My Top 6 Summertime Muses


Licensed to Ill came out when I was eight-years-old, which means my sense of irony was not quite sophisticated enough to grasp that the whole thing was a big joke. I thought Mike and Adam and Adam were these awful and dangerous men who put some girls in cages and threw beer cans at other girls' faces; I also had some vague notion that if you went to see the Beastie Boys in concert everyone in the crowd would spend the entire night violently headbanging and setting each other's hair on fire and throwing up all over the place. I feared the Beastie Boys, but was also intrigued by them.

For a few weeks after MCA died, I watched the "Hold It Now, Hit It" video multiple times a day. They look like they're having so much fun, and that makes me happy and warms up my heart. They're the goofiest goofballs and while part of me wishes I'd known that side of them back in the day, I also think it's sort of neat to have "legitimate fear of the Beastie Boys" as part of my childhood history. Here's what I love most about them in "Hold It Now, Hit It":

-MCA looks so good. Wifebeater + plaid shorts + necklace + skateboard is such a good look, for MCA, in 1986. I love when he ties his sweatshirt to his head. I like his teeth and scruff.

-It's so cute to me how Ad-Rock just makes the same face over and over again throughout the entire video. His acne's cute too. This is the most I've ever liked Ad-Rock, apart from the part in the "Hey Ladies" video when he talks with his mouth full.

-Mike D's such a nerd. No wonder the other two used to gang up on him all the time and dump potted plants on him while he was sleeping.  Mike D is my favorite Beastie Boy.

-Such good dancing! The dancing at 1:31-1:40 is my favorite. If you're sad or stressed, just watch that dancing; I bet you'll feel at least a little bit better.


I think I read an interview with Chan Marshall once and it got me down, and then I never read another interview with Chan Marshall again. I'd rather just make up my own idea of "what Chan Marshall's like," drawing mostly on her whole Miami/Malibu thing, and her hair, and her voice, and the whole sexy/weary/thunderstormy vibe of the Cat Power songs I love the most. I like thinking she's some weird bronzey babe who's good at being at the beach, a beautiful swimmer who's never scared of the sun, drinking coconut milk out of coconuts and rolling her own perfumey cigarettes and all the time she just glistens. "Ruin" really glistens too, especially on the guitar parts that sound like something you'd hear in a bar on a yacht in 1981. I love the chill-sanctimonious vibe of the lyrics just before the chorus and I love the part where she goes "argenteen chee-lay may-hee-co, taiwan" -- it makes me feel so glamorous and cosmopolitan, singing along in my head when I'm walking down the scuzziest part of Sunset Boulevard to get a turkey sandwich from the Subway at the laundromat. It's going to sound so good on the beach.


Summer started the day two of my buddies were visiting from Brooklyn and we went to Millie's and had a gigantic breakfast (me: cream-cheese-y/scallion-y omelette and hot biscuit with raspberry jam, plus eight buckets of coffee), then went to Scoops for breakfast dessert. On the way to Scoops we drove past the Yoshinoya Beef Bowl at the corner of Vermont and Melrose, and outside there was a granddad-aged dude sitting in his car, blasting the radio, singing his heart out and shaking the hell out of a pair of maracas. We cheered him and loved him and drove on to Scoops, where they had salty Oreo ice cream and cinnamon Oreo ice cream. We got our ice cream and walked down Heliotrope to some weird used bookstore where I bought a Sesame Street Little Golden Book called I Can't Wait Until Christmas; all told our little adventure probably took about an hour. And on the way back we drove past the Yoshinoya Beef Bowl and the dude was still there, still blasting his radio, still singing his heart out and shaking the hell out of those maracas. We were so impressed. That guy knows how to live.


Snoopy knows how to live too. He devotes himself to his writing:

But also leaves plenty of time for summer fun with friends:

Snoopy totally read "The Busy Trap."


And, obviously, Wooderson knows how to live better than anyone else in the world. A couple weeks ago, in the midst of writing my "Let's All Have a Very 'Dazed and Confused'-y Summer" essay, I decided to claim Wooderson as my spirit guide and then some cool things happened; I'll tell you about them later, maybe. Pretty soon I'm going to get myself a pair of peach-colored jeans so that I can be Wooderson for Halloween/life, and I'm also gonna work on manifesting an Amboy Dukes t-shirt, if Amboy Dukes t-shirts still exist. Peach + sleaze is a really good approach to summer, both sartorially and psychically. 


I'm going to see him at home in Massachusetts in August, with my parents and my brother and my sister. And then in September it'll be the one-year anniversary of me and my tattoo, which is the name of my favorite Bruce Springsteen song, "Spirit in the Night." A cool thing about me, my tattoo, Bruce Springsteen, and life is that two years ago I had the revelation that part of my purpose here on planet Earth is to rewrite "Spirit in the Night" as a story, and I tried really hard to think of what the "Greasy Lake" of my story might be. "Maybe Greasy Lake's a community pool," I thought. "Maybe it's the ocean." And then sometime a month or two ago I figured it out, after two years of trying/not trying: Greasy Lake is a lake. It's a lake in a forest in Massachusetts, and once when we were little my cousin Nick got lost in the forest and ended up in Rhode Island. I haven't been there in probably like 25 years but I still remember the light as "orangey" and the water as tasting like mud and metal, but in a clean way. I think that's maybe more than enough to get me on way of retelling the most romantic song I'll ever hear in my life. Listen to it.

xo Liz


  1. Anonymous5.7.12

    I saw Cat Power at the Crocodile in Seattle in '93 (?), & she spent most of the show hiding behind the speakers. I worship her hair, though.

    1. Anonymous5.7.12

      Make that 1999 or 2000; my past is somewhat of a blur. Also, Ms. Marshall has a pixie now, which is fine, but it's nowhere near as great as her hair in the pic you posted.

    2. i saw her once in 2003 and in the middle of the show she stopped playing and started telling jokes, one of which was "did yall hear the one about the unsharpened pencil? ah forget it - it doesn't have a point!" it was weird!

      xo liz