This has been a tremendous year with the introduction of so many awe-inspiring events, people, place and ideas into my life. From promising clients to a new Commander-in-Chief--yes, there has been a whole lot to get really excited about. Even still, when I sat down to script this entry, I had to really think hard and select only eight of these people and/or things for my list of personal stand-outs for the last twelve months...Okay, so here we go!
Best restaurant: Mona's Cafe, New Orleans, Louisiana
Great food is one commodity that you will never find in short supply across southern Louisiana, and this city seems to be still hurting in a lot of way, New Orleans is a culinary mecca, filled to the brim with some of the best restaurants on the planet. That said, though, outsiders should never assume that the only thing done well in these parts (although I really do suggest that you try the shrimp-and-grits at Felix's and the Blue Plate). No, even here, in post-Katrina New Orleans, you can find the best Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants that I've ever patronized: Mona's Cafe. There are couple of locations around town, but I am particularly found of the location on Frenchmen. The staff there is great, and the humus absolutely kicks ass! Well, so do the stuffed grape leaves, and I have to strongly recommend the fish, the chicken sharwma, the egg plant sandwich, the fried veggies, the baba ganoush, and...Wow, I think I am hungry now...
Best piece of art: Destino Paulista by Ryan McNure
No one should go through life thinking that I am a member of the avant garde, or that my depth of knowledge about the art world is anything more than cursory. In fact, I only know what I like, and the few artists and works with which I am familiar are mostly products of my liberal arts education. That said, this year, when I wanted to dress up my digs, I turned to my buddy Ryan McNure, and what resulted was nothing short of a phenomenon on canvas, a true festive of colors. Ryan turned an image from Sao Paolo into a one-of-a-kind piece of art that I am very proud to call my own.
Most notable athlete: Deuce McAllister
Supermen do ride elevators--and anyone who knows me well enough knows exactly why I have said this in reference to Deuce McAllister, one of the most loved athletes in New Orleans. I would be in remiss to start spouting off sports stats on this athlete, given the fact that everyone knows that I'd rather be reading the WSJ than watching football. But what has impressed me about this guy--what makes him a true Superman--is his heart. Duece not only helped me out of a still-unexplained bind, but he has committed his success to causes benefiting so many underprivileged people across the radiant Southern Coast...For all of you people demanding to know what I want this Christmas, perhaps this is an idea: donate to Mr. McAllister's Catch 22 Foundation, and let's all become supermen.
The book of the year: The Shack
William P. Young has demonstrated that his creativity is quite boundless. This was one of the most imaginative and compelling books that I ever read. (Thanks, Mr. Fos.) In order to understand a tragedy that changes his life, the main character of the story receives an invitation to return to the epicenter of his suffering--an invitation from God! Once there, what he finds become spurs a conversation that speaks to more than his suffering but, convincingly, to every reader. I totally recommend this short book, but I will warn you now: plot a day for its reading, be/c you will not want to put it down.
Best singer: Rissi Palmer
As I understand it, Ms. Palmer has been around for a while now, but I just discovered her this year--and wow! I love her style, which brings a supple flare to traditionally country music. Her rendition of No Air really caught my attention. And what is cool about her--she really stands out, showing that even a young black woman can successfully explore her rural roots...Bravo to you, Ms. Palmer!
Best Movie: Cloverfield
After watching this movie in a theater in January, I bounced around with mega-enthusiasm. What a great flick! I am convinced, though, that this was a precursor to Starship Troopers...LOL...Seriously, while that seems funny, it would really make since. The monster might have falled from space in the same why they anachoid creatures had done, which would explain how the military was able to deploy into NYC so quickly. Then those little nasties that fell off of it and proceeded to kill everyone on the ground looked a lot like something from that anachoid concept...Hey, it's just a theory, and would also explain why a South American city becomes the global HQ in the sci-fi film derived from Heinlein's novel...Okay, yes, I have too much time to think of those seemingly unimportant things. LOL.
The Most Creative Person of 2008: Jesse Elliot
This was a hard category for me, only because I have met so many creative people this year. What's more, selecting only one of them, much to the detriment of others, probably indirectly alienates a few people. Well, I am definitely not trying to do that. But, as I think heavily about which person really impressed me so deeply this year, I found myself coming closer to the homefront. Indeed, so often are the times that Jesse Elliot astounds me with his work that I have just come to expect it. From his writings to his artwork to his graphic designing, Jesse is a serious and proven talent. And that is the reason I chose him to be my consultancy's point-man on communications, which means he absolutely deserved this title...Now, if he can hang on to a place among my personal best in '09--well, we will have to see. He's got a lot of competition...Good luck, Jesse.
Most notable place: Houma, Louisiana
I am usually the last person to say anything strikingly favorable about my hometown, but over this year, Houma has earned these words. Situated on the state's eroding coast, Houma took two painful hits this year--a powerful blast from Hurricane Gustav, followed by a mean flood by Hurricane Ike. In spite of it all, my little town has climbed back to its feet with a vengeful degree of force. Almost three months after these events, Houma is back to business, and little has changed about its way of life. To be sure, there is some work to be done, but the leaders and people of Houma have demonstrated what resilience really is...Take notes, New Orleanians, because this is how it's done--not in three years, but in three months...And a word to the people of Bayou Country: I am damn proud of all of you! Continue to kick ass!!!