“The worst year ever!” “F**CK 2016!” “Year of Death!”
These monikers and more have been used to describe the previous 362 days that make up 2016. Surely, we all know the events that most are referring to that earn 2016 its bad rap: Donald Trump elected President, Brexit, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Muhammed Ali, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, and now Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’ deaths, the blocking of the appointment of a Supreme Court justice to replace the evil-dead Scalia, and a whole slew of other tragedies that are not unique to 2016, but simply piled on top of this otherwise tragic calendar year.
Yes, a lot of bad things happened this year. A lot. Politics aside, we can agree that 2016 has been rough, but it has had its fair share of joy as well. In an attempt to recap my own year in an articulate and comprehensive manner that allows me to close the chapter that was 2016 for my own life, I will now spill some thoughts into this box.
First, let’s talk art. This was a very good and important year for art and entertainment. Here are my favorites from 2016:
(Honorable Mentions: Better Things, The Good Place, Stranger Things, The Crown)
- The Lobster
- Everybody Wants Some
- Blue Jay
(Honorable Mentions: Deadpool, La La Land, Other People, Manchester By The Sea)
(I have not yet seen, but suspect I may enjoy: Hell or High Water, Silence, American Honey, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Jackie, Paterson )
- Awaken My Love-Childish Gambino
- A Sailor’s Guide to Earth-Sturgill Simpson
- A Seat At The Table-Solange
- Are You Serious-Andrew Bird
- A Moon Shaped Pool-Radiohead
(Honorable Mentions: Starboy-The Weeknd, The Hamilton Mixtape-Various, Why Are You Ok-Band of Horses, case/lang/veirs-Neko Case, KD Lang, Laura Veirs)
(These are not all new to 2016, but they’re the best books I read in 2016)
- Dark Matter-Blake Crouch (2016)
- A Song To Take The World Apart-Zan Romanoff (2016)
- An Object of Beauty-Steve Martin
- The Art of Fielding-Chad Harbach
- Bossypants-Tina Fey (it took me long enough, right?)
(Honorable Mentions: Pillars of The Earth-Ken Follett)
Now, let’s get into the massively long, rambling, sentimental drivel on 2016: I had a pretty exceptional year. I traveled alone a lot in 2016, by choice. I turned 30 halfway through the year and spent a lot of time trying to do the things that make me happy in new and beloved places with the people who make me the best me.
I rang in 2016 in the Hamptons with my oldest and best friends and barely stopped moving all year. I traveled from LA to Ojai, San Diego, Mt. Baldy, Denver, Boulder, Breckenridge, New Orleans, NYC, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Morro Bay, Monterey, San Francisco, Joshua Tree, the Catskills, and then back to NYC to finish out the year on a several month stint on the east coast.
In 2016 I completed my yoga teacher training, I went to a bunch of Dodgers games, I totaled my car, I paid off all my credit card debt, I had six jobs, I moved 1.1 miles away, then I temporarily moved 2,793 miles away, I went to some music festivals and a lot of concerts, I finally got a job in the TV writing realm, I quit all my service industry jobs, I finished making a movie, I wrote my first feature film, I went to my first protest rally, then my second, and my third, I reconnected with a lot of old friends, I made a serious effort to see my close friends and family more often (and it worked!), I made a lot of [pretty good] food for a lot of people, I went on a lot of bad dates and a few good dates, I got rid of a lot of stuff, I didn’t buy very much stuff, I got my first tattoo, I watched a lot of TV, I read a lot of TV, I wrote a lot of words, I took a lot of pictures, and I can honestly say that I covered more ground literally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically in 2016 than any other year of my life.
Thanks to all who breathed the air on this beautiful but damaged planet of ours for contributing to another trip ’round the sun.
Weaving through weeping women,
Waste not; want.
Burrowing in our blankets, we paint curtains closed;
We dream of rain. We wish the sun away.
The echoes of our grandmothers in our ears,
We crawl across the floorboards.
With each flutter of hot water,
The pot approaches a boil,
And we click for solidarity,
Plotting small acts.
Hovering above our bodies,
Souls in flight,
Racing for sanctuary.
The empty cement pool of love,
Drained of possibilities.
Men, broken, build blockades
Walling themselves in.
We ignore them,
This isn’t their time.
They are bobbleheads on bodies full of blood,
But something is missing. The spark plug dull,
The power turned off.
This isn’t their time.
