Things of the Year: The First 15 Seconds of "Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain)" by Lee Hazlewood; Being Charming Like Freddie Mercury; Nine Inch Nails & Terrace House

LJ'S THING OF THE YEAR: The First 15 Seconds of "Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain)" by Lee Hazlewood 

To be honest, I had a really bad 2018. December 31st of last year was the most disgusting & ominous day of my entire life, and as a result of its legendary shittiness my 2018 became a nonstop rollercoaster fireworks explosion of annoying life challenges constantly raining down on me only the rain was made of blood & shrapnel and the rollercoaster car was broken & the track broke into bits & the car derailed and I went flying into the air & flew away forever. Sorry to be dramatic. 

I was initially going to write my Thing of the Year about how I had a shit year but it helped me grow as a person or whatever but, you know, I don't really want to write about how my year sucked and here is my little self-help lesson about all the ways in which I grew as a person. Not because it isn't true- it, like, shockingly is- but it just sounds really boring to write about. 

This morning (December 30th, 2018) I was a doing a high intensity interval training workout while listening to Requiem For An Almost Lady by Lee Hazlewood & Liz texted asking if we were still going to post Thing of the Year tomorrow, and at the exact moment she texted, the first fifteen seconds of "Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain)" were playing, and Lee Hazlewood said-sang, Sometimes it's difficult to remember the good times, but I know there were some. There was your birthday, and Christmases, and rabbits named Friday, and once I start remembering the good times, it seems: there were only good times, and I felt really inspired by that. 

So here is a list of all the good times. 

1. On Valentine's Day I went to a job interview and I was in such a terrible mood before the job interview, but then I went to it and liked it, and got the job (though I didn't know it right yet, but, you know- sort of did), and walking home from the job interview I decided I was going to call a man and tell him all about how much I hated him, and then I called and he answered the phone and as it turned out I didn't hate him as much as I thought, and at the end of the conversation I asked, "Can we just go back to the way things were before?" and he said "Yes," and it felt like the end of a movie.

2. This night at the end of summer I was walking home from my friend Robin's house wearing a cut-up Augustus Pablo t-shirt and a giant gold pendant of a female lion that sort of looks like the drawing of baby Simba Rafiki draws on the wall of a cave, and the heat felt like a cave. It was one of those ravishing summer nights that they wrote the words Endless Summer to describe, when it is TRULY impossible to believe that it won't be summer forever.  

I did this thing I periodically do of checking YouTube to see if my favourite song "Black Fjord" by Kaleidoscope has come back on it- it used to be there, the whole song, and then it wasn't there for like seven years, and I couldn't find it anywhere on the entire Internet- and then, that night- it was! It was there! And I got to hear it again! And I just ran around the city drunk like I was twenty-four years old again, mouthing along to the lyrics and punching the air and I swang on a swingset like a maniac, and I was so, so happy, to get to have that song again. (And I still have it! It's still there!) 

3. I was so sad, like two weeks ago, I was so, so sad, and I went to work and I had to say to a bunch of people whose boss I am, "Listen up, I'm really sad. I'm sorry, I know I'm your boss and having a sad boss is sort of like being a little kid and seeing one of your parents cry for the first time, but this is the person I have to be tonight, because it's true." 

At the end of the night, the longest and most atrocious night and my eyes looked all fucked up from crying with giant hot-pink half-moons underneath, we were closing up the restaurant, and one of my servers put on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," which is a song we usually listen to before service, to rev ourselves up. But we hadn't listened to it before service that night: not because I was sad, but rather for a more boring reason: because my server who's most into it with me started late. 

There's one part of the song that hypes me up particularly; it comes at the very end, approx. two minutes and five seconds into it, where the singer goes "Hup, hup, whoa-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh," I like to sing along to it, and that night we were cleaning up like crazy because on top of everything we had to do a deep-clean for some reason and my server put the song on and said, "Laura needs to listen to her part!" and it was so sweet and wonderful, so easy but so thoughtful. I felt so cared for and un-alone in that moment, and of everything that happened to me all year this year, that is the moment I will remember deepest hardest and most forever. 

4. The way Willem Dafoe's jeans fit in The Florida Project, and also the way his t-shirts fit him

5. Being in love with Nicki Minaj throughout June and July, how exciting it felt when Queen came out a week earlier than we thought it would, walking into this fancy clothing store wearing a cute flouncy denim top with jeans listening to "Chun-Li" and feeling like I'd fully self-actualized, and also the time I was walking down a moving sidewalk at the airport drinking an iced coffee and listening to "I'm The Best" and feeling like I hadn't self-actualized at all, but I was into it

6. Sitting in front of a Greek Orthodox church in Brooklyn with a man and these three young women who I felt so much older than walked by and the man I was sitting next to said "Look at those cuties" and it was so funny and weird and I loved it

7. The time my ex-head chef surprised me with a chocolate & cardamom tarte in the middle of the afternoon and there was pistachio ice cream with lime in it on top and it was late spring and everything in the world felt like pistachio and lime, the colour of the leaves

8. This meal Robin & I ate at Bar Raval a few weeks ago: the boldest, most attractively-soggy & garlicky tomato bread, Spanish tinned mackerel in olive oil that was so creamy you could spread it onto bread and make decently successful "like buttah!" jokes about it, and a dish of broken-up morcilla with chickpeas that tasted like the smell of walking past some stranger's house in Spain and they're cooking the most delicious-smelling food inside and you'll never eat it or even know what it is and you wish so bad that you were from that family, but you're not, and if you were you'd probably hate it 

9. Leaving Madeleine's birthday party early tonight because I knew if I stayed any longer I'd get too drunk to walk home, I'd Uber, and all I wanted to do was walk home drunk listening to Lee Hazlewood, and it had been so long since I'd felt like that- like a song is pulling me toward myself, like a song means anything at all.

I feel so jealous of my twenty-four year old self all the time, how much music used to mean to me, how much the words the people sang used to mean to me, how much they meant about my life. And it's so nice to know that I can be my now-self, this serious work person, keener, business bitch, answerer of emails and rememberer of things, a good boss who is sometimes sad but still always fixes problems (other people's, and sometimes even my own), but, underneath it all, I'm still the same idiot I always was and always will be.

It makes me so happy to realize that, even if I was too dumb to notice it at the time, the happiest moments of my year were just me walking down the street, listening to a song. And it makes me even happier to find out that, as it turns into the last day of the year, I'm the happiest I could ever possibly be: just sitting here writing, alone. (But the glass of wine I'm drinking now is so much better than the garbage I used to drink, and if that's what it's all for, then that is FINE.)  

LIZ'S THING OF THE YEAR: Being Charming Like Freddie Mercury 

On Saturday, the day after my birthday, my sister and I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody and I loved it and now I can't really think past that, even though I know there was a whole year that happened before two days ago. All I listen to now is Queen; the magnificence of all other music is so insufficient it's almost profane. I just want to bask in the charm of Freddie Mercury, or Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, or both- their totally outlandish and over-the-top charm, more charm than anyone has a right to. Charm can get you what you want but there's something deeper or simpler happening in Bohemian Rhapsody: it's charm for charm's sake, because ultimately it's more fun and lovely to be charming. It's just a nicer way of getting around the world, compared to being uptight, aggro, joyless, bitter, and all those other unimaginative moods.

One of the things that struck me most about Bohemian Rhapsody was how sweet the Queen dudes were to each other, which I've chosen to accept as truth rather than something fabricated for cinematic purposes. I like the idea of sweetness being essential to Freddie Mercury's presence in the world, the natural outcome of living in such a splashy and flashy and effervescent way. I believe in that thing of PLEASURE MAKES YOU PLEASANT, and so I don't think it's entirely self-serving or frivolous to do what you can to make life feel good, especially when it feels like the world's getting more and more charmless all the time.

What is the point of living with anything less than a Freddie Mercury level of joie de vivre is a question I emailed myself in line at the airport yesterday. And part of the reason that people like Freddie Mercury exist is to show you what's possible, so in a way it's rude not to steal from them and put it all back into the world. Like the John Lurie painting says: Try to give back on what you got.

