Dave’s Top 20/Bottom 10/Questionable 5 for 2009

So back in college, I worked for an off-campus student paper that some of you are familiar with. One of our longstanding features was a Top 20/Bottom 10, a concise and witty summing-up of the past week’s news. One of my favorite things about the feature was that the format made you focus on good things while still allowing you to complain. To this structure, I’m adding a section of things to be ambivalent about — we are no longer idealistic, eager young Manicheans.

Top 20:

20. A consensus (finally) around calling the decade the “aughts” or the “aughties”
19. Getting a Monome 256. So many buttons that light up!
18. Psychotherapy
17. Meditation
16. Glee (the television series)
15. Schadenfreude (the emotion)
14. Online dating: not a complete disaster
13. New Yo La Tengo album

12. Streaming Netflix and Hulu
11. Allowing myself to use phrases like “the real problem is capitalism!” without irony in ordinary conversation; the times demand it.
10. Facebook finally getting interesting
9. Rooftop movies
8. Monome meetups in Princeton (wonderfully odd experiences all around, including waking up in an undergraduate dorm on a Sunday morning)
7. Terry Riley and the Kronos Quartet and 40 of their closest friends (like Phillip Glass and Osvaldo Golijov) perform “In C” at Carnegie Hall
6. Finally biking enough around town that I really got used to my bike and to interacting with New York traffic
5. Iceland in January
4. Maine in August (bonus: with Stella!)
3. Other people’s babies
2. The Great Whatsit as an autonomous worker-run collective (and also the new contributors) (and also the new site design, which doesn’t make my eyes bleed)
1. The clever hopes expire of this low, dishonest decade. Next!

Bottom 10:
10. Joe Lieberman
9. Hollywood breaks a several-year streak of putting out very good, fairly popular movies
8. Google Wave
7. Obamalove/Obamahate
Love Hate
6. Unimaginably, reality TV gets worse and makes us worse.
5. Death panels and the undead political career of Sarah Palin
4. Facebook getting uninteresting again/I still can’t figure out the difference between “News Feed” and “Live Feed”
3. Disappointment fatigue
2. People are not in prison who really should be in prison. I’m looking at you, Dick Cheney and cronies, and you too, bankers.
1. Huge unsolved problems: 10% unemployment and rising and failure in Copenhagen, to name a couple.

Questionable 5:
5. Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Oral Roberts, among others, are called home

Michael Jackson: Too good for this world?

Michael Jackson: Too good for this world?

4. I told you so
3. Getting an iPhone
2. Turning 35
1. Rage

I’d try to make a similar set of lists for the whole decade — the aughties, as we should all now call them — but a bottom 10 is not nearly enough to plumb the depths. May the coming year and the coming decade be many, many times better for everyone.

10 responses to “Dave’s Top 20/Bottom 10/Questionable 5 for 2009”

  1. lane says:


    lots of interesting things on this list, but this last one is a little more interesting.

  2. Tim says:

    I like the balance of this: some good, some bad, some in between.

    I agree with Lane. Ambivalence about rage is very compelling. Did it produce some good things this year? Mostly, I picture birthers and teabaggers when I think of rage in aught-nine.

  3. Tim says:

    Also, health care reform as passed by the Senate – where does it fall here? At this point it’s questionable at best, for me, if not among the bottom 10. Be careful what you wish for in this world.

  4. swells says:

    I am on some neighbor’s stolen bandwidth in suburban New Jersey and liable to get knocked offline any second, so without further ado, I just have to say that every single thing about this list makes me so in love with Dave B that I can’t even stand it. Schadenfreude! Rage! Disappointment fatigue! Prison! Being able to complain! You are the best person ever.

  5. Tim says:

    #4: Drunk on proximity much?

  6. Andrew says:

    I still prefer calling this past decade the naughties.

    This list is fantastic.

  7. Dave says:

    Rage: I suspect it’s bad for me, but it feels so good in the moment.

    Health care reform: I’m not feeling questionable about it. I’m in favor. But I can’t quite work up the enthusiasm to include it in my top 20, at least not yet, as perhaps some other list items help elucidate.

    swells: I love you too! Come up to the Big Apple, baby!

  8. Dave says:

    “Naughty aughties” is my preference.

  9. Tim says:

    Health care reform: I’m skeptical. It requires everyone to buy insurance and helps get more people on Medicare, so insurance companies are likely to feast on the (federally subsidized) dollars of the healthy young and let the gubmint pay for the care of the olds. Also, still over 20 million uninsured by 2019. Plus, almost assured that abortion won’t be covered. I like some of the provisions – e.g., 80-85% of premiums have to go to actual health care – but don’t see how they can be enforced. I guess it’s still an overall good, just not the best good.

  10. ScottyGee says:

    My favorite event of the year: Dave waking up in an undergrad dorm room. I can’t wait to get the details!