Friday, March 20, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
I can't help looking at our neighbour. Our apartment spoons his. Together, our lounge windows form a right angle, and his windows are especially big and easy to look into. The curtains are rarely drawn, and he's often home, and shirtless a surprising amount of the time. He often has a friend over. Last night, he and a friend were both shirtless as they watched football. Is that normal. They also bounced a lot on the couch as they watched the game. They've got leftover baby. Sometimes he drinks red wine as he watches football which cracks me up. He's a new bourgeoise lad. Sometimes, even candles. On another occasion, he and a friend got so juiced up on wine and football that they did hip hop dances and couldn't stop. He seems a giggle. I'm sure he's very charming. His apartment is one that friends want to visit. They smoke out the window. Sometimes a girl is present, and he is more restrained with her, less bouncing and dancing, in the lounge anyway. He just sits listening and his long legs seem longer, propped up like stately invitations. The next morning, she is still there and he is of course then shirtless. The morning after can't help but be a cliché. He is very good looking. He has quite dark hair and pale, smooth skin. Sometimes I only see feet. Today, one sock pink and one sock green! The table at which I work faces his window. It's not my fault; I would sit at that spot anyway, it gets the most sun. He's the best kind of distraction, both erotic and banal. He's one of my favourite things about this house. The foxes and cats that set off the security lights are the best. Through the kitchen window, if you see the light in the yard go on, you know you are going to see a fox or a cat. Our kitchen window also looks onto the young man's kitchen window. I told you, our apartment really wraps around his. Holds it in embrace. On his sill, a wilted daffodil that endears me and slightly stresses me out. He's been known to do the washing up shirtless. On his arm are mysterious scars. They are clear because his skin is so pale and smooth. In the lounge, he is always multi-screening. It can be phone, laptop and teevee all at once. His activities all seem to do with entertainment. Some barbells and an exercise machine have appeared; they hold good voyeuristic promise. I can't wait for summer. Except the cigarette smoke will fill our lounge through our both open windows. When you are as young as he is — what, maybe 20 — why does boredom feel so necessary. Boredom facilitates the slow drip of self realisation. Boredom is absorption and obviously narcissistic. I tell my eyes to leave him alone, even a glance feels invasive. He wouldn't know his boredom is a performance. A study in the emergence from the cocoon of adolescence. The adult apartment where it's such a luxury to smoke inside and drink on a weeknight. The girl who comes over to give you attention. The state of attracting attention without even trying. Everything, really, without even trying. A stretched-out immortal feeling of waiting. The August days when grown up and responsible September is looming. The festival weekend walks into the apartment. Leftover mud is a part of the texture. Cycles of day and night have much less meaning. Music and clothes are democracy seeping. Nothing needs to be definite, everything is temporary. But look at all of the gadgets. What would you do without electricity.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I didn't realise we were chasing the sun. I don't even know what that means. All I know is that the weekend had high expectations — I wasn't working for once, it was sun and high temperatures — and the pressure was on to have so much fun, but we kept missing things. Friday night in the capitol and we couldn't get a table at Abeno for okonomo-yaki nor Chilli Cool for spicy Szechuan. Things got tense as we got hungry, and we wound up just procuring some veg at the Brunswick Waitrose and taking it all the way to our new home, which suddenly felt so far, to cook it. On Saturday, we caught Isabelle Cornaro at the South London gallery, but we didn't have our coffee there, which we should have. (We had coffee at the new Brick House Bakery in East Dulwich, and a very tasty grilled cheese, but we quickly decided THIS IS NOT OUR TRIBE. It was just rich babies dragging tired parents with sexy salt and pepper beards. When we got to the SLG, we decided that the brunch crowd there is our tribe, even though we are no longer 20-year-olds drinking bloody mary's out of jam jars, but if we say it's our tribe, it just is.) The Isabelle Cornaro installation was good; almost-black on black making you think about the way that you're seeing things, and gold, and upstairs the films of tiny ornate things, perfume bottles. J. and I said the films should be accompanied by 1970s children's teevee soundtracks. Kind of funky; flutes. One of the invigilators saw us paying close attention to the art and said you should go across the street to the publishing fair and we did and saw Eleanor from Four Corners who is such a beautiful Huguenot and wears elegant colour combinations: almost grey and almost lilac and almost mauve. We saw some guys we know from Nous Vous and I was going to buy a great ceramic vessel, with lines drawn on sandy stone and then splotches of green and pink glossy glaze — super cool — but then an actual cool person came up and said I'm going to have this little fellow and she bought it from under my nose. I felt vaguely mournful as it was bubble-wrapped and sent away. You snooze you lose said the guys from Nous Vous. We missed, in the afternoon, handsome Jack at his coffee cart in Spa Terminus, where he stands like a delicious doughy bread roll, taciturn besides the occasional laconic (possibly sarcastic?) comment, mumbled in a country-posh accent. He serves up his freshly roast beans. But Jack's metal gate was definitely pulled down. Even The Kernel Brewery was calling it a day. It was 3pm, the twilight of markets. Rushing through crowded Borough — a race to Monmouth Coffee — was a headache. I literally got a headache. But we got some beans. And we made it to the church, where we sat in the sun with several people dressed in black and one cat also dressed in black before filing into a side room that looked kind of like a prison cell where we watched a couple of really good Ben Russell short films. During the first one, J. took my hand and put pressure between my thumb and index finger in that acupressure way. I sat feeling loved, as if everything in the world was concentrated on that pressure point. Sometimes, someone's attention is all you need: to disappear and also become everything. I was stressed — I hadn't stopped working all week — and I didn't know how to unwind. I kept thinking that all activity was framed in the possibility of missing things. J. was like stop ruining a nice day and I was like: I'll feel what I want to and then I'm going to blog about it. Near home, near dusk, we got off the train at St. John, which we don't normally do, and walked across a bridge we don't normally cross, and saw a steeple I couldn't identify. The sky was bushy and jagged under a big sky, in that South London way. We call it Oakland. We approached Hilly Fields Park from the north side. Isn't it odd to walk up a hill southbound. We got to the crest and saw the silhouettes of young men pulling themselves up on the gym equipment. And then J. pointed out the sun. It was massive, and dangerously red. It was a fireball. It was maybe the hugest sun I've ever seen, except for the view from the mechanic's garage in the desert, which I told you about. (But that, cries J., was the moon.) And then we saw the sun set. London was ablaze. Or, the city was a candle and the flame being snuffed. We were there just in time to see the huge sun get smaller and lower then pretend to burn brighter then hide under the horizon, or fake its disappearance. We were on time, just, for the sunset. We were on time for home, at the bottom of the park on the other side. At home, you're always on time. Even if you're late getting somewhere else; that's somewhere else. Home is atemporal. Or, if it exists, time is measured by the songs of Erik Satie or Nick Drake (3 minutes), or by what's in the oven (30). Everything's 3 or 30 minutes. This weekend I fought with myself and J. about missing things, but I didn't miss much. It was all there. The next day, Sunday, we were on time, early even, to the Mica Levi performance at the Christian Marclay show at White Cube. Then we decided to have some beers, which we don't do very well anymore, but we did make it a pub crawl, with rather giddy bus rides in between. On one of the buses, J. and I sat one in front of the other, each next to a messy thin boy with thick curls the colour of bark in the sun. English oak. We texted each other: Mine's cuter. Mine was definitely cuter. He had a skateboard and Roald Dahl book and not the Comme des Garçons plimsolls. Before home, where time doesn't exist, one more ridiculous black craft ale, the drink that would make me hungover. And then Budgens, our favourite local grocery shop. Costcutter a close second. They're both surprisingly posh and have Yeo Valley dairy. Our neighbourhood is in that sweet, doomed period of precarious transition. Partly organic but franchised. Anyway. And then home. I suppose I really didn't miss as much as thought I did this weekend. And the spicy Chinese food, I can make that myself.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
If you know me, you know my phone is a crummy old Nokia. It is like a miniature monolith from the technological past. It annoys people, of course, because I'm always wanting to use their City Mapper, Grindr, Shazam. My lack of iphone compliance makes me needy and dependent. One day I'm sure this will all come to its inevitable end and I'll develop that agile index finger like the rest of you. In the interim, I've got this lousy thing with dust trapped beneath its screen and a few years' worth of photos edited down to fit within a tiny storage capacity. J. is always worried that my terse edit of witty snapshots will one day be in lost. For posterity's sake, I am indexing them here. You will notice the older they get, the more selectively they've been kept.
- A red phone booth at Queen's Gate, Kensington Gore. Taken for the purpose of identifying its model type as I was working on an essay about that sad, oppressive-feeling stretch of road. Sure to be deleted.
- Overlapped sections from two carpets, taken at the going-out-of-business carpet shop in Knightsbridge, as I wanted to send them to J. for his consultation. He didn't receive the images until days later, at which point he said he agreed with my choice anyway.
- Another carpet shot, this one a Kilim rug. These are sure to be deleted.
- Another Kilim, this one in insane summer fruit shades. What could have been!
- A piece of wood on a piece of wood. I have no idea!
- Another kind of wood. Should probably be deleted.
- A sign from the electronic music exhibition at the Science Museum that says DO NOT FIDDLE WITH.
- A monkey puzzle tree.
- A selfie for no apparent reason, in a changing room mirror. Apparently, I was feeling good.