Anyway- here are some other favorite things from 2018:

-The Saturday my friends and I drove down to San Ysidro and walked across the border and spent the day in Mexico, drinking palomas and beer and eating octopus gorditas and tiger's milk ceviche and crickets and Hostess Cupcakes, and then walked back to America and drove back home

-When I met up with my brother and his fiancĂ© in Seattle and hung out there a few days and went on a giant solo walk across the city and sat on that bench outside Kurt Cobain's house. And then I took the train to Vancouver and ate pizza with Liina and bought some weird poetry zines from the '70s at the Paper Hound, which is now one of my top 3 fave bookstores of all time

-The time I talked to David Crosby for a half an hour at six in the morning while he was eating an apple in Copenhagen

-My red satin Adidas track pants which I bought as a treat to myself after working like 47 days in a row; they are so beautiful and never not make me feel like my most amazing self a la Carrie Bradshaw at the Women in the Arts luncheon. My other best purchases from 2018 include a shower radio, a CineFile Video membership, a jar of banana body butter & an insane wine glass:

-However the most life-changing thing I bought this year was the SPOLIA DECK, a tarot deck made by Jen May and Jessa Crispin. I also got Jessa's book The Creative Tarot and there's so much wisdom in it. It changed my head & I deeply recommend getting your head changed by it too

-Here is a playlist of some songs that meant a lot to me in 2018. 14 of the songs are by people I worked for this year; I love them all & love FIDLAR the most

-The part in Blaze where Alia Shawkat does TV aerobics while smoking a cigarette, the part in Sorry to Bother You where Tessa Thompson gives Lakeith Stanfield a piggyback ride, the part in Tully where Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis listen to all of She's So Unusual, and every single part of Won't You Be My Neighbor?

-The Beastie Boys book and the night I went to the Beastie Boys book event, which was so sweet and happy-making and full of love; Mike D and Ad-Rock are the most glorious goofs. Around that time I went through a phase of watching the "So What'cha Want" video every morning just to bask in the weird safety of knowing that "So What'cha Want" will never diminish in coolness to me: the part where MCA kind of backs up slowly so he can jump right into the frame for his first line is as exciting as when I was 14, if not more exciting. That "I love you more today than yesterday" song from the '60s is exactly how I feel about all three Beastie Boys.

-The night I went to see Keanu Reeves read books in a cemetery and took this amazing photograph of him and brought him a present from Jen May and a beautiful cycle of Jen May/Elizabeth Barker/Keanu Reeves cosmic connectedness was set in motion & shall continue for all eternity 

-The night I saw Mary Ruefle read at the Hammer and met her afterward and she did this poem with the line: You have all the colors of October in your hair, come and have a donut in my car

-The night my brother and sister and I went to see Lorde in Boston, + this thing that Lorde said to Tavi which I keep saved on my desktop:

-Seeing Call Me By Your Name for the first time and entering this new state of existence where I just constantly watch Call Me By Your Name, for the love of the delicate galumph Timothee Chalamet and his friendship bracelets and notebooks and his goofy moves, like how sometimes he spins in a circle for no reason. I'm excited for when Bohemian Rhapsody becomes available for home viewing and I can constantly watch that, and have Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in the background of my life at all times. I need to move soon and once I'm settled wherever I land I want to get a robe with major Bohemian Rhapsody vibes and spend a lot of time lazing about in said robe, drinking tea from an extravagant teapot or wine from my dumb wine glass, being all Nine of Cups-y and low-key splendid- charming for no big reason at all.

JEN'S THING OF THE YEAR: Nine Inch Nails, Terrace House, etc.

1. Nine Inch Nails. I am beyond the beyond obsessed with Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor and there is no end in sight for this. I was lucky to see them live this fall and it was incredible. God is dead and no one cares.

Also 1: Terrace House Opening New Doors: This Japanese reality show brings me an obscene amount of joy. I consider the panel of commentators to be my closest friends and I am absolutely addicted to it.

2. A very meaningful and surprising thank you note I received on the full strawberry moon in June.

3. Bloodroot: After desperately wanting to go for many years, I finally went to Bloodroot, a feminist vegetarian restaurant in Connecticut this Spring. It did not disappoint.

4. The exhibit of drawings/gifts by Shaker women at Hancock Shaker Village. Also the Eileen Myles poem Ann Lee.

5. Being blessed with the publication of a 600 page David Lynch biography

6. An October trip to Baltimore to see the John Waters Exhibit at BMA, spend as much time at Club Charles as possible, and to walk by then unfinished Divine Mural by chance.

7. Black tea and Black Sesame flavored soy milks I had in Tokyo in January

8. The socialist sliding scale breakfast soup at Commissary with lots of shichimi togarashi added on multiple New Paltz visits.

9. LA - I finally visited and I get it. The light David Lynch is obsessed with, kind of creepy vibes, Liz Barker, a super good mushroom pizza at Gjelina, Bob's Big Boy, a dog named Bowie, the balcony at the place we stayed.

10. Everything I ate from Superiority Burger this year. Special shout out to TFTs (Mondays after 6- go!!!).

11. Mandy the movie, Mandy the character, Mandy the character's hair, Nicolas Cage in general.

12. Oh my god, did you see Destination Wedding?

13. Meet My Friends The Friends: Tom Scharpling's Friends recap podcast about friendship, collaboration, podcasts, advertising, many other things. It is brilliant.

14. Seeing Slayer live on Long Island.

15. Purple radishes.

16. Seeing Keanu Reeves filming John Wick 3 in Times Square by chance after leaving a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu show.

17. The fog and tea and sheep of Ireland.


10 Essential Food and Drinks by LJ & Liz & Jen

(There's a Beastie Boys thing from '09 where instead of doing a normal interview, they all talked about what they eat for each meal of the day. This is our version of that, only with dream foods.)

1. The First Drink of the Day

LJ: I hate coffee. In my opinion, nothing about it is good. Sometimes people assume that because I’m into wine I must identify as some sort of coffee-gourmand but the only coffee I have time for is the lowest-brow coffee that exists. I like my coffee weak, black, iced, and full of sugar. I drink iced coffee as far into the winter as I can make it without my fingers falling off; if it’s too cold for iced coffee, my favourite kind of coffee is the kind they give you at a diner, that comes in a clear pot. That is nice coffee.
        I don’t like warm beverages in general, or soup even. I don’t like the feeling of warm liquid dribbling down my esophagus, I am offended by its invasive little journey through my body. But the grossest thing of all is coffee with milk in it, mixing milk and water— I just can’t. I can’t understand why people like mixing their bitter acid bean-water with dairy fat. I can’t.
        I drink one coffee a day, and I drink it in the morning, and I don’t enjoy it. I do it because I’m addicted to caffeine and I have to, and also I do it to get it over with. If I drink a coffee past noon, my life is over. I have a creepy panic attack and get really sweaty, and then I burn out. I am so excited to reach the point in my life where circumstances are chill enough for me to endure a couple weeks of caffeine withdrawal and never drink a coffee again, but that seems too far away for me to even dream about, so for my first drink of the day I will go with a nice big iced coffee, in a big clear cup, flavoured if possible— ideally vanilla, but hazelnut is fine too— the kind you get from a bodega in New York City, where they kindly put the straw in the hole for you, but then leave a little inch-and-a-half of paper around the top of a straw. Sometimes they even put your coffee in a bag! A cute paper bag. That always blows my mind, as a Canadian, where we’re so hyper-conscious of waste— I’m like, “No no no! No bag, no bag! I don’t need the bag! For this coffee that I’m immediately going to start drinking in one second.” But then, I kind of want the bag, because it’s so cute. I like that the option is there for me. Anyway, then I would dump like seven Splendas in it. It's really hot outside. 

LIZ: A single-serving can of Dole's pineapple juice and one of those airplane bottles of champagne, on a flight to some city I'm in love with, like New York or Seattle. You pour the pineapple juice into the plastic cup of ice (in this case, CRUSHED), then you drink the iced pineapple juice and when it's all gone you pour the champagne into the cup. So it's like champagne with essence of pineapple, a little bit of pineapple flash. The plane is blessedly wi-fi-free as all airplanes should be, because airplanes are for reading novels and crying at movies you would ordinarily never even want to watch. On my dream flight I would read some sprawling trashy heartbreaking novel featuring a finely wired character I could picture to look like mid-'80s James Spader, or maybe play solitaire on my tray table: the most elegant thing a woman could ever do while drinking champagne on a solo flight. 

JEN: Matcha latte with cashew milk from Commissary in New Paltz, NY, in their handle-less ceramic mugs on a saucer but in my apartment.

2. Breakfast

LJ: The first thing is a soft-boiled egg, soft-to-medium, just a perfect stinky glistening little orb on the plate there. I would cut in half with the side of a fork, then leave it for a moment, to be admired.
        The second thing would be a wee pyramid of arugula salad, demurely dressed with lemon and olive oil. It could have some nice tomatoes in it, if tomatoes were in season: cherry tomatoes, cut in half. I am weird about tomatoes, but when they’re good, they’re good. But with very few seeds. If there are seeds, I have to take them away. I have to put them in a napkin and then throw the napkin away in another room. They have to be very far away from me.
        The third thing is the most complicated, and the least realistic component that I would ever, like, chilling in my fridge: sticky rice, the kind you get at dim sum, in a lotus leaf, with stuff in it. But no chicken! That’s my new thing, not being able to eat chicken. I’ve had a recent string of extremely disturbing run-ins with gross chicken, and now I just CAN’T. I can eat a boneless chicken breast, and potentially a high-quality chicken finger, and that’s where my relationship with chicken begins and ends. I can’t eat a nugget, I can’t eat a thigh, I can’t eat a wing.
       So, no chicken. This is my dream sticky rice fantasy, so it can have anything I want. Some mushrooms, enoki mushrooms— little cuties! Definitely some shrimp vibes, a little squid perhaps. No, dream bigger Laura- lobster. Can I put truffle oil in it too? You bet I can! And lots of scallion. There would be a little dish on the side, too, with extra chopped raw scallion for me to sprinkle on top.
        Then I’d put tons of salt and pepper all over the salad and egg, insane amounts of salt and pepper, which is how I roll when I’m alone but I’m too ashamed to share that part of myself with another person, and in my opinion breakfast should always be eaten alone. Breakfast-time is for realigning your brain and body and you can’t include another person in that process, even if you love them, you have to shoo them away during breakfast, into the other room, with the tomato seeds.
        I would mix the salad into the rice, and savour the egg. I would save my perfect bite for last, and it would be the yolk with a chunk of lobster.

LIZ: These banana-cinnamon pancakes I ate at Duke's Coffee Shop on Sunset Strip in March 2003, on my second-ever trip to L.A. I'd gotten flown to Orange County for a work thing and afterward I took the bus up to Hollywood and stayed at the Best Western near the Hollywood Bowl, and the next morning I insanely walked from there to the Strip. Duke's is dead now; it was right next to the Whisky a Go-Go, it was a "rock & roll coffee shop." I barely even remember the pancakes - at this point I've gotten them mixed up with every banana-cinnamon pancake I've ever made for myself, like a few years ago when I won a pot of weed butter in a Yankee swap, after stealing it from a famous musician guy who ended up with a sweater with a cat on it, and then went through a phase of making weed butter banana-cinnamon pancakes. All I really remember of my Duke's pancakes is the banana was so melty and gooey, and there was a ripped poster for River's Edge above my table. I believed the poster meant something about me and Los Angeles and fate and love, and I absolutely still believe that. 

(P.S. I want to give a shout-out to some of the other great pancakes of my life, including: the dulce de leche panqueques I ate with my brother and sister in Buenos Aires in February 2012, the Snickers pancakes at Snooze in Denver, whatever the hell those pancakes were that I ate at Pancake Pantry when Alissa and I went to Nashville in 2013, the White Russian pancakes from the Black Dog on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts <3) 

JEN: Miso soup with greens, seaweed, and mushrooms topped with a decent amount of shichimi togarashi and a tiny bit of tamari. Alternatively, a whole-wheat everything bagel toasted with tofu sun-dried cream cheese from Bergen Bagels. A life of balance.

3. Elevenses

LJ: Even on a perfect holiday-day when I’m like “Fuck it, I can eat whatever I want,” it sounds gross and lumpy to spoil my lunch-appetite by eating a snack too soon after my sticky rice breakfast, so I’m going to be a more realistically me-style decadent for my eleven AM snack and have a glass of champagne. I don’t want it to be too weird or old, I want it to be stylish and lithe, and the first sip of it tastes like opening up your eyes. It’s a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs, citric and mineral, a tad severe but fuck it that’s what I’m in the mood for, and it makes me want a couple of oysters, but I already made the stupid decision to not eat at this fake meal, so I don’t have any, but I’m sitting out on a balcony and there’s an ocean nearby, so I can smell the ocean and pretend I’m eating an oyster, and it’s a little bit cold out, and I’m alone still. Just me and my champagne. I write a wine_child about it.

LIZ: A pot of this cinnamon tea they used to sell at Super King but it's gone now. It was a black tea spiced with cinnamon and it was the exact flavor of "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young: slightly cinnamon-bear-y but earthier, more subtle. It'd be served in one of those nice utilitarian silver pots from the Chinese restaurant, which are always the best teapots in town. The tea would happen with a splash of cream and spoonful of white sugar, in a big clunky mug.

JEN: A slice of vaguely healthy but still delicious spelt banana bread with dark chocolate chunks and pecans and a lil peanut butter spread on it with a cup of genmaicha.