4.4.16

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. 

1.4.16

Thing of the Week: LJ's Nov, Ireland

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Writing My Nov



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.

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Ireland

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: 



11.3.16

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.


3.3.16

All the Songs We Loved in February




WORDS BY ELIZABETH BARKER & LAURA JANE FAULDS, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY

Eleanor Friedberger, "He Didn't Mention His Mother" (LJ)



The first time I ever listened to He Didn’t Mention His Mother was in December. It was December 30th. It wasn’t late, but it felt like it was. I’d gone out for dinner with Erin that night. I was home for Christmas in Toronto. We went to the Ace.
         I ordered the lamb ragout, which wasn’t something I’d normally order. I saw the name and description of it on the menu and I thought “That’s what I want,” and I said that I was going to order it, but then I went back on it, and I said that I was going to order something else: the fried cauliflower and a salad I think it was. But then my brain played itself a movie, a mashed-up movie of me talking to every indecisive diner who’s ever sat at a table at the restaurant I run back in London and had their order taken by me: “Follow your heart,” I always tell them, and they think it’s cute, and listen to me. They follow their hearts. So I took my own advice, and it worked out for me too. The lamb ragout was the best meal I ate the entire time I was home for Christmas: a sagey brown stew that tasted like it was made by somebody’s remarkably great cook of a grandmother. Writing that sentence just made me think, one of the worst parts about growing older, being thirty and all that, is how everybody’s grandmother is dead now. You never get to eat their gloppy sagey brown stews anymore.
        On the menu it said the ragout came with swiss chard and risotto. On the plate when they put it down in front of you you couldn’t see the risotto at first. The risotto was wrapped up in a leaf of the swiss chard like a little parcel, like the kind of sticky rice you get at a dim sum restaurant. I cut into the swiss chard with the side of my spoon and little swirls of steam came into the air. I was charmed by it. There was rice inside!
        I was so tired that night. I was so dirty when I got to Erin’s; I’d had to take a shower at her apartment. The night before was Clash Night, which is a night my friends and I have where we sit around and get drunk and try to listen to the Clash or talk about the Clash but then get too drunk and forget about it, which is really Clash of us anyway. Something wild happened with a guy and I that Clash Night. We slept on the floor of the studio my friend Kritty runs out of the back of her house, on a bed made out of our jackets. It’ll probably take me another ten years of writing to get good enough to do that section of the story any justice. Today, all I can manage is the swiss chard.
         It was forest green and it had whitish maps of veins running across it. The veins delivered nutrients to one part of the leaf from another. It made me think of being a kid and learning all the different greens: kelly & forest & turquoise & lime, etc. This leaf was just so forest.
        My face was scoured red from making out with a dude with a beard all night. I always like to romanticize that facial effect in myself, ever since the first dude I ever met out at a bar and went home with had a beard. I met him at Enid’s, in Brooklyn, where the Fiery Furnaces used to play. On our way to the bar Katie Rose told me: the Fiery Furnaces used to play here, and I didn’t care. I just wanted to starve myself and drink blueberry vodka and feel validated by male attention. I was twenty-one and I don’t blame myself at all. The guy had a boring name; it was David. He drove a scooter and I rode home on the back of it. I was drunk and could have died but didn’t die. He read my arms out loud in bed and asked me if McCartney was my last name: he thought my Lennon tattoo said “Laura,” and I laughed my head off at the idea of being a person stupid enough to get their own first and last names tattooed on the inside of their elbows. In the morning he walked me to Dunkin’ Donuts and bought me a coconut iced coffee the size of my face. He asked me if I wanted to go eat eggs Florentine at a diner and I kind of did but said I couldn’t. I wasn’t too interested in eating any food that month.
