Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts

You're A Dinosaur: Hard Truths and Solutions for Shopoholics

HARD TRUTHS

It doesn't matter how much money you make. Addiction is addiction; it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care where your money comes from, or how much there is of it. Whether your paycheck is $2k or $10k, it wants a piece of it. So don't kid yourself that if you just make more, that you can stop. Conversely, don't imagine that if you made less, your spending habits would naturally fall away. They won't. You will find a way to feed your compulsion, regardless if it's a twenty or a Benjamin burning a hole in your pocket.

Virtually anything you experience is better than any thing you can buy. Just think about it; you know it's true. Memories and moments with loved ones are worth far more than material possessions. The problem is that you conflate the two. You think that one requires the other. You can't go out to that amazing dinner, or feel beautiful at the music festival, unless you have the perfect outfit. Well, guess what? One has nothing to do with the other.

Malls these days are depressing as fuck, and for good reason. No one's in them. The last few times I have found myself roaming an indoor shopping mall I wanted to throw myself down the escalator, it was so bleak. For the past few years I have read an increasing number of articles about how retail is dying - and if the sparsity of Los Angeles malls is any indication, it's true. Outdoor malls with restaurants, attractions for kids, movie theaters - those are another story. There are experiences to be had at those. But good old fashioned brick-and-mortar malls? They are shells of what they once were. And the salespeople populating them are some of the most desperate, saddest sacks around.

But what does these mean? What's the hard truth in this for you? It's that your a dinosaur, of sorts. Your passion for fashion is outdated. Fashion itself will never die, and will always be an intrinsically valuable pursuit culturally...but the coolness of amassing a massive wardrobe? Gone. Kids these days aren't interested in stuff the way you and I were. Millennials, having felt first hand the pinch and sting of a shitty economy and job market, ain't got time for that. They'd rather spend money on travel, adventure, connection, creativity.

The things you own, own you. Every item of clothing you possess requires laundering. Time spent washing it, drying it, folding it, hanging it, pressing it, repairing it, altering it, ordering it, mailing it back when it doesn't fit. Every item requires space in your life, demands your energy and time to obtain maintain it. This doesn't seem like a big deal, when it's a skinny belt. But multiply a single item by 300, and suddenly you've got a mountain of stuff ready to drain your free time.

There are only so many occasions to wear what you already have. There are only 52 Saturday nights a year. Many of those will find you with obligations preventing you from even going out. Look at your closet now, as it is. How many Saturday night outfits could you already assemble? Dozens for each season, probably. Now apply the same thinking to other occasions. How many opportunities will you realistically have to wear all the clothing you already own, before it's out of season or style?

Nothing you can find in any store, anywhere, will ever buy back your youth. 'Nuff said.


SOLUTIONS

Want a reality check? Want to feel your shopping buzz harshed? Take some of your beloved wardrobe pieces to a used-clothing store. Watch them be picked up, passed over, and rejected over like rags. And I'm not talking some middle-America thrift shop. I'm talking high-end resale boutiques on Melrose Avenue. There's nothing quite like the ego gut-punch that is having your expensive, oh-so-carefully curated sartorial choices - and which you're sure are going to wow the hell out of the buyer - be declared outmoded and worthless. It'll make you think twice about going out and spending your money on a fresh round of them, that's for sure.

Make a list of what you really want. No, I mean what you really, really want. Think big. Bigger. Have you always wanted to spend the weekend in a cabin at Big Sur? I sure have. But I won't get there until I stop piddling away my petty cash on the latest sneakers. I'd also really love an awesome bed. But that's another thing that requires delayed gratification. The fact is, every single thing you spend money on, unless you are Ivanka Trump (*turns and spits*), requires you to not spend money on something else. So make a list and study it, hard. Look at it often. Meditate on the need to prioritize what will truly make you happiest in the long run, for the longest amount of time. This isn't easy for you, because you are an addict, and your addiction is an ever-present temptation. But you have to work at it.

Donate, or give to charity. I have two monthly donation subscriptions - one to Oxfam, and one to the Mental Illness Happy Hour Podcast, because it saved my life last year. And I don't know how to explain it, but something about allocating some of the limited money I do have to something other than myself helps me stay grounded. Reminds me of the bigger picture, and of those in need. I'd feel pretty stupid buying that third pair of socks after getting my weekly update from Oxfam about the Syrian refugees my (admittedly measly) $18/month is helping.

Budget, budget, budget. And get granular about it. Portion out your paychecks, every single one. Force yourself to really face your finances. It might be scary, but it's the only way to acknowledge what you can and can't afford.

jostles and shouts

Do you ever feel invisible? That no matter how many times you politely clear your throat and repeat yourself (louder this time, come on now), it just doesn't matter, because there are so many others jostling and shouting to be seen, heard, and felt themselves? And please, don't embarrass yourself with that clunky, outdated megaphone. They don't even use megaphones anymore. They've got this incredible new technology--all they do is think some ones and zeros, and everyone they've ever known shoots a thumbs-up in the air while elsewhere, a dollar plunks into their bank account. You should probably just take a seat. Maybe if there's a lull in the action we can sneak you in for a few seconds, no promises though.

Only there's never a lull. There's just an endless flow of jostles and shouts. Good luck.

---

Last night there was a street festival of sorts downtown. Part of the effort to revitalize Broadway, an erstwhile vibrant theater row, now populated by cheap electronic stores, quinceanera shops, and taquerias. It was a free event and drew thousands. Music, cultural exhibits, art, performers, food trucks, a Ferris Wheel, and a Silent Disco. Yep, that's right. My favorite dedicated dance floor, the irresistible black hole of every Bonnaroo, and the bane of my bladder (if you leave to pee you have to wait in line all over again): Silent Disco.

I didn't know about the event at all until the day of, when Krista mentioned having trouble getting a Lyft due to road closures, and I didn't know they had a Silent Disco until I literally walked into it. I'd been texting updates to Terence (doing a show in Hollywood) and Krista (chilling at home with hurting knees), alternately threatening to leave because I felt lonely and begging them to hurry up and join me. Then I stumbled into the crowd of headphone-bedecked revelers and forgot all about my friends. Not really, but sort of. Silent Disco is my jam.

Long story short, I couldn't lure Krista off her couch but Terence got back downtown pretty quickly after his gig. We stayed an hour and a half and were starving, sweaty messes by the time we left. It was so much goddamn fun. Terence and I are inching ever closer to severance--emotional, geographical, financial--and the ways in which we detach a little more each day are heartbreaking...but holy shit do we still love listening to music together. It feels like something to hold on to, while it's there. Something still warm in an otherwise cold room.

Later we went to Casey's, to watch the band of a guy who lives in our building--someone we've exchanged a year's worth of elevator chat with. It was unexpectedly fun; a few other people from the building were there, and I socialized more than I have in a while. Those muscles atrophy fast for me. I get lazy about expanding past my close circle of friends. Scared, too.

Anyway, it was a good time. I made people laugh. My sneakers were complimented. Someone asked to take a picture with me. Another person asked to see me again. (Getting hit on with Terence next to me was a weird situation but to his credit he was the picture of grace and humor and we didn't come close to fighting about it, which, had the roles been reversed...)

