Ana Kinsella

a week’s clicks #34

Good morning! I spent yesterday on a pedalo in Regent’s Park in the sunshine, followed by dinner for two at St John in Spitalfields and a drink in one of my favourite pubs. I felt like an entry in a Buzzfeed Perfect London Dates listicle. This weekend could surely only be improved by a cooling dip in a local swimming pond and then some relaxing reading. I have that part covered here, at least.

I wonder if you, like me, feel, just now, like a ghost in the sunlight, awash in memories as your life shifts from student to professional, and your professors become your colleagues. I’ll pull rank now—but just for a moment—and say that my ghosts are probably older than yours. I mean almost Madonna old, and her 1980s music is there in my reminiscences along with so much more as I recall that the majority of my ghosts became just that during the AIDS crisis, which I first read about while I was a student at Columbia—in 1981 or so. I met those now gone boys at Columbia some time before I met you. In memory they wear what they wore then: Oxford button-downs, and they smoke and gossip in the sun that always makes the steps of Low Library—the very steps you’ve sat on yourself—look like a sketch in a dream. Tomorrow was faraway then. And then it wasn’t.

 

On the whole, Cal was encouraging. He liked women writers and I don’t think he ever had a true interest in a woman who wasn’t a writer—an odd turn-on indeed, and one I’ve noticed not greatly shared. Women writers don’t tend to be passive vessels or wives, saying, “Oh, that’s good, dear.”

a week’s clicks #33

I came back from a short family holiday straight into a thunderstorm of work- and home-related panic. If you know anyone looking for a big and beautiful double room in north London, please send them my way so I can sleep easy again. In return, please have these things to read.

  • Behind the scenes at Porter, my current favourite magazine.
  • David Shapiro, formerly of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, and Emily Gould, of the entire internet, interview each other about the mechanics of using life in literature at Interview.
  • What the women of Vice wear to work | Racked.
  • "As the suburbs gave way to the scrubs – and the sun to the pitch black of night, pricked only by headlights and hypermarkets – the sense of distance started to set in. There I was, trying to make my way across a continent that millions died to build, on a fucking coach. This wasn’t Brighton on a Megabus – this wasn’t even Paris on a Megabus; this was slowly cutting across different worlds." Clive Martin traverses Europe on a bus. I usually think this kind of thing reads like it was written by a particularly bright teenager, one in awe of Charlie Brooker’s us-vs-them smart-vs-stupid binary dance, but maybe taking Clive literally out of the UK was all they needed to shake things up a little.
  • Airports viewed from above.
  • "It was the kind of neighbourhood where people would say nothing if they heard screaming. They’d put pillows over their heads if murders were going on." From the first photographer on the scene at the Polanski-Tate house.
  • The gorgeous home-workspace of the former eds of Acne Paper, who seem to be the kind of combination and friends and collaborators that dreams are made of.
  • "17. A device that when you get mail you drop it in and it will tear it up and scan it and then put it in your inbox." And 91 more free ideas.
  • "Many artists have spent careers trying to prove that America doesn’t exist. Or that if it does, it’s only steam rising from a rotting pie. I believe Lynch. But I also believe Lana. Because all that glorious Americana takes its cues from somewhere, right? There exist long stretches of open road flanked by desert and mountain and surf. There exist giddy poems about the individual, uniquely American spirit." The New Inquiry have an issue dedicated to Lana Del Rey, including Nina Power (!) on labour and ‘Money, Power, Glory’.
  • The Irish government should buy Edna O’Brien’s childhood home.
  • TK’s West Coast trip looks thoroughly delicious and dreamy.

From the archives: This week Anne Hollander died aged 83. A historian, she wrote about fashion and style in a way that was so clear, clever and illuminating, and that we are so lacking now today. Fashion writing today most often props itself up, fundamentally serving the tempestuous relationships between designer and  pr and press. It can be like a snake eating its own tail rather than something that shows us some truth about ourselves and our world that we may not otherwise see. Hollander’s writing, which you can see here in her 1990s columns for Slate, stood a world apart. From 'A loss for words: why there's not good writing about fashion’, Feb 5 1997:

Good critical writing about clothing hardly exists at all. There is no tradition of clothes criticism that includes serious analysis, or even of costume criticism among theater, ballet, and opera critics, who do have an august writerly heritage. This fact may be what makes the fashion journalist hate her job—the painful sense that real work cannot be done in this genre, that it would be better, more honorable, to be writing about something else.

a week’s clicks #32

Hello! A bumper edition of weekly links here so maybe put the kettle on or take your laptop out into the sunshine or whatever you need to get comfy. I’m on holidays next Sunday, so this has to last you two whole weeks. Enjoy yourself.

  • "Would it be really easy to assume that I was a douchebag?" he says. "Definitely. One hundred percent. But that doesn’t mean that I am." He thinks for a minute. "Or maybe I am, I don’t know." He takes a long sip of green juice. "Okay," he says. "So I’m gonna get really intricately self-reflective right now and ask myself the hard questions, to find out, once and for all, definitively, whether or not I’m a douchebag." Adam Levine gets philosophical with GQ. File this under Truly Great Celeb Profiles.

