Lust For Life, Lana Del Rey
I am an unapologetic Lana Del Rey fan, and I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, so I’m not even going to go there. (“Fuck guilt,” someone famous once said. I think it was Queen Elizabeth.)
I’ve loved Lana from the very moment that someone told me I was probably going to hate her; those soaring, cinematic strings, breathy coos, and the hazy world of diamonds, drugs, and doomed, desperate love of Born To Die sparked an obsession that’s been smoldering ever since. I gleefully anticipate each new album with a fanaticism that no doubt most people think out of character for me, but hey, maybe you don’t know me like you think you do. I adore the songstress and the glamorous melancholy of her mythos, and I get very peevish with people who voice “concerns” about her authenticity or how genuine she may or may not be–you wouldn’t make those demands of male artists, would you? Lust For Life is sublime, sincere, and very much reflective of the zeitgeist of a struggling America and her disenchanted, disillusioned, disappointed dreamers who are still flailing in the wake of 2016 elections. Despite her trademark narcotic, nostalgic balladry ever present on this album, Lana’s disturbing narrative has evolved–but it’s no less disturbing when you consider the focus: a still life of ruin, a damned and decaying America, and a “what have we done, where the fuck are we now?” sentiment. It feels like she’s walking into the flames at end of the world, but it’s almost triumphant, not at all the self-destructive misery we envisioned of the winding road she sped along beside a rocky cliff overlooking the Pacific, the path that we were sure would end in a fiery explosion and a beautiful corpse. Just look at that uncharacteristic, swaggering grin on the album’s cover. “It’s like smiling when the firing squad’s against you”, she sings on “Cherry”, and damn Lana, I will dance with you into Hell, even if that’s where you’re headed next–the end of the world never sounded so good.
Favorite tracks: “13 Beaches” and “In My Feelings”.
Episode 10 of Twin Peaks: The Return concluded with Rebekah Del Rio (accompanied by Moby) on stage at the Roadhouse performing “No Stars”, which Del Rio co-wrote with David Lynch. While you’re enjoying the intense frisson caused by this slow, dreamy, heartbreakingly beautiful song, be sure to take a moment to appreciate Del Rio’s fabulous Twin Peaks-inspired dress, patterned after the iconic floor of the Black Lodge.
Carsick by John Waters
Here’s a trivial tidbit about me: I live in Portland, OR, but I get my hair done in Seattle, WA. I moved from the latter down to the former over six years ago, but I’ve never been able to part with my hair stylist. So once every 5 or 6 weeks I hop into my car and take a little road trip. Depending on traffic this means I spend anywhere from 6 to 8 hours in the car on those days, which is the perfect amount of time to enjoy an audio book. I seek out memoirs and other works of non-fiction read by their authors because it feels like having them sit down beside you and personally tell you their own stories in their own voices. It feels deliciously intimate. I love knowing that every little pause or inflection, impressions of other people, every little detail is expressed exactly as the writer intended when they first wrote it. In June and July I discovered my new favorite audio book reader, the inimitable John Waters, as fascinating and engaging a storyteller as ever there was. I could listen to this marvelous man talk to me about absolutely anything. For Carsick, Waters hitchhiked from the front door of his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco. But before describing the actual trip he spins two fictional accounts, one a sublime dream journey, his idea of hitchhiking perfection, and one a harrowing sequence of increasingly nightmarish rides. In true Water’s fashion, the line between idealized and horrific is wonderfully blurred. Both fictional trips are equally entertaining, as is the account of Waters’ actual cross-country adventure.
Role Models by John Waters
Considering all the fantastically sordid and sensational stories and characters that John Waters has created over the years, it’s no surprise that his personal role models are an incredibly varied bunch. Role Models collects a series of essays about people who’ve impacted Waters’ life, personally, professionally, and sometimes both, including performers Johnny Mathis and Little Richard, playwright Tennessee Williams, Saint Catherine of Siena, atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, English novelists Denton Welch and Ivy Compton-Burnett, Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo – Water’s personal fashion deity, two outsider porn pioneers, a few fascinating Baltimore personalities, and anthropomorphic descriptions of Waters’ art collection. My favorite chapter, simply titled “Leslie”, is a thoughtful and intimate profile of Leslie van Houten, imprisoned former Manson Family member and dear friend to Waters. While listening to this book, John Waters became my new bibliophile hero, at one point sharing that his personal library is comprised of well over 8,000 books and is, of course, still growing.
I kinda just listened to Nick Cave over and over again, again.