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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Best of 2011 by Justin Trosper

Discoveries of 2011 by jtro.

I never consume enough new pop culture every year to really be on top of things. Here is what I found out there:


Travels in the Yucatan, Mexico. My significant other Sarah and I took a trip to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. It was awesome. We ate lots of new foods, drank some interesting tequila, swam in Ceynotes, and mastered the art of Mexican combat driving. I reacquainted myself with Spanish (I had to ask directions often). Plus I like hammocks. I bought one and a hat and a guayabera shirt. It was the highlight of my year. I, like many others, decided I am going to travel more often to exotic and exciting places. Honorable mentions: Joshua Tree in winter, and “The Loowit Trail.”


“Sangue Freddo” Il Teatro Degli Horrori. Not to sound really cool, but you probably have not heard of this band unless you live in Italy. No, I don’t live in Italy. But I met the guitar player many years ago while traveling there and now he is in this band, which is very popular. They sing in Italian. I think this record is fucking awesome. It sounds like noisy post-hardcore stuff like At the Drive In, Jehu, and Unwound but super produced and with this really dramatic singer who sounds like Ozzy at times and others like Mark E. Smith. He is crazy sounding. I’m kind of clueless but I think they rock harder than any bands in the US (except for the Melvins, duh.)

“Let England Shake” PJ Harvey. PJ is the musician I have followed the most closely for the last ten years. I didn’t really listen too much of her stuff in the 90’s but ever since “Stories from the City…” I’ve been hooked. I dislike the production on this record but I think it is supposed to sound like early 4AD or Flying Nun or K. But, as usual, she freakin delivers the goods with her vocals. I like a good singer and there are not very many good singers so I listen to PJ Harvey because she is a good singer.

Honorable mentions: “The Hunter” Mastodon. Not even close to my favorite by them but it is one of the only bands I care about, so I bought it. Still, there are a couple real scorchers here. You can tell they love music. Retro: “The Power of Expression” Bl’ast (1986); “Souvlaki” Slowdive (1992); “Goat” Jesus Lizard (1991).

Wild Flag live at the Northern, Olympia. It was good to see some stellar musicians who have been around for awhile pull together some decent songs and rock out. I said to myself afterwards, “well, I better get going on this band thing I’ve been thinking about…I just have to think of a name and write a manifesto…”

Honorable mentions: Earth live at the Northern (Summer). Scratch Acid live in Portland (December).


“Savage Detectives” Roberto Bolano (2006). I don’t know how to explain this so I won’t. But it changed something in my brain. It made me want to feel nostalgic. It made me want to read literature again. It made me want write. It made me want to hang out in Mexico City. I don’t think I’ll do any of those things. Read it and weep.

Lots of Honorable mentions: “Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture” Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter (2004); “Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest” David Moskowitz (2010); “Young Men and Fire” Norman Maclean (1993); “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” Dave Grossman (2009); “Deep Survival” Lawrence Gonzales (2004); “Night Dogs” Kent Anderson (1999); “The Last Good Kiss” James Crumley (1988); “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” Christopher McDougall (2010); “On the Warrior's Path, Second Edition: Philosophy, Fighting, and Martial Arts Mythology” Daniele Bolelli (2009); “In Search of the Warrior Spirit, Fourth Edition: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets” Richard Strozzi Heckler (2007).


Kung Fu Movies on the “big screen” at OFS. The last couple of years I have been watching more kung fu movies. The good ones are better than any other movies out there and the bad ones are usually funny. The Olympia Film Society brought some dude from Portland twice (film fests) in to show these original prints. I won’t name them by name. It was awesome--if you were there you know. But you probably weren’t! HA-Ha-Ha. Speaking of martial arts…in 2011 I started practicing Doce Pares Escrima (Also known as Kali or Arnis), which is a Filipino martial art, primarily practiced using rattan sticks. I’m into it. You see, they teach you weapons first before you learn empty-handed techniques. That is reverse from most martial arts. The origins of Escrima come from peasant guerilla fighters (influenced by Chinese and Japanese arts and others), where as many other arts evolved in the upper echelons of societies. Get it? Anybody can pick up a stick (but you must learn how to use it). Common machetes and pocket knives are also emphasized. There are no holy swords here.

“Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” movie. In the summer of 2010 I read two of the books by Steig Larssen while working at summer wildfires. But I would have read them even if I was not getting paid. I saw the Swedish movies and enjoyed them too. Now there is an American film version. Despite my annoyance at this, I had to go. I said that as long as they retained the Swedish character of the novels then I’m ok. They did. A new drinking game was created. Every time the characters have sandwiches and coffee you take a shot. You could name it after the original title of the book “Män som hatar kvinnor” but guaranteed to not be popular.

“Kill All Redneck Pricks” movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry. That is usually a sign of a decent movie. I think it is worth watching. This is just the beginning of the Olympia history series…

Honorable mentions: Fugazi video on youtube.

Dude, this video is killer! --it reminds me of the crazy crowd energy of their shows--surging. No other band I have ever seen came close. They definitely stand the test of time for me. They just came out with an impressive live archive website. Check it out.


Ninevah food truck. Olympia, WA. Finally, some decent middle eastern-type food in Olympia. Ever since I moved back from Southern California I have missed my falafel, hummus, and shawarma fix. Word!

Honorable mentions: shrimp tacos at Mad Taco truck in Lacey, Oaxaca Taco truck in Shelton, Al Forno Ferruzza pizza (next to Eastside Tavern—best beer selection in Olympia, yep, I go there sometimes, so what).


agathafrye said...

I forgot Al Forno! I'm glad they are here too. I don't like clams, but that clam pizza is fucking delicious.

Tones said...

no please do name the kung-fu movies. Which are the good ones? Where does one begin?

Tobi Vail said...

from J-Tro:

When I was a kid I watched a program on the USA network on sunday
afternoons in the 1980's called "Kung Fu Theater" which introduced me
to many films both classic and not so classic. I was really excited to
see some of these in a theater.

Here are some of the films that were shown at the Olympia Film Society:

directed by Lau Kar Leung stars Gordon Liu

"The Mystery of Chessboxing"
Joseph Kuo

"Bastard Swordsman"
Chin-Ku Lu

fans of the Wu-Tang Clan, of course take note...

an article about the "dude from portland" that was responsible for
bringing them:

A couple newer things you can find on netflix streaming:

"Ip Man" (2008)
"Shaolin" (2011)

and many others...of varying quality

A big 2011 release was the "Infinite Kung Fu" comic/graphic novel
which I just got and think is really awesome:

Dave said...

that portland mercury article is great, how lucky were you to catch those screenings!! also, ip man is pretty damn great~

e said...

really want to go back to portland i feel like imprisoned here in italy