That's it - pencils down, computers off - the polls are closed. After months of collecting votes and taking about as long in tallying them, the results are in for outsideleft's inaugural Golden Bootlace awards. And the races were close this year - very close - some categories were even determined by less than five votes which made the monkey-interns really touchy in regards to all of the recounts we demanded. But here they are: the winners and in some case, losers. By the way, if you happen to be reading this and find your name at the top of one of the categories, keep your eye on your mailbox - your handsome Golden Bootlace award will be arriving shortly. And for those other awards, the Academy Awards, we have something to say about that, too. Look for our full pre- and post-ceremony coverage of the Oscars next week. There's no way Jamie Foxx is winning anything is we have anything to say about it.
Goalhanger of the Year
It was such a close race, with so many worthy horses, so close that it was anyone's until about a week ago (the reason why we extended the polls). But in the final hours, Anaheim, California's homegrown Gwen Stefani beat out John Kerry by a handful of votes. It was her lifetime of Goalhanging that put her over the top really. The reasons...
1. When ska no longer served her in the '90s, Matthew "Ain't No One Gonna Break My Stride" Wilder crafted a radio friendly pop album for her band.
2. When Rastafarian fashion came and went, Stefani incorporated Rasta accents in her everyday look.
3. When it came time to record a solo album, she hired a different producer for every track on the disc - just to cover her bases.
4. When the Harajuku phenomenon was already accepted by America as a viable sub-culture, Stefani exploited pseudo Japanese schoolgirls on any red carpet that would have her.
5. When every female in the public eye developed their own clothing and handbag line, our Gwen followed the pack and came out with L.A.M.B - a collection of incredibly overpriced clothing and purses that can only be best described as bag lady meets a burnt-out Betsey Johnson.
Honorable mentions: John Kerry (any idiot could have won that one... Wait a minute...), Ben (OC Register) Wener for the same obvious reason that he'd be amongst the winners every year
Album of the Year
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
Not a surprising winner, but let's look at the contenders: Interpol had a lot to live up to after their flawless debut - unfortunately they just missed the mark - 'Antics' just seemed a little off. And Morrissey. if Morrissey hires a producer that can appreciate the Englishness of his music, we have another 'Vauxhall & I.' Instead, Moz hires Blink-182's Jerry Finn who proceeds to polish such a high luster on 'You Are The Quarry,' our Manchurian hero comes off like a karaoke singer. Cave on the other hand put out a double album of epic proportions - and this is without Blixa Bargeld - the idiosyncratic guitarist who helped shape Cave's sound since 1983. Cave's two discs (one a rock and the other full of elegant ballads which were packaged in a sublime box with great artwork) made the full-length album popular again. Yeah, everyone's talking about Green Day's concept LP, but that was just a result of desperate music journalists shooting their load early in the year - if they would have waited until late October, Cave would've received those accolades.
Honorable mentions: Interpol's 'Antics,' Air's 'Talkie Walkie'
Band/Performer of the Year
Proving it's possible to adhere steadfastly to principle, be fantastically entertaining and still be commercially viable, so long as you have a good song. Le Tigre broke through in a big way in 2004. national television viewers and international audiences were wowed. And we're glad to see them winning because every time we heard TKO on the radio, things seemed a little brighter after all. It's that kind of a song.
Honorable mentions: Morrissey, The Streets
Film of the Year
Outsideleft readers put my faith back in humanity when 'Sideways' got the lion's share of the votes for Film of the Year. Everyone's talking 'Ray' but no one's buying Jamie Foxx and his particular brand of bullshit. 'Sideways' really had it all and it was an original story. Plus, you know if Paul Giamatti won the Golden Globe for best actor, he wouldn't have acted like a complete jackass like Foxx did - what was with that little fake crying bit about his dead grandmother at the end? If 'Sideways' loses out to anything that has to do with 'Ray,' I'm killing myself - I'm serious this time. Personal beef with Jamie Foxx? You bet.
