Welcome to the Kyleverse. A monthly-ish round-up of things I like.
This is Kyle’s World, a little bit of everything, not too much of anything.
The inaugural issue! After gentle, yet repeated nudging from a close friend and a very unscientific instagram poll, I thought it was time to get something from my brain and my brain alone into your inbox. No editors mincing my words, throwing in verbiage like “upscale”. Just me. I also almost wanted to MLA style it, but didn’t, maybe I should’ve? Hyperlink is the new in-text citation.
I won’t be selling anything, there aren’t affiliate links. It will be an assemblage of my current thoughts on cultural phenomenon like movies, books and paintings, but because it’s me there will also be some food and travel. Most of it will be recommendations for things I love, but I love a good pan when one is warranted. Who doesn’t love a little shit talking?
So here it is, take it or leave it. Here’s to hoping I have the bandwidth to do this every month or so.
It’s a well known fact that January is historically the worst time for le cinema. Your local AMC’s marquee has generally got a middling action movie, maybe a rom com with some young leads that have yet to break out and if you’re really lucky some movie with a talking dog. The art houses are filled with award season bait leftovers that the most diligent of us have already seen. Or foreign stuff that’s a little too foreign for me.
But somehow I found myself at a big ol’ Regal a few weekends ago, one of the good ones with the leather seats that recline to see Scream. There is nothing I like more than when my pretentious self finds herself happily at a multiplex. I, (cue first film dork reference) like Stan Brakhage, might be interested in making avant garde content, but will watch anything or most things.
Scream was my first horror franchise. Watching the original with a dozen girls huddled on one bed and barely being able to peak at the gore. Of course, I then watched it a million more times, along with every other camp-y horror film I could get my mom to rent at Blockbuster for me. Everything from Prom Night to I Know What you did Last Summer. My best friend, Milana, and I loved them all.
The new iteration satisfied in a similar way. It got the teen slasher genre down, the acting was decent, it wasn’t too obvious or too scary, much like the originals and fuck yeah for getting who’s left of the original cast back together. Long live Scream!
In more auterist news and because I have to weigh in, my favorites from the tail end of last year are, The Power of the Dog (most masterful and complete film I’ve seen in… maybe ever?) , The Hand of God (the sensuous trip to Italy I didn’t know I needed with just the perfect dash of Fellini absurdity) and The Lost Daughter (thank you Maggie for taking the time to get into the complexity of what it means to be a mother). I’ll be rooting for them all at whatever that mediocre, self-congratulatory awards ceremony is in the next few months.
I love teenage content. I love watching it, love writing it and well, Euphoria is back and it’s my favorite. Gossip Girl, boring, give me the hard stuff, the real stuff, the stuff that reminds me of my chaotic high school. I love the bottle-ish nature of the first acts of each episode, giving the backstory of secondary characters. Also, Sam Levinson is directing and really directing every episode. It’s cinematic, he’s not phoning any of it in. I just want more. I can’t wait to see if Maddy will nail scratching-ly, hairpulling-ly girl fight Cassie. Or if Lexi will lose her virginity to Fezco. Keep it coming. I haven’t seen the latest one so don’t spoil it.
Winter cooking bums me out. Produce is uninspiring and when it’s cold out I just want to eat soup. Pureed soup, ramen, Pho, give me anything, I’ll take it.
I did manage to muster up the interest to cook a Greek-ish feast for a few friends, lentil moussaka, beets with skordalia, Maroulosalata, and a dope ass braised cabbage dish with oregano and tomato (very loosely adapted from here). Cabbage, I’m glad it’s finally getting it’s due. There was another meal of note, let’s call it “winter market cooking”, that included a very sesame salad, smoky maple coconut Brussels sprouts, spiced braised eggplant and a pureed squash with glazed shallots. So it wasn’t all soup.
Winter, however does want to make me want to bake too much. I could easily do three bakes a week, but that’s too many treats for one house. The bake of the month was a carrot persimmon spice cake with an almond butter coconut manna frosting. It was a cross between a pudding, like a figgy one, and a classic carrot cake. I wanted it to last forever. I also did some wild pear pine nut frangipane with a phyllo crust, inspired by Lodi’s pastry case and these intensely citrusy sumo orange bars with saffron. I’ve been going wild with flavors. Simple is boring. Next month, I’ll develop a recipe. Already had another on the go this month for a “real” publication. Stay tuned.