---

News about Chaucer that is difficult to write. He's been limping for a couple of months now. The vets (we've seen three) suspect the onset of arthritis, which is unsurprising considering his age. He's coming up on nine--a little old for a mastiff.

Options include injections and, if they can pinpoint the place of the issue, laser therapy. We talked to him about it and his vote, quite emphatically I might add, is for lasers. In fact he talks about it all the time. He wants to know everything. "Can I shoot other dogs with the lasers?" "Do they lasers come out of my eyes or my paws or both?" "What about food? Can I cook burgers using the lasers?"

We tried to explain that's not how it works but he's so excited at the prospect we've let it go for now.

In all seriousness, it'll probably be (Adequan) injections. From what I understand those will give him immediate and noticeable results. The vet actually raved about them, says it turns elderly dogs into puppies, essentially.

Sounds good, as long as I still get to keep every single memory we've made on his way from puppy to my old boy.



---

I will--really and truly--have news to share very soon. Days away now. In the meantime, hello from The Land of WhatthehellamIdoing. I hope you are all healthy and happy and feeling more fearless than me.





the enveloping warmth of self-delusion (a how-to)

Step 1: Construct your narrative. Think carefully about the role you want to cast yourself in. Victim, hero, iconoclast, and martyr are all popular choices, but don't feel limited to these. Get creative!

Some questions to consider: How am I being wronged? In what ways am I innovating or inspiring, that others fail to appreciate? What personality flaws and intellectual shortcomings are preventing them from recognizing my greatness?

Step 2: Ignore any answer that does not lend itself to your established narrative.

Think of your self-deception like a cozy fur coat, shielding you from the harsh winter wind of reality. You wouldn't let it get wet and dirty, would you? That's what challenging outside opinions are: dirt. Brush them off and keep going.

Step 3: Surround yourself with enablers. It's important to experience routine reinforcement of your worldview. This is best achieved by maintaining strict filters in life. Listen only to viewpoints that ratify your position, particularly where it pertains to your character.

Remember, you don't owe the world an open mind! It's your brain: block, delete, and dismiss any thought that makes you uncomfortable.

Step 4: Have the bubble in which you live insured. It's the only thing keeping you safe from the twin abhorrences of self-awareness and growth.

puddle

A girl broke down crying in front of me tonight, in a discount department store on Broadway. A teenager. I don't know how old. Sixteen, if I had to guess?

Terence was with me. I was shopping for, well, props for the business. I had my hands full and was a million miles away, thinking of everything I needed to do. "Excuse me," I heard a halting voice say. "Can you take me to the nearest Starbucks? I'm lost."

Take, she'd said. Lost, she'd said. This phrasing, along with the fact that she was with another girl--and they both carried smart phones--made me suspect I was the target of some sort of scam. Because what teenaged kid these days can't navigate her way to a Starbucks?

"Well I can't take you," I answered with friendly, reassuring briskness (in case she really was lost), "but I can tell you where one is? It's super close." I pointed towards the store's front doors and began to give directions (one street up, one street over), and that's when she started crying. She just sort of dropped her head into her hands and lost it.

"Hey! Hey, it's okay!" I snapped out of my distracted state and turned to her and her companion. "Are you lost?" She nodded, looking pitiful. "You're okay, you're totally safe, okay? You're safe." More nodding. Friend didn't say anything. Friend had a lot of eyeliner and the last three inches of her hair were dyed lilac. I got the sense that being lost wasn't the real problem so I said, "Listen, whatever it is, it's temporary. You're safe and it's gonna be okay." I gently rubbed the top of her arm, petting her like a distressed Chaucer (who probably would have been a great help in this situation).

"I don't want to go home," the girl suddenly announced, jolting the mood from after school special to CSI: DTLA. Or maybe it just did for me, because I felt my spine go rigid. I looked at Terence, who was watching quietly from a few feet away. "Hey--will you give us a sec?" He nodded and moved off.

"Listen, it's okay," I repeated to the girl. Then with the best calm-but-concerned-outsider vibe I could channel I asked, "What's going on at home? Is everything okay?" It occurred to me that for whatever reason, I was playing Trusted Adult in this scene. I introduced myself. "I'm Ellie. What's your name?" She told me, but I forgot within minutes. Let's call her Emily. "Listen Emily," I said. "I know I'm a stranger and I don't want to intrude in your life, but are you safe at home? Is anyone hurting you at home?"

Let it never be said that I'm not direct.

Emily shook her head and I looked at friend, who didn't give me any kind of furtive, She's lying glance. "It's fine," said Emily. "I just can't deal with them right now." Deal with them right now sounded good to me. Like typical, sixteen-year-old hating-her-parents type stuff.

"Where do you live?"

"Atwater Village."

"How did you guys get here? Did you take the bus or something?"

"Lyft." (Duh. It's a new era, Ellie.) "But my mom canceled the credit card." Ah. A picture emerges.

"Okay, well...do you have bus fare to get home or whatever?"

Nodding. "I just want to go to Starbucks and chill for a little while."

So I reissued my directions, because I judged (based on my vast experience with angsty adolescents) that she was probably fine. Or would be in a couple of hours, anyway. At the very most in a couple of years.

Poor kid. Not much worse when you're that age, than thinking every puddle is an endless ocean.

in which I White Knight for a music festival

In a move 0% of those surveyed characterized as "a good idea", I went to Coachella for just one day - Sunday. I'm not often in the habit of wasting two thirds of a music festival ticket, but thanks to my own last minute indecisiveness, a resale glut on StubHub, some flaky Airbnb hosts, and a disinclination to engage with Craigslisters after dark, it was the best I could do to salvage my investment. I drove out, spent eight hours there, and drove home. Intense for sure, but not unbearable. And considering how much incredible music was plied into such a narrow time slot, worth the trip.

Coachella is everyone's favorite festival to hate on, and understandably so. It's expensive, heavily corporate, and has a terrible reputation for superficiality. Fashion has become such an integral part of Coachella culture that it seems to garner just as much attention as the performances themselves. When I saw this photo on The Atlantic, I cringed. A pack of rich, skinny white women striding in imperial lockstep across the field, outfitted in head-to-toe Bohemian Muse™, refusing to break the fourth wall and even acknowledge the photographer (kneeling in apparent fealty) before them. Looking at it tells you absolutely nothing about the festival. It's images like this that scare otherwise enthusiastic live music fans away from Coachella. Hell, it briefly scared me, before I tore my eyes from Alessandra and Co's cheekbones and noticed the reassuring averageness of most everyone else in the photo.

Coachella's excess is undeniable. But what I've experienced in the last three years is that those corporate dollars buy a lot of production value. The festival truly delivers in terms of spectacle, talent, visual and audio design. Also in terms of cleanliness, accessibility, and organization, which are no small considerations when you're exhausted, overheated, dehydrated, and on day three of self-abuse. I for one am happy to pay a little more for a ticket if it means substantially shorter bathroom lines, easier to navigate grounds and exits, less trash, and more shade structures. And the fashion thing? Yes, it can be tiresome. But it's hardly fair to crucify Coachella for glorifying style when the flower children of festivals past are to this day admired as, well, Bohemian muses. Personally, I inwardly snicker when I see girls sweating under the weight of clingy crochet tops and leather fringe bags, dancing stiffly in heeled boots lest they dislodge their headpieces. And if those paper dolls want to blow $7k on a "Safari" tent vs. taking an actual safari, more LOLs for the hoi polloi. (Though I'd happily take their money and their cheekbones.)

