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Design of a Decade: The Best of the 00s

Because I can't get enough of listing shit, I give you four Top 25 lists. No eloquent critiques as backup. No wordy explanations behind each title. Just names of films, songs, books and television programs that have thoroughly entertained, moved and inspired me - and sent shockwaves throughout the known pop culture universe - during these last 10 years. The trickiest category to fill? Songs. How could I possibly select just 25 tracks from 62 volumes of mix CDs (that's over 1,300 tunes since Y2K)? I'm sure I'll be kicking myself for neglecting a couple of well-deserved tracks long after this is published. As for the films, after seeing over 550 flicks at the theater in 10 years (yes, I've kept track), only two of my top choices were viewed for the first time on DVD.

You see, there were no such things as blogs back in the 90s, so humor me...won't you?


25 IN FILM


1. Children of Men (2006)
2. About a Boy (2002)
3. Milk (2008)
4. Up in the Air (2009)
5. Traffic (2000)
6…


2009: REWIND

Transition.

If we could sum up the final year of this decade in one word, it would be this. It's a theme that's been running throughout the last twelve months. A transition in our government. A transition in our relationships. A transition in our careers...Yes, 2009 saw nearly everyone I know and their mother collectively press the Reset button on their lives - whether they liked it or not - with the hopes of it bringing a change for the better. Bags were packed and shipped off to new cities. Jobs were lost and then placed upon the shoulders of others. Trusts were betrayed, ending long-running relationships. Rights were stripped away, leaving millions wondering whether or not their country is a place where everyone is truly equal. For lack of a better rollercoaster metaphor, emotions were as up and down as they could get.

I believe I speak for most of my friends and family when I say, "We're kinda over you, '09...Where you at, 2010?"



As we bid adieu to the 2000s…


The Definition of Friends

Over the past few years, those who know me have seen me - camera in hand - always ready to capture a moment, immortalize a memory.

And while going over some footage, I decided to put together a little montage of moments I've shared with some friends of mine. Why? Because a) I'm a sucker for montages with sappy music. b) I'm currently addicted to iMovie on my new Mac and c) I love each and every one of my friends and realize how lucky I am to have such special people in my life. Consider this a little viral Christmas gift to those who have touched my life.

Allow me to introduce you to some of them:


All I Want For Christmas

Dear Santa,

Remember me? From New Rochelle, New York? Chubby 5-year-old recipient of Duncan, that Cabbage Patch Doll you dropped off at 45 Potter Avenue back in '85?

Hi.

I just wanted to drop a line since it's been nearly twenty years since we last communicated. Things have changed since then, to say the least, and I thought now would be a good time to catch you up to speed on where I'm at in my life and see if you're still accepting wish lists from 29-year-old writers who have nothing better to do than sit at a desk and obsessively analyze pop culture on a weekly basis. Don't worry, it's nothing too big or challenging, like your standard request for World Peace...or a comeback vehicle for Valerie Bertinelli. I realize you're no miracle worker, and I'm sure lugging around thousands of Guitar Heros for brats who pretty much don't even deserve a yo-yo must have you reaching for the Vicodin every few hours.

Not every item on this list is for me. Most of …


Video of the Year

Without a doubt.

Possibly the best music video since Beyonce told us to "put a ring on it."

May I present Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance." (And if you're just hearing about this now, where have you been in the last...8 hours?)


The Soundtrack to My Life: 1999-2009

Someday, when I'm asked the question "What was the first song you ever downloaded from the Internet?" I will have my answer ready (it's the first track listed below). I remember it the way a mother would remember her toddler's first spoken word.

I first started making mix CDs back in the fall of 1999 from a corner dorm room on the fifth floor of Boston University's Warren Towers. This was during the heyday Napster, before iPods or iAnythings had infiltrated the student body. Thanks to several dormmates whose CD burners I took advantage of, I was able to set aside the tape cassettes containing tunes I'd record off the radio (the 90s, so primitive) and put together improved compilations with better audio quality (MP3s, who knew?) and without snippets from those gabbing radio DJs who would always talk over the opening of a song (so annoying). With the help of my friend Christina, who had always relied on me for new tunage, I named this series of mixes Burnt, …


Random Thought of the Week #12

What is Elisabeth Shue doing right now?

Fun fact: She won the Best Actress Award for Adventures in Babysitting...at the Paris Film Festival in 1987.

Seriously.

H.P.M.


When Hiko Met Oprah

Much like Kathy Griffin, I have a daydream in which I get booked to be a guest on Oprah in order to promote and talk about my book, The First Echo: Memoirs of a Pop Culture Junkie.

And after reading the foreword in Ms. Griffin's current book, I was slightly disappointed to find out that she opens her memoirs the same way I would begin mine. Hers is a more desperate plea of a love letter to visit those Harpo Studios, sit on that Chicago stage, and shoot the shit with Gayle. My opening would be a more detailed envisioning, from the outfit Oprah would wear (something purple) to the spontaneously combusting housewives in the audience who just can't hold it together because it's Oprah. Muthaf**king. Winfrey. Oh, and then there's the introduction O would give me, announcing my name in her trademark vowel stretching: "Please welcome Hikoooooooo!" We sit, she gushes, and then she tells me to stick around for the surprise celebrity guest who's a fan of my book - a…


The Love Lives of Others

"But everyone's a vacant heart, when will love move in?
It's in the news that we all lose when love ain't moving in.
I only have these empty rooms, and they're all filled with space,
And I can't seem to find much love in this place,
And the doors that close behind leave me standing cold outside..."


- "Vacant Heart" by Frankmusik

After witnessing the stress, heartache and overall relationship drama several of my closest friends have gone through in the past year (2009, you've been quite the banner year for breakups), it's easy to subscribe to the Why Bother? school of thought. Why bother entering a relationship when it will only end in tears, disappointment and destroyed trust? Why bother being with someone who will eventually let you down and shatter every expectation you had ever had? Why bother taking the risk? Why gamble with your emotions?

All of these questions only imply a sense of hopelessness, which can lead to cynicism, which can only…


Red Carpet Whore

Two in one week. Here and here.


I'm With the DJ

If you haven't heard, I will be what kids call "spinning" at The Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood on Saturday October 3. The Pleasure Chest is a store where you can buy furry handcuffs, DVDs labeled with lots of X's, and devices of the rubbery and vibrating kind. It's an L.A. landmark.

Fun is to be had. Beats are to be played. And your groove is to be...gotten on?

Stop by and say hi, won't you?


And It's 1994 All Over Again...

Going home tonight to catch the first episode of this much-hyped reboot...and trying to keep my expectations low. I mean, really, no prime-time soap can come close to laundry room bombs, cult-joining strippers, breastfeeding kidnappers and bedhopping ad execs (Sorry, Mad Men's Sterling Cooper, you got nothing on those bitches at D&D).

I'm crossing my fingers (and ordering a pizza).

H.P.M.


L.A. Is On Fire

...and not in a Rolling Stone Hot 100 Issue kind of way. And no, that isn't a screencap from some alien invasion disaster pic.





Photos courtesy of The Los Angeles Times.


I've Been Converted

First a BlackBerry...and now this.

Folks, I've gone Mac.

Swung by the Apple Store at the Grove last night and, with some friends by my side to witness the delivery, I became the proud father of a titanium 13.5-inch MacBook Pro. And a sweet bonus: I got a free iPod Classic and printer on top of the discount I got for flashing my college ID (um, yeah. I know).

PC, please don't feel betrayed. I still use you at work. It's just...I go both ways now.

H.P.M.


Melrose Invasion

The billboards are everywhere here in L.A., and if you live anywhere near the actual Place, chances are you've seen at least a dozen of these declaring "Tuesday's the new humpday" or "Tuesdays are a bitch."

I am eagerly awaiting the September 8 premiere even though I hear the pilot is crap. I'm really just in it for Michael and Sydney (how are they gonna explain that one? However, I do hear things improve by episode 3, albeit without the high camp factor that made Season 3 of the original series primetime soap nirvana.




