a week’s clicks #42
Good evening. I’m getting used to London again, since it is home, despite all its dark evenings and morning fog and daily smog and its citizens’ love for complaining about how hard they work. That’s my big takeaway from being in California: resolving to stop moaning about keeping many balls in the air in that socially-competitive way. It’s an unhealthy condition of living here, like that everyday smog, but I think it could be more escapable than pollution. Anyway, here are your links.
(I was told this week that my interests are those of an old person, only dusty print magazines and journalism that nobody else reads anymore. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s just that the most palatable interests are the ones that stick out, in a list of links. Or maybe some things never go out of style, like the perfect grey t-shirt tucked into some high-waisted blue jeans, or a good essay in the New Yorker.)
- Living a zero-waste life.
- "A lot of what my generation has done on the internet was terrible… But vlogging opened up youth culture to the silent majority. Teenagers, often with very little to say, could talk to hundreds of thousands of people via their YouTube channels. We replaced counter-culture with a meaningless and ill-informed commentariat. We institutionalised online bullying by supporting sites that guaranteed anonymity. But in our response to these misdeeds, we have found a bizarre sense of purpose." A generation (mine) spinning wildly out of control online.
- Agitprop in the era of Aids | Dazed.
- Silicon Valley has a fashion problem, according to Style.com, (and I back this up: San Francisco was certainly the worst-dressed city I’ve ever been to. Tech company hoodies, Fitbits and boring, expensive running shoes don’t add up to anything like a decent dress sense.)
- Is brunch really for jerks? A long round-table discussing that question. But also, plenty of other salient points, like ‘Is inter-neighbourhood tourism dangerous?’ and ‘Is the current trend for rejecting adulthood a complete sham?’ (Hint: yes, if you care about things like human development and being a good friend and daughter and not throwing money down a giant drain and all that other adult stuff.)
- Here are a bunch of great, insightful interviews on the subject of girliness and feminine fantasy in fashion from SHOWstudio: with photographer Arvida Bystrom (“These aesthetics were really important to my childhood, they both affected me in positive and negative ways. I just feel there is so much power in it… I guess the oddness to me is how an aesthetic can be so tied to a certain age.”), stylist Louby McLoughlin and designer Ryan Lo.
- I picked up the new issue of Holiday this week, and it’s all about Scotland!
- "I carefully chose the themes and lingered over guest lists with my parents: I would invite a friend from a sports team and another from marching band and one from the little stone Episcopal church my parents seemed to locate in every town we lived in, creating a kind of cross-cafeteria salon in which girls intermingled with each other in a way they never would at school. This all sounds very picturesque—except for the baked champagne." The tyranny of a slumber party, especially when it involves food.
- Not easy, not sorry: the real question of abortion (and the best thing I read this week, to quote short from it would be an injustice. Read it and find out.)
From the archives: Don’t stop running, Cord Jefferson, Gawker, December 2012.
Chris is the guy goading you into leaping from your hotel balcony to your passed-out friend’s hotel balcony in order to sneak into his room and obtain an iPhone charger. Chris is the guy driving his motorcycle 80 miles per hour five feet away from a sheer cliff drop on the Croatian coast. In late 2011, I ended up staring off a 50-foot rock looming over the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik. Below was Chris, who had already jumped and was now treading water while screaming at me.
"Just fucking do it!" he shouted. "Don’t think about it! Everyone’s staring at you! Aren’t you embarrassed?"
Knees shaking, I leapt, assuming the ocean floor would surely crumple my legs like breadsticks when I plunged through the water and hit it. But I came to the surface fully intact and trembling with nerves and involuntary laughter. Chris was beaming.
"Good job, buddy," he said. "I didn’t think you were going to do it."
"Were you scared?" I asked.
"I don’t really get scared," he said. "And if I do, it’s already too late."
With that, he kicked his legs and dipped his head underwater. Still shaking, I watched him swim a bit farther away from shore.
