The Washington Post

The List is life

Read this year’s List.

You’re swamped with lists. To-do lists, shopping lists, top-10 lists, best-of lists. It’s too much. There’s only one list that matters. That is the List. Capital “L.”

The List is an annual Style section tradition dating to 1978, when former Post fashion editor Nina Hyde began sorting life into INs and OUTs:

OUT: Farrah Fawcett curls

Amazing, right?

The List has appeared every year since. It’s observational and instructive, scrapbooky and prescriptive. It’s a pithy cultural snapshot as one calendar gives way to another — a year-beginning list, not a year-end list.

Through the years it’s been authored by an assortment of current and former Post staffers: Jura Koncius at the outset; Nina through the ’80s; Martha Sherrill, Robin Givhan and Marc Fisher in the ’90s; Hank Stuever in the aughts. The List amuses, and aggravates, and it has gotten more esoteric and detailed as the Internet has accelerated our cultural metabolism.

Monica Hesse and I took over from Hank two years ago and we re-typed the contents of every List online (click the drop-down menu titled “The List archives” here).

Right now we are polishing the 2012 List, which will be online Dec. 28 and in print Jan. 1. We’ll also be chatting live online about it on Jan. 3.

To trumpet the List’s 34th year, we are combing through the archives and displaying each year’s newsprint on the Style section Tumblr. We’re also hoping you join our OUT/IN conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #List2012. What will be OUT and IN next year? What amusing OUT/IN items can you find in the archives? Tell us.

In closing, here’s the top of the List from 1980, when video killed the celluloid star.

Dan Zak is a feature writer and general assignment reporter based in the Style section. He joined the Post in 2005, after stints as an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a city-desk reporter and obituary writer at The Buffalo News.


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