Thing of the Week: Draught Negronis, Beaches, Iceland

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Draught Negronis at Red Sauce

A new restaurant named Red Sauce opened up in my neighbourhood, and I am in love with it. I am going to marry it, and change my name to Laura Jane Red Sauce. I have eaten at Red Sauce three times in the past three weeks, and I feel like at this point I'll probably have a nervous breakdown if I ever go a week without eating there again. It's so chill and easy and cutesy and skeezy. It reminds me of a place where characters in one of Liz Barker's stories would go. 

The first time I went to Red Sauce was with Carly on the night of a blizzard- we ate spicy broccoli rabe, these perfect sassy charred little peppers that you dip into a thin, buttery white sauce, and Clams Casino, which was a pretty special experience. I wonder how many times Dean Martin ate Clams Casino in his life. Probably once a week. We also had the garlic knots, which are psychotic, and I ate a half muffuletta sandwich. I didn't retain the experience of eating my half muffuletta because I was very drunk on Negronis at that point. Obviously the shining star of Red Sauce's existence is that they have NEGRONIS ON DRAUGHT, a concept so strikingly tailored to how I need life to be that I am genuinely surprised it's a real live beverage and not just a line from a blog post I'd write about what life would be like in PERFECT HEAVEN. And they truly are heavenly, and six dollars, and are problematically, or maybe non-problematically, boozy. Most importantly, they are served in a chilled ceramic cup. People really underestimate the extent to which a chilled vessel can elevate the hopefully-alcoholic beverage it contains. 

The second time I ate Red Sauce was with Laura F and Teri. We shared two orders of the garlic knots, which I regretted the next day when I felt like I was pregnant with a twenty-pound lump of garlicky bread baby. No disrespect to the garlic knots, though. Just don't eat two orders in addition to eating two desserts and like seventy appetizers and a Knuckle Sandwich, which is a breaded patty thing made out of braised pork trotters that you eat on a roll with (hey hey!) red sauce and more of the spicy rabe, which is such a badass vegetable. I wish I could show you pictures of all the delicious food I'm describing, but my old iPhone Dan Humphrey died of natural causes last Tuesday and I never backed up my iPhone so now they are all lost to time. RIP Dan Humphrey.

Last night I went out on a date to Red Sauce with myself. It was one of the best "dining alone in a restaurant" experiences I've ever had. The servers weren't up my butt and really seemed to respect the fact that I just wanted to chill out and read my book and not be sold to. The mini-Caesar was out of this world. It was aggressively garlicky and the croutons had a sort of melt-in-your-mouth consistency to them that I have never experienced in a crouton before, but now will feel the absence of in every subsequent crouton I eat. I had a non-drunk half-muffuletta and I was into it. I don't have much to say about it. It's just a really solid and no-bullshit piece of food. My one regret is that I only drank one Negroni. I want to exclusively drink them (AND WHITE WINE. DON'T WORRY, WHITE WINE! I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOU! LOVE YOU!!!) forever. I feel like my love for Campari really means something about me. One of my dreams in my life is to find out some person I hate doesn't like Campari, look them in the eye and say, "I don't respect that." 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Teens on Beaches, Sadness on Beaches, Wine on Beaches

i. Last weekend I found a copy of Jones Beach by Joseph Szabo for seven bucks and I bought 
it. Even if you don't think you know Joseph Szabo you probably do; he took the photo on the cover of the perfect album Green Mind by Dinosaur Jr., for instance, and he took this groovy picture that everyone always posts on Tumblr. I don't love Jones Beach and I wish it was Teenage instead, but whatever, it's fine, it's great. Above is my favorite Jones Beach photograph, mostly because the kids look like extras from my book. They're smoking Larks. They're going to eat supper at Red Sauce tonight.

ii. Like many people who exist in my immediate Internet universe, I'm pretty crazy about that new War on Drugs record. "War on Drugs makes me feel all the feelings Kurt Vile fails to make me feel" is something I keep thinking and feeling kind of bad about, although I'm sure Kurt Vile's life's all right without me. I just never can really find myself in a Kurt Vile song, but with War on Drugs it's like boom! There I am. There we are. To me Lost in the Dream sounds like being sad on a winter beach - but a perfect sad, the sort of sad where you're entirely sure no one else in the history of everything has experienced this particular tone or dimension of sadness before. It sounds like being stoked on your own sadness. Also I love how he's always going "Whoo!" It's the deepest whoo in all the world.

