Goodbye 2014

December 31, 2014 at 4:20 am (Uncategorized)

And so an end to 2014. Here are a few things that made this year better for me.

1. New York

Off the list for a couple of years, I went to New York twice this year. Once as a fiftieth birthday present to myself, and the second time with my sister. Every time I go, it feels as if I’m just scratching the surface. This time I made it to the Guggenheim, Central Park and the High Line along with the usual suspects. I also had a drink in the White Horse Tavern, something that’s been on the list for years. A great experience as always.

2. Duct Tape

I’ve developed a bit of a minor obsession with duct tape. Last Father’s Day, I saw the local library was running a class on how to make a duct tape wallet. I said to my son, “You should go.” (hint, hint) “Nah.” So, I ended up downloading a template and teaching myself. It’s the only wallet I use now. And I make them for other people. Everyone is always impressed. (A wallet only takes about 20 minutes to make!) I’ve been buying the printed tape for a while, but I discovered today that there’s a One Direction print. Looking for that in the New Year!

3. Marmite

For North Americans, it’s the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For me, it was a cheese and marmite sandwich. I think I’ must have eaten one of those almost every day of my life when I was a child. I’ve been buying the stuff for years (still in the same jar), but this year, it just seemed a lot more like comfort food. Maybe it’s turning 50 that made me nostalgic.

4. Ripley’s Aquarium

Yes, it’s overpriced, it’s crowded, and it’s hard to get to, but it’s also quite stunning.  Quite stunning.

5. The Art Gallery of Ontario

I’ve been a member of the AGO for a couple of years, and every time I go, I wonder why I don’t go more often. Yes, yes, I agree with the Surrealist critique that most art galleries are like mausoleums, but there’s also something terrifyingly beautiful about the work that’s there. Am planning to go again on New Year’s Day to see the Alex Colville show and also Art Spiegelman.

6. The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Got to say the nerd in me loves the way the ‘verse is unfolding. The Winter Soldier movie and Guardians of the Galaxy were great films, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting too much from either. I’m still not convinced Ant-Man is a good idea, but Age of Ultron will be, er, super.

7. Hats

On average, I buy about one hat a year. And when I say hat, I don’t mean a baseball cap. An actual hat. This year I bought a top hat from Goorin Brothers. I’m very happy with it. My daughter hisses “Dad! Can you take that off?” whenever I wear it around her. Still, at a party a few weeks back, someone suggested I had a Bill Sykes vibe. I’ll take that.

8.  John Oliver

You mean the English cook? No, that’s Jamie Oliver. John Oliver was a Daily Show replacement host, Professor Duncan on Community and now the host of Last Week Tonight on HBO. Very funny, very biting. Like Jon Stewart. Only British.

9. Dean Wareham

I waited years to see Wareham as I was a late convert to the cult of Galaxie 500 (it began after I read Wareham’s book Black Postcards – recommended). The show at the Horseshoe Tavern, one of the best places in the city to see a band was tremendous. Enjoyed his music quite a bit this year.

10 The Strypes

I saw the Strypes at their debut North American show at Lee’s Palace, and again about two months later at the Mod Club. Like Dr. Feelgood on speed. Ferocious R ‘n’ B, and a terrific record to boot.

11 Heart of Darkness

Yup, the novel by Joseph Conrad. A conversation led to complaints about how awful the book was (“the worst book ever written’). Now, I read it in university, and I thought I liked it. Only one thing to do then ; read it again. Then, I discovered I hadn’t read it, and then I wondered why. It’s a harrowing account of a journey which encounters racism, “civilization,” and corruption, and asks what is the nature of man? All told by an unreliable narrator.

12. The World Socialist Web Site

OK, it’s from a Trotskyist perspective. That’s a strike against. But it’s a daily (except Sundays and holidays) leftist news service that comments on a lot of important stuff. I’ve reprinted some material from the site on the blog here and will likely do so again (they quoted me once without attribution, but I’m OK with that – next time guys!) And the arts reviews are worth reading (pick up David Walsh’s book too) .

13 Scott Snyder

The writer of American Vampire has a new series called Wytches, and it’s extremely creepy. More so that even Robert Kirkman’s new book Outcast. There’s just something about the woods that weirds  me out.

14 Organic Cold 911

No, no, not a conspiracy theorist’s dream. Organic Cold 911 is a loose  drink sold by David’s Teas. It contains peppermint, apple, juniper berries, eucalyptus and orange flavouring. A co-worker brought some in, and since I was nursing a cold, I decided to try. So good, so good, I picked some up on the way home.

15 The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker

Just as we began to despair as Fatale came to an end, Ed Brubaker announced he was following it up with The Fade Out, a noir thriller set in 50s Hollywood. Three issues so far, but I’m hooked.


I’ve been to TCAF for the last few years, but this year I went to the seminar day as well. A really interesting day of workshops about this art form (although I might skip lunch next year). I won a bag of books, and then on Saturday I got books signed by Darwyn Cooke and Mr. Brubaker

17. The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

I’ve tabled at the bookfair every year since it began in 2000. It has grown by leaps and bounds then. Sales vary from year to year, and I’m pretty sure I lose money,  but the experience is always worth it. If you’re in the Montreal area at the end of May next year, come by and say hello.

18 Monkey boots

I’ve worn Doc Martens since I was in my mid-teens. I wore the boots up through my twenties, but somewhere along I switched to the shoes. Now, last week, I bought a pair of monkey boots. Stylish and comfortable.

19 Internationalist Perspective

The group of which I am a member. It’s been a bit of a rough year this year. I won’t bore with all the details, they’re available here. This is my tenth year in, (the longest I’ve been a member of any group – even Red & Black Notes lasted a shorter period) but I still believe we make an important contribution. We’ve just finished a new issue which I think is pretty good. Maybe, next year will be better. And speaking of which…

20 Hope for tomorrow.

Two topics have dominated workplace discussions in the last while: The police shootings in the US and the Jian Ghomeshi affair and its fallout. (OK, those plane disasters in Asia are a bit weird too!) Too often we look for perfect scenarios for resistance and fightback on a classical model. But to be human is to resist on a certain level. The police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner have provoked a tremendous response and discussion about racism in society. The revelations about Jian Ghomeshi have raised an awareness about the levels of violence against women. Whether these examples will fade or be the spark of much larger examples is too early to tell. But we can hope, can’t we, for a better world?

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