Saturday, December 20, 2014
The places we've lived: Harriet Hapgood's piece on rented housing got me thinking about the places I've lived in Manchester, and how each home is remembered in a way that neatly consolidates a moment in time. There was Royle Street for depression, nursing friends through break-ups and the nine days when the rain fell without mercy. Copson Street for movement; for loving cycling everywhere and learning that all I wanted from a night out was to just dance and dance and learning to feel okay about saying "no". Old Moat Lane for that wonderful, long back garden (grass! finally!) and feeling like we'd figured it out, ill-advised bedtime stories, gloriously cheap rent, and break-ins. And my current place for the novelty and freedom of living alone, of battling with prehistoric storage heaters and still experiencing the feeling (80% of the time) of a teenager who has been left home alone whilst parents holiday. (If I want I can eat dinner naked! I can invite men over! I can stay in, dig through my wardrobe and wear those gold heels I forgot about while dancing to disco records!) This afternoon my heart is swelling as I rifle through photographs from the last four years, crush on the people who I've shared them with, and, well- just generally avoid the Christmas shopping I should be embarking on instead of sitting on my favourite, cosy cafe. (Must I? I can't face another trip to a bookstore during which I sadly realise the books I've chosen are really for myself, and not other people at all.)
As this is most likely the last post I'll have time to write before Christmas, I hope everybody has a lovely break. It can be a wonderful time, and it can be a funny time too. Sometimes funny ha-ha, sometimes not. So don't feel hard on yourself if you're not feeling funny ha-ha; the holidays have a habit of making us feel obliged to have the best time ever, to communicate our past year with relatives in the most eloquent and least small-talkish way, and there's nothing like that sort of pressure to put the kibosh on chilled downtime. Is this all a little melancholic? It's not supposed to be, but maybe how that's come out, a projection of my own little personal post-it note reminder that Christmas will never regain that magic it possessed in childhood, but that going with the flow helps. I'm looking forward to returning home to Bristol, reading the books I didn't get time to read, sitting at the end of my Granny's bed, drinking fizz regardless of the hour, and crisp walks. Happy (almost) New Year!
"A story can be like a mad, lovely visitor, with whom you spend a rather exciting weekend." The Art of Fiction, with Lorrie Moore.
"My house, shared with four others, was fine at first...I mopped my wooden floors. Bought my own curtains. You can do a lot with twenty quid and a trip to Ikea... Our neighbours in the Residents' Association gave us a vintage sideboard that we filled with fancy-on-a-budget wine and we had people round to dinner. I made tacos!" Harriet Hapgood on calling your landlord every week, making a home from a rented house.
Inside the iconic Habitat 67 housing complex.
Do artists have a responsibility to address social issues through their work? A double bill: A.O Scott's essay "Is Our Art Equal To The Challenges of Our Times?" and this resulting panel discussion.
I know you care. Lindsay Lohan's Top Shelf for Into The Gloss.
Birdsong London, an online shop stocking products handmade by women's groups and charities.
Simon Amstell's Numb
Beats In Space radio show #757
David Sedaris: The Santaland Diaries goes live on Christmas Eve. Savour it with a mince pie, or whilst wrapping presents.
I Am Not Afraid by Owen Pallett. From the album I've been binging on all week. Part Sufjan Stevens, part In Rainbows, with hints of Perfume Genius and John Grant;
Posted by discotheque confusion at 2:42 pm
Sunday, December 14, 2014
A bumper Sunday edition of The Weekend List. This weekend has been a low-key one for me; yesterday was particularly marvellous, and for the first time in months I spent it lazily indoors, over at Nanon's, sprawled under a duvet on the sofa, with her mirroring me on the one opposite. With absolutely no intention of moving, silent laptop marathoning with a best friend, mince pies to hand, central heating on and an occasional grunt from one sofa to the other "I just watched the Beyonce film. I think I'm ready to be back in love with her." "Mm-hmm." "I've just remembered we ended last night dancing to Voulez Vous and feeling like the best dancers ever...Voulez Vous!" You need a Saturday like that every once in a while. Without further ado, some links to lose yourself in. Pop the kettle on, you know the drill.
This brilliant and bizarre interview with Michael Keaton in small-town Montana
Eartha Kitt on love and compromise
Good for the soul. New Yorkers roller dancing to William Onyeabor over at Nowness.com
Chris Hadfield's Reddit Q+A from when he was on the International Space Station. (Side note: I interviewed Chris Hadfield this week and it was everything I dreamed of and more. He's one of those people who is consistently fascinating and articulate- poetic, even. Even though he had this tired look in his eyes, of somebody who was essentially just working, and repeating the same ideas over and over and giving a lot of himself, it was amazing to speak with somebody who has been to actual space and looked at us all from above. You can listen to the very short interview here, just as long as you're patient with my early awkwardness and inability to get my words to match the ones in my head. Babysteps.)
Issa Rae, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Lena Waithe in conversation
I Was A Teenage Little Chef Supervisor
Spine Trolley's utterly brilliant #soupreviews
It's that time of year when we all naturally take a look over our shoulders at the last 12 months and reflect on the things that we did, didn't do, and the things that we liked along the way. For me, this year was especially big on a-u-d-i-o, and so this is a bumper edition of some wonderful things I've listened to. After moving into my flat in June, and choosing to go without internet, I've spent a lot of my time demolishing podcasts and listening to the Radio. There have been epiphanies and sex advice with the Savage Lovecast whilst cooking dinner, wet eyes listening to the 2014 Reith Lectures, evening walks with my headphones and Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow and the Nerdette women, and hanging washing and then eventual apathy with Serial. There's also been a heap of new music I probably wouldn't have otherwise discovered after a new guy joined us at work and got us all listening to NTS. I also met Nija, who runs the wonderful In The Dark Radio nights here in Manchester, and who has introduced me to some wonderful radio documentaries, all in the setting of cosy, pitch-black rooms in pubs and back rooms around the city.
Singing Together with Jarvis Cocker
No Man Left Behind; one of my favourite listens this year; a story of deep-cave diving and death in Bushman's Hole, one of the deepest freshwater caves in the world.
Ann Powers' Top 15 albums of 2014; I relish lists like this, full of albums I've missed, or artists I've never heard of.
Shamir's Northtown EP
Shadow of Blood by Lena Platonos. Very sexy; how I imagine the soundtrack to Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin holidaying on a Greek island might sound.
Steve Gunn's Way Out Weather. Pretty country, fairly Bill Callahan, the sort of album that makes me wish I was a man, living commando in one pair of denim jeans, against an Annie Proulx landscape (but free of the death and angst), a few healthy repressions, and lots of horses to whisper whoahhh to. Start with this;
The 10 best John Barry soundtracks
City of Sound
If you're looking for Christmas present ideas, my good friend Charlie is making and selling beautiful jewellery
Posted by discotheque confusion at 2:21 pm
Monday, November 24, 2014
Posted by discotheque confusion at 7:00 am
Saturday, November 22, 2014
“I have issues with the idea that if someone does or says something wrong that there is no coming back, and that is the kind of person they are now and always. That’s never been true for anybody that wants to learn and wants to grow.” Ashley Ford being interviewed as part of Women on women writing online, a new series from cool Guardian intern Sarah Galo.
"When I am creating, I love my body." Phoebe Wahl's brilliant body-positive illustrations. (Thanks to Kate for the tip.)
"The second kind of freedom to me that is important in the media if the idea of giving freely. When you feel or sense that someone is giving you something not out of profit, but out of self-respect, Christian charity, whatever it is. That has a very powerful energy. The Guardian, in my understanding, was founded by an endowment by a successful man with a social conscience who wanted to help create a voice for what I call the little guy. So they have a kind of moral mission or imperative. This has given them the latitude to try to be interesting, thoughtful, helpful. And they bring Edward Snowden to the world stage. Something that is not pleasant for a lot of people to hear about, but we need to know." If you haven't listened to Iggy Pop's John Peel Lecture for BBC 6 Music yet, save it for Sunday night when you're pottering about and getting yourself mentally prepared for Monday. It's a good sentiment to absorb before the start of a new week. (Alternatively read the transcript here)
Sustainability and sex, or the very cool Father-Daughter team behind natural condom company Sustain.
I've passed the honeymoon period with Call Your Girlfriend; we're plodding along just fine but I'm looking for new podcasts that make me guffaw or feel as thoughtful as CYG did in the early days. This week I listened to Savage Lovecast while I cooked dinner. I downloaded, heard Dan Savage talking about reclaiming the word pussy, and dispensing advice to somebody trying to recover their sexuality after sexual assault I thought this is it. Thoughtful, pragmatic, intelligent and funny (if you can overlook the comedic level of adverts). Here's Dan on the P-word:
"Remember, pussies are strong, they chew up semen and spit out humans! It's scrotums that are weak and vulnerable... you give them a tap and the guy is on the ground. So we should use the word 'scrote' instead of pussy."
Paul Smith and Peter Brewis- Barcelona (at Eye Level);
Make Our Garden Grow
99 Percent Invisible: Three Records From Sundown. Nick Drake special.
Alan Turing's Love Letter Generator is true romance.
10 Female Dada artists you should know
Posted by discotheque confusion at 7:00 am
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
In order to stay true to this resolution, I am publicly declaring my intentions, starting a ‘Take me somewhere with heat and Vitamin D’ money pot and I’ll update on the outfits I wear to work each day, just to prove that it’s possible. (Or if it isn’t) I’ll also make mark my calendar for the sake of progress-recording and maybe draw stars, because when it comes down to it, there is an inner child within us all who just wants a star chart again. God forbid, maybe I’ll create a hashtag. Something like #30daysofsteelyfrugality or #fortydaysandfortymothballs. I think I'm going to find this hard because there are plenty of things I have on my eternal mental shopping list. But I'm going to try to forge ahead. (*disclaimer; I bought a beautiful rollneck jumper earlier about an hour before I decided to kickstart a period of frugality. I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks and bought it from the money I've made from my first, ever writing commission.) But I'll be wearing it with some golden oldies. Feel free to join this gang; it’s less awkward than the reality of a clothing swap, and sort of like a beckon onto the internet-dancefloor of cool women dancing in skirts they love again. *Pulsing feelgood montage music fades in*
Update: We are now an *actual* club (so far it's me, Camille of Unpretentious Bouquet of Parenthesis, and Fiona of Save Our Shoes) We're using the hashtag #oldootd and uploading what we're wearing each day onto Instagram. Come join our gang! It's inspiring to have fellow supporters/money savers/old clothes re-inventors to ride the wave with.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 12:05 am
Sunday, September 28, 2014
An hour-long interview with Penny Martin via Show Studio.
"As I was running out of my apartment, I looked in the fridge and all I had was a leftover falafel, which is the only thing I had time to eat as I wrote it. I will forever associate Betty Friedan with cold falafel." The Art of the Obituary; an interview with The New York Times's Margalit Fox.
"She is no longer the physical technician she used to be, but the less she relies on her body, the more she comes to trust her sense of humour as the backbone of her brand." We Might Finally Be Meeting The Real Britney Spears.
"We got to the B&B late and they left out tea and cookies for us and we tiptoed around the house in the dark, looking at prints of whales and family photos, all the while eating our ginger snaps... We had, it must be said, and I'm sorry to tell you this, life affirming sex." Meaghan O'Connell's short piece about the conception of her baby.
"I delight in telling her that one day she, like me, will experience the liberation of not giving a single shit what anyone thinks. But my joy is unfathomable to her, and one morning she storms out of the house when I pliez in my Y-fronts." Father and Daughter story by Rose Bretecher.
The Ugly Project via Show Studio. Essays, interviews and 'object analysis' of odd earrings and clumpy shoes.
Steve McQueen on Desert Island Discs.
Lunch. (Episode 1/5) Bill and Bella meet every month for lunch and swap news. I listened to this 15 minute drama whilst I cooked a salmon stir-fry the other night and guffawed. (Only available for one more day)
Funkiest shit ever. Clip from Sunil Dutt's 1981 film Rocky. I'm yet to watch this film but have been listening to composer RD Burman, and in turn his score for this film.
I completed a Women in Clothes survey.
Lena Dunham's advice videos.
10 lessons I've learned in my career via Joanna Goddard.
Steely resolve! 7 Questions to Ask When Cleaning Out Your Closet.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 10:27 am
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Nicki Minaj's feminism isn't about your comfort zone.
Meredith Graves's spoken word piece about Andrew WK and Lana Del Ray and the double standard of authenticity. (Wow alert!)
"In order to tell 'tepid' to fuck off once and for all, you must recognise that life among those who don't appreciate or understand you is bullshit." Or, How Do I Find True Love and Stop Dating Half-Assed Men?
Gardening in London when you're lonely by Maeve Higgins.
Last weekend I made a mixtape with my friend Michael. We took turns to play songs; moving from Brazil through to California via some weird shit and a sound recording of the fruit caller who yells 'Strawberries! Come and get your strawberries!" outside the greengrocers by my parents home in Bristol. We ate tomatoes and plums and croissants and drank rooibos and god help me, I tried to mix. It was a pretty nice way of combatting that Sunday evening 'back to school' feeling. The quality varies somewhat but you can listen to side 1 here and side 2 here.
Queen by Perfume Genius.
5 Lady-powered podcasts.
"People seem surprised when I tell them that being with my best friend feels like being in love, even though it's distinctly- platonic- but how insufficient a word that can seem." This post over at Right Now Forever.
Wuts_Ur_Sign, shopfronts and signage on Instagram.
Grilled greens cheese toastie.
Top 10 UK Art Blogs
Posted by discotheque confusion at 2:27 pm
Friday, September 12, 2014
Much of this morning has been spent sitting in the sunny room at the top of my parent's house. This was my bedroom for most of the time that I lived here. It sits at the front of the house so that you can watch the street throughout the day. This was one of my favourite things about the room when I was 12 and strange and used to stand at the window with the curtains closed and monitor the street in the evenings through a little gap. Just keeping an eye on everything like some bizarre, unelected member of a neighbourhood watch committee. Evidently this viewpoint still acts in the room's favour, although the relationship between a desk and a view is always a tricky one; is a front-facing window crucial for feeling connected to what is going on outside as you work or just a distraction from what must be done? I always like the view but drift off easily watching home-deliveries arrive from the supermarket and children shoot along the pavement on micro scooters.
Either way, the light pours in and the desk sits right in the middle of the room like a declaration of intent. No pushing to the wall here, it's right in the centre so that when you walk in it you feel you've been called into somebody's office. My Mum has three piles of CDs stacked up on the surface; an assortment of classical concertos and irresistible pop; Crash Test Dummies and Scissor Sisters and the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack alongside Mozart, The Beach Boys and Catatonia. There's a baby pink ashtray which suggests that this office might be the home of an alcoholic publisher, though clearly a drinks bar in the corner would be the olive in the martini.
I've spent much of this week at home surveying the bookshelves, which is one of the great things that comes with returning. Poking things saying "this is new" and admiring the more grown-up furniture that has been acquired since leaving. My Mum always watches my trips home as an owner might their dog after taking it off its lead, scurrying about the park sniffing the trunks of trees. I gradually work my way around the house collecting the reference books I'd forgotten, or left behind, or never found reason to read in the first place. On my bedside table a pile too impossibly large to work my way through always outstays each visit.
'Cheap Chic', a wonderful personal-style reference guide is top of this pile, and has added fuel to my current re-enthusiasm for clothes and style. The sort of apathy-free enthusiasm I had when I started this blog 8 years ago. Written by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy, and published in 1975, Cheap Chic preludes my other go-to style book The Cheap Date Guide to Style and is arguably superior. It blends personal style features on college students, photojournalists, actors and painters with long chapters dedicated to sportwear, jersey, and how to shop for clothes in markets around the world. The preoccupation with personal style shuns any element of exclusivity, which is always my major beef when it comes to mainstream glossy publications and fashion magazines. I find the presence of class, status and money on the pages of Vogue overwhelmingly off-putting, but with a book like Cheap Chic I can enjoy an image of Cher alongside a student wearing an ugly pair of boots with aplomb and feel entirely comfortable. It's all about choice; there's no whiff of frantic selling to the reader. Here it's self-expression, experimentation, frugality and investment; and the sort of investment that's actually attainable.
Some of my favourite extracts:
"In London, the painter Duggie Fields and about twenty of thirty friends put on their own "jumble sales" by hiring a church hall and bringing things to sell. "The rental goes to the church charities, and what we make we keep for ourselves. We advertise the sale in the local papers, list it in Time Out magazine, and design posters to put in neighbourhood shops. Hundreds of people come. It's fun, and it's a good way to get rid of your old stuff and get new from your friends. It's good recycling, and at the same time you can make $100 in an afternoon just for cleaning out your closet. The clothes are all piled up- our first jumble sale was chaos- and as soon as the doors open, people run in, grabbing. It's like being in a chicken coop. But it's a nice afternoon, and it's fun to see who turns up. I even see people stealing. They know I know they haven't paid, but I'm not going to say a thing... things gotta go! I only buy clothes in stores if I need something I can't find here. They're not necessarily fashionable stores. My favourite is called 'Sex' in the World's End... bits of furs, porno embroidered T-shirts, and humorous clothes. My idea of wearing clothes is to make myself smile. I like this in others to. I don't think clothes should be serious.""
"I go to exercise class twice a week. I spend my money there and on having my hair streaked. And I've done the Royal Canadian Air Force exercises ten minutes every morning since 1962. I save money on cabs by doing everything on my bike or on foot; and year round I play tennis and ski. I'd love to be one of those great beauties, but, to make the best of myself, I have to radiate what I can get from inside: health. I think your mental attitude is based on your physical well-being." Helen Gaillet, New York photojournalist.
"My clothes are fun. They're just a collection that's evolved over the last six years, one thing here and one thing there. And it pleases me. That's what clothes are for, aside from protecting you from the rain and giant armadillos, you know... I don't shop. If the moment is right, I know it. If the thing, the money and I are all together, that's my cue... There's no one thing in my closet that I love- everything is my favourite. I never get up and think, 'I don't have a thing to wear!' It's just a matter of what I feel like mixing. The basic secret of having a style us confidence- you exude it, and people assume that what you wear if not only fashionable, but way-the-hell-ahead-of-them chic. It's a savvy you have about your clothes, and with savvy you can get away with anything." Nancy Crow, lives in New York, works in a publishing house.
As well as enjoying a good nose through Cheap Chic this week I've taken enormous pleasure from Women in Clothes. This is the collaborative project and book edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton made up of essays and insights about how women dress and feel about style and clothes and the many other personal implications that stem from those things. The book is the result of personal style surveys from over 639 women and is utterly fascinating. Women in Clothes isn't yet available to buy in the UK but I've been scrolling through the accompanying Twitter feed and returned surveys. It's cathartic to read some of these thoughts, especially when they tap into the conflicts many of us encounter when it comes to clothes, consumerism and often, feminism. For example, wanting to look brilliant, and wanting to buy clothes that will help to articulate an image I have in my head, and wanting to buy the right things but also trying to avoid overconsumption for environmental and economic reasons. I also find the question of sexiness when it comes to personal style endlessly fascinating, because I always see sexiness and confidence as going hand in hand. But at the same time there are so many complicated feelings that come with dressing sexily; many of them being linked to unwanted attention and all of those horrible feelings that remind me of being shouted at by men from white vans at the age of 12 and having my own sexuality flagged up by other people in public rather than by myself, in private. But I like the variety of the responses that come with questions about attractiveness and what they means to different people. I sometimes feel most attractive when I've just got home from somewhere; maybe the cinema or drinks with friends and my hair has that end-of-day goodness and my skin has a nice flush to it after enthusiastic conversation over a glass of wine and I'm wearing a skirt that swishes well. Sometimes on those nights I'll look in the mirror as I'm washing my face and feel good and happy and sexy and think I wish it was the start of the night now and I could go out feeling like this. But the fact that it's a glow from a well-spent evening is what makes it good.
I used to put so much value on fashion, and I think that's why I found it necessary to change this blog as I got older and my feelings about fashion changed. I used to feel obliged to obsess over cuts and fabrics and draping, fashion houses, matching a detail to a designer and being able to recall a season according to a motif. But at the heart of that fascination was always people. For me, it always comes back to people, which is why, now, I find the idea of style so much more appealing than fashion. The two are linked, of course, but now I find there's something quite boring about Fashion Week. I like occasionally checking in to see what the collections look like, but the carnival that surrounds it, of stylists and industry-people being photographed wearing ubiquitous, shiny head-to-toe looks doesn't do it for me. These aren't the people that interest me because it just all feels a bit too easy. Where's the conflict? It's like they just picked something immediately from a rack but there wasn't anything thoughtful about the process. I'm far more interested in reading about how people navigate dressing for work, people who don't themselves work in the fashion industry. This following little exchange via the Women in Clothes Twitter feed was bang on the money (and incidentally, I really want to find some of these socks. How brilliant would it be, to wear a middle finger around your ankle and have nobody know?)
And this has to be one of my favourite tidbits from the book, and seems a good place to leave these meanderings:
How important is all this? "I hate it when people say they don't care about clothes, because it's a lie. It's like when writers say they don't care about plot. Lie. We are always asking for something when we get dressed. Asking to be loved, to be fucked, to be admired, to be left alone, to make people laugh, to scare people, to look wealthy, to say I'm poor, I love myself. It's the quiet poem in the waiting room, on the subway, in the movie of our lives. It's a big fucking deal." Leopoldine Core.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 1:22 pm
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Posted by discotheque confusion at 12:09 pm
Saturday, September 06, 2014
This latest edition of The Weekend List has been put together on the 9.07 Manchester to Bristol train service. I got onto the train and found myself, as I often do, with a reservation on one of those seats that has a big, white chunk of plastic wall where the window should be. Instead of a pane for watching Manchester make way to Cheshire and great heffers in fields and deep deep green there is large sticker locating the nearest fire extinguisher. This really is one of my pet hates in life. The regularity with which this happens is so often that it's almost funny. Almost. I wonder if it's an occurrence designed to make me a more patient person, somebody with less pet hates. My love of train journeys and of the view from the window always triumphs though, along with my irritation.
Onto more positive notes. This week I have been mostly listening to Sharon Van Etten's album 'Are We There'. I particularly like the jarring way she delivers the lyric "I washed your dishes but I shit in your bathroom" in the middle of the Every Time The Sun Comes Up, such a gentle and meandering song that the mention of shitting in a bathroom is quite unexpected and all the better for it. This week I also tried navigating the best way of spending lunchtimes so that you can get out of the office, and move around and rest your mind without having to spend money. I always find it easy to linger at my desk reading articles online as I eat and I'm trying to get out of that habit. Yesterday I walked the short distance to the train station and spent the hour sitting on a bench people-watching and reading. The day before I went to the library and at the start of the week I took my book and sat in the grounds of the Manchester Cathedral. I'm still working through Olivia Laing's book Echo Spring slowly, slowly.
Now I have a week off and will be spending it in Bristol with family and catching up with my Granny. My Granny who has long been chronicled on this blog as a very important part of my life. Collage-influencer, Sex in The City-introducer (I can still hear her helpless guffawing as we both watched one of Samantha's particularly graphic upside-down sex scenes with her gym instructor. I love that we watched this together) fantastic writer of letters and advise-giver. A cheerleader, except in thick-rimmed glasses and knee high boots. Granny is unwell and it looks like this will be our last chapter of gallivanting together. I'm hoping we can spend the week together, eating food that's good for the soul, and maybe guffawing more about sex, if I can find get my hands on a copy of Scotty Bowers's memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars which I read about in Sadie Stein's Paris Review column and sounds fantastic. A tome dedicated to who was shagging who in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
For now, here are some tasty reads and listens for the weekend. Have a good one.
"Success is when you can buy any book you want without looking at the price and you never have to be around assholes." John Waters on fans, shocking parents and pushing limits.
"She was strong yet humble, serious yet hilarious, both teacher and student, and in my mind, the physical embodiment of life itself." Danielle Pender on Deborah Sussman.
An interview with Omar Sosa and Nacho Alegre, editors of Apartamento magazine.
"I like the idea of an aesthetic and a style as not just something that applies to clothes, but something that's consistent throughout all your choices." Sheila Heti interview in Rookie.
A big pink coat and trainers. A good 'throw this on, it's the weekend' outfit via Canned Fashion.
Breakfasts in literature. "If somebody is having toast and marmalade this morning, it is a safe guess that they had it yesterday and that they will have it tomorrow as well. For this reason, breakfast is the ideal barometer of normalcy, the meal that tells us who a person really is."
A love letter to the $1 ice-cream sandwich.
The Map That Made New York
Groovy downloadable mixes from Manchester
Dance to this! Ask Me After Midnight by Glowing Palms
And some extra snacks
Too lazy to be ambitious.
Truth-bombshell from Durga Chew-Bose
Herb Lester's round up of Old New York.
This wonderful Tumblr, From There.
Striking photographs of women tanning themselves.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 1:47 pm
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Sometimes there's a great joy in paying somebody for a service which will be done very well. Taking a watch, for example, to be mended rather than leaving it to accumulate dust in one of those miscellaneous saucers which sit on shelves and contain safety pins and coins and other broken oddities. I guess if I was the sort of person who took clothing for alterations, then that too. There's joy too in going to the hairdressers on a Saturday once every few weeks. Having somebody swaddle you in a black gown and giving yourself up to that strangely intimate yet delicious ritual of having your scalp scratched and hair washed by a stranger. You can enjoy a complimentary coffee and one of those strange malty biscuits which only ever come with complimentary coffees and you can leaf through the magazines you're too cynical to spend your own money on and give in to convention and discuss holidays as you watch somebody snip snip snip away and then walk out, after handing over some money and really feel sorted. I think that so often it's that feeling of sortedness that you're paying for.
All of the above is true, but a little DIY should never be knocked, and sometimes just feels better for the soul. I've spent much of the past fortnight doing a lot of standing in front of the mirror and knocking my hair behind my shoulders to visualise a shorter length. We all do that when we're thinking about a haircut, don't we? Contort lengths from the front into fake fringe. Or pulling a ponytail loose to test a bob and realising that you just look like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. To hack or not to hack?
In the end, I just decided to do it myself at home, which I haven't done since I got a 'proper job' last year and felt that being one of those people who has their hair foiled every 6-8 weeks is the right sort of person to employ. I was listening to Solange, no doubt it had something to do with Solange. You can't sing with gusto to an EP called 'True" without actually being true, and, you know, reassessing the financial implications of bi-monthly hair snipping. It's so damned rewarding to just grab the waste paper basket, twist locks and hack with a pair of scissors from the kitchen. Snip snip. Shit! Snip snip snip. Cutting your hair at home feels super good if you're a fan of instant gratification, feel you can conquer a straight line, or don't mind either way. Swish swish swish. You walk differently when you have a haircut you like and which cost you £0. Bounce bounce bounce, down the street- that saved haircut money just bought a cosy little caffeine kick and a trip to the cinema. Imagine yourself at the cinema, one of those up-close shots of your beaming face with light moving across, echoing the face of the universal cinema-goers reflected back to us from various screens. Your beaming face and that free blunt haircut. Money for popcorn or tear-jerking catharsis on a Sunday afternoon. Real joy.
Paying for a 'service' is something I still yo-yo over. It seems like the right thing to do, the adult thing to do. But then I come back to thinking about the relationship between full time work and consumption and expenditures and just feel incredibly tired. I subscribe to the thinking that it's very convenient to keep people wanting more, consuming more, working more. And why is spending a great sum of money associated with glossiness and good upkeep? I always tell myself that if I came into a comfy sum of money I would buy myself a killer Saville Row suit, but then I think of my Great Aunty Megan who wore the killer suits that she had made herself 40 years previously. Has paying for frequent haircuts over the past year been worth it? Would I have looked scruffier at the office if I snipped my hair at home, or would I have been able to afford a couple more trips away at the weekend instead? (NB, Carrie Bradshaw; you have enriched my life in many ways but I wish you hadn't dulled the impact of a good rhetorical question.) Maybe looking scruffier at the office wouldn't matter so much if it bought me the chance to do more wonderful things at the weekend, to take a train to London and gently glide through the waters at the Hampstead Heath Ponds, buy a friend a bottle of wine to say 'I'm thinking of you' and pop some red tulips into the shopping basket at the last minute, just before the sound of "Till Number 3 please". I think I'll always quite enjoy exploring where to practice frugality and where it might be worth spending more. (HELLO sleeping at Stansted Airport before that early-morning Ryanair flight.) For now though, there's quite a nice smugness to doing it yourself. Hack hack hack, instant gratification.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 11:39 pm
Friday, August 08, 2014
Photographer Lucy Hilmer has taken a photograph of herself wearing nothing but a pair of comfy white cotton pants and some socks and moccasins on every one of her birthdays since 1974. This series- the aptly named Birthday Suits- is wonderful, chronicling the changes which in life are usually so subtle, but much clearer when captured in staggered succession.
Visible changes to Hilmer's face, and body and additions to her family tell of the life lived along the way. Nothing extraordinary; unless, that is, you count standing nearly naked at the roadside in Death Valley as extraordinary, which you just might. This is a body that isn't so dissimilar from my own when starkers, or it could be the process of ageing and perhaps a glimpse of motherhood that make them feel universal. This private view into the life of a stranger felt oddly familiar, like memories of seeing my Mum naked in the bath and how normal and comfortable that felt, even though I would unlikely see it now. Chattering and chattering away on the loo while she floated about in the water, or, when I was really little lathering up a loofah and giving her back a good scrub; really getting to the dead skins cells, to that part of the back that only gets tended to by other people. The part that translates as "can you do my back?" when on the beach.
Either way, these photographs have lodged themselves into my brain and have stayed since. It's because there's something about them that illicit an acceptance of the body.
I've come a good way overcoming body hang-ups in the last 4 years or so. I was never hugely body-conscious as a teenager. My Dad told me from a young age that fat was a horrible word. And my Granny- who supplied me with issues of Vogue from the start- once held an issue up whilst we were basking in the sun of her back garden and pointed at Kate Moss on the cover. "Look! Look at that," she squinted at her waist, "You do know this isn't real, don't you?" I can't remember my Mum saying much about bodies at all. But as soon as I hit 18 and grew hips and stuff and all of those nights during my A-Levels of going to bed and staying up late with a sweet heap of sugary granola for company started to show. There were moments of looking down at my body in the bath and thinking "huh. look at that roll," and for some reason this little niggle developed more by the time I went to university until I found myself having those negative body conversations with girlfriends over beers at the pub. Those conversations in which you sort of jeer each other on, moaning in equal parts about how you both wished you could be better. Resolutions about going to the gym, and self control that doesn't account for pragmatism or fun and only parades as stemming from self respect, and really, it all comes back to comparing yourself to a particular body ideal you feel obliged to follow. All of this instead of viewing a changing body as a cool, womanly thing and tummy wobbles as natural, so natural that the paintings of irresistible sirens in local galleries even have them.
I've found dancing, being naked with nice people and going topless on a beach in Croatia all things that have helped along the way, but I understand that being really confident about your own body when you're in your 20s is still a tricky path to navigate. Not for everybody, but certainly for myself and I know for many others. One of the nice things that comes with this stage of trial and error, comfort and discomfort are the mini revelations that can come along the way. The sort of revelations that women in their thirties and forties maybe don't think about as much as they did in their twenties. But they're the revelations that come with grasping the attractiveness of flaws and variety; of watching older women on the beaches with dimply arses and sprouting hair wading back to shore after an intense butterfly crawl in the clear. Or the lovely surprise of sharing or exploring a new body, and of how wonderful and powerful the female body can be whether it is strengthened through dance or exercise, changed and/or recovered through illness, pregnancy and life changes. They're ideas that all seem fairly obvious when you're feeling in a positive space about yourself, and standing in front of a mirror starkers and thinking "yeah!" but it's easy enough to have hiccups and forget. Usually induced by finding yourself in a changing room with a pair of trousers around your thighs, perhaps. (Or apply appropriate hang-up as applicable) These are the things I wish I had learnt at school, but which I realise I probably couldn't have; these things come with time.
In short, this photo series gives a good nudge in the right direction. Bodies are great, and I just wish I hadn't wasted so much time thinking otherwise, or feeling shy about doing cool stuff with my body, like dancing in PE lessons without shame. I hope these photographs can stay in my head and bamboozle those moments in which I still find myself counting down weeks to specific events based on my ability to lose weight; beaches or men or family events onto which I project a slimmer-chinned version of myself.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 12:53 am
Monday, August 04, 2014
I'm relishing summer at the moment. Clammy and upper-lip-sweat-inducing sometimes, yes. But that ease of slipping your bare feet into a pair of sandals and living in them for weeks, or of leaving the house in the evening without a coat. Sleeping most of the night with the sheets kicked off and keeping a jug of cold water permanently in the fridge. Oh, it's good.
These are a couple of outfits I've been kicking about in recently. Special shout-out to the lilac hairclip, which I found on the pavement and have been sliding in when I want to cheaply imitate Margot Tenenbaum. (I don't smoke and I have all of my fingers, it's not going very well.)
Posted by discotheque confusion at 5:31 pm
Saturday, August 02, 2014
"Just because I achieved some microcosmic degree of success in a field that people romanticise, it doesn’t feel to me that I have to make a career out of it." Interview with writer David Shapiro on creative expectations, the art of choosing an alias pen-name and relationships with parents.
"You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something." Why Louis CK hates mobile phones.
If you watched Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' and you wondered which tracks were included on Ethan Hawke's post-Beatles 'best of the solo material' compilation mix then you're in luck; the tracklist is here.
Wyatting. The verb referring to the act of taking a pub hostage through the playing of terrible songs on the jukebox. Ned Beauman wrote about it in The Guardian some years back. Deliciously mischievous or the work of a snobbish party pooper; you decide.
A song for your weekend: I Talk To The Wind (2) by Giles, Giles and Fripp.
"The sort of thing that a college boy will shovel into his mouth before hitting a weights room that smells of Tuesday's socks" << Now that's the way to describe a lentil, mint and feta omelette. The Quadrille blog features recipes from their latest releases with opening gems like this.
Pamela Anderson wrote a poem and posted it on Facebook.
"My peanut butter and jam both ran out in the same sandwich, so truly romance is alive in the world today." I went to a poetry reading in Berlin and was really bummed out to have to leave to catch a bus before Crispin Best came on. (Thanks to Harriet for the heads up!) Next time, next time. I thoroughly recommend watching this video of one of his readings a couple of years ago.
Thought For The Day:
Dancing out of the sunroof. 16 seconds of goodness and only 86 views; the internet was made for small joys like this YouTube clip of a woman (aka my new hero) dancing in a moving car in snowy Cleveland.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 3:05 pm
Friday, August 01, 2014
Step: or, explore past moving moodboards here and here.
Posted by discotheque confusion at 9:26 pm
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Without further ado, here are is your Weekend List. Happy Weekend!
Music- The Bee Gees special
"The hook was that I was a white guy making ramen and people were going to come and check me out." The Eight Chapters of Ramen short video via Nowness follows Long Islander Ivan Orkin and the science of ramen.
Why I Adore The Night by Jeanette Winterson.
21 Movies About Weird, Kinky or Compulsive Sex via Playlist. Ah, who doesn't like a fantastically niche film compilation list? Also known as "If you liked Nyphomanic then why not try..."
Posted by discotheque confusion at 2:30 am