        On my way home I stopped into the record store next to the vintage kids store where I worked because I had a crush on a guy who worked there and I wanted him to infer from my physical appearance that I’d spent the night at a different guy’s apartment. I wanted him to feel jealous and then be motivated into action but he never took action; I had to take all the action in the end. That morning he asked me if somebody had punched me in the face and I said that nobody had done. He asked me why was my face all red then and I smiled. He said if anybody ever punched me in the face he’d beat them up and I thought that was sweet of him and I was right.
        You can’t be thirty years old and feel as hot about your red abraded chin as you did the morning you were twenty-one and your jacket looked like a pixelated picture of a forest and you realized you had a certain power about you and that you could use it to make men do things. I’m still the exact same idiot I was when I was twenty-one. There’s a thousand different things a person can do to make themselves feel powerful and they’re basically all unhealthy. I’ve done em all.
        Power was the last thing on my mind the night I walked back to my dad’s apartment from the King & Yonge streetcar stop and listened to He Didn’t Mention His Mother for the first time. I felt as happy and peaceful and fluffy as the lamb a ragout of whose body I’d just ate and felt crazy-sated by. I felt like the inside of a wool-lined jacket, when the wool is still curly, like a jacket John Lennon or Donovan would’ve worn in the late nineteen-sixties.
         I walked past the Bulk Barn where the windows are printed with pictures of hot pink pistachios. The song starts with the fake effect of a person dropping a needle into a groove on a vinyl record and the needle skidding a bit. I don’t think that sound is necessary. It doesn’t make the song any better than it would have been without it. It just reminds me of how pathetic it is to be the sort of obsessively nostalgic person that Eleanor Friedberger and I both are. It makes me think of how stupid and weird it would sound if you bought New View by Eleanor Friedberger on vinyl and then the record needle did the actual thing that the beginning of the song is mimicking. You see? It’s not necessary.
        But after that, things got perfect. I loved the song as if I’d loved the song for ten years already. Sometimes it takes you awhile to understand the words the singer is singing but that time I could understand every word she was singing as the words fell out of her mouth. I liked them all and related to them. I read an interview with her where she says, and I paraphrase, that she just wants her record to sound like it was written by a woman in her thirties who is doing okay— and often, it doesn’t. Often, it sounds like this person really needs to calm down about the dude she’s writing songs about, who is probably Fred Armisen, which is also hard for me to deal with: I just can’t take a love song written about Fred Armisen seriously.
        She definitely sounds like she’s doing okay on He Didn’t Mention His Mother, which I tell myself is not about Fred Armisen to make the way I relate it seem more okay to myself—the bit about “my friend and her baby and a dog that I know”— it made me think about the day before the day before the night I first heard that song, the afternoon I went to the swank Toronto Nando’s with Sam & Teri & Emily and met Teri and Emily’s babies for the first time. They were babies. I never know babies. They were tiny swiss chard-wrapped risotto packages of humans named Clara & Ginger & Phinneas and I saw that they are all real humans who will grow up to be whoever they grow up to be, who will all grow up to walk home from the first night they ever spent at a dude or chick’s apartment, and will grow even older and listen to a song that makes them think about it. I like that I know babies now.
        The part that meant and means the most to me, that I thought I was going to write so much about but really don’t have that much to say about, is the part when she sings “I so wanted something to happen that day, and then what I wanted, it happened. And that just don’t always happen that way, to me”— no little packet of sentences that any person could have mashed together and sung to me could ever have summed up exactly how I was feeling that night so tidily, so eerily-tidily.
       I was alone on the street but probably pulled some weird face to say the way that I felt for nobody anyway. I’m thirty years old, and it’s still so hard for me to believe that a boy likes me. I’ve been an ocean away from that night I can’t write about, with the bed made out of jackets, for two months now, and I still listen to He Didn’t Mention His Mother every day, because it helps me remember that it happened. It makes me feel like I’m a woman in my thirties doing okay.

