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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, April 21, 2014

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In Holiday Guide Commentary

Did I mention I saw a Beatle this year? (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

2013 picks: Bobby Tanzilo

Another year has come and gone and, as always, it's left a trail of great music, books and movies in its wake...

Music: This was a year for great records by some folks I've been a fan of, like Justin Currie ("Lower Reaches"), Placebo ("Loud Like Love"), Neko Case ("The Worse Things Get..."), Glasvegas ("Later ... When the TV Turns to Static"). Also among my favorites this year is the new record from The Head and The Heart, "Let's Be Still," which I think I might like even better than its predecessor and the new Dylan Bootleg Series, "Another Self Portrait," which is full of demos, outtakes and alternate mixes that I prefer to the original records. Though I haven't gotten them yet, I'm also excited about the next batch of Everything But the Girl reissues, because the one I love best – "Amplified Heart" – is included.

But I think my absolute favorite of the year is Lucy Wainwright Roche's introspective, ethereal but earthy, folky but modern "There's A Last Time for Everything."

Concerts: One of the best shows I saw this year was Neko Case at the Riverside. She always puts on a great show. Not far behind was Billy Bragg with a band at Turner Hall. But, above all, I saw a Beatle this year, so that's tops. A stadium is never the best setting for a rock and roll gig, but ... I saw a Beatle this year. And now that I've seen both McCartney and Ringo in concert, I've pretty much wrapped up everything possible in my Beatles in concert bucket list, unless Pete Best brings his band to town.

Movies: All the good films I saw this year were thanks to the Milwaukee Film Festival – "SOMM," "Spinning Plates," "If You Build It" – and The Milwaukee Italian Film Festival – "Terraferma," "I primi della lista."

Sports: The All-Star Game was at Citi Field this year and that's about all I can say. The rest I'm trying to forget.

Books: Last Christmas I got a copy of "The Other Islands of New York" by Sharon Seitz and Stuart Miller" and I loved reading the histories and interesting stories about every little spit of land in the East and Hudson Rivers and the New York harbor and narrows.

Also: Milwaukee's own Sarah Carr wrote an engaging book at New Orleans schools called "Hope Against Hope;" Rose George's "Ninety Percent of Everything" is an informative and sometimes horrifying glimpse into the world of the modern shipping industry; Amanda Ripley's "The Smartest Kids in the World" asks what successful countries like Finland and Korea are doing in their schools that we're not and what lessons can be learned; Diane Ravitch's "Reign of Error" debunks the myths purveyed by corporate school reformers in the interest of advancing their goal of privatizing public schools; and Dean Jensen's "The Queen of the Air" is a skillful historical biography and one with local ties.

I also enjoyed new books on the "Building Milwaukee's City Hall" (by Dennis Pajot) and "Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin" – about the 1912 attempt to kill Teddy Roosevelt in Milwaukee – by Gerry Helferich.

But two of my favorites were Jerry Apps' "The Quiet Season" about winters growing up in rural Wisconsin and Bill Bryson's thoroughly readable "One Summer," which chronicles a couple months on 1927 America and all the amazing stuff that happened in this brief moment in time. There's more, of course, but I'll stop now.


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