Thursday, December 31, 2009
The New York Times asked its readers around the world to submit their photos documenting the decade - everything from 9/11 to Katrina to Obama. The result are these excellent 667 photos selected out of over 2300 submitted.
The Journal always has good pieces on Jazz, it seems, and this list compiled by Larry Blumenfeld is no different.
Another fascinating list from The L.A. Times!
The lists keep a' comin'! And this is a fun and interesting one, to be sure!
As New Creation rambles along through the mounains of "best-of" lists, this one seems like it's worth taking a look at: Nicole Lamy's (Editor of The Boston Globe's Book Review) Top 10 Books of the Decade.
Chancing by any mag stand over the last month or so and you were bound to bump into a music magazine selecting the "best XYZ" of the decade. Rolling Stone got into the game as well - but with a twist. Instead of limiting the list to their staff, they dolled out ballots to over 100 top musicians, critics and industry insiders and let them each vote for the best albums/songs of the decade. The result is a cross-section of a wide-ranging musical landscape that appeared in flux and fluid motion throughout the decade.
The editors, Jann S. Wenner and others, at Rolling Stone magazine have selected their Top 25 albums of 2009. U2 takes top honors for No Line On The Horizon, but Jay-Z, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Animal Collective, Phoenix, Wilco, Neko Case, Springsteen and others rate high also!
After quite a long nice nap, New Creation is up and raring to go, ready to blast off into 2010! However, before we get there we've got some business to tend to in 2009 posts - namely the year-end/decade-end plethora of "best-of" lists of books, music, films, fruitcakes (well, maybe not fruitcakes, but you get the drift...).
Not that drawing up the list — or rather, whittling it down — was a wholly painful exercise. One of the pleasures it afforded was the chance to resample the sometimes surprising chemistry of reviewers and authors, particularly when it came to fiction. Jonathan Lethem, whose “Chronic City” made our list, reviewed Lorrie Moore’s novel “A Gate at the Stairs,” which made it too, while Curtis Sittenfeld, whose novel “Prep” was one of the 10 Best in 2005, reviewed Maile Meloy’s story collection “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It,” a winner this year. Any book review editor will attest that persuading fiction writers to assess other people’s fiction can be a struggle. These were heartening exceptions to the rule. May more novelists review for us in 2010!
Monday, December 7, 2009
One last article to post before New Creation is put on ice for a few days during finals week: A fascinating piece from February 2007, "In Search of Flannery O'Connor" which follows Lawrence Downes' journey to visit O'Connor's homeland in rural Georgia, a literary pilgrimage that treads lightly between the fictional and the real.
They arrive by foot, car, scooter and battered black-and-yellow taxi, dolled up in their Saturday best for the imminent wee-hours concert by Mr. N’Dour, Africa’s biggest music star. “It’s a city that really comes alive at night.”
Though he has recently returned to Dakar, the Senegalese capital, from a gala in New York City for the international Keep a Child Alive charity — where he sang with Alicia Keys and was honored alongside Bill Clinton and Richard Branson — Mr. N’Dour sounds more like a wistful local kid than a 50-year-old global icon who has won a Grammy Award and was once named one ofTime magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” “I’m still very attached to Dakar,” he goes on, adding that he was born in a working-class neighborhood a few miles from the club. “And the people of Dakar are very attached to my music.”
And how. When he takes the stage, an ecstatic roar explodes, and soon several hundred bodies are dancing madly. With its fast-driving, interweaving traditional sabar drummers — rounded out by guitar, bass, keyboards and a rock drum kit — the opening number, “Less Wakhoul,” is pure mbalax, the propulsive, percussive, melodic pop music that Mr. N’Dour popularized starting in the 1970s and that remains the dominant sound emitted from Senegalese radios.
When the sun dips behind the Atlantic, this gritty concrete metropolis — exhilarating, inventive, emotive — flares into a living jukebox of sounds with few African rivals. And with the imminent arrival of the annual Africa Fête — a music festival from Dec. 12 to 19 featuring the mbalax master Omar Pène and many other top local acts — the city’s tuneful bounty is about to go on even larger and more ebullient display.
“Dakar is one of the most musically vibrant cities in Africa,” says Simon Broughton, editor in chief of the Britain-based Songlines magazine, which last year began operating tours of the city and this month features Youssou N’Dour on its cover.
“There’s a large number of clubs,” Mr. Broughton says, “and lots of music as part of the fabric of everyday life.”
“It’s all these kids that are really ramping up their vinyl collections,” Ms. Friedman said. “New customers are discovering the quality of the sound. They’re discovering liner notes and graphics.” In many instances, the vinyl album of today is thicker and sounds better than those during vinyl’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.
Sales of vinyl albums have been climbing steadily for several years, tromping on the notion that the rebound was just a fad. Through late November, more than 2.1 million vinyl records had been sold in 2009, an increase of more than 35 percent in a year, according toNielsen Soundscan. That total, though it represents less than 1 percent of all album sales, including CDs and digital downloads, is the highest for vinyl records in any year since Nielsen began tracking them in 1991.
Sales of CDs, meanwhile, have been falling fast, displaced by the downloading of digital files of songs from services like iTunes. Sales of albums on CD, which generally cost half as much as their vinyl counterparts, have dropped almost 20 percent this year, according to Nielsen.
With overall sales down, numerous big music-store chains like Tower Records, Virgin Megastore and HMV have pulled out of Manhattan, leaving music sales largely to online merchants and the few small, die-hard record shops scattered about Greenwich Village and Brooklyn.
One exception has been Best Buy, a national electronics chain that recently opened its sixth store in Manhattan. A year ago, the chain started stocking vinyl albums in about 50 of its stores, including one on the Upper East Side. Their presence, with their alluring cover art, still has the power to stun.
“Some individuals come into our store and they stop in their tracks,” said Andre Sam, a sales representative at Best Buy’s store on East 86th Street. “They don’t expect to see this.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Back on November 15, New Creation posted the first of our "Readings Lists In Theology And/Through The Arts". Today we unveil the second part of this on-going series by offering up an impressive list from Michael Paul Gallagher. Among other things, it's a great place to look for last-minute Christmas presents!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
For College Football's Best Wide-Receiver, The Time Between Saturdays Is Spent With A Six-String And In Prayer
But Jordan Shipley, 23, did not become a complete player and person at Texas until leg injuries kept him off the team in 2004 and 2005, nearly ending his playing days. Facing football mortality, Shipley found himself. “There just came a defining moment in his life where he made the decision that his commitment to football was not going to define him as a person,” Bob Shipley, Jordan’s father, who coached Jordan in high school, said in a telephone interview. “And that’s really when he really started being successful.”
Texas Coach Mack Brown said he considered telling Shipley to give up football.
But Shipley took his time away from the game to develop in other ways. He discovered a passion for music as a guitar player, a singer and a songwriter. When football was taken away, “I had to kind of figure out who I was as a person and what I stood for,” he said in a telephone interview.
“He’s awesome,” Colorado Coach Dan Hawkins said of Shipley in a telephone interview. “He’s obviously very talented, but he’s got that divine spark.”
Shipley’s rhythm on the field is in sync with his life off it. Shipley describes his music as a mix of country and Americana, styled after musicians like John Mayer and Jack Johnson. He has stopped watching television because he prefers to play his Alvarez acoustic guitar while singing and writing songs at his house.
“It really just soothes me,” Shipley said.
Shipley recently started playing in a band at Fellowship of Christian Athletes worship meetings at Texas, and has written nearly a dozen songs and recorded a few of them. In July, it only took him a few hours to write his first song, “Moving On,” about being stuck in the city and longing to get away.