It’s so amazing when terrible things happen to you because it means you get to go on a bender. A terrible-ish thing happened to me about a month ago- I'm not even that fucked up about it, I mean I would say about 3% of me is extremely fucked up about it but then the other 97% is perfectly well; it barely qualifies as an excuse to repurpose my life into the extended bender that I subsequently have but that’s not really the point. The point is that, in life, you’re either on a bender or not on a bender, and I find I really hate it when I’m not on a bender. The last time I was not on a bender all I ever did was plan out future benders for myself to go on. Life is meaningless without a bender on the horizon.
In 1975, John Lennon and his great pal & fellow genius Harry Nilsson went on a bender so fabulous that it was given an official name: the Lost Weekend. Lost Weekend-era John is my bender hero, except that he was really depressed when he was on his bender, and as a bender participant I try to bring a bit more of a sunshiney energy to the table. But I love how Lost Weekend-era John still had the good sense to channel his depression into being outrageous and loud rather than your classic boring sadsack. Rowdiness is at the heart of every great bender.
John went on his Lost Weekend because his marriage to Yoko was on the rocks and she needed some space. I just read a quote from her about it; she said, “I was very aware that we were ruining each other’s careers and that I was hated and John was hated because of me. Can you imagine every day of getting this vibration from people of hate?” I really can’t, Yoko. That sounds rough. But the weirder part of Yoko’s coping with these hate-vibrations was that she sent John away to have an affair with her personal assistant, May Pang, the woman he is kissing in the photo. She engineered the affair.
I don’t know, man. I don’t really relate to Yoko on this one. Like, I would never do that. It’s so weirdly controlling! If I were John I would have been like, “Okay, cool, fine, I’ll go to Los Angeles, I’ll give you your space, but can I please choose my affair-person on my own?” I’d be like, “I’m going to Los Angeles, man! A whole new city full of new and exciting possible affair participants! I’m not wasting my affair on your employee, Yoko.”
I wish that I could have been Lost Weekend-era John Lennon’s affair-person in place of probably-boring May Pang who I doubt got into the bender spirit of things with the same amount of vim as would Laura Jane Faulds. If there’s one thing you can say about me, it’s that I can really hold my own on a bender. I never would have been a bender wet blanket and tried to convince John to take some time off being on his bender to, like, go to a flower market with me. To go drink a flat fucking white and eat a goddamned pastry. Fuck that. I’d rather die.
Harry Nilsson would love me too. We'd be such solid bender-bros, but I wouldn't be attracted to him; I can tell. He’d be like, “You’ve really found yourself a perfect beautiful angel of a bender-soulmate, John,” and John would be all “Don’t I know it, mate,” and then he’d kiss me with a great deal of aggressive bender gusto like in the picture. I'd be like “Cool, thanks, I don’t even know what the fuck is going on right now” and pour myself another glass of champagne. Just kidding— Bender Laura doesn’t have time for “glasses”! I’ll drink that shit straight out the bottle, son.
4. INDIAN-TAKEOUT JOHN & HIS GOLDEN SHIRT WITH THE EXCITING SLEEVES (LIZ)
Lately I'm really into rock musician dudes from the '70s who are hypersexual in a way that's kind of gross and embarrassing but also charming in its relative quaintness: examples would include this picture of Rod Stewart with his hand in his pants, or this other picture of Rod Stewart where he's wearing a goddamned two-piece swimsuit, plus Alex Chilton in "Take Me Home and Make Me Like It" when he makes all the dumb sex noises at the bridge. And in some oral-history book I read years ago, there was a bit where Chrissie Hynde talked about falling in love with Tim Buckley's first few albums, where he's so dreamy and folky and sensitive, and then being freaked out when it got to be the '70s and he turned into some filthy sex maniac. But I totally prefer filthy-sex-maniac Tim Buckley: I'd take his version of "Sally Go Round the Roses" over "Song to the Siren" any old day.
One of my top five John Lennon songs is "Well Well Well." The vibe's not quite filthy-sex-maniac-y, and it's actually way more romantic than sexy, but there's still a dirtiness to it - if only in the sense that the song itself feels grimy and sweaty and unwashed. I don't know when this picture's from but it's probably vaguely "Well Well Well" era, right? Obviously he's got Yoko with him, but I like the idea of an alternate reality in which John Lennon is a lone wolf and just some non-famous guy with hardly any money. You'd go out with him a couple times and on like your third date he'd take you back to his disgusting apartment to eat Indian takeout and drink beer on the floor, and the lighting would be terrible (overhead and wicked harsh); the bathroom's a horror show and the shower has no shower curtain. But of course you'd be be in love with him, because he's smarter than everyone and funny as hell and wearing that beautiful golden shirt with the three-quarter-length sleeves - which is such a deep sleeve choice for a dude! His bed would be a mattress on the floor, a twin. He'd have some terrible cat. The cat would be named after someone in a Bob Dylan song. The cat's name is totally Brother Bill.
