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Ken Layne's Top 10 Best Things about 2006

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Do you hear the wind howling his name? Ken Layne is coming back to Los Angeles. That's why the gods are washing off the streets and blowing the smog aside.

Wonkette's West Coast Bureau Chief began this year at the helm of the ridiculously funny and mindbogglingly weird Sploid. Instead of burning bridges, Nick Denton shuttered Sploid and moved the hilariously cranky Layne over to Wonkette in a rare move by the Gawker head, who usually chews up his former editors and spits 'em out.

But Ken Layne is a rare breed as is evidenced by his bitter farewell post on Sploid. Needless to say we were giddy when he agreed to submit a Top 10 list, which we gladly present to you:

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Happy Boxing Days, sellouts!

2006 is the year when I finally get to come home to LA after a four-year Exile in the Eastern Sierra up around Reno. The movers boxed up everything today. My beloved Jeep was hauled away by The People this afternoon. And the truck can't possibly hold all the liquor the movers wouldn't pack, due to discrimination. So I have to drink it all, now.

PS - If you have a really nice 3-bedroom house in the Silver Lake / Los Feliz / Echo Park area, I will take that. Contact me via Wonkette. Lease to own, whatever. Must be beautiful ... luckily that's not a rare thing in the neighborhood. Also, dog friendly. I've got Hunter. He is a good pal.

Top 10 Best Things about 2006 (mostly stuff was that released in 2006, and the rest I discovered in 2006) after the jump...

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* "A Charlie Brown Christmas" -- Vince Guaraldi Trio:
San Francisco cool-jazz trio makes tired old Christmas songs sound brand new, even after 40 years as the soundtrack of a holiday Peanuts cartoon. The network was furious about the jazz soundtrack, but jazzbo Chuck Shultz held his ground. Get the new iTunes version without the annoying Charlie Brown cartoon voice interludes; you can see that on the teevee, along with 70 fucking commercials about talking Elmo dolls.

* "Pick a Bigger Weapon" -- The Coup
Funniest, sexiest, angriest political record of the year. Routines are few and far between. It's all funk with Boots Riley's outrageous smooth soul voice and political commentary that prosecutes all political pundits as a bunch of punk-ass sellouts and collaborators.

* "A Scanner Darkly" -- Philip K. Dick/Richard Linklater
Read the book first, if you haven't already, and let it soak in a few weeks. Then put the weirdo live-action cartoon in the DVD machine and watch one of the rare movies that compliments a great topical comedy/horror novel marketed as "sci-fi." A cast of talented & well-known drug addicts only adds to the paranoid realism. Robert Downey is truly awesome.

* "Last Man Standing" -- Jerry Lee Lewis
The duet-with-younger-stars habit is rarely worth a listen, but the beloved Killer comes out of retirement on this record and proceeds to Kill all his collaborators. This produces a few embarrassing moments, but the actual talented duet partners realize they're in the presence of Wild Genius and just lay back and let Jerry Lee do his work. There are astonishing moments, like his total re-invention of Zeppelin's "Rock 'n Roll" and a drunken, crippled stagger down Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" and an equally wrecked yet beautiful "That Kind of Fool" with Keef Richards' tomcat harmony and country-tonk guitar.

* "Rebel Radio" -- Mere Mortals
I know these guys. They are pure rock art & play around the neighborhood. I hear they've got the Top Unsigned Airplay something or other. Forget that and pick this up from a quality indie record store in LA (or the iTunes). "Rebel Radio" is my favorite song of the year, a double-apocalypse update to "London Calling" and John Le Carre with a relentless anti-fascist militia stomp. And "The Hard Light" is a sonic masterpiece from some secret cyborg Stone Roses album from 2097.

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* "The Greatest" -- Cat Power
Sadly beautiful, with a sweet Memphis band backing her pretty drawl. It's a lot smoother and prettier than something like "You Are Free," which I also bought and heard for the first time this year, but the gamble worked. I love her voice so much that even her worst lyrics can't hurt me ... but most of her lyrics are perfectly doomed and lovely.

* "Macaca" -- George Allen
Thanks, dumbass! And to think people expected you to run for president in 2008.

* "New Train" -- Paul Pena
There's this fine documentary from a few years ago about a blind bluesman in San Francisco who hears Tuvan Throat Singing on the shortwave and masters the weird art ... and that led me to his album "New Train," which was recorded in the early '70s but held back for decades. Pena died last year at 55, but this record is a beautiful thing. Yes, "Jet Airliner" was covered by Steve Miller and you've heard it 10,000 times, but Pena's original is much sexier and downright scared.

* "King Dork" -- Frank Portman
My favorite Bay Area punk-rock poet -- Dr. Frank of the Mr. T Experience -- wrote a book that's sort of about rock 'n roll, and hippie parents, and a suburb that sounds like Walnut Creek, and sex, and band names. It is amazing. And unlike the Great Works my talented friends generally produce, "King Dork" is a massive success. Hooray, for once!

* "Modern Times"/Theme Time Radio Hour -- Bob Dylan
So dirty, so expertly recorded, so anti-modern. This is a perfect record. I still don't understand most of it, and like it that way. Dylan produced "Love & Theft," too, which might have a few better songs, but this thing sounds fantastic and just resonates. And whether or not you have the XM satellite radio, you can find bootleg copies of Dylan's absurdly hilarious & educational weekly radio show. Whether telling listeners to "look it up on the Yahoo" or giving his recipe for the perfect cocktail, Bob is a friendly & knowledgeable guide through the world of American Music, with regular detours to the British Isles and Jamaica. I always suspected Dylan must be real solid on the dancehall, reggae, rock steady and rude boy stuff. And he is. Knows his punk and soul and hillbilly and Big Band and vocal groups and jazz, too. And make sure to get the bootleg album art LA's beloved artist COOP made for each show.

* "I'm Your Man" (movie) -- Leonard Cohen / Others
There are awful parts (the inevitable U2/Bono segments) and great parts -- the ridiculously brilliant Rufus Wainwright and his many beautiful and/or tawdry versions of Cohen songs -- but it works best as a concert movie with some nice interviews with the poet laureate of Los Angeles. My goal in 2007 is to buy a whole bunch of Rufus Wainwright records and somehow get him to my dinner parties.

* "Idiocracy" (movie) -- Mike Judge
I saw this at the ArcLight in October, during its 20-day run in a few scattered theaters around the country. This is the most devastating movie I've ever seen. Fox deliberately killed it, because the "sci-fi" movie told the pathetic truth about America, today: The CostCo store is 50 miles long and filled with homeless encampments, a law school and the burning wreckage of crashed jetliners. The obese population is in danger of starving because a Sports Drink company got the government contract to irrigate crops -- the sports drink has the "electrolytes plants crave." Starbucks offers handjobs and coffee (Full Body Latte). The Carl's Jr. ATM spits out a savage "FUCK YOU, I'M EATING" when it takes your $200 and doesn't produce a cheeseburger.