Allen Mark

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My Favorite Things: 2016

The extent to which 2016 has been such a terrible year is so far that it's almost comical. Well, in some well done instances it actually is comical. But I'm putting that aside (for now; I've been working on a 2016 in review post and it depresses me) and listing everything that I enjoyed for this past year. As much as my optimism has been tested, it's nice reminding myself that good things are still happening, no matter how superficial. Here are my favorite things to come out of 2016, in no particular order:

MUSIC

Oh my god new music has been the oasis of lush green grass within the expanse of this drought strewn year. I'm not sure yet if I want to write a post solely ranking my favorites, but here are some of my highlights:

GALLANT - Give it up to Spotify to introduce me to one of my new favorite artists last year, and I mean top tier favorite, all with only one full length album out. Ology is a such a cohesive work kof art with some spectacular poetic writing. My absolute favorite: "I've loved in cold blood and got used to it / Angels say trust the detox but I'm shaking I need it like bourbon in my coffee cup". I melt every time. 

SOLANGE - When it comes to the Knowles sisters, I've lightweight always been more Team Solange ("Lovers In The Parking Lot" will forever be my jam) so when she announced she was finally releasing new music after 2012's True, I geeked. I love how she is always unabashedly herself, her vibrato makes me melt, and the look she gives the camera delivering the "I sexed it away" line in the "Cranes in the Sky" music video never fails to give me chills.

FRANK OCEAN - Here's an ascending list of reasons why I'm thankful Frank is back: 3.  Good music. 2. Tumblr and Twitter can stop complaining. 1. The way he pronounces "prepare" in "Ivy". It's perfect.

FALSETTO WHITE DUDES THAT SING ALTERNATIVE R&B - James Vincent McMorrow, Francis and the Lights, James Blake, and Bon Iver all released albums this year and I love every single one of them.

Francis and the Light's "See Her Out" music video also happens to be one of my favorites of the year

-Here's another Gallant quote from a song just because: "Sell me something I can use to catapult my value / Treat me like a cardinal anointed in my vessels / Any time I bite the hand that feeds would you lie through your teeth / Tell me I'm a monument to more than bone and tissue"

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST - 2016 was a devastating year for deaths in the music industry, including one of my favorites in Phife Dawg.  Even with his loss, Tribe pushed through and released that album they secretly worked on and I couldn't be more thankful. We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service is so great and perfectly cathartic for a time when we need it.

Also shout out to Beyonce, Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Blood Orange, Anderson .Paak, and Kaytranada for putting out some of my other favorite albums this year, and Eryn Allen Kane for being amazing and putting on the most spectacular opening performance I've seen. G'Damn, music was poppin'.

MOONLIGHT

I haven't gone to the movies as much as I'd like this year, but (with the exception of Captain America Civil War) all the ones I've been wanting to see have been coming out at the end of the year. I still haven't gotten around to watch my more anticipated later releases with the exception of one: Barry Jenkins' Moonlight. Only first hearing about it from Janelle Monae's instagram posts, I was excited to see the critical praise for the film as it garnered a wider release. For being a film that doesn't really resolve, it just is and I love it. Also if the phenomenal Mahershala Ali doesn't get all of the supporting actor awards so help me god...

POKÉMON

Yes, really, Pokémon. I complain about millenial nostalgia as much as the next, well, millenial, but the cultural phenomenon's resurgence in its 20th anniversary is very appreciated. The hype for the Game Freak's latest installments of Sun and Moon actually got me to buy one (and a secondhand 2DS), my first Pokémon game since Generation 2. Even outside the "Pokémon-ness" of it, it's a great game with a story I enjoy (it honestly gives me Kingdom Hearts vibes). Plus, Pokémon GO was a thing! It made people get out of their houses and even gave me a freelance opportunity (thanks Hyphen)!

COFFEE

Owning a small business really helped me appreciate all the hard work put into other businesses, as well as all the bullshit most of them have to deal with. Having been a year since we closed up shop, I've spent most of my days at various coffee shops all around the South Bay, solitarily with my laptop searching for whomever will have me as their employee. I've always preferred supporting small businesses over chains, so I was glad to have that opportunity. I also realized just how many of these shops have popped up just within the past several years--many by Bay Area natives. If anything, I'm thankful that they gave me spaces where I could feel comfortable working, while also satisfying my coffee fix (which I wouldn't have if it weren't for my shop. Thanks dad). Big shouts out to Sue's Gallery Cafe, Crema, Roy's Station, and Big Mug for being just a few of the many great coffee spots that I love.

ATLANTA, INSECURE, AND FEEL GOOD TV

For a while I felt like there was a huge gap in the television I consumed. Most of my favorite shows ended in the past few years (CommunityParks and RecreationMad Men, Breaking Bad) leaving me to watch old retreads in the streaming ether. Surprisingly, 2016 made me excited about TV again. Donald Glover's Atlanta finally came out and it's honestly become my favorite comedy. Issa Rae's Insecure is just as great while offering a different perspective. Michael Schur is back on NBC with the pretty good The Good PlaceAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that I already enjoyed, made great strides with what is probably already it's best season yet. I also got really into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and it's unbelievably hilarious. Hell, even Gilmore Girls came back this year. Sure, I'm not listing any of those incredibly popular dramas (so Westworld is a thing now) but I realized that isn't what I need from TV, at least not right now, and it's all still great.

MY SISTER IS BACK HOME!!!

Save for holidays, my sister has lived away from home for 10 years--5 in LA for LMU and City Year, 5 in MLPS working her ass off to get a PhD. With her finishing her program, she finally moved back to the Bay which alone is exciting, but I honestly couldn't have imagined how different the dynamic would be at home. 

I've been lucky to be a part of a family that's as close as we are--for the most part we enjoy all the time we spend together. This year has felt especially so thanks to the fact that we all have our own shit to deal with, so we don't oversaturate ourselves with family time. In those years of her absence, though, our house was significantly quieter. When not at the shop or school I usually cooped up in my room in solitude while everyone else worked, but now with my sister back, I'm embracing my time with my family better and I can even tell that my parents are enjoying their time at home more, too. I've honestly felt happier. This shouldn't be a surprise though; as I've grown older it's become clearer how close I am to my sister and how she's definitely one of the best friends I have.

Sure, she's moving out again after (around the same time? I don't know their plan lol) she gets married next year, and hopefully I wouldn't be far behind moving out as well. But I know that I can at least take solace in the fact that she'll just be a quick drive away, rather than a groggy morning flight away. Welcome home, Ate.