#16s of 2016 + Tweets, Footballers & Exotic Bet Types (Part 1)
#15s of 2016 + Journalism (Part 2)
#14s of 2016 + Gigs (Part 3)
#13s of 2016 + Food (Part 4)
#12s of 2016 + Words (Part 5)
#11s of 2016 + Memes & Emoji (Part 6)
#10s of 2016 + People (Part 7)
#9s of 2016 + Football Moments & Trivia (Part 8)
#8s of 2016 + Extreme Crosswording (Part 9)
#7s of 2016 + Patrick’s Christmas Message (Part 10)
#6s of 2016 + Sport in 2016 & Top 100 Songs of 2016 (Part 11)
#5s of 2016 + Patrick’s Best Tweets & More Great Tweets & More #P100 (Part 12)
#4s of 2016 + In Memoriam & Still More #P100 (Part 13)
#3s of 2016 + News, Food Trends, Advertising & Moar #P100 (Part 14)
الوداع 2016 (almost)…
Andrew Ridgeley, Art Garfunkel, Daniel Jones, the dude in Broods, Pierre Curie, Buzz Aldrin, early 90s Buffalo Bills roster, Ben Lee, Peter Costello and poo. Number twos it’s your day to shine bright like, well, not a diamond, more like a cubic zirconia or some form of plastic jewellery or tier 2 gemstone like jade or an opal, while drinking Pepsi and eating Hungry Jack’s and smoking Holiday and shopping at Coles, which I have always considered much lower rent than Woolworths.
I have surprised myself my making it all the way to Part 15 and I guess I better finish this off if I am still going to make the gym, the pub, the fitba and finish the world’s hardest crossword all before midnight when I turn back into a slovenly, unsuccessful, uncharismatic disappointment to my sole parent.
In addition to the runners-up in the four flagship rubrics there is also the addition of tracks 25-11 to the unfolding Top 100 Songs of 2016 and a short riff on my best days of 2016. Any dear readers still hanging on desperately for this to be entertaining. Well, thanks?!
#2 in Films…
Over the course of one week in west Texas, two brother stage a series of bank heists, attracting the dogged shadowing of two wizened police officers. One of the brothers is a carousing, feckless bounder, the other merely desperate for relief from a stagnating life that isn’t being fulfilled to the promise of his society’s mythology. The fuzz element comprises a wise-cracking race-japing chief looking forward to his recliner and a ethnically ambiguous pragmatists keen to get the job done safely and securely.
Hell Or High Water is from the same brains that gave us 2015’s break-out hit Sicario, or at least one of them, and like that transRioGrande drug thriller, HOHW is far from censorious when it comes to language, sex and violence. In addition to the sensationally handled action sequences — and I do love a good bank heist/car chase/shoot out triple threat — there are some touching moments between the superannuated police officers, dry comedy from the boys with the guns and a considerable amount of commentary about the American healthcare and banking system, though mercifully that never descends into moralising.
I would desperately like to see Jeff Bridges win an Oscar for this film.
#2 in TV…
Okay I am cheating here but this is my Year in Review and I can do whatever I want goddamit! The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story is an scripted anthology TV series (you know with like actors reading lines written for them by clever people at MacBook Pros in cafes) from Ryan Murphy et al (team behind Glee and the American Horror Story franchise). OJ: Made In America is a 10-hour ESPN documentary by Ezra Edelman that uses real life footage and interviews old and new with a considerable number of players from the OJ odyssey. These two magnificent achievements in storytelling were released in 2016 and I am collating them for the #2 spot in my Best of TV rankings.
I was 13 when OJ killed Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman and I followed the investigation and trial closely. Well, as closely as you could in the time before the internet. I didn’t think there was much about the case I didn’t know, at least anything significant. But after watching each superbly acted, gloriously produced episode of The People v OJ Simpson, I would go online to fact check some incredible titbit — like OJ sleeping in Kim Kardashian’s childhood bed the night before leading the police in that car chase or Judge Lance Ito almost having to recuse himself b/c of his police officer wife’s potential conflict of interest or the incredible job of both legal teams to have almost every juror and reserve juror kicked off the case to support their cause — and, yep, they were all true. The internet has gone nuts for Sarah Paulson’s star turn as Marcia Clark, and rightly so, but my fave portrayal was Rob Morrow (remember him?) popping in and out as DNA expert Barry Scheck. Everyone in the world knows how the case ended and yet Murphy and his cohort deliver a fresh as warm blood miniseries that never lets up with the twists, turns and, despite the murderous matter at hand, laughs.
Did you know that OJ’s troubles started when he walked in on his father having anonymous homosexual sex in the family bathroom? That’s one of the aces up Edelman’s sleeve in his epic documentary squeezing the Juice’s life from childhood in northern California through Heisman-winning celebrity college days in LA, over to eternal winter of Buffalo then through Hollywood stardom, murder, trial, acquittal, descent into lunacy, Las Vegas holdups and, the ultimate comeuppance, an astronomically high jail sentence handed down by a judge sipping from a supersized 7-11 soft drink container. OJ’s story is not linear: it’s circuitous and complicated and intrinsically bound up in the American mythos of race, fame, idolatry and capitalism. Edelman goes long to tell us the whole story, never flinching from the reality of the prosecution’s sheer incompetence and the LA police’s culpability in OJ’s exoneration.
The concurrent release of these similarly timed programs also demonstrates the different powers of storytelling inherent to dramatisation and visual journalism. PvOJ takes us inside rooms we could otherwise never visit to observe the machinations of both the desperate team trying to deliver justice and the avaricious defence eyeing mouthwatering infamy through an acquittal. You find yourself empathising with both sides of that magnet. MiA, however, uses the power of actual footage to present OJ’s rise and fall, with lotsa relevant interviews with those closest to the tale broadening your perception.
Watched together, they forge an indelible imprint, one that reminds you why we watch and why we care.
Top 100 Songs of 2016 (#P100)
100. Untitled 08 09.06.2014. – Kendrick Lamar
99. Glad That You’re Gone – Hard Aches
98. Lost (Season One) – Camp Cope
97. Me, Myself & I – G-Eazy & Bebe Rexha
96. The Boys – Lisa Mitchell
95. Roses – Chainsmokers & Rozes
94. Simulation – Tkay Maidza
93. Gimme The Love – Jake Bugg
92. Thresher – Hellions
91. Good To Be Alone – Matt Corby
90. I Know A Girl – Preatures
89. Do It, Try It – M83
88. Faded – Milwaukee Banks
87. 1000x – Jarryd James & Broods
86. Stranger Things Theme – Luke Million
85. Cocoon – Milky Chance
84. No Chill – Vic Mensa & Skrillex
83. I Know What You Did Last Summer – Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
82. Idiot Oracle – Paul Dempsey
81. Cake By The Ocean – DNCE
80. How To Taste – Violent Soho
79. Colours – Avalanches
78. Edge Of Town – Middle Kids
77. Cruel – Snakehips & Zayn
76. Satan – DD Dumbo
75. Over You – SAFIA
74. Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind – Modern Baseball
73. Ivy League – Alex Lahey
72. Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd & Gucci Mane
71. 1993 (No Chill) – Paces & Jess Kent
70. Stepkids – Avalanches
69. Oblivius – Strokes
68. Adore – Savages
67. Choose Me – James Blake
66. Weatherman – Panics
65. Rollling Dice – Just A Gent, Ella Vos & Joey Chavez
64. Scott Green – Dune Rats
63. Till It Kills Me – Montaigne
62. Light Tunnels – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis & Mike Slap
61. Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots
60. You Know – Flume & Allan Kingdom & Raekwon
59. Panda – Desiigner
58. 1955 – Hilltop Hoods, Montaigne & Tom Thum
57. Burn The Witch – Radiohead
56. Hold Up – Beyonce
55. Sad Songs – Sticky Fingers
54. No 28 – Methyl Ethel
53. Palo Alto – Jack River
52. Together, Locked Safely – SAFIA
51. Muchacho – Kings Of Leon
50. 4 Degrees – Anohni
49. Blown Away – DMAs
48. The Colour In Anything – James Blake
47. Good Grief – Bastille
46. The Element Of Surprise – Last Shadow Puppets
45. I Feel It Coming – Weeknd & Daft Punk
44. Starboy – Weeknd & Daft Punk
43. Waste A Moment – Kings Of Leon
42. Rising Water – James Vincent McMorrow
41. Smoke Signals – Olympia
40. Somebody Else – 1975
39. One Dance – Drake, Wizkid & Kyla
38. Heathens – Twenty One Pilots
37. Outcast At Last – Sticky Fingers
36. Bad Decisions – Two Door Cinema Club
35. Conversation Piece – Kings Of Leon
34. Girlie Bits – Ali Barter
33. Are We Ready (Wreck) – Two Door Cinema Club
32. Adore – Amy Shark
31. The Sound – 1975
30. Aviation – Last Shadow Puppets
29. Strange Diseases – Gang Of Youths
28. Aquasun – Basement
27. Two Vines – Empire Of The Sun
26. Sleep In The Heat – PUP
25. The Opposite Of Us – Big Scary
24. 7 Years – Lukas Graham
23. Couldn’t Believe – Broods
22. Radio Silence – James Blake
21. Soundcheck – Catfish And The Bottlemen
20. Genghis Khan – Miike Snow
19. Walls – Kings Of Leon
18. Pillowtalk – Zayn
17. Your Love – Middle Kids
16. Miracle Aligner – Last Shadow Puppets
15. Never Be Like You – Flume & Kai
14. Pop Style – Drake & Throne
13. Native Tongue – Gang Of Youths
12. Free – Broods
11. On Hold – xx
Join me from 3pmish (AEDT) on New Year’s Eve on my Twitter for the Top 10!
It’s become a cliche through 2016 to whinge about how poor this year has been in the annals of years. People seem to forget that celebrities die every year, and while Brexit and Trump winning and myriad terrorist attacks and the Olympics occurring in a terrible timezone are all disappointing, a wiser person than me opined this week that surely an empirical forensic study of 2016 would show it to actually be the best year in the history of humanity. Gable Tostee certainly enjoyed it more than Hillary Clinton.
I started the year bright-eyed and hungry for self-improvement. I had renewed vigour to adore life as much as possible, navigating the highs with temperance and the lows with self-aware determination. I’m just living my life, trying to be free.
My best day of the year was also my worst. The culmination of six months’ hard work to turn my physical health around, I ran the 14-kilometre City2Surf in 68 minutes, without ever slowing down from what would broadly be called jogging. This was also the day a friend of mine was struck by a minibus and suffered the unsurvivable injuries that would result in his death later that week. He was a beautiful person and I think about him every day. His legacy is to promote organ donation — I confirmed my status as an all-in donor after his death — and I call on all readers of the Year in Review to do similar, wherever in the world you might be.
On 26 January 2016 I had the absolute pleasure of being in the studio with Matt & Alex when they revealed the #1 song in the Hottest 100 of 2015. It was a dream come true. Thanks to everyone at Triple J, especially those two hosts and Ollie Wards for making my esoteric dreams come true. Now let’s move the Hottest 100 to the first weekend after New Year’s Day, convert 26 January into a day of sombre reflection and throw a dart at a dartboard to determine our national day of bingedrinking and barbecuing.
In July I flew to Byron for five days of Splendorous Grass-based musical enjoyment. There were many moshpits, extraordinary paella consumption, long-awaited At The Drive-In vocal harmonising, runs to lighthouses and the bingewatching of Stranger Things. Can’t wait for the next one!
In September I spent two magical weeks in Europe. Out of many highlights, the pinnacle was dining at the Jules Verne Restaurant 120 metres above Paris at the Eiffel Tower, seeing the Arsenal beat Basel 2-0 and a great night out with my two London BFFs Phil and Tim. I miss you both everyday!
On my birthday I had lunch in Hyde Park with two architects and then engaged in some outstanding bingedrinking at the Civic (my fave palindromic pub) before seeing Cat Empire with my sister and muse (two different people). It was all-time!
Two days later I Bohemianed my way around the Sydney Writers Festival: breakfast with my A1 cruciverbalist David Astle, lunch with reclusive Sydney scribe Elizabeth Harrower and dinner with American auteur Jonathan Franzen. Amongst that was actual breakfast with my pal Paul, actual lunchtime coffee with my gal Meg and Chinese dinner with my Mum!
Mark is a very amusing friend of mine from the Switch who now lives in Brisbane who I met him at the 2010 World Cup, maybe at OR Tambo airport in Joburg. In April we went on a mini Newtown pub crawl before a taping of #QandA and in December I flew up to Brisbane to see Coldplay live at Suncorp and both were outstanding days in my struggle.
Every day I ate shellfish, every day I watched Sydney FC win with friends, every day I enjoyed live music with my sister, every day I dined at an al a carte restaurant, every day I joined in someone else’s birthday celebrations, every day I won trivia, every Friday I finished the crossword, every hug. Thanks to all the heroes I met along the way.
#2 in Albums…
(Australia #11, US #20, UK #23)
Those kooky Oxrockers have done it again! And with a concept album no less! How To Be A Human Being introduces the listener to 11 musical characters, all of them avec eccentricities, none of them sans melody. There’s the keyboard warrior living in his grandma’s basement, the pretty young thing getting high and bingewatching TV, the wannabe Hakeem Olajuwon and embodiment of our long-since faded childhood in the simply gorgeous Youth.
Utilising the same animist beats and staccato lyrical style as GA’s debut ZABA, How To Be A Human Being takes Glass Animals’ singular style to a new sonic and mature level. Rather than coming across as some highly educated English novelty version of Vampire Weekend, Glass Animals now sounds lived in: a fully formed, fully realised alt-indy band at the height of its considerable powers. Even the ridiculous musique concrète number [Premade Sandwiches] (their brackets) has an infectious sing-along quality to it.
In a world, artistic and otherwise, overcome with sincerity and earnestness, the guile of Glass Animals, to so ruthlessly mock Gen Y’s stock characters — “My girl eats mayonnaise, from a jar when she’s gettin’ blazed” (and that’s from the prenominate bingewatching song, fantastically titled Season 2 Episode 3, because it’s about watching TV and it’s the third track on GA’s second album) — is an essential tonic in our collective war on the stupor of pith.
#2 in Books…
(for the second-to-last time, this is about reading experiences)
It’s a gratuitous selfie wearing my Infinite Jest hoodie reading The Twenty-Seventh City by Jonathan Franzen. T27C was one of three JF expulsions of excellence I gobbled up in Mayish 2016, alongside Purity and Freedom. I read The Corrections in maybe 2003.
Look it’s become a hobby to mock Franzen’s self-important proclamations about the state and nature (and his significant place in) America’s literary canon, and then there’s that weird tonedeaf interview he gave to Slate, but I still think he’s the second greatest living American writer, after Thomas Pynchon, and when I met him at the Sydney Writers Festival he was incredibly nice and friendly though he did refuse to sign my copy of Gravity’s Rainbow, which he also liked and we bonded on that for a while.
The Twenty-Seventh City is St Louis, MO, one of JF’s trademark midwestern settings. His first novel, it is an intricately plotted tale of how a leading businessman is unwittingly drawn into the nefarious web being spun by a new police chief, who is both organising and cracking down on a series of Native American terrorist attacks. Included is a sensational scene following our phlegmatic protagonist under the influence of influenza while he reluctantly completes his Christmas shopping, and there is also the immortal conclusion that only those with the loser ethic are drawn to conspiracy theories.
Purity is a muddle of sexual malfeasance, the clash of capitalist zeal with the socialist ideal, a portrait of investigative journalism’s dying gasps, a commentary on the Wikileaks/whistleblower phenomena (inc the sumptuous putdown: Snowden and Assange are just “glorified sources”) and a dissertation on the ailing state of on-campus modern art. Thoroughly enjoyable to read, if at times labouring under its own Byzantium twists (and I drew breathless murmurs when I took the mic and ask Jonny if he ever worried that by having such detailed narratives he would be traduced as airport fiction), Purity takes aim at humourless self-righteousness, humourless identity politics and humourless Germanism. At times it is very funny but it also has large tracts of humourlessness when ruminating on the myriad failings of totalitarianism.
And then there’s my pick for JF’s true masterpiece: Freedom. A nerdy birder from Minnesota’s marriage falls apart and his son moves in with the Republicans from next door, causing him to question everything he believes. They all end up on the East Coast, running guns, protecting the environment and getting fit at the gym. The son, Joey, is Franzen’s greatest achievement. Every scene with him taking the wheel is a joy, especially when he has to fish his expensive wedding ring out of a Patagonian toilet full of shit. A singularly awful moment but a great story forever.
My only regret from my fleeting company with the great man was that I didn’t thank him for crafting such a brilliant antihero. Let’s rectify that now: thank you JF for your craft. And thanks for signing my copy of your own book…
Next! The end at last! The best in Films, TV, Album + Books will be revealed! Plus! The Top 100 Songs of 2016 (#P100) in full! A riff on the Hottest 100! A more accessible and easily digestible summary of everything so far! Please, pretty please, join me!