Here we are, the ass-end of 2008. Iím 28 years old now. If you would have told me five years ago that Iíd make it to 28 years old I would have stolen your beer, pissed on your living room floor, and then for good measure Iíd have laughed right in your face. But here I sit, 28 years old, still here, still ticking, and possibly looking and feeling better than I ever have before. Years ago, as a child, I thought the 2000's would have brought us such things as flying automobiles and fast food restaurants in the sky. But it seems things arenít and werenít and wonít be what we all really thought would and should be, and thatís fine. Thatís life.

These years have gone by quickly and thatís not a bad thing. Itís said that the older you get the quicker times whizz by, and already at my ripe age am I sensing this. Gone are the Live Fast Die Young ideals I once embraced heavily. Instead now, Iím trying to sit back and try my best to not only embrace the good times but also to enjoy them and experience them wholeheartedly and more often.

2008 has been a year of many lessons learned, both good and bad. At this point in my life Iím willing to take the good with the bad and vice versa. 2008 taught me how to say uncle. It taught me that I may need to bend slightly, compromise even, sometimes in order to experience the best situation possible for myself and those that surround me. This doesnít mean that I have a paper ass or that Iím a pushover by any means, it just means that Iíve discovered that thereís a right time and a right place for everything.

TOP 11 (because top 10 lists are for pussies) OF 2008 (in no particular order):

11. Portions From A Wine-Stained Notebook by Charles Bukowski
Iíve been a Bukowski fan for years now. You can say what you want about the man and his writing, but to me Bukowski is just as important to writing as the Ramones are to punk or Black Flag is to hardcore. Portions... is a newly published collection of essays and short stories. Portions... has made me realize what a fun read Bukowski can really be. This is certainly not the place for a first time Buk reader to start, instead Iíd recommend the novels Post Office or Ham On Rye or his collections of poetry titled Love Is A Dog From Hell or Last Night Of the Earth Poems, but if you are or have been a follower this is the perfect book to pick up. Highlights for me are stories/essays where he writes of meeting his mentor/idol, John Fante. Easily one of the best reads of the year. There are hundreds of thousands of imitators but even nearly 15 years after the mans death itís very apparent that nobody can do Bukowski like Bukowski.

10. ďPaper TrailĒ CD - T.I. (some big fucking superman major label)
You can say what you want about mainstream hip-hop. You can tell me itís trash, complete bullshit, stupid, moronic jack-assery thatís only concerned with image and the promotion of glorifying a life of ignorance, and 9 times out of 10 Iíll agree with you. You can tell me Iím a jagoff all you want for liking it but youíre a liar and an idiot if you claim you can deny the catchiness and brilliance of such songs as Whatever You Like and Live Your Life. This album was apparently written while TI was on house arrest for possession of machine guns and is by far the best hip-hop/rap album of the year. 16 songs with 1 stinker, and thatís absolutely unheard of in a genre where 12 out of 16 tracks usually blow the goatís sac. If you are to purchase 1 rap CD this year and youíre not sure of what to pick up, pick this up.

9. The Teeners 7"s (Rocket Reducer and Super Secret Records)
The Teeners from Austin, TX came to me out of nowhere this year. I had never heard a thing about the band. Never cared to hear a thing about the band. Never, not once, even gave a single solitary motherfuck about a band called the Teeners. Then BOOM! Out of nowhere they took the stage at Chicagoís Totally Wired Fest and theyíve been crawling (welcomingly) up my ass ever since. Both 7"s on Rocket Reducer and Super Secret records are a welcome breath of fresh air in this stagnant fucking genre of music. They have the perfect mix of 60's garage/rock, Rip Off Records style punk, and hardcore/punk aggression done unassumingly, which is the best part. Completely fucked up, moronic, and essential as far as punk bands go in the latter part of the early 2000's.

8. Bill Bondsmen ďSwallowed By the WorldĒ LP/CD (Dead Beat Records)
Iíve followed the Bill Bondsmen from very early on. From the beginning Iíve claimed them to be one of the best bands in punk and if this album doesnít prove so Iíll personally swallow a bag of the oldest old lady cooze this world has to offer. I mean this is one well-rounded nearly flawless hardcore/punk album from start to finish, rare in a genre that usually puts forth its best output on a 6 song 45. You get it all from the Bondsmen: Short fast angry numbers, longer droning numbers with herky-jerky starts/stops, and top notch lyrics ranging from humorous to angry to fun to intellectual. If you like hardcore/punk just get this fucking thing already.