Palm Springs, East Palm Canyon Drive
"I didn’t understand how much a man’s love could diminish a woman until I met a man whose didn’t."
a week’s clicks #41
Home again, back to indulging in a typical London Sunday of getting up early to do some reading, baking some beans and listening to the radio and maybe a walk on the Heath. Or in reality: trying to get through a fortnight’s holiday laundry, working to a weekend deadline and fearing/preparing for the week ahead. Whichever you prefer. Here’s your Sunday reading.
- "Actually though, does the fashion industry need criticism from rappers? What it needs is more visual inspiration from those that are supposed to represent the youth. It used to be that the streets dictated style rather than vice-versa.”
- One girl and some very American denim.
- Sadly this is my biggest ethical dilemma when it comes to food, at least until I return to vegetarianism (possibly). Should we eat a creature as intelligent as the octopus?
- '“Do you know that game Two Truths and a Lie?” Mr. Cumming said. The rules are simple: each player makes three personal statements, usually stories of past exploits, and the others have to guess which one is fabricated. The more outrageous the truths, the better the player… “My truths are so crazy,” he said, sounding half amused. “I struggle to make up an equally nutty false one.”' Love you Alan Cumming, the first celebrity I ever fuddled my way through an interview with.
- Why fashion doesn’t reflect the world’s current mess, or rather, do designers even watch the news? | Style.com.
- Roxane Gay talks to Lena Dunham on the occasion of their new books, both of which are about feminism and womenhood and also both have pink titles. I read Roxane’s on the plane yesterday and it’s ace.
- 'In almost every photograph I have seen of her, she is wearing a white shirt and dark jeans or trousers. “A white shirt is kind of my uniform, because it always feels right,” she says. “I have friends who ask how it can be possible that I work in fashion, when I’ve worn the same thing for 25 years. I try to explain about nuances.” She laughs.” The woman bringing some Nordic charm to Gap.
- I’ve just started listening to This American Life’s Serial, which is somewhere between a high school class’s oral history and a murder mystery and makes for some excellent long-form reportage. Do listen.
- Kale five ways | Clean Food, Dirty City.
- Jazzabelle’s Diary always makes me excited about living in London again.
From the archives: Helen DeWitt on being stalked, LRB, August 2014.
I write this with a baseball bat by the bed. A weapon that will do more damage than you can bring yourself to inflict is useless; last time I made the wrong choice. (Could I hit someone with a baseball bat? Perhaps.)
This may be completely unnecessary. Or it might not. The Women’s Freedom Center of Brattleboro, Vermont has advised me to leave at once for my mother’s home in DC: ‘We don’t know what’s going on in his head.’ The director of victim services at the Vermont Department of Corrections says: ‘Oh, the Women’s Freedom Center … people imagine that someone getting out of jail has been ruminating all this time; most of the time the last thing they want is to see the victim again.’ My village takes a vigilantist line. One neighbour says if she saw him by the road at night she would run him down. Others tell me to get a gun and shoot on sight. Look at it this way: if there were a high risk of attack I wouldn’t be staying in a cottage in 11 acres of woods, scene of the ‘reckless endangerment’ which sent him to jail in the first place, half an hour from the state police. The problem isn’t really that we don’t know what’s going on in his head.
a week’s clicks #40
I’m in California! Trying to accumulate links but so busy deciding which 40 to drink and how much money to spend in J.Crew! It’s warm and even when I’m trying to lie down and relax in the cool dark inside there is Netflix to watch and also a huge pile of books I seem to have racked up already (including a Joan Didion first edition for only $8, thanks San Francisco!) but anyway, here is your reading.
- A trip to Niagara Falls, in glorious technicolour.
