The Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet: Wolf Parade Vacation Edition


(Last week I went to New York City to see my semi-favorite band Wolf Parade. Here's some stories about what I ate and drank there.)

I flew to New York midday on Monday. The big excitement of the airport was that Stan Rizzo from Mad Men sat two barstools down from me at Gene Simmons's bar at the Delta terminal at LAX. I tried to think of something vaguely interesting to say to him but the best I could come up with was, "Umm, I write a blog and we used to write about Mad Men and one time Ted Chaough RT'ed us?", so in the end I left it alone. I was drinking a pecan beer and a coffee and Stan Rizzo drank a Stella; we watched the video for "Don't Cry" by Guns n' Roses on the big Rock & Brews TV and then I left and bought a Kit Kat for my flight. Then he was on my flight. We still didn't talk. I ate my Kit Kat and watched Mistress America for the third time and The End of the Tour and I forget what else.

I got to New York at like 9 at night and took a bus to Grand Central and pretended I was Serena van der Woodsen making her secret homecoming from boarding school. Then I went down to the East Village and met Michaela and her roommate Erin; we drank margaritas and walked over to Max Fish and drank beer and then went to Brooklyn, to Joe's Pizza, where "Rock and Roll Music" by the Beatles was playing and I ate this beautiful beauty:

The next morning we went to Pies 'n' Thighs and I got the fried chicken and waffles seen up top; it came with cinnamon butter and strawberry jam and the radio played Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Mos Def and "Feel Me Flow" by Naughty by Nature. Kate and I walked over the Williamsburg Bridge and into the city and then wandered around the Lower East Side a long time. The day was gray and sometimes drizzly but I didn't care because I was on my Wolf Parade vacation. I drank a million-dollar iced coffee from some boring coffee place and bought myself a Life Thyme Natural Market raspberry tollbooth cookie, in tribute to the time LJ sent me a Life Thyme Natural Market raspberry tollbooth cookie in the mail like eight years ago. We took the train back to Brooklyn and got drinks at the top of the Wythe Hotel, and I had some kind of tequila drink and then some champagne drink but I can't remember much about either. The tequila drink had lime sherbet, and I'd expected some grand scoop of bright-green ice cream floating atop my tequila but: no. Later in the night we met Kate's friend Tania at Rye and I drank beer, an IPA, I think, and Tania's friend brought us down to the basement and gave us all this free Uruguayan wine.

For dinner we went to Dokebi, which is Korean barbecue. We got bibimbap and scallion pancakes and fried tofu and I had a Diet Coke and then champagne. I hadn't gone out for Korean in so long and forgotten how much I love all the little side dishes in the little white bowls, which I just learned is called banchan. One of the banchan things was anchovies and I really wanted to love the anchovies, but...I didn't. I think anchovies are a smart food to be into; same with sardines. Yesterday I bought a tin of La Sirena sardines in olive oil, almost entirely because I like the idea of peeling back the lid and plunking a sardine down onto a nice piece of crusty toast and eating my sardine toast standing at the kitchen counter, reading the business section of the New York Times, in the middle of some crazy workday. In this dream I'm wearing a button-down oxford and my high school track shorts and reading glasses, which I don't actually own or need.


I'm Leaving

(ABOVE is a picture of a beautiful textile I feel deeply connected to made by a person named Sophie Henriette Gertrude Taeuber-Arp in the year 1918. I found out it existed because of the Women's Art Twitter which I am obsessed with. It is the lock screen wallpaper on my phone & sums up my general May 2k16 life vibe better than any song or sentence.)


I’m leaving.
        I’m leaving London, the city where I live, work, am, and go to sleep every night, among other things. This city is not my home but it is home to a life that I know very well. Soon, though- in July- I’m going to go back to my real home, in Canada: to a city where I’ve already lived so much. A city that is so much a part of me that even when I’m not living there I’m still living there. Toronto. The city I was born in. A city where I used to and now again will walk past the hospital I was born in every day and absently think “I was born there” and then keep walking and not think about it anymore.
        I know the map of my Toronto-life the the same way I know the basslines of all my favourite Beatles songs or how to write my name perfectly in my own beautiful penmanship. Toronto will feel different this time I know it but it will also feel the same. Weirdly, despite my generally being a person preoccupied with acquiring new things— friends, jobs, places, stories, men— it’s the same-ness of Toronto I want back the most. I do very little dreaming about what’s going to feel different.
        Maybe because I know exactly how it’s going to feel different. I’m going to be cockier and care less and say “lads” a lot and not have to wonder what it’s going to feel like when I move away to London.
        The things about Toronto I want back most are:

-the feeling of walking into the Queen & Bellwoods 7-11 on a summer afternoon, August at its disgustingly hottest, when I’m so happy because I’m vain and I know I’m getting tan. The feel of the air-con which I call air-con after living in London for two years but used to call “AC.” I want to buy myself a Big Gulp of Diet Coke and maybe one of those cherry crullers I used to be so obsessed with and feel my teeth crack into the icing

-to stand on the corner of Bloor Street and Palmerston Blvd very early in the morning and watch the sun rise over Honest Ed’s. Pop into the organic food store I have never known the name of despite my having patronized it over a thousand times I'm sure and buy myself an organic snack like maybe one of those honeyed granola bars with chocolate on top or a vegan peppermint Nanaimo bar or some dried pineapple rings which I always crave but then when I eat them they’re so sugary they literally make me feel sick.

-to be able to buy family-size jars of peanut butter which they don’t sell in England because people in England don’t care about peanut butter as much we do so I have to buy myself new peanut butter like every three days which is inconvenient

I want and need these things. I want and need my friends. I want to go back to them and bury my head in their laps but I don’t want to go back to them and am not very touchy-feely in person.
        I wish I could leave here and stay here. I wish I could do a thing and not do a thing. I wish I could both drunk-text and not drunk-text. I wish I could live two lives at once.


The Top 5 Hottest John Lennons of All Time


It’s so amazing when terrible things happen to you because it means you get to go on a bender. A terrible-ish thing happened to me about a month ago- I'm not even that fucked up about it, I mean I would say about 3% of me is extremely fucked up about it but then the other 97% is perfectly well; it barely qualifies as an excuse to repurpose my life into the extended bender that I subsequently have but that’s not really the point. The point is that, in life, you’re either on a bender or not on a bender, and I find I really hate it when I’m not on a bender. The last time I was not on a bender all I ever did was plan out future benders for myself to go on. Life is meaningless without a bender on the horizon.

        In 1975, John Lennon and his great pal & fellow genius Harry Nilsson went on a bender so fabulous that it was given an official name: the Lost Weekend. Lost Weekend-era John is my bender hero, except that he was really depressed when he was on his bender, and as a bender participant I try to bring a bit more of a sunshiney energy to the table. But I love how Lost Weekend-era John still had the good sense to channel his depression into being outrageous and loud rather than your classic boring sadsack. Rowdiness is at the heart of every great bender.
        John went on his Lost Weekend because his marriage to Yoko was on the rocks and she needed some space. I just read a quote from her about it; she said, “I was very aware that we were ruining each other’s careers and that I was hated and John was hated because of me. Can you imagine every day of getting this vibration from people of hate?” I really can’t, Yoko. That sounds rough. But the weirder part of Yoko’s coping with these hate-vibrations was that she sent John away to have an affair with her personal assistant, May Pang, the woman he is kissing in the photo. She engineered the affair.
        I don’t know, man. I don’t really relate to Yoko on this one. Like, I would never do that. It’s so weirdly controlling! If I were John I would have been like, “Okay, cool, fine, I’ll go to Los Angeles, I’ll give you your space, but can I please choose my affair-person on my own?” I’d be like, “I’m going to Los Angeles, man! A whole new city full of new and exciting possible affair participants! I’m not wasting my affair on your employee, Yoko.”
       I wish that I could have been Lost Weekend-era John Lennon’s affair-person in place of probably-boring May Pang who I doubt got into the bender spirit of things with the same amount of vim as would Laura Jane Faulds. If there’s one thing you can say about me, it’s that I can really hold my own on a bender. I never would have been a bender wet blanket and tried to convince John to take some time off being on his bender to, like, go to a flower market with me. To go drink a flat fucking white and eat a goddamned pastry. Fuck that. I’d rather die.
        Harry Nilsson would love me too. We'd be such solid bender-bros, but I wouldn't be attracted to him; I can tell. He’d be like, “You’ve really found yourself a perfect beautiful angel of a bender-soulmate, John,” and John would be all “Don’t I know it, mate,” and then he’d kiss me with a great deal of aggressive bender gusto like in the picture. I'd be like “Cool, thanks, I don’t even know what the fuck is going on right now” and pour myself another glass of champagne. Just kidding— Bender Laura doesn’t have time for “glasses”! I’ll drink that shit straight out the bottle, son.


Lately I'm really into rock musician dudes from the '70s who are hypersexual in a way that's kind of gross and embarrassing but also charming in its relative quaintness: examples would include this picture of Rod Stewart with his hand in his pants, or this other picture of Rod Stewart where he's wearing a goddamned two-piece swimsuit, plus Alex Chilton in "Take Me Home and Make Me Like It" when he makes all the dumb sex noises at the bridge. And in some oral-history book I read years ago, there was a bit where Chrissie Hynde talked about falling in love with Tim Buckley's first few albums, where he's so dreamy and folky and sensitive, and then being freaked out when it got to be the '70s and he turned into some filthy sex maniac. But I totally prefer filthy-sex-maniac Tim Buckley: I'd take his version of "Sally Go Round the Roses" over "Song to the Siren" any old day.

One of my top five John Lennon songs is "Well Well Well." The vibe's not quite filthy-sex-maniac-y, and it's actually way more romantic than sexy, but there's still a dirtiness to it - if only in the sense that the song itself feels grimy and sweaty and unwashed. I don't know when this picture's from but it's probably vaguely "Well Well Well" era, right?  Obviously he's got Yoko with him, but I like the idea of an alternate reality in which John Lennon is a lone wolf and just some non-famous guy with hardly any money. You'd go out with him a couple times and on like your third date he'd take you back to his disgusting apartment to eat Indian takeout and drink beer on the floor, and the lighting would be terrible (overhead and wicked harsh); the bathroom's a horror show and the shower has no shower curtain. But of course you'd be be in love with him, because he's smarter than everyone and funny as hell and wearing that beautiful golden shirt with the three-quarter-length sleeves - which is such a deep sleeve choice for a dude! His bed would be a mattress on the floor, a twin. He'd have some terrible cat. The cat would be named after someone in a Bob Dylan song. The cat's name is totally Brother Bill.

Are there any dudes making rock-ish music today that's hypersexual and gross but also mostly charming? The only sex-music-making guy I can think of is Father John Misty, but whenever I hear a Father John Misty song it makes me want to die. I like when the El Vy dude sings that line that goes "I'm peaceful cuz my dick's in sunlight," but he's probably just talking about sunbathing, and anyway I feel like he's mostly kidding. Please send me your modern-day sex music recommendations, if you can think of any.


Thing of the Week: Lemonade, Arcade Fried Rice

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEKLemonade by Beyonce

First of all, I want to let you know right off the bat that today I a
m not going to bother with putting the proper “accent aigu” on the second e in Beyonce, not one single time, not at all. I don't mean to disrespect by Beyonce by doing so, so calm down Beyonce! This is not about you. It's a personal choice I'm making entirely out of laziness. 
         When I used to run a restaurant I would have to print out daily menus and whenever I needed to put an accent aigu on sautee or brulee or whatever I would Google the word “Beyonce” and copy & paste that second e into the word rather than try and figure out the proper “alt + whatever combination of numbers” code to get the computer to do it on its own. But that particular level of attention to detail is the exact kind of thing my current life concept is focused on escaping. I’m pretty sure that if I leave that accent off the second e in Beyonce everyone will still be able to deduce which Beyonce I am talking about.

I would also like to take this moment to address the the glaringly obvious fact that I am engaging with Lemonade about 95% apolitically within the context of this particular piece of personal writing. This is not because I don’t care; I do care. I think Beyonce’s relationship with race politics in the United States of America is fucking crucial. It’s just not the kind of thing I tend to shine at writing about. 


Every morning I wake up weirdly early feeling hyper-motivated to tweet some jerk thing about how bored I am of talking about Lemonade but then end up tweeting some “I'm obviously really hype on Lemonade” thing about Lemonade fifteen seconds later. I guess I’m just bored of listening to other people talk about Lemonade like it’s the grandest feminist statement that's ever been made. Lemonade is a feminist statement; I will grant it that. But it is also a highly commercial venture that I’ve no doubt has been carefully engineered to make weird and scrappy women like myself and my weird pals feel like Beyonce is one of us. Sorry to be a wet blanket but she's not.
        I do not relate to Beyonce the beautiful famous baller on any level. We have extremely different coping mechanisms when it comes to life giving us lemons. Life gives me lemons all the time, and I do not get to lean on “being the star of my own visual album about how sexy and powerful I am and then having the entire world worship me like I am literally their queen” as a means of getting through it. Lemonade is brilliant and beautiful but I am not finding it useful to fully give myself over to the overly-simplistic narrative of “garbagey piece of shit husband wrongs legendarily badass wife and she avenges her own honour, and mine somehow too, by making a screamy & sort of raw record about it.” It’s shitty for Beyonce that Jay-Z cheated on her but I’m unwilling to demonise Jay-Z for his behaviour. I’ve done a lot of fucked up things to a lot of men, and a lot of men have done fucked up things to me too. I don’t blame myself and I don’t blame the men and I certainly don’t blame Sean Carter. Relationships are impossible and everyone goes insane when they’re in one. I refuse to use Lemonade as ammunition against every man who has ever hurt me.
        But I’m saying this right now. I’m drunk on a disgusting mix of crap Pinot Noir and crap Primitivo at 21:26 on a Wednesday. It’s raining out, and I’m sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, and my face feels really warm, and I’m dehydrated. I’ve got the sniffles. I’m a pretty pure version of myself. It’s the night.
        I love Lemonade in the daytime, when I’m not drunk, when I’m not writing, when I’m not thinking very hard about anything at all. I like the sounds of it, the noises behind the words. The word lemon is like the word sunlight and the look of it, the sun. It’s a daytime record. It makes me think about how much I love actual lemonade, the drink. North Americans don’t know this but in England “lemonade” is the generic name for a soda that tastes pretty much like Sprite. Conceptually this is not dissimilar to, say, calling the Dave Clark Five the Beatles. Calling Meghan Trainor Beyonce. You do the math. 
        In England they don’t care too much about how brilliant and beautiful our lemonade is. Fresh to death-ly squeezed lemon juice and melted sugar and bubbly water over ice. The best lemonade I ever had is a tie between 1) the lemonade I used to get from a little stand at a convention centre when my parents would drag me to an annual home renovation exhibition they were kind of into when I was a kid and 2) the whiskey-and-lemonades I drank for one week of one summer when I was twenty-five, Jack Daniels mixed with Tropicana from a one-litre carton on my Palmerston Boulevard balcony a week before some dude I no longer care about fucked up our relationship in a way that is either worse or less-worse than the way that Jay-Z either did or didn’t fuck up his.
        My favourite song on Lemonade is Hold Up because it’s the coolest and catchiest and has a DJ air-horn sound in the background. I always respond positively to that sound. Yeah I wish I was Beyonce in that frilly cornflower-colour dress smashing up car windows with my perfect tits out as much as the next guy but I’d probably feel exactly the same way about my own life if I didn’t. My favourite part of that song is when she says “I know that I kept it sexy; I know that I kept it fun.” That’s the only part of the entire record I for real relate to, that particular brand of explaining yourself to yourself. The process of figuring out that you actually fucked up nothing.
        Nobody ever fucks up anything. Things just happen, and if they’re meant to stay good forever then they will. You can’t ruin a relationship. Relationships can only ruin themselves.
        I like All Night; All Night I think is so beautiful. It sounds lazy and romantic to me. It's this half-assed brand of celebratory that I'm obsessed with. I like Sorry. I like Freedom. I like Formation. I like all the hits. I listen to these songs all day every day and they mean something to me because they mean so little to me. They are beyond me. I'm playing it too cool I think. Sometimes, in the daytime, they mean something. 
        Today at work I was playing Lemonade upstairs and in the kitchen the kitchen people were playing Lemonade downstairs so no matter where you were in the entire restaurant you had no choice but to be listening to Lemonade. I told my boss the entire tale of Jay-Z’s alleged affair beginning with the elevator incident and then I talked to one of my new co-workers, who is a stranger, about Beyonce in general. It was an excellent conversation, sort of funny, sort of deep sometimes; somewhere inside of it a moment passed and after it finished we weren't strangers anymore. Lemonade by Beyonce bound us together. It made me feel like I was a part of something.
       On my walk to work I listen to Lemonade in the lemony morning feeling hyper and serene. I listen to Beyonce make reductive lump statements about heartbreak and I do and don't envy how clear-cut it seems to seem. I walk past the house that looks like a Mark Rothko colour-wash in penny-plain old-pink and listen to Formation, attempting to tilt the balance of my emotional self more toward the hyperactive end of the spectrum. I sing my inside joke with myself “My daddy Lethbridge Alberta; my mama French-Morocco” inside my head and wonder how it’s possible that I of all people gets to be the one who’s happy. I imagine myself eating a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuit and accidentally rip my headphones out of my ear while digging around for a lighter inside my bag. The bud of the ear-bud stays in my ear but the wire and inner mechanics of the headphone fall out. I wonder what it would feel like for Beyonce if she had to exist inside my life for one day. I wonder if she'd still feel like the baddest woman in the game.
        I don’t feel like I’m the baddest woman in the game but I definitely feel like I’m the baddest woman in some games. I’m for sure the baddest woman standing on the street I’m standing on. Easily the baddest woman sitting cross-legged and listening to Beyonce on my own bedroom floor.