7. Bad Chopper S/T LP/CD (Acme Records)
Donít let the fact that a former Ramone fronts this band deter you from picking up this piece of vinyl. 12 numbers in all and not a single stinker. Top notch production courtesy of legendary Ramones producer Daniel Rey and with special guest lead guitar on a track or two by legendary Heartbreakers guitarist Walter Lure. Sure, you get plenty of Ramones influence, but done with far more aggression, haste, and rock & roll swagger than most whose influences lean heavily in said direction. The full-time accompaniment of Mark Sheehan (Out Cold/GG Allin) on drums, guitar, backing vocals, and even lead vocals on one track definitely doesnít hurt either. Easily the most fun record Iíve heard all year.

6. I Have Fun Everywhere I Go... by Mike Edison
Mike Edison has led the kind of life any red-blooded American kid could ever hope to lead. The guy was/is a pornographer, an avid weed smoker, a wrestler, a writer, a party machine, the editor of High Times, the drummer of the Raunch Hands, he did stints with GG Allin, Sharkeyís Machine, the Pleasure Fuckers, and countless others, plus he managed to write what is definitely the most entertaining and well-written memoir Iíve read in years. This book has it all: Fun, sex, heartache, happiness, drugs, booze, mayhem, and plenty of jaw droppers along the way. Unless youíre an illiterate ape Iíd suggest you get yourself out to your local library or bookstore and read this book.

5. Chronic Seizure ďAncient WoundĒ LP (Fashionable Idiots)
Itís no secret to anybody about how I feel about this band and about how Iím always spouting off about how each release gets better and better and about how this time I really mean it. Well, Iím saying it again: This is Chronic Seizureís best release yet. By far. The musicianship is tighter than ever, the vocals far more menacing, and the lyrics just as, if not more so, venomous as ever. Chicagoís best live hardcore/punk band has just put out one of the years top 2 hardcore/punk studio albums. Buy this thing and if you donít love it Andy Peterson of Fashionable Idiots will personally refund your money, and tell him Coppens sentcha. Just email him at: fashionableidiotsrecords-at-gmail.com

4. Down and Out On Murder Mile by Tony OíNeill
Down and Out... is the second autobiographical novel by Tony OíNeill. Tony was a would-be British rock star in his early twenties playing keyboards with Brian Jonestown Massacre, a Brit-pop band called the Catsuits, and a slew of others, but whose own inclination into the world of heroine and crack-cocaine abuse sidetracked his career and he ended up throughout much of his twenties a down and out (hence the title of the book) junkie/drug addict. This second book takes place mostly in Londonís Murder Mile, a place Iíve never been to, but it sounds to me to be about what your average street in Detroit, MI would be like: guns, drugs, prostitution, murder, etc. While the book revolves heavily around drug use, it does not glamorize it or make it look cool. Instead it gives you a desperate insight into the head of a man whoís simply screaming inside for some sort of real peace. I wonít give away this book, but just know itís a great read written from the mind of a man who knows what itís like to have gone mad. If you enjoy the work of Hubert Selby, Jr., Dan Fante, or Jerry Stahl Iíd say give this one a stab.

3. Wild Billy Childish and the MBEís ďThatcherís ChildrenĒ LP/CD (Damaged Goods)

2. The Prostitutes ďKill Them Before They EatĒ CD (May Cause Dizziness)
My brain is aching. My guts are screaming. My girlfriendís a bitch. I want to die. I want to commit open murder on anything moving in the city streets. Iíve been drunk for days. My gums are bleeding. My teeth are falling out of my head. I hate everything. My nose wonít stop bleeding. I donít know who the snoring fat naked bitch beside me in my bed is. I canít stop vomiting. I have 12 cents to live on for 2 weeks. My cupboards are bare. My refrigerator is empty. My pillow is missing. I donít know where I am or whose floor I just woke up on. I have crabs crawling on my balls. My cock is leaking puss. Iíve fallen and donít want to get up. I feel like thereís no way to win. Ever feel that way? Well then this is the perfect soundtrack for you. Snotty and punk as fuck. First one from the legendary Prostitutes in many years and guess what? Theyíre even better than they were before. Get this or donít. Itís your loss if you skip it.

A Million Dollar Matt Coppens year end list/column just wouldnít be the same if I didnít include a little something about what Iíve been doing this year. Well, Iíve been building plenty of snowmen and have been drinking several virgin pina coladas but Iíve also begun fronting *gasp* a new band! Weíre a four piece punk-rock band with influences ranging from Black Flag to New Bomb Turks to Negative Approach to Solger to Teengenerate. Weíre going for a kind of rock & roll/hardcore/punk/self-destructo/el-masturbato sound, if you can grasp that (I canít). Anyway, check it out. There will hopefully be a record released on somebodies label once we record (Any takers?) Within the next few months, but for now you can either check out our Myspace profile here or if youíre in the Chicago area or in any surrounding Midwest city just look for us live. We want to love you.

Thatís that. 2008. It was OK.
-Matt ďMoney ShotĒ Coppens

Contact Coppens: freakodepresso-at-hotmail-dot-com
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