Honorable mentions: 'End of the Century,' 'Dig!'
Event of the Year
Natasha the monkey walks upright, Israeli Zoo
A lot of incredible things happened this year, but nothing as interesting as Natasha the monkey who shucked simian conventionalism and walked upright on her hind legs - just like you or me - well, me anyway. You must this event was just as important considering Natasha edged out a Pixies' reunion and the presidential election. Is this monkey the missing link? The jury's still out, but one thing we do know is that we can't wait to present Natasha with her award - can we expect an acceptance speech? One can only hope.
Honorable mentions: Getting Laid for the Umpteenth Straight Year, Pixies Reunion
Website of the Year
Downhill Battle spent the year tapping the potential the internet has for community. If you care about music at all, and you think that commerce is somewhat less important than the song, then this is the place you should be looking. There's no hysteria, just critical thinking, innovative ideas and lots of info, stuff you should already know. Downhill Battle represents a bigger part of the industry's future than the RIAA, that's for sure. In February they organized Grey Tuesday, freeing the Grey Album with new technology. Distributing the record with their active readers and BitTorrent software. This went down like Eve stealing an Apple. A good thing.
Honorable mentions: TelevisionWithoutPity.com, ThighsWideShut.org
Drink of the Year
Let's face it - vodka was hot in 2004. The top five vote getters in this category were vodkas. So why did Svedka beat out seemingly top contenders like Kettle One and Grey Goose? Call it the indie factor. Somewhat of a newcomer on the scene, Svedka won over outsideleft voters by - let's face it - the low, low price - about $10 for 750 MLs to be exact as well as being produced by a tiny distiller in Sweden. Plus the minimal bottle design is right up our alley. Simply put, this clear, medium-bodied custard and vanilla elixir showed a magnificent measure of complexity. Good job by you, the voter (except for the handful of you that voted for "The High Life").
Honorable mentions: Kettle One vodka, Grey Goose vodka
Team/Athlete of the Year
Johnny Damon or the Boston Red Sox
There were a lot of snobby readers this year who listed "Sports are lame" and "Jocks are gay" in response to this category, but that's just small thinking, isn't it? We all know these types of people who poo-poo (or is it pooh-pooh?) athleticism - they're the same pretentious artsy-fartsy types who listen to the Shins and think 'Garden State' is a representative of their life. Fuck that shit - those types have no sense of drama or history. When the Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon took the field with his luxurious silky mane of hair, three-day stubble and quietly helped lead his team to win the championship with ease, how could even the least interested pass? Damon was the easy winner this year, but BALCO Laboratories came in a strong second with their amazing developments in athletic enhancing drugs - where would Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and yes, Barry Bonds. Johnny never needed drugs.
Honorable mentions: BALCO Laboratories, Arsenal (English Premiership)
Record Label of the Year
A landslide in the polls - Matador took best record label with considerable ease in 2004. Why? Just look at the releases...
Cat Power 'You Are Free'
Cornelius 'Five Point One'
Pavement 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain' Reissue
SeaChange 'Lay of the Land'
Outsideleft voters obviously adore Matador so much, they overlooked the fact that it's also the home of Mogwai. We like 'em just because of the rich history of the label and the fact that they're fighters: it always seems that the label is one month away from going tits up. We like that kind of uncertainty.¬†
Honorable Mentions: Merge Records, Astralwerks
Read of the Year
Novelist and raconteur Jonathan Ames finally seems to be getting the credit he deserves. He does a lot of live shows so maybe that had something to do with him miraculously beating out America the Book from the Daily Show, Dwell Magazine and a million other one vote getters. We've been fans for a long time and think he's poised to do for the next decade on his own terms, in humor, what Larry David did for the last. Move what's accepted as comedy. The 2004 novel 'Wake Up, Sir' surprises, delights and frightens - Ames' characters often do what we wish we weren't capable of. The things that might take some explaining. That's why it's easy to get attached. I think that's why he's loved. He's the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs. (available February 2005). And may even be putting the finishing touches to a pilot for Showtime.