- "The mattress protest is a way for Sulkowicz to both refuse him that anonymity and turn the situation on its head. She’ll take the punishment, it says… For now, she’s not using any hooks or belt loops to carry it—only her hands, or other students’ hands (her friends call those “collective carries”). It’s a weight Columbia can lift together. “For the record, the best arrangement is four people carrying the mattress, because they each take a corner,” says Sulkowicz, smiling. “Then it’s really light.” (Would read anything Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote, would probably follow her into battle on the basis of her writing, too.)
- In case we need reminding, there are many reasons why Muslim women and girls wear the hijab.
- How to make a perfect lookbook. (But also, why is menswear in London so bloody white?)
- "Inside, the store itself looks Instagram filtered, all bleached wood and muted color palette: cream, dusty blue, dustier rose, maroon. Everything from the faded denim to the vast crop top selection is shockingly soft, a selling point every Brandy girl notes. The piped-in music fits with the vibe, but not the demo: Do teens really listen to Beck?" Going inside the teenage girlcult Brandy Melville.
- You could probably stare at botanical drawings for days | NYRB.
- "I have always thought "Twombly" ought to be (if it isn’t already) a verb, as in twombly: (vt.): to hover thoughtfully over a surface, tracing glyphs and graphs of mischievous suggestiveness, periodically touching down amidst discharges of passionate intensity. Or, then again, perhaps a noun, as in twombly (n.): A line with a mind of its own.”
- Real art, described in fiction.
From the archives:
The high is always the pain and the pain is always the high. On a gambling addiction, by Jay Caspian Kang in the Morning News, 2010.
During my last semester in graduate school, I made a lot of unexpected friends. I’d meet them in the card room above the OTB on 72nd and Broadway, or I’d meet them over Recession Specials at the Gray’s across the street, or I’d meet them in the poker pit at the Tropicana, or I’d sit next to them on the 5 a.m. bus from Atlantic City, trying not to think about what it meant that these were the only sunrises we saw anymore—the washed-out sun peeking out over the white, industrial cylinders of north New Jersey. My friends and I never really talked about anything. Mostly, we muttered about the bad beats we’d taken, each new friend a companion in losing… Occasionally I admitted to being a graduate student. Although I must have met more than 50 of these friends, I only remember telling one of them about my dream of becoming a novelist. He was a Filipino kid about my age from Queens, and when I made my confession in the back seat of a cab driving to a game he knew about in Chelsea, he only said, “What’s the book going to be about? Hold ’em, Stud, or Omaha?”
a week’s clicks #39
Hello! I’ve had quite a lovely weekend this time: karaoke for a friend’s birthday on Friday, a day trip to Cambridge yesterday for punting and pints with Ph.D pals (tip: bring wine and plastic cups with you for the journey down the river), brunch this morning with a friend visiting from Dublin and tonight, wine and chats with some fashion school friends. Your Sunday reading is below.
- You have the same amount of hours per day as an orangutan: make them count.
- "I remember big wet bunches of daffodils at the tills for Mother’s Day, GOAL badges, bag packers, signs in Irish about ‘milseain‘ and the Superquinn charter (‘If it doesn’t scan it’s free!’ and the bowl with ‘Take a Penny or Leave One, That’s Why They’re There’)." An ode to Superquinn! (And a pizza recipe, too.)
- And the bride wore Nikes: how to elope with just the right amount of style (too much, surely, and it’s not an elopement at all).
- "There is a sociologist in New York who has characterised lesbians as “canaries in an urban coal mine”. They typically seek out areas of the city that are affordable and have a progressive reputation where they can be around others who are like them. They will typically plug into the infrastructure of the area such as progressive coffee shops, co-op grocery stores, bike stores, counter cultural theatres and so on." There goes the gay neighbourhood.
- Kris’s view of fashion week is always the most beautiful.
- "Yes, that sounds terrible in some ways: "We should be helping him! We’ve squandered his inheritance!" Fuck inheritances. It’s beautiful that he wants to help, and his parents can feel that, even though they’re in pain. Your friend just needs to keep showing that he loves them and that he’s grateful for all that they’ve already done for him. He needs to give them the gift of his words. Two sweet people will treasure that more than he can possibly imagine." An Ask Polly on hardship.
- 16 Instagram accounts that will make you dream of Ireland.
- What if you just don’t know if you want kids? (Hint: no easy answer here.)
- "Trying too hard isn’t cool, and having an iPhone 6 (let alone 6 plus) is trying too hard. It’s sitting in the front row of class, it’s refreshing Facebook at a party, too available for conversation, too willing to fit in.”
- Why would anyone pretend to be a teenager for 20 years? A really moving, enigmatic piece about the troubled life of Charity Johnson by Katie JM Baker.
- Latest instalment in the developing field of Britney Studies.
- "Pusha T was once a cocaine dealer, and he has rhymed about this experience for two decades, in increasingly belletristic ways (“I move ’caine like a cripple”; “Two ways of gettin’: either rap or unwrap”). He is now a highly paid musician, and it is almost inconceivable that he has kept up his illicit second career." What’s ‘real’ in hip-hop?
From the archives:
Exciting news for fans of the longform profile: I’m going to amass a list of ALL my favourites from all over the internet, all down the years, and will hopefully post the link here next week. In the meantime, here is a Gentlewoman profile of designer and object of much fashion-girl admiration Katie Hillier:
Katie’s love of sorting has deep roots. As an only child, she loved rearranging the toys on her shelves. “I would get up on a Saturday morning and think, ‘Right, I’m going to tidy,’” she said. “I would take all the toys off my shelves and then I would display them. Looking back on it, I realise I was merchandising my room.” She spent a lot of time with her grandparents. “My grandmother didn’t have much money,” said Katie, “but every Wednesday, she would go to Harrods’ food hall and buy meat and fish – things she thought it was worth paying a bit more for. I thought the place was amazing! Then, straight after, we’d go to the market at the top of Goldhawk Road to buy jellied eels and prawns – from one extreme to another.” One of Katie’s pet hates is those online “you might also like” suggestions that lead you to products similar to what you’ve been looking at, she said. “How the fuck do you know what I like, actually?”
No week’s clicks this week because it’s fashion week. Above is a picture of Rick Owens pretending to, um, urinate into his own mouth, in i-D in 2002, and below is a link to what I did on Saturday night. Normal service again next weekend.
a week’s clicks #38
so much to read this week! I feel like I’m squeezing every drop out of this weekend, from seeing out the summer on a dalston rooftop on friday night to book-shopping in Foyles to a midnight jaunt to Matisse’s Cut-Outs at the Tate Modern last night (it closes 10pm today!) to a good old-fashioned street party and dog show this afternoon, plus plenty of reading and good food in between. This week was a good one for reading, so here are some things for this evening:
- At home with Laura Bradley, editor of Anothermag.com.
- “I believe you should always be ready to meet someone, whether it is your favorite writer or the man of your life. I don’t mean just physically ready—you’ve read, you’ve listened to music. You see—realistic, but still romantic.”
- A diagnosis | LRB. The inimitable Jenny Diski is writing poignantly and frankly about cancer.
- "What makes the Victoria Beckham story so compelling to the women who buy her dresses is that Victoria Beckham is living, breathing proof of the transformative powers of fashion. We buy clothes because we believe they will help us become who we want to be. It is the dresses with her name on the label – yours for around £1,500 a pop – which made Victoria Beckham who she is today. That is one very powerful sales pitch.”
- What is it about clouds?
- Oh god, this is the best thing I’ve ever read about the fashion blogging industry: The Click Clique, or how Amber Venz got herself and her bloggers exceptionally wealthy incredibly quickly. So worth reading.
- Celebrating ten issues of the Gentlewoman and their stellar profiles | It’s Nice That.
- "There is no anonymity; it’s as imaginary as the false security you feel while driving in your car, a sense of detached invulnerability that can inspire road rage. Even as a nonbody floating through the web, we are indeed very much traceable to the physical location where the floating gets under way." Molly Lambert, who is so smart it makes me blink, on celebrity nude leaks and privacy.
