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Hello from what in L.A. at least has really begun to properly feel like spring, a season which usually slips by unnoticed between a regular parade of sunny days, but in our late strange gray ones is being welcomed with open arms, shorter hemlines, brighter colors, and in my case, seriously elevated moods*. Small new flowers are popping up all over the canyon, our own superbloom in shades of butter yellow and violet, with a side of reinvigorated cactus. A superminibloom. With 100% less influencer shoots to trample them! Unless you count Hugo, and he’s not really the trampling sort. More of a Ferdinand sniffing the flowers type. It all has me in a very lush, languorous, Francine Van Hove mood. Only, you know, generally clothed.
Speaking of clothes! (Or what goes with them.) Prada has helpfully provided us with just about the chicest, easiest little raffia bag imaginable. I went with the minty, celadon shade (“Aqua”) but I’ve been Barbie-pilled enough that I did truly consider the hot pink. I may live to regret my cowardice (think how good that pink will look with blue jeans!). It’s already been put to use this past weekend carrying some groceries up from the Laurel Canyon store, where, to my great delight, the iconic Pamela des Barres (the inspiration for Almost Famous’ Penny Lane, don’tchaknow, and the author of I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, among other seminal texts) was casually autographing books and memorabilia for a smattering of adoring fans on Sunday. The tote is looking forward to its future adventures (tame, I’m sure, certainly compared to Pamela’s) poolside and at various beaches and warm city strolls this summer. Highly recommend, and if you’re looking for a new seasonal companion to go with everything, you can’t go wrong with Prada, especially these colorways. I’m also drawn to the natural raffia shade. It’s all very chic upgrade from your French girl style market string tote (and unlike those nothing will fall through the strings, embarassing you at the farmer’s market or à la plage).
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*Regarding the mood lift, I’ve been taking Nue Co.’s daily Mood supplement (Vitamins Bs, D, and Ashwaganda), as well as their Pre- and Pro-biotic gut health one for about two months and recommend both very highly. The rare supplement I’ve reordered x3, and gifted to friends. You know you’ve completed your LA metamorphosis when you start giving people gut health supplements unprovoked… but show me someone with a life who doesn’t think their gut health could be improved and I’ll show you a liar. (Plus, NueCo does refill packets after the first order to cut down on all the bottle waste, which is a really good idea I wish everyone did.) Not an ad! Just the truth. As usual.
I watched Beef (Netflix), and found it poignant, dark, sad, beautifully shot (and designed—and here’s a SPOILER-FILLED! story about what it gets right from the design world), funny, stinging, exceptional. Steve Yeun is such a talent. The whole ensemble is so good. Here’s another spoiler-filled but excellent piece about it that I really encourage you to bookmark and read once you’ve finished episode 10. Don’t let hideous people tangentially involved with this project ruin it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, good.
Speaking of beef (lowercase b), I’m a little obsessed with this New Yorker story that just came out about the food science behind Taco Bell. (Less in actually consuming any of them, more into the layers of study and human manipulation behind them.) Tastes and textures are formulated and manufactured by Taco Bell scientists, who “consider a food’s rheological properties, which include bounce, density, crunchiness, gumminess, springback, juiciness, and spreadability.” I mean! Here’s a taste:
[The innovation team at Taco Bell’s] work is intricate, the lab as much think tank as mad-scientist lair. Frito-Lay, which supplies the chain with taco shells, runs a research complex outside of Dallas that’s staffed by hundreds of chemists, psychologists, and technicians, who perform millions of dollars’ worth of research a year examining the crunch, mouthfeel, and aroma of each of its snack products. A forty-thousand-dollar steel device that mimics a chewing mouth tests such factors as the perfect breaking point of a chip. (People apparently like a chip that snaps with about four pounds of pressure per square inch.)
If you’re looking for something else easy and quick (though actually inedible), this exceptionally good 2013 short story by Rebecca Curtis for n+1 was recently un-paywalled to high internet praise, and my own great pleasure.
I finally read Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner (aka Japanese Breakfast)’s tender memoir about family, grief, food, and love. It’s beautiful, it made me hungry, and it made me want to call my mom. 10/10
This article, “Succession Owes its Genius to Peep Show,” intrigued me. Maybe it will you? I always forget that Succession and Peep Show share a creator (Jesse Armstrong). Apparently they’re remaking Peep Show now. I wish they wouldn’t. But Minnie Driver is in it, and she’s a lot funnier than anyone ever gave her credit for, so…who knows! Plus the inclusion of Armstrong and a frequent What We Do in the Shadows director at the helm does bring cause for some optimism! File this under: we’ll see!
I finally watched Laura Poitras’ Academy Award-nominated Nan Goldin doc All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (HBO) about Goldin taking on the Sacklers’ art museum-endorsed reputation laundering after their role in instigating America’s opiate epidemic and by god, it’s a doozy. Not in the “you won’t be able to get up off the couch after” way but in the long-lasting heart-shifting way. I’ve been a fan of Nan’s for a long time, Laura’s too, and the combination here resulted in something notably poignant. If you haven’t read Patrick Raden Keefe’s Empire of Pain about the Sacklers, definitely do. But watch this too. It’s more about Nan Goldin—a living legend!— than anything and for that alone it’s worth your time.
I’ve been taking these mushroom gummies (non psychoactive, no corn syrup) and I have no idea if they’re doing anything at all yet but they are tasty and so far so good re: immunity, energy, et al. So: shrug? Stay tuned.
This piece on the class politics of Instagram face was fascinating. One only has to look around most major cities, but yes, okay especially L.A., to see what social media and front facing phone cameras have wrought. (It does make you wonder what happens when everyone eventually has been modified to look the same. Will forehead gems a la Lil Uzi go mainstream? Everyone just go really full steam in the opposite direction of “Quiet Luxury” with “Obvious and Grotesque Show of Wealth?”) I thought this part of the piece—about how certain famous faces especially have been failed by a one-two-punch of a culture which abhors and fears natural aging and modern plastic surgery (which allows the kind of obscene facial injections that could levitate a blimp)—was sort of poignant: “The folly of Instagram Face is that in pursuing a bionic ideal, it turns cosmetic technology away from not just the reality of class and power, but also the great, poignant, painful human project of trying to reverse time. It misses the point of what we find beautiful: that which is ephemeral, and can’t be reproduced. Our own particularities which, once decayed, can’t be brought to life again." So enjoy it now, friends. You’ll never be as young as you are right now. And that’s okay!
Other recommendations, rapid fire style, because I’d rather be outside: Cleaning the house in little bursts interrupted by a reward, like a slice of this gorgeous vegan babka, or a quick bout of complete trash TV. Realizing that looking at the reactions and reading the postmortems, like this very good one, is far preferable to watching the Love is Blind live reunion anyway. Checking in via some old fashioned on-the-ground journalism to see how business is going in the Vanderpump empire post [/mid] #Scandoval. Bringing a Polaroid camera out with you to parties. Especially parties for which you’ve dressed up. (Related: More parties with dress codes!) The Valmont facials at the Bel Air hotel: divine Swiss skincare that’s been around for ages and has lasted for a reason, in the most private, luxurious setting. (I’m also newly addicted to the bubbly, undeniably effective Deto2x pack.) This freakishly easy weeknight salmon recipe, which truly takes only 20 minutes and is insanely good. Sheet pan supremacy! These (addictive) ginger coconut hard candies are back in my life, I don’t know if that’s a good thing.
Okay. That’s all I’ve got for you at the moment. Thanks, as always, for reading. Your attention is precious, and it matters what you do with it. (I remind myself of that all the time, mostly when I’m clicking “play next episode.”) I hope you remembered to do your taxes. In California we all got an extension because it rained a lot this year. Seriously. I’m not kidding. How can you not love this place? Love you. See you next time.
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