Honorable Mentions: Dwell magazine, America (The Book)
Catastrophe of the Year
We asked you, nay we begged you to look beyond the obvious Bush wins/Kerry loses pick. Have you forgotten your anarchists mantra, "no matter who you vote for, government wins..." But you were miffed - upset even. And you obviously used outsideleft as a forum for your anger. We don't blame you - we weren't too thrilled when Bush slid by either. But we're the types to turn lemons into lemonade ‚Äì it was almost our tagline. What we're trying to say is think of it this way, we get to enjoy another four-year journey with the Bush Twins. With any hope, they're be some sort of sexual scandal or at least a Tara Reid-esque nip slip. And even if sex isn't involved, booze will factor into it - and we'll be there to cover it. Four more years! Four more years!
Honorable Mentions: Too many soldiers dying in Iraq, too of iraqis dying in Iraq. Magnetic support ribbons on back of cars.
Structure of the Year
The Millau Bridge, Southern France (Designed by architect Norman Foster, United Kingdom)
Architecture pundits refer to it as a celebrated as a work of art combining the strength of cement and steel with the "delicacy of a butterfly." Outsideleft voters call it "the coolest fucking structure since the Capitol Records building in Hollywood." The Millau bridge (located in southern France and finally put to use in late 2004) is now also the world's tallest bridge - it dwarfs the Eiffel Tower by more than 50 feet. Take that Golden Gate! Spanning six miles through France's Massif Central mountains, the bridge will enable motorists to take a drive 891 feet above the Tarn River valley.
Honorable Mentions: Walt Disney Music Hall, NYC MOMA Museum
Song of the Year
Morrissey - First of the Gang to Die
True, old Mozza didn't get the votes for album of the year, but he's always been a singles singer anyway. It's probably the reason why he got the top votes for "First of the Gang to Die" (or Diet as some mocked - we still counted those). Moving on, the song's imagery and melody was so strong, even Jerry Finn's clumsy finger couldn't ruin it ‚Äì it's just a classic tune reminiscent of his "Last of the Famous International Playboys."
Honorable Mentions: Le Tigre "TKO," The Walkmen "Little House of Savages"
Video Game of the Year
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
We're thinking of deep-sixing this category next year. Just too many smartass comments and frankly, don't you guys play games? Some of the interns monkeys' feelings got hurt - videogames are all they have.
Honorable Mentions: Tetris, Verizon's cell phone version of Solitaire
TV Show or Presenter of the Year
Joey Greco of Cheaters
This category was just as close in votes as the Goalhanger battle. It was Joey and Jeff all the way down to the closing of the polls. Jeff Probst of Survivor fame had this one all but won, but his voting trajectory took a nosedive when word got out that Probst was banging one of the contestants on his show - one of the average looking ones at that. Now Joey Greco - he's all integrity. A big brother to look to for advice, an understanding friend with a shoulder to cry on, a diplomat willing to keep the peace at any cost and yes, pretty damn easy on the eyes (despite the soul patch). If the stars align, one Mr. Greco may be subject of an outsideleft Q&A - it's developing.
Honorable Mentions: Jeff Probst of Survivor, The Office
Art Exhibit of the Year
A Minimalist Future at MOCA - Los Angeles
An easy win for Donald Judd and his crowd - the Minimalist exhibit at the MOCA in Los Angeles got about 80 percent of the votes and major critical acclaim from the pretentious types. In true minimalist fashion, we're ending this capsule here.
Honorable Mentions: Five Decades of Fender at the Fullerton Museum, Romare Bearden SFmoma
Gadget of the Year
iPod (Fourth Generation, 20G)
Half of the outsideleft office shunned iPod due to the fact that it was an Apple product. See, the editorial half of the office use PCs while the design side uses Apple products. Something about the elitism of the world of Apple rubbed people the wrong way. Then a couple of the PC users got iPods for Christmas and dissension in the ranks was eminent. Now everyone has one. Pet rock of the early '00s? Only time and RIAA lawsuits will tell.
