Critical, Nectar, and other learnt language from the West Coast

Monday, January 29, 2018

Comments: 0

Words: Stevie Dance
Photography: Jeff Burton

POP-Critical-Nectar

I’m not sure if Los Angeles is different, or if it is just me that is, or us as a whole perhaps but somehow this place seems to be appealing once more. A moment growing where we all want things a little softer. A little gentler even. It is true that the wind blows here but the hum is so slight that the trees hardly dance and when you drive down the 101 going South after a trip into the Malibu mountains and it’s that part of the day when things start to shift, you can really feel this sense of dazing disparity in Los Angeles. Home to 6 lane highways and eateries called Chuck E. Cheese’s as much as it is to the chariot of clouds just the most heaven shade of pink, that bloom as it all rides by. It is never just the one thing Los Angeles. On the outset, though, it is seemingly temperate – a warm 27 degrees all day, everyday my Apple tells me and it is true: it ain’t abrupt. It murmurs more. It grows on you, this city. “Don’t go disappearing out there,” my East Coast friends say, but perhaps that is precisely the appeal.
These are the phrases people out West have stocked up in response to questions about why and how they have found themselves here: “New York just isn’t the same,” they say. “Not as before,” they say. “The movie biz has all moved South so there’s room for this new vibe to come up, new creative stuff,” I get told. It just isn’t as hostile as the East Coast,” they say. “ You can leave your house without feeling like an attack,” is one that is mentioned a lot. You can, “feel it out here more,”. They muse about space, and more for your money. Bang for your buck. Room to choreograph whole dance routines in your backyard. Room for music played loud. Rooms for guests. “Space to get weird,” one girl called Tammy puts it as she serves me cut watermelon and gluten free rice paper rolls up in the Hills. Indeed everything seems to be labeled gluten-free here. They mention non-confrontational clothing and juice. Juice gets mentioned a lot. Tea in the garden, too, and dogs. Chihuahuas largely. Truly – they all mention all of these things and they are all largely sober or so and they all seem to have the most beautiful clear skin. But it’s more than that I feel. They mean more than that. There is a charm to what they all say that is harder to spot but shouldn’t be missed.
“What’s going on” is this text I get from Robbie, a kid who comes from the ‘Bu and has lived here his whole life, listens to Trap music and feathers his hair.
I don’t know what to write back as I’m not sure what it means. I hit my friend up who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley but left not long after she should. She says it’s a phrase she attempts to use less now that she lives in Chelsea and has done so for some odd 15 years, because it suggests nothing and solicits no response. That no one is doing much of anything at all, or maybe it’s the tone, too she says. Too quintessential. Too up at the end. It certainly isn’t, “the start of something,” I am told. So I write back, “not much,” irrespective of my literal life. My friend says she would normally say, “just chillin” or “nada,” the later of which literally translates to nothing. I would have thought it meant, “no dice”. You see, it’s the little things to learn.
For those that have already made it this way, or perhaps have never left, Instagram tells me they are up to these things: homemade tattoos of scrawl that reads, “I thought California would be Different”, outfits built on odd socks and sandals, Chet Baker and flaxseed pancakes. “I’m around,” they say to one another when plans get made. “Hit me up. I’m round.” They are buying in bulk. They are working on personal projects. They go swimming daily. Plus there is that sweetness in the sky don’t forget. There are sprinklers at night that chirp like some sort of lullaby. It’s true that sometimes people wear cowboy boots here still – they drink Venti capps still also it seems, and the radio is still relevant. But it’s more than that. They do things here they never would have the time to do anywhere else. Think up things here the brains never seem to create in more hectic environments. Plus the trees, the trees and the ocean make it always, make everything always, a-okay here.