ROXY MUSIC, "EDITIONS OF YOU" (LIZ)

The weekend before Christmas Carmen Hawk Instagram'd a video of Roxy Music playing "Editions of You," which was the main catalyst in Roxy Music becoming the band I love best right now. That day I bought "Editions of You" and put it on my phone and played it lots of times on the train to Boston, where I met one of my best friends at a pub in Southie. I got champagne punch and an egg sandwich thing and a hundred cups of coffee and we sat there for hours and probably exasperated our server, but who cares. Later on I walked to the North End (Little Italy) which was so Christmasy and all lit up and smelled like sugar cookies and anisette and pizzelle and marzipan. Then I got back on the train and listened to "Editions of You" lots more times, and now "Editions of You" always sounds lit up and powdered-sugary and snappy like December. It sounds like riding the train to Boston and riding the train from Boston, which will never not be exciting to me. The cycle of anticipation-of-adventure and then forced reflection that happens on round-trip train rides is one of my best things.



This video's not the one Carmen posted but it's better because it’s from 1973 instead of 1982. Brian Eno is the star, with his cool feathers and eyemakeup and punchy tambourining, and the way he boredly throws the tambourine off into nowhere when he's done with it. The best is the end, when he and Bryan Ferry sing together and make a big deal of pantomiming the lyrics. Bryan Ferry's pantomiming is fine, but Brian Eno really takes the cake. (Speaking of cake: "Too much cheesecake too soon/Old money's better than new": that is the best couplet.) What’s their general relationship dynamic, Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry? I have no concept of the mythology of Roxy Music, and I really don't feel like reading some stuffy old article to figure it out. I want someone to lay it all out for me in beautiful story form, like how once at a party in Laurel Canyon I retold Gram Parsons's biography for a bunch of strangers while swinging on a wooden swing and drinking a plastic cup of champagne. I’m going to try to get a job telling rock & roll fables at big rich-people parties, and then someday I'll tell the Brian Eno + Bryan Ferry story and make it gorgeous, even if it's a total bore.


MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, "CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEEP CHEEP" (LIZ)

Around Christmastime I went to a birthday party in the bar of a bowling alley that used to just be a normal bowling alley but now everyone goes there on Saturday nights and smokes pot in the doorway and sings karaoke in the karaoke part of the bar and it's a total mob scene. Which is way fun, I like it- really good vibes at the All-Star Lanes on Eagle Rock Boulevard. A couple hours into the birthday party I was standing around and drinking beer with my friends, and a very handsome boy in the adjacent friend clump started singing "Marquee Moon" by Television. He was talking to another boy and out of nowhere just shout-sang "REMEMBER! HOW THE DARKNESS DOUBLED...", and somehow struck the perfect balance of earnestly belting it out and acknowledging the goofiness of loudly singing a Television song at a karaoke party at some stupid bowling alley. So I was in awe of him and developed a staring problem, partly because of "Marquee Moon" but mostly because he looked like Cillian Murphy, or at least as much like Cillian Murphy as could ever be expected of an actual person in a bowling alley in Eagle Rock. After that I was in love with Cillian Murphy, who I now refer to as "my beautiful love" when talking to people and as "my muse" when talking to myself. He's my muse now, really. His face makes me write things I didn't know how to write before.


What this has to do with "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" is I've been watching lots of Cillian Murphy movies, including Breakfast on Pluto, which has "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" playing in the scene when Kitten goes off to London to find her mom. I've got mixed feelings about Breakfast on Pluto but mostly it's very sweet and Kitten is so lovely, a magic angel. For a good week or so mid-February, I loved "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" so intensely that in the morning I couldn't wait to get up and fix my coffee and make my bed while playing it loudly on my computer. It sounds like all the colors of the drugstore Easter-candy aisle filling up your head all at once. It makes you feel like life is nothing but Cadbury MIni Eggs and Starburst Jelly Beans and chocolate-marshmallow bunnies and Hershey's Easter Kisses and even Russell Stover coconut nests.

11.2.16

Eating & Drinking & Living & Listening in Barcelona




Hello darlings, it's me LJ. Last week, I went on holiday to Barcelona: it was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. In Barcelona I ate a lot of food and drank a lot of wine and lived a lot of life and heard a lot of songs. Here is the scrappily-told tale of all of them. 

