What's there to say about New York that hasn't already been said (or sung)? This trip felt less like an overly-romanticized romp through leafy overgrowth and bricklaid urban passageways and more like what life tends to feel like all the time: Comforting. Sometimes tiring. Quietly revealing. Lovely in its familiarity. Most of this was due to the fact that a fairly healthy sum of California ex-pats now reside on the East Coast, so the ratio of people I knew to people I didn't know was decidedly in my favor. The weather was heavy and indecisive, shoving a roiling lightning storm east over Manhattan to Williamsburg one minute, blowing my skirt up around my ears the next. (Red with white polka dots. Vintage. Pleated. Imagine that.) (No, don't.)
When lightning wasn't strobing over the city it was hot, though they all told me far less so than in the summer. I took a healthy amount of showers (the number of which is what most normal people rack up within a week but for me was egregious). Most of our time was spent together - eating together, drinking together, roving the grid like a nomadic tribe, swiping our Metro cards at every checkpoint. Adam brought his camera along for a couple of excursions and here's the first. In all, I think 7 bottles of champagne (or was it 11?) were consumed over a feast of brunchian proportions. We capped the day at the park and some of us topped it off with a dip in the Hudson. Here are a couple of shots, but please do head over to Adam's website to see the full slideshow, with music.
At the beginning of the Summer, I shot the lookbook for Quail Bridal, the nuptial-focused offshoot of designer Michelle Williams' fantastically girly line, Quail. Well, mum's been the word for too long and now that it's launched into cyberspace, I can finally share images with you. So check out Quail Bridal, all you brides-to-be and curious onlookers, because Michelle's latest endeavor is a stunning addition to the Quail family.
...Aaaaand I'm back.
New York was stupendous, thanks for asking. I'll have more to share once Adam's blog gets up and running again. Somehow in the flurry of getting ready to leave two weeks ago I failed to mention that I recently (with the help of the fabulous Jen Murse) gave my website a welcome injection of brand new work.
We're all up to date, folks. Click through and explore what I've been up to in the last year.
Before I left for NYC, I joined Beth Jones for yet another amazing shoot. This time it was for the lovely Brooke Dunning, a model-in-the-making and current volleyball star and all-around cool gal. You can see the full shebang over at Beth's blog, but I thought I'd also include some of my favorites from the shoot. Many thanks to Janelle Nelson for make up and the rest of our friends and helpers.
The Coastal Wanderer, feat. QSW
Styled by Beth Jones
Photographed by Laurel Dailey
I snagged this shot on the Staten Island Ferry last September
I'll be taking a bite out of the Big Apple for the next two weeks.
I love terrible puns and analogies so much it hurts my brain.
Posting will be minimum but I just might sneak a couple of random iPhone shots in if we end up embroiled in some particularly epic shenanigans...which we undoubtedly will. (Last year's Jade Island pilgrimage stands as one of my favorite memories of 2009, provided I could remember any of it after the giant tiki drinks we consumed upon our arrival.)
It's the third year I've jetted to NYC in the fall, once for a shoot, once for fun, this time for a bit of both. But it always exists as my New Year's celebration - a time to recharge and rejuvenate, to reset the clock and to move forward ready to tackle the upcoming seasons. Those of you who know me know that I'm a planner to a fault, always on the move, always searching out the next, the secret, the best, the new. But when I go to New York I put it on the back burner and simply enjoy what I enjoy most: Good time spent with close friends, finding inspiration, exploring the city. I've spent this year working at a blessedly breakneck pace and I can't wait to put on the brakes for a few days.
And whew, I have so much to show you when I get back...more Europe pictures, photo shoots, campaigns. It's been tortuous keeping them all to myself.
In the meantime, be safe, have fun, and make good decisions, kids. I'll see you soon.
...unless we're speaking strictly in metaphors, thereby confirming that I'm the long distance champ of LA adventuring. I can follow the sun's arch across the sky and still be going strong into the late night hours, just give me a couple of midday Diet Cokes and sneak a brew in there and I could keep right on huffing and puffing till the sun breaks to the east once again. And there's nothing that gets my heart pounding more than discovering yet again (and again, and again, and again...) that the City of Angels has something more to offer than most people give her credit for.
The naysayer in this case was a certain Mike Ruffino; model, muse, musician, man, myth. He's an OC brat born and raised, though he contains almost no trace of OC-ness and only a little brattiness. Despite growing up in the distant backyard of LA, he's chosen a life of sheltered ambivalence to one of more cultured delights and it was my job, being the more culturally seasoned of the two, to give him an education. I think it's fairly clear by my big talking here that I'm certain he doesn't even deign a cursory glance at my blog so herein I have the freedom to trash talk as much as I see fit. Yes, that's a dare, Ruffino. Wherever you are.
Thus began the 26-miler we called our L.A. Day, a gastronomic triathlon heaped upon an Iron Man of adventuring. Be sure to stay hydrated, and read on.
I'd hoped to begin the day at Nickel Diner for a bacon maple doughnut, but our plans were quickly thwarted as they're closed on Mondays. Curses. Ever the planner, I had a list as long as my forearm of alternative destinations, so we hightailed it to ABC Seafood for an order of pork buns. Sweet...savory...fluffy...heaven. Gastro coma. Cloud nine. The whole bit, folks - I clued Mike in to what many of my nearest and dearest are already savvy: Pork steam buns are probably my favorite food of all time. I could (but I won't!) eat them for every meal (but I...won't...maybe...). After snapping out of my BBQ'd reverie we strolled the narrow corridors of Olvera Street, a location I hold close to my heart because it represents my first real taste of L.A. (way back in 2003!), the place that stunned me simply by its existing and me not knowing about it.
Strolling Olvera St.
Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the Redwoods? Yes.
Only at Clifton's
Following that, we strolled the magical (truly...there is no better word) St. Vincent Court and dined with the crazies and fogies at Clifton's Cafeteria. Feeling that the turkey slop and strawberry pie from Clift's wasn't a suitable main course for lunch, we headed over to the Arts District and Wurstküche for brats, beer, and a bit of vintage shopping. The food we'd consumed exploded like a carb bomb in our bellies, so I opted to head north to Griffith Park for some low-grade non-hiking. We shimmied through the graffiti-festooned cages at the abandoned zoo and I was unsuccessful at bribing Mike to catch a squirrel without killing it first (one beer for a squirrel, two for a coyote, both of which were in abundant supply, neither of which actually feared being kidnapped).
St. Vincent Court
The Abandoned Zoo
Back to downtown, to visit one of my favorite destinations: the LA Cathedral. If you ever find yourself downtown on a Wednesday around 12:45pm, I'd highly recommend hearing the pipe organist rehearse, but the mausoleum makes a fun maze as well. There are usually art installations on display throughout the year and the sanctuary is a sight to behold; one can't help but think about Heavenly things under the milky glow of alabaster windows.
LA Cathedral - that's real alabaster in the upper windows!
Hungry again, we finished our marathon with a trio of indulgences: Happy hour french dip, fries, and beverages at Cole's, ice cream sandwiches and heady conversation at Syrup, and a small army of cocktails in the shadowy, jazzy darkness at Varnish.
All said an done, Mike's not abandoning all traces of his OC pride any time soon, but he did gain a certain reverence for what LA has to offer, and for that, I take full credit.
The bar at Cole's makes the city's best Manhattan
The man, the myth, the tour guide
The official The Sound and the Wind trailer is HERE, folks. Adam posted it over at Loose Luggage this morning and I'm beyond excited to share it with you. The 2010 cut of the Fauxchella documentary is on its way, but in the meantime, here's a taste of what we were doing.
The bigger idea was a looming cloud cover, greying at the edges and bright white at the apex. It deadened colors and muted the tones around it and our conversation was thin and at times even forced. We shuffled through the obligatory small talk. Hemmed and hawed or way through the deeper stuff. Now that the bigger death wasn't part of the conversation as it had been over the past year, now that it wasn't raking its fingernails over the chalkboard and howling like a banshee and producing an unnerving static fuzz that undermined any words we exchanged, now that it had been taken off the table, what was left?
Little deaths, the ones we suffered intermittently. An unreturned phone call. Unanswered text messages. Tentative contact blithely ignored. Plans forgotten, or changed, or cancelled, or unacknowledged. Carelessness personified.
What I wanted to say fluttered like ash in the air from some ancient fire. Why'd you stop? Instead I inserted a handful of useful facts about my recent comings and goings. I mentioned travel plans and weather patterns. I asked about work and music. We exchanged food from each other's plates. I wish you'd have kept caring. I miss that part of you, the part that would return a phone call. "Let's pay the check and get out of here."
Just let your yes be yes and your no be no, I begged. We walked. Bright white sky and dank ocean air. We parted ways and I gripped my keys until my knuckles whitened. I couldn't fight the feeling that somewhere a door had been left unlocked.
Posted by LD at 3:48 PM
It goes without saying that our brains are hardwired to associate smells or sounds with specific memories - so no need to begin this post with the perfunctory "Isn't it funny when..."
But just now, I was eating a dinner lit by the solemn glow of my computer monitor (work's been hanging around like an old friend - both welcome and a little jarring) - and, full disclosure, I'd been quaffing a white wine that's been lolling about our refrigerator without an owner to claim it for months. It was gloomy today, a premature wink at the season to come, but nevertheless, the Ugg slippers have come out of the closet (aestheticians rejoice!) and my mood is beginning to shift toward another Fall, another season, another change in weather patterns (naysayers might suggest that a Southern California weather pattern more resembles a blank cotton tee than New York's parallel and stately madras, but already I feel this analogy is running away from me). It seemed instinctual, at that moment, to put on Jeff Buckley's Grace, however clichéd that may be. But here I am, single white female, sucking sauvignon blanc joy juice from stemware like a nervous hummingbird, blaring "Lover, You Should've Come Over" at the first hint of seasonal atmospheric change. Katherine Heigl, you available for the rom com version of my Tuesday evening, girl? I know your neurotic-yet-lovable everywoman would annoy the hell out of the moviegoing public, so let's find a rakish Clooney-type to outwit and outsmart you for 80-ish minutes and call it a day, you dig?
So it stays. Both the cliché and the anecdotal over-thinking.
Though it's still buried stubbornly beneath all the superfluous prose, the point in all of this is to recall a memory plucked right out of the archives at the beckoning of Buckley's "Last Goodbye." This is by no means my favorite song on this record - a record I think we can all agree is fantastic/timeless/tragic/etc. - which only further illustrates what an elusive and mysterious Loch Ness mermaid memory can be. For some reason, today of all days, as I went about my business while my iTunes whirred away in the background, hearing "Last Goodbye" transferred me immediately to Alameda St, 90021. It's a Los Angeles day, sunny and warm and detached from even the subtlest harbingers of a seasonal pinpoint. I'm still commuting, still logging 50+ miles a day on my Volvo, still annoyed about the fissure in my windshield that would eventually snake from east to west like a fault line of my chronological wanderings. Still convinced I'd get it fixed before it spread. Still working for a certain purveyor of t-shirts and smut. Still 22 or maybe 23, and green about a lot of things but wizened about others.
Despite the debilitating knot of traffic I'd find myself tangled in on a daily basis, there was something meditative and, dare I even suggest cathartic (at the risk of facing a newer and more challenging commute to smack some sense into me) about the morning drive: The hazy pall that clung to the morning hours like a damp sweater; the methodic (and some musicians might argue, melodic) pattern of braking and accelerating; the thoughts that found themselves lynched and forever dangling from specific exit signs; there's a unity of mind, or music, of memory, of physicality. It will forever link me to a time and a place, traces not unlike those found on a crime scene, but perhaps more like a mile marker, a time capsule - evidence of growth. Evidence that time is indifferent and has more stamina than the most athletic person on earth in that it always keeps moving, breathlessness be damned.
Without realizing it, I was using the music I'd listen to on those commutes to create a link. To etch an indelible "LD loves ___" into the bark. To cast a shadow over wherever I'd be later on in life when that particular song would come on, a rough but unmistakable outline of Life As I Knew It. And tonight a link appeared, faded markings on a mental map. I remember the taupe wonderland, the piss-scented bougainvillea, the grime so familiar it started to look clean. A corridor pock-marked with tents and shanties. A skyline abrupt and optimistic. A commute that began in Long Beach, or Monrovia (it was a once-a-week sleepover, a brief routine). An unshakeable feeling of "how did I get here?" holding hands - if not awkwardly - with a past spent growing up in suburban Oregon. Skyscrapers. Neighborhood sprawl. Gutters festooned with debris - always McDonalds; red and yellow and distinctly 21st century American. Morning rides to school before the sun came up. Morning commutes to work with the sun sighing to the east. A mind full of ambition. A mind older, but no less ambitious.
So I felt compelled to record it tonight. To scratch the memory and its trigger into carbon paper and see how many layers my pen will affect. The reason I've done it, I suppose, is because I reckon each and every one of you reading this post can relate. (And if you've made it this far, you've singlehandedly bucked the stereotype I've reluctantly placed upon my entire "This post/email/letter/message was too long so I stopped reading it because I'm hiding behind the pitiful [and might this author add, pathetic] guise of cultural ADD" generation. Yes, those who've mentioned as much in the past, I'm talking to you - gather your druthers and try harder, you mush-brained jackwagons.)
The conclusion, or the question, then, to put a cork in this post is this: I know the very thing in which I've described has happened to you. And I'd love to know when/what/where/which song. A call and response in a time and age where autonomy is prized above all else? You betcha. If only because a response to this post will elevate my respect for you tenfold because it will mean that you've read it, that you've stayed until the very end, and that not even the mighty iPhone has inhibited our ability to focus for two everloving minutes. But more importantly, what's your link? Your memory? A song that caught you completely off guard on a Tuesday evening when you should've been working?
A few shots from a duo of end-of-Summer parties. Currently The Animals and Led Zeppelin seem to be the right thing for ushering in early Fall.
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good! Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood!