2016: The Shitshow Recedes.


El Gato Negro.

Well, THAT sucked! So glad 2016 is OVER. It was ridiculously stressful, full of heavy space weather, and a lot of people died. Also, geopolitics took a major turn for the worse, in ways that directly affect me and those I care about. The photography situation is locked in a dismal holding pattern; basically, I need to break down and get a digital camera (more on this in a later post). I look and feel like I’ve aged five years instead of merely one.

7 Train Post-its.

Yet some incredibly positive things also happened in 2016. I traveled to California in March and caught up with one of my favorite people. Another friend of mine received some much-deserved recognition for her writing and storytelling skills. I started a certificate course in bookkeeping: while I’m rather broke and highly sleep-deprived in the short term, it’s a Grade-A investment in my future (literally – I’ve earned straight As so far, with one class left to go!). I’m still employed, and even got a raise back in the spring. And the ankle’s getting better!

Top Tunes 2016.

Tons of brilliant music and fantastic gigs happened last year – indie labels like Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Riding Easy Records consistently delivered the goods, and bands from near (MOTHER FEATHER, Ruby the Hatchet), far (Purson, Blues Pills) and all areas in between (White Mystery, Black Mountain) kicked major ass. Check out Old Time Religion Radio Hour’s final BBOX Radio episode for an aural sampling of the goods 2016 had to offer. Note: it’s a four-hour show! If you’re pressed for time, scroll down a bit and click on some of those sweet, sweet band links. Otherwise open a bottle of whatever, kick back and let the music flow.

Manifesto.

I even managed to check out a couple of exhibitions (such as Julian Rosefeldt’s MANIFESTO starring Cate Blanchett) and read quite a few biographies (Peter Steele and Bernie Sanders being the highlights – Brooklyn represent!) in between all the studying and number-crunching. In fact, I’m still plowing through the humongous used book haul acquired during my Cali trip; there’s translations of the Upanishads and the Homeric Hymns to sink my teeth into this year.

Unicorns are Real.

Finally, the Second Avenue Subway is open for business (up to 96th Street, at least). Any Native New Yorker will tell you that the Second Avenue Subway has always been a fantastical notion that got lots of money thrown its way but would never, EVER, happen in anyone’s lifetime, yet here it is. While technically the Q train starts running up 2nd Avenue in 2017, The MTA threw a big party on 30 December that coincided with a good friend’s birthday. After a festive meal at Heidelberg, we checked out the gleaming steel, the sparkling tile, the stunning artwork (Chuck Close is featured on the 86th Street stop), the bright blue subway cars and the London Underground-style escalator that seemed to go on forever. There was swag: I scored a classy black tote bag while the birthday gal snagged a baseball cap, and we both got Metrocard holders. While obviously this is another step down the hypergentrification trail, we were in awe of the fact that…it’s real. The Second Avenue Subway is no longer a shared joke among locals, but actually a thing that exists.

So while the macrocosm was horrendous, dangerous, and perfidious on various levels in 2016, my personal microcosm showed some serious improvement from previous years. Life’s been hard, but it’s also been good. I intend to keep that upward trajectory going as best I can in 2017, and hope that things get better, easier and safer for all of you in the coming year.