POST WRITERS EXPERIMENTED in many different forms and voices in the publication’s inaugural year. In the following days, we’ll present a retrospective series of 2010 content, as well as Post Picks, the year’s favorites as determined by Post culture writers. We begin here with the writing: since each post was most often up for no more than 24 hours, some worthy posts might have been missed in the flurry of the year’s events. So in no particular order, here are a few of our favorite articles from the first year in the post-paper arts and leisure land of our own making.
Amelia Sauter reports on a spring day spent with the newly formed Crop Mob, a group that descends upon a farm with the intent of executing one mundane but repetitive task on a large scale, and then shares a meal together once the work is done. Sauter blends perceptive sagacity with concise social analysis in her exploration of this old tradition that’s blossomed into a modern-day phenomenon.
Dan Aloi’s sensitive biographical retelling shows a savvy technique for seamlessly integrating his interview material into a narrative voice brimming with warmth and insight. In “Never Too Young to Play Old Time,” Aloi tells the story of The Pearly Snaps, a prodigy fiddle and banjo duo, recent graduates of Ithaca College who have been revitalizing old time music with their enormous talent and manifest enthusiasm.
David Foster Wallace is a polarizing figure – he either created works of penetrating genius or works of post-Pynchon-esque trainwreck prose – but Bob Proehl gracefully tackles this posthumously published interview with a level head. By deconstructing all of the hullabaloo attached to the author’s 2009 suicide, Proehl manages to find in Lipsky’s lengthy road-trip-style 1996 interview a “portrait of the artist as post-adolescent” in which Foster Wallace, now sold for having been in the bell jar, was in reality ringing the bells of the success of Infinite Jest.
“Too Sexy For My Death,” Danielle Winterton
Danielle Winterton explores the implications and exasperations of Amos Oz’s introspective meta-fictional novel, Rhyming Life and Death, by using some of the author’s same “literature of interruption” techniques. In the process, she interrupts herself with a biographical interlude in which she reveals some of the inner operations of Post editorial workflow.
As the figurehead of Full Plate Collective, Katie Church works tirelessly to deliver what was voted Ithaca’s best CSA share to members each week throughout most of the year. The Post was lucky enough to secure some of her practical advice on how to cook up the contents of the weekly box with fun and tasty recipes. Blending refinement and flair with valuable know-how, Church made farm-cooking elegant and easy for her readers.
Sauter lends more than a dash of her own wit to enhance that dished up by Sedaris in his visit to the State Theater last spring.
Rich in classification and specific in its latticework of cultural reference, we loved this piece for its lush language and imaginative approach to descriptions of Michiko Itatani’s cosmic themes and shadowy, moonlit horizons.
The post-techno drear/dream-pop duo Crystal Castles’ second LP was widely accepted in critical circles as a significant improvement on the fuzzy electro-punk sound they began mapping out on their first. David Nelson Pollock uses Beach House, Radiohead, Bikini Kill, Sigur Ros, Pavement, and Brian Eno, among others, as touchstones in his discussion of the possibility of political music in a world where allegory is impotent.
We chose “Facelift” for its searing and hilarious character portraits, its frank and honest look at a potentially touchy subject (i.e., plastic surgery), and its poignant, bittersweet reflections of a major life milestone: turning the big 40.
Jill Swenson’s columns include do-it-yourself recipes for things you can make with on-hand materials, odds and ends found around the house, yard, and woods. This was the first column she posted for us in the spring, a lovely reminisce about the celestial and intimate feminine joy of making and savoring violet jelly.
“September Reds, Whites, and Blues,” Danielle Winterton
Winterton’s September entry of her literary garden column explores the significance of the geranium by way of the Flannery O’Connor story of the same name. The story’s protagonist, Dudley, a classic if not anomalous O’Connor character, is a racist from the South who has been forced to move to the diverse urban community of New York City, where only a potted plant connects him with the world he once knew.
The logic of urban spatial organization, utopian ideas, and the desert are recurring themes for artist Michael Ashkin. Schwartz’s highly refined review of Ashkin’s first solo show at Cornell, which used sculpture, photography, video and poetry, explores his use of “the post-industrial landscape as a site for utopian promise.”
Fenchel brings his unique combination of enthusiasm and vivacious language to aid him in the daunting task of summarizing the life’s work of Amiri Baraka, arguably the most influential political poet and performance artist of his generation, in anticipation of his visit to Cornell last spring.
“Start Where You Are,” Danielle Winterton
The caustic insight of bell hooks’ remarks at Ithaca College this October confirmed that she is still a highly relevant intellectual force. Winterton uses hooks’ critique of blindly optimistic portrayals of interracial sisterhoods (as seen in contemporary popular literature written by women) to examine the dangerous current trend toward revisionist history: white women re-telling black women’s stories on their behalf.
In analyzing Oliver Stone’s recent take on the garden of Gecko, as well as Erica Jong’s Wall Street Journal “Mother Madness” piece, Fishbeyn warns against a gender-segregated world in which men lead in the financial sector, women are imprisoned in the domestic one, and both spheres are sadly lacking in heroes.