29.4.16

Thing of the Week: Lemonade, Arcade Fried Rice

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEKLemonade by Beyonce



First of all, I want to let you know right off the bat that today I a
m 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 WEEKFried 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.

4.4.16

I Found My Dress


Me wearing my dress in my scrappy crappy Southeast London bedroom. 
Monday morning, 10:08 AM. 4 April/2016.

I am putting this entire piece of writing behind a jump-cut because it is predominantly about eating disordered behaviour & I understand that that might be difficult for some people to read. 

1.4.16

Thing of the Week: LJ's Nov, Ireland

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Writing My Nov



I haven’t written very much about my novel on this blog because I am not so naïve to believe that me talking about my own novel is anywhere near as interesting to anyone else as it is to me. But I have a policy when it comes to Thing of the Week that I have to be completely honest about what my Thing of the Week is and not just claim that something that isn't my Thing of the Week is my Thing of the Week because it sounds like it might be more appealing for other people to read. (Same goes for my Dream Today Vibe.)

     I left my job a week ago. Managing a restaurant took up so much of my time & energy that it's been ages since I've been able to write properly as much and the way I want to. This week, I am making up for lost time. I'm writing like how I used to write, when I woke up every morning with ideas in my mind and the drive to turn those ideas into sentences. My heart is beating fast again. I am hyper & alone & it is beautiful. 

I started writing my novel two years ago. I had the idea of it in my head for while before that, but it took me some time to admit to myself that it was an okay thing for me to write about. My nov is a fake memoir written from the perspective of the imaginary female drummer of the Beatles. It's a feminist reinterpretation of a very male story. I love the Beatles so much, but sometimes feel troubled that the thing I love most in the world is so aggressively dude-oriented, so I'm fixing that. The only thing that could make the Beatles better than they were would be more girl representation. In my opinion.
        (Sometimes when I tell the concept to people they feel really sorry for Ringo, but it’s okay, guys. Ringo is going to come into the story and get some representation for being the nice chill Ringo he is. You don’t have to worry about Ringo. He’s safe here.)
        I was nervous to start writing my novel because I felt lame for writing a novel that is basically fanfiction, but it’s chill fanfiction. It’s literary fanfiction. It’s a “historical novel.” I still feel embarrassed to tell people what my novel’s about, I’m afraid they’re going to be all, “Oh, Beatles girl, so obsessed with the Beatles, look at her Beatles tattoos, get another interest besides the Beatles,” but fuck it, I guess. I do love the Beatles best, and even if you don't care about the Beatles at all, you have to admit that it's a real romp of a novel-concept. 
        Sometimes I think to myself, “If I ever have a kid, there’s no way I’m going to love it as much as the main character in my novel,” and I think if there’s anything the past few days have taught me, it’s that I’m right. I don’t know a whole lot, but there are a few things I know for sure. One is that push-ups work, another is that listening to Hey Jude fixes almost everything, and the last is that I will definitely love my hypothetical child less than I love Marty McCartney. That’s her name, the drummer. She’s Paul’s little sister, because having my girl drummer be related to one of the other Beatles is the only way I could have it make logical sense that the Beatles would allow a girl into their band in 1961. I chose Paul to be the brother because he’s the only Beatle who would have been sweet and loyal enough to let his sister join his band, and also because the idea of having Paul McCartney be your older brother is really appealing to me. I love Paul McCartney so much more than I ever thought I could now that he’s become the person I love most in the world’s big brother. Marty has such a hard time of it, sometimes, and he’s always so nice to her. They’re the rhythm section together. Two steadfast McCartneys, holdin’ it down.
        I’ve written what I’ve written of my novel so far in chronological order, from 1944 up to 1967, which means that the beginning of it was really sloppy, because I didn’t know what the fuck I was writing about when I first started writing it. I didn’t really understand who Marty was yet. I started writing her as being this super-classy old lady, and also I was still in Canada, so I was trying to impersonate the way I thought English people talked in an extremely over-the-top way that was very embarrassing for me to edit. I swear I used the words “bollocks” and “rubbish” like five times per sentence. It was some pretty impressively bad writing.




I had a revelation about how to fix the beginning of my nov a couple months ago while walking home from work and listening to Say You’ll Be There by the Spice Girls on my headphones. I had a vision of the opening to the Say You’ll Be There video where it goes from Spice Girl to Spice Girl to Spice Girl and says “Victoria as… Midnight Miss Suki,” and etc, and gets you really hype on the idea of each individual Spice Girl as being her own self. I wanted the beginning of my novel to feel just like that, only with each of the Beatles plus Brian Epstein and George Martin instead of Mel B or Emma Bunton or whatever. It felt really exciting to go back in time and rewrite those parts as actual Marty and not just fake Canadian-English-accent Marty. It’s hard to write about the 1950s because I don’t actually give a fuck about what the 1950s were like, so I had the idea to keep those parts as sparse as possible, and distance them from having any real connection to actual place or time. I wanted them to be able to happen anywhere, any year. The only major cultural references I left in are Buddy Holly-related. Marty McCartney loves Buddy Holly the same way I love the Beatles. 
        After I solved that problem I fixed up the cooler, later chunk of my novel, which starts in 1963 and so far only goes up to 1967. I edited all like 80,000 words of that over the course of one extremely weird afternoon, which was yesterday. It was the first day I’ve had in about ten years where it took me until 5:30 PM to take a shower. 
        There are a bunch of parts of it that I get a kick out of and read all the time, like the part where Marty drinks Gevrey-Chambertin ("As light-bodied and acidic as your average Bob Dylan") with Bob Dylan, & the part when Marty takes acid and loses her shit at Mick Jagger on All You Need Is Love day. There’s also a really cool part where Marty gets an eye infection, because why not have there be an eye infection chapter in my Beatles-novel? There’s literally nothing in the world I’m better at writing about.
        But the nicest thing that happened to me on editing my entire novel day was that I got to read back some parts that I forgot I ever wrote. I got to have the very cool experience of reading the sentence, “But then they both ended up declining my invitation in the name of going home to their wives, which is pretty much the dictionary definition of what it means to have a situation blow up in your face,” and laughing at it. Poor Marty. I also got to have the equally cool but also somewhat tragic experience of reading back the part where Marty gets her heart broken. I cried at it. I don’t know if everybody in the world would cry at it, but maybe somebody would, and I guess I want them to. I sent out this big draft to a bunch of people the other day, and I’m excited to hear what people have to say about it, but mostly I just want them to love her. I understand that probably no one else will love her quite as much as I do, but it would mean the world to me if they might even love her a little bit.

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Ireland

I'm going to Ireland next year. Here are some of my Ireland inspirations:

















Also this paragraph from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore:

"The Irish countryside opened up before them, its pastoral patchwork and stone walls and its chimney aroma of turf fires like some other century, its small stands of trees, abutting fields populated with wildflowers and sheep dung and cut sod and cows with ear tags, beautiful as women. Perhaps fairy folk lived in the trees! Abby saw immediately that to live amid the magic feel of this place would be necessarily to believe in magic. To live here here would make you superstitious, warmhearted with secrets, unrealistic. If you were literal, or practical, you would have to move - or you would have to drink."

And and and this song, the most beautiful/dramatic & rudest & most novelistic love song in the world, which - combined with "Don't Change" by INXS and "Jump in the River" by Sinead O'Connor and "Termite Tree" by Helium and "Big Black Car" by Big Star  - is a very solid representation of what I want my book to feel like: 



11.3.16

Thing of the Week: The Life of Pablo by Kanye West, Brian Eno + Hair Responsibility

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEKThe Life of Pablo by Kanye West



The best thing a person in a dark place could ever hope for is the release of a new Kanye West album coinciding with their despair. I would easily choose knowing for sure that my life was going to feel terrible and ugly a bunch more times over the course of it yet have all those times correspond to new Kanye album release dates than never be sad again.
        The first week of March was one of the most hideous weeks of my life and I spent every available second of it listening to The Life of Pablo. It was a weird time. Almost all the darkness in my life stemmed from external factors; I was bummed because life was a bummer, one bummer event after the other. Struggling to find replacement tenants for the flat my ex-boyfriend and I were abandoning and then smashing the fuck out of my head on a brick archway in the middle of working a private dinner for corporate AOL, waking up the next morning with a minor concussion and having to be guilt-tripped about my lifestyle by the nurse at the hospital who diagnosed me with it. She really wanted it to be true about me that I hit my head in the middle of being on a coke-fueled bender but, unfortunately for her, I am a mere klutz. 
        My friend Matt King first sent me TLOP on Valentine’s Day. He emailed it to me as a zip file and I emailed him back "It's a Valentine's Day miracle!" I opened it up at work, sitting alone in my empty restaurant, and listened to Ultralight Beam. He’d tweeted earlier that TLOP was the Sandinista! of Kanye so based on that tweet my expectations were impossibly high. And then the first song on the album is Ultralight Beam; I don’t like Ultralight Beam. It's still my least-favourite song on the album that isn't, like, a skit. 
          Kanye West’s relationship to the Christian God is tied with the part of Kanye West’s personality that compels him to write sentences like “This good dick will put your ass to sleep” for being the aspect of Kanye West I relate to least. I’d be down to listen to a cool Kanye song about Christianity, but I just don’t think “This is a God dream” is as good of a sentence as I’m sure Kanye West does, or a good sentence at all. So I gave up on listening to The Life of Pablo that day.
        I started listening to The Life of Pablo again a couple weeks later, when a girl I know from home Instagrammed a selfie about listening to Waves, captioned with a sentence about how she’d listened to Waves a thousand times that day, and I thought that Waves was such a chill beautiful name for a song and I felt jealous of her relationship to Waves. I didn’t know what Waves was but I pictured the colour blue in my head and I wanted to listen to Waves a thousand times that day too.
        I listened to it in bed. I was sitting up with my laptop in my lap. My eyes were crusty and felt like little raisins in my head. I didn’t have a concussion yet. I was cold. I could hear my roommate faffing about in the next room and I hated the sound of it. I hate the sound of people opening up cabinets and boiling water and toasting things, all that regular around the house shit that I really need to train myself to be less soul-destroyingly annoyed by. That whole week was so stupid. We were always having flat viewings and my ex-boyfriend made so much of that type of noise. He was obsessed with touching all my shit and moving it from one place in the room to another. I wasn’t very helpful about finding new flatmates. I just wanted to sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor and listen to Waves a thousand times and think about what colour the waves in Waves would be, which is: dark bluish grey, like a bruise. He came into the room to make the bed and he started to tell me tips about how best to make a bed and I said “It’s okay, it’s fine, I’m never planning to make a bed once in my entire life,” which was pretty rude of me, I’ll admit. But I was in a Kanye headspace and I felt backed up by Kanye in my choices. Kanye wouldn’t want me to make a bed either. He’d want me to do me and get rich and in the future pay somebody else to do it. But that’s not really part of it; Kanye doesn’t get me either. (On this level, only Mick Jagger does. I’ve always had an aversion to making beds, a fundamental aspect of myself that I decided to fully go with and embrace in the middle of a brief affair with the Rolling Stones song Monkey Man I once had; “I’m a sack of broken eggs; I always have an unmade bed; don’t you?” he sings. It’s important to me that I always be a person who answers “Yes” to that question. I’m sorry. I just don’t care if my bed is made or not.)



The second song from TLOP I fell in love with was No More Parties In LA because it’s fast, it’s the hit. I always love the fast hit. I can't listen to it without imagining myself dancing to in it. (Here is my dancing to No More Parties in LA outfit the inside of my head made up for me: tiny black shift dress and a plaid flannel shirt, maybe tied around my waist in semi-homage to the scene from Clueless where Tai is alone at the club and keeps trying to repurpose her flannel in weirder and weirder ways so she feels less like shit about herself, my red low-top Vans and whatever my perfect LJ baseball cap ends up being for the summertime. I just bought myself a red LJF monogrammed baby blue one off Etsy but now I’m thinking I might just want a navy New York Yankees snapback? I'm classic.) I got home from work one night and my ex was at his new flat in Elephant & Castle and I decided to practice dancing to No More Parties in LA in my bedroom just to double-check that I’d be as good at it in real life as I was in my dream in my head and I was thrilled to discover that I’m even better! I’ve done a lot of squats and lunges since the last time I danced.
        I love the part of No More Parties in LA when in slides Kendrick. His voice sounds like granite. He has an interesting relationship with syllables, with rhythm I guess. He raps like when you listen to an exceptional bass player play bass and it seemingly has nothing to do with anything else that’s going on in the world of the singer or drummer or guitar player yet makes total sense regardless. He’s such a chill and gentle presence on that song. It’s both jarrring and exciting when it turns back into Kanye. His voice is so much rounder and louder and bigger and makes me think of furry zoo animals, mammals, big-eyed dogs and pandas and bears. What bears would sound like if they rapped. 
        He hates parties in LA, this guy, this Kanye. He's into realer shit, like parenting and sneaker design. I guess it’s Kim’s fault, I guess she’s the one who keeps dragging him to all the parties; I don’t get why she’s even into it at all. She doesn’t even drink.



I love Kim. I used to be a little bit sad that Kanye ended up with Kim because I’d wanted him to end up a weirder chick, I wanted him to have a Yoko. But maybe I had the whole thing backwards. Maybe Kanye is actually Kim’s Yoko! It’s a beautiful thought, I know.
        I love everything that Kim and Kanye have been doing lately. I love how they’re both aggressive Internet feminists now. I am very much pro-that Kanye & Kim development. Sometimes Kanye says things like “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex; why? I made that bitch famous,” and you think “No, there’s no way this guy’s a feminist,” but I think he is, and is just an idiot. That lyric's just a stupid joke, to Kanye West in Kanye’s own head. He gets off a little bit too hard on being provocative and the crassness of that lyric is part of it. (I wish Kanye would self-edit just the tiniest bit more. Obviously the crux of Kanye’s charm steps from his refusal to self-edit ever, but I wish he would channel, like, three extra percent of his creative energy into self-editing: he would still fully come across as a guy who never self-edits, but his art would be about 50% less sloppy, and infinitely more successful.)
        There are tons of gorgeously pro-woman moments on TLOP, and most of them relate to Kim: it’s so cool when he shouts out the fact that the E! entertainment network is bankrolling his entire family, and “Kimoji just shut down the app store” is an absolutely stunning sentence, almost humbly so, in the exact way that “This is a God dream” isn’t. And despite its being home to that gross Taylor Swift lyric that I don’t care about, Famous is definitely TLOP's most blatantly feminist moment, in that its excellence is entirely dependent on the three women who E!-style bankroll it. Kanye chips in to make it into a Kanye song and I think his Puerto Rican Day Parade references are really playful, really sweet, but the last minute and twenty-three seconds? Sister Nancy fades into Nina Simone and it's the most beautiful thing you've ever heard. Kanye raps about the sun's in his eyes and Kanye goes away and the mood slinks into something more sultry, Sister Nancy fades into Nina Simone and it sounds like a sunset. These are two women who mean something and stand for something: it sounds like sunshine, only sadder. A sunset.
         Last Sunday afternoon my ex-boyfriend called to tell me some bad news about our apartment and I started crying in the front of the hipster taxidermy shop on Essex Road. My tears turned into sludge and stained the front of my glasses and I didn’t have anything to wipe them off with so I let them stay cruddy. I didn’t have anything to do except fucking deal with my life so I did. I didn’t buy anything at Starbucks but monopolized a table anyway. I sat at that table and solved my entire life at that table. Then I got my eyebrows threaded. My eyebrows looked sick. I walked back to Newington Green listening to the last minute and twenty-three seconds of Famous by Kanye West over and over again and had no idea how good my life was about to get beginning tomorrow so I just zoned into the sunsettiness of the song and thought, “This is as good as my vibe could possibly get today” and rolled with it. I wished I could be the sun but I couldn’t, so I settled for the sunset. And I was grateful that I’d found a way to be sunny at all. 


LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Brian Eno & Hair Responsibility

Here are my five favorite things this week:

i. PAULINA & FRAN BY RACHEL B. GLASER. I read Paulina & Fran a couple weeks ago and the other night I started reading it again. I wanted to be back in a place of constantly reading really great sentences about hair, such as: "She looked like a doll whose factory-made hair was not meant to be brushed but had been brushed violently." I love how Paulina is always deep-conditioning her hair and judging her friends' hair and viewing her curls as superior to other hair textures. I have curly hair and mostly it annoys me. But reading Paulina & Fran made me want to take greater responsibility for my hair. The concept of "hair responsibility" just lit up in my head while I was eating a fried egg and cinnamon-raisin bagel and reading the paper on Sunday afternoon-- I saw it as a sign lettered like John & Yoko's "Hair Peace" sign. So the other day I went out and bought some hair mask for deep-conditioning, and I dug up my bottle of argan oil and various other curly-hair-specific products. I want my hair to self-actualize into its highest level of lustrous magnificence, instead of being left all dull and dry and frizzed out and twisted into a boring clump at the back of my head. Let us never twist ourselves into boring clumps in any way at all, I guess is what I'm saying. And if I'm going to wear my hair up, I want it to be as amazing as my #1 hair idol of the week, Vanessa Williams on Broad City:



ii. BRIAN ENO. Brian Eno's my favorite person right now. Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno: that's his real name. I still haven't made much progress in finding any non-stuffy music-dude writing that will educate me about early-'70s Brian Eno-- though I did learn that when he left Roxy Music, he danced down the street in celebration. I like that as a contrast to the story about Mick Jones getting fired from the Clash the week of the Notting Hill Carnival and then walking around the carnival crying. Both reactions are perfect. And I bet Brian Eno didn't stay in Roxy Music very much longer than he wanted to-- watching him play with them, he's so switched-on and in it. I love when boys are in love with their own bands, or even with the very idea of being a boy in a band. I talk to bands all the time for work, and one thing that always delights me is when guys tell me about learning to play guitar in fifth or sixth or seventh grade because they knew that girls would think it was cool. (Seriously half the guys in bands tell me that, including the ones who aren't even guitarists.) What I mean about Brian Eno is: for a long time I had this idea that he was a weird wizard dude who made inaccessible music and was really dour about it-- but he's not! Brian Eno's a firecracker. He wants all the light to shine on him, and it does. He got all the girls and looked better than anyone, despite having been balding forever. Another great role model in hair responsibility. 



iii. "DO THE STRAND" BY ROXY MUSIC. This week I listened to "Do the Strand" by Roxy Music three thousand times and watched this video two thousand times:


Brian Eno is a Christmas tree but only the tinsel. Wearing an extravagant coat with no shirt is a great move. I wish we got more closeups of him, but I also like having the spotlight on Bryan Ferry being a total fantastic creep. Also I like watching Brian Eno in the background, singing along even though he's not the singer. To me that's the most graceful expression of exuberance in rock & roll.

iv. "DJ" BY DAVID BOWIE. At the end of January there was a David Bowie dance party at the Echo. It took up both floors of the club and the bass player from the Smiths DJ'd and there were these screens on almost all the walls, showing different David Bowie videos. I liked it because you could wander around and look at the screens and feel like you were in some grand David Bowie museum. A great big David Bowie castle. For a while I disappeared from my friends and hung out on a vinyl couch and took pictures of David Bowie videos projected onto a wall by the Echoplex bar. It soothed me. I think there should be a place we can go every week or maybe every month and just sit around and watch David Bowie videos on the walls, and talk to people or not talk to people.
        Toward the end of the night my friends and I went upstairs and danced and sang some more. Everyone left but I wasn't ready to go. They'd just played "Under Pressure" and I was feeling "Under Pressure"-sentimental, so I stayed and leaned against a post and texted with this guy I know and listened to David Bowie and fell in love with this great-looking couple next to me (the boy had on a gray suit + saddle shoes, the girl wore a leopard-print minidress + red tights, they both danced up a storm). Some boy asked me to dance and I said yes and we danced a while. At one point the boy said, "How do you feel about being twirled around?", which was a nice question to be asked. I told him: "I feel pretty good about it," and then we did lots of twirling, like how you think grownups dance when you're five-years-old. It was fun. Everybody was living their best life at the David Bowie dance party.
       The point I'm trying to get to is that before that night, I'd never really cared about "DJ." But this week I listened to "DJ" all the time every day, when I wasn't listening to Roxy Music or Here Come the Warm Jets or Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. My favorite line is "I got believers/Believing me," though I like to hear it as "I got believers/Believing in me" because apparently I'm just unabashedly corny about David Bowie all the time now. The video's so good-- what a cute goof! Here's a picture I took of the "DJ" video on the Echoplex wall:


v. LANCERS. Last Friday afternoon my friends and I went to my favorite new restaurant, Lancers in Burbank. It's the kind of restaurant that sells Snickers bars and Kit-Kats and packs of Big Red and Juicy Fruit at the register, you know what I mean? They've got Keno and that game where you move the metal claw around the big glass tank and catch yourself a stuffed animal. The menu is wonderful: Oreo brownie sundaes and peach halves and broasted chicken and spaghetti and cold cereal and champagne and glasses of milk and boring beer, listed on the menu as "Bud On Tap." Everything about Lancers is boring. I love a boring dining experience. For my meal I got scrambled eggs and sausage and hash browns and toast, and drank many cups of boring coffee. We stayed for hours and by the time we left, people were starting to head to the cocktail lounge: this drably lit room at the back of the restaurant, where the drinks are probably crazy-stiff and cost like three dollars. The dining rooms were all wood paneling and teal and rosey-beige, as seen in the photo below. I love that sign over the kitchen window: If You Are Not Proud Of It DO NOT SERVE IT. I love how it's facing out, to the customers, instead of the people who actually work in the kitchen.


3.3.16

All the Songs We Loved in February




WORDS BY ELIZABETH BARKER & LAURA JANE FAULDS, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY

Eleanor Friedberger, "He Didn't Mention His Mother" (LJ)



The first time I ever listened to He Didn’t Mention His Mother was in December. It was December 30th. It wasn’t late, but it felt like it was. I’d gone out for dinner with Erin that night. I was home for Christmas in Toronto. We went to the Ace.
         I ordered the lamb ragout, which wasn’t something I’d normally order. I saw the name and description of it on the menu and I thought “That’s what I want,” and I said that I was going to order it, but then I went back on it, and I said that I was going to order something else: the fried cauliflower and a salad I think it was. But then my brain played itself a movie, a mashed-up movie of me talking to every indecisive diner who’s ever sat at a table at the restaurant I run back in London and had their order taken by me: “Follow your heart,” I always tell them, and they think it’s cute, and listen to me. They follow their hearts. So I took my own advice, and it worked out for me too. The lamb ragout was the best meal I ate the entire time I was home for Christmas: a sagey brown stew that tasted like it was made by somebody’s remarkably great cook of a grandmother. Writing that sentence just made me think, one of the worst parts about growing older, being thirty and all that, is how everybody’s grandmother is dead now. You never get to eat their gloppy sagey brown stews anymore.
        On the menu it said the ragout came with swiss chard and risotto. On the plate when they put it down in front of you you couldn’t see the risotto at first. The risotto was wrapped up in a leaf of the swiss chard like a little parcel, like the kind of sticky rice you get at a dim sum restaurant. I cut into the swiss chard with the side of my spoon and little swirls of steam came into the air. I was charmed by it. There was rice inside!
        I was so tired that night. I was so dirty when I got to Erin’s; I’d had to take a shower at her apartment. The night before was Clash Night, which is a night my friends and I have where we sit around and get drunk and try to listen to the Clash or talk about the Clash but then get too drunk and forget about it, which is really Clash of us anyway. Something wild happened with a guy and I that Clash Night. We slept on the floor of the studio my friend Kritty runs out of the back of her house, on a bed made out of our jackets. It’ll probably take me another ten years of writing to get good enough to do that section of the story any justice. Today, all I can manage is the swiss chard.
         It was forest green and it had whitish maps of veins running across it. The veins delivered nutrients to one part of the leaf from another. It made me think of being a kid and learning all the different greens: kelly & forest & turquoise & lime, etc. This leaf was just so forest.
        My face was scoured red from making out with a dude with a beard all night. I always like to romanticize that facial effect in myself, ever since the first dude I ever met out at a bar and went home with had a beard. I met him at Enid’s, in Brooklyn, where the Fiery Furnaces used to play. On our way to the bar Katie Rose told me: the Fiery Furnaces used to play here, and I didn’t care. I just wanted to starve myself and drink blueberry vodka and feel validated by male attention. I was twenty-one and I don’t blame myself at all. The guy had a boring name; it was David. He drove a scooter and I rode home on the back of it. I was drunk and could have died but didn’t die. He read my arms out loud in bed and asked me if McCartney was my last name: he thought my Lennon tattoo said “Laura,” and I laughed my head off at the idea of being a person stupid enough to get their own first and last names tattooed on the inside of their elbows. In the morning he walked me to Dunkin’ Donuts and bought me a coconut iced coffee the size of my face. He asked me if I wanted to go eat eggs Florentine at a diner and I kind of did but said I couldn’t. I wasn’t too interested in eating any food that month.
        On my way home I stopped into the record store next to the vintage kids store where I worked because I had a crush on a guy who worked there and I wanted him to infer from my physical appearance that I’d spent the night at a different guy’s apartment. I wanted him to feel jealous and then be motivated into action but he never took action; I had to take all the action in the end. That morning he asked me if somebody had punched me in the face and I said that nobody had done. He asked me why was my face all red then and I smiled. He said if anybody ever punched me in the face he’d beat them up and I thought that was sweet of him and I was right.
        You can’t be thirty years old and feel as hot about your red abraded chin as you did the morning you were twenty-one and your jacket looked like a pixelated picture of a forest and you realized you had a certain power about you and that you could use it to make men do things. I’m still the exact same idiot I was when I was twenty-one. There’s a thousand different things a person can do to make themselves feel powerful and they’re basically all unhealthy. I’ve done em all.
        Power was the last thing on my mind the night I walked back to my dad’s apartment from the King & Yonge streetcar stop and listened to He Didn’t Mention His Mother for the first time. I felt as happy and peaceful and fluffy as the lamb a ragout of whose body I’d just ate and felt crazy-sated by. I felt like the inside of a wool-lined jacket, when the wool is still curly, like a jacket John Lennon or Donovan would’ve worn in the late nineteen-sixties.
         I walked past the Bulk Barn where the windows are printed with pictures of hot pink pistachios. The song starts with the fake effect of a person dropping a needle into a groove on a vinyl record and the needle skidding a bit. I don’t think that sound is necessary. It doesn’t make the song any better than it would have been without it. It just reminds me of how pathetic it is to be the sort of obsessively nostalgic person that Eleanor Friedberger and I both are. It makes me think of how stupid and weird it would sound if you bought New View by Eleanor Friedberger on vinyl and then the record needle did the actual thing that the beginning of the song is mimicking. You see? It’s not necessary.
        But after that, things got perfect. I loved the song as if I’d loved the song for ten years already. Sometimes it takes you awhile to understand the words the singer is singing but that time I could understand every word she was singing as the words fell out of her mouth. I liked them all and related to them. I read an interview with her where she says, and I paraphrase, that she just wants her record to sound like it was written by a woman in her thirties who is doing okay— and often, it doesn’t. Often, it sounds like this person really needs to calm down about the dude she’s writing songs about, who is probably Fred Armisen, which is also hard for me to deal with: I just can’t take a love song written about Fred Armisen seriously.
        She definitely sounds like she’s doing okay on He Didn’t Mention His Mother, which I tell myself is not about Fred Armisen to make the way I relate it seem more okay to myself—the bit about “my friend and her baby and a dog that I know”— it made me think about the day before the day before the night I first heard that song, the afternoon I went to the swank Toronto Nando’s with Sam & Teri & Emily and met Teri and Emily’s babies for the first time. They were babies. I never know babies. They were tiny swiss chard-wrapped risotto packages of humans named Clara & Ginger & Phinneas and I saw that they are all real humans who will grow up to be whoever they grow up to be, who will all grow up to walk home from the first night they ever spent at a dude or chick’s apartment, and will grow even older and listen to a song that makes them think about it. I like that I know babies now.
        The part that meant and means the most to me, that I thought I was going to write so much about but really don’t have that much to say about, is the part when she sings “I so wanted something to happen that day, and then what I wanted, it happened. And that just don’t always happen that way, to me”— no little packet of sentences that any person could have mashed together and sung to me could ever have summed up exactly how I was feeling that night so tidily, so eerily-tidily.
       I was alone on the street but probably pulled some weird face to say the way that I felt for nobody anyway. I’m thirty years old, and it’s still so hard for me to believe that a boy likes me. I’ve been an ocean away from that night I can’t write about, with the bed made out of jackets, for two months now, and I still listen to He Didn’t Mention His Mother every day, because it helps me remember that it happened. It makes me feel like I’m a woman in my thirties doing okay.

ROXY MUSIC, "EDITIONS OF YOU" (LIZ)

The weekend before Christmas Carmen Hawk Instagram'd a video of Roxy Music playing "Editions of You," which was the main catalyst in Roxy Music becoming the band I love best right now. That day I bought "Editions of You" and put it on my phone and played it lots of times on the train to Boston, where I met one of my best friends at a pub in Southie. I got champagne punch and an egg sandwich thing and a hundred cups of coffee and we sat there for hours and probably exasperated our server, but who cares. Later on I walked to the North End (Little Italy) which was so Christmasy and all lit up and smelled like sugar cookies and anisette and pizzelle and marzipan. Then I got back on the train and listened to "Editions of You" lots more times, and now "Editions of You" always sounds lit up and powdered-sugary and snappy like December. It sounds like riding the train to Boston and riding the train from Boston, which will never not be exciting to me. The cycle of anticipation-of-adventure and then forced reflection that happens on round-trip train rides is one of my best things.



This video's not the one Carmen posted but it's better because it’s from 1973 instead of 1982. Brian Eno is the star, with his cool feathers and eyemakeup and punchy tambourining, and the way he boredly throws the tambourine off into nowhere when he's done with it. The best is the end, when he and Bryan Ferry sing together and make a big deal of pantomiming the lyrics. Bryan Ferry's pantomiming is fine, but Brian Eno really takes the cake. (Speaking of cake: "Too much cheesecake too soon/Old money's better than new": that is the best couplet.) What’s their general relationship dynamic, Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry? I have no concept of the mythology of Roxy Music, and I really don't feel like reading some stuffy old article to figure it out. I want someone to lay it all out for me in beautiful story form, like how once at a party in Laurel Canyon I retold Gram Parsons's biography for a bunch of strangers while swinging on a wooden swing and drinking a plastic cup of champagne. I’m going to try to get a job telling rock & roll fables at big rich-people parties, and then someday I'll tell the Brian Eno + Bryan Ferry story and make it gorgeous, even if it's a total bore.


MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, "CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEEP CHEEP" (LIZ)

Around Christmastime I went to a birthday party in the bar of a bowling alley that used to just be a normal bowling alley but now everyone goes there on Saturday nights and smokes pot in the doorway and sings karaoke in the karaoke part of the bar and it's a total mob scene. Which is way fun, I like it- really good vibes at the All-Star Lanes on Eagle Rock Boulevard. A couple hours into the birthday party I was standing around and drinking beer with my friends, and a very handsome boy in the adjacent friend clump started singing "Marquee Moon" by Television. He was talking to another boy and out of nowhere just shout-sang "REMEMBER! HOW THE DARKNESS DOUBLED...", and somehow struck the perfect balance of earnestly belting it out and acknowledging the goofiness of loudly singing a Television song at a karaoke party at some stupid bowling alley. So I was in awe of him and developed a staring problem, partly because of "Marquee Moon" but mostly because he looked like Cillian Murphy, or at least as much like Cillian Murphy as could ever be expected of an actual person in a bowling alley in Eagle Rock. After that I was in love with Cillian Murphy, who I now refer to as "my beautiful love" when talking to people and as "my muse" when talking to myself. He's my muse now, really. His face makes me write things I didn't know how to write before.


What this has to do with "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" is I've been watching lots of Cillian Murphy movies, including Breakfast on Pluto, which has "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" playing in the scene when Kitten goes off to London to find her mom. I've got mixed feelings about Breakfast on Pluto but mostly it's very sweet and Kitten is so lovely, a magic angel. For a good week or so mid-February, I loved "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" so intensely that in the morning I couldn't wait to get up and fix my coffee and make my bed while playing it loudly on my computer. It sounds like all the colors of the drugstore Easter-candy aisle filling up your head all at once. It makes you feel like life is nothing but Cadbury MIni Eggs and Starburst Jelly Beans and chocolate-marshmallow bunnies and Hershey's Easter Kisses and even Russell Stover coconut nests.

11.2.16

Eating & Drinking & Living & Listening in Barcelona




Hello darlings, it's me LJ. Last week, I went on holiday to Barcelona: it was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. In Barcelona I ate a lot of food and drank a lot of wine and lived a lot of life and heard a lot of songs. Here is the scrappily-told tale of all of them. 

BY LAURA JANE

The first meal I ate in Barcelona was a crappy chicken salad at a crappy coffee shop around the corner from my airbnb. Before I ate it I was so hungry I wanted to cry and after I ate it I wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to cry anymore- so I guess it was a success. But it was unromantic. I had just taken a taxi from the airport to the city and was worried that I wasn’t going to like Barcelona. It had looked very worryingly ugly from the back of the taxi; unless you think factories or blank brown boxes of buildings are beautiful, every city is at its peak ugliest when you’re driving into it from the airport. I was shaky and confused when the cabbie dropped me off on Carrer de Tamarit a half-hour early for my airbnb check-in, so I wandered around looking for a place to eat. If I'd only turned left instead of right, I would have figured out that Barcelona is beautiful straightaway, but instead I went the ugly way, where I tried to buy some sort of pre-made wiggly yogurt product and a sickly-looking cup of fruit salad at a dreary-looking cafe. But there was a problem with my bank card, and I didn’t have enough euros to pay for my meal, so I left and found a bank and then the chicken salad place. My inability to pay for my food nor speak Spanish at the wiggly yogurt place had been such an unpleasant ordeal that I knew I could never show my face there again.





A few hours later, after checking into my airbnb and doing whatever little things I needed to do to make myself feel like a human again, I decided to walk to a wine bar called La Vinya del Senyor, which I found out about by Googling “best wine bar in Barcelona.” I filled up my iPod shuffle with Blondie’s entire discography and set out on my journey, shortly into which I was overjoyed to discover that Barcelona is earth-shatteringly beautiful! The streets were dark and narrow but still so spirited, so enchanting, or enchanted. One of my favourite things about Barcelona is its commitment to the colour pale pink. Everybody has swaying laundry and expressive foliage hanging off their terraces. I listened to Debbie Harry sing Bang A Gong (Get It On) and felt about as happy as I know how to.




I walked past a tiny bakery with a display of technicolor marzipan fruits in the front window, and knew that if I didn’t eat a marzipan strawberry at that moment I would spend the rest of my life regretting it, and what’s the point of that? I timidly asked the baker for “one of those,” pointing at the strawberries, but he heard my “those” as “dos” and asked “Dos?” and I decided that, yes, dos was the perfect numero of strawberries for me to eat. What a blessing! I can’t believe how much my life would have sucked if I’d only eaten uno strawberry. I probably would have had to go straight back and buy another one.

The man wrapped my strawberries in tinfoil and I ate them in quick succession while walking through a square. There were palm trees in the square. The strawberries were airy and cakey and tasted like my favourite flavour: fake strawberry. The green tops were made of icing sugar, and offered textural contrast to the spongey marzipan, crackling between my teeth. I thought, “The entire point of my life is that I get to Spain sometimes,” and I imagined myself dying, watching a movie of the finest moments from my life in my head: those strawberries would be a part of it.


La Vinya del Senyor was the best wine bar I've ever been to. I sat out on a patio, across the way from an old crumbling church, and drank two glasses of cava, a 2009 Gran Reserva. The best thing about being a person who knows about wine is that, when faced with literally any wine list, even a mediocre one, you’re immediately able to deduce which wine is most to your taste, so you almost never have to deal with drinking wine that you don’t love. There’s probably no wine in the world I could love more than an aged high-quality cava; it tastes like champagne but is cooler, because it's not.  
        Cava's got this sort of sharp, yelpy briskness to it, zippy and nimble, like the sound and feeling of snapping a stalk of celery in half. Champagne is heavier, murkier, romantic but illegible, like an old person long-windedly telling you a story from their past.

After my second glass of cava I got up to go to the bathroom and I knocked over my glass and broke it. The staff were very sweet to me about it: “These things happen!” kinda vibes. They didn’t make me feel like I was stupid or drunk. We all just shrugged and got on with our lives.
        I stayed at La Vinya del Senyor writing for about three and a half hours. I wrote almost the entire India chunk of my novel. Post-cava, I had a glass of white wine called La Planetes de Nin, which I was intrigued by because the grape was listed as Carinenya, which is definitely a red wine grape. It was as weird as seeing a glass of white Cabernet Sauvignon.
        I took a gamble on that glass, but it paid off: it was everything I love in a white wine— nutty, lean, a bit musty, bone-ass dry.
        I spent like 50 euros on those three glasses of wine and regret nothing. After paying up, I went on a drunk and peppy wander around the city, looking for a perfect place to eat some dinner, and I was so happy my heart felt swollen. I wanted to talk to Joe Strummer about it. For dinner I had vermouth and empanadas.


The next morning, I had a chocolate croissant and fresh-squeezed orange juice from the crappy chicken salad coffee shop for breakfast. I love the beautiful Spanish word for orange, naranja. I got ready and did some more wandering, and wondered if maybe I should write a Spain chunk into my novel, but then decided that my novel's clogged up with enough little bits & bobs like that already, and then I wondered if maybe my second novel would be a Spain novel, and then I got stressed out just thinking about it- 
        I can't imagine myself ever becoming a good enough writer to do Spain justice in writing. 
         Maybe I love Spain as much as I do because I can’t express it in words; it’s too beautiful. I fell in love with London because when I experience it I need to write it down, I always know exactly how to write about it, how to describe the way the streets look and the way the air feels and the way it makes me feel— but with Barcelona, same as I felt in Galicia, I can’t even bring myself to try. I can tell you about the food I ate, the wine I drank, the things I did, & the songs I heard- but every word I try to write about Barcelona Itself is just not good enough. It's like looking at an unflattering photograph of a beautiful person.