The Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet: Everything We Ate For An Entire Week


Monday, July 23rd

LJ: I eat an English muffin with generic-brand crunchy peanut butter and Smuckers (ew, that word) sugar-free strawberry jam for breakfast almost every single morning of my life. I like that jam because it’s liquidy and has whole strawberries in it. I hate when jam is gelatinous mush. Every once in a while I decide to “switch it up” and buy a new flavor but I always regret it. I eat a quarter of the jar and then give up and buy strawberry again. A few weeks ago the English muffin brand that I have brand loyalty to introduced a new product, buttermilk blueberry English muffins, which was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Then they disappeared from the grocery store this weekend and now I want to kill myself. I bought myself white instead of whole wheat as a consolation prize.

Every morning I drink two cups of coffee. Right now I have Starbucks French Roast but I’m not into it. The caffeine content is terribly low and it dries my tongue out.

 There is an Urban Herbivore a few doors down from my gym and I’m tempted to eat there every day but can’t because it’s expensive. I eat there three or four times a week. Usually I get a ginger-beet juice and an apple-cranberry muffin but I’d been sick and felt weak and fragile so I bought myself a salad. They do a “make your own salad” thing; I fucking live for “making my own salad.” I had spinach & arugula with grilled vegetables (zucchini, red pepper, celery root, sweet potato), bruschetta tomatoes, plain tofu, steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower, beets, nuts & seeds, and carrot sesame dressing. I love beets because they taste like the smell of the ocean.

I drank half a cup of green tea and wrote all afternoon. For “dinner” I ate a quarter of a Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate bar while walking down the street. I came home and ate a little bit more. I kept it next to my fan so it wouldn’t melt but it melted anyway. I ate a square of it melted and it tasted like licorice.

I went out and drank Jack Daniels & Perrier and some red wine. I had a piece of baguette with cheese on it and three Ritz crackers. And Diet Coke.

JEN: I eat breakfast at work so my breakfast is typically kinda lame. I usually at least have a lot of fruit from the farmer’s market but I was away this weekend and didn’t go and so i’m kinda in a weird place this week. I got a black coffee from Oren’s Roast. My breakfast is a blueberry amande almond yogurt. I discovered this yogurt somewhat recently and I love it. A vegan yogurt without a ton of sugar added is a rare find - this stuff is sweetened with fruit juice and it’s just good, no weird taste or texture or anything. It’s genuinely good. I promise.

For lunch I have leftovers from dinner that I made last night  - whole wheat pasta shaped kinda like a seashell I can’t remember what it’s called with dry pan roasted eggplant, fava beans, yellow summer squash, garlic scapes and a little kale & chard for good measure. It’s topped with lemon basil obviously. This is eaten at my desk while staring at the Old Loves tumblr.

After work I met a friend who is visiting NY for the first time from Austin. We went to one of my favorite places, Pam Real Thai. This place is the best - SO delicious and pretty cheap. We split some fried tofu & a bowl of Vegetable Tom Yum Soup.  I ordered a Pad Thai with no egg. This is the only place I’ve ever come across that has a delicious, flavorful Pad Thai sans egg. I also had a Singha.


9 Stories About Me & My Favorite Record By My Favorite Band


(By The Way by the Red Hot Chili Peppers turned 10-years-old this month. It's my favorite record about my favorite place.)

i. By The Way came out a couple weeks after I visited Los Angeles for the first time. A few days before my trip (family vacation; my mom won a very important teaching award and the ceremony was in L.A.), they streamed a bunch of songs on the band website and I listened to them enough times to memorize them all, which is insane and wonderful. So I went to California with all these new songs in my head and when I got to Los Angeles I loved it immediately, how it looked and felt so much like the songs on By The Way, like a picture drawn with smudgy oil crayons: bright and hot and messy and wild, joyful in an uneasy sort of way. Our second or third day there, I walked from our hotel in Century City to the Laurel Canyon Country Store, which is even more insane and more wonderful than the thing of memorizing all the songs. I bought a tin of violet candies and came back salty and delirious, with a sunburn on my shoulders. I ate avocado rolls from the grocery store and named them the best sushi I'd ever had in my life, and I knew I would move to Los Angeles very soon.

ii. Back at home in Boston, By The Way came out and I bought it that day and set a tequila bottle filled with Santa Monica Beach sand on my windowsill and covered the back of my bedroom door with pictures I'd taken of the Chateau Marmont and of bougainvillea and smog and hills, along with pictures other people had taken of Jim Morrison and Axl Rose and Darby Crash and Perry Farrell and Courtney Love. I was "manifesting." At work I told this cool woman how I loved Los Angeles and she said "Let's do astrocartography!", which is this thing where you use your astrological chart to figure out how you relate to different geographical spaces. So we did astrocartography and there was all this activity or energy or whatever for me in Los Angeles, and the astrocartography website said something about how I could really shine in L.A. but I'd also run the risk of becoming "a victim of [my] own vanity." I thought that sounded kind of exciting.

iii. The second time I came to L.A. was the following spring (March 2003) and I stayed at a weird motel at the foot of the Hollywood Hills and I didn't have a car and I walked around so much that when I went back to the motel that night and took my boots off, my feet were all cut-up and bloody. I filled the tub with hot water and added shampoo to make bubbles, then sat at the edge and drank strawberry Boone's from the bottle and soaked my poor feet and listened to By The Way on my headphones, on my walkman.


A Mixtape For Those Out There Havin' Fun In The Warm California Sun, Even If Only On A Spiritual Level

(I'm doing a thing where I custom-make Spotify playlists for everyone who wants one. If you want one too, read "the guidelines" here and email me here.)

This one's for Sarah! Sarah's requested theme is "Here Comes the Sun -- i.e., new beginnings, new love, new happiness." I'm really proud of the cool journey I've taken you on here, especially the beginning and ending and the Aerosmith-into-Wild Flag.

BTW, that wild sea-anemone pic is by Stephanie Sicore. Here's the tracklist:

Thing of the Week: Laura Jane's Secret Attic, Liz's 'Beer Drinker' T-Shirt, Jen's Picture of Leonard Nimoy


You guys! I have a secret attic! I'm so happy about this recent development in my life. It just seems like, out of all the people in the world, I'm one of the ones who most deserves to have a secret attic. It's great for my personal brand.  
        A girl used to live in my secret attic, up until last December, when she moved away. Nobody ever moved in. For a long time, the door to the secret attic was open, but I was afraid to go up there. I didn't want to get in trouble. When I finally worked up the courage to check it out, it turned out someone had locked the door, which was a bummer obvs. But then, one glorious day a few weeks ago, the door became unlocked! So I went upstairs, and realized that I had become the luckiest person in the world. 
        My secret attic is roomy, haunted, and looks like 1965. It has a bed and two small kitchens and several couches and a balcony and a little cubby that would be great for hide-and-seek. I go up there a lot, more than once a day, and I just hang out. I wander around for a bit, and then I sit somewhere. I never try to do anything: write or watch a movie or read or whatever. I like my secret attic because just being there is an activity in itself, so it's sort of like meditating. A couple of nights ago it was crazy apocalypse-thunderstorming out and I was really bored so I went up there with a glass of white wine and listened to I Married Myself by Sparks on headphones and watched the thunderstorm from the little cubby and I felt so incredibly calm and peaceful in that moment. I've been really miserable recently but it's mostly only because I'm freaking out about money and then I get mad at the world for having turned me into a person who thinks about money. I think it's really sad and boring that people have to think about money instead of just hanging out and living their lives. But I also think it's a good thing that I'm freaking out about money, because for the first time in my life I actually give a shit about making it, and I'm a pretty pro-active Type A kind of personality, which means that I probably will. I was thinking for awhile that a good financial goal for me would be to get rich enough to afford air-conditioning by the time I'm twenty-eight, but now I'm thinking fuck air-conditioning; I want to get rich enough to rent out the apartment I live in now and my secret attic. 
        I wouldn't even do anything to change my secret attic, I'd keep it exactly the way it is- janky and scary and dilapidated- but it'd be mine for real, which would change it on an emotional level, and I'd write up there. I just don't think I could ever write any good words down in a place that didn't truly belong to me.  

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: My 'Beer Drinker' T-Shirt

I got it a few weeks ago, here, probably because it seemed like a shirt that Wooderson would be into. The first time I wore it was on the Fourth of July, when I went to the La Brea Tar Pits to picnic and play croquet and to a party in Highland Park where the DJ was so graciously accommodating of my repeated demands that he play Rolling Stones songs. The second time I wore it was to a birthday party last Friday, and I also wore black sequined hot pants with fishnets and big black boots and called the look "Slutty Gram Parsons," which was so clever and fun.
        Another fun thing is to wear my Beer Drinker shirt and drink things that aren't beer -- on the Fourth of July, for example, I drank white wine and pink wine and everyone was like "WHAT" and I was all "Deal with it." I like to challenge my people like that. If I drank milk, I would so drink milk while wearing my Beer Drinker shirt. But basically I think milk tastes like dirty socks.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: This Picture of Leonard Nimoy

This week I found out this fabulous photo of Leonard Nimoy exists. JUST LOOK AT IT!


John & Yoko Made Of Beads

Marianne Batlle is a French jewelry designer who sure knows her way around a bead. She's made Woody Allen out of beads, Karl Lagerfeld out of beads, and dogs out of beads. But how could I ever pick anything in the world made of beads over John and Yoko made of beads? I couldn't. 

I love their flowers, and I love Yoko's hair. I'm not going to be able to stop thinking about this brooch until I buy it. 



The Orchestra Of Broken Hearts Is Silent


When I was twenty years old the only time I wasn't stoned was when I was high on some other drug. My only priority in the world was becoming the number one person who had listened to the highest amount of (mostly irrelevant) sixties psychedelic rock songs; I wanted to hear every note, learn every word, own every record. Looking back, I deeply admire the ferocity with which I devoted myself to such a devastatingly ridiculous pursuit. 


There is something about the hookiness particular to certain buoyant sixties psych jams that I will always need to hear. They mean nothing, yet sound better than anything. 

I wonder who these people are, this band Kaleidoscope. I wonder what they're all doing, and which of them are dead. I wonder if they were for real or just copycatting, if some guy once wrote these songs and thought, "I am an artist, and this is my contribution," or if they're all just half-baked I Am The Walrus knock-offs some asshole paid them to write. 
        I've loved A Dream For Julie for a very long time. It sounds like the smell of the air-conditioning in my old apartment, riding down Manhattan Avenue on my green Schwinn Varsity, a boy's bike. My boss's dead brother had the same bike when he was young and she cried when she saw it.
        They say "rose wine" in the lyric and any mention of pink wine in art speaks to my soul in a very real way. You have to have listened to a lot of sixties psych to build up a tolerance to lyrics like "Strawberry monkeys are smiling for Julie." You have to put your strawberry monkeys blinders on.


Laura Jane & Jen & Sparks & Fanzine

An essay I wrote called How I Fell In Love With Sparks, & Myself (Again?) has been published over at one of my favorite websites, The Fanzine. It is about life and death and Sparks and me. Illustrated beautifully, as always, by Jen May. 



10 Rolling Stones Songs We'd Rather Die Than Live Without



I wish I could go back and ask my eight-year-old self: "Are you scared of 'Gimme Shelter', by the Rolling Stones? Does it scare you when 'Gimme Shelter' comes on the radio?"
         I don't think "Gimme Shelter" scared me when I was eight; I think I just thought it was cool. But when I hear it now, it's so scary! Whenever I listen I strain my ears so hard to pick up the piano from 0:33 to 0:38 -- it sounds like haunted houses, like ghosts playing piano. And it sounds like ghosts singing too, when the vocals go "Oooohhhhhhhh...",  and then the guitars sound like someone just killed someone and is totally getting away with it. And the way Merry's voice cracks open when she sings the word "murder" for the last time -- it cracks you open too.
         It's a wonderful thing, to become more and more scared of something as time goes by, in a way that's got nothing to do with anxiety. I want to go back in time and be smart enough to be scared of "Gimme Shelter" when I was eight, but I can't, so I just have to write stories in which an eight-year-old girl is scared of "Gimme Shelter," and that's really not so bad.


Three summers ago, I was something very different from anything I've ever been or will be again, so I guess I was like a rainbow, in that I was ephemeral. But I was also nothing like a rainbow, in that I was colorless. I was as fractured as I'd ever been; I was as objectively beautiful as I'll ever look, and I mean that, the beautiful, in a bad way.
         I'd been eating like a proper human for three months and so had been bumped up from visible anorexic to physical perfection because that's the fucked up way the fucked up world works. On a woman there are ten pounds between desire and repulsion on either end and I know it because I've lived it. In about two weeks time I was due to graduate from fractured into straight broken; I saw it coming and prayed that some unknowable force or knowable man might intervene, in the meantime distracted myself by focusing vigorously on my being so goddamned good-looking. A little boy in line at Starbucks tugged on his mommy's hem and stage-whispered, "She looks like a movie star!", pointing in my direction. "I look like a movie star!" I thought as I walked down the street, sniffy and strutting, thinking God they're all so lucky for getting to look at me. I will always believe on some hokey level that the merciless eye infection I was about to spend all of autumn locked in a room crying over was the Universe's punishing me for my vanity.
         In the middle of the day I'd strut up to the gelato place and order one scoop raspberry one white chocolate on a waffle cone and then strut over to the benches by the bank where come Christmas they'd put up the lights shaped like angels they never took down. I'd stretch out my legs and kittenishly lap at my ice cream like I was Lana Turner at Schwab's, waiting to get discovered. It blew my mind that several Jewish strangers from fifty years ago didn't stop to tell me I oughtta be in pictures or at very least was a sight for sore eyes.

