Even though I haven’t actually had one of their “real” burgers in 11 years, they’ve still got a special spot in my California heart. Check out the rundown at the link above on Munchies.
I also infiltrated the online world of adult picky eaters for VICE/Munchies, and it was thought-provoking in ways I didn’t discuss in the piece. The thing is, even as a food writer who is almost completely fearless in terms of flavors and cuisines, I related to a group of people who only eat French fries. But not for the reasons you might think.
What resonated with me was the convergence of their individual and highly personal quests to find kindred spirits in an unmanageably large, and largely “normal,” sea of humans. There are certain things we can deduce about others are first sight; their level of objective and subjective attractiveness, their sense of individuality, their sartorial choices. But the stuff inside isn’t so obvious. On the subway, we’re crammed into the tiniest, most intimate confines with other humans whose thoughts are a complete mystery to us. And for people who feel like they don’t fit in—for whatever reason—sometimes you need more.
Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of solace in the internet’s music communities; blogs, band message boards, file sharing groups. Even as a fairly extroverted person, I still find something comforting in reading the words of others, hearing their experiences and struggles and the fodder that they don’t say out loud. What I’m writing right now I might not say aloud. It’s just different to keep things in the written word. Safer.
But I realize that this is a double-edged sword, because these peeks into each other’s minds only go so far. They’re no replacement for sitting at a diner at 2am with your best friend in the world, or exchanging a knowing glance across a room.
And I’m not talking about social media; that’s something else. That’s a platform, a janky soapbox. I’m talking about the opposite; the corner booth, the quieter outskirts of this strange, sticky hub that we’re all using for ten thousand different things every day. I’m talking about the seven other people in the world who want to talk about your favorite Claymation rendition of The Little Prince from 1979. More than that, I’m talking about not being alone. Somehow, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram can make us feel left out. But for shy record enthusiasts and Picky Eating Adults, there’s somewhere to go where everybody knows your name.
Do I really hate cats? Probably not. But I can tell you one thing; I don’t fit in with serious cat people. I went to New York’s first cat café for VICE and interviewed happy kitty lovers who stood in the rain for 5 hours so that they could pet cats … but never visit animal shelters.
Public service announcement: every major city has tons of animal shelters with dogs and cats that would LOVE for you to visit and kick it with them. They’re chilling in their kennels all day, gazing longingly through the chicken wire, praying that you’ll take them for a walk or scratch behind their ears or even talk to them in that high-pitched voice that makes your significant other cringe. You don’t need to get drenched in a lemming line for half your day just to say what’s up to some animals.
This is completely unrelated, but I cannot iterate strongly enough how good the new Afghan Whigs album is and how much pleasure it is bringing to my workday.
So many of my friends of the rock ‘n’ roll persuasion dangle on either side of what the Whigs do, either opting for something a little more grungy and mainstream or snottier and less accessible. But for God’s sake there should be a fantastic band playing heavy soul music right now and this is it, even after all those years. Emote a little.
Why do people make New Year’s resolutions? They’re conceived in a state of undoubted drunkenness, when one is feeling ultimately miserable from holiday indulgence and begging for some sort of self-affirmation that you will lose 10 lbs or “date better guys” or whatever. What people should really be making are birthday resolutions. Birthday resolutions strike when you’re already in a state of hyper-awareness about getting older, can look back with better accuracy at all of the stupid things you’ve done in the past 365 days, and hopefully capitalize on the idea of “wisdom” with “age.”
Here are my BIRTHDAY RESOLUTIONS (28TH YEAR OF LIFE)
1. IT IS MANDATORY THAT I END MY ADDICTION TO SUGAR
This one is the most serious. My friend’s 90-something Korean grandmother told me that when you eat sugar, parasites grow inside of you and munch happily on all of the candies and cookies and lovely treats that you stuff into your face. Even though I believe this to be … false, to put it lightly, the very concept of it has disturbed me for some time. I am absolutely, unequivocally, physically addicted to sugar. I find ways to sneak it into everything and for my birthday two of my friends made me the most delectable s’mores ice cream cake that my lips have ever beheld, so I will have to begin as soon as the cake is gone (which will likely be in 24 more hours). There is no other way.
2. LEARN HOW TO USE TWITTER
The other day some obnoxious troll commented on a post that my boyfriend had written for a relatively popular music website, and went on some ridiculous rant about how writers should be ignored if they have less than 1000 followers on Twitter. Obviously, I disagree with this strongly and wanted to vomit all over my keyboard at the site of his comments. But, like the Korean grandma sugar-parasite legend, it still stuck with me in spite of its obvious lack of factuality. Working in media, one needs to, at the very least, try to be less averse to all things Twitter, since there seems to be a collective idea that it’s “integral” to “modern culture.”
3. BE LESS SARCASTIC
I just realized this one while typing out why I should learn how to use Twitter. But honestly, as someone who vouches for earnestness so earnestly, I should be better about practicing it.
4. STOP BEING A WUSS
My former roommate was reading a self-help book titled The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. One day, I was leafing through it and read a considerable portion about what can be learned from Stoics, a formal philosophical practice that entails placing less emphasis on the demand for “true happiness” and more on developing tactics for managing uncertainty, regret, and insecurity. It mirrored what another friend told me he learned from Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking; accept times of mild to moderate discomfort and unpleasantry. Welcome them, and recognize that you can survive them. Understand that all experiences are finite and that the worst case scenario is unlikely to happen, and, even if it does, it likely isn’t something you can’t withstand. And even if you die—well, we all do. This is actually a very liberating thought, and one that I am trying to integrate more into my daily experiences rather than leaning on complaining and avoidance.
5. START DRESSING MORE LIKE AN ADULT FEMALE AND LESS LIKE A TEENAGE BOY FROM 1994
Just kidding. I’m going to wear overalls and band t-shirts all summer.
Pardon my inexcusable lapses in updating. Now that I’m not entrenched in a snow fortress, desperately attempting to thaw by consuming only hot toddies and ramen, I’ve been (thankfully) spending less idle laptop time.
I have three new stories up on VICE from the past week or two:
If you had told me when I was 15 years old that I would be casually chatting on the phone with the guy who made Dude Ranch, Bleed American, and everything else I viewed holy as am emotional, “alternative” adolescent with a penchant for drum fills, I would have just about died oh my gawd. Let alone that the same dude was the drummer of Drive Like Jehu, a post-hardcore band that is oft-lauded as “seminal” amongst us “-core” miscreants. But even as a 27-year-old, I definitely felt a massive rush of nerdy satisfaction from hearing Mark Trombino casually mention, in his own voice, that he produced those albums. Anyways, now he makes awesome donuts and I interviewed him primarily about that.
For this sucker, I dug deep into the academia of marijuana brownie history to get to the root of how little old ladies became the prominent icons of weed treat ‘lore, starting with Alice B. Toklas and finishing with San Francisco’s own folk hero Brownie Mary.
This one was a little old thing called an assignment, though no complaints other than that body odor issues will now be forever Google-associated with my name. And now even worse since I just typed that out on my own blog. But anyways, broccoli and garlic and meat might be making you stink, but you should probably keep eating broccoli and garlic and stop eating red meat because obviously and now even the UN says so.
Thanks for reading and I’ll have more to say soon than just links, links, and more links. My brain is crowded. Honest.
Heading to Palm Springs this weekend, thank the lord. It’s time to get out of the oppressive snowglobe that this winter has transformed New York into. I’ll be relaxing inside the half-shell of a coconut, spooning a pineapple under the shade of a palm frond.