’05 Year-End Wrap Up

utz gift wrappedWell, you know how they bring me back every couple of years as an example of how bad sentences can get? Well, bingo, odd-numbered year, here I am, so let’s get right to my year end wrap-up…

2005 stunk. I mean, like any year, it had some moments, but take any year in which the most musical, magical, and European of America’s cities is damn near erased (not to mention the utter devastation that went well beyond New Orleans.) That’s it. Just take that year and you two just depart and don’t let me see either of you around here again. For that stupid hurricane alone, 2005 stunk.

But wait, that’s not all! Let’s not forget about the worst weather in winter and spring ever, and the three feet of snow we got on one day, and -oh yeah! -what about those stupid tornadoes (tornadoes?!? -or whatever they were) that tore all the damn trees out of the ground last week. Look, if it’s any help at all, I’d just like to say that I AM KEEPING TRACK OF ALL THIS AND THE WEATHER THIS YEAR HAS BEEN WAY OVER THE LINE! Period! You can’t tell me this is normal.

Plus, what’s this with all my friends getting sick? Cut it out! I mean, that’s just stupid! You can’t kill them; who will I borrow from?

The lack of work, that’s been annoying. Not so much the lack of the work as the scarcity of the money resulting from the work. The scarcity of the money has consistently been too LARGE, which has caused hardship in my HOUSEHOLD.

Again, I am KEEPING TRACK, and if I were You, I’d be a lot nicer to me.

The only good and pure thing that happened in 2005 was that the Eastham Superette expanded their Utz section. For those of you who are unblemished by practical knowledge of any kind, let me explain that Utz is the finest manufacturer of potato chips in the region, and that they have gotten better and better, proving their supremacy once and for all this year with the introduction of their Carolina Barbecue line. This is the kind of chip that will make you quit work for good, the kind that makes normal food superfluous. Their pork rinds -especially the salt and vinegar ones -are also justly celebrated. Without Utz this year, I definitely would’ve slit my throat. They were truly the only thing that kept me out of the hospital.

I tried to concentrate on the good things -actor Bill Nighy, the Sea Dog (a swell new diner-like restaurant in Eastham, of all places), “Deadwood”, pudding, Gip Hoppe’s wonderful, revelatory play “Mercy on the Doorstep”; Kirsty Alley in “Fat Actress” and Martin Short as the Bullett on “Arrested Development”; and the relentlessly adorable Mrs. Kelp’s thriving new black mutt, Louis Forklift Gladstone

Oh yeah, and singer-songwriter Kami Lyle, who, with her husband (and bass player extraodinaire), Joey Spampinato and seven-sting guitar master Fred Fried, have been wonderful contributors to the local scene since Kami and Joey’s arrival from Nashville last winter. Kami is an ingratiating performer with a terrific sense of the absurd, and if you haven’t checked her out yet… well, that’s your problem.

The movies I liked the best in ’05 were “Motorcycle Diaries”, “My Architect” (an amazing documentary, with one touching, fascinating, memorable character after another), “Crash”, “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”, and “The Upside of Anger” (Kevin Costner and Joan Allen are both hilarious here.) I also enjoyed “Two Brothers and a Bride”, “Dot the I’s”, “The Saddest Music in the World”, “Spun”, and “Off the Map” (Joan Allen again -never would’ve figured I’d like her so much.)

And music, yes, great music very evident on the recent “Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall” (Blue Note), which is nothing less than sensational (lucky thing, actually, considering the rest of the bill that night, which included Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Chet Baker, and Sonny Rollins -and where’s the tape of their sets? Who knows?)

The New Pornographers put out yet another cool album in ’05, as did Madeleine Peyroux; as did Of Montreal, which is nothing unusual -the surprising part is that they’re actually starting to sell (man, it’s about time!) Sufjam Stevens , the Animal Collective, and Joanna Newsome all surfaced to good effect, as did Petra Haden, who followed a charming, solo, acapella version of “The Who Sell Out” with a collaboration with Bill Frisell.

England’s Geraint Watkins made a fine CD called “Dial ‘W’ For Watkins”(YepRoc) with an amazing, Louis Prima-style version of the Beach Boys’ “Heroes and Villains”; and Paul McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” (Capitol) had some of his finest melodies in years, unfortunately accompanying some of his worst lyrics.

Worst local musical trend of ’05: the lack of gigs and new material by my favorite band, NRBQ, who we’d kind of gotten used to having around; one can only hope this problem will be corrected in ’06.

Another annoying thing: too many tornadoes -did I mention that? Well, I don’t care, it’s obnoxious! We’ve never had tornadoes before, and I don’t see why we should start having them now. As a result, we lost electricity (always bad for musicians) and created more opportunities for carpentry and landscaping (ditto. Remember, when musicians have chainsaws, everybody loses.)

All in all, kind of a dumb, excruciating kind of year, leaving 2006 a real easy act to follow. And that’s not just my opinion, either -everyone thinks so.

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