Well, after the year that was, it's hard not to turn to things for comfort. Sex. Drugs. Panettone. Whatever floats your boat.
The importance of things changes in time.
Time gives us the ability to decide the true significance of things.
Once upon a time, very few people out of Europe could name or locate Belgium on a map.
Belgium may well have been a fascinating bi cultural place. But history meant that it was overshadowed and influenced by its more populous neighbours: the Colonial era superpowers of France and Holland.
In recent years, Belgium has a new profile. Brussels, the Belgian capital, has become the administrative capital of the European Union. In the last year or so events there have also made it infamous as a hotbed of terrorist activity.
But prior to that, Belgium was just another sleepy European country. For hundreds of years it was nothing more than a stop over point or home to the some of the world's best small scale breweries.
If you're a beer drinker, you're likely to have sampled a Belgian beer at some point in your life and likely to have enjoyed it.
Some consider Belgian beer to be among the best in the world. UNESCO do too apparently, because in November 2016, they added Belgium beer[s] to their Cultural Heritage List.
Now, it's a UNESCO list which is like a sister list to the main one we see every year in the press. You know, the one about places and buildings and that kind of jazz.
This list is mostly about food or languages or cultural events that are hard to classify.
If UNESCO wasn't so Euro centric it's likely that we could have all kinds of awesome stuff on this lesser list. As it stands, it's full of worthy stuff like falconry and shrimp fishing on horseback. But it could be so much more international. Imagine if it included things like Cosplay, Ben and Jerry's or wearing a singlet, tight football shorts and thongs to the supermarket in Australia.
Still, it's a useful list if you're looking for interesting dinner party fodder.
And if you're a Belgian beer drinker, congratulations, you're also now a cultural gatekeeper. If you have that golden liquid in your fridge [or any items in your larder that fall under a Mediterranean diet or even a tin of Turkish or Arabic coffee], you should apply for museum status in your local city and charge bitches entry into your kitchen.
Because for all the gorgonzola, caviar and paté in the world, it's the beer that is going to give you serious cultural credentials from now on. And you should take advantage of the fact that you've just joined the curator's club if you've got a bottle of the Belgian stuff on hand. Because soon enough everyone's going to want to join.
As an Aussie, it pains me to say it. But New Zealand is superior to Australia as a country.
Rugby, politics, indigenous relations, same sex marriage, refugees, making trilogies about talking trees and quests for rings... New Zealand is just better than Australia at all of those things.
Thank god the Kiwi accent is awful, otherwise Aussies would just have the worst inferiority complex to their tiny neighbour.
When people ask me about Australia, they have this idea that Australia is a modern, progressive country. I don't correct them on it. But only because the truth is just embarrassing. Australia is terribly backward about a lot of stuff. And lately people here in Europe are wisening up. They're obsessed with Master Chef Australia (positive reaction) and Border Patrol (negative reaction), but all I can say is thank god they don't get The Block here.
They pin me down and ask me how I can defend Australia's terrible policy when it comes to migrants (I can't). They ask me about that loopy redhead that got re-elected to the senate again on a platform of Islamaphobia (I just point to how strong the far right is here in Europe). They ask me why Aboriginal Australia is seen so differently by white Australia when white New Zealand has made such strides in its relationship with the Maoris (this is where I run out of general leftie responses).
But when they speak about New Zealand (because, you know, Australia/New Zealand same same) they never have anything negative to say. And they've got a point.
New Zealand is the progressive, modern country of the Asia Pacific region. They have their own Silicon Valley. And even though their rugby team decimates Italy on a regular basis, Italians only have awe for the Kiwis.
Last year, to try and get a one up on Australia, the New Zealand government decided it was time to change their flag. Their flag, I should remind you, is almost identical to Australia's and I'm sure they were tired of being mistaken for their bigger, more famous sister country.
In Australia, if we wanted to change the flag, we'd shell out millions and millions of dollars to a slew of marketing agencies, designers from abroad or the art world's darling from five years ago.
But our tiny neighbour is more progressive than that. They simply opened up a new flag design to the people.
The results were breathtaking. This wasn't a Biennale year in Venice, but even if it had been, the NZ flag contest would've put the art world in the shade because it was priceless. Designers world wide would've abandoned Illustrator and gone back to Paint, because that's where the future of design lies (in N.Z at least).
New Zealanders wanted to come to the flag party. So much so, that over 10,000 entries were received in the open call.
The majority of them were technologically savvy and avant garde. For a tiny minute at least, it looked as if New Zealand was going to turn the horrors of 2016 around all on its own. It was going to make the world a better place, and shake up the political order with its new flag.
But, because 2016 was born from a butt hole, there was no justice in the end.
Kiwis went to the polls with a much reduced series of choices. Boring, conventional, practical choices.
And in the end, after millions of dollars, all that excitement came to nought. Because the Kiwis decided to stick with what they had. The original, Australian imitation flag.
I've been told it's snowing in Hawaii.
Equally improbable is the fact that I woke up this morning and found that I correctly predicted the results of Italy's constitutional referendum.
That's like the first time this year I've gone to bed knowing what the political result was going to be the next day.
You're going to be reading a lot of coverage about the referendum over the coming days. Primarily because Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi had staked his job on the result. Poor little lamb just resigned.
Let me just make a couple of points for you to keep in mind as you read the analysis.
When the referendum was announced, the goal was to simplify the parliamentary process. I think it's safe to say that Italy isn't famous for progressive, transparent government.
Law makers have a tough time of it here and laws constantly get sent back from the senate to the parliament for rewording and rewriting, making the process infiinitely longer. Because this country is red tape central, Renzi figured the parliament needed more power at the Senate's expense. This would effectively speed up the law making process [but give the PM more say and more power to push through his agenda].
Renzi started his term with a huge, popular mandate.
The constitutional reform he floated was approved by parliament, so he was, as always, bullishly confident that the public would approve of it too via the referendum. So confident, that he declared he'd quit if the referendum didn't pass.
Problem was that the political climate had changed substantially by the time the vote was taken to the public. In some corners, Renzi was increasingly being seen as a mini Berlusconi: all confidence and huff when Italy was yet to show much in the way of improvement under his governing.
The opposition [many parts of whom originally voted in favour of the reforms] changed their tune and began to vocally signal their opposition to reform when they sensed the public's mood. They correctly saw the referendum as being an opportunity to oust Renzi - thanks to his promise to quit.
Aside from Renzi's pointless act of personalizing the referendum which ultimately doomed the campaign, the other issue was that Italians didn't have a clear idea what they were voting for or against. The suggested reforms were not clear- they were incredibly complex questions for many people and even friends of mine who voted walked away feeling unsure what their vote meant.
But the takeaway was that many felt that in voting for reform, they would be stripping themselves of their power to vote in the electoral process. By stripping the senate of its power, they would effectively be removing part of their voice and giving it to Renzi or whichever party was in government.
And don't be fooled. The EU had nothing to do with these elections. It was not considered a vote for or against the European Union, despite what some in the press are saying. This was a vote for or against Renzi, and a vote for or against changes to the parliamentary process, which has revealed how little most Italians know about the political process.
2016 has not been my favourite year.
Aren't you over this obsession with nationalism and populism? Being herded into simplified positions or towards activism. Where everything gets reduced to us being for or against something. With us or not with us.
We don't seem to have any patience for things that are complicated or nuanced anymore. We're all so angry.
Culturally, 2016 has also been Beyonce's year. Again.
Once upon a time she was the prom haired child of destiny. On the cover of every magazine, beauty personified. Great voice, great look, great mover.
Then she reinvented herself and the game in 2013 with Beyonce.
It's not an easy task to reinvent yourself after so long in the public eye. People are only too ready to remind you of how frumpy you were or how much of a nerd you were before you made yourself over.
I think it was a good move on Bey's part. Musically she really needed to step it up a few gears. And her 2016 release Lemonade has consistently been the year's most acclaimed recording.
In case you haven't noticed, with Beyonce and Lemonade Bey has morphed into a serious artiste. One who doesn't want to pay lip service to issues anymore. Someone who's no longer content to be the L'Oreal gal in pop. Girl's got other things on her mind.
And where in the past her albums featured hubby Jay Z, Lemonade [thankfully] lacked his vocal presence. Even if the idea of him is still all over it.
The takeaway from all of this, and Beyonce's continuation as a serious artist was that Beyonce somehow got 'blacker' [and angrier] this year. Realer thanks to the elevator scene, Superbowl, the baseball bat. The corn rows. Pretty much any moment and any thing in the long play video.
Queen Bey transitioned her sound with Beyonce, but she's solidified her position on things with Lemonade. She's done it by doing what commercial artists have long done. By working with the best and by tapping into social movements that artists strive to claim as their own.
But these feel like ridiculous times.
Times when we suddenly have to be reminded that Black Lives Matter. Times when people are identifying with the old, white guard. When many are not even willing to acknowledge the existence of 'minorities' anymore.
Times when parts of the world are looking to repeal rights so hard fought for.
So when Bey appeared at the Superbowl and paid tribute to the Black Panther movement back in February, the press had a heart attack. If she hadn't already killed off her old L'Oreal persona with Lemonade, she certainly finished the job at the Superbowl.
Beyonce's numbers are impressive. Her album has performed solidly, but not even she is Adele. Adele's not here to ruffle your feathers. But Beyonce suddenly is and that has pissed a lot of people off.
But any backlash to Beyonce's activist position in 2016 isn't really about her suddenly thinking she's black. It's a sign of how the usual suspects [and now parts of the disenchanted society] feel like we're in a rickety boat. A boat whose position is so precarious that any sign of rocking will force us all to capsize.
The real take out? Beyonce has slayed this year because mainstream artists have been playing it safe for years. And for all the activism, Beyonce's album was solid musically, and breathtaking at a visual level. Beyond that, well her fans are more likely to be caught up in who Becky with the good hair is to worry too much about the message Beyonce is trying to send.
It's 2016. They need a simple, clear position and not much more, after all.
LET'S face it. 2016 has been a horror year.
We should've seen the signs as early as January.
January 10 to be precise.
On that day, we lost someone incredibly unique: David Bowie.
A man who transcended boundaries and whose appeal was inter-generational.
Bowie left with the same style and grace he'd displayed for decades, choosing not to make his health battles and problems public. Instead, he left us with Blackstar, his final album, which has remained one of the year's best reviewed works.
How fitting, it seemed, that Blackstar - an album in which Bowie looks death squarely in the face - was his final swan song. As if the master had planned the farewell in advance.
But accounts are now beginning to surface which suggest Bowie was already planning on yet more material after Blackstar. It's a tantalizing idea.
As has become custom, we realised what a remarkable, mercurial talent he was only once he was gone. Blackstar went to number one on its posthumous release. Much of Bowie's back catalogue filled out the world's albums and singles charts as we scrambled to preserve our memories of him and his music. And, his transcendental approach to culture: blurring the lines of music, fashion and art as he did for so long, have stretched his legacy into the art world.
Since his departure, the Victoria and Albert museum in London has announced that their Bowie exhibition has become their most ever visited show. Bowie's personal art collection: as progressive and ahead of the times as the man himself - has had collectors in a frenzy.
And yet, he'll be remembered for being such a phenomenal pioneer in popular culture. With a voice that was distinctive and incredibly powerful. Get your fill of it over at NME which have some great isolated vocals that attest to how amazing that voice was lest we forget.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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