BY LAURA JANE

The first meal I ate in Barcelona was a crappy chicken salad at a crappy coffee shop around the corner from my airbnb. Before I ate it I was so hungry I wanted to cry and after I ate it I wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to cry anymore- so I guess it was a success. But it was unromantic. I had just taken a taxi from the airport to the city and was worried that I wasn’t going to like Barcelona. It had looked very worryingly ugly from the back of the taxi; unless you think factories or blank brown boxes of buildings are beautiful, every city is at its peak ugliest when you’re driving into it from the airport. I was shaky and confused when the cabbie dropped me off on Carrer de Tamarit a half-hour early for my airbnb check-in, so I wandered around looking for a place to eat. If I'd only turned left instead of right, I would have figured out that Barcelona is beautiful straightaway, but instead I went the ugly way, where I tried to buy some sort of pre-made wiggly yogurt product and a sickly-looking cup of fruit salad at a dreary-looking cafe. But there was a problem with my bank card, and I didn’t have enough euros to pay for my meal, so I left and found a bank and then the chicken salad place. My inability to pay for my food nor speak Spanish at the wiggly yogurt place had been such an unpleasant ordeal that I knew I could never show my face there again.





A few hours later, after checking into my airbnb and doing whatever little things I needed to do to make myself feel like a human again, I decided to walk to a wine bar called La Vinya del Senyor, which I found out about by Googling “best wine bar in Barcelona.” I filled up my iPod shuffle with Blondie’s entire discography and set out on my journey, shortly into which I was overjoyed to discover that Barcelona is earth-shatteringly beautiful! The streets were dark and narrow but still so spirited, so enchanting, or enchanted. One of my favourite things about Barcelona is its commitment to the colour pale pink. Everybody has swaying laundry and expressive foliage hanging off their terraces. I listened to Debbie Harry sing Bang A Gong (Get It On) and felt about as happy as I know how to.




I walked past a tiny bakery with a display of technicolor marzipan fruits in the front window, and knew that if I didn’t eat a marzipan strawberry at that moment I would spend the rest of my life regretting it, and what’s the point of that? I timidly asked the baker for “one of those,” pointing at the strawberries, but he heard my “those” as “dos” and asked “Dos?” and I decided that, yes, dos was the perfect numero of strawberries for me to eat. What a blessing! I can’t believe how much my life would have sucked if I’d only eaten uno strawberry. I probably would have had to go straight back and buy another one.

The man wrapped my strawberries in tinfoil and I ate them in quick succession while walking through a square. There were palm trees in the square. The strawberries were airy and cakey and tasted like my favourite flavour: fake strawberry. The green tops were made of icing sugar, and offered textural contrast to the spongey marzipan, crackling between my teeth. I thought, “The entire point of my life is that I get to Spain sometimes,” and I imagined myself dying, watching a movie of the finest moments from my life in my head: those strawberries would be a part of it.


La Vinya del Senyor was the best wine bar I've ever been to. I sat out on a patio, across the way from an old crumbling church, and drank two glasses of cava, a 2009 Gran Reserva. The best thing about being a person who knows about wine is that, when faced with literally any wine list, even a mediocre one, you’re immediately able to deduce which wine is most to your taste, so you almost never have to deal with drinking wine that you don’t love. There’s probably no wine in the world I could love more than an aged high-quality cava; it tastes like champagne but is cooler, because it's not.  
        Cava's got this sort of sharp, yelpy briskness to it, zippy and nimble, like the sound and feeling of snapping a stalk of celery in half. Champagne is heavier, murkier, romantic but illegible, like an old person long-windedly telling you a story from their past.

After my second glass of cava I got up to go to the bathroom and I knocked over my glass and broke it. The staff were very sweet to me about it: “These things happen!” kinda vibes. They didn’t make me feel like I was stupid or drunk. We all just shrugged and got on with our lives.
        I stayed at La Vinya del Senyor writing for about three and a half hours. I wrote almost the entire India chunk of my novel. Post-cava, I had a glass of white wine called La Planetes de Nin, which I was intrigued by because the grape was listed as Carinenya, which is definitely a red wine grape. It was as weird as seeing a glass of white Cabernet Sauvignon.
        I took a gamble on that glass, but it paid off: it was everything I love in a white wine— nutty, lean, a bit musty, bone-ass dry.
        I spent like 50 euros on those three glasses of wine and regret nothing. After paying up, I went on a drunk and peppy wander around the city, looking for a perfect place to eat some dinner, and I was so happy my heart felt swollen. I wanted to talk to Joe Strummer about it. For dinner I had vermouth and empanadas.


