17.3.15

John and Paul with the Sun in Their Eyes



BY YOUR GIRLS LIZ & LJ


YO Remember back to a million years ago when there was no Instagram and barely even iPhones and Liz and I wrote a nogoodforme column called Beatles Photo of the Week? Most of nogoodforme.com was deleted off the Internet by the same evil ghost who used to delete our posts off the blogging platform in the middle of our writing them, so I can't link to it or anything, but it definitely happened. Basically, it involved Liz and I posting a photo of the Beatles to the blog once a week and then writing cute and/or incisive shit about it. We've decided to bring Beatles Photo of the Week back from the dead and give it to SFW, only now it's going to be more like Beatles Photo of the Every Three Weeks to a Month, since that's just how we roll in 2015. 

LIZ: I love how annoyed they look. And I've never thought of the Beatles as brother-like but in this picture I want John and Paul to be brothers, existing in a parallel universe where it's whatever year it is (1965?) and they're unfamous and the Beatles don't exist.

John's cooler because he's older. He's so much better at wearing that jacket! The rust hints at the red of his hair really nicely, and it was smart to leave the buttons unbuttoned. Paul hasn't learned how to wear his jacket yet but he kind of makes up for it with his bratty mouth, and the baseball glove + watch situation happening on his right hand. The glove was lying around somewhere and he picked it up and boredly put it on and then just kept it. No baseball was actually played that day.

I think what's happening in my John-and-Paul-are-unfamous-brothers alternate reality is it's a Saturday afternoon in late September and tonight they've both got dates. They're going to take their dates out together, like guys probably did all the time in 1965. What's New Pussycat? came out that year, so maybe they're going to see What's New Pussycat?, and then to some smoky red-leathery lounge-type place where the girls can drink pink squirrels or grasshoppers or sidecars or cuba libres. John and Paul will drink scotch, since I recently learned that scotch was the drink of choice for the 1965 Beatles. After drinks they'll take their dates home and have some post-date makeout sesh and then head back out again, to a diner, like in Diner. I basically always want all guys everywhere to comport themselves in a Diner-esque manner on some level - not so much in the being-dumb-and-crude-about-girls sort of way, but in a way that's about eating french fries and drinking Cokes and blowing smoke rings and joke-fighting with your friends about stupid bullshit till five in the morning.

At first I thought John would fill the Bobby/Boogie/Mickey Rourke role in Diner land, on account of his cool charming I-don't-give-a-fuck vibes. But actually he's probably more of an un-clownish Fenwick, the off-the-rails weirdo-genius who makes big trouble about Jesus. And there's really no place for Paul in the Diner universe, but for the purposes of this story I'll let him be Bobby. Paul can be the one to pick up the sugar shaker and pour the sugar straight down his throat, and then walk away looking very proud of himself, and end up with the chill and elegant girl who's always riding horses.

LJ: Even though they're not really brothers, they are, on some level, brothers. Bros, if you will. One of my great wishes is that the Beatles would have had access to contemporary slang in the middle of their being Beatles. I feel like John Lennon could have made some really on-point "bromance" jokes about the Beatles' legendary bromance. Some other words from the 2000s I wish I could hear the Beatles say include "aight" ("Meditation is aight, but it's just not for me," shrugs Ringo), "hella," "legit," "stoked," "that's just how we roll," "whatever" and any or all of its permutations, such as "whatevs" or even "whatevsies." If I heard George Harrison say "Whatevsies," that's how I would know I was dead. 

John looks broey-er than usual in this picture; that is to say, barely broey at all, but still significantly broeyer than when he is, say, wearing a cape in the Something video and looks like he is about to throw a squirrel skeleton into a cauldron and then kick back with some absinthe and Chaucer. I think his broeyness stems from a tie between the memory of the Scotch he recently drank and his leg position. He's "manspreading," as it were. "Manspreading" is definitely a piece of contemporary slang that I could live without hearing the Beatles say. Same goes for "listicle." 

Paul McCartney is the opposite of manspreading. That's the official name of his leg position, "the opposite of manspreading." Use it as you see fit. He has this really "Awwww Mom" vibe about him, like "Mom" is asking him to do a chore and all he wants to do is toss around the ol' pigskin with his ol' pal Johnny. Just kidding, I know that baseballs aren't called pigskins. The word pigskin just flowed really naturally from the character of "Aww Mom"- Paul McCartney that I was inhabiting as I wrote that sentence. He is obsessed with calling everything ol'. The other day, ol' Liz (I'm into it now) wrote this really genius tweet about how  cute it is that Bob Dylan fangirls used to call him "Bobby" but the only people who ever called John Lennon "Johnny" were Ringo and George. But why does Paul not call John Johnny, do you think? Was it a respect thing, or is it just too familiar? Or maybe it's simpler than that, and he just doesn't think the name "Johnny" suits John, which is fair enough: I see him as more of a Jack, myself. Why John didn't go by the infinitely more rock-and-roll-sounding than square-ass John Jack is one of the great mysteries of the Beatles, in my opinion. What a wasted opportunity for old Jack Lennon. 

PS: Just wanted to shout out the "What about the Beatles?" caption in the lower lefthand corner of this photo. Such a good question! What about the Beatles? What about the Beatles

25.2.15

The Top 5 Hottest George Harrisons Ever



BY LAURA JANE & LIZ

LJ: Today is George Harrison’s birthday, and it’s a heavy George Harrison’s birthday for me, since lately I’ve been feeling closer to George Harrison than ever. In the year that has passed since last George Harrison’s birthday, I have started writing a Beatles-themed novel, which I was self-deprecatingly referring to as a work of “literary fanfiction” until about a day ago, when I decided Fuck it— it’s rock and roll fiction, and nothing but. I have cast George Harrison as my novel’s romantic lead, which was a very astute call on my end, as writing shit down about “cute, cool, weird and sometimes assholey things I can imagine George Harrison doing while participating in an emotionally complex on-again/off-again relationship” always sounds like the most appealing thing I could possibly be doing. And so begins the story of how I managed to finally finish a novel, which is a pretty boring story. The novel itself, however, is a fucking romp. “An undeniable romp!” That’s the pull-quote, for the front cover— hopefully it’ll be from Paul McCartney. Hopefully he’ll naturally think up those perfect words on his own. If anyone could do it, it for sure would be our Paul.

I used to have a joke where I’d blog or Tweet or whatever about wishing I had a t-shirt with the words I’D RATHER BE HAVING SEX WITH GEORGE HARRISON written across the front, which isn’t true because wow what a weird way to sexualize myself wearing that t-shirt would be, but is true in that, yeah, I’d rather be having sex with George Harrison. I just would! He’s the hottest dude! Facially, he's about as hot as hot gets, hot veering into beautiful and then back into hot and then beautiful hot beautiful hot beautiful hot beautiful like one of those things a business guy has on his desk where the one silver ball smacks against the other silver ball eternally, I guess I could have said a pendulum; he experiments with his hair a lot but it always works out perfectly so it’s literally impossible to choose one as being my favourite George hair era, dresses like a fucking insane person but always looks like he’s wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, even in the early-seventies when he’d wear, like, overalls with an Om sign embroidered onto the chest pocket, even circa Sgt. Pepper when they made him wear the orange silk tri-cornered hat with a lime green feather (So easy! like a Red Sox cap on Ben Affleck…), has a cool India twist to him, was the guitar player of the Beatles, wrote a kicky song about dessert, and so on and so forth. I changed tenses over the course of that list but I think it works. It’s sobering. He died, guys.

George is the perfect Beatle to have a crush on. Having a crush on John checks out because he’s a genius and that's a score but you know in real life he’d be a huge sketch-o, consistent only in his inconsistency, and all your girlfriends would “You deserve better than this bullshit!” the hell out of the situation and you’d brazenly ignore them but eventually come to that realisation on your own. The whole shitshow would fuck you up so bad, though- it would be one of those situations where you have to sit down with your next boyfriend and solemnly tell him about it while probably tearing up a little.

Meanwhile, over in the “dating Paul”-i-verse, Paul would be his cute Jim Halperty nice guy self and you’d be like “This is amazing!” and then you’d be like “But… I need more” and then get bored after… four months? Six max. And Ringo is not really sexually attractive in my opinion, so that one's off the table.

But George! George is the perfect asshole/nice guy-hybrid: you know he is capable of being either, since he’s complex and a Pisces and has lived a thousand lives and died in 2001 and has probably been reincarnated as the sky by now. I have devoted a significant chunk of my life to blatantly objectifying this beautiful man constantly; in fact I consider my ability to do so one of my great strengths, as a writer. And, let’s face it, as a human.

So, in celebration of today being George Harrison’s seventy-second birthday, I’m just going to keep on objectifying him. I already got his name tattooed on my wrist and saw God once, which was totally in his honor, so let’s just take it easy this year and get Liz on board for writing down some weird jokes about what a babe he was.

5. SMOKING 1964 GEORGE WITH DELICATE BONE STRUCTURE (These George Harrisons are in no particular order. The reality of the situation is that all George Harrisons are equally hot.)


LJ: Today I listened to a Vampire Weekend song for the first time; his hair here sort of reminds me of that experience. I really like his cigarette. I’m not sure if George actually died from cigarette-related cancer or if that’s just propaganda I made up to motivate myself to quit smoking, but either way, people trying to quit smoking should probably never look at this picture. We should put it behind one of those blurry Buzzfeed “NSFW” filters.
        Too late! You saw it. Deal with it. His chin looks really pointy and long. Good “skinny face in a selfie," George. I’m trying to think of one of those, like, meme-style jokes to make about his expression in this picture. You know what I mean? It would be, like, “When you run into your ex at the gym and he’s lifting an impressive amount of weight” or "When bae... does something" or “When you figure out your crush has a Samsung Galaxy.” Actually, this is exactly what I’d look like if I figured out my crush had a Samsung Galaxy. But with a less-elfin “hair covering my ear” effect going on.

Did you know that George Harrison was sick when the Beatles first came to America? Like, physically ill. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. He was fluish on the plane, and was probably kind of denying his sickness to himself, all “Oh Christ, George— you can’t be sick on Ed Sullivan; hey Paul, you got any Oil of Oregano?” except, British people don’t say “sick” like that. That’s a North American thing, which I didn’t realize until I moved to England. They say “poorly,” in this weird way I’m afraid I can’t make any linguistic sense of or even attempt to replicate.
        So yeah, poor George had to stay in bed and rest up while the other three Beatles romped around in Central Park, participating in a merely-eh Central Park-themed photoshoot. They probably did some other things too— met the Ronettes, maybe? So that’s what was up with George Harrison in February of 1964, and I really love that detail of the Beatles’ story: it’s something you’d never think to write in if you were making it up as a fiction. As a frequent haver of eye infections, there is nothing I relate to more than having cool moments in my life thrown off-kilter and/or straight-up disrupted by an unpleasant physical ailment. So, shout-outs to Beatlemania-era George for putting up with that shit. It really must have sucked for you.

4. GEORGE IN HIS FRANCE SHIRT



LIZ: Last Friday morning I went to a Vons on Laurel Canyon Boulevard to buy a banana, and behind me in line was an interesting-looking red-haired boy most likely in his mid-20s. He was a cross between Jessica Chastain and the scrawniest, most pasty-faced stoner metalhead boy in my high school or anyone's high school; his outfit was floral-patterned black shorts, Vans with socks, a gray cardigan over an unremarkable T-shirt. Stoner Jessica Chastain's grocery basket was full of so many healthy foods: plain yogurt, cage-free eggs, a box of spinach, a pint of blueberries, a little plastic carton of pineapple, all of it organic. I watched him unload his basket and kept waiting for the wild card, some sort of treat to offset the boring purity and righteousness of the rest of his foods. Like maybe a box of ice cream sandwiches, or strawberry shortcake ice cream pops, or Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. Or a gallon of Heavenly Hash, or a stupid pint of the Jimmy Fallon Ben & Jerry's, which is amazing. Or the sunshine-flavored variety of Hostess Cupcakes or, oh my god, AN INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED LEMON-FLAVORED KNOCK-OFF HOSTESS FRUIT PIE. Maybe even just a Twix or a Milky Way or - more appropriately - a Milky Way Dark.

My point is that Stoner Jessica Chastain's fave Beatle is definitely George, and that George would have pulled that wild card and gotten himself a treat. It all comes back to "Savoy Truffle," the previously referenced kicky song about dessert, and George's cool adorable passion for sweets. In this pic he looks like he's doing yoga but really he's just sitting by a pool, wearing a necklace and his cute France shirt, and maybe he's going to go for a swim and then have a nice ice cream. I want to take France George out to one of these prestige ice cream shoppes we've got here in L.A., and buy him a big cone of Salty White Chocolate Honey, or Cinnamon Cardamom Coffee, or Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, or Avocado Banana. I want to open an ice cream shoppe with France George Harrison and limit the menu to flavors mentioned in "Savoy Truffle." My favorite flavor would be Cool Cherry Cream.


23.2.15

The Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet: Everything We Ate For An Entire Week (Pt. 2: Thursday through Sunday)

 

WORDS BY LJ & LIZ, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN




Thursday, February 5th

LJ: I woke up in a foul mood- what a stupid week for a Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet! I am dealing with many work and life-related stresses that are making me into a very anxious person. I gave my current job my notice for the 1st of March and I am paranoid that I’m not going to find a new job in time. It has been over a week since I’ve had a day where I didn’t have to attend either work, a trial shift, or a job interview. I feel wiped out. Plus writing down every single thing I eat is calling attention to the fact that I do not have a kitchen. I want a new home. I am a Cancer and I need a nice shell to feel safe in. Right now my shell sucks and I am just a naked little crab body.

Like every morning, I woke up to my coffee and cereal, a new cereal: Tesco “crunchy oats with tropical fruits.” It is significantly more exciting and delicious than the strawberry garbage I was eating earlier this week, but still way worse than my favorite oat cluster-based cereal, which is raisin and red apple and comes from Sainsbury’s.


Mark and I decided to go to Nando’s before I went to work because I was depressed and Nando’s always cheers me up. We are huge Nando’s aficionados and whenever I go longer than two weeks without it I start craving it obsessively. We like to check out all the different Nando’s locayshes this fair city has to offer but the King’s Cross Nando’s is definitely our home Nando’s. Once I read in a tabloid that Sam Smith was spotted at the King’s Cross Nando’s, so I am definitely very impressed with Sam Smith’s excellent taste in Nando’s.
        There was a bus strike, so we walked to King’s Cross. I was starving and Mark started chanting “NAN-DO’S NAN-DO’S NAN-DO’S” like a jock and usually I really like chanting things in that particular way but I was too hungry to be able to say the word Nando’s without resenting my life for still being the walking to Nando’s rather than eating Nando’s part of the day.

At Nando’s my hair looked really windswept and bad. My usual Nando’s order is: chicken thighs, hot, with two sides: coleslaw, and macho peas. But today I swapped out the macho peas for the spicy rice since I was too hungry to eat only vegetables. I would rather die than swap out the coleslaw for ANYTHING. I am a big coleslaw fan and Nando’s coleslaw is my perfect coleslaw, salty and mayonnaisey but in no way soggy. Coleslaw with no mayo is a waste of my time. I’d rather just eat something actually healthy.
        Mark also veered slightly from his regular order of chicken thighs with garlic bread and creamy mash; today he got chips instead of mash. Mark tends to switch up the spice level of his chicken thighs since he has this weird insight into the cooking techniques of all the different Nando’s chefs in our area. He goes extra-hot at the King’s Cross Nando’s because he thinks the kitchen have too delicate a hand when it comes to spicing. We also shared a thing of olives and I drank several glasses of fountain Diet Coke. I was in the mood for dessert but Nando’s desserts generally suck so I restrained myself. I had a Nando’s Americano.

I went to work and skipped out on staff meal because duh. I was still craving a sweet so I decided to duck out and buy myself the greatest sweet around: a brownie from the Wildflower Café. I ate a bite of it before service and then by the time service was over I was so hungry I just scarfed the bulk of it down and barely took the time to appreciate it, which is a drag because those brownies are NEXT LEVEL, man. That was my impersonation of Timothy Leary explaining the vibes of a Wildflower Café brownie. The first time I ever ate one I emailed several people telling them that a brownie had just changed my life.

I try a lot of different wines during work but I don’t count them as food because I spit them all out. But sometimes I swallow champagne because I could always use a little champagne pick me up. We all could.

I think I ate an apple when I got home but I am not a hundred percent sure.

LIZOh cool, this is the day I went to Starbucks three times, and also to Dunkin Donuts and Coffee Connection. First Starbucks was pre-gym, a grande iced coffee and a drizzle of half & half. For post-gym breakie I did fava beans + veggies (brussel sprouts, eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers, red onion, purple kale). I drank my Sweet Harvest Neil Young Pumpkin Magic tea or whatever it's called, with Soy Dream and honey.

In the early afternoon I drove out to Santa Monica because I wanted to look at the ocean and go to Dunkin Donuts. But first I went to a Starbucks on Wilshire to do work; I got a chai tea and a banana. And then, for reasons I can't remember, I left that Starbucks and went to the Starbucks on Montana and drank a tall iced coffee. Did more work, went back to Wilshire, got a big fat french vanilla coffee with cream and two sugars at Dunkin Donuts. It tasted like home and happiness.

Post-Dunks I walked down to the beach and gazed at the sea and strolled up and down the pier. That night the center of the ferris wheel was a big red neon heart, I'm assuming 'cause of Valentine's Day; the heart turned with the wheel and I tried to take a picture capturing its upside-down position so it would be the Strawberry Fields Whatever logo, but it came out bad. After that I got my car and drove over to Mar Vista to write at Coffee Connection for a little while. Coffee Connection is deeply uncool, which is my ideal: I hugely prefer my coffee to have absolutely zero to do with fashion. I ordered a cup of hot coffee and a black currant scone and the scone was incredibly dry and I adored it. I felt like an orphan eating a nice biscuit. 

And I forgot to write down what I had for dinner but I do know that at some point that night I ate this thing of Cookie Monster raspberries, and they were the sweetest raspberries in the world:


19.2.15

The Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet: Everything We Ate For An Entire Week (Pt. 1: Monday through Wednesday)



WORDS BY LJ & LIZ, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN

Monday, February 2nd 

LJ: I woke up at 9:30 AM and made coffee in the crappy inconvenient way living in my craphole apartment necessitates. Sorry about getting this thing off to such a negative start and also using the hideous word “craphole.” There is truly no other word.
        I have a French press. I awkwardly cleaned out the French press in my tiny bathroom sink. There is a communal kitchen on the ground floor of this house but it has been overrun by a gang of sassy (not that sassy) nineteen-year-old Australian girls who live to bitch to Mark and I about our landlord, who is a perfectly nice man. I don’t want to risk having to talk to one of them before I’ve had my coffee or ever really. So I made my coffee in the bedroom, using a cutting board resting precariously atop the lid of a garbage can as a “kitchen counter,” and then made myself a bowl of cereal. Right now my cereal is called Strawberry & Almond Crunch, from Marks & Spencer. I give it the rating “acceptable.” I had a little packet of fruit & nut mix that I bought at Starbucks yesterday morning to eat as a healthy snack at the end of work but then the kitchen made a much-more-exciting-than-a-bag-of-nuts pear & pecan crumble for staff meal so after service I had a second helping of that instead. I got my bang for my buck by dumping the fruit & nut mix into my bowl of cereal today.
        A recent development in the evolution of my cereal-eating practices is that I now eat cereal with almond milk instead of yogurt. I always thought I hated eating cereal with a liquid but I think I just hate milk. Milk that isn’t made out of almonds, I mean. Milk made out of almonds is such a cute idea. I’m surprised I didn’t invent it.

I took a multi-vitamin because I was reading back my Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet from last May and I took tons of vitamins last May and it made me feel competitive with my May self. After the gym I had another bowl of the same cereal I had for breakfast, only without the nuts. That was a one-time only deal. A once in a lifetime opportunity.

I drank half a grande coffee before a job interview. I threw it in the bin on Regent Street and thought about how many garbageperson’s days I have ruined by throwing out half-full cups of coffee and probably making the garbage bag so gross and annoying to deal with. But what else can we, as humans, really do?

I had a very indulgent night. I met all of my co-workers at a wine bar around the corner from my work. I am not going to say the name of the wine bar because it is so close to work and I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure. Just kidding— I only believe in mixing business with pleasure. But I don’t believe in mixing blogs with jobs.

We started out with a bottle of pink champagne which was obviously great because when in human history has pink champagne ever not been great? I truly doubt that that has happened. Next up I insisted on a bottle of ’98 Savennieres. I am writing a novel that is partially set in Savennieres so it is my responsibility to drink as much Savennieres as I can. It is important that I write about Savennieres with authority. This vintage was heavy and warm like the feeling of much-needed sleep washing over you. It made me think of watercolor and the words “color wash.” Also “flush” and “blush.” It tasted like water, not to say that it was watery or bad, but rather that it tasted like the quiet taste of water, amplified. My sommelier ordered a Beaujolais from Julienas that I mostly skipped so I could drink more Savennieres and a Burgundian Pinot Noir, “Esus,” that tasted like cherry chapstick. We finished our savoury courses with a round of baked Camemberts and I asked my sommelier what he thought would be the ideal pairing for the Camembert and he ordered a bottle of 1990 Saint-Julien in response, which I have to admit was a pretty baller move. But I still think it would have been better with a sweet wine. It’s an unpopular statement but I think that BORE-deaux are some of the dullest wines I regularly try. With dessert we had a sweet Jurancon that I mostly ignored since I was really taken by that Pinot Noir and wanted to spend more time hanging out with it. If that Pinot Noir were a boy, it would have been a very good kisser.


Food-wise we started out with a charcuterie plate that disappeared in about twenty-five seconds. We had a nice sweetish ratatouille with poached egg on top and beetroot carpaccio, girolles on toast, onglet and aioli, green salad, a chicken dish that maybe involved shallots, maybe mushrooms, tarragon, in a cream sauce, and then those psychotic Camemberts that stunk up the entire restaurant. To tell you the truth I was pretty drunk the whole night and mostly just picking at things here and there. I can’t remember much about what the food actually tasted like, only that it existed. For dessert we had chocolate mousse, which I am consistently indifferent about, and then a really lovely white chocolate entremets that looked like something a princess from the 1820s would eat.



My evening of excess did not stop there. Next up we went to The Cow for pints of Guinness. They gave us a few bags of Taytos, a quintessentially Irish brand of crisp, because it was Katie’s going away party and Katie is Irish. I had a couple of cheese and onion Taytos. They made no impression on me. The pub closed and I left the pub still holding my pint of Guinness. I was like “I’ll bring back the glass tomorrow!” and the staff were for some reason okay with that.

Katie and I went back to my boss’ flat, where we drank Gavi and, when we grew desperate, the dregs of the pint of Guinness. 

LIZ: For breakfast I had a nice open-faced egg sandwich: fried an egg and grilled a whole-grain bagel (both in the ol' cast iron skillet), draped the egg over the bagel halves and doused it all in Cholula and sea salt. Usually I make myself a big vegetable-y egg thing for breakfast, but that morning I had to go meet a band I'm working for, so I had to get the show on the road. The bagel was from Vons and it was chewy and sticky and lame but also great, as bagels are inherently good. Also I had a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sweet Harvest Pumpkin tea, because we here at Strawberry Fields Whatever are #pumpkinspicepositive. I drank my tea with lots of Soy Dream and sugar.  

Then I went to Tierra Mia to meet the band and they were such chill and funny and adorable people. They're called honeyhoney; here they are playing a pretty song in smoggy Los Angeles. I always feel weird saying the names of the bands I'm working with, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume that Ben and Suzanne probably won't be like, "That's really fucked-up that you told everyone we're awesome." At Tierra Mia I drank a "Mojito Mint Tea Lemonade," because I wanted to write about something less boring than my old standby of iced coffee in this paragraph. The lemonade was crisp and delightful but I'm fine with never drinking another cutesy lemonade drink again: like Don Draper and staged catfights over Sugarberry Ham, I don't go in for those kinds of shenanigans. 

On the way home from Tierra Mia I stopped at Ms. Donut and got a bucket of coffee for $1.40 and tried to soak up all the nice sunshiney sugary-doughy Ms. Donut air I could before going back home to work. While working I ate a banana and it was the worst banana, way too unripe and, like, crunchy. Terrible.

When I was done working I went for a gigantic walk, up to Sunset Boulevard and then up and down Sunset for a while. I stopped at House of Liquors and bought a pineapple soda and a pair of sunglasses, as you do. I didn't drink the soda. I still have not drunk the soda. Instead I went to Lassen's and spent eight hours trying to find the perfect health-food-y snack to enjoy on my walk back home. I ended up with a little treat that's like an Almond Joy, but an Almond Joy from the health-food store: maple syrup, cacao, actual coconut, etc. It tasted pretty much like an Almond Joy from the health-food store, wholesome and unfun. It was supercute though, and I do believe that cuteness counts:


On the way home I stopped into Cookbook and ended up buying a savoy cabbage, because it made me think of "Savoy Truffle" by the Beatles, and the thing LJ had recently written about picturing George Harrison writing all about nice desserts. I asked the guy at the counter, "What should I do with this anyway?" and he told me how he likes to saute his savoy cabbage in olive oil, with a bit of shaved nutmeg. "Do you have any plans for it?" he asked me. And I told him, "Not really - I just thought it was cute." Instead of taking Echo Park Ave. the rest of the way back to my house I walked through the park and stopped to photograph my savoy cabbage with the beautiful almost-full moon. It looked so good.

For dinner I made a big stir-fry with the George Harrison cabbage and red peppers and eggplant and red onion and mushrooms and cauliflower and carrots and tofu, in jalfrezi sauce. And then I stirred in a bunch of chili garlic sauce, because I'm a chili-garlic-sauce-head. Later in the night I made myself a cup of hot cocoa and finished writing this story. A cool moony Monday.

17.2.15

Nag Champa Caves Cure Stage Fright


WORDS BY ELIZABETH BARKER, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY

I did a reading on Valentine's night, at a bookstore called Stories. The reading was hosted by Amy Fusselman, who runs Ohio Edit and wrote The Pharmacist's Mate and 8 and the new book Savage Park which I'm reading right now and recommend to all. Saturday was the fifth reading I've ever done; the first happened about three years ago at my friend Sarah Tomlinson's birthday party at Covell. When Sarah invited me to do that reading I was psyched to be asked and told her yes right away, but in my head all I was saying was, "No, obviously not, there's no way in hell I'm getting up in some room and reading words I wrote to a bunch of strangers." Sarah had asked me a couple months in advance, and I kept up that nice warm state of denial to the point when she was introducing me at the reading. I remember standing there at Covell, listening to Sarah tell the crowd about me and thinking, "I don't know who this Elizabeth Barker she's talking about is, 'cause I'm certainly not going up there."

But then I did and it was...fine. Fantastic, even. I felt totally relaxed and only vaguely conscious of the part of my brain that was going "IT'S WEIRD THAT YOU'RE DOING OKAY WITH THIS." And last year I did three readings and they were all a good time, but none had the preternaturally chill vibes of my Covell experience. So before last Saturday I was trying to figure out why, and I kept coming back to the idea of caves. The ambience at Covell is cave-like; it's dark and cozy and candlelit and there's a feeling of everyone being huddled together - just a pack of lovely cavepeople, drinking their lovely wines.

A couple weeks ago I interviewed a cool songwriter who told me about going to write in Sweden in the middle of winter, when there's hardly any sunlight, and she talked about how good it was to spend all day writing in her cave. And that reminded me of how Jen May said that Strawberry Fields Whatever is our Pink Gemini Internet Cave, and also of the part in Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys where Viv Albertine says how she likes sweeping the floor because "there's something very healthy about keeping your own cave clean." Caves are where you're safe and you can make things and build your own little world, and it's impenetrable to the world outside. 


(That's Viv Albertine, crouched down between Paul Simonon and her boyfriend, Mick Jones)

I remember reading an interview with Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star about 20 years ago, and she talked about how she's painfully shy but when she's onstage she goes into another dimension, and that keeps her from feeling stage fright. Since I'm not sure I'm capable of crossing into another dimension on cue, I had this thought that if I could try to sink back into that Covell-cave feeling again, the stage fright wouldn't be so bad. Getting ready for my Valentine's reading, my thinking was that if I spent all day in a cave-dwelling kind of state, I could sustain that throughout the night; I could read at Stories without ever really leaving my cave. The spoiler alert is that it worked, so I figured that it might be of some kind of service to write about it. Because it's weird to me, how no other writers ever seem to talk about having stage fright at readings. I mean I suppose it's entirely possible that I'm the one fiction writer on the planet who is hyperintroverted and has anxiety about public speaking, but just in case - here's a little breakdown of my pre-reading cave-building experiences last Saturday:

I woke up a little after nine. I did that thing where you write as soon as you wake up, which is something I started at the beginning of the year and have found very helpful for my mood/overall wellbeing. (I've also slept so much better since I started writing first thing in the morning, which maybe has to do with stress?) Anyway, I wrote, and got up and drank a cup of the Yogi Tea I always drink when work is making me bonkers (the Stress Relief tea, which has kava and cinnamon and ginger and sarsaparilla). Then I went to my bank (not a cave-related activity), which is in Los Feliz. I parked far from the bank, and afterward just wandered around Los Feliz for a while: it was hot and beautiful out, and Vermont Avenue's good for wandering. I so love to watch the elegant people drinking champagne at Figaro in the morning sun.

I was also in the market for a new necklace to wear to the reading, and stopped into Leap and got myself a gold nameplate necklace that reads Capricorn in cursive. Then I went to 7-11 and bought a banana and a box of nag champa, ate the banana, walked over to the health food store on Hillhurst. At Lassen's I got a bottle of kombucha called Goodnight Rose, which I guess you're supposed to drink before you go to sleep. But I thought the bottle was so cute, and anyway "sleep-promoting" and "anxiety-reducing" are fairly similar, herbally speaking. I was afraid it would taste like perfume instead of like the rose petal tea I was hoping for, but really it tasted like a rosey soda, and I loved it. This is my kombucha with that gorgeous article on Joni Mitchell from the fashion issue of New York


By the time I got to my car it was early afternoon and I was wicked hungry and jonesing for a bagel from Noah's Bagels, so I drove over to Larchmont. The line at Salt & Straw was out the door and I wanted to go in and get a cone of Almond Brittle & Salted Ganache or whatever, but I went straight to Noah's and bought a Good Grains bagel, untoasted, so I could make a fried-egg-and-cream-cheese-on-bagel sandwich at home. Then I went home and made my perfect sandwich and ate it while watching last week's Mindy Project. Boy was I happy to see that Peter Prentice is still on! I hope Mindy continues talking to Peter on the phone forever, as he's my second-fave character (with Mindy and Danny tied for first place, and the midwives tied for a way-distant third). After that I rewatched the Courtney Love scenes from last week's Empire, including the part when Cookie makes Elle take off her fur coat and jewelry and makeup and extensions so that her pain can shine through when she's singing the bridge to "Take Me to the River."

23.1.15

Thing of the Week: A Bunch Of Things That Aren't LJ's Head Cold, Dancing to "Typical Girls" Under a Disco Ball While Ian Svenonius Skulks by in His Peacoat

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: A Tie Between A Bunch Of Things That Aren't My Head Cold


1. Last Sunday morning I woke up with the beginnings of an agonizing head cold that also might be a sinus infection; I can't really tell the difference between these kinds of things. Then I went to work for fifteen hours and nothing about it was great but then finally it was over! My co-workers bought themselves some wine to drink and they were all "Aren't you so sad that you're doing Sober January and can't drink wine with us?" and I was like "I have literally never been less sad about anything in my life." Then I called an Uber and had such a chill Uber experience. It was warmish and humid out and the driver had the windows down and was blasting "I Wish" by Skee-Lo, which, as it turns out, is the best song I've ever heard. "I love your music," I screeched, in my scratchy gulpy sick person accent, "This is amazing." Next he played "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," which was equally amazing but slightly less revelatory, since I already knew I loved "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems."

2. The next day I downloaded "I Wish" and "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" and then worked out to both of them. Skee-Lo is basically a genius to me. I really love the part when he's like "When it comes to playin' basketball, I'm always last to be picked and, in some cases, never picked at all"- I think that in some cases is so elegant! Skee-Lo is Evelyn Waugh. 

3. The one upside to my being deathly ill is that it has been perfectly timed to my becoming obsessed with binge-watching the entire series of The (US) Office. Guess how many episodes of The Office I've watched in the past four days? Forty-six. All of Season 2 and Season 3. I skipped Season 1 because I listened to Mindy Kaling's entire audiobook when I flew from London to Toronto in December and there's a part where she talks about how the general consensus is that The Office "came into its own" during its second season and I can't really be bothered with watching a season of a TV show that came out in like 2004 and hadn't come into its own yet. Anyway, The Office is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I am still reeling from the Season 3 finale, which is when Jim drives back to Scranton from New York City and Pam is in the conference room talking to the camera about whether or not Jim is going to get the job in corporate and then Jim walks in and asks her if she wants to get dinner and then Laura Jane erupts into violent sobs because Jim and Pam's love is the most beautiful love that has ever been. 

4. The part in "Savoy Truffle" when George sings "Coffee dessert- yes you know it's good news" and really just the whole joyful act of imagining cutie-cute George Harrison sitting around and writing a song about a bunch of different desserts. What a perfect boy. 

5. The picture above, which is of a man who is not a Beatle playing the piano at Abbey Road studios, in conjunction with the part in The Beatles by Bob Spitz where he describes Abbey Road studios as having a "library stillness," which is really inspiring to me. I am going to go to Abbey Road on Monday if I am no longer dying of a head infection. 

6. Guess how old I'm turning on June 24th? That's right- thirty. I'm turning thirty. Thirty years deep. I've recently been feeling pretty iffy about my future thirty-ness recently, but then I had a genius and fear-nullifying revelation in the middle of my having insomnia last night, which is that I am going to celebrate my thirtieth birthday by taking myself on a special LJ Turns Thirty adventure to the Loire Valley (AKA "the garden of France"), my favourite wine region in the WORLD, where I will stay at the wildly-Instagrammable Hotel de France and work on my nov and gorge myself on I literally don't even care what I eat because ALL I WANT is Chenin Blanc. As a rule I think it sounds really ugly when people say, like, "I want to drink all the Chenin Blanc," but in this case it's true. I want Anjou Rose and Savennieres in June, to be shared with nobody in the world except my best friend LJ. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Dancing to "Typical Girls" Under a Disco Ball While Ian Svenonius Skulks by in His Peacoat


I saw Chain & The Gang twice last week (including at a semi-secret show Friday at Punky Reggae Party at La Cita) and they were the best and wildest shows I've been in a long time. Like I can't even believe how great they sounded - both nights I never wanted them to stop playing, and I hardly ever feel that way about bands. At La Cita the stage is teeny-tiny and instead of staying up there with the band Ian Svenonius mostly danced around the crowd like a madman, or stood at the very edge of the stage like in that photo I took above. Lately I'm into the concept of human energy as a renewable resource, and Ian Svenonius is good at letting me know you can your scream guts out and dance your feet off all the time forever and the more you do it, the more energy you'll get to keep on doing it some more.

After Chain & The Gang the DJ played. And toward the end of the night "Typical Girls" by The Slits came on and I danced the hell out of it, thinking of Viv Albertine who is newly one of my heroes because of her amazing book, and also of Ari Up's fly dance moves in the "Typical Girls" video. We were under a disco ball, I did the pony, and at one point Ian Svenonius skulked by and did a little skulky dance next to Patti and then skulked away again, wearing a peacoat. I've been working so much lately, to the point where I feel like my head's going to fall off and roll away down the big hill I live on, and it's nice that Life was like "Okay, here, you get this moment of dancing to 'Typical Girls' in a Latin nightclub and of Ian Svenonius dancing by you in his peacoat, being a beautiful beast." It was a cool present.

So work continues to be bonkers and I had like zero "downtime" this week but I tried to take little breaks and give myself things that would make me feel stoked and inspired, like LJ's Notes from London writings and like Soft Focus, which is a talk show thing Ian Svenonius used to do for Vice. So far my fave is the Chan Marshall episode; it's got the warmest vibes and she's a goofball and wonderful and they love each other so much. I love her earrings and her story about playing CBGB for the first time, and how she makes Ian Svenonius smile a lot and show his crazy teeth. I like what he says about the power of the U.N.


21.1.15

Ex Hex's "Don't Wanna Lose" Video Is All Lips & Legs


BY LIZ

There's a new Ex Hex video out today and it's a remake of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, which is a movie I watched once in like 2007 and have no memory of and should probably revisit. The video's for "Don't Wanna Lose" and it's directed by Lara Gallagher who also did the "Hot and Cold" video that I love so much, plus that beautiful Mikal Cronin video starring Mary Timony as a sad-eyed maid in Portland. Big spoiler: Timony's not sad-eyed at all in "Don't Wanna Lose" - she's having the most fun! Just yesterday I had a moment of being super-thankful for Ex Hex for letting me know that my 40s might be the best fun yet (I turned 37 a few weeks ago, gotta think ahead), and then I realized that Ex Hex are like the opposite of that goddamn joyless This Is 40 movie. So waking up today to a video where they're roller-skating and doing choreographed dances and wearing punk makeup and generally being hot beautiful goofs was totally reassuring. Not that I needed to be reassured, but that's what Ex Hex does for you: takes the good vibes and intensifies them until your heart and head just burst into cool blue flames that burn forever. Here they are, being fashion heroes:



My fave part of "Don't Wanna Lose" is when they're at the photoshoot and Laura Harris whispers to Timony to get rid of her gum, and Timony makes her adorable "Oh no, my gum!" face. Mary Timony is a great actor; she really killed it in this little beautiful short film from 15 years ago. Also: perfect pink jeans, Laura Harris.