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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

–Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859

More and more, we live in this world of extremes.  I’m sure the Internet has a lot to do with it.  The distorted lens of social media and shock-news sites continues to normalize the exceptional and outrageous (Russian teenagers dangling off antenna towers, school shootings, athletes behaving badly) to the point where hyperbole and exaggeration are standard communication.  Everything is the absolute best or literally the worst.  Your opinion is truth while anything otherwise is ignorant and faulty.  Our government – even our weather – is distressed, splintered, and polarized.  We’re not just losing the middle class, we’re losing the middle everything (How’s that for being extreme?)  This is what the world looked like in 2014.

We’ll begin – as everything does – with Street Culture: the best in art, music, skateboarding, and fashion.  In 2013, Streetwear marqueed longtime skate/street-credible crossover veterans like Diamond and Huf, but 2014 belonged to a freshman class of fashion-minded radicals outside the American mall: Jon Buscemi of BUSCEMI, Ronnie Fieg of KITH, and Virgil Abloh of Off-White.  Supreme still reigned…well, supreme, of course, at the interchange of all roads skate, street, and couture.  Another year of remarkable collaborations led by James Jebbia (my favorite being the AF1s), but Supreme’s skate video Cherry was the pivot – a shift; a bellwether proclamation of youth, setting the tone for style and attitude in a nihilist underground.  Baggy Dickies and Chucks never died – especially if you live in Southern California – but as happens once a generation, they’ve reclaimed center stage.  Campouts at swap meets?

Gino departs to FANike backs out of snowboardingNick Bower exits Stussy.  Under Armour can’t stop, won’t stopSenior designers defect from the swoosh to the stripes, and lawyers dive in.  adidas! adidas!! adidas!!!  These were the industry’s watercooler touchpoints in 2014.  Meanwhile, cornerstore conversations circled around Street’s young scions.  In a sea of desktop publishers, brands like Born X Raised, Illegal Civ, CLSC, and Those Folks were the tide that lifted all boats.

fragment design and Air Jordan 1.  Crooks and Futura.  Theophilus London and Stussy.  H&M & Alexander Wang.  Pigalle and Nike Air.  The Hundreds and Tapatio.  Van Styles and Tianna G.  Those unofficial Buscemi X Agassi customs.  A.P.C. and Kanye West.  Undefeated and Neighborhood and adidas.  Black Scale and Timberland.  adidas ZX Flux and YOU.  Ronnie Fieg and everybody!  I know you’re tired of collaborations, but I’m not.  Especially when a collab’s done right – as a partnership, not a compromise…  As twice the idea instead of two halves… we get something truly unique.  Isn’t that what we were hoping for?  Specialty.  And 2014 witnessed some of the extraordinary.

YG.  A$AP Ferg.  Warm Brew.  Bobby Shmurda.  Vince Staples.  Young Thug.  Hip-hop is not dead.  Meanwhile, rock and roll squirmed under the weight of EDM.  Iggy Azalea, for better or for worse (depending on who you talk to, or if you’re Azealia Banks).  I think my favorite album of the year goes to FKA Twigs.  Yeah, Twigs and Mangchi.

Cali DewittAaron KaiManfaceWooDan Witz.  I don’t know the most about the art world, but you didn’t have to be a Dr. Romanelli to hear these artisans’ names time and again.

White girls.  In the wake of EmRata and runway model mayhem, the return of the blonde, buxom, and bountiful: Charlotte McKinneyEmily Sears.  Hacked white girls.  Jennifer Lawrence and The Fappening.  Strong and funny white girls writing strong and funny books.  Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss.  Megan Amram’s Science…For Her!.  Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl.  And strong and funny movies.  Jenny Slate with Obvious Child, for example.  Smart white girls wondering about dead Korean girls.  Sarah Koenig and Serial.

Regarding Death.  Some years are denoted less by those who lived, and more those we lost.  We lost them in incomprehensible droves, as statistics.  The Bermuda Triangle mystery of our era, Malaysian Airlines 370 (and now, AirAsia QZ8501).  The capsizing of Sewol, the South Korean ferry killing 304, mostly high school students on a field trip.  We also said farewell to individuals, some universal and beloved (Robin Williams, Harold Ramis, Philip Seymour Hoffman), and others friends and hometown heroes (TRIGZ).  And then there were those, neither familiar nor famous, but whose deaths changed us most of all.  Eric GarnerMichael Brown.  Rest in Peace.

The 50 times I’ve watched the Star Wars Trailer (and its 50 parodies).  The previews were just as – if not, better – than the movies.  The Jurassic Park teaser for the trailer for the new movie.  The Big Eyes trailer.  Still AliceMotto pana-cakuh. Motto pana-cakuh. Motto pana-cakuh.

Cinema struck back in 2014, a square rebuttal to masterful television and Netflix storytelling (Black Mirror, True Detective, The Good Wife), from Snowpiercer to Birdman.  My favorites?  Life Itself, The Lego Movie, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  Although that grisly Gone Girl sex-scene deserves some sort of ribbon.

I’ll fill in the blanks.  Kelly Slater, in a year of explosive surf competition, cultural upheaval, and industry shake-ups.  Subsequently, Hurricane Marie and the swell of the century: Hell hath no fury.  The world cups the World Cup.  Drones on drones.  The BMW i8 that I can’t afford this car.  NDT for President.  Nike ACG’s brilliantly designed rebirth.  Please watch Citizenfour, but you didn’t hear it from me.  Who will police the police?  Last Week Tonight with John Oliver every night.  Still confused by, and not impressed with, the Kim K Paper (but I also didn’t love Interstellar or the iPhone 6).  And 2014, I’ll leave you with this: Too Many Cooks.

2015, you’re up.

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