I realize that it’s only August 21, and that most people consider Labor Day weekend the official end of summer, but my week-long vacation comes to a jarring halt tomorrow morning, my kids finished up their day-camp on Saturday, and we all came back to NYC this afternoon. Sure, we have a couple of weekends left, but for all intents and purposes, Summer 2016 is a sweaty, humidity-labored breath away from being done and dusted.
As such, I thought I’d revive this survey from the balmy days of Summer 2009…
Defining Moment of Summer 2016:
This is actually pretty tough to answer. Last summer, I was a jobless bum, but this summer found me working through all of June, July and most of August (apart from my afore-cited week of vacation). The wife and I did have one fairly action-packed evening about three weekends ago wherein we attended a book reading by Jay “Bright Lights, Big City” McInneny, had drinks with the author afterwards and then attended a friend’s birthday party wherein even your humble narrator felt compelled to part from his studiously cultivated cool and assume the dance floor (when the deejay decided to spin “Flashlight” by Parliament). That was a fun night.
Best Purchase of Summer 2016:
I don’t recall buying a lot of significant items, but we did go pretty whole hogfish on the seafood this summer, the best being a roundly spectacular lobster roll at a Hampton Bays eatery called Hamlet that I strenuously enjoyed.
Best Book You Read of Summer 2016:
I am somewhat deeply ashamed to report this, but I didn’t finish one damn book this summer. Sure, I picked up John Doe’s oral history on the nascent days of the L.A. Punk scene, but it somehow failed to fully engage me. Speaking of oral histories, I also picked up the arguably needless 20th Anniversary Edition of Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain’s legitimately iconic “Please Kill Me,” but having already read the thing a couple of times, I didn’t feel the need to do so again.
Best Movie You Saw During Summer 2016:
Not once this summer did I — or any member of the family, to my knowledge -- enter a movie theatre. That said, I did catch some good, older stuff on Netflix, etc., notably “Charlie Wilson’s War” (way better than I’d have ever expected, despite Julia Roberts’ woeful miscasting) and “The Mayor of Sunset Strip” (surprisingly poignant documentary about fabled L.A. rock scenester/deejay, Rodney Bingenheimer).
Best Gift You Received of Summer 2016:
I had drinks some weeks back with my friend Jason, who bequeathed me with a fetching black baseball cap, emblazoned with the logo of his band, The Crier Brothers.
Biggest Loss of Summer 2016:
For music fans, the entirety of 2016 has already been indelibly marked as year rife with incalculable loss. In terms of the summer, the final day of operation of Other Music on 4th Street was something of a devastating blow. See also Rebel Rebel.
Song That Best Sums Up Summer 2016:
This is actually a toughie. The last genuinely new album I bought was The Glowing Man by SWANS. As much as I dig that album, I cannot say it came with any readily hummable “song of the summer.” It’s more an immersive, interior journey than a tuneful summer soundtrack. I did fortify the CD player in my mom’s shitty Ford Taurus with some re-issues of Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, a compilation of Rush hits dubbed Rush: Gold and a super-duper fuckoff deluxe edition of Rio by Duran Duran, but it’s not like there was a single song of any of those that defined my summer. Old standbys like “Southern Cross” by CSN, “New Life” by Depeche Mode and the entirety of the discography of Bahamanian Blind Blake were still kid-approved favorites in the Ford Taurus rotation. My daughter is now fully ensconced in fervent fandom for the soundtrack to “Hamilton,” and my son is largely mum on whatever favorite songs he may be harboring, so there was — alas — no single song that summed up our summer. That makes me kinda sad.
Happiest Memory of Summer 2016:
After what started off as a frankly grueling year for my little boy (for reasons I won’t go into), he was awarded by his summer camp a handsome silver cup emblazoned with the legend, “Best Sportsmanship” of the entirety of his junior class. Watching his little face light up with surprise and become speechless as he went up to collect his award truly made my heart soar to new heights.
Saddest Memory of Summer 2016:
He’s been gone for two years now, but not being able to see my dear step-father share the moment above made me sad, but I know he probably had a hand in it, some way.
Scariest Memory of Summer 2016:
Some dear friends of ours have a house in Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island, and they invited us up. The drive from Quogue to Greenport isn’t necessarily that difficult, but we managed to overshoot some crucial turnoffs. We finally got there, had a lovely afternoon with them, and ended up staying much longer than expected. The drive back to Quogue at around 10:00 pm — in the impenetrable blackness of night, down a succession of long, winding roads choked with oncoming traffic — felt like braving the fucking Death Star trench. We made it home alright, but I was white-knuckling it behind the wheel the entire time. Ugh.
Word That Best Describes Summer 2016: