I have been reading books since 1992 or something. For a while I read a book a day. Then, I grew up and had to do things like get a job. College killed the interest of reading for me. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I started to pick books back up again, and at that point I discovered I was more into non-fiction than fiction.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Everyone read it in high school. I did too, but I remembered it, and read it about a dozen more times. Bradbury is one of my favorite authors – Something Wicked This Way Comes and the Martian Chronicles are also excellent – but this is by far his most prescient and uncomfortable work. His focus on comfort as dystopia is probably more accurate than Orwell’s 1984.
Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
I do not understand this book. I also love this book. Eco is one of the most painfully intelligent authors of the century, and I just wish I could understand more of his thought. It feels like he writes things as a joke, and then accidentally discovers that he’s just written a masterpiece. Wait – that’s basically what happens in the book. Eco is the definition of meta. Baudolino is another great Eco.
Zero To One – Peter Thiel
I am not sure Thiel would be an especially easy guy to get along with in person, but that does not stop him from being possibly one of the most brilliant persons in the world right now. This is a brilliant book on entrepreneurship and business nonetheless.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
One of my favorite fiction books. A pastiche in the style of Jane Austen, but so masterfully done that it’s a classic in its own right. It’s also worth reading the long-awaited and slightly-related sort-of-sequel, Piranesi.
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
A moody, atmospheric book that’s as close to the classic Russian romanticism literature as anything written outside of Russia. The other novels of Amor Towles are also great.
I’m a terrible musician. I’m a dedicated fan of music. I’ve expanded a bit from my alternative punk days of the late 00’s. I’ve found good music in every genre imaginable, even in rap and country.
This is what I listen to when I am driving fast. Good Times Bad Times, their first single, is my favorite song, and I think some of my other favorites are the B-sides that make up their hastily assembled Coda. Led Zep is sort of like rock for real men, who think before they shoot.
An Australian DJ who has harnessed the power of retro synths, and conjures up beats that remind me of the polyester nineties. Hits like Pizza Guy, or entire records like Visions, will make you wonder why
What can I say? It’s hard to beat the psychedelic wiles of Floyd. The first time I smoked weed, I was stereotypically listening to Floyd, and I fell into a black pit with glowing music split into eight weaving ribbons of color, thumping with the drums. That’s not supposed to happen with weed, and also one of the reasons I don’t smoke any more.
One of my proudest musical possessions is a vinyl record of Furr, signed by a laconic Eric Earley as he sipped on a beer after a show. Blitzen Trapper got me into new folk.
Not only one of the most consistently good alternative rock bands out there, but perhaps the best live music performance I have ever attended. Never have I seen a band so tight and punchy. Complex rhythms and a unique shoegazing sound. Silversun is not for everyone, but it is for me and other people who wore skinny jeans and Converses in 2008.
Every album they’ve ever put out has been flawless.
Movies & Television
As a rule, I think movies and television are the least productive of the arts. There is some clear genius and amazing storytelling at work, to be sure, but the consumption of moving pictures is fundamentally a lazy man’s domain. That doesn’t stop me from being obsessed.
I don’t think a single movie – any movie, any genre – holds up as well over time as Alien does. The visual quality, the vibe, the set design, the timeless story, and flawless execution is incredible. Even Sigourney Weaver still looks good, and she’s like 100 years old now.
Blade Runner (1982)
This is one of my favorite movies of all time, and somehow the sequel (Blade Runner 2049) is perhaps somehow even better. In case you don’t know, I like neo noir.
A neo noir flick full of great characters, synth layers, retro wave visuals, and Ryan Gosling.
Specifically, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Fury Road. Masterpieces of action cinema. Who needs dialogue when you can just blow up an eighteen wheeler in the desert?
Hot Rod (2007)
Not everyone’s comedic cup of tea, but if any movie has ever made me wet myself in laughter, it would be Bill Hader or Danny McBride in this movie.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes is one of my favorite directors, and Ferris is one of my favorite characters. If I had more panache, I would be Ferris. Unfortunately, I don’t have any panache.
No Country For Old Men
The book by Cormac McCarthy is amazing, and somehow the Coen Brothers turned a great book into a great movie. That doesn’t happen very often.
I have seen it all.