The next morning, I had a chocolate croissant and fresh-squeezed orange juice from the crappy chicken salad coffee shop for breakfast. I love the beautiful Spanish word for orange, naranja. I got ready and did some more wandering, and wondered if maybe I should write a Spain chunk into my novel, but then decided that my novel's clogged up with enough little bits & bobs like that already, and then I wondered if maybe my second novel would be a Spain novel, and then I got stressed out just thinking about it- 
        I can't imagine myself ever becoming a good enough writer to do Spain justice in writing. 
         Maybe I love Spain as much as I do because I can’t express it in words; it’s too beautiful. I fell in love with London because when I experience it I need to write it down, I always know exactly how to write about it, how to describe the way the streets look and the way the air feels and the way it makes me feel— but with Barcelona, same as I felt in Galicia, I can’t even bring myself to try. I can tell you about the food I ate, the wine I drank, the things I did, & the songs I heard- but every word I try to write about Barcelona Itself is just not good enough. It's like looking at an unflattering photograph of a beautiful person.


22.1.16

Our David Bowie Death Day Stories




WORDS BY LJ & LIZ, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN


LJ: I found out that David Bowie died by opening up my Instagram. I was cold, lying in Livia’s bed. Livia was in Italy; I was staying at her flat in Brockley for the week, giving myself a bit of a breather from living with my ex-boyfriend, which is not something I derive a ton of satisfaction from complaining about, but since everyone seems to want to know, here is my review of the situation: “Could be worse!” Then I shrug and wink at you: “Could be a lot better, though.” I'll let you use your imagination to figure out what some of those things could be.
        A bunch of people had posted pictures of David Bowie looking chic and bony-faced to their Instagram accounts, which seemed like a normal enough thing to do, since David Bowie'd been all over the place that week: people were in love his new record, called Blackstar (which perplexed me. There's already a Blackstar: Mos Def & Talib Kweli. Did David Bowie not know about that?) and his birthday, same as Elvis', had just passed. David Bowie's a Capricorn. That's the kind of thing I like to talk to people about. 
         But then I put two and two together, and the world felt very weird then; the day felt uninhabitable. It didn’t seem like it could be true. He seemed so healthy, so dexterous and capable: like a tap-dancer. Golden-cheeked, with a young person’s floppy yellow bangs. I didn’t think of him as a person who would never die; I thought of him as a person who wouldn’t die yet. I thought it was annoying when people on the Internet said they'd thought he'd never die. I thought it was annoying when people on the Internet said shit like he didn't die, he'd just gone back to outer space or something. “He’s not actually from Mars,” I wanted to tell them, but didn’t: it was not my place to say. It was important to me that I exist as a beacon of positive energy on the Internet on David Bowie Death Day. I wanted to honour my relationship with David Bowie. 
         Bowie's never been my favourite-favourite guy- I don't share the same intimate connection with his music and persona that I do with my deeper homies John, Marc, Joe, Bob & Ray: we're more of a surface-y duo, David Bowie & I. My favourite Bowie songs and I are more than just acquaintances, we're proper friends, but we're the kind of friends who exercise bad judgment when it comes to class-A drugs and drink Aperol Spritzes once or twice a year together. We have fun together, and  I value the lightness and ease of that relationship.  Excepting "Conversation Piece"*, my most beloved Space Oddity deep cut, I don’t listen to David Bowie songs to feel anything except pleasure.
        On David Bowie Death Day, I decided to fill up every last inch of my iPod shuffle with David Bowie's entire discog and have an unfuckwithably pleasurable day. I just want to take a moment to shout out how much I love my iPod shuf for a second here. Its name is Rinky-Dink, and it’s such a huge loser. I bought it in early November when my phone broke and I couldn’t deal with musicless existence but was too poor to buy myself a real iPod. I went to the Dalston Kingsland Argos, looked up ‘iPod shuffle’ on the screen-thing, and immediately fell for this hotshotty lil rose-gold number that was, tragically, out of stock. Then I was like, “Oh, okay, fine, I guess I’ll settle for this, like, platinum one”- which was ALSO out of stock. I then went through the frustrating process— carrying many bags, and an Americano, sweating through my jacket— of attempting to settle for another like twenty iPod shuffles, all of which were out of stock. When I finally found Rinky-Dink, an out-of-date hot pink model that for some reason wasn’t on sale like all her out-of-date loser friends, her ‘runt of the litter’ vibes were so potent that I couldn’t help but fall madly in love. Rinky-Dink is the iPod equivalent of an ugly snaggletoothed pit bull with a heart of gold. I saved her from the kill shelter. 



