To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, filmmakers, designers, and performers to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2019.
Jim Jarmusch is a writer and director based in New York. Born in Akron, Ohio, his films include Permanent Vacation (1980), Stranger than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995), Year of the Horse (1997), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), The Limits of Control (2009), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Paterson (2016), Gimme Danger (2016), The Dead Don’t Die (2019) and the short film Int. Trailer. Night. (2002). On February 7, 2020, Jarmusch visits the Walker with SQÜRL, an avant-garde post-rock duo with composer Carter Logan, to perform semi-improvisational scores to the silent films of Man Ray.
FIRST BLACK HOLE PHOTOGRAPHED
The first published photograph of a black hole located at the center of galaxy M87. Sometimes humans actually do some amazing shit…
The words, actions and determination of Greta Thunberg. She’s a courageous person, and a leader. I deeply admire her.
Potentially hugely effective in controlling the poisonous carbon emissions now gravely threatening the future of life on our planet. (But then, so far “they” say it’s just too expensive… not enough profit for the corporate overlords. Oh well, welcome to the Sixth Mass Extinction…)
The emergence and strengthening of both the Extinction Rebellion and the Sunshine Movement. These people aren’t afraid to put it on the line for our survival, for compassion, and for the beauty of life’s mysteries—in direct opposition to the corrupt “values” of those in positions of power.
THE MUSIC OF BILLIE EILISH
Another teenager and a brilliant pop music iconoclast. Sometimes off-center or even underground/experimental music is just too good to NOT break out into a wider popular mainstream. The Clash… Nirvana… Wu-Tang Clan… Billie Eilish… (Actually, I’m waiting for a Nick Cave cover of Billie’s song “Bellyache“…)
Director Bong Joon Ho’s film Parasite is a theatrical hit! What years ago was referred to as “Asia Extreme” is now mainstream, and (as with Billie Eilish) sometimes the weird shit is needed and embraced by popular culture. Parasite is a blood-splattered, socially confrontational breath of fresh air.
Randy Kennedy’s first novel, Presidio, is a great American novel by a great writer, and one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of disappearing into in some years.
New advances have been made in the use of mushrooms and mycelium fibers for building materials, insulation, and food containers. (I would like to live in a mushroom house.) Also, mycologist Paul Stamets has continued to find positive effects of certain mushrooms in fighting the deadly viral epidemic of mites that is (along with neonicotinoid pesticides) decimating honey bees and other pollinators essential for our continued existence.
GOLDIN VS. THE SACKLERS
Extreme respect to Nan Goldin for her persistent outing of the Sackler family, and their blatant venial criminality selling misery and death via oxycontin and Purdue Pharma. They may have stashed away their billions, but the world knows they are scum.
Scientist (and videogame designer) Seamus Blackley baked a loaf of sourdough bread from yeast that was 4,500 years old. Spores were found in the pores of ancient Egyptian pottery and then were fed and cultivated with ancient organic grain, water, and unfiltered olive oil. After baking the bread Blackley said, “The aroma and flavor are incredible! …I’m so amazed that it worked!”
The (hopeful) possibility that the next president of the United States will be Bernie Sanders, a man of integrity, reason, and compassion. His cabinet and presidential appointments could be filled with intelligent and committed leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jay Inslee, Nina Turner, and others…