Where Was I?

So, after several months of producing shorts, whoring myself on the film festival circuit, traveling back East, dabbling in several freelance writing gigs, making deadlines, suffering from delusions of VIP grandeur and continuing to carry out my editor duties on the new and improved HotterInHollywood.com -- on top of a full-time day job -- I feel that I must apologize for neglecting my firstborn, The First Echo, and not giving it the same love and attention with which I've been showering my other projects.

As expected, summer is whooshing by at the speed of light, and I -- like many of those youngin's who will soon have fresh pencils to sharpen, notebooks to crack open and overpriced textbooks to purchase -- am sad to see it go. Although some argue that summer never really ends here in Los Angeles, our collective consciousness tells us that, no matter what the climate, Fall isn't too far off with its promises of cashmere goodness, pumpkin-spiced lattes and exciting new tel…


Random Thought of the Week #11

Not so much a random thought as it is a declaration...

I finally got a friggin' BlackBerry. An 8830 World Edition, to be exact. You know, for when I'll be hopping around the globe on tour. Ain't it cute?

Let the madness begin.


The Seven-Year Bitch

Last month I took a dip in a pool of Douchebaggery.

I had been called "Bro" for the very first time in my life by a dude who could have easily stepped out of a casting session for VH1's Tool Academy. Greased hair. A tan on top of a tan. Shirt unbuttoned well below the chest. Corona in hand. All that was missing was an Ed Hardy trucker cap and a T-shirt reading "Megan Fox, Call Me." I'm sure this fine young gentleman had the best intentions and was well accomplished beyond his achievements in beer pong and Grand Theft Auto.

I was introduced to said greaser and several of his characteristically similar friends when I stopped by Julie's apartment in Studio City to drop off her belated birthday card and kill some time before my Saturday night plans started to take shape (gone was the plan to meet up with Swaga at a BET party somewhere in the hills). When I arrived, Julie was prepping herself for a night on the town with a bunch of girlfriends. When said hooc…


Stealing Sucks

Voila!

The second anti-piracy PSA I produced in the Stealing Sucks series has made its way to the interwebs. Directed by my wonderfully talented and good friend Michael Medico (Head HIHer), this is the project that had consumed most of my life for the month of May.

We couldn't be any prouder of the finished product. Enjoy:



H.P.M.


The Warm Up: Summer 2009, Vol. 1

So, you hated the new Terminator. You're pumped for the new season of So You Think You Can Dance. And you can smell those 4th of July hot dogs right around the corner. Yes, summer is steppin' out, ready to bewilder, bewitch and bother. And what's summer without another mix compiled by yours truly?

Go ahead, sync this playlist to your iPod and toss it in the beach bag next to that trashy paperback and SPF 30. You can thank me when the last track is played...

1. "Outta Here" by Esmee Denters:



2. "Road Trip" by Darin

3. "Goodbye" by Kristinia DeBarge

4. "Energetic" by BoA

5. "I Do Not Hook Up" by Kelly Clarkson

6. "Battlefield" by Jordin Sparks - Thankfully, no Pat Benatar samples found here.

7. "In the Heat of the Night" by Star Pilots

8. "Let's Get Excited" by Alesha Dixon:



9. "Blame It" by Jamie Foxx - The perfect excuse for that steamy one-night stand after your friend's beach party.

10…


Baby's First Film Festival

Bitch, the short film I produced with Michael (as in Medico, the director), made its film fest debut at the British Film Festival earlier this month. The Custom Hotel hosted a pre-party for the premiere of Stiff Luv during which our little, low-budget baby was screened for an audience at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Needless to say, it was a late night (read: midnight screening).


The poolside party was a blur of pomegranate mojitos, flashing lights and semi-sincere schmoozing under the stars.

Thanks to Brandon Klock for the red carpet snapshots. Having our own private paparazzi for those few minutes while buzzed on cheap champagne was quite awesome.

And just think, we got two more of these to look forward to this summer: QFest in Philadelphia and Outfest here in Los Angeles. Both in the same week.


Bring. It. On.

H.P.M.