Goodbye 2017

December 31, 2017 at 8:26 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve decided not to make resolutions this year. [Note to self – don’t make terrible joke about “making revolutions instead” ] Anyway,  here’s my annual list of things which made the year a little bit easier to take.

1 New York

My favourite city away from home. I hadn’t been to New York in a couple of years, but this spring spent what might have been the perfect weekend there. Art galleries, great walks and weather, fine food, and saw Cate Blanchett in The Present. Lovely.

2. Fogo Island, Newfoundland

A ferry ride from the mainland to an island of 2,000. The weather wasn’t great, but it was a marvellous expereience. Windswept vistas and a different pace. Did you know that according to the Flat Earth Society, Fogo Island is one of the corners?

3. Don’t call this a come-back

We all hope our favourite bands reform and produce great new music, but it’s never the same when they do. Usually the best you can home for its that they don’t totally suck. But this year saw terrific new records by the Dream Syndicate, Blondie, LCD Soundsystem and …Peter Perrett. It’s enough to make you believe again

4. The Chap

The magazine of anarcho-dandyism. Can’t quite get behind the smoking or the facial hair in the Chap Manifesto, but the magazine has lots of cool things in it, from fashion to politics.

5. The Superhero genre still has some life in it 

I’m a big fan of comics, and the movie adaptations, but the market does seem a little…bloated? Then came three simply terrific films:  Logan, Wonder Woman and Thor:Ragnarok. There’s still life in the genre. 

6. Shwarma Empire 

1823 Lawrence Avenue East, just east of Pharmacy. I don’t want to say this is the best falafal in the city, but it surely ranks up there.

7.  The New York Times

I like it so much I bought the t-shirt. Sundays wouldn’t be quite the same without it.

8. Guillermo del Tor0

I watched Pan’s Labyrinth with my son this fall. After it finished he said, “that was really sad.” and it was. But beautiful. Del toro’s exhibit “Bleak House” at the Art Gallery of Ontario was one of my favourite shows this year. And a few days back I saw The Shape of Water. Magical.

9. Monica Ali – Brick Lane

Goodness, this came out in 2003, and I’m only just reading it now. The first book I read during my vacation this year. Marvellous.

10.   Jeff Lemire 

When does this man sleep? He seems to be continually churning out new product. Scratch that, product sounds like assembly line stuff. Lemire’s work is quality. Responsible for three of my favourite books this year: Royal City, Black Hammer and A.D. (with Scott Snyder)

11.  Marvel on Netflix

I know some of these have been out for a while, but I didn’t sign up for Netflix until this year. Daredevil was great. Same with Luke Cage. Jessica Jones was my favourite. Iron Fist was a stumble, partially redeemed by  The Defenders. And the year ended with a pleasant surprise in The Punisher. I’m OK if I never see the Hand as the big bad again though.

12. The Sleaford Mods 

Discovered this band a couple of records ago, and they might be one of those things you either love or hate on sight. I’m with option A. Terrific album English Tapas and a great show at the Opera House in Toronto this spring.

13. The Bata Shoe Museum

My wife and I used to suggest this as a joke whenever relatives with kids came to visit, but you know, the joke was on us. It’s a really fascinating place, linking fashion with social development.

14. The Aga Khan Museum 

OK, I have a history degree. The Aga Khan Museum is relatively close to me, but I never went until the fall.  Great collection of Islamic art and artifacts arranged according to geography. Well worth a visit.

15. Harry Dean Stanton 

Harry Dean Stanton died this year aged 91. Roger Erbert once said that  “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or  M. Emmett Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad, ”  and it’s hard to argue otherwise. (But not impossible,. Erbert conceded Dream a Little Dream broke this rule). If Stanton had appeared in only Paris, Texas and Repo Man, it would be enough, but he appeared in countless others. And was a fine singer too, working with Ry Cooder among others (Check out the soundtrack to Harry Dean Stanton: Party Fiction). An era has ended.

16. Neil Gaiman

The man continues to delight. A wonderful retelling of Norse mythology, a TV adaptation of his novel American Gods and also a comic book version, and a compelling twitter feed.

17. My sister J., who got married this summer to a great guy.

See? If you wait long enough, you get what you deserve

18.  Jodie Whittaker is Dr. Who 

I did see some of the Patrick Troughton epsiodes of Dr. Who, but my first doctor was the third, Jon Pertwee, sometime in the early 1970s. So, for all those people whining about the doctor being a woman and political correctness as the reason for it, watch the show. If you don’t like it, watch something else. Me? I’m thrilled.

19. Politics 

It’s true that I still shake my head and think how could a bullying, racist, homophobic,  think-skinned, narcissistic,  sociopath be chosen president, but it has not gone unanswered.  It’s also true that much of the “resistance” is channelled into pro-Hillary, pro-Democratic Party Obama-nostalgia, but I have to believe that deeper, more fundamental critiques will emerge, that question the basis of this cruel system.

20. Sonnet 12 

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

See you in 2018.


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