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Hot Commodities 11
A New Location! Plus Top 10 Lists! Woo-hoo! Winter 2002
By Scott Speh

Finally, a new Hot Commodities column! And in a new location. Tell all your friends that we’re located at http://www.artic.edu/~sspeh/ I no longer have access to the 16 Beaver server. Supposedly there’s been some sort of settlement between the combatants in the 16 Beaver war. ‘Bout time. So for now, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (my employer) is hosting the sight. Hooray for art school! I need to change all the graphics on each page and all the links - I don’t have a fancy HTML editor and I’m not all that speedy at writing code, so bear with me while I manually make all these changes. You’ve dealt with all my typos, split infinitives and dangling participles up to now so I guess you’ll be patient waiting for this new incarnation. I plan on posting some artwork, past and future (hopefully) curatorial projects, new Market Watch articles, and of course, Barry’s Brother’s Football Picks. I’m also contemplating a name change - How about “Self-indulgent Garbage?” Any ideas? For now, try to enjoy my year-end wrap-up. A new column of recent observations of Holiday movies and art shows from Boston is forthcoming.

Best of 2001

Yes, "Best of" lists are cheesy, but I'm nuthin' if not cheesy. I luv "Best of" lists. I've been debating whose format to rip off - Artforum's all-inclusive or Time and NYT's categorical breakdowns. We all know I’ve got too many opinions to stuff the whole year into one measly Top 10 so let's break it down. And other than this sentence, I promise not to mention 9/11 - other outlets will do that much better than I can.


1. Moulin Rouge - My favorite movie experience of the year. Seriously. You heard me! It's so over-the-top that's it over-the-tops over-the-top. Gotta give a shout-out to Alison who pushed away my skepticism to expose me to this delicious movie.
2. Mulholland Drive - Another Lynch masterpiece - the most consistently fascinating filmmaker working today. I'm in love with newcomer Naomi Watts.
3. In The Bedroom - A quiet engrossing story with a somewhat incongruous ending, starring the delicious Marissa Tomei
4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch - That this movie isn't getting more Oscar and awards list buzz makes me angrier than an angry inch. This movie just plain rocks. Plus it's funny, fascinating and funly fresh. Shame on you fools for not recognizin the Inch.
5. Bully - Larry Clark is a bigger perv than me, which allowed me to guiltlessly enjoy this shameful expose of Florida's teenage trash
6. Startup.com - Compelling, fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary that said, for me anyway, that all partnerships are doomed to fail. (See 16 Beaver)


So there are more than 10 - it was a good year for singles. Not a great year for albums. Most albums suck - well, most everything sucks - art sucks, movies suck, people suck. But these ditties weren't bad - in fact - they rocked!

Let's Roll - Neil Young -
Neil feels he has to respond to national tragedies (Ohio, Rockin the Free World, Sleeps with Angels) and I say, "Who better?"
Imagine - Neil Young - ditto
Izzo (H.O.V.A.) - Jay-Z -
2001 is the year I finally relaxed and learned to love Jay-Z's crass materialism. Why? Beats, rhymes and shit.
Drops of Jupiter - Train -
Some of the drop-dead stupidest lyrics in a ridiculous middle of the road story song that I couldn’t shake. All it takes is a simple melody, a catchy hook to implant a song in your brain - no matter how bad it is.
Get Ur Freak On - Missy Elliot -
Loved the Motorhead shirt in the video. A song even robots could shake their ass to.
Baby Put It On Me - Ja Rule -
Ja's got the sensitive thug pose down. Is this as close as gansta rap gets to a love song?
Survivor - Destiny's Child -
Another outrageously stupid DC song. What exactly are y'all surviving? Bad room service? It's catchy tho'.
Jaded - Aerosmith -
Frankly I can't stand Steven Tyler's screeching and the soaring overproduction of Aerosmith records but dammit they usually have one killer song per album.
Ride Wit Me - Nelly -
An unbearably honest song about the crass materialism in the rap game - "just for the money" - that made me throw my hands in the air. One quibble - bragging about sitting next to Vanna White in first class is not exactly a happening example of your success. Who the fuck has cared about Vanna White in the past 15 years?
Hashpipe - Weezer -
The crunkiest emo song ever. This is almost 80's style metal, of the Van Halen variety, not Poison.
Smooth Criminal -
Alien Ant Farm - I love how this singer keeps his torso and shoulders completely stiff a la Michael Flatley, the Lord of the Dance, while bouncing and flailing his hands around when he performs. The classic punk riff works well with this Jacko cover.
One More Time - Daft Punk -
A Cher song performed by robots. But isn't Cher as close to a robot as humanly possible.
Yellow - Coldplay -
I'm a sucker for a twee, soaring-tenor, brit-melody
What's Goin On - All-star tribute -
I'm also a sucker for all-star charity - "Feed the World", "We are the World" - pure classics! This one isn't quite as good but it has some funny juxtapositions - Who'd put Bono and Michael Stipe on a song with Nelly and Ja Rule, the latter's two raps are the best parts of the song. Even Fred Durst's skull-numbing stupidity at the end is quite charming. You heard what I said.
Last Night - The Strokes -
A blast from indie-rock past in a year when indie rock seemed to strike back in relevance.
Knives Out - Radiohead -
The live version of the song recorded in Chicago struck an honest emotional cord of defiance that unsurprisingly resonated more than Destiny's Child stab at defiance.
'97 Bonnie and Clyde - Tori Amos -
Creepy, Creepy, Creepy
I Think I Smell a Rat - White Stripes -
These kids know how to raise a racket.
Girls, Girls, Girls - Jay-Z -
I love girls, girls, girls too!
I'm A Slave 4 U - Britney Spears -
Are you really?
New York, New York - Ryan Adams -
This song is nice. And sort of relevant.
My City of Ruins - Bruce Springsteen -
He ain’t the Boss for nothing.