On the restaurant front, I think I’m officially off of cool new restaurants for the moment. I want super casual or classic. Give me Fat Choy or Raoul’s and nothing in-between. Too much lackluster service, uninspired vegan options, tiny plates of food and $20 glasses of wine that are just okay. There are a few that will remain in rotation, I’m looking at you Babs, but it’ll mostly be the Omens and the Bamontes’ for the time being. I still will forever be lingering at Dimes and St. Jardim for my favorite solitary lunches or long afternoon teas with a good book. I guess they are little more fanciful than my favorite Chinese-ish take away window.
PS: I’ll link to recipes I like. I never make them verbatim, but they are good starting points. For those that ask for mine, it’s too time consuming to develop. That’s a real full time job. Maybe one day, but for now, I’ll send you to versions that I have used at inspiration. I always add more herbs and less sugar than what they call for. I’m never interested in authenticity, I’m always riffing. It’s the spice of life.
Everything I make is vegan, always, so I’ll never specify that. Boy Kyle is my co-pilot, I menu plan and he heavily helps in execution. I’d be nowhere without him for many reasons.
The Other Arts
Art, like the painting, sculpting, gallery viewing kind
It was a good month, a really good month. I didn’t do my normal Chelsea or Tribeca rounds, but found enough to love on the UES and right around my corner in the East Village. I couldn’t get enough of Lizbeth Mitty's bright, escapist work at Harper’s Apartment uptown or Hiejin Yoo's equally bright, but just the right amount of eerie to make you want to know more canvases, at Half Gallery on 4th street. I think both are up for the next few weeks, go see! They are a sunny antidote to terrible winter. Seek refuge from the cold and see art! Also, Yoo’s tiny floral details are very special. If you find yourself uptown, it’s never bad to see some Hilma af Klint. Zwirner has a tiny show of drawings that I found myself staring at for enough time to be weird.
In winter, I’m on a reading tear. Summer me can’t be bothered to spend a minute at home, whereas winter me, can’t be bothered to leave. I’m baking, bathing, watching and trying to not leave the warmth of my duvet so I read. At least a book a week, hey I don’t have kids or a real job. I consume culture at warp speed.
I hate read Emily Ratajkowski’s My Body and had a lot of feelings about it, mostly not great ones. I think she missed the mark or came too late in the game. Oddly, I could relate to the supermodel’s memoir. There were some similar experiences, a weird boundaryless childhood where I was often praised for my looks (to clarify, I never looked anything even close to Ratajkowski, but still), rapey men in positions of power and believe it or not there was a time where I modeled swimsuits and underwear, albeit ones made by women for women, but it still colors ones relationship to one’s body.
Unlike Ratajkowski, many of the like experiences weren’t ones I found formative. I never really gave a shit what I looked like or had any interest in exploiting it for money or power. I always wanted more, like to be lawyer or a botanist. I mean you do you girl, but being “hot” is quite boring, IMHO. I understand the impetus for wanting to write. The last essay is strong, a cut above the rest, on motherhood and the changing body. Good for her though getting that NY Times Best Seller whilst still posting pouty lip, titty picks. If that’s empowerment, I’m good right where I am.
And in not talking shit, I picked up the woman, the legend, Michaela Cole’s, Misfits: A Personal Manifesto. It’s a transcript of a lecture she gave in Edinburgh a few years ago on her experience making work, the accompanying rise to fame and all the bullshit that goes with it. It was honest, at times brutal and totally true. As a youngish woman who is trying to get something made in Hollywood at the moment, I can relate to the ridiculous number of conditions, concessions and stipulations required to getting even half your vision made. I want more. I don’t think I May Destroy You is coming back, but can’t wait to see what she does next.
There’s no hiding my love for Slave Play or my Jeremy O. super fandom. I’d say it’s up there with my top 10 things ever. It goes in my personal cannon of things that are revisited annually like, Flemish still lifes, most Godard from the 60’s, Akerman’s News From Home, the final scene of La Notte (RIP Monica Vitti, the best muse) and really gooey maybe too much cinnamon in them cinnamon rolls. I will need to keep coming back to it, looking for that first experience high for the rest of my life. More on it later.
And that brings me to this month’s favorite, Marlowe Granados’s Happy Hour! Fun book! I was a little late to the party, I’ll admit it. A little resistant, perhaps jealous even? Some chick I kinda knew from Toronto wrote a book about being an early 20’s aimless party girl in New York. Should I have written this? Is it my bizarro autobiography? I guess I thought having a near identical experience to this wasn’t notable, boring even, but I was wrong. It’s light, her details and descriptors are spot on. Congrats Marlowe and Leia, who did the best cover art of the year! Go Toronto, go! “The men were all owners of something or other, they were not interested in having conversations. These were men who carried with them children, scandals, family legacies. They had slicked back hair and were clean-shaven. There was a ruthlessness in their eyes that told me they didn’t feel the need to be acceptable.” The number of assholes like that I’ve interacted with in this town, innumerable. I’m sad it’s over.
Not something I’ve ever done much of in my adult life, but thanks COVID for making theatre for the people again with $29 matinees. If you’re in New York, go to the theatre, now is the time.
I had the much overdue pleasure of seeing Slave Play, twice in two weeks. The run was ending, I had to see again before I could never see it again. The sense memory of stepping on to the carpet of the August Wilson transported me right back to being 7 and seeing Beauty and the Beast for the first time. Or when my mom was doing a play and I got to spend some afternoons running around the Elgin Winter Garden in Toronto.
After going first by myself, the second time around I also brought Kyle. Let’s just say he’s not a theatre guy, not in the slightest. Play, musical, it’s all the same to him. I lured him with the prospect of a late steak dinner and he took the bait.
On first watch I realized I’m such a film person, I had to relearn how to watch a play. Where does one look when there’s no frame? I found my eye wandering until it got it. I was resistant, the suspension of disbelief was a little too much and then I fell in, hard and the two hours flew by. I wanted it to start all over again. For the first time I really understood also why people, like my mom, want to become actors. So cathartic! So indulgent! It’s like karaoke every night, but with more gravitas and an audience that is paying to see you!
The text is masterful, clearly years of solitary work and workshopping. You can’t get something this intertextual without it. It’s a perfect balance between weighted historical/academic reference and personal obsession. Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given in relation to art practice was to “exploit my fetishes”, not in a sexual way, but to mine my brain for its weirdness and to push that weirdness. Harris most certainly does that. Also, I love the gay male gaze, so many hot men.
I’m always over the moon when something as controversial as Slave Play becomes mainstream. It gives me hope for all my cockamamie ideas I’ve got floating around my brain. None of which would be deemed Hollywood material.
COVID royally effed up the European trip we were supposed to take over New Years and into January, so we booked ourselves a constellation prize, a Vermont ski trip. I can’t get enough of the state, if only it were a little closer, we’d buy some land and build a shack. It was freezing, the kind where you laugh cry as to why you left the house and put yourself on this chairlift. It was all worth it though. Skiing Mad River Glen reminded me how much I love the sport. Swimming, running and now skiing. Something about the solitary body in motion outdoors brings out a calm, clear headedness that I crave again and again.
Up next, currently re-planning that postponed trip. Let’s hope we get to London, Athens and Paris in March. First leg booked.
Thing of the Month
I was first introduced to coconut manna a decade ago by a co-worker who swore by spreading it on her toast. I was unmoved, I already had almond, peanut and hazelnut butter in my pantry, did I really need another? Yes, I did and this was the month I finally got some and put it to use. A room temperature solid, actually good, refined sugar free frosting has been my holy grail and the manna helped me achieve! All it is is pureed coconut, texturally half way in-between oil and the fruit’s solids, when warmed it spreads like a dream. Has the richness of a nut butter, but not the heavyness. Highly recommend it as a pantry staple. I think any brand is fine, but I can only speak to Nutiva.
Song of the Month
What’s My Age Again - Blink 182
I’ll admit not cool. New music is my cultural blindspot and I’m okay with that. But Blink came on in my spin class a few weeks ago and Enema of the State has been on rotation ever since. I haven’t listened to it since I was 12, but it holds up! That decade away and revisiting it now makes me appreciate the unabashed lyrical juvenility and those damn catchy hooks. Maybe a trapping of being a prime millennial and 90’s kid, but I don’t care. Kyle and I might’ve had a Saturday afternoon sing-along to all of the hits. Highly recommend. I think a revisit of Hole might be coming next.