iii. I got my taxes done on Wednesday. My accountant's office is by the beach in Santa Monica, but it used to be in the Valley, in Encino. On Wednesday I was like, "You like it better here?" and David goes, "YES. Oh my god. I told myself, 'Dude, you're not allowed to complain anything ever from now on.' I smile all the time." It was so cute. David rocks. After our sesh I went down to the pier and got a plastic cup of wine at the fried-seafood place and gazed out upon the sea and thought how sad it is that no one ever pays writers gabillions of dollars for anything, and then I got over it and walked around listening to War on Drugs and to Ex Hex. When I went back to my car someone had parked psychotically close to the driver's side door, and I left them a note saying they should listen to Big Star. Then I went to Wild Flour and got a piece of pepperoni pizza for supper, and then I drove back to the east side of Los Angeles and impulse-stopped at Sweet Rose Creamery on the way. They had oro blanco ice cream and I didn't know what oro blanco meant but I liked the name so I got it; turns out oro blanco is "a cross between an acidless pomelo and a white grapefruit." The oro blanco was candied and the ice cream had nice soft hunks of ginger cookie hidden inside, and I had them pour some hot butterscotch sauce all over it cuz what the hell: tax day is the perfect day to eat like a six-year-old at her own birthday party. Pizza and ice cream for everyone.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Going to Iceland

I'm going to Iceland tomorrow.


Doing Exercise Videos In My Kitchen


I pushed my kitchen table up against the wall so that its longer edge no longer juts out and cuts into the largest fat rectangle of open empty space my little home has to offer. Now when you walk into the room the first thing you notice is a stack of books on the table instead of just the table. It’s: a book about the Beatles, a book about the Rolling Stones, Bart Simpsons’s Guide To Life, three books about astrology, Learning the Tarot, and a Spice Girls book called Spice. That stack of books has a lot of chutzpah.
        There is one chair slotted into each short edge of the table. One has an olive green cushion printed with a pattern of jumping white rabbits offset by little flowers and flying petals tied to the back of it. I never sit on that chair. There is a pile of paper on that chair.
        I sit on one of the two chairs tucked into the table’s longer edge, my back to my apartment’s front door. Right now I’m sitting like I’m stretching, my left foot tucked under my right thigh, my right leg splayed straight out across the chair next to me, my first four toes hooked under the edge of the table, my sad little gerbil of a pinky toe, my darling runt toe, hanging loose. I’m kind of pulsing it now that I’m thinking of it. You could put the whole of your body’s entire energy into that one tiny toe if you wanted to. Your body can do almost anything you want it to.


Thing of the Week: LJ's Boyfriend's Birthday, Meeting Kristin Hersh, Seeing Mary Timony

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: My Boyfriend's Birthday (& Snoopy)

My boyfriend's birthday was on Tuesday. He spent his birthday and the two days preceding it at his parents' house up north. At first I didn't mind terribly that he was away; I did exercise videos involving burpees in my kitchen with no fear of another human being seeing me do a burpee, and watched the terrible romantic comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever on Netflix. It was extremely bad, but I loved it anyway. I love every romantic comedy, even the one where Reese Witherspoon returns home to the deep South and falls for a straight-shootin' sparkly-toothed blond man, reflects upon her fast-paced big city life and crappy relationship with dead-inside Patrick Dempsey whose mother, Candice Bergen, is the mayor and wonders "What is it all for?"- I literally think that movie is better than, like, every other movie that isn't a rom-com.  

On Monday morning Celeste and Jesse Forever ended and I went to work and came home from work and had nobody to talk about work to. I felt sad and alone and ate a sad little apple at my kitchen table and played Candy Crush on my phone until my self-discipline caved in upon itself and I spent money on Candy Crush. I bought myself a new set of lives and one of those chocolate truffles covered in multicolor sprinkles that eliminates an entire style of candy from the level. Soon after, I deleted Candy Crush, just as I always swore I would the moment I ever spent money on Candy Crush. It's crazy how short of an amount of time it takes for "absence makes the heart grow fonder" to kick in. 

After work on Tuesday I was so excited to see Mark on his birthday that I drank a margarita while closing up my restaurant. Well probably I just drank a margarita because margaritas are delicious and I love them, but used Mark's birthday as an obviously solid excuse to justify my disobedience. Then I went and met Mark at a bar by my house that has a picture of Bob Dylan's face graffitied on the building's facade. It's not really the best-case-scenario graffiti of Bob Dylan's face that I could imagine existing, but I try not to judge it too hard because really a shitty picture of Bob Dylan's face being painted onto the building you are drinking in is still preferable to no Bob Dylan's face being painted on the building at all. Which happens quite often.

At the bar I drank two bottles of Heineken. Mark and I were being very affectionate with each other, which is something I value a lot about our relationship. Mark and I make out in public, and we don't care that we make out in public. What's the big deal? I really like kissing my boyfriend- he's hot, and I'm in love with him. It's not 1875 or whatever. The Industrial Revolution is not going on outside our front doors. Why is this crazy world of ours so obsessed with their own obsession with loving gross surfbort Drunk in Love but simultaneously so prudishly offended by my boyfriend delicately kissing my forehead on public transit? That sentence is dedicated to the frumpy teen who sassed my boyfriend for kissing my forehead on public transit last November and probably loves Drunk In Love. (And while I'm here, please let it be known that I personally think Drunk in Love is silly and uncool. All my friends are so in love with Beyonce and it weirds me out; I always thought a really nice thing about being smart is how it prevents you from buying into mainstream culture. She's not actually our Queen.) 

I gave Mark this card and then nicknamed him "Kangaroo Man" for the rest of the night, because I think those little illustrations are probably kangaroos. We ran a whole lot of the way home from the bar because I'm really into fitness these days and it was cold. While he was at his parents', he found out from his mom what time he was born at (1 in the afternoon), so when we got back to my apartment we consulted my astrology book and discovered that his Rising Sign is Leo! Same as mine! Additionally, Mark is a Pisces with his his moon in Pisces. After reading about Leo Rising and learning that we're both very ostentatious and have nicely-shaped heads, I read him a bunch of information about being a Pisces. It all wrung very true, and we had a nice little mini-celebration of his Pisces-ness, and of Pisces-ness in general, which is definitely something worth celebrating. Pisceans are intricate like a crazy tapestry or sand underneath a microscope. They are complicated and don't care if you know they are complicated. My boyfriend is what people mean when they say "still waters run deep," the most selfless and giving human I've ever known, and really weirdly smart in an unexpected and unpredictable way. At the end of the night we were lying in bed being cutesy and in love and Mark asked me, "Since animals are nice things, do they get to have astrology too?" Awwwwwwwwwww! God I fucking love that guy. 

PS: I found that chill & gorgeous Snoopy-Pisces illo this morning after watching the preview for the new CGI Peanuts movie coming out next year, which is just like okay cool but Seriously?!? Can we maybe not make every single thing that ever happened into CGI? Like, could we maybe just keep Peanuts sacred? Peanuts?!?!? Just Peanuts, guys. That's all I ask. But anyway, after watching it I zoned into this weird head-world where I actually teared up a little bit because I am so endlessly charmed by how cute Snoopy is. And then I was like "What's Snoopy's Zodiac sign? Is Snoopy a Gemini?" I Googled it, but no dice. As it turns out, Snoopy is no Zodiac sign, at the same time as being all the Zodiac signs.

Sometimes he's a Capricorn, like Liz Barker: 

Sometimes he's a Scorpio, like Jen May:

 And sometimes he's a Cancer, like me!

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Meeting Kristin Hersh

This is actually Thing of Two Weeks Ago. On March 4th I flew home to Massachusetts so that I could see Throwing Muses (with special guest Tanya Donelly!) at the Sinclair in Cambridge. Tanya Donelly's always been one of my favorite songmakers, but my Throwing Muses obsession is mostly new. It didn't happen until last year; it came on fast and furious, and was intensified by my interviewing Kristin for Popdose. I read Rat Girl twice and the Purgatory/Paradise book twice and they each changed my life, a total of four times. For 2014 my new year's resolution was to stop jerking off, metaphysically speaking, and Kristin Hersh is absolutely my hero in that. In Kristin's hands I always know exactly what to take seriously and what not to take seriously, because hers is a world that's both magic and no-bullshit.

