By Harold Goldberg
I just want to say a hearty “Thanks!” to Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast for taking the time to snap a selfie with her New York Game Award. It’s been a dream year for this talented artist after the release of her heartfelt memoir, “Crying in H Mart,” which has touched so many in the country and is still in the New York Times Top 10 bestsellers list 36 weeks after it was released. She’s also penning the screenplay for the upcoming movie based on the tome. Her “Sable” score was released to much acclaim, and that includes this New York Game Award from our 35 critics. And she’s on summer tour with the band, still promoting the album “Jubilee,” which was released just over a year ago. “It’s a rush,” to quote a line from “Paprika,” one of the most poignant summaries of an optimistic lyric ever written. It’s also a lot.
There’s a story about getting the Award to Zauner. When we sent out physical trophies around the world after February’s Awards show, all of them got to their proper addresses – except for Michelle’s. It just never arrived. Inside the package was a too-long personal note, a Circle t-shirt, my own book, “All Your Base Are Belong to Us (How 50 Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture)” and with a few other things.
The delivery service claimed it got to the desired address. There was a specious signature stating that the Award had been delivered. But Michelle, I was told, asked everyone in her small Brooklyn building. No one had it.
When her people contacted us, I immediately had our master craftsman laser another Award. I suggested to Michelle’s people that I could bring the box to her address myself – as I didn’t trust that the package would be delivered properly. I took the trip to Brooklyn during a sunny, airy 11 a.m. morning. At the corner of the subway stop, the air was crisp enough for a jacket and the smells of fresh fruit mingled with gasoline from delivery trucks. That was the familiar smell I first had when I first set foot in Manhattan. Comfortable, familiar, that scent exudes New York.
Then, it became like a game. At the address, I saw there were no instructions to ring up the apartment and I didn’t have a code. I texted her company. They kindly gave me her partner’s (and awesome guitar player’s) number. Peter came down. I think they’d woken him up as he was clad in baggy sweatpants. I thought, I should have arrived later, in the early afternoon. But pleasantries were exchanged. We talked briefly about Wilco because we both know members of the band. I also thought, this dude looks hungry. Should I buy him breakfast? But I chickened out and didn’t ask, just handed over the box of loot.
Two weeks later, Michelle sent over the photo you see above. Photos like these are not simply evocative of fond memories associated with a successful, albeit complex, event. Our nonprofit, which mentors, gives semester-long classes and offers college scholarships to underserved and homeless students, adds these pictures to the deck which helps us raise funds and donations when our next show rolls around. In fact, we are beginning the process of creating next year’s New York Game Awards. Michelle sent hers to us at exactly the appropriate time. So, thanks again, Michelle!
Journalist/author Harold Goldberg is the founder of The New York Videogame Critics Circle and The New York Game Awards. He is producing a documentary with former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils–Aimé.