By virtue of the job, entertainment- and pop-culture writers tend to be a forward-focused bunch. We're paid to be interested in what's happening now, though the best of us try to be up on what's happening next, too. The end of the year is one of the few times we can look back and analyze the stuff that already took place. It's a welcome break and probably the reason you see so many end-of-the-year lists. To which I add my own.
Here are some (mostly local) noteworthy things from 2013.
This was my musical discovery of the year.
Technically, I discovered the Austin, Texas, trio when they came through town in 2012, but I started following the band on Twitter this year and mail-ordered their self-titled debut album when it was released in September, so I'm counting it as a 2013 highlight.
The band is the perfect mix of punk-rock furiousness and metal drone, with just a hint of tongue-in-cheek Satanism thrown in for good measure. More at: www.sharkspartyhard.com.
I am a fan of Kickstarter. The crowd-funding phenomenon, where entrepreneurs pre-sell product directly to their customer base as a means of capital investment, is a revolution in consumerism.
There were several local Kickstarter campaigns that launched this year. Several were successfully funded and produced awesome results. Peeve's Public House & Local Market and "Spirit Homes," the debut from the band Light Thieves, were both successfully funded by crowdsourcing. Search "Fresno" on www.kickstarter.com
I could write an entire piece on the events that I loved in 2013.
The Fresno Ideaworks Mini Maker Faire and the third annual Taco Truck Throwdown are two, and they both happened at Chukchansi Park (also the tasty bacon vs. tofu night).
In terms of sheer emotional impact (the feel-good factor) nothing outdid July's Catacomb Party music festival. At the time, I wrote: "At several moments during the night, I was stopped by the sheer number of people in attendance and had to remind myself that this wasn't happening on some street in some other city. This was happening in my hometown."
There was debate on radio talk shows and the like as to the geographic location of the true heart of Fresno. Let me clear it up: It is downtown.
There is no place as uniquely and authentically Fresno as the city's urban core. This year was good for downtown.
Residential development continued and residents continued to move in. Several hip music venues and art galleries moved into the area, just north of the Fulton Mall. The Warnors Theatre (and its affiliated venues) reasserted itself as a driving force in the local cultural-arts scene.
This pick is selfish, since downtown is my home. But it is better this year than it was last. With the addition of Peeve's market, I am one step closer to having almost everything I need within walking distance of where I live.
That makes for a happy new year.