The Last Estate

2022: The Year in Joy – The Last Estate

2022: The Year in Joy

2022 has been a year almost entirely devoid of joy. I1 speak for myself only here, not for any of my colleagues/cohabitants at The Last Estate or any of the ghosts2 that pace its halls and transambulate through its crumbling walls. But for me, and perhaps me only, 2022 has been a joyless year. I’ve been lost. I’ve been sad. I’ve watched few movies. I’ve finished no books. I’ve retreated from art, with its overstimulating formal innovations and relentless obsession with making its audience experience emotion, and into the deadening, Pavlovian prisons of YouTube and gacha games. Again and again, when given the option between feeling and not, I’ve chosen not.


In doing so, I have not simply been depriving myself, I’ve been betraying my housemates. I sold them on our mutual literary exile in this Mississippi quagmire3 on a vision of a publication that would transcend our dead culture, murdered by algorithmic outrage and the mirrored self-torture chamber of social media, and refocus our readers’ attention on the joy inherent in art, in its creation and its consumption.


And now, as we arrive at the end of our first year in “print,”4 I take an accounting and find myself lacking. I haven’t simply fallen short of that vision; I’ve fallen through the rotted floorboards of this entire bullshit edifice and am drowning in the overflow from the backed up septic tank.5 And the number of collaborators that I’m disappointing just keeps growing. Throughout out the year, we’ve taken in more strays and stragglers. The house is fuller6 than it has ever been, and my heart is emptier.


in a last ditch attempt to salvage this doomed enterprise and ease my own conscience, I confronted presented the writers-in-residence7 of the estate with the following pitch:


Hey guys, 


I think I want to try to do a sort of year-in-review piece to go up next Thursday or Friday and I’m looking for input from anyone and everyone who wants to participate.


Here’s what I’m looking for: as little as one sentence and as much as one paragraph on the artistic work that brought you the most joy this year. This could be anything you consider art, so books, movies, games, music, paintings, whatever; it’s all good. It also doesn’t have to be something released this year, just something you experienced this year (so it can be a classic film you watched for the first time or whatever).8


I had just one restriction:9 no self-promotion, and no picking work created by fellow estate residents, twitter mutuals, or personal friends.10 I wanted to get at the love of art for its own sake, completely divorced of social pressure or vanity or narcissism.


And, well, I’ve already belabored this introduction enough. You understand how this article format works. It’s a pretty standard clickbait template. I asked a question. I got responses. I’ve copy/pasted the responses below. My unpaid labor is done for the year. See you in 2023.11



Derek Maine


At the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore Maryland I experienced a private, spiritual moment with my son in Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family (Esther Krinitz’s embroidery story of survival). I was sent there by Sabrina Small, from the Berlin offices. I will remember that moment, sitting next to him, and the words we shared, for as long I live. The work of art may fade from view and recede into gray matter, but my son’s expression will last. Art brings people together, creates connections, crosses continents and centuries.



D’urban Moffer


Signalwave (mixed with equal parts Gemini Home Video and Local58TV) has been a constant source of inspiration for the past cycle and will be for the imminent future. My brain’s obviously electromagnetically damaged.



Forrest Muelrath


I sat on Steve Cannon’s couch for about three hours chatting about life in New York,  poetry, the crowd around Steve, the crowd around the couch. The couch was on the 6th floor of the Whitney Museum during the 2021 Biennial. I never met Steve Cannon. By the time I arrived in New York, Steve was in a place in his career where any young poet would want to be in the room that Steve was in. I was never the kind of guy to try to get in the room with the guy everybody wanted to be in the room with, so I never went to Steve’s room, but I heard about it. Steve’s room was on East 3rd street and it had the best kind of New York vibe. He held poetry readings there, and it was also the offices for the magazine Tribes, which Steve founded in 1990 with a xerox machine, completely blind from Glaucoma at the time, and continued working on essentially until his death in 2019. Steve’s room had a vibe, and to honor the space Steve’s art collective, The Gathering of the Tribe, cut up the walls and reassembled the main section of the apartment on the 6th floor of the Whitney — including books, ephemera, a couch, a beat up coffee table with a used  ashtray. On an old video cassette machine played likely the last interview with Steve, conducted by Anne Waldman, another one of my favorite poets. I was with my friend Austin. Austin tells me he was a poet when he was young, before he started making money on the stock market. Austin tells me he’s not writing poetry now (sometimes people lie about this), but he was always around it, and he was around Steve’s room as often as possible. The ash tray was full of butts, the museum was packed with tourists, and people were rushing through to try to cram in the viewing of sixty-plus art pieces, each one potentially worth a lifetime. You had to really be in poetry to spend much time in Steve’s corner of the museum, and most people in big art shows like that are more in it for the visuals. Austin and I were in it for the poems. He started telling me stories as we sat on the old couch, and it started to feel like home. We lit up some of our own cigarettes, inspired by Steve’s old ashtray sitting in front of us. It must have looked unsettling to people — the two of us sitting inside that shiny new museum, smoking butts. Someone came up to us and asked us if we were real — as if we were a hologram, actors, or maybe even ghosts. Even one of the professional tour guides hired by the Whitney asked us in earnest if we were supposed to be part of the exhibition. I’m telling this story now because out of all the shit I’ve seen, read, or heard, across two continents, as well the entire internet, it reminded me how important it is to have a space for community, where you can develop your own language, and come to some kind of consensus about the way we want the world to be and the kind of things we want in it. Whether it be a basement apartment turned baptist church in Brownsville, or an unabashed simulacra, like the Whitney exhibit, or a simulation, like The Last Estate. And I will gladly sit on that filthy couch and smoke whatever I please in places like these, shout about what I like and don’t like, as Steve did, and go on making things a little bit better for everyone around me. You should check out Steve Cannon’s writing and read about his life, if you haven’t already.



Gabriel Hart

I’ve already written about Blonde, both the novel and film, here and there this year, and I am going to do it a third time here because the joy it brought me is complicated. In fact, Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates novel did not bring me what you might call joy—me and my dear friend were slackjawed in abject empathic horror as we watched it, astonished like witnessing a dam break; so powerful I’m not sure if I could watch it again. To me, it was so affirmative of its intent that maybe it only called for a single satisfied viewing.


What did bring me joy was its immediate aftermath, its ripples turned tidal as it sparked a full-blown culture war between its champions and detractors. I rejoiced to witness a work of art so potent that it made people argue viciously of its importance—one side calling it trash, the other saying it was the cinematic event of 2022 that delivered exceedingly. Ironically, the way “Hollywood” headlines reacted to the film ‘Blonde’ was similar to how the old studios treated Marilyn: misinterpreting beauty, underestimating talent while condemning an expressive provocateur. Falling lockstep with every mainstream publication who panned the film, online social justice warriors had the nerve yet lack of imagination to denounce the film as “anti-feminist” and “anti-abortion,” while intelligent, cultured adults like us immediately understood it as a portrayal of (and really, a protest against) exploitation.


The fact that a work of art in 2022 created that much of a cultural upheaval gives me immediate joy and a rare hope for the future, and the flames that Blonde stoked last fall still keep me very warm during this cold winter.



Gianluca Cameron


Tokyo Girls Bravo is a paperback showcasing the works of various female Japanese pop artists. It has an introduction by famous male practitioner Takashi Murakami. These works are accompanied by short biographies of the artist – with photographs involving either the women surrounded by books and manga or the practitioners instead engaged in everyday activities (hanging out, eating, working etc.). The works range from the expressionistic to the clean and flat. Mahomi Kunikata’s work is similar to the works of Twitter internet ‘outsider artists’ but is, I feel, a lot better as it feels like it comes from a more specifically psychological place due to existing in the realm of high art rather than the realm of social media which necessarily drives expression to be more general so as to achieve maximum attention. It also demonstrates that all of us, no matter how much we proclaim ourselves to be outsiders, are drawing on a tradition (perhaps one we are not aware of). This is perhaps humbling but the reminder that all works are in conversation with something helps keep us grounded and not making works that are self-obsessed and appeal to no-one. All the works are an excellent merging of libidinal fantasy, autobiographical detail and an appreciation for the small details of solitary life. There is a great diversity of both mediums and modes of expression – the book presents the works in a matter-of-fact, minmalist matter appropriate to the works. They are allowed to speak for themselves. Once you take a look at the earnest, beautiful pop art contained within this book, this encounter with alterity will change you. Why is the modern Western pop art scene so devoid with engagement with the fetish, the obsession, the loneliness, the blending of myth and the cityscape and the life surrounded by the symbols? These works are spiritually enriching in a manner beyond the capabilities of any transcedant fresco.



Jesse Hilson


A few weeks ago I loaded up on caffeine and having forgotten my meds took a mildly trippy, scenic drive down through the snow-encrusted Catskills to pick up my daughter after her first semester at an unnamed college. I don’t drive anywhere outside of my county so it was an adventure, and if I had to give an example of an artistic experience that was connected to some cool underground shit I would say a podcast I listened to while driving through the winter mountains was Deviate with Rolf Potts about the Beat Generation dissident Charles Plymell. Plymell thought that Kerouac was a wannabe mama’s boy with a football scholarship and not a true representative of the Beats, whereas Burroughs was cool enough and Plymell got along with him. Plymell who’s like in his 90s lives in Cherry Valley not far from me in upstate NY. He was responsible for the first printing of Robert Crumb’s path-breaking underground comic Zap Comix in San Francisco in the late 60s. The guy is underground royalty. I had heard of Plymell but never heard his poetry until I listened to him reading from his book Apocalypse Rose on the Belgian underground radio show L’étranger a few days earlier. (William Duryea asked us when coming up with these testimonials not to give our 2022 experiences in relation to our mutuals to avoid promoting our friends due to social pressure.) Ok I will try not to do that although the discovery of the radio show L’étranger was one of the most potent and remarkable artistic experiences for me in 2022 and I barely know the DJ—instead I’ll say it’s Plymell: I asked for two of his books for Christmas including Apocalypse Rose and his 1971 authentic Beat Generation novel The Last of the Moccasins which had a cover painted by underground painter and cartoonist Robert Williams. Notice how often the word “underground” has come up in this paragraph? 2022 for me was a year of discovering quality underground art.



Karter Mycroft


At various points throughout this year I have participated in speedruns of the video game Demon’s Souls Remake (2020) by Fromsoftware and Bluepoint Studios. Without going into too much detail, this is a niche-of-a-niche-of-a-niche activity where the goal is to beat Demon’s Souls Remake in as little time as possible. My personal best time is not very good – a full four minutes behind the world record of 33 minutes and 13 seconds – but the experience of playing this very OK video game over and over, streaming runs on twitch, sharing strategies on Discord, and making friends with the four other people who do this, has really meant a lot to me. There’s just something about failing to go fast. There’s something about executing an optimal 1-1 drop into Tower Knight AI freeze with perfect bridge pathing and getting rewarded with good Freke Skip RNG, only to lose it all to a rookie mistake at Old Monk. I don’t know why I keep coming back to this stuff. Maybe it’s the adrenaline. Maybe it’s the challenge or the repetition or the couple of internet friends I wouldn’t have otherwise. Maybe playing video games is fun, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out next year.



Rudy Johnson


The greatest amount of pre-noon joyfulness in my life this year has hands down, no-contest, been generated by the drug (and work of alchemical art) Ritalin, which I was recently prescribed.  Into the afternoon, the work of art that has most often led to breakout joy—and damn near euphoria a couple times—is a piece of 2022 League of Legends content, a character named Renata Glasc.  Renata is a “chem baron” who (in my head-howitzer, anyway) is LoL’s version of Martin Shkreli.  I imagine her company makes highly sought after panaceas, like drugs to prescribe to children so that they can ace magical standardized tests, and be favored in the eyes of both Hextech-powered scantron machines and their Ionian half-tiger parents (the fandom wiki says she makes perfume???, but fuck that).  Playing this character always makes me feel powerful, then like shit as I lose, just like the Methylphenid generic that fills my mornings with energy and a version of myself that’s human for about 2-4 hours.



Sabrina Small


Over the past week, I’ve watched Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories 4 times. It came out in 2017 and I definitely watched and enjoyed it then, but I didn’t really appreciate it. In 2017 maybe it was hard to appreciate anything–Until 2020, that is–when we all collectively mourned our regular grievances. I love the language and the pettiness and the sibling rivalries and the way Baumbach cuts people off mid sentence. Dustin Hoffman is a revelation and Emma Thompson, who plays a drunk artsy-fartsy type, is electric. I do believe I’ve got some of that character’s spirit in me. It’s so weird when you think you see yourself on screen. It’s hard to know if it’s genuine. I’ve asked a lot of people if I remind them of her and they’re like…I don’t know because I haven’t watched that movie since 2017. Mostly, I am awed by the artifice of the Meyerowitz Stories. I can see the dueling influences of raw intuition and calculated decisions. It’s art that’s not trying to hide the lumps and I appreciate that. It speaks to me. Although, I am troubled by how easily pulled in I get when it comes to any depiction of upper class Jews fighting in their well decorated homes. Woody Allen did a number on me.



Sofia Haugen


Professional wrestling is the greatest human art form. The perfect blend of combat sport and performance art. And the apex of this art, the best wrestling match I have ever seen, was only a few weeks ago, the main event of Freelance Wrestling’s “Deck the Halls with Balls of Fury” on December 16th.  Pitting the Bounty Hunter, Bryan Keith (a cowboy) against “Speedball” Mike Bailey (a kung-fu Canadian), this match was too powerful for the ring hardware to handle, with one of the turnbuckles breaking shortly into the match. Never has a match so deserved a ten-minute standing ovation. You can watch the replay on and idk how much it costs but I know it’s worth it.



Stuart Buck


this year i watched 34 Godzilla movies in 20 days. They made me feel like a child again, which is what i want art to do. i bought a hat and i love my wife.



William Duryea


Before I share my choice, let me abuse my editorial custodianship of this article and list a few honorable mentions:


I binged all three seasons of Succession during a few weeks in the stagnant spring, and it’s the rare contemporary prestige TV obsession that’s worthy of the religio-orgasmic praise it receives; you can probably guess the adjectives for yourself: vicious, savage, hilarious, sharp, incisive, merciless, etc. etc. It’s everything you’d expect given that litany of critical clichés, only richer, realer. It revivifies dead tropes, dead language. I’m rooting for Tom.


Vince Staples’ Ramona Park Broke My Heart takes the standard tropes and affectations of gangsta rap and transforms them (subtly, brilliantly) into pure, cold despair. If I called the album “icy” and “vacant,” you might think I was criticizing it, but, no, this is an album about iciness, about vacancy, about the hollowness at the heart of violent posturing; not a soulless album, but a reflection on soullessness.  It didn’t bring me joy, per se, but perfectly reflected my despair, or maybe that state beyond despair, where you feel only vaguely comic, empty irony, where identity is a callus formed by the repetition of words and ideas that were once rich in meaning, but have now entirely lost even their ability to inflict pain.


Kirby and the Forgotten Land was not simply adorable, but ingenious in its adorableness, borderline malicious in its ability to take concepts and mechanics that in abstract should be cringe (like shepherding a clutch of lost ducklings to their mother) or horrifying (like swallowing a lightbulb) and infuse them with enough honest childlike glee that all cynicism and self-consciousness are annihilated. I just wish I felt more honest emotion and less hollow admiration while playing it. I could tell it should have been a  wonderful experience. I failed it.


Here is the chorus to the Colter Wall song “Motorcycle”: “Well, I figure I’ll buy me a motorcycle / Wrap her pretty little frame around a telephone pole / Ride her off a mountain like ol’ Arlo /Figure I’ll buy me a motorcycle.” I listened to it 44 times this year. I have no regrets. I still have a few days to get to 50.


I think I was more lukewarm than most about the final season of  Better Call Saul, and particularly the season’s first half, which was so aggressively plotted and full of heavily-foreshadowed tragic irony that you could practically hear the self-satisfied chatter of the writer’s room as they contrived the “perfect” fates for all of the show’s remaining supporting characters, but the final few episodes, and especially the finale itself, were sublime. It’s as if the switch to black & white also stripped away all of the series’ artifice and contrivance. You can’t hear the plot machine humming anymore. Everything suddenly becomes stark, simple. The show is recentered around the lucid moral logic that underpins the best of Vince Gilligan’s work: characters operating within the haze of their clearly sketched faults and biases make choices and then experience the natural consequences of those choices. Only unlike Breaking Bad, which ended neatly and conclusively, Better Call Saul is unafraid to leave its outcome ambiguous, to force the audience to reach their own conclusions about Jimmy’s motivations and whether his story ends on the cusp of redemption or recidivism. I’m going to make a contentious statement: Breaking Bad had the superior final season, but Better Call Saul had the better finale.


About Endlessness is a gorgeous film. The simplest, most crassly obvious way to describe Roy Andersson‘s directorial output is to say he creates living paintings. This isn’t inaccurate. Not only are his movies beautiful, meticulously and subtly lit, colored, and costumed with a sophistication that reveals Wes Anderson for the garish hack that he is, but each scene is shot from a single static perspective, with characters often appearing in the background and slowly moving to the foreground before receding again, exactly as if you’re watching the work of some Dutch old master come gradually, painfully alive. And the “painful” is key here, and what separates About Endlessness from films of hollow, artificial beauty. (Yes, I’m still talking about the Anderson with one “s.”) There’s a comic, world-weary bleakness to the film that gives it real emotional depth and poignancy. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.


I loved Horizon Chase Turbo so much that it was very nearly my actual choice. I bought this retro-style racer for $5 on a whim during a Switch eShop sale and I’ve played it for over 25 hours. A day of my life, lost without regret. Yes, it’s a blatant attempt to cash-in on the nostalgic memories of ancient console-addicts like me for Out Run and its imitators, but it executes the con perfectly, even transcendently, with gorgeous graphics that conjure the sense memory of arcade classics without being truly derivative and precise controls that are so much tighter and more gratifying than the games in whose wake its drifting.  Even its name took on a richer personal meaning, an invitation to reflect on that sad possibility that nostalgia may be the only available fuel to allow a sad old fuck like myself to chase the receding horizon of wonder.


Ultimately though, my singular, outstanding source of joy in a largely joyless year had to be It’s Almost Dry. Of course Pusha T has no true competition. This album is pristine. Every beat is flawless. Every bar is flawless. It has an unmatched goosebumps-per-minute ratio.  Of course it’s precise, but not coldly or artificially so. Pusha is a technical rapper in the same sense that Jesus Christ was a carpenter. Yes, sure, it’s true, but to focus exclusively on it misses all the other manifestations of perfection. This album made me giddy at a time when I thought giddiness was forever out of reach. I don’t dare to deconstruct it because I fear that might make you enjoy it less. Listen for yourself. It’s art.



  1. William Duryea, co-conspirator & editor-in-????, The Last Estate, formerly editor-in-chief, Misery Tourism, presently no-fucking-body. I wrote the introduction to this article in the first person, even though I knew when writing it that I wanted to attribute authorship to The Last Estate as a whole, meaning my name would not appear on the byline below the title and thus this “I” would be confusing. Maybe this is an intentional stylistic choice to disorient you, the reader. Maybe I couldn’t say what I wanted to say within the false objectivity of the detached third person editorial voice. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to sneak one more obnoxious, overlong footnote into 2022.
  2. Most of the wraiths do seem pretty down though. They spend their days (or, more often, nights) moaning and staring vacantly at objects that they seem not to see. They shun interaction with others, both living and dead, and do not respond to even polite greetings, nor do they initiate social contact. (Thank goodness! I anticipate in horror the day one of them touches my shoulder and makes eye contact.) I suppose happy souls don’t end up squatting in a dilapidated plantation house decades or centuries after their deaths. They go somewhere else, I guess.
  3. Swamp gas is not all bad. If you stand on the bank of the bayou as the sun sets, you can watch the will-o’-the-wisps glowing red and green like Christmas lights.
  4. You see scare quotes. I see a pair of tiny gravestones.
  5. Not literally, but the metaphor is tightly based on real events. Stu, you said you were going to call somebody. I’ve been washing up in the bathroom of the Dollar General for weeks and last time I was there they had added an Employee’s Only sign to the door. Merry Christmas, I guess.
  6. Well, not this week. Most of the occupants have gone home, if they have one, to spend the holiday with family, friends, lovers, doppelgangers. I’m mostly alone. The estate is unnaturally (supernaturally?) cold. I do not think it should be this cold in Mississippi, even in December. I wonder if somewhere within the rotting manor house there is an ancient furnace that someone was keeping lit as an act of quiet charity, someone who is gone now. Or maybe the ghosts are more active around Christmas, proliferating cold spots as they restlessly wander the house, full of vengeful holiday despair and futile longing for loved ones they’ll never be united with in this world (or the next, if they refuse to loose their grip around the sick obsessions that bind them to Earth).
  7. Literally. They live here.
  8. Yes, even my staff memos are overwritten.
  9. Well, one to four restrictions, depending on how you count.
  10. Several participants have weaseled around this prohibition; a few ignored it entirely.
  11. Eleven footnotes in a one page introduction. Hell yeah. Get fucked, 2022.
The Last Estate

Culture is dead.