AKA, an “in case you missed it” with my best pieces of 2016
2016, you were a real motherfucker. You took some of my favorite humans, you made me question the sanity of most Americans, and you ushered in the start of what could be the start of the United States of Autocracy. I’m pretty sure I’ve said “fuck” more this year than I have in my entire life, and I say “fuck” a lot.
All negative things aside, this year wasn’t a wash. I did cool things and nerdy things and adventurous things with my best friends. The deaths of David Bowie and Glenn Frey earlier in the year ushered in a year of my own version of carpe diem — love thy olds — and I went to as many concerts and readings and discussions with my favorite living legends as I could. I wrote a lot of things I’m really proud of, for here, for Inspirer, and for Quartz. Here’s the sizzle reel of highlights, in case you missed things.
Things I wrote and am proud of:
I wrote a defense of Carrie Fisher in the wake of the New York Post’s gross, misogynistic body shaming opinion piece (of garbage) — even though she didn’t need me to defend her because she clapped back in the best way, a way only she could pull off. Technically this was December 31, 2015, but it feels so much more important now.
I wrote about the death of iconic rock stars, and with it, the potential death of rock and roll. Fam, this was only January. I had no idea what we were in for this year, and, again, it feels so much more important now.
The New Republic then tried to come for old rock stars with something about an “aging rock star cliché,” to which I said “this isn’t a real thing.”
Nora Ephron and the documentary Everything Is Copy gave me next-level feels, so I wrote about the significance of idols and what it means to mourn celebrity heroes in my first piece for Inspirer.
Drake covered Jackson Browne and I realized he has more in common with classic rock stars than we think. I fell down a rabbit hole full of pages of lyrics strewn around my room and diagrams and wrote my now sort of kind of infamous thesis that Drake is rap’s Lindsey Buckingham. (HEAR ME OUT.)
Lemonade dropped and it blew everyone’s mind and I said I couldn’t possibly write about it because Beyoncé is one tough cookie to crack. Jokes, because the next day I realized I needed to write about its timely and necessary female empowerment themes.
I went to Night of 1,000 Stevies and wrote about how incredibly special it feels — and how necessary (even more so now) it is — to celebrate our beloved icons while they’re still alive.
Then I wrote a piece for Stevie Nicks’s birthday explaining how there really is no simple answer about why she’s my hero, about just how great her influenceon my life and career has been.
I talked to a bunch of rad fucking women for Inspirer on a slew of topics like: growing as an artist (Greta Morgan), multiple sclerosis and the strength in owning your weaknesses (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), ‘70s Laurel Canyon rock (Shelly Colvin), diversity in entertainment (Lea DeLaria), comedy and growing into yourself (Jen Kirkman), ambition (Eva Longoria), and feminism (Pat Benatar). I juiced their mind grapes for as much advice and inspiration as I could and I learned so. much.
Kim dropped receipts about Taylor Swift and the public turned on her, which was honestly a moment I had been waiting for since 2006. Then Instagram started censoring negative comments on Taylor’s account (meanwhile Twitter was doing nothing while Leslie Jones fielded vicious, racist attacks). I said “oh hell no” and wrote about just how problematic that is in a piece for Inspirer, which was then picked up by Quartz.
Kanye debuted the Fade video at the VMAs and everyone was like “da fuq,” but I deconstructed the real meaning of it.
Of course, I wrote about the lasting legacy and under-appreciated significance of ‘Buckingham Nicks’ on its anniversary.
I went to cool things and wrote about them: Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, and Joan Baez (!!!!!!) put on a benefit concert for refugees. Carly Simon discussed her memoir “Boys in the Trees” with Sheila Weller, and Stevie Nicks put on the best concert of my year and dropped the most incredibly necessary wisdom (for all of life, but especially for a post-Trump world).
Finally, I wrote two things about Carrie Fisher, whose legacy and impact on my life will last forever. First, days before her death, on the importance of recognizing her impact on culture as so much more than just being Princess Leia. Then, my thanks, or the best I could do in the still mournful and shocked state I am.
Things I did this year and concerts I went to that were awesome and I photographed but did not necessarily write about:
- Rang in the new year with Deer Tick and Vanessa Carlton.
- Saw Jenny Lewis perform Rabbit Fur Coat in its entirety and sing a bunch of other amazing songs.
- Watched Graham Nash discuss all things old.
- Saw Jackson Browne perform a one-off Spanish-inspired concert.
- Was a foot from Jenny Lewis doing her dope as fuck shit with Nice As Fuck when they opened for M. Ward.
- Watched Lou Doillon be enviably French and cool.
- Went to a Graham Nash concert and was maybe the youngest person there.
- Tried the New York festival circuit by going to Governor’s Ball (highlights: Father John Misty and Haim) — before getting rained out — and covering Panorama (highlights: Alabama Shakes, Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire, Grace Potter, Kurt Vile, and LCD Soundsystem). New York, I love you, but when it comes to festivals, your crowd scenes are kinda sorta bringing me down.
- Was second row two nights in a row at Mudcrutch. Made direct contact with my hero Tom Petty. LOLed with Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench about my Stevie Nicks For President shirt. It was dope, to say the least.
- Was second row two nights in a row for Jackson Browne. (Can you tell I have an addictive personality when it comes to concerts with my favorite olds?)
- Danced in the rain at Paul Simon’s (potentially) final US show in his hometown before working my way to the pit for an incredible, haunting encore.
- Spent a lowkey Saturday on Hudson Pier with Anais Mitchell, Margo Price, and Deer Tick.
- Endured a terrible, super lame Central Park crowd to see Ryan Adams.
- Sang “Because the Night” with Patti Smith and a few hundred others who gathered in a Brooklyn synagogue to hear her discuss her devastatingly brilliant M Train.
- Literally was the youngest person (with @canicallucandy) at a JD Souther concert. Candace wanted to die when someone recognized me from ~the internet.~
- Went to a 120 person club to see Benmont Tench two days after the election and just hours after Leonard Cohen’s death was announced. Jackson Browne hung out with the audience, then came out at the end and they performed a tribute to Leonard and it was chills and tear-inducing and everything my heart needed on November 10.
- Met one of my biggest lady heroes, Carrie Fisher. The first thing she said to me upon seeing my name on the post-it was: “You’re Carrie, too? Look at those gorgeous eyes. I would love to have grown up Carrie with those eyes.” Then she told me I must have good parents, based on their choice of name (I told her I’m named after my great-grandmother — “they’re not weirdo fans, don’t worry”), and dedicated my book to “the other, newer Carrie.” Thinking about it now makes me weep, but god, what a memory.
2016, you were a bitch. But you had your moments.