Thursday, May 23, 2019

remembering the brendan leonard show




strange as it may sound, i credit some of my favorite musical discoveries to a bad wendy’s cheeseburger and a gang of dorky midwestern teenagers.


i don’t remember the exact date, nor what else i did that day (aside from having wendy's for lunch). i do remember, however, that it was the summer of 2003, that the weather was miserably hot and sticky, and that i'd somehow weaseled out of getting a "real" job by picking up a ton of babysitting gigs with children who pinched, tormented, and lied to me. retail probably would have been a field day. 

as babysitters went, i wasn't the greatest. sure, the kids loved me because i rapped them eminem instead of singing them lullabies and turned a blind eye and deaf ear when they traipsed around upstairs long after their bedtimes. but i also temporarily lost a pet rabbit, backed my car into a tree, and set off the smoke detector while trying to microwave popcorn. but, it got me by and allowed me to live a life of leisure for a few months.

anyway, there i was, feeling queasy on the couch at my parents' house after eating a tainted JBC. i started flipping through channels and stopped on ABC family (now called freeform or some bull). a group of awkward teenage boys who looked neither like TV stars—nor like they were acting—goofed around, ribbing each other and making bad jokes. it was weirdly, refreshingly unpolished, and if i didn’t know any better, i would have thought i was watching a cable access show. which, i found out later, was how the show began.

(this intro will forever give me ALL OF THE WARM FUZZIES and make me crack the biggest smile)


as it went to commercial break, i learned that i was watching the brendan leonard show. brendan, the son of journalist mike leonard, had parlayed his chicago cable access show into a summer slot on every teen’s favorite cable channel. like a more wholesome jackass with a quirky twist, the understated, down-to-earth nature of BLS quickly won me (and a small but dedicated legion of my peers) over. there were no special effects, the production was bare-bones, and the show relied completely on the cast members and skit concepts to make it all work. some ideas fared better than others, but it was always real, and almost always amusing; the “spatulas” bit remains one of my favorites:



the show aired every weekday for that whole summer, and many episodes had a “band of the day” whose songs provided the soundtrack for each skit. these included superchunk, jets to brazil, ted leo & the pharmacists, the promise ring, built to spill, and guided by voices. like, were these the coolest fucking high school kids ever or what? while i was familiar with a few of them prior to watching the show, every day presented the opportunity for a new, awesome band to enter my life—many of whom I still listen to frequently (arlo, the plus ones, and the long winters, to name a few). 

while many shows with great music have come and gone over the past 16 years, none aligned quite so perfectly with both my sense of humor and taste in music. it was sadly canceled after that summer (though the boys went on to do some hilarious shorts a few years later—including my favorite, "the gods of pogs," below), but the summer of the brendan leonard show will forever hold a very special place in my heart. thanks, wendy's!


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

100 things that make me ridiculously happy

at least once every year, i dig up this xojane article (now unlinked because xojane has gone bye-bye and deleted EVERYTHING, ugh) in which julieanne smolinski shares her happy list—stuff that always makes her smile and reminds her of the good in life, including "videos of pigs running" and "terrible magicians." i did a similar post a few years ago, but i felt like it was about time for a refresh (and now, i'm adding another 25 to my 75 from 2018). what would be on your list? share 'em in the comments!

1. bungalow houses
2. pizza parlor smell
3. this video that i took of drunk basics singing miley cyrus in a new orleans karaoke bar

A video posted by Kim Windyka (@kimmyloowho) on


4. the fact that there's a band called diarrhea planet and they're actually good (2019 update: RIP diarrhea planet!)
5. rapping A$AP rocky's "fuckin' problems" in full
6. summer thunderstorms
7. this banana cake i bake that's soooo gooood (2018 update: I CAN'T EAT BANANAS ANYMORE #tragic) (2019 update: I CAN EAT BANANAS AGAIN #blessed)
8. dunkin' fucking donuts
9. exchanging a smile with a cute stranger
10. the "daughter's hand" episode of beavis and butthead
11. the idea of getting a beavis and butthead tramp stamp
12. dancing like a ratchet ho to hip-hop in my apartment and sometimes in public
13. watching hip-hop choreography videos
14. going to weddings
15. saying "dishes are done, man" from don't tell mom the babysitter's dead, apropos of nothing
16. meeting delightfully weird people while traveling
17. sleeping in my own bed after traveling
18. sinbad's stand-up comedy
19. synchronicity
20. tilt-a-whirls
21. a first kiss that gives me the tingles
22. when multiple friends send me hanson-related content at the same time because they know how much i love them
23. the song "move, bitch" by ludacris and mystikal
24. tacky thrift store t-shirts
26. finishing the crossword
27. skateboard vert competitions
28. my friend's apartment in portland, maine that's straight out of the '90s: (2018 update: he no longer lives here #tragic)


29. kurt vile's wakin' on a pretty daze on vinyl
30. jackass
31. coolidge corner in brookline
32. american eskimo puppies
33. butcher-block countertops
34. this live performance of "get found" by bass drum of death



35. remembering that my old neighbor had ass-length blonde dreadlocks
36. pretty much every line from she's the man
37. buying apple cider donuts in the fall
38. a good cross-breeze in my apartment
39. witty text banter with a guy i really like
40. harry styles
41. porch swings
42. rompers
43. jaren johnston's voice, goddamn:



44. vacation anticipation
45. pickford in dazed and confused
46. jake kiszka from greta van fleet, who sort of looks like pickford in dazed and confused, doing guitar solos behind his back (this was actually from the show i was at last summer and i still can't deal):



47. eating brunch and reading trashy magazines at the counter at trident booksellers on newbury street
48. the sweet vanilla cinnamon candle from anthropologie
49. the strokes from 2001-2004
50. when my family and i drunkenly dance around my aunt and uncle's kitchen island with utensils at almost every gathering
51. bars that have big buck hunter
52. 2 chainz "most expensivest shit" series (and 2 chainz in general)
53. chocolate-covered gummy bears
54. nonstop flights
55. slightly trashy, old-school carnivals
56. the rolls with honey-cinnamon butter from texas roadhouse
57. the huji app, which makes every photo look like it's from a 1998 disposable camera:


58. unexpectedly seeing a ladybug
59. youtube tarot readings, even if they're bullshit
60. david spade's stand-up/all of his appearances on ellen/david spade in general:



61. the cold brew from caffe vita in new york
62. seeing bunnies in my neighborhood
63. the dimmer in my dining room
64. boho bands, the best bracelets ever:


65. MANCHEGO CHEESE
66. root beer floats
67. salem, ma around halloween time
68. 2-for-$20 woodsy vanilla-esque victoria's secret fragrances that are always baaasically the same—just with new names—but still delightful (rockin' "bare vanilla" rn)
69. the "joyful, joyful" scene in sister act 2
70. the way james spader's character says "you're a bitch" with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth in pretty in pink
71. when people actually check out my music recommendations and like them!
72. the hard times and reductress headlines
73. petting and/or saying hi to strangers' dogs
74. when someone i think is especially cool follows me first on instagram/twitter OR likes my photo/tweet
75. the gingerbread cottages on martha's vineyard
76. ice t's tweets:





77. a really well-made whiskey sour
78. scentsational's midnight woods candle
79. bright, colorful nail polish
80. ALPACA CONTENT/ALPACAS IN GENERAL:




81. hanging plants
82. seeing old photos of my parents and their friends looking incredibly fucking cool
83. PORCHFEST
84. a friday night with no plans after a long week, when i get to curl up on the couch and eat sushi or pizza and watch a movie i've been wanting to
85. being that beautifully perfect level of drunk or stoned
86. the *idea* of living in a big, colorful, old house in somerville in my 20s with a bunch of roommates that all got along and danced around the kitchen and hung out together drinking wine on a big deck with twinkly lights (this never happened, i just love thinking about it because i'm bizarre and like, how fun would that have been?)
87. finding a really cool vintage item that fits me perfectly
88. exposed brick
89. the illustrations in one of my favorite childhood books, gobble and gulp (mostly because they are of desserts):



90. when i randomly remember an obscure song i loved that's not on spotify and locate it elsewhere on the internet
91. adorable "how we met" stories
92. the scene in lords of dogtown where emile hirsch is dancing to "fire" by jimi hendrix/lords of dogtown in general because it is perpetually my summer mood:



93. jewelry that involves a chunky gemstone
94. playing air guitar to the solo in avenged sevenfold's "bat country" because it riiiiips
95. this quote i saved from a now-defunct folkloric advice column, ask baba yaga, because it's the best, most beautiful dating advice i've ever read:


Only a fool would welcome a soiled table of crumbs & empty bottles. Let them, those who would feast, bring jugs & baskets, bring fruits & goodly onions. Yr table is not for the vagrants or the doomed. ; ( Yr table is for the sweet dark wine & the tender herbs & a good eye winking at you above a full glass. Wait for the guest who carries fresh meats, & until then, eat yr fine soups by yrself, & open the windows so the birds may come in yr house & charm yr table with their beauty.


96. looking up from my phone/book every day on the t when we go above ground in between kendall and charles MGH to see the gorgeous view of boston (even when it's raining)
97. joey ramone eating a chicken wing in the back of a convertible in rock 'n roll high school:



98. cities with magical/secret/charming alleys
99. the phrase "stone fox"
100. cheeseburger + fries + milkshake

Thursday, April 11, 2019

5 things i love right now

you know, aside from "old town road."

1. this new album by the drums, brutalism



more than any other musical element, a great, infectious melody can completely make a song for me. and the latest record from jonathan pierce aka the only remaining member of the drums is chock-full of 'em. its dreamy, surf-y vibe is totally perfect for spring. apparently, many longtime fans don't like the new sound...which, of course, means i do. :) my favorite tune so far is the breezy "626 bedford avenue."

2. this movie, the boy band con


as a bona fide "old millennial," the boy band craze was an integral, amazing, wonderful part of my life from ages 11 through 32. i mean, uh, 16. i loved backstreet (nick!), 'n sync (ehh, JC i guess), o-town (dan!), LFO (brad?)—basically everyone except 98 degrees because they were too vanilla for my edgier pop palate and by that i mean they had zero songs with bizarre, heavy-handed sexual innuendo. lame!

i digress. i obviously had to watch the tell-all about the man behind it all: the late, disgraced, ponzi-scheming mogul lou pearlman, so i signed up for a youtube premium trial and canceled it immediately after viewing. honestly, i can pinpoint the moment back in high school when my friend molly and i knew he was creepy as fuck: during a scene early on in making the band when he said "papa's here to protect." shudder. we started saying it apropos of nothing because we thought it was as funny as it was gross, but...ugh.

there wasn't much it revealed that i didn't know before, but the nostalgia of the TRL clips, ashley parker angel's surprisingly insightful commentary, and aaron carter looking ROUGH while defending lou made it worth watching, especially if you're a woman of my certain age.

3. this clothing company, stoned immaculate


okay, so this brand showed up in my instagram feed as a #sponsored post and i felt personally blessed and attacked at the same time. blessed because every single item of clothing is extreeeeemely my shit. their tagline is "vintage inspired woman’s clothing for the dazed & confused," for god's sake! attacked because big brother is clearly watching and because every single item of clothing is at least $100. blaaaah.

4. this now-defunct podcast, mystery show


the great poet lil uzi vert once said, "all my friends are dead." well, all my podcasts are dead. it never fails that my favorites always get canned after a short while (FOUND, why oh why) or, by the time i discover them, they're long gone. such is the case with this one, which came recommended by my friend sarah last week. i dug into the first episode on monday and binged all six by wednesday.

the premise is simple: host starlee kine solves kinda quirky human interest mysteries (i.e. a writer whose obscure book only sold 1,000 copies total sees a paparazzi picture of britney spears holding the book and confusion/intrigue ensues).

my favorite episode, however, was about this badass belt buckle a child found in the street—pictured above. yes, that's a toaster, and a frying pan with eggs, and the name "HANS JORDI." but who's hans jordi, and what was the deal with this belt buckle? you gotta listen to find out, folks. probably the most entertaining podcast episode i've listened to since the reply all "long distance" one. and really, all of the episodes are incredible.

