2014 was a truly OK year! The music was mediocre, but it inspired a lot of conversations. The news was almost always awful, but it was almost always interesting. No one at 1%J really grew as a human being, but we all moved to new cities. In the end I don’t think anything actually happened in 2014, but a lot of things almost happened, and that’s exciting enough for us. The present is bleak but the future is at the very least whacky. Here’s our obligatory retrospective.
2014 IN | INTERNET DEBATES [btbt]
POPTIMISM v. ROCKISM (REMATCH). The #monumental release of “BEYONCÉ” relaunched the long-defunct poptimist vs. rockist debate. The rockists had little to offer. The Poptimists got all moody and introspective and declared themselves dead. Then they decided no that’s ridiculous and the debate rephrased itself as smart poptimists v. normal poptimists. I guess it was really not a Rockist v. Poptimist debate but a Poptimist argument about the definition of Poptimism. WINNER – POPTIMISM.
LDR v. HATERS. Lana Del Rey released “Ultraviolence.” The world acknowledged it as a very good album and scrambled to make up for the past three years of pathetically inadequate Lana Del Rey scholarship and criticism. LDR DGAFed. WINNER – LDR.
BROOKLYN v. CATEY SHAW. Catey Shaw released an awesome track about Brooklyn with a fun video to accompany it. People in Brooklyn got all offended about it. People who didn’t live in Brooklyn at the time got annoyed that all of their favorite sites were devoting so much time to kids from Ohio getting offended about what a girl from Kentucky said about Brooklyn. Catey Shaw had a really good time at Union Pool! WINNER – CATEY SHAW.
ASS v. NOT-ASS. People got really interested in famous people who talked about having butts. It was kind of confusing and kind of annoying and occasionally kind of fun but actually it was pretty much never fun. The interest continued until late fall when the internet was broken and produced one of the worst applications of postcolonialist theory ever. Nicki Minaj’s, however, proved to be the most enduringly incomprehensible. WINNER – I don’t think anyone.
4CHAN v. EMMA WATSON. Someone named “4Chan” leaked a lot of explicit photographs of notably attractive celebrities. This excited some people and horrified others. Lots of prominent people spoke up about what a vile human rights violation it was. Not enough people acknowledged the inarguable truth that digital privacy is and always was a mythology. See – 3 months later. WINNER – 4CHAN.
#GAMERGATE v. THE WORLD. Something happened and then #Gamergate happened because of it. Everyone on the internet got involved. Horrible things were said. No one listened. Social Justice Theory broke. 100 years of intellectual debate came to a head and destroyed itself. WINNER – Definitely no one. But actually everyone.
TAYLOR SWIFT v. lol jk there is no competition. WINNER – #QueenTAY
FREE INFORMATION v. MAKING MONEY. The aforementioned Taylor Swift took her music off Spotify. People started talking about Spotify more than usual. Lots of things were said. Everyone who is not an idiot agreed that streaming is a reality and the future and that this is most likely a positive thing. The Pirate Bay got raided probably not as a result but what an interesting coincidence. Everyone is poor but the future looks bright. WINNER – THE FUTURE.
2014 IN | PERSONAL PROJECTS [gallons]
MOVE TO SEATTLE – In May I quit my job in LA, where I’d been living for five years, and drove home to Portland. On the second day of my drive I resorted to Beezin’ to stay awake. My arrival home was tearful and intense. I moved to Seattle a month later. So far, a success, I highly recommend it. (GO ‘HAWKS!)
READ EVERY DON DeLILLO NOVEL – This is an ongoing project. I was already nearly halfway through by the time 2014 started. This year I read “Point Omega,” “Great Jones Street,” “Falling Man,” “Libra,” “End Zone,” “Americana,” and “Players.” I just started the fourteenth and final novel on my list, “Ratner’s Star,” which is DeLillo’s favorite of his own works. I don’t think I’ll finish it by the end of the year.
WRITE A SCREEN TREATMENT OF “THE NAMES” – My favorite DeLillo novel is “The Names.” I wrote my senior thesis on it. Since moving to Seattle, one way I’ve occupied my time in the absence of friends has been to try and convert the thing into a screenplay, probably ideal for a miniseries (hmu, HBO). This has consisted of little more than transcribing the text back into Pages, but it’s been pretty fascinating. While I recognize that I will almost definitely never make a miniseries based on a Don DeLillo novel, the exercise has never seemed futile. If you really want to get to know a book, retype it.
RELEASE SOME EPS (AND AN ALBUM, AND A VIDEO) – In case this was not yet clear, I make music as ibid. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I, gallons, am ibid., musician.) In January I put out three EPs collectively called “Vocation.” Then this fall I was working on my most recent album, “Catarrh,” which I put out December 1st. It’s kind of weird and unpleasant, but it was exciting to make and b”tb”t tells me he actually enjoyed it, so that’s cool. I also made a music video with my pal LKM. There was a dead skunk in it.
START A NEW BAND – This is still in the works, but I’ve got the beginnings of a new band, called Adult Mauling. Stay tuned.
BE BETTER –
2014 IN | WASTE [s.s.]
ZACH PARISE DESTROYS PATRICK KANE (NHL PLAYOFFS)
LEBRON JAMES IS SAD
LEBRON JAMES IS HAPPY
BRAZIL IS SAD
GERMANY IS HAPPY
FUCK THE GIANTS.
