Best of 2023
I rang in 2024 from a cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains, surrounded by family and friends. It was a pretty great New Year’s Eve, and now it’s time to look back on 2023.
The best albums of the year were Spirit Night’s Bury the Dead and Parannoul’s After the Magic.
Parannoul is an anonymous South Korean musician. After the Magic is his third and best album. It’s an awesome blend of shoegaze and dream pop.
Bury the Dead combines elements of indie rock, folk and Americana to produce a soulful album that takes me back to the alternative scene of the mid-aughts. It took me a couple of tries to get into this album, but the more I listened, the more I connected with it.
I saw Jimmy Eat World and Manchester Orchestra during their combined tour at The Masonic in San Francisco. I’ve enjoyed Jimmy Eat World’s hits for a long time, but I didn’t have a good grasp on their catalog. They put on a great show that gave me a better sense of the depth of the band’s music.
Manchester Orchestra really suprised me. I’ve really liked their music for years—ever since their song “The Maze” was featured in the outstanding film Leave No Trace. The music on their albums is often soft and low-key. Live, the band rocks out. Their music is transformed, and seeing them in person gave me a whole new appreciation for their art.
My favorite movies of the year were Oppenheimer and The Holdovers. Oppenheimer, the biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who directed the Manhattan project, was dramatic, informative, and visually stunning. The Holdovers is a heartwarming comedy-drama about the students and faculty who have to remain at a New England boarding school over the Christmas holidays.
I didn’t watch a bunch of new series this year, and I wasn’t blown away by any of the new TV I saw. That said, some of my favorite shows had really excellent seasons in 2023. I loved season 3 of Slow Horses, the final season of Succession, and season 4 of For All Mankind.
The best books I read this year were The Bear by Andrew Krivak and When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut. The Bear is a short, meditative book about a man and his daughter who happen to be the last humans on earth. It’s a beautiful reflection on love, family, and humanity’s place in nature.
When We Cease to Understand the World is a fictionalized account that explores the minds of scientists and mathematicians, with a focus on those who discovered the mind-bending aspects of quantum theory. It’s fascinating and informative, and does a remarkable job of illustrating the mental gymnastics required to delve deeply into the quantum field, even for us who have a more difficult time grasping it.
The highlight of my trip to Alaska was a flightseeing trip to Katmai National Park, where we spent hours in a verdant meadow filled with coastal brown bears. Our time with such incredible creatures was truly magical, and I took a ton of amazing photos. But my favorite picture was of two bears, one sitting and one standing, grazing in the meadow with snowy mountains in the background.
On my vacation to Greece and Italy, one of our favorite stops was the beautiful island of Corfu. We drove to the northwestern edge of the island, where Angelokastro, a Byzantine-era castle dating to the 13th century, perches on a cliff a thousand feet above the sea. From the castle we had a stunning view of the unbelievably blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and snapped this photo of a gorgeous cove dotted with white sailboats.
I got to visit a lot of great places in 2023, including Alaska, Key West, Lake Tahoe, and Sun Valley. My favorite trip of the year was my trip to Greece and Italy. I got to spend an amazing three weeks traveling. I’d never been to Greece. I loved Athens’s history and was stunned by the Greek isle’s beauty. I also got to see Rome, Milan, and Lake Como for the first time.
For my birthday, I ate dinner with my family at Glen Ellen Star, a truly incredible restaurant near Sonoma. I had some excellent grilled vegetables, a delectable waygu steak, and some delicious homemade ice cream for dessert.
I’m so lucky to have had such amazing experiences during 2023, and I’m looking forward to 2024!