Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Best of 2012: Photos of the Year (and a bit of a Recap)

Happy 2013. I hope the New Year is a great one for you, and that 2012 was as well.

It was pretty good for me, or so I think now. Of course, it helps that I ended the year employed for the first time in the last 4 years and for just the third time in the last 8.

Not that I'm taking anything for granted, nor that things were ever too terrible when I wasn't working--due to the tremendous support of family and friends, as well as the various interests I document on this blog--but with hopes that the outlook has improved (or will soon) for millions of others who have been unemployed or underemployed for far too long, I can't deny that having a decent job certainly feels better than the alternative.

Certainly, it was far from a perfect year. Not only were far too many people, myself included for the first 8 months, tormented by the economy but the number of people horrifically killed--in movie theaters, in places of worship, in shopping malls, in elementary schools, in subway stations, on city streets, etc., etc.--was absolutely heartbreaking.

I was also saddened by what seemed like a great number of deaths among great musicians, including Whitney Houston, Adam Yauch, Levon Helm, Robin Gibb, Donna Summer, Etta James, Duck Dunn, Davy Jones, Dave Brubeck, Fontella Bass and others.

So in trying to live each day as best I can, as I alluded to above I am extremely grateful for the great friends and close family that brighten my world, and for the opportunity to explore arts, culture, entertainment, sports and more to the extent I do.

If you just stumbled upon this blog post somehow, you may be interested in my recent Best of 2012 lists, covering my favorite Albums, Concerts, Plays, Musicals and Movies of the past 12 months.

In no small part, my worldview and happiness were enhanced by seeing four great Springsteen shows (including a phenomenal pair at Wrigley Field) and awesome concerts by the likes of Neil Young, Elvis Costello and the Who, as well as The Hives, Dinosaur Jr. and Willie Nile. I saw sensational renditions of musicals such as Les Miserables, Sunday in the Park with George and The Book of Mormon, but also relished taking in a number of inspiring community theater productions. I saw actors like Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and Diane Lane live on stage without having to leave Chicago. I took a deep dive into documentaries, watching 80 different ones, and also truly explored Charlie Chaplin for the first time ever, watching nearly all of his major films. I went to some Cubs games, several Sox games and even a Cubs/Sox game.

Although I didn't get a chance to travel far in 2012, I nonetheless valued what I saw and did in places like Detroit, Davenport, Louisville, Urbana, Milwaukee and Lake Geneva. 

If you want some measure of my year, primarily as a spectator, I put up this gratuitous post (mainly for my own documentation) of 2012 By The Numbers.

But for a bit more illustrative look back at 2012, I went through my photo files from this year and of more than 59,000 photos taken, I compiled the gallery below. Some I picked because I really liked the photo itself, others for the place or activity they represent. Even with 52 photos--I'll do a "page break" after the first 5--it's not meant as a comprehensive summary of my year, but more so a celebration of some things I did and enjoyed. And while my photos rarely include personal acquaintances, many of them are innately included in this "Snapshot of 2012."

All photos by Seth Arkin. Copyright 2012. Please do not re-use without attribution, and preferably permission.

Amidst my Charlie Chaplin exploration, I went to Chicago's old Essanay Studios, where he shot one movie in
late 1914 or early 1915 in what is now an auditorium bearing his name and likeness at St. Augustine College.
Click to see a piece I wrote on Modern Times and a follow-up on my Chaplin foray.
In March, I went to Medieval Times for the first time. It was quite a knight.
I never actually bought anything at Evanston's longstanding Bookman's Alley, but always liked that it existed.
It doesn't anymore, having shut its doors sometime in mid-2012.
Like the Rolling Stones did in 1964, my friend Dave and I ventured to 2120 S. Michigan Ave.,
home of Chess Records' primary studios and now, Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation.
Speaking of classic recording studios, on an April trip to Detroit for a Springsteen show, I once again visited
the Motown Museum. I was quite interested in learning about the Funk Brothers, who played on hundreds of hits.

With Rodin's Thinker out front, the recently renovated Detroit Institute of the Arts proved to be one of the
most innovative art museums I've ever seen, in terms of how it presented and explained the artworks.
My travel guide to Detroit.

"Enjoy every sandwich," was the advice Warren Zevon gave when asked what he had learned from dealing with
terminal brain cancer. This variation of a Pastrami Reuben from Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor is one I very much did.
Pop goes the tour bus, promoting the Art Institute's excellent Roy Lichtenstein exhibition.
At the Art Institute.
Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials gave an enlightening performance at the Glenview Public Library
and not once did the librarians ask them to "please keep it down."
One of my favorite explorations of 2012 was about the sweet French treat, the macaron. Story here.
Sometimes you just have to stop and shoot the roses. From the Chicago Botanic Gardens. More here.
Beauty and the Beast, Skokie style. Having been [ pick your verb ] by Erin Heatherton, a Skokie native
turned Victoria's Secret model, I met her at a "Very Sexy" event in hopes of interviewing her for Seth Saith.
Despite giving her a self-made SKOKIE shirt like the one I modeled above, my requests through her
publicist have gone unanswered.

Tom Morello, one of the greatest guitarists ever and even better as a voice for social justice. I saw him above at the Nurses
protest rally during the NATO Summit in Chicago, and also at Bruce Springsteen's two Wrigley Field shows.
On May 20, after a 6-0 loss saw the Cubs swept at home by the White Sox, the birds swept in to devour the carcass.
With Wrigley not being so friendly for the Cubs, the Confines at least got put to some good use.
Except for the puke shower from the upper deck, seeing Roger Waters' put up and tear down The Wall
in the outfield was pretty damn cool.
The comptroller of Dixon may have embezzled millions from the city, but this statue of hometown hero Ronald Reagan
was still standing near his boyhood home when I stopped on my way to the Quad Cities in early July.
There is something beautifully quaint about minor league baseball and I enjoyed attending a Quad Cities River Bandits game.
Rock Island National Cemetery
On my way home from the Quad Cities, where I saw Wilco and the Figge Art Museum in Davenport,
I stopped at a Burger King, seemingly arriving 100 years after these people.
Sometimes, living where I live can be a real blast. And not just on Movie Night.
Summer musicals by the Starlight Theater at Wilmette's Gillson Park are a wonderful tradition
and the setting was perfect to see Brigadoon.
I attended 36 concerts in 2012. One of the best was by The Hives, who had an imaginative stage show
along with great energy.
Sadly, the man at right, Redd Griffin of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, passed away before year's end.
But his insights in Hemingway's boyhood bedroom were fascinating.

I like this photograph despite doing nothing but take it. An easy picture to get Wright.
Moo to you too. At Lamb's Farm. More photos here.
In August I went to see a couple of my closest friends in Urbana, IL. This isn't them.
Abe hanging out at  Urbana's Carle Park.
Cubs Win! Cubs Win! A walk off homer by Anthony Rizzo in the 10th inning on July 29 against the Cardinals.
The most magnificent of the many mansions seen on a boat tour of Lake Geneva.
Hey that's me, touching the ivy. September 8, 2012, before the Boss took the stage.
Just in case Bruce got into a late inning jam, I was ready.
Jesus, I actually touched him. Though not at this particular second.
Thanks to a friend of a friend, I went to a rare Bears game, a Sept. 23 win over the Rams. Though I wore
my Urlacher jersey, I still felt underdressed compared to this guy.
The Milwaukee Art Museum addition by Santiago Calatrava photographs well from any angle.
Also seen in Milwaukee: Elvis
The Smithsonian offered free nationwide entry at participating museums. I went to Chicago's
International Museum of Surgical Science and liked how the sculpture out front reminded me of
Michelangelo's Pieta.
Fall colors at a forest preserve along Golf Road near Schaumburg. More photos here.
In November, I went to Louisville for another Springsteen concert, but also enjoyed some museums.
Like the Muhammad Ali Center. If you don't think it looks like much, back up about 10 feet.
I have no idea why a enlarged gold replica of Michelangelo's David stands down the street from
the Louisville Slugger Museum, but I like the confrontation it sets up.
On the night Barack Obama earned a second term, I elected to see Susanna Hoffs.
I call this one, "One in a Ceres"

After writing a tourist guide to Chicago, I decided to get a bit more touristy.
This is from the top of the whatcha talking 'bout Willis (i.e. Sears) Tower.

Looking down at 1,353 feet. Plus one.
Like a good Jewish boy, I went to church. This one, St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago was really beautiful.
"Excuse me, who's next?"
By showing Nixon looking splotchy and sweaty, this camera--now at the Museum of Broadcast Communications--
changed the course of history. Unless Mayor Daley did.

Trump Tower goes topless.
A picture like this won't be possible for another 100 years. Unless I reset my watch.

"Holy Volo, Batman!" At the Volo Auto Museum.
I was thinking of doing a gallery of old hood ornaments. But I think this may suffice.
The other day it snowed. And thanks to my handy iPhone, I have proof.

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