15.11.19

Thing of the Week: Narwhal the Puppy, Las Vegas, The Hollow Winter Hair of Deer

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Narwhal the Puppy! And puppies in general



The other day I was talking to my friend on the phone, and he likened his general state of life-optimism to that of "a puppy seeing another puppy, who he didn't know was going to be there"- what a metaphor! Inside my head I imagined the two puppies- my brain immediately conjured up 1) a classic golden retriever pup, and then 2) a scrappier mutt pup, like an Australian Shepherd sort of vibe, although it doesn't have to be an Australian Shepherd- and I lost my fucking mind. Think about how cute that would be!!! How much the 2 puppies would freak out with adorable puppy excitement over the great surprise of seeing another puppy, one of their own, and then they'd kind of look back at you, their human, like, "Can you believe what great luck we're having?" and you'd just stand there, crying tears of joy.

I've always loved puppies- I mean, that's sort of a dumb sentence. Everyone loves puppies, except people who don't love puppies- I'm not going to sit here and say that people who don't love puppies are "evil" or "heartless" or whatever: we're all entitled to our own preferences. It's okay to not like dogs. I, personally, do not like birds. I am terrified of them. They ruin my life, every day, by existing. I have thrown up from disgust, looking at a pigeon, more than once. If I could have one wish, it would be for there to be no pigeons. That is my number one wish. I think about it so much. But I digress. 

My point is, I've always loved puppies, but in the past three months or so, I've started loving puppies more than I ever thought possible. I barf when I see pigeons, but I cry when I see puppies. Even just writing the word "puppy" over and over again is making me want to cry. It's such a cute word! Puppy is the perfect name for a puppy. PUPPY

The night before I found out about Narwhal, I ate the best chocolate bar I've ever eaten in my life. It was Italian, milk chocolate with pistachio crème in the middle. It was so smooth! I was like, "I feel like I'm some middle-aged rich dude taking a sports car for a test drive, like I finally understand what that experience is like, to be driving, like, a Maserati or whatever, and to just be like, exultant about the smoothness of the engine." And then my friends and I spent a very long time talking about the pros and cons of Beyoncé being with LeBron James vis a vis Jay-Z. Then I told them the "puppy seeing another puppy" thing, and I said, "Thinking about a puppy seeing another puppy is, like, up here," and I reached my hand up very high, "And then, just, puppies, generally, is right here," and I lowered my hand a tiny bit, and then I lowered my hand to the very lowest ground and said "And here's, like, the best sex of my life." 

Then I woke up in the morning, and found out about Narwhal, the puppy with a tail in the middle of his face. Fucking fuck YES Narwhal!!!!! Now the best thing I can imagine is Narwhal seeing another puppy that he didn't know was going to be there, and the other puppy also had some sort of charming and adorable deformity, and- I can't go on. This is too much. It is too wonderful to think about. Anyway, Narwhal fucking rules. I know it, you know it, Narwhal knows it. Check out this fake message some person wrote from Narwhal's perspective, which is just SO GOOD, if you imagine Narwhal actually wrote it, which clearly I am:


I love how it starts out with the overenthusiastic "It's me Narwhal!!"- I love how there's no comma between 'me' and 'Narwhal': puppies don't have time for grammar! But the farewell "Sleep tight, k thanks, Narwhally" is clearly the piece de resistance of the fake Narwhal message. The 'k thanks' is so gorgeously blasé! Classic Narwhal: he doesn't give a fuck. Then- twist ending!- he signs off as 'Narwhally': just testing out some new nickname options! It might stick, it might not: who cares? Not Narwhally! That's for goddamned sure. 

God. You wake up one morning, and you think the best thing that's going to happen to you all week is eating a pistachio chocolate bar, and then you find out that an adorable baby puppy from rural Missouri has a tail on his face. Life is a gift. 


LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Las Vegas

Last week Sophie and I went to Vegas to see Madonna. The show was Thursday night & we left on Wednesday afternoon and stayed at The Cosmopolitan, where there's a Milk Bar and you can get CEREAL-MILK WHITE RUSSIANS TO GO, although we didn't actually do that. Our first Vegas thing was the Neon Museum, which has a collection of hundreds of old/unrestored neon signs from all over Vegas. The exhibition's outdoors and you just kind of wander around and check out the signs and take pix of all the groovy cursive. Here are some of my faves:



After the Neon Museum we went to the Peppermill and had Bloody Marys and fried pickles in the lounge, where there are red-velvet booths & opulent flower arrangements & chandeliers & disco-ball-tile ceilings & fire pits inside pools of glowing water & a million TV screens playing music videos. While we were there they played "Been Caught Stealing" and "Andres" by L7 and "Drive" by R.E.M., which is a very deep song to drink a nighttime Bloody Mary to.

For dinner we had French dips, served in this special way Sophie invented, with blue cheese crumbles tucked into the sandwich. My favorite Peppermill things are the fabulous napkins and the sugar shakers full of rock sugar in all different colors, like confetti. When Scott and I went to Vegas in July he asked the waitress for a napkin to take home as a memento and she gave us a whole nice stack and now I keep them on a bench in my room, next to my Lisa Frank tarot cards that Liina sent me.

