Until it's Summertime and we can go out at midnight without a jacket on, here's a selection of photos from my archives of sunnier places, some tropical, others beachy, all nostalgic.
Long Beach, CA
Napali Coast, Hawaii
Napali Coast, Hawaii
Morro Bay, CA
Key West, Florida
Last year I posted a collage of some of the pieces I was looking forward to wearing in the Spring and Summer. The funny thing is that in looking back, I'd still wear all of that, so either I'm stuck in a rut or my style has found a groove that I'm content to jam to until something better comes along. Let's go with the second option, shall we?
In a perfect world, when people saw me, the first thing they would think would be: Daaaamn, how sun-blanched desert bandit-slash-Steve McQeen pistol popping in Joshua Tree-slash-Santa Cruz surf brat circa early 90's is that girl over there?
Obviously, this would imply a perfect world because the general population would think like me thereby nullifying my current need to explain over and over and over again why the West Side, melon, and homonymic mishaps are simply the worst (or why the above sentence makes even a shred of sense). But back to the fashion bit. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the surf-perfect desert-adjacent California vibe. Growing up, when it was spitting nails of rain in Oregon in late Spring, I was dreaming about hip-slung baggy shorts and ankle bracelets (turns out Isabel Marant and I must share the same brain). Didn't matter what year it was, be it late 90's or early 00's or just last week. One of my most vivid sartorial memories took place on the first day of high school way back in 1997. A girl came into my math class wearing low-hanging boy's cargo shorts, a vintage Santa Cruz surf tank, and a bangle pushed up to her upper arm. Her hair was long and blonde and wild, and I remember gaping at her Havaianas and her tan and thinking, "When I graduate from this place in four years, I'm moving to California."
Fast forward to 2011. My hair is wild but I now know that baggy boy's cargo shorts would be a grave mistake on my frame. I've got the Havaianas and (very) occasionally the tan. My tastes have been all over the place over the past fourteen years, but there's still a common thread finding its way through the seasons. At the end of the day, that teenager in me just wants to rewind to a 1970's Santa Cruz boardwalk where the Z-Boys never hung out and take in the sunset.
Herewith, my Spring/Summer moodboard, or, my lifetime style visual manifesto:
Earlier today I was buying groceries at my friendly neighborhood Ralphs (a true enough statement, since it's in my neighborhood and I've been shopping there forever, but now that Keith's gone, it's significantly less friendly. Granted, Keith was never exactly effusive when I buzzed through his line, but I once saw him nearly squeal with excitement over Ashley - 9 feet tall on her roller skates at the time - so I'll claim some of that afterglow as my own, thankyouverymuch). I know many of you likely buy your sundries from an haute grocer like Whole Foods or its forcibly friendlier cousin Trader Joe's, or even their showed-up-at-the-party-with-wine-coolers-though-most-likely-uninvited neighbor Fresh & Easy, but I'll take whatever pantry flotsam that untrendy Ralph throws my way, thankyouverymuchAGAIN.
Further proof* that my days as a sunnily-dispositioned joiner of society are numbered (as numbered as the amount of naturally-tinted brown hair I have left amidst the tangled thrash of bellicose greys sucker-punching for prime real estate on my head, that is), I try to hit Ralphs at an optimum shopping time - that is, in the morning, before the rest of Long Beach hauls their "OMG, I h8 Mondays!" selves to the store to shuffle glassy-eyed through the aisles around 5:30 p.m.
I do this because, frankly, I don't like to be bothered. I buy my 19-year-old college dude necessities (so, you know...candy and soda and frozen dinners)** in peace and haul it home with very little fanfare. Another reason I prefer to shop at Ralphs is because they - as a grocery store chain - aren't positioning themselves to be some kind of socially trending feel-good HQ for people who consider their character to be comprised solely of eating habits and organic shampoo. No offense intended toward the fine folks whose food is whole or who've traded their cash for vegan frozen pizza at Joe's, but I just don't identify. Plus, Trader Joe's parking lot is perhaps the most stress-inducing location in the entire world at all times. Because these other grocers tend to appeal fervently to a certain type of doing-good-whilst-not-doing-much-at-all clientele, so too do the altruistic proselytizers eddy at the gates with their pitchforks raised - er, clipboards. Did I say pitchforks? My mistake.
Like the opening day of summer camp, these college-aged do-gooders gather themselves, their druthers, and their screenprinted t-shirts for a long day of ocean saving (or what have you). And guess who they're targeting? You! And me! And anyone within scattershot distance with a wallet and the kind of guilt that grows like a cancer when it's fed with affluence and self-loathing! So good luck schlepping your artisan olives to your Prius unscathed, my friend!
Today, however, the poor kids must have gotten lost because they found themselves perched in front of the Ralphs exit, ready to save the whales - don't they know that misanthropic curmudgeons*** shop here?! I spied them from the checkout line but since my friendly neighborhood Ralphs only has one exit, the guilt gauntlet was inescapable. But given recent events in Japan, the thought of having to look them in the eye and deny the importance of the plight of the dolphin, whilst fully knowing that an argument would ensue, nearly made me apoplectic.
As I walked out the door, I could see their - a he and a she, as it were - faces cranking up for the big pitch, cheeks trembling into the opening question (you know, something along the lines of, "Do you CARE about the OCEAN?" The type of leading and wholly rhetorical question that any halfwit with at least four synapses firing would be required to answer "Yes" to in order to be considered part of the human race). But before they could spit anything out, I leveled my gaze at them and simply shook my head. And with my head still shaking, I walked out of the store and into the parking lot, leaving the SuperDuo to swallow their pitch like a burp that must be squelched. As I wheeled my cart into the parking lot, the She of the duo crowed after me, "You just broke his heart! Look at thaaaat, you broke his heart!"
Because I love Jesus, I refrained from whirling around and delivering the verbal bullet, but as I loaded my groceries into my car, I considered his broken heart and thought to myself, "If that's all it takes, kiddo, then you've got a lot of life yet to live."
*Because listening to Steve Earle's "Lonelier Than This" on repeat wasn't the last nail in my coffin, believe it or not
**KIDDING. Sort of.
***That'd be me, natch.
I was perusing old photos from my archives last night - falling down the proverbial rabbit hole of nostalgia, of course - and I found these shots from way back in 2004 and 2005. I know that I herald the beauty of California as though someone is paying me to be a spokesperson (and I really wish they would, because all of my financial questions would be answered thusly: CALIFORNIA! SHE'S A BEAUT, IN'T SHE?), but I should also mention that where I grew up in Oregon happens to be gorgeous as well. All of these were taken on back roads not too far from my parent's house, either in the Spring or Summer. Makes me miss driving with the windows down (yes, I'm talking to YOU, brief-but-aggravating March superstorm currently dumping buckets of rain on my house. Git, y'hear?).
I've always been a big Alexander Wang fan, but never more than of his T line of perfectly neutral, perfectly slouchy, perfectly styled knits. I want to live the rest of my days swathed in silky jerseys and fluid modals, and I want that ruched mini in my life right now.
Alas, though it's far more affordable than Wang's eponymous collection, I'm not rolling in the dough, as it were. And while I do occasionally entertain sick Scrooge-McDuckian fantasies of frolicking in my own pile of filthy, filthy bills (all benjamins, natch), I've got to be smarter about things than blowing my cash on an $80 t-shirt. There are whiskeys out there that aren't going to buy themselves, people. Please.
I was organizing my closet tonight (the act of which finds its correlation thusly: Trying to stuff another item of clothing into my laughably miniscule closet is sort of like taking one look at a newborn and being like, "Eh, can we just shove it back up there?" Stark visuals, I know. But I employ such frankness to illustrate my point, because my closet is ridiculously tiny), and I found this little gem from Quail. I love this dress, but I wear it slouched down around my waist like a skirt. So, inspired by T and Alexander Wang's ineffable goodness, I put together this handy guide so that you, too, can achieve slouchy sartorial perfection on a budget.
1. Quiksilver Bonfire Poncho - $54.50
2. Quail Fold Dress in grey - $162
3. Alternative Apparel Linen Low-Back Tank in pewter ministripe - $45
4. Need Supply Drop Sleeve Cropped Tee in grey - $32
(That's my zombie groaning, by the way.)
(This is what shows up when I image Googled "Zombie Polar Bear"...I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.)
Though I'm a few months late on this particular Meme of the Undead, I've finally started watching The Walking Dead with Ashley Millar, resident zombie enthusiast and Apocalypse Survival Expert. You'll have to forgive me for being woefully behind the curve on this one, because George Romero was cranking out grisly end-of-the-world schlock long before Edward and Bella were household names. But once Danny Boyle presented the option of speedy zombies, stealthily zipping about the English Countryside and leaving an unsuspecting wake of death behind them, I opted out of watching anything jumpy and pale (which explains why I've still yet to see It Might Get Loud. Sorry, Jack White, haha. Ha...ha...hah...). But the walking dead in The Walking Dead are sluggish and stupid, and the series is mercifully bereft of Hollywood's usual quiet-quiet-LOUD! audio tropes.
Ashley and I are highly interactive viewers and are often heard throughout the house hollering advice at the screen. A typical scene might sound something like this:
Ashley: SIR, you need to get away from there right now. Shoot him in the head and walk away. Leave your backpack and evacuate the premises.
LD: No, no, nooooo [covering face with hands]...what's happening? Wait, what's--[uncovers face]--OOHHHHHH! GROOOOOSSSSS!
And so on. With Ash and I, it's not so much the Good Cop/Bad Cop dynamic as it is the Calm, Reasonable And Unusually Prepared For The Apocalypse Cop/Hysterical, Nihilistic, Whiny Cop. I'll let you determine who's who. The series is wonderfully fun in spite of being woefully hopeless and stress-inducing. But really! Hahaha! I'm just loving it! Hah! Ha! At the very least, it affords us an endless amount of fodder for our favorite show-watching banter, "____ at the apocalypse," during which we essentially narrate the finer points of what's happening on screen by following it with "...at the apocalypse." So, in other words, "Indignant! ...At the apocalypse." "Surviving with only one hand! ...At the apocalypse." "Relational duh-rama! ...At the apocalypse." Et cetera, et al.
The only drawback, of course, is that it tends to take hold of my cerebral cortex, much like the fever that afflicts the infected (perhaps incidentally, I have been humming the Cramps' version of "Fever" without ceasing), and I find myself drifting into a dream-filled sleep most nights wherein drooling toddlers try to scratch and infect me with their tiny zombie fingers. I was utterly undone by this first dream until I realized by the light of day that this basically describes Ashley's day-to-day life.
Which explains her predilection toward apocalyptic escape routes. That girl has thought of everything.
How's that for a painfully literal indication of the material this post will contain? No obscure rock n' roll lyrical references for me, folks (at least not right this minute, anyway). Here are a few shots from the weekend. A trio of "grab something and put it on!" at 826LA, plus some lights, and a tree.
Adam threw this little gem on Facebook this evening, and it made me laugh pretty hard. Here is the venerable Josh McBride and myself in Sleepy Hollow, NY, running on fumes after a 12+ hour photo shoot. We were returning ourselves and our gear to the car when we heard a rustling in the bushes in front of us. We feared an immanent mauling by angry deer or perhaps a grizzly bear (the kind found in NYC, so...Ed Droste), but it was Adam who popped out of the bushes giggling like a girl at a slumber party. Having sufficiently scared the piss right out of us, he snapped our photo.
Clearly, we were not pleased.
Over the weekend, we had another Beatnik night, the 20th Beatnik, actually. Way back in 2006, I and a few friends began holding events every 2-3 months during which we invited our friends and simply told them to bring something to share that recently inspired them. Could be poetry or literature or music, could be something they'd read somewhere or written themselves, could be just about anything. Over the years, we've had any number of amazing people sharing what it is that gets them excited about life - because the whole point is that anyone is welcome provided that they're willing to share. On Saturday we hosted the 20th Beatnik and it was nothing less than spectacular. If you're reading this and you were there, I thank you for showing up and for bringing da ruckus. Beatniks are my favorite thing about any given month or season.
For kicks, here's what I shared:
Let it be known straightaway that I'm attempting the impossible here. I'll pose this question to the general readership and let you tumble this around in your brains for a couple of cycles: Have you ever, in your own eruditely verbose or excruciatingly limited way, been able to tell someone you love not simply that you love him, her, or it - but precisely the ways in which you do? Have you been able to sit down, list it all out, deliver the amorous monologue, and fold your arms behind your head in the satisfaction that you'd completed the task with aplomb?
Such is the conundrum I face tonight.
But how do you, if you're not John Steinbeck, possessing his verve and verbal prowess, describe the very land you feel so attached to? How do you both love, loathe, and articulate your home, italicized and emphasized to communicate importance in some small way? How do you?
Los Angeles. A city I love, a city I've grown to love, a city I've grown to understand over time, as the Los Angeles River wears tired marks on its cement ballasts and as the Santa Anas eddie in the worn foothills of the San Gabriels, a city I know as intimately as I might know a friend or a family member. Here is a city whose thoroughfares I've traversed too many times to count, whose worn cement paths have equally worn into the grooves of my tires. Here is a city I've known.
Here is a city who wears her faults like a beauty mark.
Do you live here? Do you know what it means to really live?
Don't go quietly into this life, friends. There is so much about this world that is not right. There are deep and unending rivers whose depths hint at a despair that would level our best efforts and nullify our most optimistic thoughts. Fissures that roar across the surface of contentment. A rending that rips apart the very notion that things are simply all right.
Things are not all right.
I feel that Los Angeles represents this reality more plainly, more nakedly, more openly than most other places. There it eddies in piss-soaked bougainvillea, there it creeps along with the endless sludge of brakelights on the 405 Freeway. There it is, limpidly reflected along with the shifting sun in the paned windows of the tallest buildings in Downtown. There it slumps on 7th Street, amidst the swirl of detritus sloughed off from society. There it whips with the wind, tunneling down the arterial sprawl from east to west: Things are not all right.
The kids are not all right.
But don't, whatever you do, don't go so quietly into this life. If you can remember it, recall the last time you fought for something. Recall the last time you bitched and screamed and kicked and rebelled and shouted and reacted and threw your fists and howled and roared. Los Angeles would ask this much of us. She would ask us to fight like hell.
Go swinging into the night, my friends. Go fighting into this life. If you can sit where you're sitting right now, be it at desk or on the floor or in your car, and you can feel content, you can feel apathetic, you can feel safe or insulated, or in any way like Simon & Garfunkel's titular island, then I can guarantee you one thing:
You're not fighting hard enough.
And to you I pose a question, to all of you sitting here and listening, slack jawed and glassy eyed,
Brother, won't you hasten to love when the going gets rough?
Spring is nigh, folks. I can feel it. In two weeks, those jasmine will start to bloom and the air will feel a little different and the days will stretch just a bit longer and we'll all start contemplating shorts more than pants.
(Snapped these on my phone whilst out and about this weekend)
I can't get enough of them. We have a few around our house and I've been completely enamored by all things palm recently. I want original Martinique wallpaper in my house. I want to shoot every photo from now on in front of a fanned backdrop of banana leaves. So, I'm obsessed. Now you know.
Top: Elle US March 2011, The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Middle: photos by Laurel Dailey
Bottom left: Elle US March 2011
Background: Martinique wallpaper
Couple of random shots from a still-undisclosed photo project I'm working on with B.W. McClustercuss.
I love this city with my whole heart.
Angel's Flight, still just 25-cents a ride, though apparently my hair will fly off my head in all directions for free.