As a young grasshopper I had deep resentment for Year-End Review articles. They’re so arbitrary. “Top Ten” lists always include questionable entries for the sole purpose of filing page columns. And don’t get me started on Rolingstone. They have a subjectively ridiculous list for everything. I lament the lack of new content starting in late December. You may as well publish a head-line that reads, “I got Nothin.”
Now however, as a grown-ass man reflecting on the last twelve months I find myself joining in the charade. I’ve come to appreciate the victory-lap glory in celebrating the successful completion of another year. It’s not easy being green. As humans we should take more time to stop and smell the roses.
To that end I’ve started compiling a few of my favorite facts from 2012, some locally relevant, some selfishly personal, some inexplicably ridiculous. Can you smell that? What made you smile in 2012?
Best Proof that Fact is Stranger than Fiction...and the True Sign of the Apocalypse: Butt Chugging
I am entirely over the Myans. Here’s real proof that our world is coming to and end. This may be the funniest news conference known to man. You’re welcome.
Best Restaurant Review of 2012: Pete Wells of the New York Times on Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar (LINK)
The smoldering war between esoteric culinarians and mouth-breathing, TLC-watching, neophyte-foodies came to a public boil this fall when food writer Pete Wells took on Guy Fieri. Arguably neither party is innocent, though I tend to applaud Mrs. Wells. Still the fall-out made for darn entertaining news coverage.
Best New Local Establishments
- The WURST Bar: Sure, you can now get sweet potato fires at Burger King, but at WURST you can get sweet potato tots with Marshmallow fluff! Right? Just don’t try to get in-and-out for a quick lunch. These guys have embraced the slow food movement.
- Bill’s Beer Garden: In 2011 street food came to Ann Arbor with Mark’s Carts. This year we welcomed Bill’s Beer Garden. I cannot say enough about how cool it is to sit outside in downtown Ann Arbor, watching a bonfire and sharing Michigan’s best craft beers with good friends. BRAVO! (PS: How's that for a run-on sentence).
Most Exciting Local Restaurant [& BAR] Trend: The Detroit Burbs
Like most cultural developments, it takes a while for culinary trends to reach the rust belt. While you’ll still struggle to find someone in Royal Oak who can accurately define unami, there’s a gaggle of hot new restaurants popping up in the Motor City. For the first time in years I aspire to enter Oakland County Don’t worry, I still avoid Livingston like herpes. Here’s a few noteworthy stops.
- One-Eyed Bettys
- Woodward Imperial
- Local Kitchen + Bar
- John D Bistro (Old Club Bart)
- Torino Expresso + Bar
- The Emory (Burger Bar)
- Valentine Destilling Co.
- TownHouse Bistro
- Mindy Lopus’ Tallulah & Bellapiatti
- Social Kitchen & Bar
- Vinsetta Garage (OK – not really B-Ham, but close)
Best Detroit Restaurant Scene Blog: Eat it Detroit
If I ever quit my job and become a free lance writer I want to be an intern for Nicole Rupersburg. She has the inside track on all things hot in the Motor City, and a fair wit to boot.
Favorite Local Food Tend: Washtenaw Food Hub | Growing a Healthy Community
As much as I love my CSA I’m also pragmatic. I know that we'll never fed the masses with a sustainable local food sources without a more significant infrastructure. If you're not close to the local food movement you may not be aware of the Food Hub. Think of it as one part economic incubator, one part distribution center and once part blank canvas, ready to become Washtenaw Counties next work of art.
Favorite New A2GastroBoy Lifestyle Trend - Less Air Travel
If you don’t travel for a living it may seem glamorous. Don’t believe the hype. I only took 28 flights in 2012 visiting 12 airports (ATL, MSP & BWI each tie for most visited with four stops each). It’s aggressive, but I’m vying for less than 20 in 2013.
Forget about ‘Gangnam Style’ or ‘Somebody that I used to Know.’ And definitely don’t ‘Call me Maybe.’ The best Internet meme since the Honey Badger is “Shit People Say.” For those unenlightened, like that cute MILF that lives with me and just asked, “what’s a meme,” here’s a link that explains it all. Go get edgamacated. (LINK)
Speaking of Honey Badgers, Here’s my favorite Kickstarter of 2012 (LINK)…I just received my shipping notice!
Best Ann Arbor Concert Series: Sonic Lunch
There are many reasons to love living and working in Ann Arbor. This year the fine folks at 107.1 and the Bank of Ann Arbor took a relatively small, yet wonderful outdoor concert series and set it on fire … like dousing your BBQ with a full can of lighter fluid. I spent every Thursday morning looking forward to sneaking out of the office at lunchtime. It made afternoons sitting in a conference room watching another boring powerpoint tolerable knowing that I just saw Mitch Ryder killing it live on Liberty… for FREE. Even the rain couldn't stop Mayor Hawthorne from bringing down the house. Did I mention it was FREE?! Thank you Bank of Ann Arbor. I pray your marketing budget allows this to continue in perpituity.
Best Local Ad Campaign: Non-Local Bankers, Bank of Ann Arbor
Speaking of BOAA, how amazing was their non-local banker campaign this year? “Asking my Facebook peeps for a good recipe for Fingerle potatoes.” Brilliant. Well done Perich.
Best Household Technology of 2012: Withing’s Wi-Fi Scale
I’m a closet techie and ardent gadget hound. I love playing with new distuptive technologies. This year I bought a Withing's wifi scale. Every time I step on the scale this digital terrorist uploads the evidence. I now have a years worth of incriminating proof of my girth. And it's smart enough to know which family member is weighing in so everyone can join in on the fun. The data is accessible from a computer or any mobile devise. "wiz-bang-cool" factor aside, I think this is an important step towards getting fat Americans more engaged in their physical well being. I'm equally impressed with high-tech pedometers like the Nike FuelBand or Jawbone UP Band. Let’s not give up bacon fat – let’s get all of our Fat asses moving.
Favorite [Sub]Urban Discovery - The Camp, Costa Mesa,CA (LINK)
As we watch Arlington Shops rise as yet another characterless temple of Urban Sprawl consider what could have been… I stumbled on this oasis during a conference in Orange County. I became an instant photo-snapping tourist, all the time amazed that thoughtful urban planning could create something intersting in a suburban setting. “The CAMP, now entering it’s 10th year, excels as an innovative retail campus dedicated to an active, healthy lifestyle mindful of environmentalism and supportive of the local community. This nontraditional shopping center balances culture, sophistication and functionality, blurring the boundaries between nature and everyday bustle of life in the O.C. Welcome!” AND they have an Unami Burger. Nuff said.
And finally, becuase I know you care, here's the 2012 most heavily clicked-on A2GastroBoy Article.
It's a Zing Thang While I love this article, I need to disclose that a fair portion of the traffic was driven by my use of the word Nazi, and the comment war that ensued. Once again I thank the reading audience who holds me accountable and forces me to constructively address my snark-attacks. I still think the historical commission is a bunch of irrational, progress-impeding ostriches. At the same time I have a newfound appreciation for the impact of poorly chosen words. I am now committed to finding more innocuous ways of expressing my thoughts. You fucktards.
For the record, the all-time most frequently trending article is my still 2011 SEO experiment titled “PUMPKIN PORN.” Thank you to all the Internet derelicts who get tragically annoyed when they land on an article about muffins and beer.
There it is - an entirely arbitrary view of 2012 compliments of A2GastroBoy. And not a single mention of some new Mexican restaurant that may or may not be opening next door to Mani before New Years. The same joint that coincidentally showed a total disrespect to the community by inviting a tree-hugging graduate student blogger to their friends and family night without so much as a smoke signal to your truly. I’m so hurt Adam. Was it something I said? The gloves are off. I have a Yelp account and I know how to use it!
(totally kidding dude – please don’t black-list me. Can I PLEASE get an invite next time? I’ll wash dishes. You can even sit me in Stacey’s section. I promise I’ll stop complaining about her).