12.9.14

Thing of the Week: LJ's Cool New Wine Tumblr, An Apollonia Cupcake, 50 Years of John Waters


LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: My Cool New Wine Tumblr


Last week I had the cool revelation that I am going to stop self-identifying as a Slytherin and start self-identifying as a Gryffindor. It's been really life-changing for me. Now that I'm a Gryffindor I have a really fantastic can-do attitude about life in general; my new motto is "Do EVERYTHING" and it's working out really well for me so far. I've thought about starting a wine Tumblr "forever but only got around to it once the Sorting Hat re-sorted me into Gryffindor. 

My cool new wine Tumblr is called Laura Jane Drinks Wine and you can find it at ljdrinkswine.tumblr.com. My intention is to use it a wine journal; I am going to try my best to write a little note about every single wine I taste but I think we'll all forgive me if I slack a little. Also, I'm me, so the writing will be personal and non-traditional and hopefully entertaining even to people who don't care about wine. So yeah! That is my cool news for today, I'm deliriously excited about it, please let all your wine friends know about the Internet's weirdest new wine blog. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: An Apollonia Cupcake & Some Dogs

Last Saturday they showed Purple Rain at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I don't think I'd seen Purple Rain in its entirety since Leah O'Leary let me watch it while she was babysitting when I was like eight-years-old, which was a pretty weird move on Leah O'Leary's part. (Leah also always had her boyfriend Craig over, and one time we all went outside late at night so Craig could shoot off Roman candles in the middle of the street - fast times.) Anyway, Purple Rain at Hollywood Forever was so super-fun; Questlove DJ'd before and after the movie, and the girl on the blanket next to ours gave me this fantastic Apollonia cupcake:


At the end of the movie, when "Baby I'm a Star" plays, everyone in the crowd got up and danced. Usually I have a pretty terrible attitude and get mega-annoyed in situations where large groups of extroverts congregate to loudly demonstrate their semi-ironic love of a particular film/band/what-have-you, but the "Baby I'm a Star" dance party had such good vibes. Prince took hold of our hearts and made everyone's love so pure and true. He really does have some magic power.

So all week I've been re-obsessed with the Purple Rain soundtrack and with how the songs are performed in the movie, especially how in "Darling Nikki" he mimes all the lyrics and then has sex with an amplifier, and also how in the bridge to the "Beautiful Ones" he sings really aggressively at Apollonia and collapses onto the stage and she cries from loving him too much. And the other night I listened to the "Do You Like Prince Movies?" episode about the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain, which led me to two wonderful things: (1) Spin's oral history on the 25th anniversary of Purple Rain, which includes the fun fact that Prince's favorite meal is spaghetti and orange juice; and (2) this video of Prince singing "A Case of You" by Joni Mitchell in 1983. Prince looooooves Joni Mitchell - there's this great New York interview where she talks about how he used to send her fan letters "with all of the U’s and hearts that way that he writes," and her office thought he was a nut and would throw them away. So sweet. Apparently Prince also loves Todd Rundgren. 


My second thing is these Australian shepherds, whom I found on the Cricket Press Instragram. Don't they look like some middle-aged husband-and-wife duo who were high school sweethearts, had a shotgun wedding the summer after graduating, and are still so crazy for each other? They totally have a Saturday night bowling league, and bring their own bowling balls, and the wife's bowling ball is hot-pink. Her name's Peg, and her husband's name is...Artie? Artie drinks beer while he bowls - probably MGDs. Every summer they have a tiki party: Peg always wins the limbo contest, she also makes a killer Planter's Punch. They are the dog version of my character and Owen Wilson's character from the amazing Wes Anderson movie Blurred Lines, and I hope they live forever.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Fifty Years of John Waters


As usual my Thing of the Week is John Waters related. There's a full retrospective of his films happening at Lincoln Center Film Society right now and it's one of the best things that's ever happened to me. The title of it all is: Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take? For me, clearly, the answer is an endless amount. Last weekend I saw Polyester in Odorama (Scratch & Sniff). Heaven. I tried to see his Very Rare Early Shorts before Polyester. Tickets were free and only given out an hour before each show. I didn't get them. I stood on the stand by line and got very close - like, 3 people close to getting in - but I did not get in. I became instantly depressed. I HAD to see these movies. Hag in a Black Leather Jacket! Eat You Make Up! I could not live if I missed these. I complained a lot about how the people getting into the shorts did not deserve it. They were not even stylish AT ALL! I saw Polyester. It was great. I decided to run across the street to the theater the shorts were playing at later that night immediately after Polyester ended - like a maniac- to see if we could get into the 9:30pm Shorts screening. WE DID! Somehow, there was no line. I saw Hag in a Black Leather Jacket. I saw Roman Candles. I saw Eat Your Make Up. Was it everything I dreamed? Yes, kind of. He was a teenager when he made these and you can tell. They are tedious at times but magical. Divine as Jackie O during the Kennedy assassination in Eat Your Make Up - filmed in 1965! - is incredible. Truly.