(ABOVE: Love how "Dad in 1997" David Bowie's jacket is here. But he works it! Oh how he works it)

I walked out into the world, and the first David Bowie song Rinky-Dink played me was "Rock & Roll Suicide"— Rinky-Dink was on it that day. “You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette,” sang David Bowie the dead person; I’ve always loved that lyric, because I feel like I wrote it: it makes me think of a time in LA when Liz & I were driving along the side of some mountain listening to Torn & Frayed and Mick Jagger sang the bit about ballrooms & smelly bordellos. Liz said, “That line reminds me of something I’d write,” and I thought how lucky we are, to be writers who love rock-and-roll music. Writers who love rock-and-roll music are the only people in the world who get to have that feeling.
        I took a picture of a palm tree against a grey sky on David Bowie Death Day. I took the Overground to Shoreditch and "Heroes" started playing as I pushed through the turnstile with my hipbone. I started to cry a little. It was not an intense bout of tears. It was pretty positive as far as crying goes, though not quite tears of joy.
        I cried because the song was beautiful and the person who wrote it was dead. The words meant more to me than they ever had before. I like the way that couples in David Bowie songs are always a unified whole, fighting against something. They are always fierce warriors together. I encountered many other instances of this lyrical phenomenon in David Bowie songs over the course of David Bowie Death Day and I knew I’d want to write something about them eventually but I didn’t copy any of them down, I didn’t want to have to take off my mitten and dig through my rucksack for my notebook and then kneel down on the street holding a pen-lid between my teeth, and besides at the time it seemed very obvious that I’d remember them all anyway, but I was wrong about that. You’ll just have to take my word for it, or listen to the songs for yourself.



(ABOVE: Amazing cuffs & boots look, David Bowie) 

I got to work and put my shit down and then sighed and picked all my shit up again. I decided to walk to the bank, in Whitechapel, which is where Jack the Ripper used to kill people. I listened to "Fame" and said a little sweet hello to John Lennon as I ran under the overpass where the pavement’s stained with pigeon shit, where I’m so afraid that I’m going to have to interact with a pigeon, but haven't yet. Then Rinky-Dink did me the solid of playing me 1) "Starman" and 2) "Prettiest Star" in a row— "Prettiest Star"’s my third-favourite David Bowie song; I think it’s the David Bowie song I’d do the best job of singing on a stage in front of thousands of people, if I were a David Bowie-style of rock star. I love it when he sings One day, though it might as well be someday— it sounds so cool, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I love how, with David Bowie, it almost never has to mean a thing. He just wants you to have a good time at a wedding and dance.
         My second-favourite David Bowie song is called "Unwashed & Somewhat Slightly Dazed". It’s from Space Oddity, an album that I listened to incessantly in March of 2011, when I dressed baby mannequins at a GapKids/BabyGap for a living and winter just wouldn’t quit. I woke up to a blanket of sparkling snow every morning, and morning was at 5 PM, because I worked overnight shifts. It was always dark out. Lunch was a banana and seventeen diet Red Bulls in the middle of the night. I was unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed myself, and knew, really knew, what a wonderful thing that was to be. Life can be as shitty as it wants, just so long as I can find some way to make it romantic. Just so long as I can think back to it five or six years later and remember that it felt like something.



