I make this list every year. The list is called “The Best and The Worst” because it’s all relative, isn’t it? One man’s dress is another man’s homophobia. Right?
Each year, the lines are further blurred because of Irony and the Internet. We’re living in this strange time where the worse hip-hop gets, the broader its appeal. Is Riff Raff the Best or the Worst (the Best of the Worst?)? What further complicates the issue is that the mainstream and the underground are becoming one. There’s not this sharp delineation between what the Cool kids and the Nerds wear, listen to, and follow anymore. Angry teenagers share Facebook comments with their doting parents. And the notion of keeping something low-profile, covert, and clubhouse is drowned out by the pursuit of fame, wealth, and notoriety. Nothing is sacred.
Okay, let me take a deep breath.
Here it is. 2013. This was The Best and The Worst.
Nothing wedged that generational divide more in 2013 than Snapchat. And I’m not just talking about the chasm between children and adults. Snapchat even split a fissure between the tweens and the twentysomethings.
I didn’t get it. In many ways, I still don’t get it. Because I’m not supposed to. I was born in the ’80s.
Let me put it to you like this. Every generation turns against the prior. Whether it’s right or practical is no matter. The youth must respond to the cultural hegemony and social structure bestowed upon them by their totally uncool parents. So if Mom told you to keep things to yourself, locked away in a diary stashed between your mattress, you’re going to grow up and do the opposite. You’re gonna invent Friendster and publicize your interests, lifestyle, and mid-day sandwich. And if your Dad sends you a friend request on Twitter, guess what you’re going to do?
Go private. I listed it in my past two annual Best and Worst rundowns. The future of the Internet generation is a retreat to Privacy. Snapchat keeps everyone out, like the sign you posted on your childhood bedroom. It’s the logical order of things.
FREE PUSSY RIOT
Nevermind, they’re out.
I’m not gonna get into another Apple vs. Samsung debate. As long as we can agree that Samsung is better.
Apple finished the year with another disappointing round of innovation. It’s not that they deliver lackluster gadgets or operating systems. It’s just that they built this platform of unexpected Cool, introducing us to products we never knew we needed. And now they are just improving upon what’s worked for them in the past. It’s safe business and financially smart, but it’s not risky or daring or irrational. Which is what we came to know and love Apple for. You weren’t just buying an iPhone, you were telling keyboards to Fuck Off. Apple branding pivoted around “Think Different,” and in 2013, Apple was thinking the Same. Apple innovation became – unfortunately – expected.
Samsung, on the other hand, pulled off some really foolish moves. A phone the size of a chopping board? A Jetsons watch? But it was thinking different that produced results, and made the world think different about them.
Anyways, this is how I win the argument whenever an iPhoner giggles at my Galaxy 4:
1) Removable battery. Means I’ve never run out of battery life, or had to charge my phone. For someone as committment phobic as I am, that iPhone charger was tied to me like a ball-and-chain. No more of scanning every room I enter for outlets.
2) Bigger screen.
Favorite movie of the year, even if it was just another “Castaway” or “Moon” in space (wait, Moon was set in space). Had heard some mixed reviews on the storyline, but I thought it was a succinct and clear message on taking control of life, letting go, and the internalized spiritual search. Fitting that Alfonso Cuaron also made one of my top films of the past decade – “Children of Men” – his art of storytelling is always smartly nervewracking. There’s this beautiful scene with Sandra Bullock spinning in the spaceship’s womb, and it’s that ongoing subtext of growth and rebirth that really caught my imagination. (That and the part where she has to keep the shuttle at 50mph or else Dennis Hopper will blow it up).
This was the other Sharknado. “Blackfish” put Sea World on blast, made people think twice about visiting marine mammal parks, but for me, it just made me super scared of killer whales. Not sure if it was a good or bad PR move for the orca community…
Artist Brian Donnelly closed one of my favorite stores in the world, the Original Fake shop in Tokyo, in January. Which was then followed by the shutdown of the brand itself. KAWS would go on to concentrate on his fine art career in 2013, steering clear of Streetwear and more towards global gallery domination.
Last year was all bubbles about Upton, but in ’13, Planet Earth had a hard-on for EMRATA. What pretty much ignited from “Blurred Lines” and had exhuasted itself by the Terry Richardson GQ shoot. Next up, is her casting in the “Gone Girl” film adaptation and midnight consciousness of sticky teenage boys everywhere.
Vice has always been here (we know hipster, the print magazine and YouTube channel are way edgier than HBO), but this was the year that your parents found out about it. An alternative news source designed for Generation Irony & Internet. We couldn’t stop watching.
I don’t watch a lot of television, but I do know this was the show to watch this year. The television series about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who sells meth seduced a global audience thirsting still for the Sopranos-style saga where the good guy is kinda bad but still sorta good – morally confused, emotionally tortured (remember how I started this thing about not knowing the difference between Good and Bad anymore?) The finale raked in mixed reviews as usual. The best tweet that made the rounds in anticipation of the series-closer was Carly Danger’s: “What if at the end of Breaking Bad they drop Bryan Cranston into witness protection and that’s the beginning of Malcolm In The Middle?”
On the occasions I did turn on the television, I watched this. (Curb your Enthusiasm, where art thou?) Between Lena Dunham’s generationally lost female tribe and my dark obsession with HAIM, maybe I should swap genders, stop showering, and move to the East side of town?
Trend of tomorrow, or 2013’s version of a pocket protector? This is just my opinion: Google should be partnering with actual eyewear designers to stylize their product. Imagine a Warby Parker Google Glasses, or even The Hundreds. By collaborating with fashion designers who actually make optical for a living, you not only have a better-looking product, but the legitimacy that comes with the name brand. After all, nobody wants to wear a fashion piece designed by a tech company, as much as they wouldn’t want to use technological innovation by GAP.
Benjie Escobar designed this Instagram, which pretty much sums it up for me. It reads, “I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR JOKE BECAUSE I REALLY DON’T LISTEN TO DRAKE. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.” Not that I have anything against this guy, but I’m so out of touch with Drake reality, that I barely got Benjie’s Drake joke. Doesn’t matter though, because Drake basically owned 2013 and got a Jordan Brand deal by year’s end. Something about Starbucks hands?
Besides Kanye, there was no more polarizing figure in 2013 pop culture than Miley Cyrus. I kinda went in the reverse. I used to not be able to stand this girl (this sums it up), but now I find her tolerable – if not enjoyable – just because of how much she aggravates the world. There’s something compelling when popstars shed their PR-coated coccoon, when the salvia becomes, alright, fine, marijuana, when the sainthood virginity implodes as a Satanic orgy. It’s almost the epilogue stage of the Disney machine. I mean, I never paid attention to the Jonas Brothers (I didn’t even know they played instruments) until the middle dude wrote this frankly unapologetic tell-all about life as a cartoon character. Anyways, let Miley be Miley with her tongue and simulated masturbation and jerky twerking. You have enough problems in your life to worry about.
Best rapper of 2013. Best rap album this year. The West Coast has been hoping and praying and wishing on this one for years. But we shoulda known… it was all in Kendrick’s CONTROL.
and this was everything I loved about 2013:
Alaska and the kids of Bethel High. Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed,” this Roger Ebert piece, Caesar salad, following Mark Healey and Travis Millard on Instagram, my Edison wallet, Barbara Palvin, Lamborghini Huracan, Macallan 18, Rumi, Juicy J, Waze, James Turrell at the LACMA, Indian food, surfing Breakwater and 26th, Chloe Norgaard, Neruda, Gesaffelstein, Vine, Sangiovese, and all things The Hundreds…., which I will further get into for my final list of the year…