We claw, with manicured fingernails,
Tearing the walls down with our fear.
Racing toward the sky, halted beneath the
Ceiling. Prodding at the glass with sewing needles,
Barely making a dent.
We fall, our wings iridescent in the sun,
The light from the other side,
The glowing light on the other side of the dome,
Igniting our power, turning our needles to knives,
Our shoulders into wings,
Our eyes into emeralds,
Our fingernails to talons.
We claw our way back to the top,
We tap on the glass, gently,
For fear of lacerations. No broken glass
Falling to the earth. No footsteps halted
In shards of agony.
Our wings flutter in the light of the moment,
And our knives puncture the surface
As we realize it is not glass at all,
We know plastic.
The fanfare dissipated,
The shatter a memory,
But the holes get bigger every day
And our wings glow brighter
And we see the other side,
And it isn’t all beautiful,
And it isn’t all easy,
But it is ours.
I spent almost two weeks in Europe alone. I didn’t get lost, I didn’t get sick, I didn’t get arrested or drugged. I saw three new cities and three new countries. I ate food I wasn’t so sure I would like and sometimes I liked it, but usually I didn’t. I drank tea in London and beer in Brussels and espresso in Amsterdam and absinthe in Berlin and cider in London and whiskey in Amsterdam and wine in Berlin and whiskey in London and coffee in Amsterdam and beer in Berlin. I went to six museums and had dinners entirely alone. I had dinners with friends and strangers and family I haven’t seen in a decade. I cried alone, I laughed my face off with friends I haven’t seen in years. I sat by rivers and watched farms out the window of a train compartment.
I got angry and sad about things back at home. I got jealous of other people’s vacations while on my own. I got mad I didn’t have time to go to more places. I started reading a book. I stayed on two couches and in four beds. I did handstands with strangers and drank beers under an umbrella on the street with New Jersey-ans. I walked through the rain with a hood over my head. I ran through London and Berlin and did yoga in Amsterdam. I listened to music and started writing a book (maybe). I talked to Dutch bartenders and German mixologists and French tourists and yoga teachers from Toronto and a political advisor named John who explained why there weren’t trains in Newfoundland and Dutch boys who’d just pissed off a bridge into the canals and a Mexican consultant and Australian tourists and a woman with a baby who left her jacket on a train and Artem in Amsterdam and Angela in Berlin and my friends’ friends from high school and work and people at a party in Notting Hill and a bar in Southwark and a pub in Chiswick and actors and mathematicians and dads and business partners and bosses and more.
I almost missed a flight, I almost vomited on a plane, I got fined 60 Euros, I saw an improv play, I wrote my wishes on a piece of paper at the Jewish museum, I saw girls in their underwear standing in windows, I tripped up the stairs and skinned my left knee. I left a black sock in London. I stole an umbrella from a bar in Amsterdam. I pretended to watch soccer. I called it football. I pretended to care. I eavesdropped, a lot.
I listened to that Tame Impala album about ten times and a fuck ton of the same Adele song. I talked a lot to my iPhone video camera and will probably never show anyone those videos.
I told my friends how I was frustrated that this trip wasn’t solving all my problems and wasn’t transformative and how I wasn’t sure what I expected that I would learn, but I wasn’t learning it. I was wrong. I learned to trust. I learned to be alone so much that now I’m ready to step back from it. I’m ready to share. I’m ready to adapt my schedule. I’m ready to share. I said that already, but I’m ready to share. I’m ready to live a little slower and sit and chat a little longer and I’m ready to look into someone’s eyes and stay a minute. Being scared of the end result is exhausting. I’m done with fear of the unknown.
I’m ready to have important conversations and silly conversations and moments where I just listen. I’m ready to work hard and take my time and be wherever I am, while I’m there. And I’m ready to care more about all of the people. And I’m ready to not be affected by the judgment of others.
I’m going to fix my teeth and take care of my skin and run fast and swim hard and sit in the sun and eat what makes me feel good.
I’m going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.
My Fellow Americans,
We find ourselves at the threshold of a “new time”. These times of great change are difficult and often we get wrapped up in ideals and forget our humanity. I urge you to remember your humanity. The political climate of the United States is currently ugly, and growing only uglier, despite Ted Cruz dropping out of the race.
I trolled some Trump supporters on Twitter this morning and found anti-Hillary rhetoric, memes and conversations that I expected, but what was unexpected was my own reaction. “Yeah, yeah,” I thought, “they’re just scared of her and they’re crazy.” But if they’re scared and crazy, what are we? Posting anti-Trump rhetoric of our own goes through his supporters’ filters the same way theirs go through ours: with many grains of salt and not a lot of recognition. I’ve been “feeling the Bern” for quite a while now, but some of the anti-Hillary sentiment coming from the Bernie supporters is equally, if not more, upsetting.
Let’s step back from this particular election for a moment and discuss simple humanity & survival. As Americans, and human beings, we all pretty much want the same things: safety and health, the opportunity for prosperity, and an inheritable place to live for the next generations. There are outside threats, as there always have been, and natural threats, but the biggest threat to our humanity, safety, health, prosperity and planet is human beings ourselves. If we lose sight of the fact that we are in this together and continue to run elections like a contemporary Roman Coliseum we will ALL lose. To think that getting your candidate in the White House is winning, and the other party’s candidate in is losing is a horrific way to run a country. Democracy is by the people, for the people. Oh, right. That. Let’s not forget that. For the people, the people, us, all of us born here, all of us who came here to learn, to work, to teach, to perform, to grow, to prosper, to be a part of this diverse, beautiful nation.
We have a sordid past, though, and whether your family has been in this country since the Revolution, came through Ellis Island, or you just got here last year, we have a responsibility for the actions of our past. This land wasn’t ours to take, yet we took it from the Native Americans and haven’t even come close to finding a way to make up for the fact that we wiped out an entire culture trying to build one for ourselves. Slavery and racial discrimination mar the history of our beautiful country, and the war for racial equality, the fights against prejudice and injustice are still being waged. Our rise to power in the global community was a direct result of the use of the atomic bomb, one of the greatest crimes against humanity in the history of human beings. We’ve messed up. A lot, but that doesn’t mean we should continue to. In fact, we should learn from our mistakes and be better
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, or what to believe in, or that we need to band together to maintain our status as a world superpower. I’m just going to offer a few reminders:
- Learn. Constantly. Keep asking questions, especially when you can’t get answers. Ask, ask, ask! Search for answers, dig for truth. Make your own educated decisions.
- Teach compassion. Be compassionate. Teach love by practicing love. Teach respect by being respectful. Teach what you know, and learn what you strive to know.
- Remember that we are united, not divided. Think about your next door neighbor growing up, or the guy who delivers your Dominos pizza, think about your car wash attendant, your bus drivers, your cousin’s new baby, your doctor, your therapist, your bartender, the kid you babysit for, your dry cleaner, your toll booth attendant, your AT&T customer service representative, and remember that we all have goals, we all have families (by blood or otherwise), and we all want to have a place to live peacefully.
Think about those things before you vote. Practice these things. Think about these things every day. And on days when you can’t think about anyone else and you seem to be drowning in the minutia of your own life, hope that someone else is thinking about these things. Hope that someone has the humanity to lift you up. Don’t drown in hate, in fear, in desperation, but swim towards something better, and pull a few people up with you.
We’re better than this America.
PS: That’d be my slogan if I were running for office.
a sense of self
beyond your rising sign,
the way that you brush your teeth,
or the way she put mascara on
on the cruise ship
and how it made you wonder if you’d been doing it wrong all along.
the evolution and devaluation of friendships
as they float by like rafts in a river
whose serene, glassy surface is interrupted
by skipping mile stones from the banks of
On Tuesday night I went to see “Amy”, the documentary about Amy Winehouse. Yes, Amy was an extraordinarily talented singer and songwriter, and yes, Amy was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and yes, my weekly whiskey web series uses Amy’s song “Rehab” in its opening credits. Let me correct myself; I set the opening credits of “Women Do Whiskey” to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”.
All future episodes of “Women Do Whiskey” will have a different song over the title card. About halfway through our first season with “WDW”, I had second thoughts about using “Rehab” in our opening, but dismissed them as being too conservative. Look, it probably doesn’t make any difference (we are certainly not licensed to use the song…I KNOW-but we don’t make any money off our show. Yet.), but the fact of the matter is, if someone told me (or Rosie) to go to rehab, we wouldn’t say “no, no, no”, and that is not an issue to be taken lightly.
We’ve gotten a lot of flack for our show. Several members of our respective families disapprove of what we’re doing, think it is “low” or “distasteful” and have used many other adjectives with negative connotations. This merits discussion. First of all, I challenge you, disapproving viewer, to ask yourself if you would have the same feelings about the project if we were reviewing, say, wine. Secondly, I wonder if you would have the same feelings about the show if we were men reviewing whiskey. If your feelings change with either of those caveats, maybe ask yourself what about those other situations would be acceptable to you, yet WDW is not.