Your social media feeds don't lie. Yes, some people at Coachella really look and act like that. And unless you check out the Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, etc. coverage of the festival's raison d'etre, those obnoxious selfies are probably your sole impressions of Coachella.

As a festival lover, this makes me sad.

Coachella could certainly use some tweaking, by everyone from organizers down to attendees. Skip the obnoxious publicity stunts and set up some truly noteworthy reunions and surprise appearances. Kill the over-the-top lodging packages, which attract scenesters and spoiled trust fundies. Stop making it about the clothes and satellite parties.

These failings notwithstanding, however, Coachella is an incredible experience. Seventy-two hours of pure potential: to bond, to explore (within and without), to be surprised, to feel and love and listen intently. This is what every music festival offers - even one whose hype has outpaced its maturation.

The Atlantic photographer who focused on the Coachella Heathers and blurred out everything else got it exactly backwards. If he'd stepped back and taken a wider shot you would have seen, albeit mixed in with the occasional douchebag, thousands of everyday people, concerned with much better things than matching outfits. I know because I notice them. Especially when I'm alone. I see tiny stories unfold, all day long. Some I'm even a part of. And I'll tell you a few, though they might well seem pedestrian and schmoopy. But first, you know what you have to do. That's right. You have to slog through Ellie's Carefully Curated Selection of 'Same Shit, Different Year' Festival Photos, because that is the tradition around here. Now look, goddamnit, LOOK AT THE PRETTY COLORS.

You have to admit that on the scale of obnoxious to cute, a circle of kids with their heads together for a group selfie is definitely at the cuter end of the scale. 


Look at these disgusting, multi-color, multi-size people, milling about all normally and shit. It's like they don't even care that The Atlantic needs clicks.


Are you frightened? It's okay if you are. I was. And I was completely sober. Did I mention it moves?


I heard this variously described as "the earth mover statue", "the machine from Aliens", and "the crane thing." Whatever it was, at least it stayed put.


They keep shoving the Do Lab further and further to the fringes of the festival. At this rate it'll be in Riverside by 2020.


"Hey Ellie, did you finally ride the Ferris Wheel, like you've been promising you would for forever?" "What's that? Oh hey look over there, free popsicles!"


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that no one could possibly be so messed up at a festival such that alternately seeing a butterfly and a caterpillar could, like, totally screw with their mind and trip them the eff out. You go right on believing that. 

I was glad to see the Corporate Headquarters hippos back this year; they are a hoot. Here's an interview with the people who do it. 


Instagram's hardest working balloons right here, folks.


I rarely insist on being close up but for my first time seeing Ryan Adams? Hells yes.


I think that's the helicopter they used to airlift Drake to the hospital after Madonna sucked out his trachea. 


Not pictured: a mercifully cool breeze.


They ain't pretty, but they is comfy!


Sahara Tent, EDM headquarters of Coachella


"Okay, everybody, since it's almost 4/20 we're gonna put a spotlight on each of the weed smokers in the audience! Remember, it's not paranoia if they're really out to get you!"


Rainbow. Bright.









You made it! You made it through my shitty, indiscernable-from-all-the-others festival photos. Your reward? A recap of the 2/3 of a day I spent there. Next post, though, because the hour is late, recovery is incomplete, and your Festress will be much more apt to produce purple prose vivid description and adjective abuse imagery without foto filler distracting her.

hashtag AI

A year ago this week, fed up with yet again "having to" concurrently document something that I was just trying to enjoy (in this case, Coachella), I quit Instagram. I bungled what could have been a breezy goodbye by having a mini breakdown, getting inexplicably, retroactively angry about my own two+ years of oversharing and taking that frustration out on several hundred innocent bystanders by way of the blockhammer. From over 1100 followers, I whittled and hacked my way down to 25 or so inner circle friends.

So silly.

Not quitting; I'm glad I left. But the concomitant drama - that was unnecessary. I should have just walked away and let things be, instead of making it so weird for myself, for readers and friends. Ah well. I was in deep. Big emotional investments result in big emotional cash outs, I guess.

I don't really know what the state of the gramming union is. If people love it, generally, or if enthusiasm is waning. If new features keep it fresh for them or if, like I was, they're burned out and bored. And it's the ultimate in navel-gazing, I realize, to write a post about Why I Did a Thing On Social Media. But every so often someone says something to me along the lines of I get why you did it. And I'm kinda jealous. Or, Totally understand. Thinking about doing the same.

So this post, aside from being a belly button lint check, is an assessment of life After Instagram. It's for anyone considering jumping ship, wanting a glimpse of the dark side. We here on the dark side are always recruiting.

No lie: the first week or so was really weird and rather awful. I felt like I'd up and moved away from some close friends. It was disorienting and isolating, like being in a foreign country without wifi access. Self-imposed banishment. I questioned my decision, only finding reassurance that I'd done the right thing when I reminded myself of all the things - better, more fulfilling and self-improving things - I'd be doing with my time instead.

So, how's that going for me? Am I doing better, more fulfilling and self-improving things with that portion of my time?

Nah, not really. I haven't exactly plowed through my reading list. I'm not out volunteering every weekend, and I haven't mastered a new language. I can claim no intellectual high ground, being off of IG. I still find plenty of ways to waste time. I do think my writing has improved, if only marginally, from forcing myself to tell stories more than show them. But leaving Instagram didn't magically transform me into a sophisticate.

It definitely made my life simpler, however. One less thing to "keep up", to manage. Pictures sit in my phone or on my computer until I'm ready, if ever, to share them on my blog. There's less nagging sense of expiration, gotta stay current, gotta 'gram it while it's fresh! So it's quieter, too.

I still take snapshots of my experiences to include here, but the urgency to Record! Every! Event! is gone. Which, interestingly, has made me look at the very nature of my friendships, of my relationship with Terence, differently. Well perhaps not differently, since it's something I've known - but maybe with refreshed eyes. A year clear of the mind-fuckery of IG, I am reminded that whatever the degree of my closeness to others - that is the same whether we're in front of a camera shutter or not. My dear friends are my dear friends, acquaintances are acquaintances, I am tolerated by some, disliked by some, and adored by a few. I can post a dozen photos a day, a carefully curated selection of flattering selfies, sunny hiking trails, and smiling faces, but not a single one of them can change what's going on behind the lens. I've got wrinkles. My boyfriend and I fight. Some nights out are boring. And that's okay.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to share the highlights of one's life. But there was a certain superficial affirmation in that feedback loop that, having now cut it, I recognize. Wow, my life looks so good! I must be doing great! Look how happy I look! I must be so happy! Which is not to say that I wasn't happy. Just that admiring myself and my life daily, in cleverly captioned, pretty little thumbnails, was a great way to excuse myself from the very hard work of trying to actually be happier. When I enjoyed a constant stream of external validation (You look fantastic! You two are the perfect couple! Wow you do cool things!), I wasn't overly motivated to find realer, more long-term and satisfying sources of internal validation (such as setting and accomplishing goals, and improving the very relationships I so proudly exhibited).