Are there any dudes making rock-ish music today that's hypersexual and gross but also mostly charming? The only sex-music-making guy I can think of is Father John Misty, but whenever I hear a Father John Misty song it makes me want to die. I like when the El Vy dude sings that line that goes "I'm peaceful cuz my dick's in sunlight," but he's probably just talking about sunbathing, and anyway I feel like he's mostly kidding. Please send me your modern-day sex music recommendations, if you can think of any.
3. SAD 1968 LISTENING TO RECORDS & LOOKING PENSIVE JOHN (LJ)
1968 is my favourite year. I wasn’t alive during it, but I know I would have thrived if I had been. 1967’s charming, I love that it happened; I love getting to be a person from today looking back on it. Most of my favourite songs come from 1967, and they’re all really bad. Campy, embarrassing, heavy on the theremin, heavy on the sitar, and most of the lyrical content pertains to gnomes, kaleidoscopes, or both. Engaging with art made in 1967 is sort of like looking at baby pictures of a dude you just started dating— it’s adorable and vaguely thrilling but at the same time hanging out with that baby would basically suck compared to hanging out with the hot adult man that is the year 2016.
I’m uncomfortable when faced with an actual baby, and think if I had lived during 1967 I would have hated it. I think I would have been really confused all the time, and never have known how best to deal with shit like people drawing butterflies on their pregnant bellies in oil pastel and other such shenanigans. I think I would have been like Bob Dylan and worn some suede and written John Wesley Harding and hid from it. I think that 1968, the comedown, must have felt like the hugest sigh of relief to a lot of people. I would have been one of them. I can feel it retroactively.
The Beatles looked like crap in 1968. Really tired, really grungy, but it was hot and it worked for them. John and Paul wore a lot of Henleys, I think they shared a couple Henleys, or maybe one day John walked into the studio and Paul was wearing his lavender or baby blue Henley and John was like, “Whoa, that shirt looks so convenient to have, where’s it from?” and Paul said, “Yeah, I bought it in like eight colours,” and then told John the name of some store that existed in 1968— whatever the, like, Zara of 1968 was— and then John was all, “Paul— would you be mad if I bought the same Henleys as you?” and Paul was like, “Nah, mate, not at all! We have totally different senses of style and they’ll have a completely different vibe on you,” and John would say: “Thanks.”
They also wore a lot of waistcoats, and soft-looking turtlenecks, oatmeal jumpers, crappy straight-legged or low-key-flared jeans that look like they need a good wash. Shoes-wise John wore beat-up white Spring Courts, he wore a lot of white that year, brownish-white: dirty white jeans with a dirty white long-sleeve and a flimsy, purposeless dirty white waistcoat.
I can’t imagine what crazy kind of things would happen to the inside of my body if I was out at some like poetry event in contemporary London and a dude as sexy and disgusting as 1968 John Lennon walked through the front door. I guess I’d just go outside and smoke a cigarette while giving myself a “you’re the ultimate playa”-themed pep talk, then bound inside and tell all my friends “Hey see that gnarly-looking probably-genius with a nose like an epic novel? He’s my prospect for tonight,” and they’d all be like “What the fuck? He’s not even hot, Laura,” which is what tends to happen when I tell other women I think a dude is hot. This has been my cross to bear ever since I was seventeen and Nikolai was my favourite Stroke.
My fantasy for the 2016 version of Sad 1968 Listening To Records John and I is that he wouldn’t text me for like a week and a half after the first night I met and charmed him. I’d be all “That is not the correct reaction to meeting Laura Jane Faulds; that piece of garbage is dead to me,” but then finally he’d text me at some really weird time, like 4:45 PM on a Wednesday. I’d be busy but still drop everything to go hang out with him, go bum around in his revolting flat and drink something horrible and ash a hundred cigarettes into his gross Tupperware ashtray and brag about my personality. His black turtleneck would motivate me to pretend like I gave a fuck about his ex or his songs or what his parents do. We’d drink our horrible drink until our conversation regressed to a point where we had nothing left to talk about but our glasses, we’d commiserate about our glasses-problems: raindrops on our glasses, smudges on our glasses, glasses-desmudgifying products never working, lenses fogging up when it’s cold out and you walk into a warm room and feel like a nerd. He would not smell good at all.
In the middle of the night I’d walk home feeling goofy, tweet something slutty to my alt, and eat a bowl of dry granola with my fingers. Sleep in my jeans and wake up to the okay sound of my whimsical alarm clock, Harry Nilsson singing Gotta Get Up. Smile when I remembered that it happened.
2. IRASCIBLE JOHN IN 1965 (LIZ)
A little while ago I found a page in my notebook that says:
I love the Beatles
I love the Sunday paper
I love boring coffee
I love basic chocolate bars
I love the radio
I love the radio on in the car in the summertime at night
(And then it says "Joan Holloway + scuzz-rock," followed by "hacked-off champagne slipdress tucked into black trousers + shiny-gold Nike hightops." I have no idea what the Joan Holloway thing is all about, but I do know that the other thing has to do with this Amandla-lookalike girl I saw at Farmers Market sometime last year: she was wearing that exact outfit, plus half-up-half-down hair, and it was really inspiring to me. I think about that outfit so much.)
The list of things I love: I don't remember why I wrote it, but I still I agree with it. All of those things are classic. I love this photograph because it's classic John, and also just classic boy. He's got his T-shirt and his slightly mussed-up hair and he looks either confused or irritated, ideally the latter. Low-level irascibility's one of my favorite qualities in men. I don't trust dudes who are too at ease in the world.
This pic represents my favorite era of John Lennon, which also gave us Beautiful Shadowy John with Hand in Pocket and, for a change of mood, Adorably Happy John on the Day He Passed His Driving Test. He looks like a boy who'd take you out for a hot fudge sundae at the counter of a drugstore, and on the way home he'd swig whiskey or some other kind of brown booze from a bottle in the glove box, and it'd be scary but you'd trust him anyway, against all good judgment. Unlike the Beatles, the Sunday paper, boring coffee, and my own car radio, hot fudge sundaes at the drugstore counter are not a regular part of my existence. But there's a place in the Valley that I really want to go to; it's a pharmacy that's got a soda shoppe and the milkshake glasses are dipped in chocolate. Look how beautiful it is. I bet if they play music there it's totally pre-Beatlemania stuff like Del Shannon and Dion and "Sugar Shack" and all of that, which is a nice drab little world to hide in every once in a while.
(For some annoying reason the Youtube version of I'm Down is of extremely poor quality, the good one's only on a gross Youtube knockoff website called Dailymotion, I can't figure out how to get the video into the blog post so please do yourself the favour of watching it HERE)
Every Beatle looked so beautiful on Shea Stadium day. I wish that I could play Shea Stadium, in August of 1965, so I could look like the Laura version of that particular Beatles-beautiful: bronzey and olivey and sunkissed. They’re all sweaty in the face, but they look dewy, they’re glowing, like J.Lo. They sweat into their hair so their bangs are wet and nicely piecey and then as the sun sets and the night cools the sweat dries and their hair goes so big and wavy and voluminous, “their hair,” their one collective head of Beatles-hair. Paul’s cheekbones are backlit and just by looking at one clip of the concert you can feel the way the air felt. The kind of summer night that makes you want to drink beer and eat vanilla soft-serve at a drive-in. It makes you want to sit around a campfire and make a goddamned s’more. It makes you want to look up at the sky and say Oh wow, or Oh golly (since it’s 1965), you can see the stars here, I live in a city, you can never see the stars there. It’s a kind of weather that doesn’t exist in England, only in the east and middle of North America, and thinking about it, it’s making me want to go home.
The other day I was wandering around my neighbourhood listening to pre-his mother dying-era Kanye and feeling exuberantly happy about basically nothing. I don’t really know how not to be happy anymore. Even when I'm sad, I'm still happy underneath, and I don't feel like I can't touch it. I thought, “I wish Kanye could be happy again." I wish he would make music that’s exactly the same amount of intense and aggro as it is right now, only happy at the same time. That’s my vibe, my "happy person on a bender" vibe. I don’t see any reason in the world why being a naturally aggro & intense person should prohibit either Kanye or John Lennon or myself from being very happy. I wish I could communicate this to Kanye somehow.
Shea Stadium Playing Organ With His Elbows John is my Ego Ideal of the “intense & aggro & happy at the same time” concept in serious action. He’s having so much fucking fun, and he’s taking the fun he’s having very seriously. There’s no rule saying that fun has to be light-hearted, you know. Shea Stadium Playing Organ With His Elbows John knows. He is having some very heavy fun. Heavy Fun. That’s the name of the new band I just started with SSPOWHE-John in my head. John’s on elbow-organ, and I'm a hot inept bass player like Stuart Sutcliffe or Paul Simonon. We both sing. Every song on our first album Heavy Fun is called Heavy Fun. It's so good.
There’s a part in The Beatles Anthology where Ringo talks about SSPOWHEJ in a really judgy, negative way. He’s all “John just… lost it,” or something, and his face looks so somber, like he actually believes John Lennon went insane and it's problematic, and it’s just like, “Ewwww, congratulations on being so emotionally unintelligent & misreading the hell out of that situation, Ringo,” and then it cuts to a clip of John Lennon talking about his Shea Sadium Playing Organ With His Elbows self, and he’s gorgeously self-celebratory, he says, “George couldn’t play for laughing,” and it’s kind of braggy, you can tell making George laugh made him feel so cool about himself.
John Lennon is my hero and all I want is for my hero to be happy but he’s dead and so is stuck being emotionally neutral eternally. I wish I had some iota of control over what John’s death-state was like so I could trap him inside that moment forever. Shea Stadium Playing Organ With His Elbows John is the hottest John ever because he’s also the happiest John ever. I’m so bored of finding brooding people sexy. Happiness is hot.