5. this new chocolate-cherry cold brew from dunkin' donuts




i've explained before that i'm one of those weirdos that always tries new food and beverages born out of desperation for product innovation at corporate headquarters. they're almost always short-lived, being discontinued mere weeks or months after they arrive. so i've learned to act fast.

my latest foray is the chocolate-cherry cold brew from dunkin' DONUTS (i will never stop adding the donuts and nobody will stop me). it's basically just cold brew with some sort of "natural" syrup in it, but it is delicious, and the fact that i can drink it black is absolutely huge. now, i wouldn't say it necessarily tastes a ton like chocolate or cherries...it's subtle. refined, even. jk, that's a stretch. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

things i want to go back in time to see



while watching rock 'n roll high school last weekend (why didn't anybody tell me it was on hulu?!) i started thinking for the millionth time about how it would have been so cool to see the ramones live in their heyday. and then i started thinking about the other things/events/places i would have loved to go back in time and experience, midnight in paris-style. here's my short list:

bands/artists i'd see:
  • dead boys—specifically, this performance of my favorite punk song of all time at CBGB in 1977, in which stiv bators blows his nose in a piece of bologna and eats it:

  • nirvana
  • alice in chains (the o.g. lineup, obviously, with layne)
  • blind melon
  • MC5:

  • the stooges
  • the beatles
  • elvis
  • new york dolls
  • the kinks
  • prince
  • jimi hendrix
  • led zeppelin (watching this at least once a month on my apple tv in the dark is as close as i'm going to get.):

  • oasis
  • queen

historical stuff:
  • basically everything in the bible to see what REALLY happened 
  • the first olympics in greece
  • the first thanksgiving 
  • an original shakespearean play
  • the boston tea party/boston in colonial times

  • the signing of the declaration of independence
  • one of marie antoinette's parties 

  • a speakeasy in the '20s
  • this place that my mom used to go to as a teenager in syracuse in the '60s that i think about ALL THE TIME, called the "dingaling lounge." every table was numbered and had a phone, and the whole idea was that if you spied a cute guy/gal at table 6, you could ring them up and start chatting. brilliant! genius! obsessed!
  • the original woodstock
  • haight-ashbury, san francisco during the summer of love in 1967

  • studio 54 
  • the isabella stewart gardner museum heist
  • the sunset strip in the '80s 

if you had a time machine, where would you go and what would you do?



Saturday, March 2, 2019

3 days in charleston, south carolina



hey, y'all! i just got back from "the holy city" aka charleston, south carolina on wednesday after spending a few days basking in the sunny, springlike weather and eating lots and lots of biscuits. i'd been to charleston once before, nearly 11 years ago with my family. but as much as i love 'em, my parents are decidedly NOT into food (nor historic houses) like i am. plus, it was really hot and we were cranky and i was 21 and we ended up getting into a huge fight and eating at chick fil-a in the citadel mall at one point. suffice to say, this solo trip was a redemption tour of sorts, and i was bound and determined to experience the city as it was supposed to be experienced. i think i succeeded! 

(p.s. because i'm a photo freak and took like a billion more pictures than were reasonable for this post, i threw all of 'em up on flickr.)

DAY 1:

my flight was uneventful, save for the moment that i helped the couple next to me solve a crossword puzzle clue because i was eavesdropping and couldn't resist. 😂 upon my arrival, i got a lyft to my TINY HOUSE airbnb. sorry for the caps but i'm still excited about it. just look at iiiiit!





pretty sweet, right? this also marked my first airbnb experience where i had the whole place to myself. i do enjoy staying with locals because you get to pick their brains about the area, but i was in the mood to do my own thing this time around. i will admit that i was less enthused at 3am on my third night when i had to pee and in my dazed state, was like "welp, this is it. this is how i die. trying to climb down this damn ladder while half-asleep because i wanted the *aEsThEtIc*."

the immediate neighborhood (eastside) could best be described as "in transition" (shuttered pawn shops and vandalized fast food places next to luxury apartments) and i wouldn't have felt comfortable wandering around there at night, but it was also two blocks from bustling, bougie king street with shops and restaurants, so it was hard to get a true gauge on the vibe and safety level as a visitor.  

anyway, once i dropped my stuff off, i walked up to leon's, an autobody shop-turned-popular-oyster-and-fried-chicken restaurant to begin my food odyssey.



as i sipped my rosé cider like a basic lil' bitch and chowed down on my fried chicken sandwich with slaw, pickles, and a side of cucumber salad (DOUBLE PICKLES!) i chatted with a sweet mom and her 20-something daughter who were vacationing from houston and about to head home. they gave me a bunch of great tips and were southern AF and i loved them.


