It’s New Years Eve on a closing decade and we’re feeling a certain obligation, though not because of any clamoring demand to, to….. We’ve never liked top-ten lists,- year-end lists, best-of-the-decade lists, that sort of thing. And for all the usual reasons. Now, as the old song goes, everybody’s doin’ it. (Matthew Yglesias, discussing top-ten lists, says “One of the pernicious impacts of the rise of the internet is how everyone gets to publish their own list.”) Pernicious? In the interest of helping drive the stake in this monster’s heart, here we go. What qualifies the Rabbit? Not much. Sure, we had a long publication history back when but our appetites have always trumped taste. And our tastes tend toward the strange and eclectic. Most of all, even with our ears and wiggly nose, we could never hear/read everything we wanted let alone things we never knew. Nor do we want to be held to release dates limited to the last 365 days (see March Hare) even though we cycle through a lot of the new and now. But in the spirit of recognition, as a means of thanks (we couldn’t have done it without you), here are the books and recordings that helped us to get through it all. Because good books and good music make life worth living.
The Shaghai Gesture by Gary Indiana; Two Dollar Press. For the cleverness and laughs not to mention world-wide conspiracy.
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon; Penguin Press. Genius confirmed. Did we mention world-wide conspiracy?
The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin; Copper Canyon Press. The natural world reminds an old poet what’s left to learn. Punctuation not included.
My Father’s Tears and Other Stories by John Updike; Knopf. Mature themes (you know what I mean) and grace from one of the great man of letters. He’ll be missed.
Report On Myself by Gregoire Bouillier; Mariner Books. And I thought I had problems.
What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems by Ruth Stone; Copper Canyon Press. The later poems in this volume make real and worthy connection to the natural world.
The Bear from Go Down Moses by William Faulkner; Random House. What we lose when we lose wild places.
The Undiscovered Self by C. G. Jung; Atlantic, Little Brown; and The Basic Writings of C. G. Jung; The Modern Library. To understand symbol, image and archetype and because I dream.
The Future of the Image by Jacques Ranciere; Verso. Image and politics. See above.
The Complete Crumb Comics: Volume 6 “On the Crest Of a Wave” by R. Crumb. Helps us to remember when.
The Right Mistake by Walter Mosley; Basic Civitas Books. A wise man seeks patience in a cruel world.
In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison; Copper Canyon Press. Poems in which the mundane becomes magnificent.
The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre and Frederic Lemercier; First Second. Part photo collection, part graphic novel…what makes us think our experience in Afghanistan will be different than the Soviets?
Up Popped Two Lips by Henry Threadgill’s Zooid; Pi Recordings. A twisted puzzle, with oud. How does it all go together?
Cartography by Arve Henriksen; ECM. Poetic electronic and percussion landscapes from the speech-inflected trumpeter.
75 by Joe Zawinul; Heads Up. Sure, we like Brown Street better but as the last recording by a great innovator (with Wayne Shorter on a cut no less) and, well, we miss you, Joe…
Blood From the Stars by Joe Henry; Anti. The songwriter who sinks his faith in image and rhythm recalls Katrina with blues-inflected (natch) seriousness.
New York Days by Enrico Rava; ECM. Moody, intellectual, beautiful.
The Complete On the Corner Sessions by Miles Davis; Columbia. We have a weakness.
Set the Alarm For Monday by Bobby Previte; Palmetto. Keeps us in real time.
Bartok: The Six String Quartets by the Takacs Quartet; Hungaraton. Always. There’s no better way to start the day than to try and figure these out.
Radiolarians II by Medeski, Martin & Wood; Indirecto Records. Take away the groove…
The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu by Carla Bley; ECM. Jazz–now and then–and more. That’s Paolo on trumpet
The Essential Leonard Cohen; Columbia. Poetic nostalgia; don’t ask.
…and all the other life-sustaining words and sounds my addled mind has, for the moment, lost.–Cabbage Rabbit