It would seem that I have the dubious distinction of blogging for so long about things that will change your life, as they have mine, always, that I'm onto my second decade-ending list. At the time of the end of the last decade I wrote the following:
"Are we jumping on the decade-ending bandwagon? Way. Still, when your goal is to change lives, its not always clear how you're going to accomplish this. So, as we began prepare our year-end Top Ten lists we started thinking about the last decade as well and like everybody else we thought we would weigh-in on what we liked and/or influenced us and/or brought us joy. Over this week we are going to hit books, movies, television and music. And then next week, or shortly thereafter, we will begin rolling-out our year-end lists. Cool? Great."
Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson (2013)
David S. Atkinson has gone on to write many fine, weird, wonderful books, but few books have quite affected me like the stories in this one. All awakening, coming of age and pain. Indelible.
Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith (2014)
What a beautiful introduction to a beautiful writer whose words glow and who makes sexy just so, you know, sexy.
Excavation: A Memoir by Wendy C. Ortiz (2014)
I read it in a fever dream and fugue state, really, I was crazy sick, but I can't imagine how else one can experience this book as it takes you in its twisty grip and never lets go.
Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010)
Art, making it, eating it, searching for it, and at all and any costs. Beautiful and nicely, oddly, touchingly matched by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (2015).
MEATY by Samantha Irby (2013)
As glorious a debut as you will find. Like a rocket ship, a fucked, funny, fantastic rocket ship.
Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children by Dave Newman (2012)
As absorbing and in touch with everyday life, the struggles and quotidian moments, as any book one could hope to read.
The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna (2013)
The boldest, most lived-in book I read, soaring and detailed. A triumph.
The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan (2015)
This could have been just as easily been Crapalachia (2015) or Stories V! (2011), because Scott is fact and fiction and fiction and fact and a blur of boundaries and stories that feel so real and visceral you can taste them.
They Can't Kill Us Until The Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib (2017)
Is there anyone who does pop culture, race, personal stories and political commentary better? No, really, please let me know, because I can't imagine who that would be.
We The Animals by Justin Torres (2011)
Of all the books here, this is the only one I truly stumbled into. How I didn't know it existed before I found it is quite beyond me, but it is tender and real time, a gut punch of the highest order.
This could be Before Midnight (2013), it could be a lot of things, which is just to say, that Linklater makes movies like I try to write, raw, real, happening now and evolving over time.
The Florida Project (2017)
Such a lovely, lively, sad movie, and full of the kind of live-wire energy found in few movies except maybe the director's most excellent previous movie Tangerine (2015).
Fruitvale Station (2013)
If this isn't quite the beginning of Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan's world domination, it's a stunningly crafted piece of work. Devastating.
So many superhero movies I know, and so many good ones (and yes, maybe too many, for many), but so crushing this one, and literate, and everything I might have wanted as a kid, but didn't know I could ask for.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
My favorite movie all decade. Raw and slamming and so much fun.
Minding The Gap (2018)
Race and class and poverty and abuse, but just terrific, which seems like the wrong word, but isn't.
Nothing more beautiful all decade.
O.J.: Made in America (2016)
The most audacious work of recent memory as it takes on the full sweep of race and violence in Los Angeles and America. Not pretty. But impossible not to watch.
We loved this so much, I'm not even sure I can pinpoint why. I just know it was engaging and full of joy and tension and mystery. Bravo.
Winter's Bone (2010)
The young J Law alone makes this worth watching. That it's so riveting and scary and a picture into a world of poverty and violence so few of us witness makes it a stunner. Which isn't to overlook the director's other movie this decade, Leave No Trace (2018), no less riveting, and full of ache.
A spy story, which is really a story about marriage, hopes, dreams, communication, all of it.
Striving, succcess, failure and trying to be the person you think you can be. Also weed, race, rap and magical realism. Nothing like it.
I hate to use a word like real, or refer to the greatness, abrasiveness and warmth of this show as a salve of Louis CK's ongoing horribleness, but it is that, and I love it.
So fucking weird, funny, surreal, and the most incisive exploration of mental illness, substance abuse, family in all its fucked-upedness, and celebrity, happening anywhere in any fashion.
Is it the dialogue, timing, the messed-up chemistry, or the desire to make the unworkable work? I don't know, but other stabs at relationship and all the madness inherent therein pale in comparison.
Game of Thrones
It could have not made the list, but it was too big, too brash, and almost completely engaging to the very end.
Dude, what despair looks like, which I mean in the best way.
An elegiac and beautiful rumination on truth and grace and what it means to be free.
Call it a story about the rich, abuse, ego and the media, both new and old. That's all true. But in doing so, don't fail to call it a story about family in all its Oedipal and Shakesperian horror. Because it's so that.
Family, family, family, Jews and identity, so many, so much, and so fucked-up and messy and wonderful. Love.
Almost too unreal to be believed, almost science fiction, but leaves one with the sense that no entity can be trusted.
See the above. But also see it for the most empathic and upsetting, yet uplifting police procedural ever produced.
When They See Us
See the above, and the above, and then cringe, cover your eyes, and keep watching. Infuriating and unprecedented.
These Top Ten Musical Moments of the Decade Will Change Your Life.
Chance the Rapper/Coloring Book (2016)
Girl Talk/All Day (2010)
The Hold Steady-Empty Bottle (2017)
Jason Isbell/Southeastern (2013)
Jenny Lewis/The Voyager (2014)
Matt & Kim-The Riviera (2019)
Killer Mike/R.A.P. Music (2012)-Killer Mike-Pitchfork (2013)
Ike Reilly-Schubas (2013)
Sufjan Stevens/Carrie and Lowell (2015)
The ongoing standby's, making my runs, drives, the laundry, day-to-day life and brain better and more joyful.
Dolly Parton's America
A rumination on storytelling, spirituality, race and sexuality, and just wow, fantastic, moving and wonderful.
Greatly loved, endlessly missed, and possessing of a weird, beautiful, searching energy.
I don't ever want to not be thinking about him.
S-Town and Searching for Richard Simmons
Both felt more than kind of voyeuristic, and at times just truly icky, while never being anything but wholly engrossing.
Running from COPS
From the creator of Searching for Richard Simmons, and anything but icky, fascinating and horrible.
There may be never be anything like the first season of this show in terms of appointment podcasts, and utter fascination, but the third season makes for a head-spinning, and terribly saddening, companion piece to Running from COPS.