  • Why is the internet blue? Because, uh, it reflects the sea or something?
  • A conversation with the humans (?) behind ClickHole, another damning indictment on America’s loose grip on sarcasm and irony.
  • "I know “postmenopausal psychiatrist” is not the look I should be aiming for at my age. And that, like Nora Ephron, I will “regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six.” But I can’t help it. The woman I’m channeling when I get dressed in the morning does not know what a wedge sneaker or a BB cream is or maybe even that a material called “stretch denim” exists. She’s the type of woman who shops at Eskandar, rebuys the same Issey Miyake purse every five years, attends gala events in a nylon windbreaker. She can afford—both financially and socially—to be underdressed.”
  • Pretty amazing images of crime on the NYC subway from the archive of the New York Daily News.
  • Andrew O’Hagan reports from the front-lines, if not the front row, of London’s menswear fashion week for the London Review of Books.
  • A long, important, moving read from Kathleen Hale about her rape and rape trial. Quoting from it here would seem gauche, I think, so please read it in full.
  • Photographer Karine Laval talks about her Eclipses series.
  • 'Marci was watching television in her fourth-floor walk-up on West Twenty-first Street on the day the water reached the base of the streetlights. She stood up from her couch and let her carton of chocolate coconut Bliss fall to the floor. “Holy shit,” she said. “Don and Peggy do hook up. I knew it. I mean, I didn’t know it. But, on some level, I knew it.”' Prestige TV in the time of climate change | The New Yorker.
  • There were a lot of rushed, uninformed op-eds online this week about Dov Charney and Terry Richardson and drawing false parallels all over the gaf, with the added bonus of being able to run racy archive images. Yawn. It reminded how tedious and kinda dumb the internet’s ‘intelligence culture’, churning out think-pieces in line with whatever scandal has been dished up this week, can really be. But this, by Molly Lambert at Grantland, is of a different breed: “The constant sexualization of female images in magazines like Vice, the AA ads, and Terry Richardson’s photography created a false binary; if you couldn’t tolerate it, you must be a square. To be offended was to condemn sexual freedom entirely, even if all you were offended by was that the nudity focused on pretty young women to the exclusion of everyone else. The best you could do was to be indifferent and wait for it to pass. It’s confusing but common that someone can be incredibly transgressive and intelligent on some fronts and remain willfully dumb about others.”
  • Rare shots of New York’s 1980s drag scene | NYmag.
  • Teenage girls are using Instagram to fix their unhealthy relationships with food | Buzzfeed.
  • Have I mentioned enough that I’m excited to go to California this autumn yet.
  • "At the time Ephron’s death prompted blog entries and social media posts all saying the same thing: I knew this woman, I will miss her dreadfully, I will cherish the work she left behind. Nora Ephron’s legacy is a simple one. Women adored her. She inspired countless writers and brought comfort to so many readers with her sharp writing and acerbic attitude that never strayed into meanness." On missing Nora Ephron.

From the archives: How to live without irony, Christy Wampole at the New York Times, November 17th 2012.

Take, for example, an ad that calls itself an ad, makes fun of its own format, and attempts to lure its target market to laugh at and with it. It pre-emptively acknowledges its own failure to accomplish anything meaningful. No attack can be set against it, as it has already conquered itself. The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism. The same goes for ironic living. Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public. It is flagrantly indirect, a form of subterfuge, which means etymologically to “secretly flee” (subter + fuge). Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.

last Sunday I met with five friends and set off at noon on an all-day bike-ride, way out east and then south, hugging the Thames as it gets fatter and uncoils itself towards Essex. The primary pretext was technically architecture - the architect amongst us plotted a route and drew up factsheets, which she read from as we reached a location of interest (a flour mill, a sewage station, a sink estate); the secondary pretext was, simply, enjoying ourselves in the sun together. Among our number was one cyclephobic, at least two afraid of roads and one, me, fearful of leaving myself out in the sun for too long, lest I go bad like a bowl of hummus.  
Shakily we wheeled down the Hertford Union canal by Victoria Park, weaving between joggers and weekend revellers, many just off Hackney’s half-marathon that weekend and already proudly clutching cold cans of Red Stripe. Let me say here that we very quickly began to feel very alive, very free, as if we had escaped some terror and were running suddenly off an abundance of adrenaline. Those of us with a steadier grip on our wheels flung our hands away from our handlebars, pulled our hair of ponytails and took advantage of the breeze between our fingers and up our shorts. Let me say that the audio equivalent of that feeling for me, now, is the rolling trundle of bike-wheels over looser strips of stone lining the water. You’ll know it if you’ve walked a London waterway, and I can hear it now from my desk in my office and have an almost Pavlovian response, thinking: how long until I can get back on my bike? My workaday lust for weekends used to be for those two whole days where I could sleep late or visit museums or binge drink or have sex in the afternoons - all those beautiful indulgences that working in an office five days a week, that adulthood in general, seem hell-bent on preventing you from doing. And now I think, waking fog-eyed and tired on a Wednesday: how many kilometres could I cover this Saturday?
Last weekend it was 25. Many of them were spent getting lost in Canning Town, where we paused to have a picnic literally in the shadow of an Amazon warehouse. More were spent racing each other out in Woolwich, on a designated path running towards the Thamesmead estate, a GoPro camera tied to the handlebars. The path at times was dirt and like a country lane in the south of France (almost). I kept an eye on my iPhone’s pedometer, counting miles and translating that to how my body felt, how sore my saddle was. One mile on from Thamesmead, we paused to call it a day before heading back to Woolwich, to high-five giddily, take some photos, catch our breath. Out over the water there was a clear view from Canary Wharf’s banking behemoth towers to east London and beyond, the Shard glinting in the sunlight. The city looked tiny, and leaning forward on my handlebars, I shut one eye and tried to contain the view between forefinger and thumb. “That’s where we live,” said the architect, pointing from beside me. “Isn’t it strange, to come so far?”

last Sunday I met with five friends and set off at noon on an all-day bike-ride, way out east and then south, hugging the Thames as it gets fatter and uncoils itself towards Essex. The primary pretext was technically architecture - the architect amongst us plotted a route and drew up factsheets, which she read from as we reached a location of interest (a flour mill, a sewage station, a sink estate); the secondary pretext was, simply, enjoying ourselves in the sun together. Among our number was one cyclephobic, at least two afraid of roads and one, me, fearful of leaving myself out in the sun for too long, lest I go bad like a bowl of hummus.  

Shakily we wheeled down the Hertford Union canal by Victoria Park, weaving between joggers and weekend revellers, many just off Hackney’s half-marathon that weekend and already proudly clutching cold cans of Red Stripe. Let me say here that we very quickly began to feel very alive, very free, as if we had escaped some terror and were running suddenly off an abundance of adrenaline. Those of us with a steadier grip on our wheels flung our hands away from our handlebars, pulled our hair of ponytails and took advantage of the breeze between our fingers and up our shorts. Let me say that the audio equivalent of that feeling for me, now, is the rolling trundle of bike-wheels over looser strips of stone lining the water. You’ll know it if you’ve walked a London waterway, and I can hear it now from my desk in my office and have an almost Pavlovian response, thinking: how long until I can get back on my bike? My workaday lust for weekends used to be for those two whole days where I could sleep late or visit museums or binge drink or have sex in the afternoons - all those beautiful indulgences that working in an office five days a week, that adulthood in general, seem hell-bent on preventing you from doing. And now I think, waking fog-eyed and tired on a Wednesday: how many kilometres could I cover this Saturday?

Last weekend it was 25. Many of them were spent getting lost in Canning Town, where we paused to have a picnic literally in the shadow of an Amazon warehouse. More were spent racing each other out in Woolwich, on a designated path running towards the Thamesmead estate, a GoPro camera tied to the handlebars. The path at times was dirt and like a country lane in the south of France (almost). I kept an eye on my iPhone’s pedometer, counting miles and translating that to how my body felt, how sore my saddle was. One mile on from Thamesmead, we paused to call it a day before heading back to Woolwich, to high-five giddily, take some photos, catch our breath. Out over the water there was a clear view from Canary Wharf’s banking behemoth towers to east London and beyond, the Shard glinting in the sunlight. The city looked tiny, and leaning forward on my handlebars, I shut one eye and tried to contain the view between forefinger and thumb. “That’s where we live,” said the architect, pointing from beside me. “Isn’t it strange, to come so far?”

a week’s clicks #31

I’m very, very tired typing this today, having cycled over 15 miles through east and then south-east London today in such baking sunshine. It’s the best mood boost I’ve ever found, seconded only by cooling off with some really good reading.

   Unmade Beds: Dwelling and Dreamspace
          The Kitchen Table: The House as Workshop
          Doors and Windows: Toward a Total Interior
          Outside Walls: The House as Sculpture
          Leaving Home: From House to Exhibition

  • The profile of the phenomenal Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City in this week’s New Yorker was fantastic, is behind a pay-wall etc, but, you know, maybe they’ll lift it if we click it enough. Or here’s my digested read in the meantime: Hey, older New Yorker readers, these lazy millenials aren’t all lazy - and some are even pretty funny! These girls talk about vaginas, friendship and men with disarming honesty, but wait a second - should they really be smoking that much pot? Kids these days!

I won’t lie: I’m rapidly forgetting which archive links I’ve linked before. This one might be a repeat but at least it’s a good one, though super grotesque so bear that in mind.

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death: Guyana After the Jonestown Massacre, Rolling Stone January 1979.

There was something else, something about the arrangement of the bodies that struck Chapman. Jones was on his back. Most of the others were face down, their heads pointing to Jones. “I could tell,” Chapman said, “that it wasn’t their final statement. It was Jones’.”