we keep most of our books today, it just stared me right down in the face.

I didn’t write very long – there’s probably about ten entries total, and most of the time it was about what I ate, or Beanie Babies.

Anyways, I thought I’d share some select, unedited lines from the journal today, and maybe some more at a later date.

Until then, experience the bowlcut and the mid-nineties stench of Alanis.

March 5, 1996

Dear Journal,

Today at school I felt lousy, when I got home I had a fever of 100.8. I was “suffering” at school today. I was at the office 4 times today. But man, I really feel sick.

I probably wasn’t sick. This was during my compulsive ‘go down to the office cause they’ll send you home’ phase. I think I was lying to the journal in case anyone else read it.

March 10, 1996

…We are just to about to have lunch. We are going to have chicken nuggets. Sometimes when I’m writing I will stop and wait. Then I will keep going. Well as I always write, “I gotta go, bye!

First documented signs of my still-undiagnosed ADHD. Stop and keep going. Like a car. Honk Honk!

March 11, 1996

…Tomorrow I have a Pizza Lunchable. They are awsome. They come in Extra Cheesy and Pepperoni. I am going to go to bed now.

I think what’s more awsome is my spelling of awesome.

Pizza Lunchables, for reference:

lunchablespizza

WTF is a “Pepperoni Flavored Sausage Pizza?” You ate these COLD. Gross. Papa Murphy’s now makes a business out of this shit and calls it “Take and Bake”.
Back in those heady days, we just TOOK, and WE LIKED IT.

April 10, 1996

…I feel kind of dizzy. I am going to wear shorts tomorrow. Some of my friends are too. Hopefully!

I have no idea. And this was the year after I got heat stroke.