First of all, I want to let you know right off the bat that today I am not going to bother with putting the proper “accent aigu” on the second e in Beyonce, not one single time, not at all. I don't mean to disrespect by Beyonce by doing so, so calm down Beyonce! This is not about you. It's a personal choice I'm making entirely out of laziness.
When I used to run a restaurant I would have to print out daily menus and whenever I needed to put an accent aigu on sautee or brulee or whatever I would Google the word “Beyonce” and copy & paste that second e into the word rather than try and figure out the proper “alt + whatever combination of numbers” code to get the computer to do it on its own. But that particular level of attention to detail is the exact kind of thing my current life concept is focused on escaping. I’m pretty sure that if I leave that accent off the second e in Beyonce everyone will still be able to deduce which Beyonce I am talking about.
I would also like to take this moment to address the the glaringly obvious fact that I am engaging with Lemonade about 95% apolitically within the context of this particular piece of personal writing. This is not because I don’t care; I do care. I think Beyonce’s relationship with race politics in the United States of America is fucking crucial. It’s just not the kind of thing I tend to shine at writing about.
Every morning I wake up weirdly early feeling hyper-motivated to tweet some jerk thing about how bored I am of talking about Lemonade but then end up tweeting some “I'm obviously really hype on Lemonade” thing about Lemonade fifteen seconds later. I guess I’m just bored of listening to other people talk about Lemonade like it’s the grandest feminist statement that's ever been made. Lemonade is a feminist statement; I will grant it that. But it is also a highly commercial venture that I’ve no doubt has been carefully engineered to make weird and scrappy women like myself and my weird pals feel like Beyonce is one of us. Sorry to be a wet blanket but she's not.
I do not relate to Beyonce the beautiful famous baller on any level. We have extremely different coping mechanisms when it comes to life giving us lemons. Life gives me lemons all the time, and I do not get to lean on “being the star of my own visual album about how sexy and powerful I am and then having the entire world worship me like I am literally their queen” as a means of getting through it. Lemonade is brilliant and beautiful but I am not finding it useful to fully give myself over to the overly-simplistic narrative of “garbagey piece of shit husband wrongs legendarily badass wife and she avenges her own honour, and mine somehow too, by making a screamy & sort of raw record about it.” It’s shitty for Beyonce that Jay-Z cheated on her but I’m unwilling to demonise Jay-Z for his behaviour. I’ve done a lot of fucked up things to a lot of men, and a lot of men have done fucked up things to me too. I don’t blame myself and I don’t blame the men and I certainly don’t blame Sean Carter. Relationships are impossible and everyone goes insane when they’re in one. I refuse to use Lemonade as ammunition against every man who has ever hurt me.
But I’m saying this right now. I’m drunk on a disgusting mix of crap Pinot Noir and crap Primitivo at 21:26 on a Wednesday. It’s raining out, and I’m sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, and my face feels really warm, and I’m dehydrated. I’ve got the sniffles. I’m a pretty pure version of myself. It’s the night.
I love Lemonade in the daytime, when I’m not drunk, when I’m not writing, when I’m not thinking very hard about anything at all. I like the sounds of it, the noises behind the words. The word lemon is like the word sunlight and the look of it, the sun. It’s a daytime record. It makes me think about how much I love actual lemonade, the drink. North Americans don’t know this but in England “lemonade” is the generic name for a soda that tastes pretty much like Sprite. Conceptually this is not dissimilar to, say, calling the Dave Clark Five the Beatles. Calling Meghan Trainor Beyonce. You do the math.
In England they don’t care too much about how brilliant and beautiful our lemonade is. Fresh to death-ly squeezed lemon juice and melted sugar and bubbly water over ice. The best lemonade I ever had is a tie between 1) the lemonade I used to get from a little stand at a convention centre when my parents would drag me to an annual home renovation exhibition they were kind of into when I was a kid and 2) the whiskey-and-lemonades I drank for one week of one summer when I was twenty-five, Jack Daniels mixed with Tropicana from a one-litre carton on my Palmerston Boulevard balcony a week before some dude I no longer care about fucked up our relationship in a way that is either worse or less-worse than the way that Jay-Z either did or didn’t fuck up his.
My favourite song on Lemonade is Hold Up because it’s the coolest and catchiest and has a DJ air-horn sound in the background. I always respond positively to that sound. Yeah I wish I was Beyonce in that frilly cornflower-colour dress smashing up car windows with my perfect tits out as much as the next guy but I’d probably feel exactly the same way about my own life if I didn’t. My favourite part of that song is when she says “I know that I kept it sexy; I know that I kept it fun.” That’s the only part of the entire record I for real relate to, that particular brand of explaining yourself to yourself. The process of figuring out that you actually fucked up nothing.
Nobody ever fucks up anything. Things just happen, and if they’re meant to stay good forever then they will. You can’t ruin a relationship. Relationships can only ruin themselves.
I like All Night; All Night I think is so beautiful. It sounds lazy and romantic to me. It's this half-assed brand of celebratory that I'm obsessed with. I like Sorry. I like Freedom. I like Formation. I like all the hits. I listen to these songs all day every day and they mean something to me because they mean so little to me. They are beyond me. I'm playing it too cool I think. Sometimes, in the daytime, they mean something.
Today at work I was playing Lemonade upstairs and in the kitchen the kitchen people were playing Lemonade downstairs so no matter where you were in the entire restaurant you had no choice but to be listening to Lemonade. I told my boss the entire tale of Jay-Z’s alleged affair beginning with the elevator incident and then I talked to one of my new co-workers, who is a stranger, about Beyonce in general. It was an excellent conversation, sort of funny, sort of deep sometimes; somewhere inside of it a moment passed and after it finished we weren't strangers anymore. Lemonade by Beyonce bound us together. It made me feel like I was a part of something.
On my walk to work I listen to Lemonade in the lemony morning feeling hyper and serene. I listen to Beyonce make reductive lump statements about heartbreak and I do and don't envy how clear-cut it seems to seem. I walk past the house that looks like a Mark Rothko colour-wash in penny-plain old-pink and listen to Formation, attempting to tilt the balance of my emotional self more toward the hyperactive end of the spectrum. I sing my inside joke with myself “My daddy Lethbridge Alberta; my mama French-Morocco” inside my head and wonder how it’s possible that I of all people gets to be the one who’s happy. I imagine myself eating a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuit and accidentally rip my headphones out of my ear while digging around for a lighter inside my bag. The bud of the ear-bud stays in my ear but the wire and inner mechanics of the headphone fall out. I wonder what it would feel like for Beyonce if she had to exist inside my life for one day. I wonder if she'd still feel like the baddest woman in the game.
I don’t feel like I’m the baddest woman in the game but I definitely feel like I’m the baddest woman in some games. I’m for sure the baddest woman standing on the street I’m standing on. Easily the baddest woman sitting cross-legged and listening to Beyonce on my own bedroom floor.
LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Fried Rice at the Arcade
I'm going to do "Thing of the Month" instead, because I feel like it. April was a good month; some highlights include: going to the quasi-Big Star concert where Robyn Hitchcock sang "Downs" and Mike Mills sang "Jesus Christ" and I got to meet a guy whose very pretty songs I used to tape off the radio when I was 15; seeing Ex Hex for the third time and saying hi to Mary Timony a little bit; getting a massage for the first time in like three years and having a cool revelation involving sleeping pills and this beautiful performance of "Inside Out" by Spoon; the day I had a doctor's appointment in Santa Monica and afterward went to see Everybody Wants Some!! and then played skee-ball on the pier and listened to the first Clash record on the beach and got a veggie burger at this dumb beach bar I love; Lemonade.
One of my best nights was Saturday the ninth, which seems like a thousand years ago now, since it was before Prince died and Lemonade came out. Eleanor was in town and we got dinner at Button Mash, which is an arcade/bar/restaurant thing down the street from the disgusting house where I lived from summer 2011 to fall 2012. We sat at the bar and I got a double IPA and I think Eleanor got a rosé and we talked about writing books, which is one of my favorite things to talk about. Our bartender was a prince. I know from eavesdropping that his name is Dan. When it was time to order food, I asked Dan what I should get and he told me he liked the spam fried rice. Then I smacked my palm on the counter and said "Sold!" with much enthusiasm, except really I was like "Yeah cool thanks I'll have that." It was a perfect call on Dan's part. I thought spam was supposed to be mushy or otherwise horribly textured but really it was these nice fat chunks, all mixed up with the soy-saucy rice and veggies and cilantro and the sticky peanuts I dropped in there, leftover from earlier. I think maybe I had a pineapple beer with my dinner? I hope I did. I remember everything being perfect, so that's probably what happened.
After dinner I went to see the other great Dan of my life, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade and Divine Fits and Handsome Furs and his new band Operators, who were playing in the bar at the Bootleg. I think maybe he's my favorite person who makes music now. That's got lots to do with the music itself, which is heavy and gorgeous and has the crazy effect of hitting every raw nerve in a way that makes me so hyper - but it's also got to do with his face. His face puts worlds in my head or, more accurately, makes the worlds already in my head light up a little brighter so I can see everything more clearly. He's big-eyed and wiry and his bone structure reminds me of the main dude in my book, which I didn't entirely realize until I was watching him move around at the show that night. I like people who move around with an awareness of their own hotness but seem driven by some deep quiet force that keeps the hotness awareness from ever coming off all gross and embarrassing. Is that…mystique? I think that's what mystique is, at least to me.
One strange thing about writing a book of fiction is you spend so much time in a world populated by people you invented yourself and who are, for the time being, mostly known only by you. So it's wild when the material world gives you a person who reminds you of someone you made up. It changes the texture of your reality in a cool exciting way. It puts a new kind of electricity into everything.
After the Operators show I was so high on all of that, I impulse-bought a pair of tickets to see Wolf Parade in New York next month. I haven't been to New York in four years! While I'm there I aspire to drink a milkshake with a piece of cake in it:
P.S. The painting up top is by Aloïse Corbaz.