Last night I went to Celluloid Atrocity Night. A screening of Multiple Maniacs, Mondo Trasho, and the Diane Linkletter Story with a little convo with John in between the movies. Everyone who works at Lincoln Center introducing the movies, making announcements etc called him by his first name only. John. It sounded very sweet and warm. John just left or we could ask him. John brought these 16mm prints from his attic. John will be back tomorrow.

At all of these screenings I start tearing up when Divine's name is listed and everyone claps. I am insane. I love John.

4.9.14

All the Songs We Loved in August



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

Harry Nilsson, “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” (LJ)



Harry Nilsson is a weird and perfect guy. He’s a Gemini. I don’t relate to him at all.
       I’ve always loved Harry Nilsson or at least liked him. When I was a kid my mom would sing me Coconut but I’d never heard actual Coconut, just my mom singing Coconut, but I knew it was sung by a guy named Harry Nilsson. When I was fifteen my high school best friend made me a mixtape and she put Coconut on the mixtape, and The Drowners by Suede and also Good Day Sunshine by the Beatles. She bought Revolver on the same day I bought The White Album so we each had something the other didn’t but we were equal in our having and our not having, which is a beautiful equilibrium.
       Harry Nilsson was John Lennon’s best friend. I don’t know if he was John Lennon’s official best friend or not; I wish I could just ask him, “Who’s your best friend, John?”— I would be dissatisfied with any answer that wasn’t “An exact tie between Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson.”
       My friend Kritty and I have a thing, an in-joke I guess, a weird fantastic in-joke, that we’re John Lennon and Harry Nilsson together. That’s the theme of our friendship, a never-ending Lost Weekend; I’m John and she’s Harry. Together we are surrounded by a general haze of being up to no good.
       Kritty calls us both beautiful geniuses and believes that we are. I’ll only ever call myself that if it’s really late and we’ve just killed like three bottles of wine in two hours. There’s a part in the Harry Nilsson documentary where a guy says: he was the best singer. Not just the best singer but the best singer. Eventually he fucked up his voice from partying too hard and that was a tragedy but who even cares. It’s not like he didn’t record all those excellent albums in the first place and at least he had a fun life and it’s not like he didn’t die anyway. When I watched that thing for the first time I texted Kritty to tell her: that’s youYou’re the best singer.
        Other than Nilsson Schmilsson I’d never listened to any full Harry Nilsson albums until I moved to London one month ago. I highly recommend intersecting your moving to London phase with your getting crazy-into Harry Nilsson phase if you are the type of person who’d be inclined to live out either. Harry Nilsson and London go kookily but decadently together like dipping bacon or crinkly-cut potato chips into a fountain of chocolate fondue. Harry is an American but he’s got a sort of jaunty Penny Lane Britishness about him, that whole Vaudeville soft-shoe nostalgia thing that came into vogue for about five minutes in the late nineteen-sixties because of Paul.
        I’ve been responding to music made by a Britishy American guy because I’m a Britishy American guy! It’s one thing to live in Canada and tell people you’re moving to London and have them say “Well you certainly look the part!” because your shirt has a collar. But once you’re actually in England it becomes really obvious that you’re, you know, not from around here. Nobody cares that you wore a vaguely British-seeming shirt that had a collar back when you lived across the ocean. You’re a foreigner who calls the pavement a sidewalk and pronounces her rs like a commoner and thinks a courgette is a gherkin. The only way to get through it is stumble through the confusion wide-eyed and exuberantly because who in the hell doesn’t love a wide-eyed exuberant person?
       I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City was the theme song to my wide-eyed exuberant phase. It’s a bit of a bummer to admit to myself that my wide-eyed exuberant phase is over but like what do you even expect of yourself and the concept of life Laura Jane. Do you want to be Don Draper when he’s on the phone with Dr. Faye and she tells him she hopes Megan knows he only likes the beginning of things? Nope.
       Three weeks ago, it was still the beginning, and I didn’t realize it was the beginning or that the beginning would ever end, I didn’t have a job, and I’d just figured out how to take the bus. I’d sit on the very front seat of the upper deck and watch the city unroll like a carpet. Listening to this song. That’s the opening credits. In the movie it would cut to some shots of me looking dejected in the middle of an unforgiving Toronto while Harry says he’s so tired of his prayers going unanswered. Then it switches to the part where Harry sings, “Well here I am Lord, knocking at your back door,” which is not in the movie, because it’s just me thinking about it. But I like how knocking at the Lord’s back door implies that you are going about getting God’s attention in a kind of roundabout way. Being so sweet and bad that God can’t help but relent. You to him are like the best dessert, lard cut with butter laced with sugar, so fucking excellent and illicit that in the end even He has to admit you were the point.
       The nicest part of the song is when Harry Nilsson sings, “Ain’t it wonderful to be/ where I’ve always wanted to be,” which has been true for me loads of times and is still true generally, but was truest once. I was on a bus riding past a liquor store somewhere around Tottenham Court Road. The liquor store advertised all the cool weird whiskies it was selling in a well-executed window display, and it was sunny enough that I was wearing shorts but cool enough that I could wear a long-sleeved t-shirt. And I wanted to take my Dad there, to the whisky store. I wanted to show it to him like, “Hey dad hey look dad look at this wonderful place I live in, look how wonderful we have it here, this whisky store, I did it I did it, I made it,” but I didn’t write down where it was or remember where it was. I can find it again if I take that same bus and stare out the window the whole time until I find it which sounds like the dullest and lamest thing I could possibly do here. I would rather look for something new or ideally not even look for anything.

"Rock the Casbah" by The Clash (Liz)


The last time I flew from Boston to L.A., I watched the video for "Rock the Casbah" seven times. It was a night flight and the punk-rock couple behind me brought a box of Munchkins on board with them, which was so cute and inspired. The couple sitting beside me were not very punk rock but seemed vaguely with-it; I had some silly hope that they'd notice what I was up to and later say to each other, "How interesting, that the woman beside us watched the 'Rock the Casbah' video seven times during our flight. How very peculiar.'" Instead they watched every existing episode of Dating Naked, which is kind of like the opposite of The Clash. I don't think they picked up on my "Rock the Casbah" marathon at all - and that's all right, I got along fine without them. The "Rock the Casbah" video is kind of ugly but I love it intensely. These are some of my favorite things:

-Mick Jones's stompy/semi-aggro dance moves, and also the fact that he's wearing a veil. Before last month I hadn't seen the "Rock the Casbah" video in ages and misremembered it as Mick wearing a gas mask, so it was kind of a letdown to see that he's not. And when I got home from LAX at like 2 a.m. I Googled "why is mick jones wearing a veil in the rock the casbah video," and learned that it's got to do with Mick being a big prima donna and uncooperative brat, and then I loved him even more.

-the pool scenes. Cute that Mick is smoking in his inner tube. I really wish there were an alternate version of the "Rock the Casbah" video that was just "The Clash by the pool" 

-how committed and earnest Joe Strummer is about acting out the lyrics. The most earnest lip-syncher of all

-basically everything else except for all the stuff involving the Arab man and the Hasidic man and the armadillo. A few nights after my "Rock the Casbah" plane ride I had a nightmare that the "Rock the Casbah" armadillo bit my finger, which I feel like is a pretty unique nightmare to have

-oh and somewhere around my fourth or fifth viewing, I remembered how in ninth grade I had a crush on a sophomore boy named Dana, who was widely recognized as looking like a shorter, rounder-faced, slumpier Mick Jones. In 11th grade I worked at an Italian bakery and Dana would come in some afternoons and sit at the coffee bar and drink coffee and chainsmoke and eat cake, all slumped-over and probably stoned and not very Mick-Jones-sparkly-eyed - not in the slightest - but still totally sweet. He had a gorgeous sister who looked like a witch and a skater and had pictures of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Pixies up in her locker; I probably wanted to be her. Dana also had this long-sleeved black t-shirt that said "TECHNO" in big neon green letters, which possibly sounds lame now but at the time it was cool and exciting and just added to his beautiful mystique. Anyway what I'm trying to say is: DANA IF YOU'RE OUT THERE - no, I'm kidding. What I'm really trying to say is I'm glad I'm old enough for "looking like Mick Jones" to be a characteristic almost universally understood within my peer group. I started high school five years after The Clash broke up (eight years after Mick got fired), and I'm newly proud of how narrowly I missed "being in high school while The Clash were still together." It makes me feel so deep and wise.

Harry Nilsson, The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Songs on the album Harry (LJ)

My favorite Harry Nilsson album is called Harry. It’s from August of 1969. On the cover of the record is a picture of little kid Harry. He is skinny and his head looks too big for his body. If he were a cartoon character his neck would only be as thick as one pencil line. His face is peaceful but in his eyes it looks like he’s trying to make you do something. You can tell that he’s going to grow up to be a genius which is probably why he picked the picture.
       I like the album title Harry for an album written by a guy named Harry. I wish there was a Paul McCartney album called Paul and a George Harrison album called George but for some reason it seems less cool to imagine a John Lennon album boringly entitled John.
       The first song on Harry is The Puppy Song and it’s great because a cute man saying “puppy” is a really lovely thing but the walk from my flat to the Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Overground station is only as long as the fifth, sixth, seventh, and about half of the eighth (or sometimes the whole eighth if I am in a particularly lethargic walking mood) songs on Harry and I usually sacrifice The Puppy Song to avoid potentially missing out on the end of number seven. Songs Number Two through Four kind of blow.


Number Five is called the Fairfax Rag and it’s pretty peppy but it’s about cops being jerks to you since it’s the sixties and you’re a scuzzy-looking dude who they suspect is a drug user and is probably/definitely a drug user. At the end he goes a little nuts and screams wokka wovva wah wah wah wah wah wah wah. He always screams it around the time I’m walking past a grey brick building called The Gin Palace. I don’t know why it’s called The Gin Palace but I’m happy it is. It’s beautiful.



The sixth song on Harry is City Life and it’s often about me. The city is London; the life is Laura’s. It’s about wishing you could catch a plane to your parents’ house and feeling guilty about how you don’t write your parents too many letters. There’s this part where he sings “Just temporarily” very smoothly in a way that reminds me of an elaborate calligraphic g or y or j. He devotes quite a bit of his time and self and energy to that “temporarily,” and I like that “temporarily” got to be featured in a pop song lyric for once in its life. If words were people temporarily would be a severely boring but ultimately well-intentioned nerd. All I want is the best for temporarily.
      Harry Nilsson singing temporarily usually means it’s about time to pop into Costa to get my coffee, an iced black Americano in the size “Massimo.” I have written extensively about how fucked up it is that iced Americanos at Costa are actually iced lattes and what the fuck, but as it turns out, they are not iced lattes. They just blend up the espresso with water and the oils from the coffee bean make it a little bit frothy. It’s pretty useless to do that but I accept and slightly prefer it. I do a lot of useless shit to make my life a bit frothier too.


Once I have my coffee it’s time to listen to Mournin’ Glory Story and walk past Her Majesties’ Prison at Pentonville which is pretty cute as far as prisons go. Everyone living in there must have been imprisoned for either stealing boiled sweets or treason. So old-timey. The prison’s bookended by a bunch of places with sun-bleached photographs of fry-ups taped into the windows, a place called The Breakout that smells like smoke and fat and ketchup, a tavern called Tawny’s painted in pastel lavender and toothpaste where a band that sounded like a rougher Pogues played on Bank Holiday Sunday. The words THE CALLY are painted across the Overground track in white on blue letters, Cally for Caledonian Road.
       Mournin’ Glory Story is the most beautiful song on the album. If it were flavors it would be: clover honey, vanilla bean, bruleed banana, macadamia nut. It’s an obvious rip-off of For No One by the Beatles but with a bit of a darker edge. In it he rhymes “dirty” as in dirty FEET with “seven-thirty,” which is obviously brilliant. I also like that he doesn’t specify whether he means seven-thirty AM or seven-thirty PM so you can decide for yourself. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure.
       After Mournin’ Glory Story I get on the Overground and stop listening to music and do a bit of reading on the train, a book by a man who drove around France buying wine, and after I get off the train I walk to work in silence. I think about the people the man who wrote the book met and then I go to work. Work’s alright; it’s pretty good; it’s getting better. I work at a restaurant and I’m not in charge of anything and I don’t make a ton of money. Oh, city life. 

"Broadway" by The Clash (Liz)


The second week of August, my friends and I went out to Joshua Tree to see the meteor shower. The first night was the night of the perigee full moon, which was being a show-off and radiating its majestic supermoon-y light all over the sky and blinding out everything else, so I only saw one or two meteors. And the next night was so cloudy, I only saw one or two meteors then too. But the supermoon was something else; I kept telling everyone that it looked like a giant fluorescent light in the shape of a bloomed rose, and no one believed me about that but I stand by it.
        It was my third trip to Joshua Tree and we stayed at Hicksville again and went to Pappy & Harriet's and that Blake Babies graffiti's still on the bathroom stall. One of the other groups of people at the trailer park was a family from Hawaii; they had two little girls named Chloe (who was about eight) and Layla (who was probably eleven). Their last morning there, Chloe was crying because Layla didn't want to play with her; she'd taken her summer-reading book and put on these rad neon-yellow sunglasses and gone to sit in the shade of the Cramps-themed trailer and read. I felt bad for Chloe, but obviously I was on Layla's side. 
        Later on in the day, around dusk, I bought the Joanna Newsom album Ys on my phone because I really wanted to hear the song that explains the difference between meteors, meteorites, and meteoroids. But then I got a few minutes in and all I wanted to hear was the song that I'd wanted to hear my whole time in the desert, which was "Broadway" by The Clash. I put my earbuds in and sat on the little front porch of our cabin and listened to "Broadway" and watched the big pink puffy sky and felt a heavy kinship with the piano and with Layla and with all of the desert. The desert used to freak me out with its evil energy and Manson-y vibes, but somehow Joe Strummer made me feel completely safe. I love how he refuses to take responsibility for it being six o'clock in the morning.

27.8.14

Notes From My Second Week In London (Pt. II)




WORDS & IMAGE BY LAURA JANE


6.

The next morning we were lying in bed and I asked Mark if he remembered me telling him that I’d found out the beagle’s name the night before. He said “No” and I tried to make him guess it.
        “Spice,” he said, and then: “Hypie.”

7.

The next morning we sat in front of our bedroom door quietly murmuring the word “Pearl” to peak Pearl’s interest. Pearl ran upstairs. She was crying tears of black gunk. “Why are you crying this… disgusting shit?” I asked her and then apologized for calling her disgusting by burying my head into her velvet neck. It’s a couple days later and I just saw her a few minutes ago. The streaks of black tears were still stained on her fur because her good-for-nothing owner doesn’t take any pride in her dog not having its face stained with gothic-looking bodily fluids. Pearl’s owner is my enemy. My first London enemy.
        I got dressed and ready and commuted to Stoke-Newington. I felt like hot shit because I had a job interview and trial shift at cool-seeming restaurants. I wasn’t going to Stokie for any reason that related to my trial shifts; sorry I just called it Stokie; it wouldn’t have flowed naturally from me if I’d said it out loud. I was going back to our airbnb to drop off a cream knit iPhone case belonging to our host that Mark had accidentally packed into my suitcase. It was not really the most thrilling escapade of my life. While I was there I packed all of our food we’d forgotten to into a plastic grocery bag and left swinging it back and forth listening to Shakey Dog on headphones and feeling like the first guy someone ever looked at and thought “What a very important person!” about. For no real reason (except that other peoples' lives are interesting), here is a list of the contents of the bag:

-bottle of cheap white wine (mine)
-bag of mixed nuts (mine)
-asparagus (Mark’s)
-brioche (Mark’s)
-shaker of turmeric (Mark’s)
-bag of Lavazza espresso (both of ours)
-coconut oil (both of ours, but mostly Mark’s)

I took the tube to Sloane Square, where I had a job interview. I bailed on the job interview. I hadn’t realized how posh Sloane Square is, as it wasn’t directly called out in the lyric to A Well-Respected Man or Play With Fire, in combination my field guide to Londony poshness. The lady on the phone had mentioned that the place was quite “elite,” but I assumed she was lying. She mentioned that Hugh Grant was a regular. I assumed that Hugh Grant is chill and liked to chill at chill places.
        But he isn’t, doesn’t; not this time at least. The vibe of the neighbourhood made me want the neighbourhood to not exist. I took out my notebook and, using my knee propped up on a low gate as a desk, wrote Nothing about walking past a Bottega Veneta store DOES IT FOR ME. I looked up from my scrawling and noticed that the doorman standing outside of the Bottega Veneta store had been watching me. He looked indifferent. I wanted to tell him, “This is the best thing you will ever see in your life,” but of course didn’t, because I am sane.
        I walked past the restaurant, snooping, peeking. It didn’t look like a place I would even want to walk past let alone drink at let alone eat at let alone work at let alone general manage. Most of the diners were posh older women with dyed-blond bobs wearing floral-print or -hued shift dresses and jewelry more expensive than everything my whole family owns combined. And my family is decently well-off! But these were real rich people, like the Archibalds and van der Woodsens. The servers, still called waiters here, wore mint green ties and white collared shirts and floor-length aprons and waistcoats. “The kind of restaurant I want to work at exists in direct opposition to this place,” I told Mark, and then remembered a pact I’d made with myself after quitting Starbucks three years ago: “I will never work at a place that has a uniform again.” Never, again, and I’m a Clash fan: them’s fighting words. So that settled it. Mark and I sat down on a little bench right in the middle of Sloane Square and I phoned up the restaurant, which was only maybe fifty feet away from where we sat but I’m cowardly and, in such circumstances, who wouldn’t be?
        I asked to speak to the manager and then said “Wait, no, actually- it’s fine,” and I told whoever answered that my name was Laura and I wouldn’t be able to attend my test shift. I lied and said I’d found employment elsewhere.

26.8.14

SILVER OTTER SOPHIE, or, Notes From My Second Week In London (Pt. I)



BY LAURA JANE

Hi! Welcome to the second-to-last instalment of Moving to London journals. After my second week in London I made the probably rational decision to stop obsessively documenting every movement I made in writing and also got a job, which is really boring to write about compared to not having a job. The picture seen above is my amazing photographer of a boyfriend Mark Rothen

1.

I walked to the Overground under an early evening sky greying attractively like a hot person in his or her mid-forties. Around the temples.
        It was cool out. I was on my way to go work a trial shift at a restaurant in Brixton. I hate the ugly words “trial shift” and wish that I didn’t have to use them in a thing I’m writing but the only alternative is “test shift,” which is slightly uglier. The houses were looking, as usual, nice, and I had a revelatory Oh my god I’m not on holiday I live here I don’t have to leave here moment, “And that was the moment it hit me,” someone who cared less about not writing down sentences that other people have already written down might say.
        The coolness was like being next to an ocean but I wasn’t next to an ocean. I was in England in the summer on a night. In Toronto the outrageous heat would still be oozing out from between the clouds in spots, trickling water-spills or river, lake shapes, of hot orange and pink. In Toronto in the summer you can look up at the sunset and imagine it’s hot as lava in the sky.

On the train I listened to Guns Of Brixton by the Clash. I’d already been to Brixton once that day. Guns Of Brixton is by Paul Simonon, the bass player, and it goes When they kick at your front door How you gonna come? With your hands on your head Or on the trigger of your gun?
        (The correct answer to that question is “On the trigger of my gun, Paul! The trigger of my gun!”)
        Brixton in 2014 doesn’t look like a place where any cops are going to bang down your front door and break into your house and behave unethically though it doesn’t look gorgeous or anything either. When you get off the tube there’s a budget grocery store called Icleand and an H&M and, to your left, a little street called Electric Avenue. I wonder how long you’d have to work or live in Brixton before you could look at the Electric Avenue street sign without singing I wanna rock down to Electric Avenue in your head. I don’t know. Maybe no human has ever lived that long.
        I walked down Electric Avenue and turned left. I am going to use the real names of some of the people I worked with at the trial shift but I am going to use a fake name for the general manager because there is no his-real-name-related-anecdote that it feels imperative for me to tell you. I have no real desire to protect his or this restaurant’s identity but want to do whatever I can to make sure all the people who work there don’t find this and then read it aloud to each other, mocking my narrative voice.
        I am going to call him Teddy. He was a handsome in a way that made him less appealing than if he were average or even ugly. If he was an actor, and he could have been, he would have been well-cast as one of Chuck Bass’ cronies on an episode of Gossip Girl. He wore a white short-sleeved button-up spotted with royal blue polka-dots made of thread and Carhartt khakis and teal Vans lace-ups. His skin looked like it was made of creamed honey.
        Teddy seemed deeply inconvenienced by his having ears that functioned properly every time my lips parted and vocal cords vibrated or whatever it is vocal cords or a voicebox actually do. If I could describe his general demeanor in one word it would be, so easily and without competition, “humorless.” At my interview he quizzed me on what’s in a Negroni and Manhattan and Old-Fashioned and what is a Sour and what’s my favorite wine and how would I describe it and what wine would I pair with garlic butter prawns and what wine would I pair with salt-and-pepper squid. I told him a dry Riesling for the squid and he raised his eyebrows like I had just said “Me no know!” and squashed my chin into my neck and then made a farting noise with my armpit.
        I said “I don’t know, sorry, it’s just my thing, I really love pairing Rieslings with Asian food” and I regret saying that because a) I think it’s ignorant to say “Asian food” and b) it’s not even really my thing and c) I’m NOT sorry that I think it’s cool to think outside the box wine-wise, and d) I’m NOT sorry I’m confident enough to express my semi-outside of the box wine opinions in a situation where I know I’m meant to just say the right answer. Which was the Vinho Verde.

13.8.14

My First Week In London: Journals, Part II



BY LAURA JANE 

The photograph of Stoke-Newington in the rain seen above was taken by my amazing boyfriend Mark Rothen; I stole it from his Instagram, which you can and should look at by clicking on his name. Mark is a genius photographer and I am in love with him. We have now lived in London for three weeks and three days. For Part I click HERE

Day 5 (Friday, July 25th, 2014)

I set my iPhone alarm to wake me up with Baby You’re A Rich Man which is pretty motivational I guess. We walked across the street to a little coffee shop called Bodega 50. The barista was a child, a beautiful fat-cheeked pink-cheeked blonde in a white t-shirt and jean shorts and off-white Converse All-Stars. She looked so cool in her Converse All-Stars that while we waited for our iced Americanos I wondered if maybe I should buy some Converse All-Stars even though I don’t really like Converse All-Stars. She shook up our iced Americanos in cocktail shakers and then poured them into paper cups. They were frothy and lukewarm. We ate vegetarian sandwiches prepared for us by her co-worker, a different child. The bread was gummy and yeasty. Mine was avocado and red pepper spread and something they call rocket here, which I think might be arugula.
        It wasn’t enough coffee but it was too much sandwich. It was hot out and we walked through the still yellow heat to go look at a disgusting shithole piece of shit flat. The realtor was short and muscular and had trad-style tattoos of things like anchors and pompadoured Veronica Lodgey ladies kneeling in red bikinis and the suits of all the playing cards inked up his arms. His name was Mike in a way that confused me into thinking every other realtor we met and saw that day was named Mike. He showed us a room and in the corner of the room was a dish crusted-over with baked beans and macaroni noodles. I looked at the dish and zoned out of whatever two-bit hustle he was trying to use on us and thought about the part of The Beatles Anthology where the Beatles go to Rishikesh and Ringo brings a suitcase full of Heinz baked beans with him and then leaves after two weeks.
        Mike led us down to the poorly-maintained backyard garden the room was affiliated with and I looked at all the faraway-feeling Heinzy English trash in the trashcan and thought about how when I was young whenever I felt sad or scared I would ask John Lennon what to do in my head and my head would answer back as John Lennon and I would fully take my head/John Lennon’s word for it. And I thought, the Beatles when they were Beatles were little kids so much younger than I am now and they wouldn’t have known anything about anything when it comes to being a real person shit like what is the appropriate reaction to finding yourself under-caffeinated and full of sandwich in a gnarly shithole a tattooed stranger is asking you to pay two grand a month to live in.

12.8.14

My First Week In London: Journals, Part I


BY LAURA JANE 

The photograph seen above was taken by my amazing boyfriend Mark Rothen; I stole it from his Instagram, which you can and should look at by clicking on his name. Mark is a genius photographer and I am in love with him. We have lived in London for three weeks now. I feel like I wrote these words a very long time ago, but I only wrote them three weeks ago. 

Day 1 (Monday, July 21st, 2014)

Mark waltzed through customs before I was even a quarter through my line I mean queue. He has a British passport. The British passport has a little microchip built into the page with the picture of your face on it. You wave it in front of a machine and the machine’s like “Yeah, okay, you’re cool,” and then you coolly walk away from it like the calm, breezy British person you are. I was so jealous of him for not having to talk to a person even though my person was fine. He was a cool, breezy Irish guy who looked like the stereotype of what an Irish person would look like. He asked me if I had a Visa and I said Yeah and he said “Well that makes it easy then!” and in my head I was like “Does it?!?!?!” because I had very earnestly assumed that the full one hundred percent of this process would be the worst and most boring and inconvenient hassle I’d ever endured.
        I pressed my fingers against a piece of computery glass and my fingers confirmed that they were a part of me and then the Irish guy said “Have a great adventure!” because I’d told him I was on an adventure five minutes ago. I was groggy. I thought about how people who work at airports talk to groggy people so much more than any other faction of society and they must think people are so silly and cute because of it. They must like people.
        (I doubt most groggy people are silly or cute. Airport employees probably hate us.) I bought us coffees at the Gatwick airport Costa and ordered myself an iced latte because the last time I was at that exact airport-Costa I’d ordered myself an iced Americano and they’d given me an iced latte anyway. But somehow this new iced latte had even more milk in it than the kind of iced latte you’d get in North America AKA a normal iced latte that I don’t know why Great Britain feels it has to fuck with. It was an iced latte hovering atop an extra float of white milk at the bottom. I drank a couple sips while eating a cup of boogery blueberry yogurt and then threw it in the garbage, because it was garbage. I liked the boogery yogurt though.

When we arrived at our airbnb in Stoke-Newington the cab driver insisted on getting out of the cab and physically watching me make sure that we were where we were supposed to be which couldn’t have been as well-intentioned as it was annoying. I rang both the house’s buzzers and a very flabby set of shoulders protruded from the first floor window. The owner of the shoulders had a fat pointy nose poking out from the number one mop-top I’ve ever seen that was most reminiscent of an actual mop. He looked like the cartoon version of Ringo from the Beatles cartoon. He asked me what we were looking for and I strung a bunch of words including multiple instances of the non-word “airbnb” together in a whiny, high-pitched tone that I feel did a huge disservice to all North American accents everywhere. Thanks to me, that Ringoey guy will probably think all North Americans are desperate idiots for the rest of his life.
        The girl who owns our airbnb let us into our airbnb and then I napped the afternoon away. I am writing this two days later but it feels like a thousand years have passed in a way that two days ago has never previously felt like. Obviously it is an exaggeration to say that two days ago feels like it was a thousand years ago because I am a human and can’t perceive a thousand years like that. But when I think about what was going on in my head then versus what is going on in my head now, honestly, I feel like I’ve made eight to fourteen days’ worth of progress. It’s amazing what can happen to the inside of your brain when you rip yourself away from everything you like and know and fly across the ocean in a heavy machine and then wake up in another country. And the sun says it’s the afternoon when your blood and body know it’s actually the morning.
         I have had worse jet lag than Mark which comes as no surprise to anybody since it’s a sleep-related ailment and I can’t even sleep properly through a night in the city I’m from after having lived a non-stressful day with no pressing issues on the horizon. Thinking of the way the jet lag is still a part of me is the only thing that binds me to two days ago being two days ago.

31.7.14

70,000 Reasons Why Your Life Is Really Weird Right Now


BY LAURA JANE

If you are reading this it means I moved to London and as you read this I am busy doing whatever Londony thing I happen to be doing and didn’t die on the plane to London, unless I did die. In which case I am sorry for your loss. And mine.
        I am sitting at my kitchen table in Toronto. It’s Thursday. I only have three entire days left to live here and I’m already halfway through one of them so that isn’t even a true sentence. I have two and a half days left to live here, plus another half of a day on Sunday. Then we- my boyfriend Mark and I- will go to the airport, where we'll interact with a machine that prints out our boarding passes and can never read my passport because it got bent up in my wallet and then we'll check our luggage. They'll put our luggage in the belly of the plane with all the coffins and sedated dogs and we'll trust they won’t lose it and then we'll go drink Canadian beer and eat stale french fries in a "lounge" and nothing we could look at each other and say would express the enormity of it. And then we'll get on a plane and the plane will fly us away. The ocean will sit still and ferocious beneath us. It doesn’t need us.
        The plane will land in the morning. We'll get off the plane and hey now we’re in LONDON in ENGLAND and everything is different except for the language people speak and that we’re still Laura and Mark. But even then, even right away, we’ll be a different Laura and Mark. We’ll be Laura and Mark who moved instead of Laura and Mark who are moving.
        I wanted to write about moving because I only have two and a half days left to live here and if I don’t write about moving now I know I’ll never write about moving. And I wanted to write about moving.
        I spent the first three weeks of July moving, doing all the moving things. I thought it was going to be a non-time but it was a big time, big the way you’ll say a certain wine is big, big like “I’m kind of a big deal.” It was a big old jerk animal who showed up at the end of June and plopped himself (he is a boy) down on his big fat butt in front of me and in lieu of a formal introduction yelled his name- “Packing All Your Shit Up And Moving To London And Like Calling The Phone Company And Whatever,” that’s his name- right up in my face so close I could smell his breath which smelled okay but still. It was rude. Packing All Your Shit Up And Moving To London And Like Calling The Phone Company And Whatever chained his hands to my hands and his feet to my feet and together we thumped across the first three weeks of July as one clumsy, blundering idiot in an idiot costume who hated each other. Who hated itself.