I’ve heard about this woman Lissy who runs a spot called Rag Mart and sells dead stock corduroy pants. I drive up North Fairfax. Google maps and the GPS are both talking to me and somehow I still expect to get lost because I always feel lost in LA. The mart is a strip mall number with a lot of peyote paraphernalia and some Dead Head stuff. I buy some Palo Santo incense to burn and a Ziggy t-shirt, and some too short Levis with a flare. I dunno. It feels right. Thematic maybe, but right once again.
I meet up with Jessie at Jones’s on 3rd because she likes the house chicken dish. Jessie is 19 now and goes back to the beach on her summer breaks to see her mom, 3 dogs, chickens and her therapist. I ask about her life, “How’s life?” I say.
“What is life?” she says back. She always says that as well as “cuz,” “chill” and “bitches be like…” – as the standard response in her dialogue to really any topic at hand. She says “good vibes” a lot too. And she means it. She is my go-to for observations on this resurgence of 2014 “riot grrrl” stuff where soft focus sells, Rihanna is very relevant and American Apparel is particularly helpful in one’s daily style out sessions. Largely she lets me know she has few friends aside from her pets, and regardless of the conversation at hand, everything is always The Best. Sometimes The Worst, but mostly The Best. I wonder if perhaps Bret Easton Ellis’ podcasts about twitter and the plight of genuine dialogue due to hyperbole is right. I started to follow Ellis on Instagram largely for his posts that read, “Le Brea, 11:10 Tuesday night” accompanied usually by an image of a dead dead street and his minimal filter usage. Aside from that, he doesn’t say much else but maybe not much else is needed.
Spending time in LA could lend oneself the illusion that all-day errand running, fedoras on waiters, Arnold palmers and stars you can actually see in the sky, ones you can practically paint on your hair, are of the norm. It builds routine that is particular. One that is reclusive. It goes like this: I don’t set an alarm. I don’t talk out loud much at all really. In fact, I never would answer if it rings, the phone. I run my errands like it’s a full-time dream job. Vitamins. American Spirits. Sabbath. Hand out the window, I am oddly reflective. Normally I don’t have time to think about where I once was. Here, memories feel like cement and one is almost encouraged to reacquaint oneself with what once came before. Roy Orbison for when I drive up the canyon and talk to myself about what I should have said or what I will do. Roy Orbison for when I’m remembering. Internal dialogue is rife this far West. The bougainvillea and birds and the light, that special special light almost make it a prerequisite.
Later I meet Alana and Zee Zee at Sushi Park on Sunset for an alcohol free meal – as they all seem to be here – and then at 10pm I get a pedicure at Stylin Nailz below, where women in workout gear talk about calories and Soul Cycle. There’s a man in there, too. I’ve never seen a man getting a pedicure anywhere else but in LA, they are always in there. Many men in Los Angeles I get told by two separate sources, are largely music video grinders, or actors, or some amalgamation of both. I spot Adrien Brody at Whole Foods and Beck in Erewhon’s buying macrobiotic and Helena Bronham Carter one lunch at the Chateau eating a taco.
“Are there any sexy ladies out here tonight CALI”
I go to see Beyoncé and Jay Z play out in Pasadena one night courtesy of a friend of a friend of a friend and J sings this line a few times over. I am sat next to a girl who goes by Kitty and is talking about frozen yoghurt for dogs, shoe lifts and the joys of crying when B, her spirit animal, sings straight. “It’s a lot,” she says over the fireworks, backup dancers and smoke machines, and she is right. But somehow it isn’t too much. We pass a spot on the hill on the way back whose billboards reads DREAM CENTRE next to a neon cross and some palm trees and I wonder who’s seen that sign and believed it here in these hills. I wonder if I believe it. Dream On, Dreamy.
“What’s going on?” I start using it now in my dialogue the more time I’m here. I don’t know how it made it in there, into my everyday vernacular, but normally I say it just in replace of “Hi,” which right now, is somehow, too much to the point. Every day could be like the one that came before it and every day I seem to see the beauty in this more. I find ideas come to me more, they sort of swim up, and this softness, the fuzz around the edges of this city, somehow brings things to light.