This is maybe a good place to tell you that I used to think Vegas was terrible but now I like it: before this summer I hadn't been since 2006, and now I've been three times this year alone. The July trip was for Scott's birthday and it was Fourth of July weekend and for his bday dinner we had the insane buffet at Caesar's Palace. We waited in line two hours & about halfway through Scott went to get me a glass of white wine from the casino bar and while he was gone there was a 7.2 earthquake, which flipped my wig. Also during that trip we went to a rock-and-roll pizza parlor in downtown Vegas & I had a slice of rattlesnake pizza: a revelation. And then we went back in August and ate steak at Nobu and crab fried rice at Lotus of Siam and I forget what else- a cone of vanilla from a Ben & Jerry's stand on the Strip? I fell hard for the botanical gardens at the Bellagio, which was done up in a La Dolce Vita theme and had all these beautiful humungo lemons. I hope they do Japan again sometime; so pretty


Anyway here is the video for "Been Caught Stealing" onscreen at the Peppermill Fireside Lounge. FRENCH DIP WITH BLUE CHEESE, GUYS:




The next day was Madonna Day and we had brunch at the Wicked Spoon. My fave brunch things were the bowls of Dum Dum lollipops & Atomic Fireballs at the dessert station, and the little Chinese-takeout containers of pineapple fried rice, and the glass carafe of mimosas they plunked down at our table. After brunch we went to the Canyon Ranch spa at the Venetian and I got a massage and then we sat in the Wave Room: this big dark dome-like cave with extremely plush chaise lounges all arranged in a circle, and you lie back on the chair in your robe and listen to ocean sounds and watch the ceiling, where there's a reflection of the little mini wave pool set up on the floor- so it feels like waves are breaking above you. If I ever become filthy-rich I'd like my house to have an aquarium very much like the Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium, and then on the level below that there's a Wave Room of my own, only with a glass ceiling so you can watch all the eels & stingrays & sea turtles float by. And instead of ocean sounds, it's just constantly playing Pod by the Breeders and also the Safari EP. Perfect.

That night we met Sophie's friend Dino at a strip-mall bar called The Golden Tiki which was a heavenly paradise. The ceiling's meant to look like the night sky and every few seconds there's fireworks or a shooting star or comet, and the jukebox played a surf-jazz version of "I Saw Her Standing There" and your drinks come lit on fire. I had a piña colada type thing and then a navy grog; for dinner we ate coconut shrimp & orange chicken tenders & crab rangoon & the crowning glory of the whole shebang: a platter of totally basic potato chips drizzled with honey, with a little bowl of sour-creamy dip at the center. The only way it could've been more wonderful would be if they'd served it in the chip-n-dip Pete Campbell got for his wedding. All night long I had Pete saying "You have your fingers in your ears?" stuck in my head and I loved it so much.



And then Madonna! The show was at Caesar's Palace and they made you lock up your phones in those stupid pouch things. Madonna came on an hour and a half late, aka 2.5 hours after the arrive-by time. It was kind of annoying. The crowd was not stoked. And then they got hostile, and started booing her. People said disgusting things & I hated them. I mean I know it's a drag to wait till midnight for the show to start, but what are you going to do? It's Madonna, you losers. And then she finally came on and started with "God Control" which I'd never heard but I like it, especially when she raps "Each new birth, it gives me hope/That's why I don't smoke that dope!" What a nerd. She was glorious & amazing, the show was a wow. At some point she went into the crowd and drank some dude's beer, and a few other times she talked about how much she loves beer now, ever since she moved to Portugal. I like the idea of Madonna thinking, "Isn't that so fascinating of me, that I drink beer sometimes?", and then making a big spectacle of it. Self-fascination is good. I'm on her side forever.

We got back to the hotel at a million o'clock and checked out in the morning and my last Vegas meal was a chicken sandwich at the airport Shake Shack, where they were playing Ex Hex: bonkers that Mary Timony is fast-food-famous now. I'm going to end with this Madonna pic I recently posted on the semi-new STRAWBERRY FIELDS WHATEVER INSTAGRAM which is really knocking it out of the park. Follow for many pix of Joni Mitchell & Serge Ibaka & sometimes paintings of soft-boiled eggs. 


JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: The Hollow Winter Hair of Deer



Last weekend I went upstate to go to a Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Fundraiser with a meal prepared by one of my favorite chefs, dessert by my favorite baker, honoring my favorite vegan activist, Lauren Ornelas, and also honoring Rob and Sheri Moon Zombie, who I am obsessed with. I met Rob Zombie. This is all a bit too monumental to be a thing of the week. It's so major, right? Where to even begin? My thing is something I learned while I was upstate, freezing cold and wondering how deer keep warm in the winter. The answer is they grow a 'winter coat' which consists of hollow hair that insulates them and keeps them warm in up to (down to?) 30 degrees below freezing Fahrenheit. A winter coat of hollow hair! How elegant. They also bulk up for the winter, reduce movement, huddle together in forest fields and on south facing slopes. I'm most taken with the hollow hair, though. If you spend some time looking up deer's hollow hair on the internet you will find some hunting sites and images. In case you couldn't tell from the deeply vegan fundraiser I attended last weekend I am very much against this. Let the deer's winter coats keep them warm in peace! And then let them completely take over our world come the spring - we deserve it. 

25.9.19

The Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet: Everything We Ate for an Entire Week, by Laura Jane Faulds & Elizabeth Barker

Monday, September 9th

LJ: I woke up at 8 in the morning and it was chilly in my bedroom and, even indoors, you could feel the autumn in the air. I thought it was romantic.

I made myself a Bodum-ful of terrible coffee. I honestly make the worst coffee. It’s a real chore to force it down.

I am avoiding gluten right now because my stomach is fucked all the time and it seems like the thing to do. I also already don’t eat dairy, because I’m lactose-intolerant, so that’s fun.

For breakfast I ate two different gluten-free cereals mixed together: one was Nature’s Path vanilla poppyseed grain-free whatever, which is crunchy and seedy and wonderful, and the other one is kinda bullshit, I don’t know its name and never will. It’s nothing. I enjoyed this melange of breakfast cereals with my favourite brand of coconut milk yogurt, “Maison Riviera,” which is a ridiculous name for a dairy-free yogurt brand. It sounds like the name of a drag queen whose schtick is being a parody of a French person.

I always eat breakfast while doing the New York Times crossword. The Monday crossword is so easy a damn cat could do it.

I quit smoking and juuling and everything but I’m too lazy to go through nicotine withdrawal so I’m constantly popping nicotine lozenges. I guess I “eat” them. I think it’s very charming of me. I like thinking about the story of my life and flashing back to a picture of my nineteen-year-old self chain-smoking cigarettes, you would see it and think, “Oof, this girl is going to have to quit smoking one day; she’s not doing much to make that very easy on herself,” and then you’d cut to a scene of today me covertly shaking my blue plastic vial of Nicorette things over my palm in the middle of hanging out with someone, or at work, and you’d think, “Oh, wow, she did it. But she’s still that same person.”

I ate a stupid protein bar before going for a run. I impulse-bought a box of these “plant-based energy bars” in the flavour “nutbutter superfood with baobab” without having tasted one, and it turned out I didn’t like them, so it’s been a real hassle, getting through the box. But today I ate my last bar, which was a real victory. On the bar wrapper it says “Crashproof your day!”— ridiculous. I do not consider my day “crashproofed” because I absently fed myself that nothing piece of garbage.


In the afternoon I had therapy and engaged in my classic post-therapy ritual of going to Whole Foods and spending an absurd amount of money on a salad I’ve thrown together out of an assortment of non-complimentary ingredients from the salad bar. For no reason, today’s salad was moderately more composed than usual. I used arugula as the base and my major takeaway from eating that salad was that arugula is beautiful— so elegant, and very self-confident for a leaf. My cacophonous salad was disrespectful to arugula.

I was tired but had missed my coffee-drinking window for that day (I don't drink coffee after 3 PM) so I drank a lemon iced tea and then went to Pilot for a Cascara Tea, which is my new fav non-alc. Cascara Tea is also called Coffee Cherry Tea, which is a lovely word-order, and is made out of coffee bean skins. They have it on tap at Pilot and it’s kind of fizzy. Also tannic & floral & caramelly.

I got to work and ate a peach. I drank San Pellegrino all night. Near the end of service I ate another stupid all-natural protein bar: it wasn’t very good. What I liked about this protein bar was that its flavour name was Sticky Squirrel, and I am simply not the kind of non-idiot who could ever say no to a thing named Sticky Squirrel. The thing tasted mostly of molasses, a flavour I don’t love.

Before I left work I ate two mini saucisson secs, which are complimentary to my aesthetic. They are a food I would very much like to be seen eating.

I came home and drank a glass of chilled Beaujolais-Villages. I thought Beaujolais was going to be my thing for September but, mid-glass, I’m realizing I’m kind of over it now. 

LIZ: I woke up in the Valley! My boyfriend Scott lives in Lake Balboa and had already left for the day, to meet a friend for breakfast at Lovi's Deli in Calabasas. In a cute kickoff to Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet week, I rolled out of bed to a text from Scott sharing his breakfast order with me: coffee, Greek omelette, sesame bagel, fruit, and "some of my friend's giant blueberry muffin." I drank a glass of water & transcribed an interview with a riot grrrl-ish songwriter woman who told me the touchstones for her new album are "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle, "More Than a Feeling" by Boston, and "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton, all of which I deeply support.

I got myself together and went to get breakfast at a place in Van Nuys called Heart's Coffee Shop, which I found by Googling "old diners in the san fernando valley." Heart's was a ghost town and I sat at the counter. For my breakfast I ordered scrambled eggs & sausage links and asked for a biscuit instead of toast, but you're not allowed to get a plain old biscuit at Heart's- it's biscuits-and-gravy, or no biscuit at all. All I really wanted was to jab my butter knife into the crinkly little packet of Smucker's strawberry preserves and then slather it onto some halfway-decent hunk of biscuit. But I went along with the biscuits-and-gravy plan anyway, because what are you going to do? The biscuits came up first and they were incredibly overwhelming, two fat biscuit-islands in a big sea of gravy. I ate one and then my scrambled eggs & sausage, which were good and greasy and plump and slick. The coffee was weak and blah in that perfect diner-coffee way, I drank 5,000 cups of it.



As I ate I read that special Charles Manson issue of Life, an impulse purchase at CVS, as part of a half-baked plan to make my Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet vaguely Once Upon a Time in Hollywood-themed (spoiler: I FAILED). I'd hoped for Heart's to be a weird cozy time-travel-y experience, but there was some creepy undercurrent to the whole situation- which partly had to do with being the lone customer at a creaky old diner in the middle of nowhere, but is mostly my fault for reading murder magazines at breakfast. My bill came to $12.45 for a massive amount of food, and I paid up and went to a Starbucks in Sherman Oaks to do more work. At Starbucks I drank a grande iced coffee, with a splash of half & half.