ROGER IS V SRY
BUT WORSE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED
2014 IN | PLACES I HATED // PLACES I LOVED [bartleby]
SOLAS, East Village, Manhattan // BERGEN BAGELS on Washington & Fulton, Brooklyn
The first and only time I tried to “go out” in Manhattan on the weekend, my roommates and I ended up at Solas, where they were playing dated club tunes and wouldn’t let us onto the dance floor because it was “too crowded,” even though we could see that it was not. When we stormed out of the club, calling it “ridiculous,” a bouncer stopped us and informed us that next time we wanted to get into a bar we shouldn’t audibly insult said bar, and acted like we’d seriously hurt his feelings. Manhattan is the worst. // Whenever I’m coming home in the morning from sleeping at another person’s apartment — usually from crashing at a friend’s place but occasionally for less innocent reasons — among the many trains that run through Prospect Heights, I always end up taking the C train (see below), which pops me out right at Washington & Fulton. This corner is home of the wonderful Bergen Bagels, which employs lots of very nice people who are extremely patient with me when I inevitably forget about the $5 card minimum every single time. They chat with me in a soothing sort of way as I frantically decide which combination of bread products I want that will put me over the card limit. Plus the bagels are top notch. Going here always makes me happy to be back in my neighborhood.
LA MAISON FRANÇAISE, NYU, NYC // OLIN LIBRARY, Washington University, STL
Earlier this month, I saw Alain Badiou at La Maison Française. The people who worked there were rude in a stereotypically French way, refusing to let people save seats and generally ordering everyone around. Then the “panel discussion” was a huge waste of time and there were a million people there but no airflow, so the room was quickly converted into a giant sizzling oven. Even though Alain Badiou is one of the most important living philosophers in the world, and his lecture was great, I couldn’t wait for him to stop speaking so I could escape that terrible room. Instead of remembering any of what he said, I remember how much the whole experience smelled like feet. // I spent all of August living at my parents’ house in St. Louis and working on a new writing sample for my graduate school applications. I quickly realized that my “spending 100% of my time in my parents’ house” strategy for Getting Shit Done was not going to work at all, and coffee shops cost money. Luckily for me, WashU’s library is open to the public. I could stroll in every day and pretend to be a student, and benefit from the complete silence of a college library in the summer. I also had access to all their books, which I would hide overnight so that no one else could check them out (all’s fair in love and academia).
STARBUCKS at Broadway & Lawrence, Chicago // SEMINARY CO-OP BOOKSTORE in Hyde Park, Chicago
I worked at this Starbucks until July of this year. It’s honestly fine, and Uptown is way cool, but I was very miserable there. Since I quit, I haven’t been in another Starbucks. They are much easier to avoid now that I live in NYC. // Chicago has some amazing bookstores, though. Seminary Co-Op is one of the only bookstores in the country that carries mainly academic titles, so you can find almost anything related to lit theory or Marxist critique or cultural studies or whatever arcane field of academia you obsess over. It is also aesthetically the most beautiful bookstore I’ve been in, ever. All the books are in these 4-sided shelving objects in the center of the store, so there’s lots of space, and there’s a ton of natural light, and all the books themselves are gorgeous. Plus I saw Saskia Sassen there, and she is badass.
OVEST PIZZOTECA, Chelsea, Manhattan // CITY DINER, Tower Grove, STL
Ovest is the site of my one and only IRL meeting with fellow 1%Muhajid b”tb”t. They have a nice happy hour deal where you buy drinks and get free access to this appetizer bar that has tiny pizzas and antipasti or whatever. We hung out there and had some seemingly normal drinks and then saw Naomi Punk in Bushwick and it was a generally chill night, but the next morning I was very disproportionately hungover and threw up at work several times. So now I hate this place irrationally. I’ve had a few people since ask me if they should go there, and I have told them, “No.” // City Diner is generally considered to be one of the best diners in St. Louis, and it’s a wonderful late night drunk place to eat, especially because they also serve alcohol. I went there a few nights ago with my STL buds, and it was so cheap and so not crowded and so not cash only. The experience of hanging out in this lovely, gross diner that felt representative of all the things I miss about the place I grew up in with these dudes who have known me since we were all pre-teens led to a very effusive 3 AM tweet on my part.
BROWN LINE, Chicago // C TRAIN, NYC
The Brown Line is the bougiest of all the CTA train lines in Chicago. It has mostly single seats so no one has to interact with each other, and it moves painfully slowly. It also runs pretty much the same route as the Red Line and probably doesn’t need to exist. Or at least the CTA should’ve gotten around to building a train that accesses the public transit deserts on the south and west sides of the city first. Also I think I only ever took the Brown Line when I was going to Union Station to take Amtrak back to St. Louis, and I was always late. // The C Train and I have the kind of loving but quasi-abusive relationship you inevitably develop with the train that takes you to and from work every day. The physical C trains have been in commission longer than either of my parents has been alive and they are way creaky, but when the conductor makes an important announcement over the loudspeaker and all I hear is garbled feedback, I feel affectionate towards the C in the way that one might feel affection for an elderly relative who has made a vaguely inappropriate joke. Essentially, the C makes me feel like less of a fuckup. I am always glad to see its dumb headlights come lumbering down the subway tunnel.