Years ago when I was a student at Northwestern University, a handful of executives at
This, of course, happened. It's somewhat the reality of the Internet Age — somewhat. What information-island theorists hadn't considered, though, became one of the cultural themes of 2012: the second screen. Tending to your island, while simultaneously monitoring other islands and what the world was saying about your island, necessarily requires second islands. How else to trawl for all the culture floating past?
So woe to the year-end list-maker.
Even with a second island, we need a third, a fourth, an archipelago, to keep up now. Being a pop-culture watcher in 2012 is a multidisciplinary task. We're big on moments, fleeting images and snippets. What follows are — to borrow a phrase from that Oak Park teen oracle, blogger Tavi Gevinson — literally the best things ever from 2012. Or rather, the moments, snippets, stuff that I felt, if only for a blink of time, were the best things ever.
One island would never hold it all.
Riding past "Sunder Planet," the odd, Death Star-like sculpture on the lakeshore bike trail from DePaul University professor Stephen Luecking, one of more than 50 pieces of public art installed along the lake in the fall.
Playing the well-written
Reading Ben Fountain's funny and sad "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," my favorite book of the year.
Cringing at the scene in
Not hating on often-hated-on rapper Childish Gambino during his
Watching singer Frank Ocean hit a home run in his TV debut on
Unpacking the giant box of books and pamphlets and newspapers — 14 pieces in all — included in Chris Ware's remarkable art object/graphic novel "Building Stories," about the life of a Chicago apartment building (and unlike anything else).
Admiring the guts of the lonesome season finale of FX's "Louie," which begins on Christmas and glides though an emergency room, an airport and an impromptu New Year's trip to China without breaking a sweat.
And admiring the smartly designed first issue of the revived Chicagoan magazine. (But where's No. 2?)
Catching one last look at the red, polka-dotted tentacles in Louis Vuitton's
Love/hate-rewinding (over and over)
Attending my first "Nutcracker," opening night of the Joffrey's 25th anniversary "Nutcracker," not really understanding what was going on (So, wait, what happened to the soldier mice again?) and not minding.
Reading Ty Burr's "Gods Like Us," his incisive, widely ignored history of 20th-century stardom.
Considering the five to-scale copper shreds of the
Squirming in happy unease through
Laughing at the insanely badass (and plainly insane) ending of
Finding myself between Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall at this summer's
Realizing that the elderly woman seated next to me was twisting and fidgeting and ducking low in her chair at Steppenwolf's "Good People," pushed into this by the delightfully painful, class-conscious awkwardness on stage.
Being genuinely surprised by the never-saw-it-coming left turn of
Wishing, regardless of whether the theater framework of
Listening (in a suddenly hushed performance space) as
Finally watching "Adventure Time" on
Groaning with hunger throughout Smart Museum of Art's weird, absorbing, unprecedented "Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art," about the little-considered use of meals in art.
Discovering the joy of same-day-as-theaters on-demand video with
Standing mesmerized through
Seeing Oak Park's Cecily Strong, new at
The happy shock of coming across Logan Square's City Lit Books, the city's first significant new bookstore in years.
Speaking of Logan: Sinking into the soft leather lobby couches at the lovingly renovated Logan Square Theater.
Watching the cast of "44 Plays For 44 Presidents" devour an entire loaf of white bread while simultaneously reciting facts about
Not being sure what to think about the surprising, fourth-wall-breaking ending of