the year of the kougin aman

A kougin aman–more properly a Kouign-amann–is a pastry: a little crumpled circle of flour and butter and caramelized sugar and specks of salt. It was the specialty of Alder, a wonderful little cafe that opened down the street from my house in the spring. By the beginning of this week, it was gone. (My son was inconsolable. I was, too, but maybe less demonstrative about it.) I ate many more kougin amans than I wrote posts on lacunae in 2011. That’s fine; I needed a year (mostly) off. And now I can post here any time I want, but I can’t have a kougin aman any time I want it. There’s a parable in there somewhere. 

My friend Alissa just posted a list of her favorite pieces that she wrote in 2011; it’s probably not a bad idea for me to do the same–

1) Comic-Con Strikes Again! –This is the Kindle Single that I wrote (very quickly) about the amazing week-long culture-clash of Comic-Con International. I really enjoyed putting it together, and I’m happy with how it turned out. (It’s 99 cents, but if you don’t feel like shelling out for it and you happen to use Amazon Prime, you can also borrow it for free.)

2) The Smiths Complete –a review for Pitchfork of the entire-Smiths-discography boxed set. For some reason I ended up writing about old albums a lot more than new albums this year, but this band was really good with words, and enough has been written about them that I tried to get a little more playful than usual here.

3) “Monsters Inc.” –a.k.a. “how to write a feature about Lady Gaga if you can’t interview Gaga, see her live, or hear her album within your lead time.” My private title for this story was “Born This Way Has a Cold.” It ended up being an excuse to focus on the thing I think is most interesting about Gaga: her unusual relationship with her fans. 

4) “Fate, Feathers and Death” –a New York Times Book Review piece on Anders Nilsen’s remarkable Big Questions. 

5) “Britney in Miniature” –I’ve been doing a weekly column for Fuse on the relationship between new pop hits and older music; this one deliberately misreads Britney Spears’ video teasers for “Hold It Against Me.”

6) The Complete Case Files 05 –I’ve had more fun writing “Dredd Reckoning,” my weekly blog on Judge Dredd books, than practically anything else I’ve done this year. This particular one, a dialogue with Tucker Stone on the volume where our action hero commits genocide, was a blast. 

7) Kirb Your Enthusiasm #25 –Part of Hilobrow’s series of short meditations on individual Jack Kirby panels, this one on an image from Machine Man
8) “Chester Brown Pays for Sex” –I really enjoyed writing my weekly “Emanata” column on comics for Techland; maybe it (or something similar) will turn up somewhere soon. One never knows. This one (the final column) is about Chester Brown’s vexing Paying For It
9) “The iPad Could Revolutionize the Comic Book Biz–Or Destroy It” This Wired article had the longest gestation of any magazine piece I’ve written, and a lot of its “why hasn’t this happened yet?!?!” complaints are now moot. I enjoyed the process, though, and it’s got some amazing art by Ulises Farinas, Nathan Fox and R. Kikuo Johnson.
10) Arts Journalism Next –Not exactly a piece of writing, and not something I did by myself; this is a collaborative resource I worked on. But I’m pretty proud of it.  
Onward to 2012!