These days, if I want to feel good about myself, I have to actually do something. Something productive, or kind, or difficult. I no longer have the quick fix of posting to Instagram and getting a flood of positive cues to reinforce my lazy, push-button creativity or implicitly praise my lifestyle.

Last plus of being off IG? Opting the fuck out of self-comparison games. There's a fine line between inspiration and envy and being even one inch in the wrong direction was toxic to my sense of self. Sure, you can limit your range of motion on Instagram, only interact with people who make you feel good. But sooner or later you're going to see something that will make you feel inadequate. Or maybe not. I did, anyway, and I'm glad to be free of that.

Sometimes, when my phone is full of picturesque, perfectly filtered pictures, I'll miss it. I'll think about how great they'd look on IG, colorful and bright, reflecting moments of my life that seemed beautiful enough to freeze the frame on. But then I'll realize how self-involved that is. That I'm not wanting to get back on Instagram because I so miss joking around with my buddies and seeing what they're up to. That I'm wanting to get back on Instagram because I'm a goddamn me monster who is vastly less interested in other people's images than in my own. Yeah yeah, okay, kid, kid, sunset, selfie, cat...NOW ME! MY TURN! LOOK AT ME MY PHOTO MY LIFE ME ME ME!

I do more than enough Me Monstering right here.

So that my friends is what it's like here on the dark side. A little bit quieter, a little bit simpler, a little bit lonelier, with at least one monster poking about. I'm probably not making it sound as nice as it actually is, but I'd be glad for your company if you came over all the same. #atleastIwonthashtagyou

slightly defensive Q & A drug disclaimery thing

Festival season approacheth, which means pretty soon I'll be referencing capsules and powder and fungus, oh my! I figured it would be a good idea to put up a post I can link to, containing an overview of All Things Drug. At some point I'll move it to its own page, but for now, new content!

---

You blog openly about drug use. Do you think this makes you cool or something? Because, uh, you are definitely not cool.

First of all, *clears throat pedantically* "drug" is an umbrella term encompassing a vast array of both prescription and recreational drugs, some of which I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. AND YEAH, I KNOW I'M NOT COOL. THANKS. I don't talk about drug use because I think it makes me cool. I talk about it because I imagine it's more interesting than what I ate for breakfast, or what I did at the gym, or what's in my purse. I write first and foremost for my own enjoyment but I try to be entertaining, too.

How often do you use MDMA?

Four or five times a year, at festivals and the occasional local electronic music show.

How often do you use psilocybin (magic mushrooms)?

Ten or twelve times a year, at festivals, shows, or on the occasional weekend night. A standard dose of mushrooms has the same effect on me as a few drinks; I'm giggly, chatty, happy, relaxed. There's no comedown with shrooms, so it doesn't "cost" as much to take, physically and emotionally speaking, as MDMA.

How often do you smoke pot?

Next to never. Not really a fan. I hate the sluggish feeling and I get crazy paranoid. If I do it, it has to be around close friends that I feel totally comfortable with. Even then, I just feel useless and stupid.

Have you ever accidentally given Chaucer a contact high and spent ten minutes following him in circles around a light pole at 3am, stoned out of your mind, while he frantically searched for an invisible squirrel, then come back upstairs to somehow end up helplessly watching a YouTube video of a forest wedding where all the bridesmaids were dressed as fairies and all the groomsmen were dressed as elves?

....maybe.

Is that mildly terrifying experience partially why you hate pot?

....maybe.

Do you take any other drugs?

Nope. I tried GHB once and was sick as a dog. Never again. I've never tried cocaine or heroin or meth and I never would, not in a million years.

Come on...nothing else?

Okay well at some point I will definitely try LSD. I've been wanting to for ages but just haven't found the right time.

What do you want to say about MDMA?

Only that if you're going to use it, please educate yourself beforehand. DanceSafe is a fantastic, extremely thorough resource and a great place to start.

Are you condoning drug use?

No, I'm condoning education. Not only does preaching abstinence not work, it does a grave disservice to those it's intended to protect, by withholding information those people need to make good decisions under potentially dangerous circumstances. Just like sex. People are going to do it, and there's no use pretending otherwise. May as well empower them with what they need to know to be safe.

What do you want to say about psilocybin?

Well, for starters, this:

In 2006, the United States government funded a randomized and double-blinded study by Johns Hopkins University which studied the spiritual effects of psilocybin in particular. That is, they did not use mushrooms specifically (in fact, each individual mushroom piece can vary widely in psilocybin and psilocin content). The study involved 36 college-educated adults (average age of 46) who had never tried psilocybin nor had a history of drug use, and who had religious or spiritual interests. The participants were closely observed for eight-hour intervals in a laboratory while under the influence of psilocybin. 
One-third of the participants reported the experience was the single most spiritually significant moment of their lives, and more than two-thirds reported it was among the top five most spiritually significant experiences. Two months after the study, 79% of the participants reported increased well-being or satisfaction; friends, relatives, and associates confirmed this. They also reported anxiety and depression symptoms to be decreased or completely gone. Fourteen months after the study, 64% of participants said they still experienced an increase in well-being or life satisfaction.  
source

Also this:

Taking magic mushrooms (psilocybin) can have a lasting change on the individual's personality, making them more open about their feelings and the way they perceive things, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA, wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The authors explained that those who had mystic experiences while on psilocybin were more likely to subsequently exhibit certain personality changes, making them more forthcoming about their feelings, becoming more focused on being creative, curious, and appreciative about artistic things. 
source

It's actually difficult for me to talk about my shroom experiences because they are so precious to me. I don't like opening them up to mockery. One more quote to explain:

"...it is simply impossible to communicate the profundity (or seeming profundity) of psychedelic states to those who have never experienced them. Indeed, it is even difficult to remind oneself of the power of these states once they have passed." - Sam Harris

Have you ever had a bad MDMA experience? 

I've had some exceptionally difficult comedowns from MDMA, which I now know were exacerbated by redosing. The serotonin depletion is difficult under the best of circumstances; for those who suffer from depression, it can be excruciating. (Feelings of hopelessness, despair, etc.) I am super irritable and moody after taking MDMA and prefer to interact with others as little as possible. I've also jacked my jaw up something terrible from grinding my teeth. All of this sounds horrible I know, but that's the tradeoff on MDMA. At the risk of sounding glib, they call it ecstasy for a reason, and that reason is why I'm willing to cope with the negative after effects.

Have you ever had a bad psilocybin experience? 

At Coachella 2014 I overdid it on the last morning of the festival. I was exhausted, overheated, dehydrated, and undernourished. I took some shrooms on the shuttle ride to the fest and puked them up the second I got off the bus. Brutal. But that's less a reflection on the drug than on my state of being.

Once or twice I've gone a little "dark" on shrooms (thinking negatively), but it didn't last long and my trips have always ended on a high note.

Aren't you a little old to be doing this stuff?

Probably! I'm also probably too old to go to EDM shows, too old to wear graphic tank tops, too old to take half-naked selfies, and too old to eat rocket pop sorbet (stuff tastes EXACTLY like a bomb pop) for dinner. And yet here I am, doing all of those things, and neither Christ on high nor my conscience has all that much to say about it.

