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The Year in Culture

A mad mad mad mad 2008.


Okay, so maybe this wasn’t the year that culture took center stage. There were a couple of news events that proved a little distracting. And it would be hard to put your finger on the one book or the one movie or the one TV show or the one performance that made us all shut up and pay attention. Well, with the exception of Tina Fey. But throughout most of the arts, in lieu of singular hits, it was a surprisingly deep and fruitful year, with lots of just plain great, interesting stuff and a few moments that defied all reason, like Robert Downey Jr.’s crazy-assed channeling of a black person in Tropic Thunder. Or how about artist Urs Fischer’s digging a giant crater in the floor of a West Village gallery? People have complained for years that pop music has been stuck in a rut, but this year we had Santogold and TV on the Radio busting up traditional genres. Both classical and dance elevated exciting new stars who speak to a younger generation, and an old hand like Richard Price published what may be the strongest novel of his stellar career. In the following pages, our critics and writers recap all the best and most memorable things, as well as briefly rehearse the lowliest duds. And to engage our culturally literate city, we solicited opinions from outside the magazine, an unsurprising number of which were mad about Mad Men. After watching an episode, said novelist Nathaniel Rich, I need to have a vodka and milk just to calm down.


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