- This single informative picture is such a gamechanger if you, like me, are engaged in the constant pursuit of the perfect cookie recipe.
- "Probably a month or so in, I started to realize why these guys were so obsessed with talking about my body and so categorically un-interested in any other kind of conversation: They had a big-girl fetish. They weren’t interested in getting to know me; they just wanted to have sex with a fat girl.”
- I think we’re just gonna have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that | i-D (<3 Venetia Scott).
- I have the new Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook and it’s amazing, so eye-opening and of course delicious. Here Sally Singer meets the sisters for a day in the kitchen.
- 1960s bliss in Marylebone.
- Have you ever been in a gallery and been struck by how easy it would be for you to (accidentally) break something very, very expensive? Well, it happened to this woman.
- Meeting the (other) obsessive nuts who photograph models outside fashion shows | Dazed.
From the archives: Ladies’ man, the New Yorker, March 16th, 2009.
There are many designers whose work can make women look thinner or prettier. Elbaz seems to have the power to make women appear more interesting. Several years ago, Barneys’ creative director, Simon Doonan, hosted an event for Elbaz in Los Angeles, at which Doonan had imagined that models would walk around the room wearing Lanvin while the guests ate dinner. Elbaz hated the idea. He wanted twinkling chandeliers and a runway. Barneys obliged, but expended its budget, and was reduced to using “local talent” for the models. Doonan assumed that Elbaz would be horrified. But when the show began, Doonan recalls, “not only do the local girls look beautiful and stylish, they actually look like fascinating people. Alber is an alchemist: he took these California chippies and turned them into Left Bank existentialists. Instead of Tara Reid, I saw Jeanne Moreau.”
The second issue of 1 Granary is out now and while I did step down as editor after realising, in a sweaty panic at 3am one night late last year, that there are in fact only 24 hours in the day and perhaps I should be spending more than 5 or 6 of them each day not-working, I did find my way into the issue regardless. I conducted the interview with Christopher Kane that you see on the cover there, and also I met painter Dexter Dalwood in an Islington café almost a year ago, who painted one of my favourite paintings of recent years, where we talked about politics and tub-thumping and Iraq and conspiracy. Strange, now, considering how much has changed in global affairs since then.
Are you wary of being pigeonholed in the media at all? As an artist who is controversial or even conspiratorial?
Not really. When I did the Turner Prize obviously there was a big focus on that David Kelly painting but on the whole it hasn’t been like that. I did this show called Orientalism in Copenhagen in 2012, about how difficult it is to make paintings about the Middle East, basically. Riffing on the idea that 19th century Orientalist paintings were about this racist idea of codifying the subject, but always from a Western viewpoint. Now, if you think of Syria in your mind’s eye, you see rebels in trucks with grenade launchers on the back. People on the street and you see desert, bashed-up buildings, troops on the ground and stuff like that. You don’t see kids going to school, or people having weddings, people sitting having coffee. It’s about what’s fed through to us. That’s what I was interested in doing, as an inadequate version of that with painting.
Anyway, on another note, two weeks ago I met with the two girls who edited the new issue, Olya and Sara, drank cocktails and ate ice cream. We ended up going to a party in Bloomsbury and getting quite drunk and talking for a long time. And people rail against working - doing anything you can describe as labour - for free these days so much, especially people who have yet to make a living from that particular labour (hence the railing, in fairness). I am privileged to make a living off my labour, and I’ve learned not to always have a problem with working for free when you get other benefits from that work: it could be ‘exposure’ or a platform or a great editor or in this case, maybe most importantly, a friendship with some of the smartest, most together girls I will ever know. It’s experience, not the kind that fills a gap on your CV, but that you’ll remember and be glad of for a lifetime. Some things are worth a lot more than a little money in your pocket.