- An asinine text from Kinfolk magazine, taken as a note because I was working on an essay slamming Kinfolk magazine. Easy target, really.
- More Kinfolk literature.
- A tube station advert featuring a mad, tophatted ringleader introducing a kind of Wonderland cabaret at the Southbank Centre. Not at all something that would normally take my interest. Why?
- A bit of a tube advert that reads ONLY IN ENGLAND. Over the word ONLY, someone had scrawled ALSO in biro.
- Jamie in a red hat urinating in one of the pissores they'd install on the weekend at Hoxton Square. This was when we lived around the corner, but he obviously couldn't wait. One of the other three sectionals is occupied by a man who may not have been amused that I was photographing him having a piss, though he was probably too drunk to care.
- A photograph of a photograph, closing in on a man in a beard and buffalo plaid shirt, from some book on the Fluxus movement. This was when I wanted to start a Tumblr called something like Hot Guys at Avant-garde Events of the Long 1960s.
- Nina on a train with her hair in a kind of French braid, making her look even more feline.
- Selfie from my brief moustache phase. It was not November.
- The English pound coins Nina's mom posted to her from Denmark. They're each taped to a piece of cardboard. Knowing her, Nina probably bought chocolate with this money.
- A very small, very bright red tree on the lawn of the estate we used to live in. Beautiful symbol of autumn. Fallen yellow leaves. I can just imagine the feeling.
- The plain billboard somewhere around Battersea, on which someone had tagged in the corner: VINNE ♥'s BOYS x.
- A man life modelling at the RCA Battersea campus. He is doing a serving pose with tennis racket for a bunch of school kids who are sitting on the floor sketching. The young female tutor looks at me. I probably should not have photographed near the children.
- A photograph taken from the window of our old apartment. Purple leaves on the tree and a geisha zombie stumbling down the street as you'd imagine a geisha zombie would — shoulders forward, dragging heels. Halloween.
- Jamie on a bench with two little terriers at the Wenlock Arms.
- More of the same. I think the owner was cute, too. Cuteness on a bench.
- Evening sky bouncing off a London building. The window reflects the burning orb of a sun. Behind, a vapour trail absorbs bright pink and appears to descend ominously, yet peacefully. In the background, a red and yellow dusk almost as bright as Los Angeles. But still very London. All the colours are distinct and separated and layered. A sigh of a picture.
- A photograph down some lovely London street, showing the tops of buildings running parallel and a kind of God sky. You know, where the clouds all have heavenly silver linings, and rays break through celestially.
- A crazy, very healthy green tree, kind of like a Monkey Puzzle tree, but not.
- Selfie. Do I really take this many selfies? Selfie in a navy bucket hat wearing a navy shirt and a who me? expression, as if I was not taking the photograph myself.
- A bit of text from a nightclub advertisement that says JEREMY UNDERGROUND PARIS. Stupid.
- A white cat with black and orange splotched face taken through a window. I used to gaze at this cat on my way to Golden Lane swimming pool. The cat would look back and hold my gaze for extended periods. The carpeted cat plinth and window blinds.
- The cat again, unsurprisingly. It had kind of turned its head upside down and tucked it under its forearm, that utterly loving, needy pose. Cute.
- The cat again, from further back, so that one can see the reflection of the sky in the window. The sky looks silvery.
- White blossoms on a white pipe against a red brick wall.
- A cup of coffee on a piece of paper that I had made into a coaster… The mug is placed on a blank face with wiggy hairdo. Underneath, it says CUP WIG.
- A tall plant in the kitchen sink, having been watered. A string of chilli peppers hang from the window frame.
- Two jack-o-lanterns on a balcony. Another Halloween.
- A photograph of me with a beard and buffalo plaid shirt casting my absentee ballot, so that I could send it to my parents as proof that I'd done my duty and voted for Barack Obama.
- A French Margaret Howell sale bag, orange-red Gil Sans text on white reading MARGARET HOWELL SOLDES.
- A twee curving path and blossomy gate along an idyllic canal.
- The back of a girl called Emma, taken because she has the most impressive mane of thick auburn hair. It's contained in a ponytail. To this day, I see this and am impressed. Bountiful.
- A piece of dog shit on the street. It's in a kind of L shape, so that half of it sticks straight up into the air. Like Tetris. It looks less gross and more amusing than it sounds.
- Salted caramel popcorn sandwich from the Scandinavian restaurant in Islington. Vaguely annoying. I had taken my parents who I think were jet lagged and unimpressed.
- A bird brunch in Shoreditch on a weekend morning: A pigeon pecks at a sad donut next to a mostly empty bottle of Jack Daniel's. Depressing.
- Jamie on the couch, under the Anglepoise, laptop on top of his lap, from when we moved the couch into the centre of the room, which didn't last long.
- Mark Hundley and Matt Connors outside of The Royal Oak on Columbia Road.
- Jamie sleeping intently on a train.
- A sign in Shoreditch that reads: WANTED MALE & FEMALE ESCORTS IN ESSEX GOOD EARNINGS NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY 07903158570
- The other Nina doing her mascara in a tiny mirror next to a book called Show Me London.
- Sunset over the tower blocks I used to gaze at through the window. (In our new flat, I've got the edge of a park and a bending row of Victorian terrace houses.) Best City Food Centre — the cornershop that was literally always open, except one morning for like 15 minutes while they mopped. We used to think the owner was on speed until we realised he was twins. It's changed hands a few times since then. Some very nice people have worked there. It's amazing how many things you can think of to buy when you live across from a shop that's always open.
- Boots selfie. I think I must have been amused at my double socks: orange and grey marl. It must have been getting colder. The boots are the Timberlands I had resoled with Virbam and was really proud of, but then one of the upper seams ripped. Maybe it burst from the pressure of the double socks.
- That neon sign that was above KK Outlet on Hoxton Square for an exhibition: THE CITY IS WILDER THAN YOU THINK AND KINDER THAN YOU THINK. IT IS A VALLEY AND YOU ARE A HORSE IN IT. IT IS A HORSE AND YOU ARE A CHILD IN IT SAFE AND WARM HERE IN THE FIRE OF EACH OTHER.
- Night lights in Hoxton, before the whole area got crushed by hen parties and hooligans. My old neighbourhood felt like the centre of the world until that's what it became.
- The curve of a crescent of pristine white South Kensington houses. I remember taking this photo because it amused me that acquaintances back in California probably imagined this is the London I inhabited. Mary Poppins London.
- J. preparing dinner in our wood-panelled kitchen. Garnishing.
- J. in a fairisle jumper in our red concrete-floored lounge. He is working with paper.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Back in London, and:
I skip-run to get past the desperate citizens who smoke while they walk. (Especially bad in the early morning.)
I stumble over myself upon entering John Lewis, the department store for the old and old fashioned, which immediately cultivates a much slower pace than that of the outside city street.
On the tube, I sit next to a man chanting over a book about Islam, and then feel ashamed when the thought crosses my mind: is he being radicalised. I read what I can over his shoulder — "specialisation and generalisation": the vocabulary sounds kind of Marxist to me.
I no longer swim a few times a week, as I've been riddled with virus; the extra weight of my soft chest is a burden like a reverse mule.
I spend the Sunday in Shoreditch and it has changed. I mean, of course it has changed, but I'm talking like bountiful blonde hair and fur coats and big sunglasses, sometimes all on the same woman, who shouts to her friends with bountiful hair and fur and sunglasses. Like that level.
The Novelist at the Talk says when you're at a meeting in Starbucks on Skype, it doesn't matter where you are, you are actually in the realm of Skype. He quotes a famous Architect saying location is no longer relevant, it's all about where's next. And, you know, he says, when you're at these art biennales, it doesn't matter where you are — Venice, LA. It's all the same people, again and again.
I wanted to shout, get out of the tent. Like watching Lost In Translation, when I wanted to shout at crying Scarlett Johansen, get out of your hotel room. She goes to a temple. I wanted to tell her, get outside again.
I sill believe in place. I still live in places. I pay premium to wallow in the particular misery of this city. It elates me — I get swept up in a kind of disco of gloom.
On trains, a call and response of tight, unrested coughing. Sniffles and sneeze. It's repulsive and a challenge to my utopian, Whitman-like inclination to love all my brothers and my sisters; his swell of humanity was wholesome and nude. Whitman lived in Camden, but not the Camden you reach on the tube. He lived in America. He would travel to a farm where a young man named Harry waited for him in a farmhouse bed. Harry Stafford. In ciphered letters, Whitman referred to him as Hickory Sapling. They splashed and sunbathed, not at midday but noon.Difference seems fundamental to me. I can't relate to this talk of geographical irrelevance, as if we're already post-corporeal beings. And as for "the same people", the ones who go to the same art fairs. These are the builders. If it doesn't matter where they are, how are they going to know what to build?
I'll take the misery, the idiosyncrasy, the smoking while walking, the coughing on the tube.
You can't throw yourself onto a train track via Skype. But neither can you caress, smell; nor accidentally bump heads, snog.
London, city of wool clothes and red brick. There is no longer fog but there are fumes. I thought this, then walked past a van branded Beyond Digital. Something from the van smoked like it was about to pop. I crossed the street in haste and passed a group of builders lowering a mass of some material down to street level with a heavy chain.
We have not moved beyond this being so soon. Which is ok for me: I am just beginning to understand this being as is.