Worst songs - Anything by Creed, Nickelback, Lifehouse and anything other full-throated bland-as-fuck white man/boy, Christian rock band. And Britney's unbearably unfortunate cover of I Love Rock-n-Roll.


Not gonna include much commentary, but will direct you to my previous comments

1. James Ensor at the Drawing Center -
old dead white guy scary schtick is still resonant. HC4
2. Wayne Theibaud at the Whitney -
old alive white guy makes damn good pies. HC6
3. Paul McCarthy at the New Museum, Luhring Augustine, everywhere -
old alive disgusting white guy continues to turn stomachs. HC5.
4. Rodney Graham at 303 -
The best acid trip of the year. Of course, you felt like you were on acid at the McCarthy shows. HC9
5. Philippe Parreno at Fredreich Pretzel -
Inscrutable French art, but incredibly sublime inscrutable French art. HC4
6. Ryan Humphrey at Caren Goldman -
young white guy’s callow assemblages evoked instant nostalgia for the 90’s. HC8
7. Vija Celmins at McKee -
Hey look, a woman made this list! Celmins at her sublime best. HC5
8. Ellsworth Kelly at Matthew Marks (the upstairs gallery) -
Grey: it’s the new black! HC5
9. Sean Landers at Andrea Rosen -
He’s a funny guy. You got a problem with that? HC5
10. Neil Farber at Clementine -
Another young gun with an obsessive amount of wistful/funny drawings, at one of my favorite galleries. HC6

Honorable mention: James Sienna at Gorney Bravin Lee (HC10), Michelle Grabner at Ten-in-One (HC10), Jay Davis at Stephan Stux (HC9), Monitor: Volume 1 at Gagosian (HC6), The LP Show at Exit Art (HC5), Dennis Hollingsworth at Nicole Klagsbrun (HC4), Jim Lambie at Anton Kern (HC9)

The Worst Shows: Jorge Pardo at Frederich Pretzel (HC10), Alex Katz at PaceWildenstein (HC10), Bruce Nauman at Dia (HC7), Bitstreams at the Whitney (HC5), Frank Gehry at the McGuggenheim (HC5), That fashion designer’s show at McGug, and the very worst: Digital Printmaking Now at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (HC6).


Toxicity - System of a Down -
A rarity: intelligent nu-metal. A bigger rarity: Good nu-metal.
Amnesiac - Radiohead -
To be a truly great band, a band for the ages, you need to have 3 good albums in a row. You need to be on a roll. Think of the Replacements "Let It Be", "Tim" and "Pleased to Meet Me", or Public Enemy’s run of "A Nations of Millions…", "Fear of a Black Planet" and "Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black." This is Radiohead’s fourth killer disc in a row. Awesome. Hope they can keep it up.
White Blood Cells - White Stripes -
More props to my pal Alison. We saw the Stripes on the Hudson River this summer and I was non-plussed. Methinks they needed a bass guitar. But Alison gave me a copy of this disc and holy fuck does it rawk! Naïve and sweet, scrappy and raw - these dynamics I missed live. Usually it’s the other way around - live rocking harder than record. Not here.
Strange Little Girls - Tori Amos -
I’m not a huge Tori fan but I do love cover songs and I loved the way she cast the protagonists in these songs. They aren’t all newly spun feminist parables - she leaves just the right amount of ambiguity in her intentions to keep you guessing.
Is This It? - The Strokes -
See above
Discovery - Daft Punk -
As I lived in Wisconsin for 6 years, I’m a sucker for cheese.
100 Broken Windows - Idlewild -
Literate, non-twee brit-rock.
Lure of the Grime - Tormentula's -
More gut-busting madness from the mighty vixens in Tormentula.

Keep the Faith
Hugs and Kisses

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Valentine's Day 2002
Way too much info on my TV watching habits, plus Daniell Tegeder, Brad Tucker and art in Boston and much, much more...

Best of 2001
Moulin Rouge, Mulholland Drive, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, James Ensor, Wayne Thiebaud, Radiohead, System of a Down redux

Thanksgiving from Hawaii
Serra, Pardo, Katz, Coen Brothers all suck. Grabner, Sienna, Prekop, Jay-Z all rock

Early Fall 2001
The Onion, Rodney Graham, Jim Lambie, Larry King, Music Movie Sundays, sucking up to Jerry Saltz and stuff...

Early Fall 2001
Skinny actresses, Fall Previews, Hair metal (again), and some other crap...

Late-Summer 2001
Chicago Art, Radiohead, Tony Kornheiser, another David E. Kelley rip and more...

Summer 2001
Wane Thiebaud, Printmaking, movies, more summer shows and more...

Summer 2001
Summer Shows, Paul McCarthy, Me, My Sister and more...

Spring 2001
James Ensor, Ennui, Journey, New Art Examiner and more...

Late Winter 2001
Dawson's Creek, Jessica Stockholder, David Salle, Albums of the Year and more...

Early Winter 2000
riffs on rock-Roll Singles, the West Wing, Bernard Frieze and more...

Fall 2000
The dirt on Damien Hirst, Jibangus, Cable TV and more...

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