I hesitate to drop a hot-button word like childfree, but that's largely what it comes down to. I'm responsible to and for myself (and to some degree my partner), and that's it. No babysitter curfew, no kid to embarrass with my youthful antics, and no one's welfare tied to my own. So my being past the age when most people are done experimenting with drugs doesn't really matter, since the typical trappings of my age group (i.e., children) don't apply. "Too old" might sting when hurled from the right angle, but that's mostly because aging itself stings. The fact is, "too old" is often a lifestyle-dependent condemnation.

I'm actually glad I didn't discover drugs at a younger age. I didn't try ecstasy until I was 36 years old. That's just three years ago. I didn't try psilocybin until I was 37. Coming to these experiences later means not only am I more emotionally equipped to handle them, I'm also in a better position to appreciate what they've done for me. (I'm much more thoughtful and introspective than I was ten, fifteen years ago.)

Is there a handy resource I can consult for a good reflection of your opinions on drug use?

SO GLAD YOU ASKED. Sam Harris's essay Drugs and The Meaning of Life, quoted briefly above, gives an excellent overview of psychotropics, and I'm pretty much on board with everything he has to say about them.

I don't think you've drawn enough on Sam Harris for this post. Can you please quote him again?

Love to! From the first chapter of his latest book, Waking Up, on using MDMA for the first time:

It would not be too strong to say that I felt sane for the first time in my life. And yet the change in my consciousness seemed entirely straightforward. I was simply talking to my friend—about what, I don’t recall—and realized that I had ceased to be concerned about myself. I was no longer anxious, self-critical, guarded by irony, in competition, avoiding embarrassment, ruminating about the past and future, or making any other gesture of thought or attention that separated me from him. I was no longer watching myself through another person’s eyes. 
And then came the insight that irrevocably transformed my sense of how good human life could be. I was feeling boundless love for one of my best friends, and I suddenly realized that if a stranger had walked through the door at that moment, he or she would have been fully included in this love. Love was at bottom impersonal—and deeper than any personal history could justify. Indeed, a transactional form of love—I love you because…—now made no sense at all.

Exactly how many days left until Bonnaroo?




blabberthreads

Hi! Lest anyone worry that, having been silent for a nearly a week, Blabbermouth is unwell - she is not. She is fine. It's just that the jar in her head from which she draws blabspiration is (all but) empty. She keeps checking it - several times a day, in fact - but there's only a few wispy blabberthreads. Pathetic.

Things Blabbermouth has been up to while she waits for the jar to fill back up:

1. I watched Citizenfour, was fascinated, went online to learn more about Edward Snowden, and fell down a weird and winding rabbit hole that led me to this exchange between Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris. Maybe not compelling reading on its own, but (one element of) their argument raised an interesting question for me, and one I visit again and again in my life online: How much tacit approval do we give of someone, when we align ourselves with that person on the internet? By, say, retweeting a link to an article, are we endorsing that entire article and its author, wholesale? Is following someone on Twitter or Instagram a show of support, or simply neutral interest? And the kicker - what happens when a blogger or internet personality you've publicly befriended does something terrible? Do you look bad by association? Should you look bad?

2. I cheered Brian Keith Dalton's fantastic video response to the shooting of the three Muslim students in Chapel Hill last month, and made a mental note to share it. But the note got scribbled over with my Bonnaroo schedule or something, and I didn't do it. For context, BKD is an atheist writer/actor/comedian whose satirical web series Mr. Deity kinda sorta changed my life, in that it showed me a whole new way to dissect, understand, and ultimately dismiss the hypocrisy and horror of religion: through humor. Anyway, I very much agree with his sentiment that everyone involved in the atheist community should speak out to condemn the violence. In his words:



3. I stepped a little further into my New Neighbor Friendship, a relationship I'm trying to let incubate quietly rather than blather on about it too much. But get this: on the day I had a dentist appointment she left a smoothie packed in ice outside my door, in case my teeth hurt afterward. You are thinking "Wow, NNF is rad" - and you are right.

4. Terence and I went to see an EDM guy I really like, but it was kind of a letdown. He pandered to the very young crowd, playing mostly the worn-out favorites of other producers rather than his own music (which is great). I can understand where he's coming from - he hadn't played LA proper before and his Coachella set last year was, as the LA Times put it rather harshly, "a ghost town". I suspect he was afraid of losing everyone; attention spans be short, yo. But Mr. Brun, should you stumble across this for some reason, you should know that I was one of those fifty or so people who happily blew off Outkast to dance in that near-empty tent. You are tremendously talented and I look forward to the day your shows consist solely of your own stuff.

5. I started making cold-brewed, condensed coffee and cashew milk, which separately are wonderful but together are divine. If you've never had BluePrint's Cashew Vanilla Cinnamon Agave or their Coffee Cashew Cinnamon Vanilla, DO NOT START. They are incredibly addictive...and they cost a metric fuckton of money. Between $8 and $12 a bottle. Hence the need to figure out an alternative or hack the recipe.

Enter Cookie and Kate (for plain cashew milk), Kitchen Treaty (for cold-brewed coffee concentrate), and Janny Organically (for a SPOT ON recreation of BluePrint's versions). Money saved and morning coffee sorted!

---

And that's about all I've got today, 'cept for a handful of pics:

Tickle Claw: not just for mommy bloggers!

His fur felt so chilly this morning. Invited him up for snuggles to get us both warm.

I heart you too, Michael Brun

Ugh, why can't I make bedhead and a hoodie look this good??
---

NEW FEATURE! I thought it might be fun to occasionally look back at what I was doing exactly one, two, and three years ago right now, kind of the way that Smitten Kitchen does, but without the useful recipes. Dunno how often I'll do this as it's a bit of work, but wow, what a neat reward for having put in the time to scrapblog so far...

One year ago right now, Terence and I moved in together. He had just met my friends Kenne and Alfie; the four of us went for ramen in Little Tokyo. While we were waiting for our table, I saw someone I was sure was a musician I like named Trevor Powers. Trevor Powers is the force behind Youth Lagoon, which is the experimental shoe-gaze music that I was listening to at my first Coachella, when I took a bunch of shrooms and tripped and thought I saw monkeys in the grass. Anyway, I approached the guy I thought was TP, but he rebuffed me. I told Mason about the encounter, and this is what he replied to make me feel better.  

Two years ago right now I was single and dating. One dude I'd met was nice enough, but way too square for me and more than a little egotistical. He did, however, have an awesome roommate with an awesome pet turtle. And he liked karaoke. This was our second date.

Three years ago right now I was still recovering from an abusive relationship that, other than that post, I've never written about. It took me a very, very long time to figure out which way was up again - but I did. And I eventually started dating again. But mostly, I was enjoying taking Chaucer for long walks, just the two of us

yet another fiery hot take on 50 shades

Every news outlet and its parent company is publishing the same piece, saying the same thing: 50 Shades of Grey isn't erotica; it's abuse. And I agree, because it's obvious (and here I'm referring to the book) that Anastasia isn't a true submissive. She's not into it. She's more scared than titillated. She sets limits which Christian fails to honor. All of this runs completely contrary to everything BDSM represents, and everything that makes it awesome.