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEKFried Rice at the Arcade

I'm going to do "Thing of the Month" instead, because I feel like it. April was a good month; some highlights include: going to the quasi-Big Star concert where Robyn Hitchcock sang "Downs" and Mike Mills sang "Jesus Christ" and I got to meet a guy whose very pretty songs I used to tape off the radio when I was 15; seeing Ex Hex for the third time and saying hi to Mary Timony a little bit; getting a massage for the first time in like three years and having a cool revelation involving sleeping pills and this beautiful performance of "Inside Out" by Spoon; the day I had a doctor's appointment in Santa Monica and afterward went to see Everybody Wants Some!! and then played skee-ball on the pier and listened to the first Clash record on the beach and got a veggie burger at this dumb beach bar I love; Lemonade.

One of my best nights was Saturday the ninth, which seems like a thousand years ago now, since it was before Prince died and Lemonade came out. Eleanor was in town and we got dinner at Button Mash, which is an arcade/bar/restaurant thing down the street from the disgusting house where I lived from summer 2011 to fall 2012. We sat at the bar and I got a double IPA and I think Eleanor got a rosé and we talked about writing books, which is one of my favorite things to talk about. Our bartender was a prince. I know from eavesdropping that his name is Dan. When it was time to order food, I asked Dan what I should get and he told me he liked the spam fried rice. Then I smacked my palm on the counter and said "Sold!" with much enthusiasm, except really I was like "Yeah cool thanks I'll have that." It was a perfect call on Dan's part. I thought spam was supposed to be mushy or otherwise horribly textured but really it was these nice fat chunks, all mixed up with the soy-saucy rice and veggies and cilantro and the sticky peanuts I dropped in there, leftover from earlier. I think maybe I had a pineapple beer with my dinner? I hope I did. I remember everything being perfect, so that's probably what happened.

After dinner I went to see the other great Dan of my life, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade and Divine Fits and Handsome Furs and his new band Operators, who were playing in the bar at the Bootleg. I think maybe he's my favorite person who makes music now. That's got lots to do with the music itself, which is heavy and gorgeous and has the crazy effect of hitting every raw nerve in a way that makes me so hyper - but it's also got to do with his face. His face puts worlds in my head or, more accurately, makes the worlds already in my head light up a little brighter so I can see everything more clearly. He's big-eyed and wiry and his bone structure reminds me of the main dude in my book, which I didn't entirely realize until I was watching him move around at the show that night. I like people who move around with an awareness of their own hotness but seem driven by some deep quiet force that keeps the hotness awareness from ever coming off all gross and embarrassing. Is that…mystique? I think that's what mystique is, at least to me.

One strange thing about writing a book of fiction is you spend so much time in a world populated by people you invented yourself and who are, for the time being, mostly known only by you. So it's wild when the material world gives you a person who reminds you of someone you made up. It changes the texture of your reality in a cool exciting way. It puts a new kind of electricity into everything.

After the Operators show I was so high on all of that, I impulse-bought a pair of tickets to see Wolf Parade in New York next month. I haven't been to New York in four years! While I'm there I aspire to drink a milkshake with a piece of cake in it:

P.S. The painting up top is by Aloïse Corbaz.


I Found My Dress

Me wearing my dress in my scrappy crappy Southeast London bedroom. 
Monday morning, 10:08 AM. 4 April/2016.

I am putting this entire piece of writing behind a jump-cut because it is predominantly about eating disordered behaviour & I understand that that might be difficult for some people to read. 