Honerable Mentions: Old school Tascam 4-Track Port-a-studio, Surine - synthetic urine
Person of the Year
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
That's takes some explanation. Person of the Year. We're westcoasters and not so familiar with him but whenever he was in the news, Eilliot Spitzer appeared to be one of the few professional politicians genuinely putting public interest first. Alongside Barack Obama (who'll probably flame out in 2005 if he carries on being so polite to the likes of Condoleezza Rice), Elliot Spitzer seemed like one of the few reasons to be optimistic in 2004. Somebody still doing things for the righ reasons.
Honorable Mentions: Paul Giamatti, Jacques Chirac (President of France)
Death of the Year
John Peel, BBC Radio One
So much death this year. Another incredibly crowded field. Big names, too. Superman, Jack Tripper, Felix Unger, the Super Freak - the list goes on. John Peel was the big winner in a category few would have said at the beginning of 2004, "that's the one I want to win". John Peel - tastemaker from BBC. Think about it, this old geezer had the best ears and instincts in the business. Would the Smiths have been as legendary if Peel didn't take a chance on them on the strength on one song? And what about Pulp? The Fall? Joy Division? He even had his own fucking stage at the Glastonbury Festival - did Dick Clark ever have a stage at a music festival? We all kind of just took him for granted, didn't we - we always just thought he's be around forever.
Honorable Mentions: Marlon Brando, Johnny Ramone
DJ of the Year
Nic Harcourt (KCRW, Los Angeles)
Well Nic won and why not. We're shut-ins and we need the likes of Nic, so we're glad. We stream his daily show, Morning Becomes Eclectic all over the shoppe with an airtunes equivalent. But we're grudging enough to ask, was it by default? Kevin, Bean, Howard, AndrewAndrew, DLT and Terry Wogan, all top record spinners aren't they? A lot of the great new music we heard this year we heard first on Nic Harcourt's show. A lot of it was played by Steve Lamacq. We think the biggest shock came when we watched part of the show on video. Damn! That rolled-up-sleeve-sweatshirt look was so totally DJ!. Probably wearing jeans too. In his defense, Nic does sound as if he knows that the music is the star of the show. A rare commodity these days. And how he puts up with the endless stream of mumbling, inarticulate mouthbreathers who head into the studio for those sessions we'll never know. Nic is exceedingly patient, so you can't blame him for winning.
Honorable Mentions: Janda Baldwin (KCRW, Los Angeles), Steve Jones (indie 103.1 Los Angeles), John Peel (BBC's Radio One, United Kingdom)
Ad Campaign of the Year
HP Digital printers with The Kinks' "Picture Book"
Everyone loved listening to the Kinks' "Picture Book" this year - at least that's what the votes said. It unearthed a forgotten classic that voters hadn't even thought about in years. Now as far as the Apple ads were concerned, it brought out the worst in people. One voter even promised to go on a mass killing spree if he ever saw the U2-inspired iPod commercial again. We like the iPod, but we agree with the sentiment.
Honorable Mentions: Volvo, Jack In The Box
Hotel of the Year
Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California
Lots of contenders for this final category. It's was all over the boards: from the disgustingly trendy Standard in Los Angeles to W in New York. But it was the Madonna Inn that grabbed all of the votes in the end. What is it? It's 108 individually themed rooms: from the Caveman Room (you can beat the crap out of your wife and tefrom the Caveman Room (you can beat the crap out of your wife and tell the police you were just going with the theme of the room) to the Sir Walter Raleigh (now for hetros as well as homos). Some call it tacky, others kitschy. You called it Hotel of the Year.
Honorable Mentions: Malibu Beach Inn