When 50 Shades drifted onto my radar sometime in the last couple of years, I felt the same tingle of annoyance - of irrational possessiveness - I get when an unknown band I love blows up. Oh great. Secret's out. And yes, all the LOLs in the world at the idea that BDSM could be my, or anyone's, secret. But there you have it.

What bothered me was the fear that 50 Shades, the most widely-selling book of its kind in recent memory, had gotten it terribly wrong, where "it" was a subject I cared about. The fear that, in the wrong hands (and minds), that subject was going to be mishandled, and thus misrepresented to the millions of people suddenly exposed to it. Or, alternatively, that it would be so watered down as to be unpalatably boring. Turns out it was a little from column A and a little from column B. (Columns D and s were unavailable to comment; they were too busy having fun in much better books.)

So I am relieved by 50's embarrassing critical reception. Sure, it's sold and sold and sold. But virtually every reviewer, professional and amateur, is in agreement: the writing is wretched. And wretched writing doesn't move people, in good ways or bad. The outcry against (an inaccurate portrayal of) true BDSM that I feared never materialized, and instead people are crying out against what they've correctly identified as abuse. They are also seeing 50 Shades the literary endeavor clearly for what it is: pap. I also don't imagine that hordes of young lovers are flocking to their local Pleasure Chest to stock up on toys. Not that I would disapprove if they did. I am in great favor of such pursuits, every last consensual kink of them. But I'd hate for anyone's curiosity to be rooted in the sort of misguided, misogynist ideas put forth so ineloquently in 50 Shades. The only bad kink is nonconsensual kink, and that's exactly the kind E.L. James wrote. But don't take my word for it; she says so herself.

I started writing with the idea: when you meet someone who is into bdsm (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism, red.) and you are not up for it, what will happen? 

(Emphasis mine.)

There are a couple of fantastic, extremely thorough take-downs of 50 Shades on the web that, if you're interested, are smart, funny, and will satisfactorily quell any fears you have about missing out on something hot. Because I was definitely afraid I was missing out on something hot. Thankfully, people more patient than I went ahead and determined that no, we are not missing out on a damn thing. (Not the least because 50 Shades stops short, IMHO, of anything much further beyond Vanilla+.)

The Pervocracy looks at 50 Shades from the perspective of an active, feminist member of the BDSM community, and nails it again and again:

One of the many nasty things about this book is that it acknowledges that kinky women exist, but much like blonde women, they blend into a homogenous morass of not-quite-humanity. [Christian Grey]'s past submissives don't have any names or distinguishing features, they're just "the fifteen," and Ana and [Christian] always talk about them like there's something cheap and dirty about the fact that they might've actually enjoyed playing with him.

Jenny Trout has authored several romance novels herself; I have a feeling that what a lot of people were looking for would be much better found in her books. An excerpt from her take on 50 Shades:

Now, let’s move on to how fucked up it is that Christian is grossed out by the fact that Hyde likes rough sex. I get it, he’s supposed to be thinking, “My god, is that how I’ve been treating Ana? I’m such a fool! Tender and quiet lovemaking with a minimum of bodily contact from now on!” But it’s so, so stupid. The thing that makes Jack Hyde evil isn’t that he likes rough sex. It’s that he likes rough sex specifically to humiliate and manipulate women into doing what he wants them to do for him, without caring about obtaining enthusiastic consent, and that’s nothing like what Christian…

For the record, I would (maybe) include links to some of the good BDSM writing I cut my teeth on oh so many years ago. Alas, Usenet is no more, and the Altnet I frequented bears little resemblance to its modern iteration. There is one remaining extant web source of material that young Ellie spent many a night procrastinating frosh term papers on...but if you want to know what it is, you'll have to email me to ask, muahaha. I'll share, but first you've got to admit you're curious...

And with that I will shut up about the thing I wish everyone else would shut up about, too.

okay I guess I'm going there after all

Quickly want to share an excerpt from the best thing I've read yet about the attack in Paris: The Blame For the Charlie Hebdo Murders. Now, I try to be more or less apolitical with my blog ever since I realized, with the help of some constructive criticism, that I have a problem with tone where religion is concerned. But twelve people are dead and it's difficult for me to sit on my hands when more influential, further-reaching internet pundits are victim blaming and spouting off ignorant shit about tolerance and moderation and the "sacredness" of "rich traditions".

So in the interest of doing what little I can to counter-disseminate:

The murders today in Paris are not a result of France’s failure to assimilate two generations of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies. They’re not about French military action against the Islamic State in the Middle East, or the American invasion of Iraq before that. They’re not part of some general wave of nihilistic violence in the economically depressed, socially atomized, morally hollow West—the Paris version of Newtown or Oslo. Least of all should they be “understood” as reactions to disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists. 
They are only the latest blows delivered by an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades. It’s the same ideology that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding for a decade under a death sentence for writing a novel, then killed his Japanese translator and tried to kill his Italian translator and Norwegian publisher. The ideology that murdered three thousand people in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The one that butchered Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, in 2004, for making a film. The one that has brought mass rape and slaughter to the cities and deserts of Syria and Iraq. That massacred a hundred and thirty-two children and thirteen adults in a school in Peshawar last month. That regularly kills so many Nigerians, especially young ones, that hardly anyone pays attention. 
Because the ideology is the product of a major world religion, a lot of painstaking pretzel logic goes into trying to explain what the violence does, or doesn’t, have to do with Islam. Some well-meaning people tiptoe around the Islamic connection, claiming that the carnage has nothing to do with faith, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that, at most, the violence represents a “distortion” of a great religion. (After suicide bombings in Baghdad, I grew used to hearing Iraqis say, “No Muslim would do this.”) Others want to lay the blame entirely on the theological content of Islam, as if other religions are more inherently peaceful—a notion belied by history as well as scripture. 
A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents.

(emphasis mine) 

Thank you for reading. And thinking.

---

confidential to Kelle: Yeah you bet your phony ass this is in response to that ignoramus of a co-exploiter you call Dad. I know you read here, because you're too frantic of a whitewasher to not keep track of your detractors. I know your ex-fans read here, too, because my blog pops up as the number one search result for "Kelle Hampton criticism" - a distinction of which I'm proud and one backed up by the emails that trickle in, slowly but steadily, from those ex-fans.

While I have you: fuck you, for the disgustingness that is publicly monetizing your children's baths. You accepted money to post on the internet, for the uncontrolled consumption of thousands of strangers, intimate photos of your children. In the bath. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES. 

he-who-must-not-be-'tooned

Really not much I can say about the attack in Paris that hasn't been said already. And anyway once I start talking about religion I don't shut up until I've pissed off at least a few dozen people, so. 

Instead, enjoy this amazing visual:

(edited out is the bit where I said I'd doodle something myself if I wasn't such an awful artist)

For reference:

from the mind of the inimitable Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

breaking news: people brag on the internet

That thing people do, where they are grossly ostentatious in showing wealth, with the express purpose of making others jealous? It has a name: invidious consumption.

Invidious consumption is defined as "the deliberate conspicuous consumption of goods and services intended to provoke the envy of other people, as a means of displaying the buyer's superior socio-economic status."

We all know this phenomenon exists. Thanks to the internet, we see it all the time. But if like me, you didn't realize there was a handy sociological term to denote it, well, now you know. And if like me, you find it exhausting to witness, think about how exhausting it is to be those people. To be constantly burdened by the need to prove something to others - to people they probably don't even like. People they've ex'ed out of their lives. Ex-husbands and ex-lovers and ex-friends.

I can't even imagine.

Oh wait, yeah I can. I can imagine, because there have been times in my life that I've done it myself - times when my financial security seemed like the only thing I had going for me. And yeah, it was exhausting. It is fucking exhausting to make choices based on deeply rooted hurt and anger. Oh yeah? You don't want me in your life anymore? Great. I'm gonna show you just how fucking amazing my life is without you in it. God, I am so much fucking happier now. Can you not see how FUCKING HAPPY I AM?? 

It's impossible to get through offline life without collecting cuts and hurts along the way. Painfully dissolved romances, abandoned friendships, misunderstandings and miscommunications. But bloggers and other live-online'ers (i.e., heavy users of social media) amass these cuts and hurts in full view of everyone they know (and a good deal they don't, the imagined judgment of whom is sometimes worse). Pride and ego - which despise pity - demand they show everyone that, not only have they survived, but they've gotten to the very top of the caterpillar pillar, bitches.

A public platform (such as the internet) + an inability to let go + insecurity = the perfect storm for invidious consumption.

Part of why I quit Instagram is that I recognize remnants of this behavior in myself, even though I have worked really hard, in the years since my divorce, to curb it. Not so much invidious consumption as "invidious happiness". One could argue that happiness is a form of emotional wealth, so in a way, it's the same net effect. I've got something you don't, person I dislike for X reason. Neener neener.

This is not to say my happiness hasn't been real, because I can say with gratitude that it is, even when it is undercut by my ever-present depression. But if it's easy to throw up a smiling snapshot on my blog sans context, sans any attempt at thoughtfully rounding out the bigger picture of my life (ups AND downs), on Instagram the whole fucking point is to blast the best moments and cut the sound on the worst.

The internet is a great place for sharing our lives with people we like. But it's also the perfect vehicle for showcasing those lives, like diamonds in Tiffany's window, to those we don't. And when we cease to examine our motives online, we cease to care about the difference. And that's not an internet anyone needs.

with nutrition "facts" on the side, lol






If this was helpful to you, please consider upvoting it here. I just want to outreview LanceS2k, who should probably get off the computer and go see a doctor. 


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I bet Smedley stole the berries. Fucking Smedley.

life, styled

Calm down, lifestyle photography subjects.

Look, I don't doubt that the smiles in your family cuddle puddle are real. I don't doubt that there's genuine love, despite there being an outsider wielding a $5k camera just inches away from everyone's faces.

But the minute you invite a professional photographer into your home, your business, your favorite "meaningful spot", you are turning that space into a stage. Artifice is built right into lifestyle photography. So maybe chill out with the manic laughter and props? Maybe just relax and interact normally? You can't spin emotion out of thin air, and it becomes rather silly when everyone knows you were prompted by a stranger, at a cost of several hundred dollars an hour, to emote on cue.

Photography that seeks to honestly capture what is truly there looks and feels a lot different than photography with something to prove.

Signed,
someone well versed in both kinds

spirit/hood

There is a thing in life I love so much that I am willing to abide certain Challenging Elements in order to enjoy it every so often. The thing is live electronic music, and the Challenging Elements are my age, the egos of many DJs, and the existence of butts better than my own.

I'll work backwards.

I spent yesterday in the company of lots and lots of nearly naked female butts. These butts, on average, were a good fifteen years my junior. They belonged to the thousands of women alongside whom I attended HardSummer music festival. They all seemed, to my surely unwelcome gaze, to be in top form, no matter the size or shape - if only because they were so damn young. It's hard for me to find fault with any young butt these days, now that mine is flirting with forty. Oh, youth. You are so fucking wasted on the--wait, no, never mind. I'm not actually sure you are.

I've been to enough festivals that I am relatively unfazed by the dearth of clothing on these whippersnappettes. It's probably good for me, anyway. A semi-annual, bracing ego check and a reminder that we all pass the beauty baton eventually - what matters is what remains when we do. Brains. Heart. Spirit. Humor. Grace. A personal blog littered with incriminating anecdotes.

Anyway, despite being mostly inured to the sight of twenty-something ass, I am still occasionally struck breathless by an especially exquisite specimen. It's moments like these that my fandom is truly tested. How much do I love this stuff? Enough to spend the weekend with my (also upper thirties) boyfriend, bobbing like castaways in a sea of nubile collegiate flesh?

Good news, electronic musicians! The answers are still "a lot" and "yes". You win, for now. And you win despite being some of the most douchetastic, arrogant idiots ever to take to social media. Because I believe that being a fan of any artist means fanning the art itself, not the flawed human behind it (an idea I want to explore in another post). So yeah, brag about your sports cars and complain about the lack of Skittles in your private jet; I'll still buy your albums and come to your shows.

And then there's the last of the Challenging Elements: my age. The happy fact is that I'm rarely aware of all thirty-nine of my years - or at least, rarely uncomfortable with them. And my list of age-determinate Won't Dos and Can't Wears is still triumphantly (foolishly?) short. But every year I do become a teensy bit more self-conscious in the festival scene, and a teensy bit more relieved when I catch sight of someone even older. I'll keep going, though. Because if fun has an expiration date, I'd rather dodge an entire stadium full of festival butts than read that fine print.

Even older, she wrote, and then stared at that phrase incredulously. Who am I and what have I done with myself? Did I not rock a spirit hood yesterday, just for the joy of dancing in a bear snow leopard albino raccoon an unidentified animal head? Did I not have an unbelievable time? Am I not ready to do it all over again today? Will I not be itching to do it all over again in another few months?

Yeah. I did. I am. I will.

White tiger? Fennec fox? Your guess is as good as mine.
They moved the festival from downtown LA to Whittier Narrows and WOW what an excellent change. Trees! Grass! Plus there's great flow and plenty of room to stretch out and adjust that tanga.
LOL sober people
The sun setting over the Porta Potties is always one of the most romantic moments of any festival.
Sound was fantastic on all the stages, but the nuclear blast during Axwell's set seemed a bit excessive. 
Okay well it looked cooler in my phone (and in person). Here it just looks like a sweaty gymnasium. Wev.
The best part of me insisting on taking these blurry night shots is I've forgotten who was on stage by the next day. 
LITE BRITE, LITE BRITE, TURN ON THE MAGIC OF INTENTIONALLY MISSPELLED CHILDREN'S TOYS
I asked Terence how old he thought that other festival-goers would guess we were. "They probably think we just turned thirty," he said. I have no idea how he came up with that, but anyway, Christ do I love this man for indulging my Peter Pan complex. Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning, baby.


So far the tops we've seen (day two starts in a few hours!) are Oliver, Alex Metric, and The Martinez Brothers. I found Axwell to be a bit meh (overly long buildups), the Goldroom DJ set to be lovely, and Jack U to be a weaksauce imitation of Dillon Francis. Go back to your roots, Skrilly, and leave the moombahton to Dilly.

And that will conclude the esoteric EDM snobbery portion of today's post.

