2020 was a crazy, heartbreaking, unique, challenging and eventful year for every single person across the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic shook the human population starting early on in 2019 when the first rumblings of a health crisis began in the news cycle, and starting in March 2020 the country, and world, began a lockdown. Throughout the course of this year a lot has happened to everyone as we’ve navigated life under quarantine and adjusted to a “new normal” that continues to reinvent itself as time goes on. As the end of 2020 approaches, the typical remembrance rituals of a year gone by feel especially poignant after a year like this one. As we look forward to what 2021 may (and hopefully will) bring to us — a vaccine, a return to some semblance of normal, a triumph over a health crisis that has killed over 1.5 million people globally, it’s also critical to look back. While this year has taken so much from us — loved ones, jobs, financial security, weddings, birthdays and other celebratory gatherings — we’re also all still standing. If you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it through 2020 and that deserves a major congratulations.
This year has been a huge one for Spy, and we want to thank you for joining us during this year of tremendous growth for the site. We grew our readership to levels we haven’t previously seen, covered topics ranging from sports masks to the latest gadgets from Apple and curved TV’s, and welcomed four new team members.
I started on the Spy team this year, and I’ve watched us brainstorm, gather, research and publish pieces that have helped millions of people get through this pandemic. We’ve navigated the changing landscape of stay-at-home orders, being a virtual team and meeting the needs of the public through offering guidance of where to buy necessary supplies — from air purifiers to hand sanitizer.
We pined through the web in search of the best cloth face masks to wear after the CDC released new guidelines advising people to use them to prevent the spread of infection in February.
We, with the help of a master barber, created a guide for cutting your own hair at home in March when it became clear that visiting your local hairdresser wasn’t going to be accessible for a while.
We gathered together the best books for men, mystery, business and gathered the best products for working from home and working out at home — to help everyone adjust to spending days upon days inside. We even gathered together the best YouTube channels to watch, board games to play and hobbies to develop.
While the pandemic is hardly over, and we’ve still got a ways to go before we’re able to venture back out into society safely, 2020 is coming to a close. To mark this occasion, I asked each of our editors to gather their favorite stories they wrote this past year so we could celebrate each other’s work alongside the enormous progress the site has made. Tim Werth, our Managing Editor, James Schiff, our Copy Editor, Tyler Schoeber, our E-Commerce Editor and Adrian Covert, our Tech Editor have all picked a few stories of theirs to highlight as we look back on 2020. I’ve also picked a few stories of my own that I loved writing, which you can check out at the end.
You can find all of our bios and headshots on our About Us page here. I hope we can all mourn the losses and celebrate the wins of this past year as we move forward stronger, more enlightened and prepared for what’s ahead. I love these pieces, as they all highlight a piece of 2020 in their own ways — check them out!
Every Man Should Read These 25 Books Before He Dies
This was one of the most heavily trafficked pieces of 2020 for Spy. Tim, an avid reader and passionate book collector, gathers the best books for men in this piece which range from comedies to tragedies, thrillers, Novel Price Winners and Pulitzer Price Winners.
The Price Gougers Have Come for Nintendo Switch & Animal Crossing
This piece discusses the enormous price gouging that took place after Nintendo released a Switch gaming console made exclusively for the immensely popular game Animal Crossing. The game itself is emblematic of the time period within which it became incredibly popular — when everyone was stuck at home, stressed out, and needed a place to escape to. An island with little animals and different places you can visit? Perfect. The gaming console selling out immediately and then having its price jacked up by third-party sellers was another side effect of the pandemic and nearly all devoted gamers being at home, ready to press buy the second it came out. This piece is so 2020, and one of Tim’s favorites.
3. Guys, Here Are the Premature Ejaculation Treatments That Actually Work
This piece is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — it’s a guide for men who suffer from premature ejaculation (or PE for short). 1 in 3 men experience early climaxes at some point, and this piece breaks down what you can do about it! This piece is a pep talk for every guy who’s experienced this in the best way possible and walks the reader through products that can help as well as a breathing exercise you can do to become more consciously aware of the physical.
4. Sorry, Nerds, But the Snyder Cut Won’t Fill That Gaping Hole Inside of You (Updated)
This piece gives a thorough overview of the Snyder Cut, a director’s cut of the Justice League, a bleak picture from the DC Cinematic Universe that’s set to release on HBO Max in 2021. A few new trailers for it arrived in August and November 2020, and Tim discusses why people care so much about a movie that only for 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. He discusses tropes of pop fandom across genres and begs the question — are we expecting too much from the entertainment products we consume?
1. Surfing and Snowboarding in the Same Day: Conquering the California Double
James was invited on a trip to conquer the “California Double” by Chevy in their new 2020 Chevy Bolt — an electric car that’s built for a day like this. They surfed the waves in San Clemente, a surf town on the side of the road on the drive to San Diego that boasts some of the best surfing in the state. Then they skied Snow Summit, a mountain near the Lake Arrowhead Resort. He outlines the essentials needed to pack for an adventure like this, as well as tips to make the day as stoke-filled as possible.
2. Studio Ghibli Makes the Best Animated Movies (Sorry, Pixar) — These Are the Ones to Watch
Studio Ghibli, as the title implies, is one of the only production studios whose animated movies hold a candle to Pixar’s, and in this piece James details the best ones. You can now see the English versions of your favorite Ghibli movies on HBO Max, HBO’s streaming service, whose library includes titles like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
3. Brand Spotlight: Rowing Blazers Founder Jack Carlson Tells SPY Why He Hates the Word ‘Preppy’
Hate the word “preppy?” No worries, the founder of this ultra-cool menswear brand Rowing Blazers does too. Jack Carlson gave Spy the skinny on the unique aesthetic he and his brand are creating for men looking to upgrade their wardrobe past the basics. James details their convo and includes a few essential pieces of theirs you should probably check out.
1. VNYL Sent Me 3 Random Records Based on My Music Taste — I Have Some Thoughts
Curious about VNYL? If you don’t already know, it’s a vinyl delivery service that picks records for you based on your music taste. Tyler tried it out and gives a full recap of setting up his account, choosing his music “vibe” and unboxing his first shipment of records. If you’re a music lover and vinyl-curious you’re going to want to check out this review.
2. I Accidentally Ordered 18 Bottles of Wine to My Front Door During Quarantine
Boy, this is a quarantine headline if I’ve ever seen one. Yes, Tyler did actually order 18 bottles of wine to his apartment for an incredibly affordable price due to a wine delivery service called Splash Wines. And no, he doesn’t regret it. You can read his full recap of the ordering and delivery process here.
3. Usual Wines: We’re in Love With This Unusually-Shaped Bottled Wine That’s Perfect for Sipping Solo
Tyler said it best — it’s fine to drink alone so long as it’s wine. If you’re at home quarantining by yourself and need some tasty wine delivered — Usual Wines is the way to go. Tyler found them at the beginning of October and was immediately intrigued by the unusually-shaped bottles. He gives a taste review and recommendation in this favorite of 2020.
4. Guys, Here’s Why You Need to Give the Dangly Earring Look a Shot
It’s official — the dangle earring look for men is here to stay and it’s time to embrace the trend. It’s a cool look, and Tyler gives an overview of its history as well as the best dangly earrings to rock this year and beyond.
5. I Tried Out Matador’s “Meggings” and Decided I’m Never Wearing Another Pair of Pants Again
Yes, man leggings or “meggings” are a thing and they’re something worth trying for outdoor workouts this winter. Tyler tried out meggings from the brand Matador and loved them. He gives a full review and rundown of the brand in this piece.
1. If the Biggest Thing Separating the New MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Is a Fan, Why Does the MacBook Pro Exist?
Adrian gives his full overview of Apple’s brand new MacBooks in this piece that feature their custom-designed M1 chips, 8 CPU cores, up to 8 GPU cores and the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps. From the outside the old and new MacBooks look exactly the same but on the inside…? Read Adrian’s takes on this “innovative” launch here.
2. Sick of Cyberpunk 2077 Delays? Pass the Time With These Cyberpunk Classics
Growing impatient for the launch of the biggest game of the year? The release of the action video game Cyberpunk 2077 has been pushed too many times to count, and even though it’s scheduled for December 10th we’re still skeptical. If you’re jonesing for a taste of the seedy technocratic material this game promises Adrian has gathered a whole bunch of content to consume before the real thing arrives.
1. Someone Somewhere Sells High-Quality, Artisan-Made Face Masks, Bags & Accessories from South America
I love this brand, and I loved writing this piece about them. Someone Somewhere partners with artisans in South America and uses their work to create objects for the average consumer that range from backpacks to sweatshirts, face masks and t-shirts. They’re innovators and their business model is inspiring. In this piece, I break down their mission, future and vision with their co-founder, Antonio Nuno.
2. Marking the 1-Year Anniversary of That Peloton Commercial — Turns Out It Wasn’t Such a Bad Gift After All!
Remember this Peloton commercial that was a huge deal in 2019? Oh my how 2020 has raised our threshold for outrage. In this piece I mark one year since that fateful ad and reflect on the year Peloton has had — from a major PR faux pas to having its stock rise 350%. Needless to say, they had the last laugh and have gained hundreds of thousands of loyal followers this year including yours truly. You can read the full piece at the link below.