Then I went home and finished a work thing and then I went to the gym, where I drank my bottle of lemon water and listened to Starcrawler and JPEGMAFIA and Plague Vendor and Vanilla Fudge- their "You Keep Me Hangin' On" cover, from the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. After the gym I went to California Market, a humungo Korean grocery store near my apartment. In the seafood section they sell whole octopus and I almost bought one, mostly for the novelty of buying an octopus. But then I came to my senses, and got a bunch of veggies and lots of the little freshly packaged treats, like lotus root and radish kimchi and those yummers bean sprouts they give you as banchan. I went home and made a stir-fry thing with Chinese broccoli and baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms and tofu and red onions and some of the kimchi + bean sprouts tossed in. It was fine, a B+ at best. Did you read that thing Adam Platt wrote about Sweetgreen and how everyone in New York is a salad zombie? Sometimes I worry I'm a stir-fry zombie. One day my life will be lovelier and I'll learn to cook grand things like paella and arroz con pollo and coq au vin and carbonara, but for now I'm just slightly a cut above all those Sweetgreen weirdos.

Tuesday, September 10th

LJ: I woke up too early, very hungry, and ate my same breakfast as yesterday, only the vanilla poppyseed flavour granola has been swapped out for a caramel pecan from the same brand. Breakfast is pretty much the only meal I ever eat at home. What can I say? I'm just a fast-paced CrossFitting sommelier on the go. 




In the early afternoon I went to a white Burgundy tasting at Paris Paris. Krysta gave me a cup of filter coffee in a seventies floral mug: it was a perfect cup of coffee. But from a wine person perspective, drinking a cup of coffee right before a wine tasting is not the most sensible move. I swished like sixteen glasses of water around my mouth to fix my numbed-out coffee-tongue and it seemed to do the trick. I tasted a lot of wonderful wine and I spat it all out because I’m a champion and didn’t want to ruin myself for CrossFit later. We had a bunch of Meursault back vintages: one of them reminded me of soggy canned green beans, another was a vanilla cupcake. One of them tasted like the smell of walking into a chain Italian restaurant in the shopping mall closest to my house when I was a kid: “salty Parmesan rind,” I said aloud, so as not to be disrespectful.

The two wines that stuck with me most were a couple of cheapies: a 2016 Haute-Cotes de Beaune that tasted like hot smashed apple, made me think of the word ‘tawny’ and rust-coloured corduroy, going to this apple farm I used to go to on school trips as a child, in early October, a cup of Styrofoam cup of warm apple cider and the air smells like Hallowe’en. And a sweet, humble Bourgogne Aligote: “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” is my joke about Aligote. It tasted like Yellow Raspberry Jelly.

I ate a piece of prosciutto at the wine tasting.

I took myself out for lunch at Fresh and wrote the words Yellow Raspberry Jelly down in my notebook and tweeted the words Yellow Raspberry Jelly. I read from a book by Julia Child and it felt a touch sacrilegious eating my yuppie health food while she wrote about “the winey brown promise of rosy dark meat,” and so on. But, you know, whatever. I am a wine writer who is also the sommelier at a French restaurant. There are a lot of people in the world who are doing a way shittier job of honoring Julia Child’s legacy than this guy.


I had a Goddess bowl, which was: steamed baby bok choy, swiss chard, kale & broccoli, house-made taberu rayu (I don’t know what this is. I copy and pasted this description from the Fresh website), ginger chili tempeh, pickled ginger (the pickled ginger I could have lived without, even though I love ginger, it was a bit much here), sunflower nori gomashio (idk), and tahini sauce, on brown rice. I dribbled hot sauce all over everything. It was perfect. I haven’t eaten proper dairy in so long, and the tahini sauce was like this illicit hit of creaminess. It was such a soft, sunny, warm, nourishing meal: it gave my poor, troubled stomach a hug.

I also had a Green Detox smoothie, which was blueberry, apple, lemon, ginger, coconut water, kale, spinach and banana. A+ use of ginger on this one.





In the afternoon I had a shot of apple cider vinegar to calm my nightmare stomach. I listened to the last two minutes of the Donovan song “Bert’s Blues” over and over again, and went to CrossFit, where I did Russian step-ups and kneeling overhead presses and ran 1 KM and did a Tabata thing of 6 rounds of overhead thrusts, weighted step-ups, and box jumps. Box jumps are my favourite. You squat down deep and your arms help lift you into a nice jump onto a wooden box. You stick your landing like a gymnast, squeeze your glutes, and swagger down off the box like you are a hot shit gangster chewing chewing tobacco. A thing I love about CrossFit is how often it forces you to jump. When you are a kid you jump all the time, but when you’re an adult you never really jump.


After CrossFit I had a peanut butter banana protein shake with almond milk: you buy them from the CrossFit gym, and they are amazing. Then I went over to my friend’s house and we drank some kooky cider and split a decadent bottle of Franciacorta, which tasted like cream soda and vanilla Juul pods. So much vanilla wine today.

He made us a peach and kale salad. I did not drink enough water.

LIZ: At home in the morning I drank two cups of coffee I made pour-over style, with the gooseneck kettle I bought after I moved into my new apartment. I worked and worked and then went to get food at Sqirl, using the Sqirl gift card Jen May got for me when she came to visit in July. Sqirl is a 100% Strawberry Fields Whatever-beloved institution; when LJ was here in January we got lunch at Sqirl like 2 hours after she landed, and guess who was sitting next to us? Sally Draper! The star of so many Strawberry Fields Whatever Mad Men recaps. On Tuesday I got the Crispy Disco, which was LJ's order on Sally Draper Sqirl Day: a beautiful dish of crispy brown rice and an over-easy egg and mint and cilantro and scallion and "lacto-fermented hot sauce"- and also supposedly avocado and sausage, except there was no avocado and sausage in mine, which didn't really hit me until the moment of typing this sentence? Whatever: it was perfect, punchy and tangy and textually wow. I held off on letting the egg yolk ooze all over the rice and when I finally did it was a real showstopper moment. To drink I got a Ginger Lemon Fizz and it was all fizzy and frothy and the ginger created a cool dust over the big chunky ice cubes. I also bought a piece of vegan coconut loaf to go.



Then I went to stupid Starbucks, the Atwater Village one, and did some work and drank a hot mint tea and a grapefruit Spindrift. At home I made myself the same stir-fry thing as Monday night, and had a cup of whatever bottle of Sauvignon Blanc happened to be in my fridge at the time. Later in the night I ate my slice of vegan coconut loaf, which had a cute little lineup of caramelized figs along the crust. I wanted to be madly in love with my vegan coconut loaf; I even ate it while reading The King's Daughter Who Could Never Get Enough Figs from Italo Calvino's Italian folk tales collection, in hopes of having some kind of life-changing fig-based revelation. Instead it was just a nice snack. The most exciting part of the whole scene was that my next-door neighbor- who always listens to everything psychotically loud, in a way that I relate to and heavily condone- was blasting the hell out of Norman Fucking Rockwell! all night long. I haven't properly listened to that album yet but it was a good way to absorb it for the first time: shamelessly blaring from the bedroom of someone I've never met, muffled and distorted by the ambient sounds of the L.A. night. I give it a 10.0.

5.9.19

Happiness Is A Neutral State




"SOME NOTES ON LOVING REGGAE MUSIC"
BY LAURA JANE FAULDS
FEATURING AN ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY


Eight years ago I loved the Clash and my nails were painted sparkly turquoise. I flew to New York City to sit around in rooms and bars and talk about the Clash with my Clash-friends. It was around Hallowe’en-time, and it snowed in October and on the news they named the snowfall “Snow-tober” and my friend Charlie said “It would have made a lot more sense if they named it Oct-snow-ber” and we all agreed that Yes, it would have.
        On the day it Oct-snow-bered, which might have been actual Hallowe’en, we went to a Hallowe’en party, and I half-assedly and insincerely dressed up as George Harrison. I wore a black & peach floor-length sari I’d cut into a jagged-hemmed minidress, black stockings, and Beatle boots. It was clearly not an outfit that George Harrison would have worn, under any circumstances, ever. I ignored the sign on the front door asking me to take off my boots and when the host called me on it, “They’re part of my costume,” I explained, and she said “Fine. We’ll make an exception if your shoes are part of your costume,” and I thought, “You’re silly,” which is what I thought Joe Strummer would have thought.
        I have had no interest in dressing up for Hallowe’en for the entirety of my adult life. The thought of deriving pleasure from engaging with that custom is so unfathomable to me that I cannot help but come across as judgmental of those who do. Because I am.
       

**

“All your favourite Clash songs are the ones that sound most like reggae,” said Charlie, and I said, “Yeah, you know, that’s true.” He said, “Maybe you should start listening to reggae,” and I said, “Yeah, you know, I should.”
        It was before iPhones then, I just had a little aqua Shuffle that clipped onto my jacket collar, and I deleted every song already on it and filled it up with Trojan Ska & Rocksteady compilations from Charlie and Nadine’s computer--
       It was a nothing moment, meant to mean nothing, which ended up changing everything.




Music, for me, is a companion: a beloved puppy, trotting alongside me, perking things up during life’s dullest moments. Reggae has been the most faithful of pets since I first found it, but I never want talk about it, because when I do, people either want to talk about it or not talk about it, and both outcomes are equally annoying. “Vibes are all there is,” I like to say, and reggae’s are the best. And I worry that if I take them outside of myself, they will be either diluted or dismissed.
        I have been hoarding these precious vibes in my heart for eight years. I am not so brazen to think that these words could match them; I hold myself to a much lower standard than that.
        All I want to do here is explain it.


14.6.19

I love my new apartment & Evan Dando & 17th-century Dutch paintings of lobsters & cake

(Actual footage of the kitchen of my new apartment right at this moment, as painted by Adriaen van Utrecht)

BY LIZ

i. For a long time I had this dream that the next place I lived would have a lemon tree right outside the kitchen window, so when people came over and I offered them a drink I could go Hang on a sec, and then lean out the window and pull a lemon from the tree and squeeze the juice into their beer, tequila, seltzer, whatever. I love the snap that happens when you pull a piece of fruit from a tree, and then the rustling of leaves that happens in response to that snap: it's a nice little whispery conversation. And I've never seen a lemon tree run out of lemons but I'm sure this one would keep regenerating itself forever, entirely for the purpose of accommodating my whims.

I moved in April, after living in the same house for six years. There's no lemon tree out my kitchen window; I buy lemons at the store like a normal person. In my old neighborhood people would leave little baskets of lemons on the sidewalk in front of their houses, with a sign saying FREE!, but no one really does that around here. My new life is somewhat less luxurious but it's also more luxurious, cuz I lucked out into moving into a place that's fully furnished with rooms upon rooms and nice little touches like a set of gold Moet goblets and a balcony and the complete Best of Soul Train on DVD and 7-inches of songs by Lavender Diamond and Madonna and Lisa Lisa + Cult Jam.

And it's luxurious cuz I get to fill it up with stuff that's mine all mine, pictures & trinkets & bottles & flowers. And I love my bookshelf, and I love my bathroom shelf, and I love the side of my refrigerator. My house is a jewel box or a diorama or a Tumblr from 2009, a collage you made in seventh grade with pages from Rolling Stone and Tiger Beat. The first thing I did when I moved in was tape a picture of mid-'70s Freddie Mercury to my closet door: I wanted him to watch over me as I was unpacking, to keep me on my toes and make sure I stayed true to a very Freddie sense of splendor/kookiness. But then I liked the way it looked, and 2 months 13 days later it’s still up. It's good to get to some guardian angels on your side, some patron saints of living your most splendid and kooky life.


ii. I deleted my Instagram last month cuz it was making me embarrassed all the time, and what kind of way to live is that. And then I reactivated my Instagram three Fridays ago cuz I took all these pictures of Evan Dando and it's important for me to effusively communicate my love for Evan Dando to the world: it's an important part of my function or identity as a human being, to love Evan Dando and let everybody know it. At the Lemonheads show there were all these men older than me who loved Evan Dando too, and I didn't like the way they communicated it - there was no glow or softness or openness to their faces. I feel like some men get mad at Evan Dando for being the same age as they are, but still extremely good-looking and obviously untethered to the demands of some boring existence where you go to a job in an office basically every day of your life forever. I feel like men are generally bad at having crushes on other men. I low-key despised those dudes at the show, for harboring some bitchy hostility toward Evan Dando but also standing right in front of me while Evan's singing "Hannah & Gabi" when I'm barely 5'4" and they're all giant mountains made of fleece and flannel. I need to be gazing directly at Evan the entire time he's singing the words Though it wasn't hard or far/I walked you to your car.


31.12.18

Things of the Year: The First 15 Seconds of "Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain)" by Lee Hazlewood; Being Charming Like Freddie Mercury; Nine Inch Nails & Terrace House

LJ'S THING OF THE YEAR: The First 15 Seconds of "Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain)" by Lee Hazlewood 



To be honest, I had a really bad 2018. December 31st of last year was the most disgusting & ominous day of my entire life, and as a result of its legendary shittiness my 2018 became a nonstop rollercoaster fireworks explosion of annoying life challenges constantly raining down on me only the rain was made of blood & shrapnel and the rollercoaster car was broken & the track broke into bits & the car derailed and I went flying into the air & flew away forever. Sorry to be dramatic. 

I was initially going to write my Thing of the Year about how I had a shit year but it helped me grow as a person or whatever but, you know, I don't really want to write about how my year sucked and here is my little self-help lesson about all the ways in which I grew as a person. Not because it isn't true- it, like, shockingly is- but it just sounds really boring to write about. 

This morning (December 30th, 2018) I was a doing a high intensity interval training workout while listening to Requiem For An Almost Lady by Lee Hazlewood & Liz texted asking if we were still going to post Thing of the Year tomorrow, and at the exact moment she texted, the first fifteen seconds of "Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain)" were playing, and Lee Hazlewood said-sang, Sometimes it's difficult to remember the good times, but I know there were some. There was your birthday, and Christmases, and rabbits named Friday, and once I start remembering the good times, it seems: there were only good times, and I felt really inspired by that. 

So here is a list of all the good times. 

1. On Valentine's Day I went to a job interview and I was in such a terrible mood before the job interview, but then I went to it and liked it, and got the job (though I didn't know it right yet, but, you know- sort of did), and walking home from the job interview I decided I was going to call a man and tell him all about how much I hated him, and then I called and he answered the phone and as it turned out I didn't hate him as much as I thought, and at the end of the conversation I asked, "Can we just go back to the way things were before?" and he said "Yes," and it felt like the end of a movie.

2. This night at the end of summer I was walking home from my friend Robin's house wearing a cut-up Augustus Pablo t-shirt and a giant gold pendant of a female lion that sort of looks like the drawing of baby Simba Rafiki draws on the wall of a cave, and the heat felt like a cave. It was one of those ravishing summer nights that they wrote the words Endless Summer to describe, when it is TRULY impossible to believe that it won't be summer forever.  

I did this thing I periodically do of checking YouTube to see if my favourite song "Black Fjord" by Kaleidoscope has come back on it- it used to be there, the whole song, and then it wasn't there for like seven years, and I couldn't find it anywhere on the entire Internet- and then, that night- it was! It was there! And I got to hear it again! And I just ran around the city drunk like I was twenty-four years old again, mouthing along to the lyrics and punching the air and I swang on a swingset like a maniac, and I was so, so happy, to get to have that song again. (And I still have it! It's still there!) 

3. I was so sad, like two weeks ago, I was so, so sad, and I went to work and I had to say to a bunch of people whose boss I am, "Listen up, I'm really sad. I'm sorry, I know I'm your boss and having a sad boss is sort of like being a little kid and seeing one of your parents cry for the first time, but this is the person I have to be tonight, because it's true." 

At the end of the night, the longest and most atrocious night and my eyes looked all fucked up from crying with giant hot-pink half-moons underneath, we were closing up the restaurant, and one of my servers put on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," which is a song we usually listen to before service, to rev ourselves up. But we hadn't listened to it before service that night: not because I was sad, but rather for a more boring reason: because my server who's most into it with me started late. 

There's one part of the song that hypes me up particularly; it comes at the very end, approx. two minutes and five seconds into it, where the singer goes "Hup, hup, whoa-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh," I like to sing along to it, and that night we were cleaning up like crazy because on top of everything we had to do a deep-clean for some reason and my server put the song on and said, "Laura needs to listen to her part!" and it was so sweet and wonderful, so easy but so thoughtful. I felt so cared for and un-alone in that moment, and of everything that happened to me all year this year, that is the moment I will remember deepest hardest and most forever. 

4. The way Willem Dafoe's jeans fit in The Florida Project, and also the way his t-shirts fit him

5. Being in love with Nicki Minaj throughout June and July, how exciting it felt when Queen came out a week earlier than we thought it would, walking into this fancy clothing store wearing a cute flouncy denim top with jeans listening to "Chun-Li" and feeling like I'd fully self-actualized, and also the time I was walking down a moving sidewalk at the airport drinking an iced coffee and listening to "I'm The Best" and feeling like I hadn't self-actualized at all, but I was into it

6. Sitting in front of a Greek Orthodox church in Brooklyn with a man and these three young women who I felt so much older than walked by and the man I was sitting next to said "Look at those cuties" and it was so funny and weird and I loved it

7. The time my ex-head chef surprised me with a chocolate & cardamom tarte in the middle of the afternoon and there was pistachio ice cream with lime in it on top and it was late spring and everything in the world felt like pistachio and lime, the colour of the leaves

8. This meal Robin & I ate at Bar Raval a few weeks ago: the boldest, most attractively-soggy & garlicky tomato bread, Spanish tinned mackerel in olive oil that was so creamy you could spread it onto bread and make decently successful "like buttah!" jokes about it, and a dish of broken-up morcilla with chickpeas that tasted like the smell of walking past some stranger's house in Spain and they're cooking the most delicious-smelling food inside and you'll never eat it or even know what it is and you wish so bad that you were from that family, but you're not, and if you were you'd probably hate it 

9. Leaving Madeleine's birthday party early tonight because I knew if I stayed any longer I'd get too drunk to walk home, I'd Uber, and all I wanted to do was walk home drunk listening to Lee Hazlewood, and it had been so long since I'd felt like that- like a song is pulling me toward myself, like a song means anything at all.

I feel so jealous of my twenty-four year old self all the time, how much music used to mean to me, how much the words the people sang used to mean to me, how much they meant about my life. And it's so nice to know that I can be my now-self, this serious work person, keener, business bitch, answerer of emails and rememberer of things, a good boss who is sometimes sad but still always fixes problems (other people's, and sometimes even my own), but, underneath it all, I'm still the same idiot I always was and always will be.

It makes me so happy to realize that, even if I was too dumb to notice it at the time, the happiest moments of my year were just me walking down the street, listening to a song. And it makes me even happier to find out that, as it turns into the last day of the year, I'm the happiest I could ever possibly be: just sitting here writing, alone. (But the glass of wine I'm drinking now is so much better than the garbage I used to drink, and if that's what it's all for, then that is FINE.)  

LIZ'S THING OF THE YEAR: Being Charming Like Freddie Mercury 



On Saturday, the day after my birthday, my sister and I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody and I loved it and now I can't really think past that, even though I know there was a whole year that happened before two days ago. All I listen to now is Queen; the magnificence of all other music is so insufficient it's almost profane. I just want to bask in the charm of Freddie Mercury, or Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, or both- their totally outlandish and over-the-top charm, more charm than anyone has a right to. Charm can get you what you want but there's something deeper or simpler happening in Bohemian Rhapsody: it's charm for charm's sake, because ultimately it's more fun and lovely to be charming. It's just a nicer way of getting around the world, compared to being uptight, aggro, joyless, bitter, and all those other unimaginative moods.

One of the things that struck me most about Bohemian Rhapsody was how sweet the Queen dudes were to each other, which I've chosen to accept as truth rather than something fabricated for cinematic purposes. I like the idea of sweetness being essential to Freddie Mercury's presence in the world, the natural outcome of living in such a splashy and flashy and effervescent way. I believe in that thing of PLEASURE MAKES YOU PLEASANT, and so I don't think it's entirely self-serving or frivolous to do what you can to make life feel good, especially when it feels like the world's getting more and more charmless all the time.

What is the point of living with anything less than a Freddie Mercury level of joie de vivre is a question I emailed myself in line at the airport yesterday. And part of the reason that people like Freddie Mercury exist is to show you what's possible, so in a way it's rude not to steal from them and put it all back into the world. Like the John Lurie painting says: Try to give back on what you got.



Anyway- here are some other favorite things from 2018:

-The Saturday my friends and I drove down to San Ysidro and walked across the border and spent the day in Mexico, drinking palomas and beer and eating octopus gorditas and tiger's milk ceviche and crickets and Hostess Cupcakes, and then walked back to America and drove back home

-When I met up with my brother and his fiancé in Seattle and hung out there a few days and went on a giant solo walk across the city and sat on that bench outside Kurt Cobain's house. And then I took the train to Vancouver and ate pizza with Liina and bought some weird poetry zines from the '70s at the Paper Hound, which is now one of my top 3 fave bookstores of all time

-The time I talked to David Crosby for a half an hour at six in the morning while he was eating an apple in Copenhagen

-My red satin Adidas track pants which I bought as a treat to myself after working like 47 days in a row; they are so beautiful and never not make me feel like my most amazing self a la Carrie Bradshaw at the Women in the Arts luncheon. My other best purchases from 2018 include a shower radio, a CineFile Video membership, a jar of banana body butter & an insane wine glass:




-However the most life-changing thing I bought this year was the SPOLIA DECK, a tarot deck made by Jen May and Jessa Crispin. I also got Jessa's book The Creative Tarot and there's so much wisdom in it. It changed my head & I deeply recommend getting your head changed by it too

-Here is a playlist of some songs that meant a lot to me in 2018. 14 of the songs are by people I worked for this year; I love them all & love FIDLAR the most



-The part in Blaze where Alia Shawkat does TV aerobics while smoking a cigarette, the part in Sorry to Bother You where Tessa Thompson gives Lakeith Stanfield a piggyback ride, the part in Tully where Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis listen to all of She's So Unusual, and every single part of Won't You Be My Neighbor?

-The Beastie Boys book and the night I went to the Beastie Boys book event, which was so sweet and happy-making and full of love; Mike D and Ad-Rock are the most glorious goofs. Around that time I went through a phase of watching the "So What'cha Want" video every morning just to bask in the weird safety of knowing that "So What'cha Want" will never diminish in coolness to me: the part where MCA kind of backs up slowly so he can jump right into the frame for his first line is as exciting as when I was 14, if not more exciting. That "I love you more today than yesterday" song from the '60s is exactly how I feel about all three Beastie Boys.




-The night I went to see Keanu Reeves read books in a cemetery and took this amazing photograph of him and brought him a present from Jen May and a beautiful cycle of Jen May/Elizabeth Barker/Keanu Reeves cosmic connectedness was set in motion & shall continue for all eternity 

-The night I saw Mary Ruefle read at the Hammer and met her afterward and she did this poem with the line: You have all the colors of October in your hair, come and have a donut in my car

-The night my brother and sister and I went to see Lorde in Boston, + this thing that Lorde said to Tavi which I keep saved on my desktop:



-Seeing Call Me By Your Name for the first time and entering this new state of existence where I just constantly watch Call Me By Your Name, for the love of the delicate galumph Timothee Chalamet and his friendship bracelets and notebooks and his goofy moves, like how sometimes he spins in a circle for no reason. I'm excited for when Bohemian Rhapsody becomes available for home viewing and I can constantly watch that, and have Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in the background of my life at all times. I need to move soon and once I'm settled wherever I land I want to get a robe with major Bohemian Rhapsody vibes and spend a lot of time lazing about in said robe, drinking tea from an extravagant teapot or wine from my dumb wine glass, being all Nine of Cups-y and low-key splendid- charming for no big reason at all.


JEN'S THING OF THE YEAR: Nine Inch Nails, Terrace House, etc.

1. Nine Inch Nails. I am beyond the beyond obsessed with Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor and there is no end in sight for this. I was lucky to see them live this fall and it was incredible. God is dead and no one cares.



Also 1: Terrace House Opening New Doors: This Japanese reality show brings me an obscene amount of joy. I consider the panel of commentators to be my closest friends and I am absolutely addicted to it.




2. A very meaningful and surprising thank you note I received on the full strawberry moon in June.

3. Bloodroot: After desperately wanting to go for many years, I finally went to Bloodroot, a feminist vegetarian restaurant in Connecticut this Spring. It did not disappoint.

4. The exhibit of drawings/gifts by Shaker women at Hancock Shaker Village. Also the Eileen Myles poem Ann Lee.



5. Being blessed with the publication of a 600 page David Lynch biography

6. An October trip to Baltimore to see the John Waters Exhibit at BMA, spend as much time at Club Charles as possible, and to walk by then unfinished Divine Mural by chance.

7. Black tea and Black Sesame flavored soy milks I had in Tokyo in January

8. The socialist sliding scale breakfast soup at Commissary with lots of shichimi togarashi added on multiple New Paltz visits.

9. LA - I finally visited and I get it. The light David Lynch is obsessed with, kind of creepy vibes, Liz Barker, a super good mushroom pizza at Gjelina, Bob's Big Boy, a dog named Bowie, the balcony at the place we stayed.



10. Everything I ate from Superiority Burger this year. Special shout out to TFTs (Mondays after 6- go!!!).

11. Mandy the movie, Mandy the character, Mandy the character's hair, Nicolas Cage in general.

12. Oh my god, did you see Destination Wedding?

13. Meet My Friends The Friends: Tom Scharpling's Friends recap podcast about friendship, collaboration, podcasts, advertising, many other things. It is brilliant.

14. Seeing Slayer live on Long Island.

15. Purple radishes.

16. Seeing Keanu Reeves filming John Wick 3 in Times Square by chance after leaving a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu show.

17. The fog and tea and sheep of Ireland.