2015 was another outstanding year for music. There is rarely a common thread to my year-end list, but this year I couldn’t help but notice that seven out of my ten favorite releases are from female-fronted bands or solo artists and I think that’s pretty awesome.
In alphabetical order, as always…
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Kodiak Deathbeds – Kodiak Deathbeds
Kowloon Walled City – Grievances
Ruby The Hatchet – Valley Of The Snake
Sheer Mag – II 7″
Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
Two Sheds – Assembling
Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
Despite seeing more films in 2015 than I can count or remember, I am way behind on my to watch list. Not everything I saw was great, but Sicario and Ex Machina are definitely at the top of my list. Both are dark, intense dramas that left me feeling very uneasy.
However, the film that made the biggest impact on me this year, was a 17-minute documentary called Curt. If you’re a surfer, or a parent, or if you know someone who has been affected by autism — basically, if you are human — you will be very moved by this piece. I can’t recommend it enough. You may want to keep a box of tissues handy. Or two.
Year-end list season is upon us once again. This year, I thought it would be good to start with a list of all of the things I loved about living in Los Angeles, as well as a few things that perhaps weren’t so great.
Things I Will Miss About LA
Having proximity to the ocean, beaches and good hiking without leaving the city
Amoeba and all of the other great record stores in LA
More movie theaters (especially independent art houses like Cinefamily) than I have ever seen in one place
Thanksgiving is always a good opportunity to take a few moments and reflect. The last few years in particular have been very good to me. I am incredibly grateful for all of the amazing experiences I had and all of the wonderful people I met while living in California.
This past year, my good fortune continued. I was able to embark on two amazing adventures, both of which were trips of a lifetime. Now, a mere two months after arriving back on the east coast, my girlfriend and I have a new apartment in NYC and we are both exploring new career opportunities.
Most importantly, I am surrounded by people I love. Without all of you, I would not have anyone to share my adventures and good fortune with, so thank you for being a part of my life.
Today was the last day of our trip and despite being a little tired of living out of a suitcase, I did not want it to end. Before we left Pittsburgh, we made one last trip to the Strip District for pancakes at Pamela’s Diner, which is apparently one of President Obama’s local favorites, and some insane donuts from Peace, Love & Little Donuts. Maple Bacon Donuts? I’ll take two dozen!
Most of today was spent traversing Pennsylvania. We did stop at Roadside America, which is kind of like a giant version of your grandfather’s musty basement, complete with an enormous interactive train set. How this place stays in business, I will never know.
After a less than inspiring diner lunch, we were back on the road and New York bound. A few hours later, we arrived at my parents’ house and after a very warm welcome, we unloaded the car one last time. We are thrilled to be back on the east coast and can’t wait to catch up with family and friends. Thank you for sharing this amazing journey with us.
Pittsburgh is officially our favorite city of the trip. Today, we experienced a wide variety of distinctly Pittsburgh things. Our first stop was Bicycle Heaven, which is one of the most insane things I have ever seen. It is a family-owned collection of bicycles that took decades to acquire and curate. Many of them are for sale, but you can spend hours here just looking around and taking photos.
For lunch, we drove over to the Shadyside neighborhood and had some awesome grilled cheese sandwiches at The Yard. Next up was the lovely Phipps Conservatory, which happens to be free on Mondays and is a great way to spend an afternoon.
No visit to Pittsburgh is complete without a trip up and down the historic Duquesne Incline. People still use it every day as part of their normal routine, but it’s the views from the top that attract tourists and travelers. Once at the top, you can also get a behind-the-scenes peek at how the technology of the incline works. It’s worth the extra couple of quarters they charge for entry.
We finished the day with a brief hike in the hills and a walk along the recently redone waterfront where the three rivers meet. Dinner was at Sharp Edge in the Cultural District, which is a fine example of why you shouldn’t necessarily judge a restaurant by its decor. Try the Belgian Burger!
Donna is a real sports fan. Me? Not so much. That being said, it is hard not to get excited about a Steelers game in this town. After sleeping in a bit, we met up with a few of Donna’s friends for some pre-game tailgating. Then it was time to face the very organized madness that is Heinz Field. We had awesome seats and were treated to a really great game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
I consumed more than my fair share of hamburgers at the game, but there was no way I was going to let that stop me from having a nice dinner. We Uber-ed it over to Point Breeze and had some AMAZING Moules Frites at Point Brugge Cafe. It’s a small and obviously popular neighborhood place. We sat at the bar and asked for extra bread to soak up all of the brothy goodness.
Another super friendly Uber ride later, we were back at the hotel and planning our third and final day in Pittsburgh. I love this city!
We are finally north of the Mason-Dixon and the landscape is starting to look like home. We’re still about 6 hours west of New York, but we are clearly back in the northeastern United States. After spending the morning on the road, we drove through the 279 tunnel and as we emerged on the other side, Pittsburgh came into full view. It was a very dramatic reveal. You could see the entire city tucked in the hills, but also the more suburban areas around and above the downtown area. I have never been to Pittsburgh before, but I liked it immediately.
Our first stop in Pittsburgh was, of course, the Andy Warhol Museum. Although I have an enormous appreciation for his contribution to art history, other than his screen printing work, I am not overly enamored with him. It was interesting to see where he came from and how he evolved as an artist. The museum was slightly underwhelming and I was really annoyed to find out they have a “No Photography” policy. I found this to be more than a bit ironic, given that Andy Warhol made his fame and fortune by taking pictures of celebrities and appropriating other people’s work.
After we checked in to our hotel — which was filled with people who were obviously in town for Sunday’s Steelers/Niners game — we walked around the Strip District in the rain and stopped at Primanti Bros. for a Pittsburgher. Yes, that sandwich with french fries on it that you’ve always heard about. It’s ridiculous.