So yeah, the show. Tanya opened and played "Honeychain" and "Acrobat" and some Belly stuff ("Slow Dog"! "LOW RED MOON"), and toward the end of her set Bill from Buffalo Tom came out and sang a couple songs with her and it was gorgeous. And then the Muses happened and I don't want to write about it; all I can say is that resting my chin on an amp and drinking a borrowed beer and watching Kristin Hersh scream and play guitar is probably my natural habitat. Afterward I went up to Kristin to say hi - I was all, "Hiiiiiiiii...I interviewed you a while ago? It was Halloween? I live in L.A.? We talked about L.A.?", and then finally she remembered me and told me I wrote cool stuff, and then I died and asked her to sign my t-shirt like a 14-year-old. It was the best. I don't know how you get up in front of thousands of people and sing songs like you're ripping your own skin off, and then get off stage and just be totally nice and chill and lovely, but there you go. Kristin Hersh, guys.

Besides meeting Kristin, my fave part of the night was when Tanya came out during the Muses' set and they played a bunch of songs, including "Red Shoes" and also "Green." "Green" was entirely worth my flying across the country, all on its own: I would've flown around the world 10 zillion times just to have that. I took that picture up there of Kristin and Tanya playing "Green" and Tanya really singing the hell out of it, but the whole thing was definitely a dream.


Last night I saw Mary Timony's new band Ex Hex. They were so fun. Mary shreds. She's the best. And, you guys, they covered a Slant 6 song!!


Watching Mary Timony Eat All Different Foods in the Video for "Hot and Cold" by Ex Hex is Total Heaven


Mary Timony's new-ish band Ex Hex just premiered the video for their song "Hot and Cold" and it's everything I could ever want from a rock video: Mary Timony, cake, cookies, pizza, Ian Svenonius being handsome/boring, a jello mold that looks like a sea monster, a lion, pineapples, cherries, flowers. The basic premise is Mary's out on a date with Ian and it's not going so swell (he's the "cold" in this equation), but then the other Ex Hex babes show up and save Mary and suddenly it's a party. Here's a bunch of gorgeous screenshots; for additional heavy thoughts on loving Mary Timony you should read my book I Wanna Be Your Man, from our new little series of Beatles zines. There's cake in that too.

Here's Mary at the start of the video, with her rad orange nails and martini. What do you think's in the goblets? I want it to be Coke. I want Timony to be a weird little fourth-grader drinking soda from her parents' wine glasses and pretending to be grown-up and sophisticated. "Fourth-grade Mary Timony" is something to think about.

And here's Ian and his glorious hair and scowl. Right now I've got a crush on a guy with serious Ian Svenonius vibes; it's working out relatively well.

Aforementioned sea-monster-ish jello mold. I don't understand what it's made of, but I appreciate that there appear to be green pimento-stuffed olives suspended inside. That's so gross/inspired.

And the beautiful cakes. Candy on top of cake is one of the best looks.

What is she eating? Where'd she get that flower crown? I mostly don't believe in flower crowns, but I fully support Mary in her flower-crown-wearing here.

Mary's shy dancing. It's funny her posture's so bad cuz MARY TIMONY IS NO SLOUCH


I Want To Live In A Wine Cellar


I am moving to England in the summertime. In England, I am going to do a lot of things, and a very important one of them is: become a “chill sommelier.” A chill sommelier is basically the same as a regular sommelier, only the chill sommelier is not an asshole. For the past ten years, since the very day I first saw Sideways, my #1 goal in life has been to make sure I am the exact human opposite of Paul Giamatti's character, AKA the worst grossest human being ever to have fake-existed, whose gross name, it turns out, is "Miles." Of course his name is Miles. 

Unfortunately, now that I am becoming a sommelier, it is no longer possible for me to be "Miles"'s exact human opposite. We'll just have too much in common, wine-wise, though I don't think Miles was even a sommelier. I think he was just a (barf) "wine enthusiast." But I can still strive to be the least Miles-y sommelier there ever was. The least douchey dickbag sommelier with a chill fun-loving spirit this world has ever known. I'm even going to make business cards, or get somebody else to make me some, that literally say “LAURA JANE FAULDS: Chill Sommelier.” And then people who want a chill sommelier will know to hire me and not some uppity uptight old-timey sommelier who looks like the candelabra from Beauty and the BeastI mean can you even begin to imagine how many sommeliers there are out there who aren’t chill? Like, all the seventy year old man sommeliers in Paris who wear waistcoats? Or any French city? That’s where I come in. The sommeliers need me, to lighten up their rep. 

The other day, I bought my boyfriend some really shitty wine. Obviously I wasn’t intending for it to be shitty. It just was. I’m not a sommelier yet. We were watching the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad (ew- saying "penultimate" was so not chill sommelier of me. I bet douchey Milesy sommeliers say "penultimate" soooo much. Sorry about that) when Mark asked me, "Should I make myself a cup of coffee, or should I have another glass of wine?" I had another sip of the shitty wine to confirm whether or not it was worth drinking another glass of, and I said his shitty wine tasted like the shitty dregs of coffee you would find at the bottom of one of those clear brown-handled coffee pots, which has been sitting around for hours at a truckstop diner in the middle of, like, Kentucky, and there’s still smoking allowed in the diner because it’s, like, 1987, so it also tasted a bit like cigarette smoke. I guess my point was maybe that he shouldn't have coffee. Since I detected notes of coffee in the wine. There’s some romance in that!” I explained, earnestly. 

The moral of the story is that Mark had a cup of coffee and another glass of wine, and that the process leading up to his decision was a great example of my future chill sommelier style in its nascence. Imagine if you went to a restaurant and the descriptions of all the wines on the wine list were winding and verbose and heavy on the metaphor? And written in my insane narrative voice? You'd have to be either boring or an idiot to not be all the hell over that, so welcome to London wine culture circa 2017 starring Laura Jane Faulds as London’s great pioneer of the legendary "chill sommelier" movement.

I love white wine more than I love red wine. I want to get a tattoo that says WW>, which means "white wine over everything." I also want to open a white wine bar called WW> that only sells white wine and cute snacks such as beet salad or a clever little take on a peach cobbler. There have been two unforgettable moments in my life when taking my first sip of a glass of white wine did something insane and gorgeous to me, something that changed me forever, having felt so blissful and isolated inside of those tastes and those smells and even those chilled, physical glasses. I have always wished to devote my time on this planet to frivolity and ephemera. And so I have decided to center my professional life around chasing down more and more of those moments. I want to trap myself inside of those sips and I want to live in them forever. And I want to be drunk all the time. 

When I was a little kid I had an L-shaped desk that slotted into one corner of my bedroom. I liked to sit in the nook under the desk and peek out from behind my desk chair. I have always loved existing in nooks more than I've loved existing anywhere else, except maybe by the water. And wine cellars are the ultimate nooks: they are nooks that have wine in them! They are dark and dank and probably smell weird. They're like the grotto where Ariel keeps all her kooky treasures in The Little Mermaid (2 Disney refs in this guy; cool), except instead of dinglehoppers they have wine in them! 

Once I was lying in bed, and I was very stoned, and started reciting the Hare Krishna mantra to make myself fall asleep. I was high enough to feel connected to how powerful those words were. I thought about how many millions and billions of times those words had been recited been recited by human beings over the course of thousands and thousands of years. It occurred to me that perhaps every time those words were spoken, the actual physical words as blank, faceless objects, were imbued with extra power. And so to recite the Hare Krishna mantra in 2014 meant more than it did to recite the Hare Krishna mantra in 701 or 1865. And as I whispered those words over and over I started to feel like those words were not the words as I was saying them. They were every time they'd ever been spoken at once. I certainly didn't fall asleep right then. 

Wine makes me feel the same way. It is the ultimate nostalgia, the taste of the passage of time. There's a bottle of champagne that sank on a ship in 1907, they found it underwater, that today a person can buy. I know if I drank it I could taste the ocean. You can teach yourself to detect notes of lychee and oak and roses and currants but I know if I drank it I could taste terror and the ocean. I think if I worked hard enough, I could teach myself to taste a person's life. 


Nicole Kidman in 'The Paperboy' Makes Me Want to Wear Canary-Yellow & Fake Eyelashes at the Same Time, Forever


Basically I'll watch any movie with Matthew McConaughey in it, and one of the few McConaughemovies streaming on Netflix is The Paperboy, which I kind of hated but also loved a little. It's set in Florida in 1969 and it's directed by Lee Daniels; it's gruesome as hell and it gave me awful, insomnia-triggering nightmares on Sunday night. But then there are also some Paperboy moments that are so beautiful - mostly because of Nicole Kidman, whom I'd never thought to care about before. She plays a woman from Alabama named Charlotte Bless who gets her kicks writing love letters to prisoners, including a convicted murderer named Hillary Van Wetter, who's played by John Cusack and so hideously scary that I'm pretty sure my John Cusack feelings are now fucked for life.

After watching The Paperboy I read a bunch of reviews of it, and a lot of dude reviewers were whining about how there's so many shots of Zac Efron in his underwear. But I really hardly even noticed that; I was too busy loving Nicole Kidman. A lot of the reviews also make a deal about stuff like her blowjob-pantomime scene and the part where she pees on Zac Efron at the beach, but I'm more fascinated by the way Charlotte's got a fucked-up heart and lust for darkness but she's also the brightest thing. She's always in canary-yellow and hot-pink and crazy florals and dreamy blue, and all that swirly-girliness is a cool contrast to her infatuation with exceptionally bad men. She looks like Brigitte Bardot and a trashy Barbie doll, and she makes me wish the word "sexpot" weren't stupidly obsolete these days. But then at the same time there's this mystical/groovy quality to her: like, she talks about how people in love have telepathic powers and she ends a lot of sentences with the word "dig," used interrogatively, in her tough Alabama accent. I don't want to be her, but I could watch her talk and walk around for hours on end.

Mostly I wish I could take her character (along with Matthew McConaughey's and Zac Efron's and Macy Gray's), and put them in another movie with a storyline that's more indulgent of my excessively romantic temperament. That movie could keep a lot of actual moments from The Paperboy and use them to make something more uniformly dreamy, like the part where Charlotte and Jack dance in the rain:

It could also have a bunch of these other shots of Charlotte being amazing. I don't know, I just think tiger print + baby-pink lipstick is a pretty smart move.

And those sunglasses are so fly. And I love her headscarf. The beach scene has this really gorgeous shot of Zac Efron swimming really far out into the ocean, maybe some of the best movie-swimming I've ever seen, and then there's an equally gorgeous shot of some jellyfish floating up to him underwater (which then turns terrifying, and ends with the aforementioned Nicole-Kidman-peeing-on-Zac-Efron bit, which I'm just not that high on).


Hurray For John & Yoko! Cries Bob Dylan

Yesterday in the middle of walking home from running errands and listening to Love Minus Zero/ No Limit it occurred to me that Bob Dylan has penmanship, and that it inevitably must look like something. I swear I've never been so grateful for the Internet as I was last night, walking in the front door of my apartment and Googling "bob dylan penmanship" before I even took off my shoes. It's such a bummer to think about all the poor people from the 1980s who walked home listening to Love Minus Zero and wondering what Bob Dylan's penmanship looked like but then had to wait for Rolling Stone magazine to print an image of it or whatever.  

Bob Dylan writes cute, sassy little As. I feel like here you can definitely tell that he's a Gemini: 

And this is sweet:

But clearly the John & Yoko letter is the kicker here. Its coolness obviously goes way beyond the novelty of seeing what Bob Dylan's penmanship looks like. I think so much about the Bob Dylan lyric Name me someone who's not a parasite, and I'll go out and say a prayer for him- that sentence is literally one of the top five things I think about, ever. I like how Bob Dylan is always kind of bummed out about his own having to be an asshole. He wants not to be an asshole! But the cruddy old world makes it so darn tough. 

John and Yoko, however, are not parasites! So he's so sweet and gorgeous about them! "They help others to see pure light," he thinks. Me too, Bob Dylan! I think so too.