Inspired by the "media diets" curated by the great Jason Kottke, who just returned from a much-needed sabbatical, I've been taking some time over this past year to notice the things that made this year what is was. This is beyond the normal gratitudes of health, family, friends, etc. Instead, these are the things I did, ate, read, watched, or listened to over the past twelve months I enjoyed, and that I would recommend. Let's get to it:
This Apple TV+ original isn’t a very original selection – it did receive 14 Emmy nominations after all. But the show is as good as everybody says it is, and it’s maybe the best thing I’ve seen on television in a while.
Seth Rogen is one of those guys who, if he’s in something, it’s generally going to be pretty good. And he’s one of the many actors at their best in this captivating dramatization of the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape saga from the 90s.
With the right combination of both critical acclaim and commercial success, there’s a good argument to be made that Arcade Fire will be one of the bands that is most remembered from the indie rock golden wave of the past two decades. Their new album has only helped this case.
I started the year reading a few works of fiction, something I don’t typically spend a ton of time doing. This beautiful love letter to the power of trees and the natural world was the best of the bunch.
There is no way that Bruce Springsteen could release a new album and it not be one of my favorite things of the year. Though 2020’s “Letter to You” was my favorite record of his in a while, this collection of covers is a joyful listen.
As I’ve written about, podcasts are in a weird spot right now, desperate for a blockbuster hit that breaks through into the zeitgeist. Shameless Acquisition Target isn’t quite that, but it’s about the business behind that. And it’s lots of fun.
Normal Gossip has quickly become my wife’s favorite podcast to put on during roadtrips. We find ourselves cracking up, screaming in awkward terror, and eagerly guessing along to every episode.
Always great! It was so nice to bring this event back for a 2022 gathering, and I couldn’t have asked for a better gathering – even after our original speaker needed to reschedule because of COVID. More to come in 2023.
This was the first full year since 2019 that I taught both my spring and fall classes on campus at Baruch College, and boy, it makes a world of difference. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and the joy of seeing and talking to my students face-to-face is one of those things I hope we don’t lose again.
Two and a half years after we got married, my wife and I finally went on our rescheduled honeymoon to Spain this summer. The main thing I brought back was an affinity for a glass of sweet vermouth on the rocks with an orange peel. This was our drink of the year.
Wow. Wow wow wow. I only saw the first Top Gun the night before seeing the new one with some buddies, and we all walked out saying just that. This was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in years, and I raved about it so much I went back to see it again a few weeks later.
Targeted advertising nailed me with this one. Oru Kayaks are foldable, “origami,” kayaks that unfold to sturdy, rigid watercraft in about 90 seconds – and then collapse again back into suitcase-sized package to stow in our trunk after our paddle. We bought a pair and take them to the reservoir down the road from our place upstate, and let me tell ya, it’s hard to beat a sunrise paddle to start the day. Love these things.
Speaking of upstate, we discovered a pizza place run by one of our Catskills neighbors that churns out pies as good (if not better) than anybody in Brooklyn. Don’t tell anybody about them, but Forage Pizza is my favorite food of the year.
Lastly in the upstate trifecta: One of the best days of this year was one that started off with a patch of dirt and ended with a beautiful new deck. A buddy of mine came up to our place this spring and we busted our ass building something in the real-world, an increasingly rare treat for people with so-called laptop jobs. I’m already looking forward to new projects when things thaw out again.
TikTok is… something. There’s been no more intriguing media development over the past 36 months then how this platform has basically taken our collective attention by storm. Creator Alex Yoon subverts the house style of attention baiting though: he stitches other creators who are dragging out the reveal of their click-baity videos with an immediate spoiler, all delivered from underneath a blanket in bed. I’ve seen his videos dozens of times, and every time they are a jarring, yet delightful, surprise.
For the first half of the year, everybody was going bananas over NFT and crypto as a whole. As a techno-optimist , I wanted to believe. I wanted there to be a there there. But it never clicked. Dan Olson, who is as good at the long-form YouTube video essay as anybody out there, did the best, most captivating analysis of the entire ecosystem I saw at the time. I’ve shared this incredulous critique as a resource with friends, colleagues, and inquisitive journalists alike.
I’ve mentioned my love for Webflow a couple times recently. This piece of software changed my professional life more than any other tool in a long time, and I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate it.
Finding new musical acts gets harder and harder as we age and our taste begin to calcify. It was a treat to stumble upon Don McCloskey’s joyful “First in Flight” in my Spotify Discover Weekly earlier this year, and the rest of the album was just was fun when it dropped in April.
In my completely biased opinion, one of the best things of the past decade has been a return of Star Trek as a vibrant television franchise. There are five (5!) shows currently at some stage of airing, and more still in development. And they’re all pretty good! But Strange New Worlds, which came out this year and features Captain Pike at the helm of the Enterprise, is maybe the best new Trek three decades. It’s a true joy to watch, and I just wish they were making 20+ episodes a season like the old days.
I first read this book as a junior in high school, and it stuck with me in a way that only something you first encounter as a 16 year old can. It’s socratic dialogue between an unnamed narrator and a telepathic gorilla, but that’s the least interesting thing about it. Nearly two decades ago, this book changed the way I looked at the world, and our species’ place in it, and it still holds up pretty damn well today.
What a wonderful addition to our political landscape. This giant of a man delivered a gigantic victory for Pennsylvania, and I think he represents a new model for the Democratic party going forward. Excited to see him in the Senate soon.
Hear me out. Buy a copy of the game Trouble. Yes, the one for elementary school kids. The one with the Pop-O-Matic. It will, perhaps, be the most fun you have with your friends the entire year. I haven’t seen that level of competition in… maybe ever. These games get heated.