As we close the door on 2017, it is time for our annual FAVES edition. Here’s a compendium of those things that most gave us joy in this year of the eclipse!
MOVIES: “Get Out,” “Split,” “Logan,” “Wind River,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Roman J. Israel,” “Ingrid Goes West,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Mudbound,” “Dunkirk,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Boss Baby,” “Wonder Woman,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
DOCUMENTARY: “The Rape of Recy Taylor.”
TV: “Game of Thrones,” “The Deuce,” “Feud: Bette and Joan,” “News One Now,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Fear The Walking Dead,” “Desus & Mero,” “The Untitled Action Bronson Show,” “The Carmichael Show” and “Survivor,”
MUSIC: Jay-Z – “4:44,” Lorde – “Melodrama,” Raul Midon – “Bad Ass and Blind,” Mali Music – “The Transition of Mali,” SZA – “Ctrl,” “Steve Winwood Live,” Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley – “Stony Hill,” Sheryl Crow – “Be Myself,” Daley – “The Spectrum,” Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Live From The Fox Oakland” and Musiq Soulchild – “Feel The Real.”
CONCERT: Wyclef Jean showed his supreme chops with but a DJ/keyboardist in tow. The former Fugees mainstay rotated from one instrument to another with verve — not to mention the wicked free-styling. Maceo Parker rocked NYC’s BB King’s on a Sunday night this fall like a tireless grandmaster of funk, soul and jazz. And that was a day after Remy Ma rocked the joint! Nothing prepared me for the miracle that is Raul Midon at City Winery Atlanta.
THEATER: “The Bodyguard,” starring Deborah Cox, had everybody on their feet partying and singing during the tour encore at Charlotte’s Blumenthal Theatre.
TRAVEL: NYC’s One World Observatory is the closest thing to seeing Manhattan and its neighboring hoods from a helicopter. An emotional must-visit destination.
DINING: Taste of the Nation, Melba’s (Harlem), Kuroshiro (Atlanta) and Blaze Pizza.
EVENTS: FOX Upfront (NYC) is still the crème of the crop. No need to tamper with a sure-fire winner. Red Bull Curates BrunchBeat transformed Norman (Brooklyn) with a combination of art, jazz, a daring DJ, Instagram worthy plates and wake-up cocktails. Add some of the savviest young social media sensations and it became the gathering you didn’t want to leave.
And now some FAVES from our esteemed celebrity guests:
LUENELL – Comic/Actress (“Lopez”) MOVIES: “The Big Sick,” “Girls Trip” and “My Friend Dahmer.” TV: “Feud: Bette and Joan” was perfection. “The Deuce,” “Ballers,” “Black-ish,” Roland Martin’s “News One Now,” and “The New Edition Story.” MUSIC: Andra Day is giving me life. Loving Kendrick Lamar and Sam Smith. BOOKS: Jennifer Lewis’ “Mother of Black Hollywood” and Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step.” Not only did Bobby lose Whitney, he lost the child they had. So that whole relationship is purged off the face of the earth like it was a bad dream. I really respect him because he turned his life around. He’s got a new wife, kids, a happy life and his cooking line. Even though Bobby used to be … , he’s really the success story actually. TRAVEL: Seychelles Islands to do a show for a sheik. It was very upscale. They put me on Emirates Airlines, which is the Bellagio Hotel of air travel. It was bananas. CONCERTS: Goapele, Keyshia Cole and MC Hammer resurrected at Staples Center. I’m from Oakland and have known Hammer for 33 years. My daughter got to dance backup for him. To sit in that audience where Michael Jackson’s funeral was, where the Lakers play, and see my daughter up there buck buck bucking to “Too Legit To Quit” was a full circle moment. Kindred the Family Soul does a joint at Warmdaddy’s in Philly every Monday that is funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter. Thelma Houston is killing the game on the low at 74. Saw Melba Moore who still got her pipes, baby.
DAVID ALAN GRIER – Actor (“The Big Sick”)/Writer (ChocolateGlutton.com) – MOVIE: “Okja.” “Get Out” was the most fun. MUSIC: Chance the Rapper, Serpent With Feet’s “Blisters.” BOOK: “How To Survive In Prison” DINING: Providence in L.A. There are only two restaurants that have three Michelin stars and it was amazing. It was very high end. Then there was Totoraku. It’s a storefront with a Japanese chef, eight or nine tables in a non-descript restaurant in West L.A. You have to personally know someone to bring you in. No pomp, no circumstance. It’s just food. I’m kind of over the chef’s tasting menu where you’re held hostage. I ate at Eleven Madison Park in New York City. I mean literally the food started at five and it was still going at nine!
JB SMOOVE – Comic/Actor/Author (“The Book of Leon”) – MOVIE: “Logan” was awesome. I liked the little girl. She was sick with it. TV: I love “The Walking Dead.” I’m starting to like “Fear The Walking Dead” more now. BOOK: Kevin Hart’s “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons.” TRAVEL: The Bahamas. I’ve been there plenty of times but it’s also about the company. DINING: Jikoni Café in Norfolk, Virginia. This little vegan restaurant is also a book store and has poetry readings.
AIMEE GARCIA – Actress (“Lucifer”) – TV: “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Broad City.” MOVIES: “Call Me By Your Name.” Timothée Chalamet is incredible! BOOKS: “Crazy Is My SuperPower” by AJ Mendez Brooks. It’s witty, hysterical and heartbreaking. DINING: Night + Market Song has the best Thai food in the city. CONCERT: Bruno Mars. His dance moves are epic!
ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE – Actor (“Ten Days in the Valley”)/Writer/Producer/Director (“Farming”) – DESIGNERS: Issey Miyake and Yamamoto, because their stuff is like art. It’s original, quirky and really comfortable. They use fabrics that just feel great on the body. Also they make clothes big enough for big brothers. That’s the secret. DINING: On March 7, I dined with Princess Anne and my family when awarded with an honorary PhD in Literature by King’s College, where I studied. TRAVEL: We shot “Wetlands” in a coastal town in New Jersey in the spring and it was a beautiful place. I was surprised because I hear so many things about Jersey and they’re not always good. I was like; they don’t know what they’re talking about. This is cool.
JAMES PICKENS JR. – Actor (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The X-Files”)/Producer (“One Last Prayer”) – MOVIE: “Get Out” was really smart and original. “American Made” kind of flew under the radar, but it was an interesting film. I’m not a real Tom Cruise fan, but he did a great job. MUSIC: Bruno Mars. TRAVEL: San Ysidro Ranch near Montecito. DINING: My wife’s restaurant, The Black Bottom Southern Café in North Hollywood, has a great brisket and what they call Purloo, which is kind of a cousin to Jambalaya. BOOK: “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.
STANLEY CLARKE – Musician (“Bass Ball”)/Composer – MUSIC: Mohini Dey. She really can play. I like Esperanza Spalding and all that, but this girl is kicking some dudes seriously in the butt. BOOK: “History of The Bible.” TRAVEL: Switzerland. The most manicured country in the world. BEST PHILLY CHEESESTEAK: Jim’s, man, on South Street.
MARIO VAN PEEBLES – Actor/Producer/Director (SyFy’s “Superstition”) – TRAVEL: Guana Island, British Virgin Islands. PASTIME: Hanging out with my dad and listening to his stories. He clearly gets the joke of life! MOMENT: Squashing my kids and tickling them, including Morgana! INDULGENCE: Indulging in myself to believe that I’ve been good for the planet this year; a force for good. FAVE SAYING: There are three loves in life: Do what you love, work with people you love and try to say something you love with it.
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.