“I used to be a miserable wretch but I realized this was an idiotic waste of time.”
Ripped apart by sunshine with the sky pouring down her throat, she was a fire-breathing hero of women, of writers, of speakers and preachers and people so ignited by life they had to spew it from the lung rafters. Maggie Estep is an inspiration to me—as she was to many young women of the ’90s—and to anyone desperate to throw their own words against the concrete. Because of her, I sought safety and solace in coffee shops, found catharsis in shouting ill-formed words of youthful vengeance to caffeinated strangers, and never once questioned the pervasive rage of my gender.
Though it’s a sad day for any of us who grew up with her magnificence, here she is full of happy.
We were celebrating a birthday at a crowded bar in Los Feliz. Somehow the conversation veered towards the end of 2013, and somehow we got on the subject of kittens and kale. Call it momentary meme-ory loss or the fact that two of us had just adopted rescue kittens, but when the words KITTENS & KALE poured forth from our collective, wine-stained lips, little light bulbs went off.
Along with me, the “we” are fellow creatives Hamish Robertson, Claire Cottrell, and Lauren Spencer King. Together, we came up with the idea to shoot portraits of recently adopted kittens along with their rescue stories plus include portraits of kale and accompanying recipes from local LA restaurants. Aside from wanting to collaborate on a fun creative project together, our animal-loving goal was to also raise money for Best Friends Animal Society, a fantastic organization dedicated to making LA a no-kill city.
We had a blast meeting seven adorable kittens and are thrilled that FIVE of our favorite LA restaurants—Cookbook, Forage, Moon Juice, Heirloom LA, and Alma, voted Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appétit magazine—graciously gave us some stellar kale recipes. It’s sort of like a deconstructed recipe zine featuring ridiculously cute kittens frolicking with kale. We hope you find it funny, sweet, informative, heartwarming, palate inducing and also a whole lot of fun.
Kittens & Kale is available now in our online shop (along with a web-only kale chips recipe from Venice’s Another Kind of Sunrise) and at this weekend’s LA Art Book Fair at both Vacation Days and Book Stand. We’d love your support!
I spent a good portion of the glorious nineties tooling around Austin, Texas, in a car named after a Star Wars character. When not speeding off to study at all-night diners, I made repeated weekly visits to Waterloo Records. It’s weird to remember those days before iTunes, pocket libraries, and unlimited streaming. Checking out new music took actual work. It meant researching bands in newspapers and magazines, standing at a listening station waiting for a melody to decimate you, or taking a chance on a band simply because you liked their album cover design.
My favorite days were always the ones involving joy ride listening sessions through the sun blistered Hill Country, bluebonnets and live oaks waving along to whatever soundtrack fit the mood. Though the music always changed—and could be anything from hearty sing-a-longs involving Alanis Morissette to respective silence during a complex Built to Spill opus—the experience of finding, digesting, and communally sharing new tunes was much more time consuming than it is today. I’m not saying I prefer one way over the other (and I can’t imagine not being able to stream whatever I want, whenever I want), but there are pros and cons to both.
Because it was Austin, and because it was the 1990’s, I had friends who were in bands. One of them was Evan Dickson of Hidden Speaker, an enjoyably laconic and lyrical alternative to Pavement (though I hope he doesn’t throttle me for typing that comparison). Evan lives in Los Angeles now and is a writer/editor for Bloody Disgusting—when not penning his own screenplays—and he also still writes music. His former bandmates comprise The Octopus Project, a fantastic instrumental outfit who are also recent Sundance Jury Award recipients for scoring the film Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. When Evan recently completed a new batch of songs born out of self-described “procrastination time,” the band reunited to record Wet Recluse, which is now available on iTunes.
My favorite track, “You Stole My Thunder, I’ll Steal Your Drugs,” features backing vocals by Rachel Staggs of the late ’90s band Experimental Aircraft and current All in the Golden Afternoon, and though I love the song title, I might love the place it catapults me back to even more. It’s a moment of drifting past open fields in search of secret swimming holes, a gaggle of guitars swelling at the precise moment friends in the back seat laugh at some forgotten inside joke. The soundtrack to that time when driving forward into the future felt full of promise and possibility, no matter how slow it all seemed to go.
I wasn’t fully ready to commit at first because my heart still belonged to another, but you persisted with your sunny disposition. You forced me out of my comfort zone, compelled me to shed some dark layers, and insisted on smiles, especially in winter.
Every time I mockingly raised my fists, you lured me to the mountain or pushed me to the sea. And every time I resisted, you gave me cheap tacos, horchata, and random Dolly Parton tunes, and then you threw in wonderful company to share it all with.
You’ve never judged my hard-earned scowl, rather commented on it through cheerful checkouts at the grocery store or when other drivers gave a sincere wave of thanks. In these past 12 months, you’ve reminded me that there is sometimes a more positive way to live regardless of geography. Also, sunshine—literal or figurative—always works.
So, thank you for welcoming and believing in me even when I didn’t believe in you. And Happy Anniversary! I should have said this sooner, but I love you.
One of the pleasures of living in Los Angeles is the close proximity to nature. I still can’t get over the abundant hiking trails dotted with yellow wildflowers or the occasional coyote sighting. After growing up in the desert—where I painted rocks or spoke to silent cacti—and after years in New York City where I saw many a fire escape garden wither in the grey heat, I decided to resurrect my nonexistent green thumb. Luckily, the Book Stand pop-up shop at the Hollywood Standard was offering a plant workshop devoted to kokedama, aka the art of Japanese hanging gardens. If you’re imagining Scarlett Johansson stumbling upon a languid flower arranging class in a high-end Tokyo hotel while an Air soundtrack magically tinkers in the ether, you’ll understand how I saw myself in this situation. Sadly, I’d mistaken kokedama for ikebana, but I was still intrigued.
First of all, if you haven’t visited the online Book Stand store yet, please do so. I met Claire at the LA Art Book Fair and was completely blown away by her booth. Not only does she carry a vast array of interesting art and design books from around the globe, she sells unusual vintage books, too, and styles everything in a spare and elegant way. Also? She loves tumbleweeds and proudly displayed one in the center of the store.
I was so taken with the pop-up’s wares, that I felt it only appropriate to buy a bluebonnet button (TEXAS FOREVER), flower t-shirt, and cactus sketch book to usher in my new gardening lifestyle. They all went into a free tote bag designed by local artist Lauren Spencer King. Oh, and the workshop? It was orchestrated by Lili Cuzor, who made sure we all left with soil under our fingernails and a couple of colorful string gardens to enliven our homes. Her advice was this: “Talk to the plants, let them know you care. They will thrive.”
So far, so good.
What’s the best punk rock girl movie ever made? Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, of course! I’m thrilled to announce that it’s the first movie I’ll be tackling for my new Cinema Style series with MTV Style. Here’s a sneak peek on how to get the Corinne Burns (aka Third Degree Burns) look.
“One does their work for the people, and the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is. You don’t do your work and say, ‘I only want the cool people to read it.’ You want everyone to be transported or hopefully inspired by it.”
Before I get into the trials and tribulations of a recent cross-country move from NYC to LA, I must point out that I love, want, and NEED a Macramé Palapa Chair from Pacific Wonderland to usher in West Coast living. They’re available at Kneeland Mercado Co should you want to infuse your own home with Cali style.
Whatever happened to ’80s Brit band YAZ (also known as Yazoo)? They’re the synth-ier, slightly happier precursor to The xx and they’re my inspiration this week. Behold them in all their asymmetrical, Bowie-mulleted, neon-goth electro glory…
“Don’t let it get you down. After all, no matter how you feel, you have to live with people. You have to live with yourself, too!”