by Brian Feldman
Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, 06/16/2015
One thing I heard a lot about in 2015 was dogs. I mean, I did a lot of talking about dogs because I love all dogs, but I also heard about them from other people. One thing you should get in the habit of doing is taking pictures of dogs you see and texting them to your friends. There are a lot of beautiful dogs out there.
Multiple people, on multiple occasions, have asked me, “Brian, when are you getting a dog?” I would like to address this question head on:
Maybe 2016 will be the year! It’s very possible that I could get a dog in 2016. I’d like to! In a perfect world, I’d already have a dog, but we don’t live in a perfect world. There are a few thing preventing me from getting a dog in 2016. My main worry is that I will be a bad dog parent. I often forget to eat lunch and I haven’t had a physical in over six years, if I recall correctly. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that most people like eating and staying healthy and I would never want to inflict my lax standards of living onto a dog, the one pure animal.
The other thing is space. If I get a dog, I’m gonna need a yard for the dog to play in. This is non-negotiable. I’m not getting a dog and leaving in my apartment all day. I worked from home for most of the year and I almost went nuts. New York is a pretty good place to live, but it is kind of expensive when it comes to living space. Dogs deserve to run free. I would like to get a medium-sized dog, and they’re too big for New York apartments unless you are a bazillionaire???
I have this one specific image in my mind when it comes to owning a dog. Me, driving my pickup truck out to some sort of wide open space — the plains, or maybe a hill overlooking a valley. I park, facing east as dusk rolls around, climb into the pickup bed, and me and my dog watch the sunset while rock music plays from an old radio or something. That would be great. That’s my dog-owning fantasy and one day I will achieve it.
Maybe the song playing on the radio in my dog sunset fantasy will be Spoon. Anything is possible.
House of Blues, Boston, 06/18/2015
A few of the low-key best things I did in 2015 involved small bodies of water, so I pledge to visit more lakes and ponds in 2016.
The Spoon concert in Boston was on a Thursday night, so the following Friday, while my friends were at work, I drove out to Walden Pond and did nothing. It was an impromptu decision, so I didn’t have a bathing suit or anything. I couldn’t go swimming, so I just rolled my jeans up and waded out as far as I could go. And then I just stood there for three hours. It was great. I didn’t really unplug — I consistently checked my phone and snapped some pictures and whatnot — but mostly I just stood there.
In August, I went up to New Hampshire with my family for five days. I didn’t take any time off of work though, because I’m an idiot who is afraid of a real vacation, but I didn’t exactly tell anyone that I was going either. My daily work schedule was organized in such a way that I would file a first draft at 8 a.m., and then I had another couple of hours before I updated it, so between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., I would scan headlines and do research. The secret is that you can read the web from anywhere on a smartphone, which is why, one day, I skipped out of work and went waterskiing during work hours. If you ever have the chance to secretly dip out of work and go waterskiing, I highly recommend it.
On that same New Hampshire trip, I grabbed a kayak and headed out to the middle of the lake at dusk. Like at Walden Pond, I just sat there, bobbing in the water, listening to The Mountain Goats’s All Hail West Texas. This has, I guess, become some sort of tradition for me, in that I’ll go outside alone and listen to that album.
I don’t recall listening to Spoon while being gently rocked by the ebb and flow of the currents, but maybe that’ll change in 2016. I hope it does. I did, however, lay on the floor and listen to Kill The Moonlight at some point over the summer.
The Wick, Brooklyn, 06/17/2015
According to my records, I read sixteen books, attended sixteen concerts, completed eighteen video games, saw fifty-four films, and finished ninety-four seasons of television.
Of all of these things, the one that sticks out the most is a book I read called In The Kingdom of Ice, which chronicles a disastrous expedition to the North Pole in the midst of the Gilded Age. It’s so good because (almost) every person in it is an idiot. The richest men in America were still, in retrospect, astoundingly stupid. Nobody knew what was going on at the North Pole, and a bunch of dumbasses were like, “Um maybe it’s warm and there is a hole leading to the center of the earth, where mole people live?” I’m not making this shit up. Edison had already developed the light bulb at this point.
Here is how arctic expeditions worked back then:
1. Get an irresponsibly wealthy backer.
2. Get a big boat.
3. Put about three years worth of food on the boat.
4. Sail north and get locked into the ice and see what happens.
That’s it. The smartest, richest guys in the world decided that this was the best plan. In the latter half of this year, thinking about this brought me a lot of calm. If I ever ran into a confidence issue, or got discouraged, or decided I wasn’t good enough, I would remind myself: hey, at least I didn’t get a bunch of guys killed in Siberia by sending them to the tropical beach I thought existed at the North Pole.
In a way, it’s heartening to think that, collectively, humanity will never ever be that stupid ever again.
If I ever planned on getting trapped in the ice for two years, I would bring Spoon’s discography with me for sure.
Save Yourself is the Awl’s farewell to 2015.