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.


There are no men with Evan Dando-y energy in my life right now, although there's a dude who works at the video store who sometimes wears his dirty-blonde hair in a half-up-half-down situation - the same exact boy-princess look as Evan in the "Into Your Arms" video. He's kind of my buddy and a couple weeks ago I walked into the store and told him, "I'm bored! Tell me what to watch." And then he pulled this DVD off the shelf and gave it to me and goes, "It's this made-for-TV movie from the '70s; it's kinda like Valley of the Dolls, only the protagonist is a dog." READER, I MARRIED HIM jk what really happened is I got that movie plus another movie he recommended cuz it's got Nicole Kidman as an '80s pop star and a really great breakfast montage, a montage about making breakfast.

The dog movie is called Mooch Goes to Hollywood. It's narrated by Zsa Zsa Gabor and follows the titular pup around Los Angeles as she tries to get her big break. On the way she meets Vincent Price, a bunch of actors from the '70s that mean nothing to me, and the guy who voiced Mr. Magoo in the Mr. Magoo cartoons. She also tries on some wigs, and gets a makeover. Five out of five stars.




iii. I'm kind of a silly person. My life is a little bit silly. I justify it to myself by arguing that silly is the opposite of uptight & to me uptight's a little godless: I think maybe we're supposed to actually enjoy our lives instead of spending a lot of time being mad or anxious about shit that ultimately matters like 0%. Call me crazy jk again I'm totally onto something here

Last month at a vintage shop/hair salon on Sunset I bought three Moroccan highball glasses, a bundle of palo santo, and a lavender-indigo gypsy skirt with pockets. While I was there the woman who runs the store introduced me to the concept of vanitas, which is "a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death," according to Wikipedia. Since then I've learned that my favorite form of vanitas is pronkstilleven, these 17th-century Dutch still-life paintings of fruit and skulls and lobsters and cakes. Pronk means "showing off" and the paintings are some kind of social commentary (the whole “futility of pleasure” thing), but to me they’re just beautiful. And in my extensive pronkstilleven research I found this book called Luxury: A Rich History by Peter McNeil & Giorgio Riello, and on the first page of the first chapter there's this sentence:


"Luxury has a function in society, be it to embellish oneself, to dream of another life, or simply to show that one can afford not just that which is strictly necessary, but also something extra."

And then in another part of the book they make a point about how luxury is “about the extra-ordinary, that which goes beyond the everyday, the affordable, and the mundane.”

I don't like the words afford and affordable; I want a definition of luxury that leaves out money and zooms in on embellish, dream, extra, extraordinary, beyond the mundane. I don't know what that word is. It might be my new life's mission to try to invent it.



iv. Here are some of my favorite lines for Evan Dando to sing despite not having written those lines: 

-It's irrelevant, I'm an elephant 

-All night long I was howling, I was your barking dog

-Hack the heads off little girls & put 'em on my wall

-Lighten up while you still can

-And where are the flowers for the girl?/She only knew she loved the world

The older I get, the more I delight in being someone who loves the world & most likely comes off like a total idiot to those who lack the emotional imagination to love the world with a similar degree of gumption, moxie, pluck. I looooove when boring aggro basics think I’m an idiot; it reaffirms my sense of self in a way that nothing else can. Maybe it's unevolved to define yourself by recognizing what you hate in others, or maybe it's just fucking punk rock.

Mostly I go back and forth between reminding myself of the part on Mad Men when Megan can't find any acting work and gets all depressed & drunk and Megan's mother says to Don: This is what happens when you have the artistic temperament but you are not an artist, and then the part in Black Swans when Eve Babitz says: "I figured I'd have to be an artist because, unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to be bored, since I was always much too elated to imagine despair." (I think you get to pick which one I remind you of; in the end it's irrelevant like elephants.) And right now I'm trying to make a list of entirely free-spirited & self-possessed women in movies/TV who are not fools or parodies or toxic assholes, and all I've got so far is: 

-Frances McDormand in Laurel Canyon 

-Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan

-Courtney Love in Basquiat whose character doesn't even have a real name but another dream I had before moving into my new apartment was to replicate the color scheme of her walking down the street to "Beast of Burden": bright pink and bright yellow, and the red of her red lips  


And it was recently the third-year anniversary of the night Justin Kirk and I were in line for the bathroom together at UCB and I told him how that morning I'd been listening to a song that was on Weeds and missing the hell out of Andy and Nancy Botwin and their whole tragic dynamic, and as I was talking to him I mimed a jogging motion with my arms and he imitated that motion back to me and said, "So you were exercising, is that what this means?" and I said "Yes!!! I was jogging!!!!!!" And then he offered me his hand and said "My name's Justin, what's yours?" and I said "Hi!!!!! My name's Liz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and we talked a bit more and then the bathroom was free and we parted ways and I burst into a cartoon cloud of hearts and butterflies. Anyway to celebrate our anniversary I started watching Weeds again & I kind of want to include Nancy Botwin on my Free Women list but I can't. I love Nancy very much, but ultimately I think it's cool that Andy Botwin left her screaming on the sidewalk. 

So yeah: that's not a very long list up there. Tell me more women to add to my list. And getting back to the thing about dudes being annoying about Evan Dando, I wanted to point out that men aren't the only problem in the world: women are weird too. One thing that gets me is how so many women seem to approach dating with this narrative of scarcity, like they're scrounging for scraps in some barren and treacherous wasteland. What a bad way to get by. Just be like Mick Jagger instead: always expect total magnificence.

v. Here are some of my favorite things I've acquired for my new apartment:

-a robe I bought from Rihanna, this one

-a neverending supply of cherry seltzer, Chock Full O'Nuts coffee, strawberry tea

-a grapefruit fork tho I keep forgetting to become a person who eats grapefruit

-a pinkish-gold bowl I keep filled with bananas, like the time Kanye tweeted “Keep fresh flowers in the crib,” only it’s bananas instead

-And I also keep fresh flowers, in my bedroom, next to the Lisa Frank tarot deck that Liina sent me


- a magnet of a man who asked me out to dinner in 2013; I bought it in a record store in Boston last Christmas

-Nag Champa incense cones in "Fresh Rose"

-a giant box of De La Rosa peanut mazapan which I never knew about till I moved to L.A. They sold them at the liquor store in my old neighborhood, and then the store burned down the day we found out Lana Del Rey bought a house a block away from ours

-the lemon squeezer I bought after waking up one morning with Mick Jagger singing I’m a cold Italian pizza/I could use a lemon squeezer stuck in my head

And a Queen coffee table book, and an issue of Details from 1990 with John Lurie on the cover, and a hunk of rose quartz with a little space to shove a votive candle in. There are some more things I want for my new place, like a print of that picture of Rihanna drinking Corona from a straw on the beach, and one of Ori Gersht’s exploding-flower photographsand a pepper mill thing so I can make a brie & honey & cracked pepper omelette like I ate one morning at Juniors CafĂ© in Portland, Oregon.

And I want a carafe, but every time I go to buy a carafe I can't pull the trigger - I think maybe I need to be gifted one, like how some people say you should be gifted a tarot deck. Or maybe I need to steal a carafe, like how once when I was 18 I stole a carafe from Denny's and filled it with gummy bears and set it on the windowsill in my dorm room and eventually the gummy bears all melded into one giant gummy-bear mass and I had to throw the carafe away. But at the end of the day I think maybe carafes need to be experienced spontaneously, at a strip-mall Thai place or like when LJ was here in January and we went to Figaro on a Tuesday afternoon and I ordered Coca-Cola and it came in a carafe. It's the same as how there are some songs I never allow myself to play on my own - I need to hear them out in the wild, in a bar or on the radio or someone's stereo at a party. My favorite song in the world is "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police but I'd never actually play myself that song. Some things just have to happen to you. It's good to stay open to the pleasure of surprise.

Also I’m just sick of buying things right now. For 16 years I lived in Echo Park, which keeps getting all mucked up with those boring stores that mostly just sell boring gifts you’d only ever buy someone if you barely knew anything about them. Now the only store close by is 7-Eleven & that's a-okay by me. I recently downloaded the 7-Eleven app which is a delight (every seventh Big Gulp is free!), and the other day I had this idea of doing a "life experiment" where I try to shop exclusively at 7-Eleven for a week or a month or a year or something. But I like vegetables a lot and also I'm not a total loon, so that went out the window real fast. But still: I remain passionate about 7-Eleven, especially my new local, which is close to Koreatown & thus sells lots of Korean candy & banana mochi, peach mochi, green tea Pocky, strawberry Kit-Kats. I have dreams of being brought on as some sort of 'vibes consultant' and expanding their inventory to include things like: flower bouquets, nag champa, baseball cards if they still exist, the Spolia deckDe La Rosa peanut mazapan. I'd bring the LeBron's Lightning Lemonade flavor of Bubblicious back from the dead and also those Peanuts-themed fruit pies from the '70sWhat a wonderful wonderland it would be. 

vi. I have a joke in my head that my L.A. memoir would be titled Costs a Lot to Live This Free but really I'm sort of a cheapskate. I like things that are a bunch of little treasures all jumbled up together in a way that's slightly chaotic but somehow still elegant, and none of the treasures is all that high in monetary value. I mostly want everything to remind me of the time Anthony Bourdain ate a cup of halo-halo from the drive-thru at the Jollibee exactly 0.6 miles from my apartment and called it oddly beautiful. I think "It makes no goddamn sense at all. I love it" is a nice way to feel most of the time. The dramatic pause between those two sentences is a perfect universe to live in.

1 comment: