Best, Worst and Unusual Stuff from 2002
19 things that Bob Pomeroy couldn’t forget
This highly subjective list summarizes 19 things that stuck in my mind from 2002. They may not be new or exciting things. They may very well be things I stumbled on in my travels, or things I wish I hadn’t come across. Here they are for your consideration. The 19 things that stuck in my brain and wouldn’t leave.
1. Best CD of 2002: Music For Car Commercials by Priya Thomas
Drawing on the music she grew up with, Priya blends South Indian and indie rock influences to make a unique statement. “Digging For Gold” might be my favorite song of the year. Unfortunately, this Canadian release won’t be in many local CD shops, but it is available from Amazon.com.
2. Best Tent Show: Quidam in St. Petersburg
Cirque du Soleil redefines the circus with amazing staging, costumes and music. The Grand Chapiteau itself is homage to the old circus tent shows and is an amazing feat of engineering. Cirque Du Soleil awakens the childlike sense of wonder in everyone. Seeing one of their shows is better than Zoloft.
3. Best Twisted Tampa Author: Tim Dorsey
It takes a twisted mind to come up with a successful mystery series where the “hero” is a mentally derailed spree killer and Florida history fanatic. Dorsey’s 2002 release, Triggerfish Twist is a prequel to his debut Florida Road Kill. As Tim explained, he killed off too many characters in that book and needed them back. Tim recently did a reading opening for some local rock bands in a bar. That’s cool.
4. Most Unusual Sports Club: The Florida Curling Association
Curling is an ice sport played with forty pound granite stones and brooms. It originated in Scotland and is very popular in Canada and some northern states. Some Floridians, inspired by the last winter Olympics, have organized a curling club in Bradenton. I went to a curling workshop. The game is fun and much, much harder than it looks.
5. Most Unusual Sports Movie: Men With Brooms
Funny, but I had the theater to myself when I saw this movie when it hit town. This Canadian import is your classic sports movie. A former winning team reunites with a disgraced coach to win the big game, only this time it’s with curling. Leslie Neilsen does a great job as the grizzled old curling coach. A classic scene has the team losing their first come back end to a team of octogenarians called The Walkers (because they need walkers). It’s out on DVD now.
6. Worst Audience Members: The fratboys at the Donnas show in Tampa who kept yelling “Show Your Tits.”
Come on guy. Save it for Bourbon Street. If you really need to see some tits, go to Mons Venus.
7. Best Unusual Travel Destination: Iceland
As with a lot of things I do, it started with a “what if” question and turned into an obsession. I traveled to Iceland this summer and fell in love with this island nation. Reykjavik is and has the charms of a small town and the cultural benefits of an international hot spot. The interior of Iceland is like being on another planet.
8. Most Unusual Tourist Attraction: The Blue Lagoon in Iceland
The Blue Lagoon is the most popular destination in Iceland. Our guide told us it’s the place to be on New Year’s Day. While site looks like another of Iceland’s otherworldly natural formations, it’s actually man made. Blue Lagoon was unintentionally created by the run-off from the Svartsengi power plant, which pumps up geothermally heated water from deep underground to generate electricity. The used water (which is absolutely clean) is injected into the cooling pond which is the Blue Lagoon. The water’s combination of silica and blue-green algae is good for skin conditions.
9. Best Over Hyped But Still Worth It Tourist Trap: The Moulin Rouge, Paris.
It’s expensive. It’s hyped unmercifully and the tour busses parked out front are a bit intimidating. It all smacks of a glorious tourist trap. It’s still a spectacle well worth seeing. The music is great, the choreography is fantastic and the costumes (what there is of them) are amazing. Yes, there are scores of nearly naked women in the show. Yes, they are gorgeous. The show is so much more than that. Imagine what Cirque du Soliel might do if they reinvented the strip club.
10. Best New Release By An Old Band That Never Went Away: O.O.O.H. by The Mekons
The Mekons have morphed from a full time rock band to an artist collective. O.O.O.H.M. explores ideas of faith and religion in a collection of memorable songs that span the Crusades and Voodoo rites. O.O.O.H. was realest simultaneously with The Mekons’ second group art installation, Out of Our Heads.
11. Best New Release By An Old Band Who Went Away And Then Came Back: Nextdoorland by The Soft Boys.
22 years after releasing Underwater Moonlight, The Soft Boys got back together. Actually, Robyn Hitchcock has been working with the Soft Boys rhythm section off and on throughout his solo career. When the other Soft Boys reunited with guitarist Kimberly Rew, they pick up the same old magic, several dozen miles further down the road. Nextdoorland doesn’t try to sound like Underwater Moonlight. It sounds like four old friends having a blast making some really good rock music.
12. Worst Comeback Idea: The Doors
They may prove me wrong, but the idea of a Doors reunion sounds like a made for TV megaflop. Does Ray Manzarek really need money so bad?
13. Worst Trend: Xenophobia
Since 9-11 the fear of strangers has reached epidemic proportions. I hear the fear every time I talk about traveling abroad. I see it every time people act weird when someone looks even vaguely Arab. The forces of fear are gaining ground. We’re all in this together. All of us. Everywhere.
14. Best Tour: The Ex and Hans Bennik tour Ethiopia
In February, a Dutch rock band and a jazz drummer set off on a tour of Ethiopia. It was something they wanted to do. It wasn’t a tour about making money or selling product. It was a journey of discovery for both band and audience.
15. Best Outside Agitator: Michael Moore
The muckraker from Flint, Michigan scored twice in 2002. Stupid White Men sat at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks and weeks. Not bad for a book that almost got mulched because it was considered too critical of the Bush Administration. Moore also scored with the film Bowling For Columbine, which looks at America’s obsession with guns. Moore is able to make you laugh and make his political point at the some time. These are humorous works about deadly serious issues.
16. Best Tourist Gimmick Which Should Be City Wide: The Ybor City Trolley
Tampa built an old style trolley system to connect the Convention Center, Channelside and Ybor City. As it stands, it’s little more than a gimmick for tourists. What we need in Tampa (and most other American cities) is an efficient mass transit system that could get us out of our cars. I’d gladly leave the car at home if we had a mass transit system that actually worked. What we have in Tampa is a joke.
17. Best Erotic Foreign Language Film/Most Unlikely Choice For Directing Harry Potter: Y Tu Mama Tambien /Alfonso Cuaron.
Y Tu Mama Tambien was the most honest and sexiest coming of age film of the year. It’s a sweet, sad, sentimental, silly look at two 17-year-old boys and their raging hormones. It’s the story of a 28-year-old woman looking for fulfillment. Director Alfonso Cuaron takes a story that could have been another American Pie and makes a work of art that will still be powerful in 20 years. It came as a bit of a shock when the director of this steamy film was tapped to direct the next installment of the Harry Potter series. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job though.
18. Best Movie Made Above the Arctic Circle: Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)
Written, directed, and staring people from Igloolik, an Inuit settlement in the Canadian arctic, the movie has tall the elements of great drama. Set in the year 1000, the film tells an ancient story of love, lust, power politics, rape, murder, revenge, and spirit possession. It’s a beautiful, mesmerizing movie that draws you into a world that most people never knew existed.
19. Best Living Legend: Sam Rivers
Orlando resident Sam Rivers has been through all the changes in jazz over the past 50 years. He’s played with Miles Davis and Anthony Braxton. At an age where most people have retired or at least are resting on their laurels, Rivers continues to be a vital and vibrant player on the international jazz scene. He’s a inspiration to young musicians and anyone who needs proof the growing old does not have to mean going out to pasture.