Also that will conclude the post itself.

whipping boy

If for some reason you haven't seen the latest SNL digital short, may I offer you two and a half minutes of comedic brilliance on this Friday afternoon?



You don't have to be an EDM show frequenter (or even a stay-at-home fan) to get how hilarious this spoof is, but it certainly helps. I laughed myself sick, laughing at myself. My favorite line? Bobby Moynihan: "This is the best day of my life!" If I had a dime for every time I've uttered a similar oath under similar circumstances, well, I'd be embarrassed how many glow sticks I could buy. But the stroke of genius that really kills me - pun intended - is the exploding heads. That's the bit that you'll only truly appreciate if you've seen electronic played live, and witnessed for yourself what those much-anticipated bass drops do to frenetic, beat-hungry fans: It destroys them, in the best way possible. If you've never experienced a rave (or don't intend to), take this EDM junkie's word for it: The physical paroxysm that accompanies a good drop is almost unbearable. Get turned up to death! is right.

Crave Online's Johnny Firecloud loved this short, too. But Firecloud skates much too quickly past the subtleties of Samberg and Co.'s satire in a rush to drive his axe gleefully into EDM's viscera. Once there, he proceeds to grind it with what I can only imagine is deep satisfaction, since he sees the SNL piece as pop culture's confirmation of the bone he's been chewing since last year: EDM is the over-hyped, artistically bankrupt realm of drugged-out musical philistines.

Yawn.

I know that EDM is the preferred musical whipping boy of - well, of anyone who doesn't like it, basically. I can even understand why. It's new. It's not rock and roll. And, to the uninitiated (not to mention the willfully disdainful), it's deeply esoteric. EDM is a culture accessorized by trappings actual and philosophical. PLUR and Kandi are things you're not going to understand - much less respect - unless you spend some time in the scene, engaging with other fans, freely giving yourself over to That Which Is Different. You're certainly not going to get it standing on the sidelines, glaring with disgust at the crowd while counting down the minutes to your (read: the good) music - which is what Firecloud apparently does. I hate to break it to Johnny, but I guarantee those kids that were running in place at the Treasure Island festival were having the time of their lives. Bummer he let his irritation at them poison the rest of his night - but that's more a reflection of his Get off my lawn! mentality than the quality of the music they were enjoying.

Are there drugs at electronic shows? Of course. Are those drugs a required precursor to enjoyment of the music? Well if they were, why would fans such as myself bother listening to it at home? And I'm not alone: Just yesterday, a friend shared an EDM playlist on Spotify...with over 100k followers. I'm having trouble believing all those listeners are "popping a Molly" every time they hit shuffle. Besides, as one commenter on Firecloud's first article pointed out: while ecstasy is the preferred drug of EDM fans, who's to say it's any "worse" than the beer-soaked revelry of rock concerts? At least it doesn't spill.

Firecloud is big on youth-castigating buzzwords: Pfizer, pharmaceutical, push-button. That last one is an especially important component of his claim that what happens at EDM shows isn't Real™ Music. And again, I get where he's coming from. Since there are no instruments being played, electronic music is arguably synthetic - ersatz. But so what? A good beat is a good beat is a good beat, and I'm not even going to touch the subject of how much skill and technical ability it takes to blend those beats into something danceable (my boyfriend is an Ableton-proficient musician after all; I'm admittedly biased). And yeah, DJ salaries are nothing short of stunning, particularly considering how young their recipients are. But free market is as free market does, supply, demand, etc. and so forth - don't shoot the zeitgeister.

Bottom line: Firecloud and other electronic pooh-poohers aren't interested in delving deep enough into EDM to understand what exactly millions of fans love about it (hint: our "sensory stimuli" aren't as "blown out" as he thinks). But it's fine by us if they prefer to stay home and hate. The dance floor is crowded enough as it is.

more, better, best

Everything I recall about my childhood home can be summed up in a few paragraphs. It was a typically suburban three bedroom home in a smallish town in southwestern Michigan. Red brick, single level. Pussy willow on the porch, plum tree at the end the driveway, crocus blooming under my bedroom window in spring. I remember the things that filled the house only in terms of their use, and their sensory and emotional significance.

Gold corduroy couch: The Muppet Show, way past bedtime, Dad engrossed in the newspaper.

Piano: Mom leaning in to read sheet music, spectacles and a cable-knit sweater, rare good mood.

Oil painting of a lion: expression as inscrutable and mysterious as my parent's marriage, deep fear of wild animals that has yet to abate.

Kitchen telephone: avocado green, cord wrapped around my mother's skinny hips, pot roast for dinner.

I know we had wallpaper, but I couldn't describe the print. I know the house was carpeted, but I couldn't name the color. What I can tell you is that my brother and I had a front yard big enough to host kickball games, and a backyard with a swimming pool, a swing set, a shed full of toys, and enough land to fence in the occasional turtle plucked from Lake Michigan. Fucking glorious, in other words.

And among the gratitudes I have for what, on balance, was a pretty awesome childhood (above implications notwithstanding), is that my mother lived pre-Pinterest, and pre-social media. That decorating her home, planning her children's birthday parties, and choosing outfits for PTA meetings were endeavors undertaken with the knowledge that only those in her immediate social circle would see the results.

God, how nice that must have been. How nice that the only Joneses with which she probably felt compelled to keep up were the ones directly next door. How nice that she could concern herself with the business of mothering, undistracted and unstressed by comparison with how her peers were doing their mothering.

How lucky that my brother and I survived to adulthood without ever having lain eyes on an overpriced cake pop, frosted to match an overpriced paper party straw.

Pinterest never comes up in my daily (offline) life. I know most of my friends have heard of it, and a few of them are on it, but it's nothing we talk about when we get together. I only feel the need to account for my disuse of it when I'm internetting, because hello. Pinterest. What, Ellie, you don't like to be inspired? What are you, an animal?

What I like is not overwhelming myself with the pressure to More, Better, Best my life to death. And anyway, I like to think I did the Pinterest thing, in a way, in my twenties. It was called Lucky Magazine, and then Domino Magazine. It was Holy shit, I didn't even know that existed until I opened this magazine, but now I'll be MISERABLE if I can't have it. And it sucked.

I More, Better, Bested my last apartment without ever even looking at a pin board, and that was hellish enough. I consulted exactly one decorating book, nearly wearing it out with study. Okay, so since my bed frame is structured, I should have more organic, free-form nightstands. Got it. What should have been a fun exercise in creativity and self-expression was instead an exhausting, obsessive search for material things to make my home look OMGamazing - and for the most part, that search was limited to three or four sources within my price and geographic ranges. I can't even imagine how quickly my brain would have exploded had I opened myself up to the ten billion options Pinterest would have shown me.

This time around, I am opting the fuck out of that particular rat race, at least as much as I can. This time around, I am keeping the procurement of what furnishings we need as quick and simple as possible, so that I can get past making sure there's enough light to read by and on to making sure we're stocked with our friends' favorite drinks. Because when I think back to the things that filled the living spaces I inhabited twenty, thirty years ago, what I remember isn't whether or not the coffee table complemented the sofa - it's that it did an efficient job of supporting four slices of pizza and the original Together Box, aka Monopoly.