In June 2010, TIME Magazine named HiLobrow one of the Best Blogs of 2010. “There seem to be few boundaries as to where HiLobrow’s conversations can go, but that’s a big part of its charm,” according to the writeup. “It is a potpourri of intellectualism, culture trends, unexpected artistic creations and out-of-the-box personalities.” What was TIME raving about? you ask. Here’s a sampling — a potpourri, if you will — of HiLobrow posts published in 2010.
Matthew Battles and I contributed dozens of posts during 2010; so did HiLobrow’s Arts Editor, Peggy Nelson. This post is already very long, so for the moment I’m not going to include any of those posts — except as they fall naturally into the following categories.
Thanks in no small part to the traffic generated by the TIME mention, the following posts are among the 25 most enduringly popular — traffic-wise — that we’ve ever published.
The #1 and #6 most popular posts of all time: Erik Davis’s “Cthulhu is Not Cute” (#1 on the All-Time Most Popular list) was the third in his (seven-part) POP ARCANA series, which we began publishing in January 2010. The first post analyzes the semiotics of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck; the second post is a deep read of Joanna Newsom’s oeuvre; the fourth post (#6 on the All-Time Most Popular list) records Erik’s visit to the Temples of Damanhur; and the fifth post takes a look at Catherine Yrowonde’s Lucky Mojo cornucopia.
#s 2, 8, 12, 14, 18, 20: Six of the most popular posts we’ve ever published are HiLo Hero items from 2010. The Martha Graham item by Ingrid Schorr was linked to from Google’s homepage one day, which explains its position at No. 2 on the Most Popular list. The other HiLo Hero items on the list are: Syd Barrett by Patrick Cates; Jackie Chan by David Smay; Cee-Lo Green by Jason Grote; Ronnie Spector by Mimi Lipson; and Diana Rigg by David Smay.
HiLobrow’s Joshua Glenn edits the HiLo Hero series; he is very grateful to: Mimi Lipson, Franklin Bruno, Tom Nealon, Mark Kingwell, Jason Grote, Patrick Cates, Sarah Weinman, Lynn Peril, Brian Berger, Matthew Battles, Peggy Nelson, Tim Carmody, Douglas Wolk, Luc Sante, Matthew De Abaitua, Katie Hennessey, Annie Nocenti, Greg Rowland, David Smay, Joe Alterio, James Parker, Ingrid Schorr, Alexis Madrigal, Tor Aarestad, and Jen Collins for contributing over 350 posts to this series in 2010.
Other 2010 HiLo Hero posts include items on: Captain Beefheart, C.L.R. James, Gypsy Rose Lee, Karel Capek, Aldo Leopold, Susan Sontag, Ari Up, Federico Fellini, Robert E. Howard, Django Reinhardt, Elmore James, Rakim, W.C. Fields, Richard Brautigan, Grant Morrison, Simone Weil, William Burroughs, Bertolt Brecht, Iain Banks, Yoko Ono, Manny Farber, Poison Ivy, Hugo Ball, Plastic Bertrand, Paul Ricoeur, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Rosa Luxemburg, Ring Lardner, Georges Perec, David Cronenberg, René Daumal, Alexander McQueen, Lee Perry, Russ Meyer, William Shatner, Lady Gaga, Gil Scott-Heron, Serge Gainsbourg, Black Francis, Edmund Husserl, Valerie Solanas, Kingsley Amis, Kathy Acker, Captain Sensible, Kurt Gödel, Maya Deren, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Sid Vicious, Melle Mel, André the Giant, Notorious B.I.G., Arthur Cravan, John Barth, Maurice Sendak, Weegee, Schoolly D, Joss Whedon, Julia Kristeva, Floyd Dell, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Meyer Lansky. PS: We also published our first Rondel for HiLo Heroes in 2010.
#s 3, 9, and 22: BP Logo Redesign and What Was the Hipster are two posts I dashed off without thinking much about them at the time. For some mysterious reason they’re enduringly popular. Every day, somebody somewhere is viewing these.
Star Wars Semiotics is a post I wrote in response to a post someone did where they attempted to use a “semiotic square” to analyze Star Wars. I know way too much about both Star Wars and the semiotic square, so even though at the time I was rusticating in Montana, with sporadic wi-fi, I cranked this out.
#4 among all HiLobrow posts: My post on the Pluperfect PDA Meme became enduringly popular in the following fashion. In 2009, stumbled upon evidence of what appears to be time travel… in the cover photograph on a French edition of Chester Himes’ crime novel All Shot Up. In 2010, I found some other examples: one from the 1931 movie Platinum Blonde, and the other from the 1944 movie Laura. Then, in October 2010, came the news that an Irish filmmaker had discovered a woman who appears to be talking to her cell phone in 1928 footage of people lining up for the premiere of a Charlie Chaplin movie. This story went viral, and in the process Boing Boing linked to HiLobrow’s post. Wow! Lots of traffic. Since then, I’ve continued to identify pluperfect PDAs.
#s 5, 10, 11, 17, and 21: Several of the all-time most popular HiLobrow posts are installments in the series where I re-periodize generations. I originally published versions of some of these posts when I was blogging for the Boston Globe in 2008. The popular installments published on HiLobrow in 2010 are: Revivalist Generation (1974–83), Post-Romantic Generation (1825–33), Reconstructionist Generation (1964–73), The Original Generation X (1954–63), Social Darwikians Generation (1984–93).
PS: The 23rd most popular HiLobrow post of all time is Tattooed Revivalists — a spinoff item from the generation series.
#s 7 and 19: Posts in terrific series by Tom Nealon and Joe Alterio. De Condimentis (#1 — Fish Sauce) is the first of many amazing world-historical items about condiments that Tom Nealon has contributed to HiLobrow. His ongoing series is a real crowd-pleaser, and if I knew what I was doing as a publisher I’d force him to write a new one every week.
PS: Tom also wrote this crazy post on The Parnassus of Titon du Tillet.
Cablegate Comix (#1) is the first installment in a mini-series of comics that we commissioned from the great Joe Alterio after WikiLeaks published confidential documents of detailed correspondences between the US State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world. Read ’em all! We also published posts about Joe’s artwork, including this gorgeous stuff.
Other enduringly popular items from 2010 include:
Ultimate Ruin Porn — Peggy Nelson’s response to news that the Ukraine has opened up the city of Pripyat and the radioactive area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor site for tourism.
Purple Exegetics — Matthew De Abaitua’s close reading of Prince and the Revolution’s first live performance of “Purple Rain.”
James Parker’s swearing-animal fable The Ballad of Cocky The Fox, which was serialized in 2010 and later published in limited-edition paperback by HiLoBooks; plus: an amazing Cocky the Fox-related newsletter, The Sniffer, by Patrick Cates.
Matthew Battles’s original stories “Camera Lucida,” “A Simple Message”, “Children of the Volcano”, “The Gnomon”, “Billable Memories”, “For Provisional Description of Superficial Features”. A few of these later appeared in Battles’s 2012 collection The Sovereignties of Invention, published by Red Lemonade. Buy it!
Plus, HiLobrow ran four micro-fiction contests in 2010. Here are the winning stories! TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN CONTEST: Charles Pappas, “The Law” | CATASTROPHE CONTEST: Timothy Raymond, “Hem and the Flood” | TELEPATHY CONTEST: Rachel Ellis Adams, “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | OIL SPILL CONTEST: A.E. Smith, “Sound Thinking”
In 2010, I published a bunch of posts about Radium Age science fiction, including items on supermen, robots, apocalypses, telepaths, eco-catastrophes, and SF’s best year ever. A version of all of these had appeared first at the blog io9, but in rewriting and republishing them at HiLobrow I was convincing myself to commit to this area of study in a big way. The launch of HiLoBooks was an inevitable result.
We also recorded a Radium Age science fiction podcast series in 2010! Amazing.
In 2010, we appointed Patrick Cates our Magister Ludi (game-master), and he entertained readers with every manner of puzzle, contest, and challenge. Krabbatophily, Rhyming Slang, Holier Hoes, Craptions… the list goes on.
Some of the ongoing series we kicked off in 2010 include: