My (Relatively) Cultural Highlights of the Year

For starters: Two days ago I promised to post any other hit list findings, here is another one from IMDb. It is the polls for the best and worst movies—and movie related people, such as actors and directors—of 2006. Strangely enough, many movies and actors that are on the best list can also be found on the worst list.

Now to my own highlights of 2006. This post might get pretty long, I have no idea yet. It will not be in chronological order. Some comments are going to be in English, some in German.

• Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker am 1. Januar (am kommenden Montag wieder)

• worldwide riots, though mainly in Muslim countries, about Danish Muhammad cartoons. This resulted in cartoonists’ revolts in the form of cartoons. Those were actually much better than the ones that started the whole discussion.

• the Academy Awards (Oscars) were sort of disappointing. Brokeback Mountain should have received an award for Best Motion Picture, Crash got it instead; a pretty good movie, but by far not as good as Brokeback.

• U2 raked in five Grammy Awards

• es gab die kontroverse Nominierung Peter Handkes für den Düsseldorfer Heinrich-Heine-Preis

• Günter Grass hat in seinen Memoiren Beim Häuten der Zwiebel mit einem einzigen Satz erwähnt, daß er bei der Waffen-SS war und damit eine weltweite Welle der Entrüstung ausgelöst.

• on November 2nd, Jackson Pollock’s "No. 5, 1948" was sold for $140 million; the highest price paid for a painting ever; in general, this year was the best for the art market, in terms of number of sales and prices paid

• a few weeks earlier, Steve Wynn elbowed Picasso’s "Le Rêve" (read Nick Paumgarten’s take on it in The New Yorker)

• in August, some of Adolf Hitler’s landscape paintings were auctioned in Cornwall, England

• bei den Salzburger Festspielen wurden alle 22 Opern Mozarts aufgeführt, unter dem eher einfallslosen Programmtitel "Mozart 22"

• Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Against the Day, was published on November 20th; critics’ opinions go in all directions

• a tiny article in an English newspaper causes immense reactions in the literary world; Ian McEwan is apparently being accused of plagiarism; even reclusive Thomas Pynchon throws in his two cents worth. A famous quote from T. S. Eliot’s essay on Philip Massinger—which undergoes an utterly strange revival lately—comes in handy here:

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

• the Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to Orhan Pamuk

• Kiran Desai wins the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Inheritance of Loss

• the National Book Award for Fiction goes to Richard Powers for The Echo Maker; the award for Poetry goes to Nathaniel Mackey for Splay Anthem

• der Deutsche Buchpreis geht dieses Jahr an Katharina Hacker mit ihrem Roman Die Habenichtse

• Geraldine Brooks receives the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel March

• Cat Stevens is back with a new album; he calls himself Yusuf now but the music has not changed (which is good)

• photographer Annie Leibovitz published a book with very private photos called A Photographer’s Life; she meticulously documents the death of her life partner Susan Sontag

• the legendary New York music club CBGB had to close down on October 14th because the owner could not pay the monthly rent of about $19,000 anymore; he wants to re-open it in Las Vegas

• Bob Dylan released his first studio album in five years, Modern Times

• die Frankfurter Buchmesse hat wieder Hunderttausende angelockt. Der Schwerpunkt lag dieses Jahr in Indien. Während der Buchmesse starb der Lyriker Oskar Pastior, nur etwa drei Wochen bevor ihm der Georg-Büchner-Preis verliehen werden sollte. Er erhielt ihn postum. Während der Buchmesse wurde auch die russische Journalistin Anna Politkowskaja vor ihrer Wohnung erschossen.

• Edvard Munch’s famous painting "The Scream" reappeared again with some damage after it was stolen two years ago

• das Archiv der Shoa Foundation ist erstmals auch in Europa zugänglich, und zwar an der Freien Universität Berlin

• die Absetzung der Mozartoper Idomeneo in Berlin sorgt für weltweite Furore und unzählige Aufschreie nach künstlerischer Freiheit (ähnlich wie die Karikaturen, cf. oben)

• people on the internet made a run for MySpace and YouTube (so did Google); many new music artists emerged through the former, e.g. Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys, or Gnarls Barkley

• just yesterday, U.S. federal regulators approved AT&T’s taking over BellSouth for $85.8 billion (!!!); in the light of this, Google’s $1.65 billion for YouTube seem like peanuts

• Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was hanged this morning in Baghdad

• David Lynch released a new film, INLAND EMPIRE (Mr. Lynch wants the title to be all capitals); I have not seen it yet, but I will comment on it as soon as I have

• Pluto wurde am 24. August durch die International Astronomical Union (IAU) auf den Status eines Zwergplaneten zurückgestuft; unser Sonnensystem hat jetzt nur noch acht Planeten

• die schweizerischen Künstler Peter Fischli und David Weiss wurden in die Tate Modern in London "aufgenommen"

• Albert Hofmann, der Entdecker des LSD, wurde im Januar 100 Jahre und erfreut sich noch immer bester Gesundheit; er wird also in ein paar Tagen 101

• in November, the Democrats took the majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate

• zu Silvester, also morgen, zeigt 3sat wieder ein "Pop around the Clock", auch ein Höhepunkt des Jahres (nur als Erinnerung); hier ist nochmal ein Verweis zu Informationen rund um das morgige Programm

• Deaths | Tode
Robert Altman, Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett, James Brown, Rudi Carrell, Joachim Fest, Gerald Ford (I had a notion), Glenn Ford, Milton Friedman, Robert Gernhardt, Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, Coretta Scott King, Stanislaw Lem, Alexander Litwinenko | Litvinenko, Nagib Mahfus | Naguib Mahfouz, Jack Palance, Oskar Pastior, Anna Politkowskaja | Politkovskaya, Shelley Winters, and many more | und viele andere

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4 thoughts on “My (Relatively) Cultural Highlights of the Year

  1. Somebody should ask Acid Al what his secret is for growing so old. I doubt it is the Lysergic acid diethylamide ;-)

    Addendum to post: During all of 2006, I went to the movie theaters only once and it was to see Little Miss Sunshine; absolutely worth it.

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