February, a retrospective.
Is anyone else really ready to get outside? In an “I’m all ready for my post COVID debut” sort of way. That slightly thirsty, “look at me, I got a fresh outfit, new haircut, sick manicure, let’s hit the club, even if you haven’t hit the club in a decade” sort of way? I for one, would like to rage in a mini dress. To satisfy this craving, it would need to involve a night of drinking too much, dancing so hard that my mascara runs and my feet bleed. Maybe like it’s the summer of ‘08 all over again? Marlee knows what I’m talking about.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. I don’t know if you heard, but a Vibe Shift is coming, Indie Sleaze is back and The Cobra Snake is throwing or (maybe just working?) parties again. I don’t know if any of that means anything to any of you, but I was a very much a member of version 1.0. I saw Cut Copy, M83 and Steve Aoki live, in Europe. The night I happened to meet the love of my life, Kid Cudi himself poured vodka into my mouth. Oh the glory days! It was fun while it lasted, but never again? Okay, maybe just for one night, but no cameras…fine cameras.
Let’s get back out there, I’m ready. You ready? I don’t think I’ll be hitting the illegal warehouse bopping along to a Boys Noize remix, but maybe if Mark is working the room. Would 2022 me make the cut? Even in her reformation, the soul of a party girl never truly dies.
And the movie of the month goes to…Michel Franco’s Sundown. Was really thinking that this would be going to The Worst Person in the World by Joachim Trier, but nope, not great. With all the nominations and every critic praise (minus Brody’s) I thought this little Norwegian film must really be something. Trier lost me at the first title cards. 12 Act structure!? No thanks, I’m a more into the manageable 3-5. Oh and SPOILER ALERT — The plot features both a miscarriage and a cancer diagnosis. Lazy. Yes, it was beautiful, there was some good dialog and Juliet (Renate Reinsve) is as compelling as everyone says she is, but story problems are story problems. Sometimes directors need writers.
Back to Sundown, the better film that no one saw. Nothing gets me more excited than starting in the middle of it. The less exposition the better. I’m just begging to be confused. We’re thrust into luxury vacationland, not sure where and with who, but another success of the film is its manipulation of the viewer’s assumptions. Who is this family? You think it’s one thing and then it isn’t. Franco plays with the “what if” What if I just stayed on vacation forever? A truly destabilizing, unexpected experience that I’m all for.
I can’t not mention that I also saw Jackass Forever, also loved it. Loved the camaraderie, the playfulness and the raw emotion. Kept wondering why the sole female cast member, Rachel Wolfson, wasn’t flinging herself down that homemade desert waterslide or doing any other physical stunts like the boys. I didn’t like that.
TV was fun this month! Forget prestige, I’m into the sleaze.
Pam & Tommy, the Point Grey (Seth Rogen’s production company) produced limited series about the trashiest story of the 90’s. It was adapted from the 2014 Rolling Stone article on the story behind the tape. Lily James is in earnest Pam Anderson, prosthetics and all. Sebastian Stan is Tommy Lee, but more with a wink. Also, a revisiting a 90’s LA decadence is never a bad idea. Watch it for the sets, costumes and wispy voice alone.
In other article to screen adaptations, we have the only Shondaland media I’ve ever been able to tolerate, Inventing Anna. At this point, Anna Delvey is a familiar character. The New York high society grifter was forever immortalized in the 2018 New York Magazine feature. This chick ran rampant. I’m now learning she even tried to con people I knew. It’s a GREAT story and Julia Garner is killing it, dreadful accent and all, as Delvey. I can’t resist a New York for New York show, especially after the unwatchable dumpster fire of, I already forgot what’s it’s called Bradshaw and Co. reboot.
Special mention to The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. Kristin Bell is really great at what she does. Made for fun, come home kinda drunk and I’ve already watched the entirety of Seinfeld 3 times, content.
I read a lot this month.
First up was the dreadfully boring, I have to quit you How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. I’m sorry Jenny Odell, I’m sure you’re brilliant and I’d love to meander San Francisco with you, but I had to quit your book and I’m not a quitter.
In this month’s hate read, there was Sean Thor Conroe’s Fuccboi: A Novel. I expected to think this was trash and put it down after 50 pages, but I liked it, really liked it. He’d leaned into the highly pretentious over MFAed auto fiction genre and wrt it in fuccboi slng. Lot’s of missing vowels, words like “bae”, “fasho” and lots of mentions of Nike Dri-Fit. Many a drug references, but still many a mention of Heidegger. I loved his fanboy pages dedicated to Shelia Heti. It was pop-y, it was nerdy and it felt new.
So I’m researching a new project that kinda sorta, okay directly references the intro to this newsletter and that is how I came upon Lina Abascal’s, Never Be Alone Again: How Bloghouse United the Internet and the Dancefloor. I know nothing about music, but somehow knew every reference to every obscure remix referenced in this book. A fun romp down the 2007-2010 memory lane. FYI, if you’re curious, almost none of the era’s music is still listenable to. PLEASE STOP THE HEAVY DISTORTION!
My highly anticipated literary drop of the month was Shelia Heti’s Pure Color. I’ve read her entire catalog. Motherhood is one of my favorites ever and a must read for any woman wavering the to be a mother or not be one line. Could I summarize the book’s plot? Doubtful. The only way to describe it is, if it were to be adapted into a film, the only writer who could do it would be Charlie Kaufman. It’s a treatise on grief, but one spoken from a protagonist who sometimes lives in a leaf. It’s about little, but at the same time a lot; life, loss and the process of living. I loved it, a one sitting read.
The angel who is Mina Stone wrote a second cookbook a few months back, Love, Lemon & Olive Oil that is even better than her first. If you’re looking for some Greekspiration, it’s a good starting point. You’ve got the classics like tzatziki, briam and loukoumades, but lots of new fun stuff too, especially in the salad category.
I’m not a an art crier. I pretend I can have critical distance, you know from all that school and stuff, but it’s lies. Case in point, as soon as I entered the Jonas Mekas exhibit at the Jewish Museum, I was sobbing. He’s my guy. If I could’ve had it my way, I would’ve become him, experimental documentarian, poet, critic and community maker. His 16mm footage of 60’s and 70’s, mostly New York life, are so imperfect, textured and ephemeral that they are perfect. And his voice, his voice. It’s up until June 5th, but only go if you’re patient and like movies that aren’t “movies”. The curation of multiple screens is genius.
In other good art, loved Louise Fishman at Karma, wanted to own it. I guess I have a thing for bright landscapes because I was very taken by Nicole Wittenberg’s pink-y sunsets at Tennis Elbow. Oh and the mundane, but not mundane at all paintings of “daily life” by Greg Burak at Fortnight Institute. Shh don’t tell anyone, but I thought the Turell was just okay. I still like the Drake Room at LACMA more.
Lots of home cooking went down this month, which is funny because a friend asked if I was never not in a restaurant. I am ALWAYS not in a restaurant, well like 6 days a week.
One random friday, instead of going out, I had a weird craving that only I could satisfy. I had been thinking of the combinations of the spicy Yemeni sauce zhoug/crispy mushrooms and kimchi/sour cream. Uncommon and disparate, but they came together. The mushrooms with roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatillos and a lot of cilantro. The kimchi and cream manifested on some broccolini and cute lil carrots. Kyle made a salad that he deemed as “California Winter Maximalist” lots of chicories, persimmon and avocado.
I’ve been researching London restaurants for my current trip and I often get inspired by all the food I could narrowly eat, but can’t because in a restaurant there is always some sort of dairy involved. So I made it myself and since I’m a firm believer in more is more, I added more stuff. I took Cafe Deco’s/Cafe Cecilia’s menu’s as jumping off points. I went to squashy, beety, chicory and crudite places.
The months bakes were, get ready for the long titles; Blood Orange Cornmeal Olive Oil Muffins with a Coconut Manna Tart Rose Vinegar Glaze and Pistachio Dukkah, Orange Scented Brownies with a tahini swirl and a Miso Maple Pistachio Pound Cake with a honey, olive oil, rose glaze. Since a few of you have been asking, there is a recipe to follow!
Oh and I went out a little. Omen was the favorite. I can’t speak to the sushi experience, but they give good vegetable. The Oso-zai little dishes, salads and the most artfully prepared daikon steak. I don’t know what I was doing ordering a saketini, but it was a strong choice. For drinking, The Nines is as good as they say it is. It’s Bemelman’s downtown, but bigger and less charming. The later crowd is bankers/assholes so go early when it’s missing that “gotta know someone to get passed the doorman” vibe. Oh and Lodi is always great, especially now that they have their liquor license. I’m also now professionally writing about restaurants so that’s kinda fun. Putting all this useless encyclopedic knowledge to use.
Thing of the Month
I’ve been spinning for almost a decade now. Got really into it via Cycle House (RIP) in West Hollywood, but I’ve done it everywhere from Atlanta to Paris. After resigning to the fact that I’d be forever doomed to the typical soundtracks of Swift-y, Gaga-y pop-y divas and contemporary Euro club bangers, a few months ago, I finally found a class that was for my people. The downtown “can’t believe you are actually into exercise” people. Parker’s Soul Survivor at Soho on Saturday mornings. He’s having the best time and playing the good jams, the Drake deep cuts, the new new from my other Toronto brother The Weeknd, Hole, DMX, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and College Dropout ‘Ye. His divas are the alt ones I can get down with like, FKA Twigs, Doja Cat and Billie. The bros at How Long Gone gave him a nice shout out a few weeks ago and I will do the same. Saturdays are better post Parker. I look like a raving lunatic as I sing along and do my own spontaneous choreography, but whatever it’s dark in there anyway and he’s hopping off the bike to hip gyrate so I think I’m all good.
Song of the Month
Music has been a big theme to this month’s research and after listening to every bloghouse song and remix I could find on Apple Music and Spotify, I came to the conclusion that most of the era’s music has aged terribly. There are a few that have stood the test of time and this is one of them. I still listen to it every time I’m flying into Paris.
See you next month for the British/Greek/French Dispatch. I’m sure it will mostly be about food. Or maybe a painting or two. I’ve always been a sucker for those large scale French masterworks.
…And for you baking heads, I did it, I actually wrote one down for you. Welcome to my mind of weird sweets.
Miso Maple Pistachio Pound Cake with a Honey Olive Oil Glaze
A highly maximalist snacking cake. Really blows the mind flavor wise, is this sweet savory? It couldn’t be. Also, yes I’m a vegan that permits honey. I used to not, but I use it so seldom and agave sucks. It was hard to have strict rules around it. I hope I don’t get trolled by the vegan Mob, they’ve come at me before.
Total Time: 1 hr 10 minutes
Yield: 1 8 1/2 inch loaf
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsps finely chopped or dusted pistachios, divided
1/2 cup neutral oil such as avocado, canola or grapeseed
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ + 2 tbsps sweet white miso (fresh is best)
1/2 cup unsweetened yogurt (I use coconut, but you use what you like)
⅓ cup buttermilk ( I make my own with almond and ACV, I’ll explain)
1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature (I used sunflower seed, but any kind will do)
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. Tart Rose Vinegar (optional, and could be replaced with another high quality light vinegar like champagne, rice, apple cider)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. Rack should be in the middle of the oven.
Prepare the vegan buttermilk, if using by whisking 1/3 cup non-dairy milk with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Let curdle.
In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pistachios. Reserve the two extra tablespoons of nuts.
In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients, by first whisking together the oil, maple syrup, miso, until it is uniform, might take a second, but be keep going. Then gradually add in the yogurt, until just combined. You should have a silky, light brown mixture. Almost glistens.
In three batches, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. It should be heavy, a little dense at this point. Then gradually stir in the buttermilk.
Pour into prepared pan.
With a spoon make a trough through the middle, it won’t be perfect, but that’s okay. Scoop the cream cheese in, patting it down along the way. Smooth out the top as best as possible and sprinkle the remaining pistachios over top.
Place in oven, center middle rack and bake for 50-55 minutes.
Make the glaze by melting the water and honey either on the stove top or in 10 second intervals in the microwave. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil and vinegar, if using, in.
Remove cake from oven, top should be brown and cake should bounce back to the touch.
Allow to cool in pan for 30-45 minutes. Remove from pan, place on cooling rack and top with glaze. Would be wise to do it in the sink or with a baking sheet underneath. It’s sticky.
Wait for cake to come to room temperature and then slice and serve. Thick slices work best.
Note: Cake keeps on the counter for two days, but if you want longer than that you should refrigerate the unsliced portion. The cream cheese goes funky quickly.