Thing of the Week: LJ's Nov, Ireland


I haven’t written very much about my novel on this blog because I am not so naïve to believe that me talking about my own novel is anywhere near as interesting to anyone else as it is to me. But I have a policy when it comes to Thing of the Week that I have to be completely honest about what my Thing of the Week is and not just claim that something that isn't my Thing of the Week is my Thing of the Week because it sounds like it might be more appealing for other people to read. (Same goes for my Dream Today Vibe.)

     I left my job a week ago. Managing a restaurant took up so much of my time & energy that it's been ages since I've been able to write properly as much and the way I want to. This week, I am making up for lost time. I'm writing like how I used to write, when I woke up every morning with ideas in my mind and the drive to turn those ideas into sentences. My heart is beating fast again. I am hyper & alone & it is beautiful. 

I started writing my novel two years ago. I had the idea of it in my head for while before that, but it took me some time to admit to myself that it was an okay thing for me to write about. My nov is a fake memoir written from the perspective of the imaginary female drummer of the Beatles. It's a feminist reinterpretation of a very male story. I love the Beatles so much, but sometimes feel troubled that the thing I love most in the world is so aggressively dude-oriented, so I'm fixing that. The only thing that could make the Beatles better than they were would be more girl representation. In my opinion.
        (Sometimes when I tell the concept to people they feel really sorry for Ringo, but it’s okay, guys. Ringo is going to come into the story and get some representation for being the nice chill Ringo he is. You don’t have to worry about Ringo. He’s safe here.)
        I was nervous to start writing my novel because I felt lame for writing a novel that is basically fanfiction, but it’s chill fanfiction. It’s literary fanfiction. It’s a “historical novel.” I still feel embarrassed to tell people what my novel’s about, I’m afraid they’re going to be all, “Oh, Beatles girl, so obsessed with the Beatles, look at her Beatles tattoos, get another interest besides the Beatles,” but fuck it, I guess. I do love the Beatles best, and even if you don't care about the Beatles at all, you have to admit that it's a real romp of a novel-concept. 
        Sometimes I think to myself, “If I ever have a kid, there’s no way I’m going to love it as much as the main character in my novel,” and I think if there’s anything the past few days have taught me, it’s that I’m right. I don’t know a whole lot, but there are a few things I know for sure. One is that push-ups work, another is that listening to Hey Jude fixes almost everything, and the last is that I will definitely love my hypothetical child less than I love Marty McCartney. That’s her name, the drummer. She’s Paul’s little sister, because having my girl drummer be related to one of the other Beatles is the only way I could have it make logical sense that the Beatles would allow a girl into their band in 1961. I chose Paul to be the brother because he’s the only Beatle who would have been sweet and loyal enough to let his sister join his band, and also because the idea of having Paul McCartney be your older brother is really appealing to me. I love Paul McCartney so much more than I ever thought I could now that he’s become the person I love most in the world’s big brother. Marty has such a hard time of it, sometimes, and he’s always so nice to her. They’re the rhythm section together. Two steadfast McCartneys, holdin’ it down.
        I’ve written what I’ve written of my novel so far in chronological order, from 1944 up to 1967, which means that the beginning of it was really sloppy, because I didn’t know what the fuck I was writing about when I first started writing it. I didn’t really understand who Marty was yet. I started writing her as being this super-classy old lady, and also I was still in Canada, so I was trying to impersonate the way I thought English people talked in an extremely over-the-top way that was very embarrassing for me to edit. I swear I used the words “bollocks” and “rubbish” like five times per sentence. It was some pretty impressively bad writing.

I had a revelation about how to fix the beginning of my nov a couple months ago while walking home from work and listening to Say You’ll Be There by the Spice Girls on my headphones. I had a vision of the opening to the Say You’ll Be There video where it goes from Spice Girl to Spice Girl to Spice Girl and says “Victoria as… Midnight Miss Suki,” and etc, and gets you really hype on the idea of each individual Spice Girl as being her own self. I wanted the beginning of my novel to feel just like that, only with each of the Beatles plus Brian Epstein and George Martin instead of Mel B or Emma Bunton or whatever. It felt really exciting to go back in time and rewrite those parts as actual Marty and not just fake Canadian-English-accent Marty. It’s hard to write about the 1950s because I don’t actually give a fuck about what the 1950s were like, so I had the idea to keep those parts as sparse as possible, and distance them from having any real connection to actual place or time. I wanted them to be able to happen anywhere, any year. The only major cultural references I left in are Buddy Holly-related. Marty McCartney loves Buddy Holly the same way I love the Beatles. 
        After I solved that problem I fixed up the cooler, later chunk of my novel, which starts in 1963 and so far only goes up to 1967. I edited all like 80,000 words of that over the course of one extremely weird afternoon, which was yesterday. It was the first day I’ve had in about ten years where it took me until 5:30 PM to take a shower. 
        There are a bunch of parts of it that I get a kick out of and read all the time, like the part where Marty drinks Gevrey-Chambertin ("As light-bodied and acidic as your average Bob Dylan") with Bob Dylan, & the part when Marty takes acid and loses her shit at Mick Jagger on All You Need Is Love day. There’s also a really cool part where Marty gets an eye infection, because why not have there be an eye infection chapter in my Beatles-novel? There’s literally nothing in the world I’m better at writing about.
        But the nicest thing that happened to me on editing my entire novel day was that I got to read back some parts that I forgot I ever wrote. I got to have the very cool experience of reading the sentence, “But then they both ended up declining my invitation in the name of going home to their wives, which is pretty much the dictionary definition of what it means to have a situation blow up in your face,” and laughing at it. Poor Marty. I also got to have the equally cool but also somewhat tragic experience of reading back the part where Marty gets her heart broken. I cried at it. I don’t know if everybody in the world would cry at it, but maybe somebody would, and I guess I want them to. I sent out this big draft to a bunch of people the other day, and I’m excited to hear what people have to say about it, but mostly I just want them to love her. I understand that probably no one else will love her quite as much as I do, but it would mean the world to me if they might even love her a little bit.


I'm going to Ireland next year. Here are some of my Ireland inspirations:

Also this paragraph from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore:

"The Irish countryside opened up before them, its pastoral patchwork and stone walls and its chimney aroma of turf fires like some other century, its small stands of trees, abutting fields populated with wildflowers and sheep dung and cut sod and cows with ear tags, beautiful as women. Perhaps fairy folk lived in the trees! Abby saw immediately that to live amid the magic feel of this place would be necessarily to believe in magic. To live here here would make you superstitious, warmhearted with secrets, unrealistic. If you were literal, or practical, you would have to move - or you would have to drink."

And and and this song, the most beautiful/dramatic & rudest & most novelistic love song in the world, which - combined with "Don't Change" by INXS and "Jump in the River" by Sinead O'Connor and "Termite Tree" by Helium and "Big Black Car" by Big Star  - is a very solid representation of what I want my book to feel like: 


Thing of the Week: The Life of Pablo by Kanye West, Brian Eno + Hair Responsibility

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEKThe Life of Pablo by Kanye West

The best thing a person in a dark place could ever hope for is the release of a new Kanye West album coinciding with their despair. I would easily choose knowing for sure that my life was going to feel terrible and ugly a bunch more times over the course of it yet have all those times correspond to new Kanye album release dates than never be sad again.
        The first week of March was one of the most hideous weeks of my life and I spent every available second of it listening to The Life of Pablo. It was a weird time. Almost all the darkness in my life stemmed from external factors; I was bummed because life was a bummer, one bummer event after the other. Struggling to find replacement tenants for the flat my ex-boyfriend and I were abandoning and then smashing the fuck out of my head on a brick archway in the middle of working a private dinner for corporate AOL, waking up the next morning with a minor concussion and having to be guilt-tripped about my lifestyle by the nurse at the hospital who diagnosed me with it. She really wanted it to be true about me that I hit my head in the middle of being on a coke-fueled bender but, unfortunately for her, I am a mere klutz. 
        My friend Matt King first sent me TLOP on Valentine’s Day. He emailed it to me as a zip file and I emailed him back "It's a Valentine's Day miracle!" I opened it up at work, sitting alone in my empty restaurant, and listened to Ultralight Beam. He’d tweeted earlier that TLOP was the Sandinista! of Kanye so based on that tweet my expectations were impossibly high. And then the first song on the album is Ultralight Beam; I don’t like Ultralight Beam. It's still my least-favourite song on the album that isn't, like, a skit. 
          Kanye West’s relationship to the Christian God is tied with the part of Kanye West’s personality that compels him to write sentences like “This good dick will put your ass to sleep” for being the aspect of Kanye West I relate to least. I’d be down to listen to a cool Kanye song about Christianity, but I just don’t think “This is a God dream” is as good of a sentence as I’m sure Kanye West does, or a good sentence at all. So I gave up on listening to The Life of Pablo that day.
        I started listening to The Life of Pablo again a couple weeks later, when a girl I know from home Instagrammed a selfie about listening to Waves, captioned with a sentence about how she’d listened to Waves a thousand times that day, and I thought that Waves was such a chill beautiful name for a song and I felt jealous of her relationship to Waves. I didn’t know what Waves was but I pictured the colour blue in my head and I wanted to listen to Waves a thousand times that day too.
        I listened to it in bed. I was sitting up with my laptop in my lap. My eyes were crusty and felt like little raisins in my head. I didn’t have a concussion yet. I was cold. I could hear my roommate faffing about in the next room and I hated the sound of it. I hate the sound of people opening up cabinets and boiling water and toasting things, all that regular around the house shit that I really need to train myself to be less soul-destroyingly annoyed by. That whole week was so stupid. We were always having flat viewings and my ex-boyfriend made so much of that type of noise. He was obsessed with touching all my shit and moving it from one place in the room to another. I wasn’t very helpful about finding new flatmates. I just wanted to sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor and listen to Waves a thousand times and think about what colour the waves in Waves would be, which is: dark bluish grey, like a bruise. He came into the room to make the bed and he started to tell me tips about how best to make a bed and I said “It’s okay, it’s fine, I’m never planning to make a bed once in my entire life,” which was pretty rude of me, I’ll admit. But I was in a Kanye headspace and I felt backed up by Kanye in my choices. Kanye wouldn’t want me to make a bed either. He’d want me to do me and get rich and in the future pay somebody else to do it. But that’s not really part of it; Kanye doesn’t get me either. (On this level, only Mick Jagger does. I’ve always had an aversion to making beds, a fundamental aspect of myself that I decided to fully go with and embrace in the middle of a brief affair with the Rolling Stones song Monkey Man I once had; “I’m a sack of broken eggs; I always have an unmade bed; don’t you?” he sings. It’s important to me that I always be a person who answers “Yes” to that question. I’m sorry. I just don’t care if my bed is made or not.)

The second song from TLOP I fell in love with was No More Parties In LA because it’s fast, it’s the hit. I always love the fast hit. I can't listen to it without imagining myself dancing to in it. (Here is my dancing to No More Parties in LA outfit the inside of my head made up for me: tiny black shift dress and a plaid flannel shirt, maybe tied around my waist in semi-homage to the scene from Clueless where Tai is alone at the club and keeps trying to repurpose her flannel in weirder and weirder ways so she feels less like shit about herself, my red low-top Vans and whatever my perfect LJ baseball cap ends up being for the summertime. I just bought myself a red LJF monogrammed baby blue one off Etsy but now I’m thinking I might just want a navy New York Yankees snapback? I'm classic.) I got home from work one night and my ex was at his new flat in Elephant & Castle and I decided to practice dancing to No More Parties in LA in my bedroom just to double-check that I’d be as good at it in real life as I was in my dream in my head and I was thrilled to discover that I’m even better! I’ve done a lot of squats and lunges since the last time I danced.
        I love the part of No More Parties in LA when in slides Kendrick. His voice sounds like granite. He has an interesting relationship with syllables, with rhythm I guess. He raps like when you listen to an exceptional bass player play bass and it seemingly has nothing to do with anything else that’s going on in the world of the singer or drummer or guitar player yet makes total sense regardless. He’s such a chill and gentle presence on that song. It’s both jarrring and exciting when it turns back into Kanye. His voice is so much rounder and louder and bigger and makes me think of furry zoo animals, mammals, big-eyed dogs and pandas and bears. What bears would sound like if they rapped. 
        He hates parties in LA, this guy, this Kanye. He's into realer shit, like parenting and sneaker design. I guess it’s Kim’s fault, I guess she’s the one who keeps dragging him to all the parties; I don’t get why she’s even into it at all. She doesn’t even drink.

I love Kim. I used to be a little bit sad that Kanye ended up with Kim because I’d wanted him to end up a weirder chick, I wanted him to have a Yoko. But maybe I had the whole thing backwards. Maybe Kanye is actually Kim’s Yoko! It’s a beautiful thought, I know.
        I love everything that Kim and Kanye have been doing lately. I love how they’re both aggressive Internet feminists now. I am very much pro-that Kanye & Kim development. Sometimes Kanye says things like “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex; why? I made that bitch famous,” and you think “No, there’s no way this guy’s a feminist,” but I think he is, and is just an idiot. That lyric's just a stupid joke, to Kanye West in Kanye’s own head. He gets off a little bit too hard on being provocative and the crassness of that lyric is part of it. (I wish Kanye would self-edit just the tiniest bit more. Obviously the crux of Kanye’s charm steps from his refusal to self-edit ever, but I wish he would channel, like, three extra percent of his creative energy into self-editing: he would still fully come across as a guy who never self-edits, but his art would be about 50% less sloppy, and infinitely more successful.)
        There are tons of gorgeously pro-woman moments on TLOP, and most of them relate to Kim: it’s so cool when he shouts out the fact that the E! entertainment network is bankrolling his entire family, and “Kimoji just shut down the app store” is an absolutely stunning sentence, almost humbly so, in the exact way that “This is a God dream” isn’t. And despite its being home to that gross Taylor Swift lyric that I don’t care about, Famous is definitely TLOP's most blatantly feminist moment, in that its excellence is entirely dependent on the three women who E!-style bankroll it. Kanye chips in to make it into a Kanye song and I think his Puerto Rican Day Parade references are really playful, really sweet, but the last minute and twenty-three seconds? Sister Nancy fades into Nina Simone and it's the most beautiful thing you've ever heard. Kanye raps about the sun's in his eyes and Kanye goes away and the mood slinks into something more sultry, Sister Nancy fades into Nina Simone and it sounds like a sunset. These are two women who mean something and stand for something: it sounds like sunshine, only sadder. A sunset.
         Last Sunday afternoon my ex-boyfriend called to tell me some bad news about our apartment and I started crying in the front of the hipster taxidermy shop on Essex Road. My tears turned into sludge and stained the front of my glasses and I didn’t have anything to wipe them off with so I let them stay cruddy. I didn’t have anything to do except fucking deal with my life so I did. I didn’t buy anything at Starbucks but monopolized a table anyway. I sat at that table and solved my entire life at that table. Then I got my eyebrows threaded. My eyebrows looked sick. I walked back to Newington Green listening to the last minute and twenty-three seconds of Famous by Kanye West over and over again and had no idea how good my life was about to get beginning tomorrow so I just zoned into the sunsettiness of the song and thought, “This is as good as my vibe could possibly get today” and rolled with it. I wished I could be the sun but I couldn’t, so I settled for the sunset. And I was grateful that I’d found a way to be sunny at all. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Brian Eno & Hair Responsibility

Here are my five favorite things this week:

i. PAULINA & FRAN BY RACHEL B. GLASER. I read Paulina & Fran a couple weeks ago and the other night I started reading it again. I wanted to be back in a place of constantly reading really great sentences about hair, such as: "She looked like a doll whose factory-made hair was not meant to be brushed but had been brushed violently." I love how Paulina is always deep-conditioning her hair and judging her friends' hair and viewing her curls as superior to other hair textures. I have curly hair and mostly it annoys me. But reading Paulina & Fran made me want to take greater responsibility for my hair. The concept of "hair responsibility" just lit up in my head while I was eating a fried egg and cinnamon-raisin bagel and reading the paper on Sunday afternoon-- I saw it as a sign lettered like John & Yoko's "Hair Peace" sign. So the other day I went out and bought some hair mask for deep-conditioning, and I dug up my bottle of argan oil and various other curly-hair-specific products. I want my hair to self-actualize into its highest level of lustrous magnificence, instead of being left all dull and dry and frizzed out and twisted into a boring clump at the back of my head. Let us never twist ourselves into boring clumps in any way at all, I guess is what I'm saying. And if I'm going to wear my hair up, I want it to be as amazing as my #1 hair idol of the week, Vanessa Williams on Broad City:

ii. BRIAN ENO. Brian Eno's my favorite person right now. Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno: that's his real name. I still haven't made much progress in finding any non-stuffy music-dude writing that will educate me about early-'70s Brian Eno-- though I did learn that when he left Roxy Music, he danced down the street in celebration. I like that as a contrast to the story about Mick Jones getting fired from the Clash the week of the Notting Hill Carnival and then walking around the carnival crying. Both reactions are perfect. And I bet Brian Eno didn't stay in Roxy Music very much longer than he wanted to-- watching him play with them, he's so switched-on and in it. I love when boys are in love with their own bands, or even with the very idea of being a boy in a band. I talk to bands all the time for work, and one thing that always delights me is when guys tell me about learning to play guitar in fifth or sixth or seventh grade because they knew that girls would think it was cool. (Seriously half the guys in bands tell me that, including the ones who aren't even guitarists.) What I mean about Brian Eno is: for a long time I had this idea that he was a weird wizard dude who made inaccessible music and was really dour about it-- but he's not! Brian Eno's a firecracker. He wants all the light to shine on him, and it does. He got all the girls and looked better than anyone, despite having been balding forever. Another great role model in hair responsibility. 

iii. "DO THE STRAND" BY ROXY MUSIC. This week I listened to "Do the Strand" by Roxy Music three thousand times and watched this video two thousand times:

Brian Eno is a Christmas tree but only the tinsel. Wearing an extravagant coat with no shirt is a great move. I wish we got more closeups of him, but I also like having the spotlight on Bryan Ferry being a total fantastic creep. Also I like watching Brian Eno in the background, singing along even though he's not the singer. To me that's the most graceful expression of exuberance in rock & roll.

iv. "DJ" BY DAVID BOWIE. At the end of January there was a David Bowie dance party at the Echo. It took up both floors of the club and the bass player from the Smiths DJ'd and there were these screens on almost all the walls, showing different David Bowie videos. I liked it because you could wander around and look at the screens and feel like you were in some grand David Bowie museum. A great big David Bowie castle. For a while I disappeared from my friends and hung out on a vinyl couch and took pictures of David Bowie videos projected onto a wall by the Echoplex bar. It soothed me. I think there should be a place we can go every week or maybe every month and just sit around and watch David Bowie videos on the walls, and talk to people or not talk to people.
        Toward the end of the night my friends and I went upstairs and danced and sang some more. Everyone left but I wasn't ready to go. They'd just played "Under Pressure" and I was feeling "Under Pressure"-sentimental, so I stayed and leaned against a post and texted with this guy I know and listened to David Bowie and fell in love with this great-looking couple next to me (the boy had on a gray suit + saddle shoes, the girl wore a leopard-print minidress + red tights, they both danced up a storm). Some boy asked me to dance and I said yes and we danced a while. At one point the boy said, "How do you feel about being twirled around?", which was a nice question to be asked. I told him: "I feel pretty good about it," and then we did lots of twirling, like how you think grownups dance when you're five-years-old. It was fun. Everybody was living their best life at the David Bowie dance party.
       The point I'm trying to get to is that before that night, I'd never really cared about "DJ." But this week I listened to "DJ" all the time every day, when I wasn't listening to Roxy Music or Here Come the Warm Jets or Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. My favorite line is "I got believers/Believing me," though I like to hear it as "I got believers/Believing in me" because apparently I'm just unabashedly corny about David Bowie all the time now. The video's so good-- what a cute goof! Here's a picture I took of the "DJ" video on the Echoplex wall:

v. LANCERS. Last Friday afternoon my friends and I went to my favorite new restaurant, Lancers in Burbank. It's the kind of restaurant that sells Snickers bars and Kit-Kats and packs of Big Red and Juicy Fruit at the register, you know what I mean? They've got Keno and that game where you move the metal claw around the big glass tank and catch yourself a stuffed animal. The menu is wonderful: Oreo brownie sundaes and peach halves and broasted chicken and spaghetti and cold cereal and champagne and glasses of milk and boring beer, listed on the menu as "Bud On Tap." Everything about Lancers is boring. I love a boring dining experience. For my meal I got scrambled eggs and sausage and hash browns and toast, and drank many cups of boring coffee. We stayed for hours and by the time we left, people were starting to head to the cocktail lounge: this drably lit room at the back of the restaurant, where the drinks are probably crazy-stiff and cost like three dollars. The dining rooms were all wood paneling and teal and rosey-beige, as seen in the photo below. I love that sign over the kitchen window: If You Are Not Proud Of It DO NOT SERVE IT. I love how it's facing out, to the customers, instead of the people who actually work in the kitchen.