Now, let’s discuss the “real issue”. We have been urged by our fans to drink more, get drunker, and even wear less clothing (I know, seriously). These things don’t appeal to us. From the beginning this project was about getting together and having a drink, talking about that drink, and being friends. We are interested in learning more about whiskey so that the show can evolve, not so that we can drink more.
If I ever did have a problem with drugs or alcohol I would hope that one of my close friends or family members would step forward and confront me about it. I would hope that I would listen. Substance abuse hurts so many people, and I care about the people in my life, and I respect my body.
I respect my health so much, in fact, that I have just signed up to take a yoga teacher training course. I try not to eat junk food! In fact, I’ve never had a fast food burger (okay, I’ve had In-N-Out, but that’s it). I don’t drink soda, I don’t buy potato chips, I don’t even eat breakfast cereal because it’s loaded with sugar. I’m pretty damn healthy, so why would I want to poison my body with excess booze? I don’t. All right, sometimes it happens, but a hell of a lot less than it used to, and honestly? I turn down shots. I categorically refuse tequila (unless its very high end, I just can’t stomach it). Sure, I could probably drink you under the table, but I don’t want to. That’s not fun to me. You know what is fun? Good conversation. Good music. Dancing. Laughing. Kissing. Do you know how many drinks you need to have for those things to take place? None. Okay, sometimes one just to get you out of the house, but what I’m saying is, its not vital. Yes, I have a YouTube show about whiskey. Yes, I love wine. Yes, I like to go out and socialize. Yes, I’m outgoing. But I value my friends and family too much to let any liquid get in the way of those relationships. Women Do Whiskey is about friendship just as much as it’s about whiskey. Actually, more, because without the friendship that Rosie and I have there would be no WDW. Now, let’s raise a glass to the women, not the whiskey.
(If you haven’t seen the show, check it out here! We’re on hiatus until the fall, but there’s 20 episodes to catch up on!)
When I was fourteen, my father took a job on the movie Riding In Cars With Boys. I was a big Drew Barrymore fan at the time and my Dad arranged for me to be an extra when they were filming in a church near the Tappan Zee Bridge. I was sure that that as soon as I walked in, the entire cast and crew would see that I was a natural born star, and the writer would write a part, especially for me into the script. After a few mornings of being chastised by the hair department, one afternoon in Brittany Murphy’s trailer discussing her nuanced performance in Clueless, a role that I “really identified with”, and countless hours flirting with some kid named Mike, I finally made an impression on the crew one day. I had already been yelled at by the set dressers for eating too much of the “prop” macaroni salad, so I had to find something else to occupy my attention when I was stuck on set. In my downtime, I’d been making good use of my newly brace-less mouth to suck face with Mike behind the central air conditioning unit outside the holding area, but at this particularly moment I was stuck in front of off-limits food, waiting. This was when I discovered that my chair was broken; the plastic top was only attached to the metal legs in the back, so the whole front could lean back, like a recliner. I started rocking back and forth, and while it wasn’t quite as stimulating as searching for Mike’s tonsils with my tongue, it would do. All of a sudden, the plastic part of the chair snapped right off its metal base and I, dressed head to toe in a bright green 1960s jumper, tumbled backwards onto the floor, just between the camera and Ms. Barrymore herself. Lorraine Bracco jumped out of her seat, James Woods’ eyes got wide, somewhere, someone yelled “hold the work!” and director Penny Marshall screamed as everyone rushed to my side. This was my moment! Everyone was fussing over me, making sure that I wasn’t hurt. I sat up on the floor, brushed my hair off my face, made my best doe-eyed, damsel in distress face, and looked up into Penny’s eyes, waiting for her to take this moment to “discover” me. It would be the moment I referenced in countless future profiles in Teen People, Cosmopolitan, and maybe even Vogue. I blinked my eyes and lifted my arm to be lifted to glory, and just in that moment, the producer stood up and announced to the silent and stunned room, “It’s just Richard’s daughter.” Penny breathed a sigh of relief, Drew went back to having her makeup retouched, Dr. Melfi sat back down, and somewhere, a grip probably farted. I shot the producer a dirty look and noticed my father, in the back corner, laughing at me.