My favourite David Bowie song is "Time," because it’s so theatrical, the only thing I've ever really asked life to be. I love drama, but hate plays: only "Time" and Keeping Up With The Kardashians deliver. It’s on the album Aladdin Sane. A Lad Insane. That’s the pun; I’m vibing on that pun: every second of my life, I’m vibing on that pun. Rinky-Dink played me Time in Whitechapel too, that afternoon— it played it to me in the Sainsbury’s, the gargantuan Sainsbury’s that reminds me of another grocery store, a grocery store from home. The one with the Joe Fresh attached to it, where I used to buy myself oatmeal muffins on my way to house-sitting my rich friend’s parents’ house. I’d heat them up in the microwave for thirty-five seconds and cut them in half then melt pats of margarine into their bellies. Those weren't the days.
        I went into the Sainsbury’s half to buy a calendar and half to feel like I was home, but I couldn’t find a calendar, and didn't feel like I was home, so I just wandered up and down the aisles— I couldn’t handle a mid-"Time" location change. I committed to it. I gripped my backstrap straps in my fists like if I didn’t I would fly away and bopped my head along to the piano, such heavy piano, and raised my eyebrows, emotively mouthed along to the lyrics and didn’t care how weird I seemed— it felt acceptable, that day, to be as weird as I wanted. Everyone was operating comfortably from the vantage point of their own personal weirdest on David Bowie Death Day. He gave us that permission, and it was really fucking nice of him. We all loved him in our own tiny ways, and we didn't think we cared as much as we did but we did, and on that day we all told each other about it, and it helped. Some of us pretended that he was an alien, but I didn’t. I didn’t want him to be. I never pretended anything. I wanted him to have been a human, which he was, and I bounded up and down the frozen foods aisle of a grocery store in a country I wasn't born in, and wondered if maybe I should buy eggs while I was there, but I didn’t, because David Bowie died, and I didn’t care.

*If you've never heard "Conversation Piece," please go listen to it now. It's so "slice of life" and a lot about the reasonably-chill-sounding Austrian shop owner David Bowie lived above when he was like twenty-three or whatever. In it, he sings I’m invisible and dumb, and no one will recall me, which of course ended up being the LEAST true statement ever! We know this for a fact: he just died, and we're all obsessed with recalling him constantly. I listen to Conversation Piece in moments of self-doubt to remind myself that, once upon a time, even David Bowie was a wide-eyed unsuccessful nobody! Somehow this proves that I too will attain David Bowie-levels of success in my life  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


LIZ: The night David Bowie died we had people over to watch the Golden Globes. I was late to my own Golden Globes party; I'd been writing at Farmers Market and on the way home I stopped at the Thai place in the strip mall next to my favorite 7-Eleven, the one at at the corner of Sunset and Rosemont, where one night in winter 2009 LJ and I sat on the curb in the parking lot and filmed a short video about dating do's & don'ts. The Thai restaurant is called Sib Song; it's completely average and my favorite restaurant in Echo Park, now that the bastards have driven Pizza Buona out. My general Sib Song move is to order takeout and then sit at the counter and have a glass of mediocre white wine and read the paper until my food's ready. On David Bowie Death Day I read the New York Times, ordered spicy mint noodles, drank a glass of chardonnay. The Sib Song vibes were really good, really Sunday-night-in-winter cozy and chill; some nice woman and I complimented each other on our jackets (I had on my faux-leopard-fur coat, she was wearing a satin Dodgers jacket) and I got real sentimental about everything. I tweeted "L.A. will never be over, but if the Thai place next to my most emotionally loaded 7-Eleven ever closes, that's when L.A. will be over to me." Still true.

So then I went home to watch the stupid Golden Globes with stupid Ricky Gervais. Ricky Gervais is one of my very least favorite people in all the world; I agree with every word of the song that David Bowie sang about him. But the company was good, and Shaz brought a See's Candies chocolate sampler, and I had some chocolates and some nice wine. Let's all bring chocolate samplers to parties all the time from now on - especially that Whitman's sampler that's all cake-themed chocolates, like Wedding Cake and Red Velvet and Carrot and all that. 

After everyone left I was getting ready for bed, and I looked at my phone and people on the Internet were talking about how David Bowie died but most of them were saying it was a hoax. So I went downstairs and said to John, "I think David Bowie died?" and John was like, "But it's a hoax though, I think." So I went back to my room and did some research and got some text messages and pretty soon we all knew it was true. I looked at the Internet for a while, and then I put my earbuds in and opened up my phone iTunes and put David Bowie on shuffle, and listened to David Bowie songs for a long time. "Heroes" was the one that made me cry. I never even liked "Heroes" all that much before, but it was like every moment I'd ever spent not caring about "Heroes" was just building up to this weird new moment of listening to "Heroes" way too loud on the night David Bowie died and letting the intensity and generosity of the song be magnified by millions and loving David Bowie more than ever before. 



I've been trying to figure out why David Bowie dying feels so strange, and I think it's got to do with David Bowie being an artist I've known my whole life and who's meant more and more to me as time goes on. It's different from when Michael Jackson died, partly because I didn't love Michael Jackson until the late-in-life age of five, but mostly because my connection to Michael Jackson never got deeper than it was when I was a little kid. I never really use Michael Jackson songs for anything beyond pure joy and nostalgia, but I use David Bowie for so many things, all the time, maybe every day. It's good to look at life through the David Bowie lens and see it all in better colors or brighter colors, or sometimes colors that are totally drab but in some cool weird way.

But yeah - on that Sunday night I stayed up till four in the morning or something, having decided to take a half-day the next day. I listened to more David Bowie songs and reread my "5 David Bowie Songs I'd Rather Die Than Live Without" thing to see if I still agreed with it, which I did, especially the part about how it's better to rise than fade away. At some point I went outside and stood on the porch and listened to "Memory of a Free Festival" and took pictures of the sky like a goof. And then I watched Velvet Goldmine for the first time in a few years. I just wanted to be around Christian Bale being an uncool rosy-cheeked teenager who loves his possibly David Bowie-ish pop idol above all things.



The next morning I slept late, got up and made some eggs and tea, put on the David Bowie shirt my mom gave me after she went to see the Serious Moonlight tour in 1983. I did some boring errands and then drove out to Hollywood Boulevard, to see David Bowie's star on the Walk of Fame. It's right near the Chinese Theater and there were a few dozen people there, many of them making a big show of being sad about David Bowie dying. My usual reaction to people making a big show of being sad about a famous person dying is to feel superior in my reservedness, but that's not how I felt at David Bowie's star. Fighting with people in your head about who's more authentically grieving over the death of a famous person is crass and gauche and, more than anything, just an incredibly boring use of your head. Plus if you can find yourself in a situation where everyone's just standing around and thinking/talking about how much they love David Bowie, then that's really not so bad.

After David Bowie's star I went to Starbucks to do some work, and then I met Sarah at Figaro. Sarah bought me pink champagne and we had French fries and the waiter gave us free chocolate truffles because my birthday was three weeks ago. And then I went back to David Bowie's star, to see what the nighttime scene would be like. There were more people there this time but the mood was mellower and someone was playing David Bowie songs on their phone and all the people sang along to "Under Pressure." I loved the "Under Pressure" sing-along. That "And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night" lyric really got to me. 



After that I drove down Sunset Strip to see what the rock clubs had written for David Bowie on their marquees, but it was all pretty boring - very little poetry on the Sunset Strip marquees. On the way home I stopped to get a milkshake, a strawberry-flavor one from the McDonald's at Sunset and Vine, in tribute to the part in "Five Years" where David Bowie sings about "drinking milkshakes cold and long" and the part in "Cracked Actor" where he sings about Sunset and Vine. And then I drove back to Echo Park, drinking my milkshake, listening to David Bowie. When I got home I watched an Instagram video of Flea listening to "Fill Your Heart" and showing the world his new David Bowie tattoo. I watched it about 20 times. My heart was already light, but that little ten-second video made the lightness even lighter. Flea's big cute gap-tooth-smiley face at the end: he's so happy about how much he loves David Bowie, which is the perfect way to be. The best way to use David Bowie is to just radiate light.