I’m not sure if Los Angeles is different, or if it is just me that is, or us as a whole perhaps but somehow this place seems to be appealing once more. A moment growing where we all want things a little softer. A little gentler even. It is true that the wind blows here but the hum is so slight that the trees hardly dance and when you drive down the 101 going South after a trip into the Malibu mountains and it’s that part of the day when things start to shift, you can really feel this sense of dazing disparity in Los Angeles. Home to 6 lane highways and eateries called Chuck E. Cheese’s as much as it is to the chariot of clouds just the most heaven shade of pink, that bloom as it all rides by. It is never just the one thing Los Angeles. On the outset, though, it is seemingly temperate – a warm 27 degrees all day, everyday my Apple tells me and it is true: it ain’t abrupt. It murmurs more. It grows on you, this city. “Don’t go disappearing out there,” my East Coast friends say, but perhaps that is precisely the appeal.
These are the phrases people out West have stocked up in response to questions about why and how they have found themselves here: “New York just isn’t the same,” they say. “Not as before,” they say. “The movie biz has all moved South so there’s room for this new vibe to come up, new creative stuff,” I get told. It just isn’t as hostile as the East Coast,” they say. “ You can leave your house without feeling like an attack,” is one that is mentioned a lot. You can, “feel it out here more,”. They muse about space, and more for your money. Bang for your buck. Room to choreograph whole dance routines in your backyard. Room for music played loud. Rooms for guests. “Space to get weird,” one girl called Tammy puts it as she serves me cut watermelon and gluten free rice paper rolls up in the Hills. Indeed everything seems to be labeled gluten-free here. They mention non-confrontational clothing and juice. Juice gets mentioned a lot. Tea in the garden, too, and dogs. Chihuahuas largely. Truly – they all mention all of these things and they are all largely sober or so and they all seem to have the most beautiful clear skin. But it’s more than that I feel. They mean more than that. There is a charm to what they all say that is harder to spot but shouldn’t be missed.
“What’s going on” is this text I get from Robbie, a kid who comes from the ‘Bu and has lived here his whole life, listens to Trap music and feathers his hair.
I don’t know what to write back as I’m not sure what it means. I hit my friend up who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley but left not long after she should. She says it’s a phrase she attempts to use less now that she lives in Chelsea and has done so for some odd 15 years, because it suggests nothing and solicits no response. That no one is doing much of anything at all, or maybe it’s the tone, too she says. Too quintessential. Too up at the end. It certainly isn’t, “the start of something,” I am told. So I write back, “not much,” irrespective of my literal life. My friend says she would normally say, “just chillin” or “nada,” the later of which literally translates to nothing. I would have thought it meant, “no dice”. You see, it’s the little things to learn.
For those that have already made it this way, or perhaps have never left, Instagram tells me they are up to these things: homemade tattoos of scrawl that reads, “I thought California would be Different”, outfits built on odd socks and sandals, Chet Baker and flaxseed pancakes. “I’m around,” they say to one another when plans get made. “Hit me up. I’m round.” They are buying in bulk. They are working on personal projects. They go swimming daily. Plus there is that sweetness in the sky don’t forget. There are sprinklers at night that chirp like some sort of lullaby. It’s true that sometimes people wear cowboy boots here still – they drink Venti capps still also it seems, and the radio is still relevant. But it’s more than that. They do things here they never would have the time to do anywhere else. Think up things here the brains never seem to create in more hectic environments. Plus the trees, the trees and the ocean make it always, make everything always, a-okay here.
I’ve heard about this woman Lissy who runs a spot called Rag Mart and sells dead stock corduroy pants. I drive up North Fairfax. Google maps and the GPS are both talking to me and somehow I still expect to get lost because I always feel lost in LA. The mart is a strip mall number with a lot of peyote paraphernalia and some Dead Head stuff. I buy some Palo Santo incense to burn and a Ziggy t-shirt, and some too short Levis with a flare. I dunno. It feels right. Thematic maybe, but right once again.
I meet up with Jessie at Jones’s on 3rd because she likes the house chicken dish. Jessie is 19 now and goes back to the beach on her summer breaks to see her mom, 3 dogs, chickens and her therapist. I ask about her life, “How’s life?” I say.
“What is life?” she says back. She always says that as well as “cuz,” “chill” and “bitches be like…” – as the standard response in her dialogue to really any topic at hand. She says “good vibes” a lot too. And she means it. She is my go-to for observations on this resurgence of 2014 “riot grrrl” stuff where soft focus sells, Rihanna is very relevant and American Apparel is particularly helpful in one’s daily style out sessions. Largely she lets me know she has few friends aside from her pets, and regardless of the conversation at hand, everything is always The Best. Sometimes The Worst, but mostly The Best. I wonder if perhaps Bret Easton Ellis’ podcasts about twitter and the plight of genuine dialogue due to hyperbole is right. I started to follow Ellis on Instagram largely for his posts that read, “Le Brea, 11:10 Tuesday night” accompanied usually by an image of a dead dead street and his minimal filter usage. Aside from that, he doesn’t say much else but maybe not much else is needed.
Spending time in LA could lend oneself the illusion that all-day errand running, fedoras on waiters, Arnold palmers and stars you can actually see in the sky, ones you can practically paint on your hair, are of the norm. It builds routine that is particular. One that is reclusive. It goes like this: I don’t set an alarm. I don’t talk out loud much at all really. In fact, I never would answer if it rings, the phone. I run my errands like it’s a full-time dream job. Vitamins. American Spirits. Sabbath. Hand out the window, I am oddly reflective. Normally I don’t have time to think about where I once was. Here, memories feel like cement and one is almost encouraged to reacquaint oneself with what once came before. Roy Orbison for when I drive up the canyon and talk to myself about what I should have said or what I will do. Roy Orbison for when I’m remembering. Internal dialogue is rife this far West. The bougainvillea and birds and the light, that special special light almost make it a prerequisite.
Later I meet Alana and Zee Zee at Sushi Park on Sunset for an alcohol free meal – as they all seem to be here – and then at 10pm I get a pedicure at Stylin Nailz below, where women in workout gear talk about calories and Soul Cycle. There’s a man in there, too. I’ve never seen a man getting a pedicure anywhere else but in LA, they are always in there. Many men in Los Angeles I get told by two separate sources, are largely music video grinders, or actors, or some amalgamation of both. I spot Adrien Brody at Whole Foods and Beck in Erewhon’s buying macrobiotic and Helena Bronham Carter one lunch at the Chateau eating a taco.
“Are there any sexy ladies out here tonight CALI”
I go to see Beyoncé and Jay Z play out in Pasadena one night courtesy of a friend of a friend of a friend and J sings this line a few times over. I am sat next to a girl who goes by Kitty and is talking about frozen yoghurt for dogs, shoe lifts and the joys of crying when B, her spirit animal, sings straight. “It’s a lot,” she says over the fireworks, backup dancers and smoke machines, and she is right. But somehow it isn’t too much. We pass a spot on the hill on the way back whose billboards reads DREAM CENTRE next to a neon cross and some palm trees and I wonder who’s seen that sign and believed it here in these hills. I wonder if I believe it. Dream On, Dreamy.
“What’s going on?” I start using it now in my dialogue the more time I’m here. I don’t know how it made it in there, into my everyday vernacular, but normally I say it just in replace of “Hi,” which right now, is somehow, too much to the point. Every day could be like the one that came before it and every day I seem to see the beauty in this more. I find ideas come to me more, they sort of swim up, and this softness, the fuzz around the edges of this city, somehow brings things to light.

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