If you’re a longtime reader of this newspaper, you might occasionally wonder: is Brett Yates ever going to leave us alone? Won’t he ever run out of opinions?
Reader, I share your concerns. In a recent fit of anxiety, I combed through the “Generation Y” archives in order to determine whether indeed I’ve already covered every topic about which a newspaper column might be written. Below is the complete list—every column I’ve ever done (following my initial introduction), identified by subject matter and organized by year.
2008: Facebook, video games, chairlift conversation, childhood, generational film classics, NBA playoffs, haircuts, shopping malls, superheroes, “Calvin & Hobbes,” Restoration comedy, barbecue, solo moviegoing, emo music, cycling, “Dragon Ball Z,” food poisoning, Westerns, 2008 Olympics, soccer, fantasy football, gifted education, hip-hop, sushi, “Saved by the Bell,” reader letters, NBA preview, Killington season passes, Thanksgiving, text messaging, “Tecmo Super Bowl,” cold weather, Santa Claus, New Year’s resolutions
2009: AIM, presidential history, buying a suit, John Updike, Valentine’s Day, soup, best movies of 2008, Lil Wayne, Jimmy Fallon, my brother’s basketball team, “Gen-Y” one-year mark, Mad Magazine, hoodies, Thomas Rowley, NBA playoffs, choose-your-own-adventure fiction, DVDs, road trips, one-hit wonders, Michael Vick, holidays, NBA Finals, Woody Allen, Conan O’Brien, Allen Iverson, “The Simpsons,” Wikipedia and YouTube, summer camp, book-buying, interviews with friends, 90s fads, writing fiction, NFL opening day, celebrity deaths, cell phones, James Wright, contact lenses, healthcare, horror movies, fantasy basketball, “Won Ton Baby!,” cereal mascots, love advice, trivia contests, the end of the decade, NFL RedZone, Christmas movies, Christmas music, best stuff of the decade
2010: New Year’s Eve, 3-D, Jay Leno, teaching my girlfriend to ski, J.D. Salinger, dogs, skiing in North Carolina, 2010 Olympics, city names, Blu-ray, cruise ships, favorite novels, fun facts, Duke basketball, grammar, the skier’s off-season, message boards, Yeardley Love, writing poems, washed-up rappers, Google StreetView, World Cup, movies I won’t watch, bad song lyrics, Jaden Smith, “The Decision,” Mel Gibson, “Jersey Shore,” “Back to the Future,” jumping off cliffs, pride, Twitter, admissions essays, fleas, Kevin Kolb, local theater, unusual words, preseason workouts for skiers, Jesse Eisenberg, Chilean miners, horror movie titles, Rutland Halloween Parade, first day of skiing, Conan O’Brien, telemarking, Facebook, birthdays, Christmas, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Dick Clark
2011: McRib, time wasted watching football, the ten most beautiful states, cooking, celebrity baby names, candy, opinions on social media, Oscar predictions, Killington’s hardest trails, Killington’s best intermediate trails, Tiki Barber, rare meat, mogul skiing, sleeping in on ski days, Rebecca Black, summer movies, tourism, becoming cultured, difficult-to-find movies, the Miami Heat, Paris, adultery in fiction, the definition of “vegetable,” Ricky Williams, Pauline Kael, Richard Brautigan, 9/11 decennial, Andy Rooney, pumpkin beer, Kim Kardashian’s wedding, Facebook and Google, Occupy Wall Street, Christmas traditions
2012: Christopher Hitchens, iPhones, Super Bowl alternatives, top ten movies of 2011, “The Artist,” miscellaneous thoughts, favorite pop songs, “Hunger Games,” “Girls,” benefitting from other people’s misfortunes, Vermont basketball history, neologisms, Justin Bieber, “The Newsroom,” southern-hemisphere skiing, mass shootings, Olympic medal counts, Lance Armstrong, “xkcd,” Oktoberfests, presidential debates, political memes, presidential election, nostalgia, hoping for snow, winter warmers
2013: worst movies of 2012, flu shots, Super Bowl commercials, obscure Netflix options, “M*A*S*H,” five-year column anniversary, ill health effects of soda, Steubenville rape trial, running, “likability” in literature, racism/sexism on IMDb, “Arrested Development,” desperate late-career NBA title grabs, miscellaneous thoughts, Jay Z, Prince George, PEDs, fantasy football, Syria, new sitcoms, craft beer on TV, admissions essays, Russell Brand, my first novel, racial heritage, Paul Walker
2014: 2013 in review, top ten movies of 2013, DIY tips, 2014 Olympics, live music, flossing, media crossovers, public libraries, “Silicon Valley,” Donald Sterling, Trader Joe’s, national parks, American soccer fandom, Independence Day, LeBron James, lack of recycling bins at gas stations, beer festivals, “Hook,” singular nouns as sports team names, Chris Bohjalian, Ebola, Vermont gubernatorial debate, winter coats, vests, Christmas dinner, college life, popular YouTube videos, New Year’s Eve movies
2015: Vermont college football, Kanye West, McDonald’s commercial, “American Sniper,” Vermont beer vs. Oregon beer, Budweiser commercial, “Serial,” making the bed, Amazon Instant Video, apologies, “Blurred Lines,” likability in college basketball, James Corden, YouTube Autoplay, Dove advertisements, supermarket sushi, Marvel’s Avengers, Sam Adams, Deflategate, my girlfriend, the word “tweet,” Stephen Curry’s Express advertisements, dress codes, NBA Finals, “Back to the Future,” “Lip Sync Battle,” buttoned flies, Christina Tosi, presidential literary mourning, quitting cable TV, Olympic venues, the word “Millennial,” summer vs. fall, private school, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, breakfast, Lagunitas Brewing, movies set in Vermont, the relationship between cycling and craft beer, Lena Dunham, American Giant, Stephen Colbert, Ben Carson, Adele, Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” made-for-TV Christmas movies, Chipotle
2016: mall riots, “Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter,” Barack Obama, Trump supporters, Netflix ratings, the word “sorry,” “SNL” opening credits, Kanye West, top ten movies of 2015, “Fuller House,” moving to Canada, Internet-based TV shows, ISIS, the Pivot Questionnaire, Facebook Live, the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the good luck of the Golden State Warriors, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”
In truth, my range of subject matter has been pretty narrow, but then again, so are my interests. The ultimate question: are a human being’s thoughts finite? At some point, will I have expressed every idea I have about every subject about which I have ideas? The answer, I hope, is no: ideally, as long as I’m alive, my meager brain will form new thoughts about new things—this is the only type of growth I know, the only way not to be dead.
For me, writing this column is a form of trying to be alive—that is, of trying to think new thoughts every week. If The Mountain Times gets sick of me someday, I’ll keep writing. Even if, by any candid reckoning, every writer in the world eventually runs out of steam, thus entering a state of living death (in the sense that every worthwhile thought of which he’s capable has already appeared in his mind), I can’t imagine not trying—that would be the deepest death of all. See you next week!