post lunch, wandering commenced and i made it all the way into the historic district, drooling over cute houses/buildings and obsessing over the fact that i didn't need a jacket. oh, and listening to my official trip theme songs, "kick on" by sticky fingers and "tennessee" by the cadillac three.






at this point, i desperately needed to caffeinate AND charge my phone. enter city lights coffee, the '90s coffeehouse of my dreams (i'm convinced now that every city has at least one). the iced coffee was delicious and the atmosphere was lovely; i was honestly a bit surprised considering its location smack-dab in the touristy section of town.



took a quick walk along the waterfront, home of the iconic pineapple fountain...


and would you look at that? it's dinner time! as a party of one, i wasn't originally planning on making a reservation at husk, but i decided to take a look on opentable about a month ago and there was only one slot open before 9 (at 5:30!) so i jumped on it.


the restaurant is housed in a big ol' mansion, because charleston, and focuses on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients, because 2019. to start, i got the littleneck clams with beer broth, spring onion, baby fennel, dill, and fried bacon cornbread. then the waiter brought me these rolls with PORK FAT BUTTER and i swear i didn't know butter could taste so good. for my entree, i got the cornmeal dusted catfish with rice purloo, collard greens, preserved tomato, and shrimp bisque.


my meal was absolutely delicious—don't get me wrong, but i have to give it third place overall. the food in this city is just thaaat good.

an after-dinner drink was in order, so i popped into the gin joint, a high-end craft cocktail bar which had been recommended by several friends. i do believe it was my favorite of the trip, due to both my beverage (the "come one come all" with whiskey, banana, spiced pecan orgeat, sherry, and lemon) and the company—which included a goofy yet charming 20-something charlestonian who regaled me about his love life, and a woman who asked me to help her edit her hair extensions out of a selfie on her phone. mind you, i NEVER start these conversations. ever! i guess it's good to know that i apparently don't have resting bitch face?


and, because i didn't have to answer to anyone and i was tired, i bought a box of pralines from market street sweets at like 7:30pm and went back to my tiny house and climbed up to my lil' treehouse-ass lofted bed and watched the oscars while eating my pralines. pure. bliss. the perks of solo travel, bbs!

DAY 2:

i had made plans to take a morning walking tour of the historic district with free tours by foot. this company has tours all over the world, and gleni and i had a good experience with them in new orleans. if nothing else, i feel like walking tours are a great way to get context for the cool places you're seeing, and potentially allows you to meet fellow tourists as well.


but first, biscuits. callie's hot little biscuit is widely touted as the best around, and i'd have to agree. the place was the size of a shoebox, so i ordered two biscuits, blackberry and cinnamon, and scarfed them down at the little counter area before continuing on my way to the tour. now, i thought the flavor would just be infused into the biscuits or something. and it was. but there were also, like, blackberry preserves and some sort of sinful cinnamon cream in the middle of them. amazing. you crazy, callie!



the walking tour was fun and informative, and we saw a bunch of dope houses (including those of the eminently instagrammable rainbow row):




i had lunch at S.N.O.B. (that's slightly north of broad), a former warehouse that dishes out lowcountry grub. i was absolutely, positively craving a cheeseburger, so i went with the sea island beef sliders (with cheddar, special sauce, and pickles) and a side of broccoli and parmesan.



Y'ALL. i do not know how they made eating sliders and broccoli a religious and also sexual experience but good god in heaven, i will be thinking about this meal until the day i die. and it was still only my #2 of the trip! we're getting closer...


to work off the beefy goodness, i checked out the historic charleston city market, an awesome artisan/craft bazaar. i got this sweet marbled clay ring (which i briefly thought i lost when i was drunk on my last night and forgot that i'd put it in my pocket when i was washing my hands):


then, i set off to explore longitude lane, one of charleston's handful of magical, secret, charming alleys.


as i was snapping photos, this older man who was out in his driveway (because people actually live in this alley!) says, "so much pollen!" to me. i was like "well, i'm visiting from boston, so i'll happily take that over snow!" and he goes "boston? we have a home in little compton, rhode island!" and i'm thinking of course, you do, dude. of course you do. "welcome to chaaaahleston!" he drawled. i thanked him and wandered away before i asked him to adopt me.

 
next up was a guided tour of the nathaniel russell house, which was gorgeous. that spiral staircase, tho! my favorite room was the drawing room. can't you just picture being at a fancy party in here?


the weather was, once again, *chef's kiss*, so i took a stroll along the battery, a pretty promenade.


time for more coffee! bakehouse charleston was light and airy and beautiful (you can't really see in this picture, but they have a whole bookshelf back there).


on my way to dinner, i saw a little sign on the sidewalk advertising a record store around the corner. the record stop was pretty tiny, but had one of the best selections of used and new vinyl i've ever seen. now, if they could only get like, one vintage store in town...


okay, folks. if you go to one restaurant in charleston, i'd make it the darling oyster bar. the drinks are great, the food is amazing, and the vibe is fun and casual with a stylish retro flair.



 to drink, i ordered the "darling fashioned" (obvs) with evan williams black bourbon, bitters, charred cane syrup, and vanilla. and then...and then...the oyster spaghetti just done fucked me up. best meal. favorite meal. it didn't hurt that it was basically what i'd create if i were tasked with dreaming up a dish: house-made angel hair, bacon, celery root, caper, oysters, lemon, and breadcrumbs. goodbyyyyye everybody, i've got to go!


the evening ended with an expertly-made whiskey sour at warehouse, a big, industrial cocktail bar near my tiny house that i swore was playing music from my personal library: "gimme shelter," followed by ratatat, followed by "dancing in the moonlight," followed by spoon. into it.



DAY 3:

i grabbed a coffee and almond croissant the size of my head at kudu coffee & craft beer, which also had an excellent soundtrack of the stones and the kinks. charleston loves their classic rock!

because i get up criminally early even while on vacation, i arrived at the aiken-rhett house like 10 minutes before it opened and started chatting with this retired couple from georgia who were staying in a luxury hotel downtown and had arranged for a private tour of the house. i almost started laughing out loud as i put on the little headset for the self-guided audio tour, thinking "HELP ME, I'M POOR!"


while the nathaniel russell house was cool, i was absolutely overwhelmed by this one. not only is it preserved rather than restored—meaning that everything is in the state it was found—this is the only house that takes you through the slave quarters and tells you their stories as well. i actually started tearing up at one point. incredibly moving stuff, especially when you see the contrast of how the wealthy owners were living.



lunch was at the brown dog deli, where i ordered the cleverly-named "apple butter jeans" with turkey, ham, brie spread, bacon jam, apple butter, apple, and arugula. according to the receipt, my server was named meredith brooks, which prompted me to make a silly "bitch" joke via instagram story. thanks to everyone who appreciated it!

of all the cool buildings charleston has, i'd have to say the dock street theatre was my favorite. you can also go inside on most days to see the interior!



...there was a banana pudding milkshake at kaminsky's dessert cafe:


and a happy hour painkiller at the delightfully tropical cane rhum bar (sorry if i'm making anyone sick):



on the way to dinner, another whimsical alley pulled me in. philadelphia alley was straight-up dreamy:



poogan's porch was like, the only restaurant name i remembered from my last charleston visit, and i had it in my head that i needed to go there. as luck would have it, because it was the off-season, the whole menu was 40% off! i got anoooother old fashioned and the bourbon smoked chicken quarter with caramelized pearl onions, roasted mushrooms, red wine jus, collard greens, and grits.



the last evening's nightcap was at proof. i was intrigued by the knuckleball (old grand-dad bourbon, spicy coca cola reduction (?), orange bitters, and boiled pickled peanuts (?!) and it did not disappoint. they were playing the last good kings of leon album, because of the times, which just seemed SO RIGHT.

THE SPOON IS TO SCOOP THE LITTLE PEANUTS OUT

at this point, i was kinda sauced from all the bourbon in my drinks and chicken, so when the bartender asked me where i was off to next (presumably because he carded me and saw my massachusetts ID), i was like "i don't know, i'm staying in a tiny house!" hahahaha what the fuck is wrong with me. oof.



the next morning, i ended things right with a breakfast of shrimp etoufee and scrambled eggs at the famous hominy grill.



cut to three days later and i still don't think i'm really hungry. sorry, body! it was all worth it, though, because charleston was so lovely. the great thing is that i barely scratched the surface of all of the great places to eat and drink here...so i guess a return trip is in order.

addendum of assorted cute photos that are neither here nor there: