Random Access Memories.
So, the the Daft Punk album is out today after what I think has been an unreasonably long wait. I mean, as easy as it’s been to listen to Get Lucky on repeat, we were always going to want more. And now that it’s here, Random Access Memories is bloody marvellous, and that’s from someone who’s not really that into music, and especially not into Daft Punk. But it’s the sound of summer, this album, it’s got so many feelings, tapping into all the things that ever happened to you. Little worlds live inside each of the tracks, threatening to collapse time and space in on you in a chaotic, ecstatic heap. Memories available for random access, hence the name. Sophie Heawood put it this way: “It builds, like a drug that you’ve taken and you know is coming but then you aren’t sure if you want it or not. Little flecks, electric sparks, coming off it as it builds. It’s too sure of itself, making you a little unsure of yourself. It sounds like something you wanted, and now it’s here you want it to stop, because it scares you. But you sought out this nightclub fear, and you know you did. It grows up around you, getting louder and bigger and enormous.” Instant classic, guys.
[This fabulous image of Frida Kahlo in a Daft Punk shirt is by Fabian Ciraolo]
After six weeks with me in Stoke Newington, Maud the Cat has gone to her new home in Tufnell Park. Bye little furry monster. I have become accustomed to your face x
Reading List, Big Thing edition
Hello, I am happy. It’s a little weird to say that but also, pretty cool. I’m not sure what happens next, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will be fun. I mean, why not.
Some good things: London, all of it. Invitations to friends’ weddings; amazingly none of my friends are married yet so this is a first. The cinema, where I go just twice a year but then love it. That salted caramel ice cream cake thing at Hawksmoor, where for a moment I understood why some people claim foods are better than sex (but just for a moment). Stoke Newington, my London pocket. Science fiction. Thai food. Karima. Tara. Magni, my mother. The almost-summer feeling. The man who calls me Girlfriend and makes me blush.
“The writer has to negotiate with her memories, and with her reader, and find a way, without interrupting the flow, to caution that this cannot be a true record: this is a version, seen from a single viewpoint. But she has to make it as true as she can.” Hilary Mantel in the New York Times. (via @dailydoseofjess)
“But I didn’t ever have to go to an office, didn’t ever have to commute during rush hour, didn’t ever have to go to a meeting, and never had to buy or wear any article of clothing because it would be good “for work.” As my remnants of workwear wore out, my wardrobe devolved in a cotton-lycra blend-y direction. I got really good at creating elaborate procrastination regimens, taking advantage of my ability to do chores and errands on weekdays that office workers can only squeeze into their weekends and lunch hours. It took me several years – really, it took starting a business — for me to figure out that this attitude is anathema to getting any kind of work done; even if you don’t have a 9 to 5 job, it behooves you to be at your desk during those hours, even if it means taking more-crowded yoga classes.” Emily Gould, on the thing that seems to be turning into my Big Thing for 2013.
I can’t put my finger on why I love this Eva Wiseman piece but oh my how I do.
Christian Lorentzen on expatriatism, in the London Review of Books. (via @communitydisco)
Mills Baker on a triumph at 4am.
Amanda Hess on Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy, in Slate. [Related: what is possible the most offensive Daily Hate Mail headline yet. I can’t even.]
Daft Punk spoke to Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music, and I listened to the radio in my own house for the first time in my life. Also, Caitlin’s ‘Get Lucky’ addiction diary (£). Song of the year, guys.
” “No. Because…” he chooses his words carefully, “my parents loved the f***ing life out of me. So I felt confident about the world. Not… entitled. Just like… I could step into the world. Investigate it.” ”
Caitlin Moran meets Benedict Cumberbatch (£) and yeah, she smashes it.
“You know what I need to do though? Put the phone down and ask myself who in the whole wide world is supposed to take responsibility for what I write if I won’t do it myself. … You have to stop walking around like a giant fucking question mark. You have to stop looking for reassurance from half-interested friends, and you have to stop asking other people to help you shape your work from start to finish. Calm the fuck down and get back to work.” Realtalk from Heather Havrilesky in The Awl. Oh, um, yeah. Ok.
Star Trek: Into Darkness has left my inner Trekkie squealingly ecstatic and that’s all I have to say about it. Oh except this: Benedict Cumberbatch. All bow to the Altar of Roddenberry.
Really getting into this Instagram thing. Something about the fun of photos? Or just me, drunk in a pub. I fear it’s feeding into a narcissistic streak, as I do like being in the picture, equally surprised at what I look like every single time. But at least it’s contained, and it’s my own damn personal internet so I do what I want. And fun is being had, so I say, it’s all good x
The spring and chilli. (A recipe)
I have the Daft Punk single on repeat, like everyone else it seems, as it’s the sound of summer and it makes the blood rush a little faster. I’m all for that. I made a proper meal the other day too, as I like to do about once a quarter, which meant chopping up some chillies and getting the stinging chilli spirits all over my hands, inside my nose, and then later, even though I’d washed my hands twice, somewhere else where you really don’t want to get chilli. But the food - a spicy salmon soup which I believe stems from some newspaper weekend supplement from my press cutting days, is a winner, and Imran agrees with me. It goes like this:
Fry up an inch of ginger, two garlic cloves and two chillies. Then add two pints of stock, three tablespoons fish sauce, one tablespoon soy sauce, the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of sugar. Optional: add a split lemon grass stalk and fish it out at the end. Let it simmer for ten minutes. Then add four spring onions, some pepper and courgette, along with 250 grams of salmon, all chunky. Five minutes later it will be ready to serve up in steaming hot bowls that will make your nose run.
And then you can play ‘Get Lucky’ again and feel happy, because that song will do that to you. Like Pharrell sings: “We’ve come too far to give up who we are / So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars.” Chilli high five. I mean, was there ever a song more deserving of a rooptop to make out on? I think not.
Reading List, In-the-Circle edition
May happened. Among other things. … Heh! I can’t explain and I won’t even try, so for now at least, here are some other people’s stories.
“I went to Homer, Alaska during breakup season, the time of year when the ice splits apart and things start to thaw. Breakup season, people warned me again and again prior to my arrival, is ugly. Sometimes it snows, sometimes it rains, but it’s always wet. Breakup season is all brown and gray in a state that’s usually crisp whites and blues and greens. But everyone, it turns out, is kind of excited about breakup season. They don’t compare the muddy thaw to summer, which is by then a distant memory, but to the winter they’ve just weathered. “Boy, it was a long one,” said the coffee shop owner from Corpus Christi who had a smoker’s rasp and stick-and-poke hand tats and a single diamond stud in his ear. “So breakup season ain’t so bad.” Ann Friedman
The prettiest girl in New York is a porn star. Amanda Hess’s cover story on Stoya.
What should we call girl pain? Safy Hallan Farah (via @britticisms)
How to ditch happily ever after and build your own romantic narrative. Amanda Hess from the ‘Good’ archives. #this
“I allowed [the photographer] to get to me because I was already over scheduled. Tired. Doubting my ability to juggle everything and doubting how much of the positive feedback on my aerial work and writing is because I’m actually good and how much is just because I’m naked on the internet. Wondering how much of my success in life is based on merit and how much is just beauty privilege. Unable to figure out how to even discuss these concerns without coming off like an egotistical asshat for calling myself pretty or beautiful in the first place.” Stoya on (not) standing up for herself. #AndSheWasWithholdingCaffeine
“Stability, intellectual peer and monster sex machine.” Robert Downey Jr describes his wife and yes (£).
Everything Caitlin says in this Evening Standard interview.
“Men I might regret sleeping with were it not for the music they introduced me to.” Lily Heron in The Hairpin.
Daily Fleetwood: Stevie Nicks’ original demo for The Chain - completely different than the final version, and mesmerising.
“What do you want to do when you get back on the internet?” “I want to do things for other people.” Paul Miller is back after a year without the internet (via @dailydoseofjess) #reallife
“What if news organizations confronted the reality that nearly all media will be ‘social media’ a decade hence? … What if news organizations acknowledged this - or even got out in front of it, ahead of the curve this time - and organized themselves as platforms for talent?” Big whoa idea by Nicco Mele and John Wibhey at Nieman Journalism Lab.
“It was 1968. Early summer evening, a Saturday. My mate and I were hitching home in the Essex countryside. We got a lift from a happy couple in a boaty car that smelled of leather and engine oil. We were 15, they were proper old, 20-ish. Relaxed and so very much in love. They treated us as equals, laughed at our jokes, we smoked their cigarettes. Walk Away Renee by the Four Tops came on the radio. We all sang along to the chorus. I felt a blissful certainty that life as an adult might genuinely be a laugh. The entire encounter lasted no more than 10 minutes. I have thought about that couple every day since. Every day, for 45 years. Imagine that. A Belisha Beacon of kindness pulsing through the murk of a whole life.” Ian Martin in The Guardian.
“I can’t say in all honesty that it’s as if it was written by somebody else, but it was written by a different version of myself, and in a way, it’s more radical, because the selves we leave behind are more strange to us than strangers.” John Banville.
Fog city heart; Big Smoke
Maybe it’s the cool and windy sun, maybe it’s the communal excitement of a city full of people finally feeling the spring, but London feels a lot like San Francisco right now. This time last year, tomorrow to be exact, I left for a month by the bay, a trip that changed everything for me and all those other cliches. Every day I wrote about how much I loved it, before going home with a list of resolutions for how I was going to carry the SF spirit with me. Looking at it now I can confirm I’m on the yoga wagon, I’m progressing on the work stuff, I’m doing pretty well with getting those adulthood routines down too (sidebar: now that I’m no longer constantly late I’m finding lots of other people are … if that’s not ironic then it really should be). “As you get what you give, I’m hoping London will provide for me too, if I let it,” was the last thing I wrote before heading back to the UK, sick from having to leave let-it-carry-you San Francisco for fight-for-it London. But I remember knowing what I hoped for would probably be possible, and it was - because in many ways, these past 12 months may well have been the best year of my life. In London.
[San Francisco double exposure by Aaron Durand]
This is me on a late night bus, trying to work out where the camera is on my iPhone. Yes, my conversion to the Altar of Jobs is complete, and I can report it’s as I suspected: a source of constant joy. If Apple are going to be this good at running the world, they’re welcome to it. I may be a tech journalist who don’t know how to use emoji, and my Granny mastered the slide-to-unlock motion before I did, but I have an app that tells me when the bus will show up and I am very excited about that. I’m told this phase of iPhone-thrill will last about three months, so there’s plenty left. London, I’m going to Instagram you.