I never cared about the Rolling Stones until two Januaries ago, two Januaries later; before I read Keith's Life, I thought the Rolling Stones were sleazy and lame. They reminded me of a pool table. Back during ooh la la I'm pretty ice cream bench trip days, I cared about the Rolling Stones only at their Beatlesiest, 1967 Stones: Dandelion, We Love You, Child of the Moon, Their Satanic Majesties Request. My favorite songs on Satanic Majesties were Citadel and In Another Land, of all the Rolling Stones songs... In Another Land. Cool, Laura. Cool choice.
         On this particular afternoon, I put on She's A Rainbow because- although it was no In Another Land I'm sure- it was (and is) an easy song to listen to, a summer song. It makes a lot of sense that a person eating raspberry ice cream would feel a push to hear it.
         I fast-forwarded through the first boring minute of train sounds and as soon as the words came on I thought, "What is this CRAP. What is this sexist DRIVEL." I don't understand what's the point of going so far out of one's way to demonize Mick Jagger but I definitely used to do it. I for the most part reject all the "Beatles vs. Stones" nonsense people like to pedantically go on and on about:  as I see it, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are two profoundly excellent guitar-driven rock and roll bands from England in the sixties- if you like one, it makes a lot of sense that you're gonna like the other. However, if we're going to boil the whole thing down into John & Paul vs. Keith & Mick, one major pro-Lennon/McCartney point I'm really into is how they both ended up with regular-looking women instead of crazy gorgeous supermodels. It's very telling. Nobody ever thinks of the Beatles as being "rock stars."
         On Raspberry Ice Cream day, I heard She's A Rainbow as being song written by pigs who married models. I heard the lyric as diminishing all of Rainbow-Woman's value and substance, reducing her to being an empty vessel who does nothing of note beyond combing her hair and wearing clothes that are the colors they are. I ignored so many of the beautiful things he's saying to focus on honing my sassy "she combs her hair" opinion, and I was so fucking full of myself, all I could think was that if Mick Jagger happened into the good fortune of walking past me and my intense physical beauty at that moment, he'd write She's A Rainbow about me, and I didn't want that, I claimed I hated how hard it was to be so beautiful although I didn't, and I don't know what I even would have wanted... "She's a Writer"? Is that cool?

Three years later I look fine and I feel fine and I love the Rolling Stones best when they're at their sludgiest. I no longer blame Mick & Keith for marrying supermodels; "Oh, whoa, you famous rock stars are such assholes for thinking beautiful women are beautiful. How weird of you." Three years later I am generally disinterested in psychedelia, eat gelato infrequently, and rate In Another Land a 5.5 out of 10. Excepting Dandelion and We Love You when I'm on an elliptical machine, She's A Rainbow is the only psych-era Stones song I bother with, but it's a very deep bother. It's a music box jangle that lights up the whole world when I hear it, and I think the sentiment propelling the likening of Marianne "Rainbow-Woman" Faithful to various staggeringly gorgeous meteorological phenomenons is the exact type of love I'd love to have.
         My dress of this summer is blue and I would much prefer for a man to see it and think "She's like the sky in front of you"- the sky, the most beautiful thing of all- as opposed to what, Three Years Ago Laura? "She's got excellent taste in moderately high-priced Anthropologie cocktail dresses?" "She's adept at choosing dress-shapes that are flattering to her body type?"
         When I think of the love I want I often think of a lyric from the Liz Phair song Nashville: And I can't imagine it in better terms/ Than naked, half-awake, about to shave and go to work- I think it means essentially the same thing as "She combs her hair"- and what a thing to have! I want nothing more than to be so taken with someone that even something so dull as shaving could take me. I want it to be unadorned; I don't want to be loved for being a good writer or having nice eyes or great eyebrows, interesting shoes or a devil-may-care attitude. I just want someone to watch me brush my teeth and have no choice but to think I'm like a rainbow. And I want a rainbow.  


All The Clothes I Wish I Owned

(By Laura Jane, who is still sick, and very bored of being bored. These pictures come from all over, but- to give credit where credit is due- a lot of them are from here and here








All The Children Who Inspire Me

(By Laura Jane, who would like you to know that she is presently as sick as a dog, which is a very tragic thing to be in the summertime. If you are interested in dropping off some treats at her house be in touch and please know that her preference is for strawberry-flavor.) 





Thing of the Week: Vera Chytilova's Daisies & A Whole Bunch of Other Little Things


Daisies is one of the best movies of all time. It played at BAM this week so I went to see it on the big screen in all its glory. Is there a movie more beautiful than Daisies? No. If you care about images and women and food and causing trouble and existing AT ALL you should really see it. Vera Chytilova is a genius. The film follows two girls named Marie, who wear perfect matching shift dresses in perfect colors with a ton of eyeliner as they hang out and commit wonderfully weird acts of rebellion and pranks against the world. It's a giant "fuck you" to all patriarchal structures.
        I wore a dress with daisies on it to the movie. There was a woman in the row in front of me who was continually shocked and gasping the entire time. I found that really weird but also really cool. 
        There is a lot of really aggressive food-eating in Daisies. The first time I saw it I was deep in the middle of a truly awful roommate situation. Really bad. Joan, my other roommate/commonlaw wife at the time & I were stress-eating in the most major way. There was food everywhere. I think we already ate dinner and then we pulled out leftovers and snacks. Anyway, I don't want to spoil this perfect scene but there is a really fabulous feast sequence that was totally mirroring our lives. It was beautiful. I love Daisies. 


-Sitting on a streetcar in an unbearably terrible mood allowing myself to be as hateful as I wanted toward everything, playing this game where I looked out the window and told myself I HATED everything I saw: "I HATE the name Let it Rain for a roofing company and I HATE that someone thought of that name for their new roofing company and thought they were SO FUCKING CLEVER for thinking of it; I HATE that Frank Gehry designed our art gallery and that Toronto thinks it's so fucking cool and WORLD-CLASS for having a Frank Gehry-designed art gallery; I HATE that the restaurant inside the art gallery is named "FRANK," just in case you all forgot that FRANK GEHRY DESIGNED OUR ART GALLERY." Then we drove past a Tim Horton's with a sign out front advertising new Tim Horton's lattes and I thought "I HATE Tim Horton's lattes!" and then started laughing out loud at how dumb that sentence is, how silly it is to be miserable. 

-Powerman and Got To Be Free by the Kinks 

-Calling a dude drunk at 1 AM so I could go over to his house and cry which sounds like a recipe for disaster if ever there was one but it turned out to not be rife with self-loathing or even the tiniest bit regrettable at all! It was a very positive and well-thought-out decision. Good job, everybody.

-A text message from Liz Barker which read May your hate be transcendent

-A line from an email Jen May sent Liz & I which goes I said I didn't really trust cops and was more or less immediately dismissed from jury duty 

-Finding out that I'm So Bored With The USA by the Clash was originally entitled I'm So Bored With You (or something) when Mick Jones wrote it about his girlfriend but then Joe Strummer stepped in and was like "No- the USA. Duhhhhhhh" and then being out and taking the best "bar bathroom self-portrait" in the history of bar bathroom self-portraits (as seen above) and captioning it "I'm so bored with the USA" for no real reason except the song was in my head. Drinking a Dark & Stormy, which was so ridiculously heavy on the Galliano, waking up the next morning and feeling like the inside of my stomach was coated with a thick and glossy layer of vanilla bath product which wasn't really "good" by any means but at least it was a new take on having a hangover. I barely ate all day because I felt so gross but then after work I bought myself a squash & spinach roti and inhaled it while sitting on my floor listening to Vintage Violence by John Cale and it was easily one of my Top Ten Eating Experiences of 2012 thus far. 

-Drinking pink wine and watching Wet Hot American Summer in the park on a Thursday evening; the night ended with one of my best friends and I sitting on a curb trying to "hit on something," discussing all the different emotional breakdowns we've had this week, ultimately concluding that we're not sad, just shaken up. 

-Looking deeply into the deepest depths of my soul and discovering it's on fire. 


Ten Beatles Songs We'd Rather Die Than Live Without



I don't know what the first Beatles song I ever heard was, but it might as well be "Twist and Shout." "Yellow Submarine" is Beatles for babies but "Twist and Shout" is Beatles for kids, for dancing crazy and getting out of hand. If you play "Twist and Shout" for a little kid, he'll jump all around and bang his head and probably try to scream his lungs out. It's punk rock for four-year-olds, it's so fucking joyful, it's sweet and it shines but there's still a hint of something dirty and reckless. "Twist and Shout" is in my favorites because safe and dangerous at the same time; maybe that's why I've always needed it. When you're a kid you might worry that Rolling Stones songs are secretly a vehicle for satanic communication, but you know the Beatles are only ever going to make you better and better.
        I like listening to Shea Stadium "Twist and Shout" because they sing the "Ah..."s at the end and at the beginning. Those "Ah..."s sound like the beginning of everything, and everything is going to be so goddamned good, and the Beatles will never not be on your side.


When I was seven years old, my mother picked me up from swimming lessons, and Michelle came on the radio. What burns me most about this story is realizing that I once existed in a world wherein Michelle playing on the radio was not a particularly strange thing to have be happening. There are so many things to be grateful for, and you never notice any of them. It never occurs to you that sixties music will get cornered out of oldies radio next decade change.
        I knew by how immediately I loved it, how it felt like I'd already heard it a thousand times while at the same time sounding completely new, that it was a Beatles song. Face it, homegirl: you were born to love the Beatles. 
         They were always the most exciting thing to think about; they taught me how human existence corresponds to the passage of time. It was a compelling point, a ton to take in but I was up to the task: the world existed before I did, and it was a different place without me. People dressed different, looked different, and did different things. My mother was once the age that I am now. One day, though it was impossible to fully fathom, I would be my mother's age. And in between our two ages were a bunch of other ages: ages that I'd be, ages that she'd been. And when my mom was thirteen, she had the Beatles.
        The Beatles: those four silly cute men who are old or dead now, but once, a long time ago, in that time before I was born, they were boys. And I'm always seeing so many pictures of them, from a long time ago, but when I see those pictures, they're boys in the pictures. So even though I know that they are old and dead, I also know that they are boys. I know that the pictures of the boys mean more about the old men then do the old men about themselves. I know that those old men, and the dead one, will always be boys for the world. Three of the boys are named: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr. Ringo Starr! How I feel about those two words means I am beginning to love words. I get such a kick out of saying it- Ringo Starr! I don't know what any of them look like. They are all three identical boys, plus another one, with all flat white where their eyes and nose and lips should be. They have that hair, and those suits. The Beatles are John, Paul, Ringo and another boy.
        ("John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr," I recited to my mother, in a kitchen I once lived in that I'll never see again, "Who's the other one?" 
        "George Harrison," she told me, "George! George was my favorite."
        "George Harrison," I repeated, and made a mental note to never forget it. (I didn't.))
        The Beatle I longed to love best was that brilliantly-named Ringo, and he sounded pretty good once I asked my mom to describe him: "fun-loving," "clownish," "happy-go-lucky." Those were all such fun and happy words! What an awesome guy. Ringo
        "Did he wear lots of rings?" I asked. 
        "Yes, but it was sort of... unrelated." 
        "What was John Lennon like?" (John Lennon, the second most boringly-named Beatle after George Harrison. George Harrison is the worst name for a famous person I've ever heard.)
         "John was the genius," she said, just like that, and that was when I knew he was the Beatle I should care about. It just didn't make any sense to me, why anyone would ever bother loving any Beatle but the genius best.

I could tell right away that Michelle wasn't a song by the genius, which was probably when I started to figure out that Paul was a genius too. I loved the way he sang it, The guy singing sounds so dopey, and the instrument playing behind him sounds so dopey like his voice (that was the first time I'd ever registered the sound of the bass guitar, heard it the way I now always hear it: second, after the voice). He's singing this song in French, and my mom's French, so I'm supposed to like French, which I do. I already liked this song but now I like it extra: because it's French, like me. The guys in the background are singing "Oooh-oooh-oooh," and it reminds me of a malt shop. I know about "malt shop" because of my Barbie video where Barbie and the other two go back in time to a malt shop, although I'm pretty sure this song is from after malt shops. NOTE TO SELF: ask Mom about when there stopped being malt shops. ALSO: What is "malt"? 
        The guy in the song sounds glum. It's a fuzzy song. Sometimes he sounds nice, but sometimes he gets scared. When he sings, "I need you, I need you, I need you"- that's a crazy thing, that a person can feel like that. When I'm a grown-up, I'm going to feel "I need you, I need you, I need you" about boys, like the guy singing: either John Lennon, Paul McCartney or George Harrison. It's definitely not crusty old non-genius Ringo, because that guy plays the drums, and drummers can't sing; they have too much other work to do. Near the end of the song, either John Lennon, Paul McCartney or George Harrison plays a part of music on what I can only assume is a guitar, and it kind of goes up and down and becomes more important than the singer or the words, and the way it sounds is so excited but so pale, like dum-dum-dum or hum-hum-hum; it's better than the singing. It's the best part. It makes me happy and sad. 
        We pulled into the parking lot and Mom pulled her keys out of the ignition before the song was done. I know now I could have just asked her, "Can you not turn off the car? I want to hear the end of the song," but I was seven and weird about shit, so I didn't. She turned off the car, and it was gone. 
         It would be nine years before I heard Michelle again, but I thought of incessantly. When I imagined myself a grown-up, that freedom and independence, I always imagined Michelle as being the backdrop. I imagined my grown-up self listening to Michelle with a boy; I imagined my grown-up self asking him if he'd ever heard of it before we heard it, and I imagined that's how I'd know if he was the right boy or not. The right boy would have learned about Michelle on his own, and he would love it too. We would hear the song together. 
        When I imagined my life, my future, the best that it could be, Michelle was always the first thing that came to mind. I dreamed of a  life wherein I could listen to Michelle whenever I wanted. And this is it.


Courtney Love Is Lovely

Today is Courtney Love's birthday. In some ways she's my favorite rock star and I bet I'll never not be fascinated by her; she's one of those idols I started idolizing when I was a kid and so I claimed many of her fascinations as my own: Los Angeles and astrology, feminism and romanticism, weird flowers and big cakes and pretty guitars and beautiful dresses. I like how she's hyperliterate, how she rhymes "Hester Prynne" with "Anne Boleyn" and believes so hard in poetry. She believes in rock & roll and radio and she used to believe in California and that's still important to me. Here are some other Courtney things that have meant a lot to me, over all the years:

i. Right before Live Through This came out, MTV showed a mini-documentary that followed Hole from their hotel to the studio for a day of recording. I remember Courtney wearing a cute red dress, and I remember Kristen Pfaff ordering a carrot muffin from room service and thinking that a carrot muffin sounded so good. I also remember Courtney talking about how she doesn't really know the language of recording/engineering/whatevs and how she always has to resort to using metaphors like "Could we get this to sound a little more orchidy? Could we make that a little more tea rose?" I love the idea of songs sounding like flowers, and I think Live Through This really does sound very orchidy and tea rose.

ii. From an interview when I was 19 or something: 

Q: Do you eat like a horse?

A: After a show, I have a turkey sandwich waiting for me.

Q: Talking about that sandwich is the first thing that's brought a smile to your face in five days.

Yeah, I know. When I get offstage, I could eat three human beings and fuck three human beings. That doesn't happen with acting - usually I retreat to my trailer. I play a rock show and could just eat, smoke, and guzzle, guzzle, guzzle. It's raging. But sometimes I keep an acupuncturist nearby who can diffuse my adrenaline. This is better than how I used to diffuse it, you know what I mean?

Q: Understood. You said on The View yesterday that you weigh 140.

A: We women talk about food, and it makes me nuts. Women sit on the phone instead of exercising. They talk about how bloated they are, how fat they are, how fat they feel. Guess what? Sometimes I feel like I don't look that great in couture - big deal. I'm not even 140.

Q: So you lied on The View?

A: Some divas lie to make themselves feel good. I lied to show women big is sexy. Vanity and fat is boring. I don't even own a scale. Only recently have I realized that in America, women live and breathe their body issues.

Q: Ever had any major weight issues?

A: In the late '80s, and then when I was a drug addict, I was fatter. But now I know from Drew that weight doesn't matter, in terms of our physical sexuality. And besides, whose standard are we talking about? Are we talking about sticking cotton balls full of orange juice down our throats and making ourselves vomit? Forget it.

Q: Why do you think women sweat it?

A: [Yells] They're neurotic! That's the point I'm trying to make. As long as women are pinned down to the idea that they're pigs, they'll be referred to as pigs. Do you ever hear men talking about their fat asses? I eat, and I fuck, and once a person cuts themself off of eating, they've cut off from fucking.


A Mixtape for Those Who Refuse to Be Played Like a Penny-Cent Trick Deck of Cards

(I'm doing a thing where I custom-make Spotify playlists for everyone who wants one. If you want one too, read "the guidelines" here and email me here.)

All right this one's for Anne, who asked for "a playlist for that time when your best friend stops talking to you because you've suddenly begun making out with her ex-boyfriend, even though they broke up two years ago and she's since been dating and fell in love with a girl." It's sassy and vitriolic and I'm especially passionate about the inclusion of "None of Your Business." And "Effect and Cause" too, mostly because "You're like a little girl yelling at her brother 'cause she lost his ball" is what I want to say to anyone who ever gets mad at me. Also, in high school, this cute skater boy two grades behind me used to wear a Breeders shirt that said "I Just Wanna Get Along (Bitch)" and I'm retroactively so impressed with him right now.

Here's the tracklist:

Thing of the Week: A Stranger's Straight to Hell Tattoo; This Weird Thing Some Chick Said on 'Chopped' Last Weekend; How Should A Person Be?

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: A Stranger's Straight to Hell Tattoo 

Two days ago my friend Charlie wrote me a text message reading Just put on lose this skin at a 4th of July party and a friend said he saw Joe & the mescaleros and tymon played it and I'm eating noodle salad, which would have been the best Clash-related thing that happened to me this week if a stranger with a Straight to Hell tattoo hadn't come into my work the next day. But what happened was a stranger with a Straight to Hell tattoo came into my work the next day, and I loved him.  
        The stranger's Straight to Hell tattoo was of the cards/skull/words picture from the Straight to Hell single seen above (only minus the words "The Clash," which makes it cooler in my opinion because to get it you have to be in the know), and it was on the inside of his left forearm. I didn't fall in love with him, because he was old, but in the wake of this event it has become obvious that I probably couldn't fall in love with anybody who doesn't have a Straight to Hell tattoo, so that complicates things. 
        When I first saw the stranger's tattoo, I freaked out. I was deliriously exhausted as it was, and a weird thing happened to my body. My jubilation made me light-headed, and I thought I might pass out. "OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR STRAIGHT TO HELL TATTOO SO MUCH," I exclaimed, and he seemed a bit taken aback, so I calmed down and cleared my throat and told him, "Straight to Hell is my favorite Clash song," which was when he came around to me. "Me too," he said, "Since I was eighteen." 
       I wanted to break down and sob into his arms and tell him every single Clash-related thing that's ever happened to me; instead I cleared out my head a bit and tried to tersely and coherently explain as much as I could about my relationship with the Clash within the confines of a socially acceptable timeframe. We shared a heavy but brief exchange about the concept of #CLASHLIFE, and by the end we were both a little teary-eyed. When he left he called me "Sweetheart" in the Clashiest and least-sleazy way any middle-aged man could ever call a young woman sweetheart. It's just like Joe Strummer said: "Without people, you're nothing."

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: This Weird Thing Some Chick Said on Chopped Last Weekend 


Do you guys ever watch Chopped? It's this show on the Food Network where four chefs compete for $10,000 and there's three rounds and in each round the contestants are given four bonkers ingredients and 20 or 30 minutes to create a dish from said ingredients. It's so good, I'm addicted, I highly recommend it. Last weekend there was an episode in which one of the contestants was this super-wacky Laurie Anderson-esque chef named Gillie Holme (that's her, on the left) and in the first round the chefs were given peking duck, cape gooseberries, biscuit dough, and eggplant to make their appetizer. Chef Gillie was kind of an asshole about the biscuit dough ("hideous," she called it) and for some reason it took her like nine years to figure out how to open the tube. Her dish was kinda lame; she didn't really do much to "marry" the ingredients or whatever the hell, and the judges gave her major guff about just baking up the biscuit and flopping it down on the plate. But then Gillie said this amazing thing, while defending her biscuit decision to the judges: "I would like each of you to go with me on the journey of assembling your own interesting biscuit," she told them. It didn't fly, of course; Chef Gillie was "chopped" in the first round. But I think that's a really cool sentiment. We should all join each other on the journey of assembling our own interesting biscuits: free-spirited and free-thinking, yet totally united and supportive of one another's striving to create the yummiest, most interesting biscuit we can. That's so beautiful, guys. I am so thankful for Chef Gillie.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: How Should A Person Be? 

I started reading Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? On Tuesday. I’m almost finished and I wish I wasn’t. I’m really loving this book. I love it. I feel excited and acknowledged. It makes you (me) want to make art and talk. It’s about thinking and not and being alive and trying to make art as a woman right now and female friendships and sex and email and everything else, really.  Believe the hype. A special bonus is that Sheila is a writer living in Toronto drinking Campari & sodas so I am thinking of LJ often while reading.