Rebecca’s 5 Favorite Things From 2014

Sure, there’s the stuff that shows up on roundups of the year’s most popular music, movies, TV shows, books, trendy lettuces, vibrators, painful caught-on-video mishaps, or what have you. But a better way to sum up your own year in culture is to take a look at the things that really hit home and stuck with you. Here are the five things Rebecca discovered and loved the most in 2014!

Young Fathers, Dead

Young Fathers’ album Dead won the Mercury Prize for the best album of the year in the UK and Ireland this year, beating out artists with better odds like FKA Twigs and Kate Tempest (not that they cared much). I’d come across them in the spring while paging through music review sites and fallen in love after a thirty-second sample. They’re a “Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band,” but that doesn’t even do the aggressive, percussive, dynamic sound justice. It’s really just the best music I’ve listened to all year.

Central Park

I’m sure that New Yorkers are like “oh yeah, whatever” about Central Park because it’s a fixture of the city that they can visit anytime, like Grant Park or the Sears Tower for Chicagoans. But seriously, the only thing I hated to leave behind when I came home from my trip to New York this summer was Central Park. It’s huge! It’s whimsical! There’s a castle! It’s within walking distance of the MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Met! Running 9 miles there was the highlight of my marathon training. I could go there every day and not get bored with it. If New York ever gets tired of it, I’d be glad to have it in Chicago.

The Artist Is Present

The documentary (available on Netflix) about body artist Marina Abramovic’s ambitious 2010 three-month MoMA retrospective and performance is hands-down the best film I’ve seen all year. I know plenty of people hate Abramovic and think she’s ridiculous; she has done some ridiculous things for the sake of art, but they were a part of decades of artistic practice, and practice always involves failure. And they culminated in what I think is one of the bravest artworks in recent memory — “The Artist Is Present” — that on top of requiring an unimaginable amount of discipline on Abramovic’s part, was also so deeply personally moving to watch and, I’m sure, to experience. I so, so recommend watching the film — it actually made me tears-on-my-face cry, which just does not happen for me with films.

Does Not Love by James Tadd Adcox

James Tadd Adcox is a local Chicago author (who, full disclosure, I am acquainted with to the extent of seeing him at readings and having mutual friends). I don’t generally enjoy fiction very much, but Does Not Love was a notable exception this year. It’s about negotiating love, and how love works and changes in a long-term relationship, but it’s set in this totally bonkers alternate-reality Indianapolis that’s run by pharmaceutical companies and a Secret Law that the FBI upholds, it involves BDSM and a mystery, and it builds exponentially to a very, very surreal climax, all while being written in clear, effective, and minimal prose. It does a lot with very few words, which I think both fans and non-fans of fiction will appreciate.

Indianapolis

Speaking of Indianapolis, I took a day trip to real-reality Indianapolis in September and was shocked. The city’s architecture is diverse and kind of astounding, it’s a very walkable city, and their Museum of Art is unbelievably well-curated. I didn’t think “I want to go to Indianapolis on vacation next year” would ever be something I’d say, but, well, it’s true.

Follow me on Twitter.