Sunday, October 20, 2019

5 things i love right now

1. this song by habibi, "siin"

have you ever heard a song from years ago that you somehow missed back then, and you feel extremely upset and cheated that you lived without it for so long? a perfect example is this track, which i heard for the first time a few weeks ago on (where else?) WMBR's breakfast of champions. the lyrics are cheeky, but also pretty real and kinda dark and it just hits the spot for me, pun totally intended.

2. this new show, modern love 

it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that i've read at least 100 new york times "modern love" essays. mostly because i love the column, and the rest because i was doing research on the tone and themes in preparation write my own a few years ago. the result was "standing at shows with boys," which was kindly rejected by daniel jones, the editor who still reads every single submission. it ended up finding a home at the bigger picture and the response i received was wonderful though, so it's all good...and i'm getting the itch to try again!

anyway, i also religiously listen to the podcast, so i'm just a big fan all around. for some reason, i was a little wary about watching the show because i wasn't sure how these beautiful essays would translate. but two minutes into the first episode and i was absolutely hooked. i'm the type of person who, for better or worse, knows if i like something (or someone) immediately—clothes, dates, houses, music, movies, and TV shows—and between the filming style and script, this show makes me feel so warm and fuzzy and happy. i'm three episodes in and i never want it to end! i've also cried at all of 'em.

as the NYT themselves put it, "modern love, when it works, provides the kind of soothing comfort supplied by an inviting armchair, a warm fire, or a mug of hot tea on a chilly night. it’s the TV equivalent of a hand-knit cardigan or an instagrammable latte; a mood of transitory wistfulness appears to be the goal, not some chest-thumping artistic statement about Life." my favorite type of art!

3. these combat boots i bought a couple weeks ago

i am not nor have i ever really been a shoe person. but, speaking of knowing immediately what i like, i literally fucking raaaaan at full speed to these across DSW upon spotting them and i've been wearing them pretty much every day since. i swear i've been waiting for them my entire life.

4. this insane house i walked by yesterday in portsmouth, NH that's for sale

i have absolutely no clue what's going on in here and i love it. only a cool $2.9 mil!

5.  this podcast, heavyweight

if you're a fan of reply all/this american life/mystery show-type podcasts, check this one out. half human interest, half mystery, host jonathan goldstein seeks to reconnect people with others from their past to find out what happened. my recent favorite was "becky and jo," about two sisters whose childhood babysitter suddenly disappeared one day and left them confused and worried.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

favorites from "the deleted years" of music

i meant to write this post weeks ago when it was more relevant,, man. last month, dave holmes wrote this interesting article about the period from 2003–2012 in music. more specifically, how the lack of streaming services like spotify and now-ancient technology of ipods have rendered so many of our favorite bands and songs from that time obsolete unless we happen to remember them.

fortunately, i'm like an elephant with this period of time in music and i will never forget any of my favorites. being able to listen to them again is another story, however. some of the original picks for this post (addison, yes dear, telecast, the sexy magazines) have nary a record of their mere existence, so i couldn't even feature them. i swear i didn't make them up! here are some of the best nearly-extinct remnants of the early aughts. may you find a new favorite song (because they still hold up), take a trip down memory lane, or both.
the colour

the colour is always the first group i think of when i think of the sound that defined this era in music. strokes-y, moody, slightly britpoppy, mod, and danceable. i must have listened to their EP hundreds of times back in the day and rediscovering it every so often brings back such specific and fond memories. so glad that someone uploaded it to youtube, because it’s not on spotify. “out and about” was my go-to jam back then, but i’m finding that i appreciate “mirror ball” more now. 


i still have no clue how i ever even heard of this very short-lived brooklyn band, but it probably involved myspace stalking to some degree. their entire i was born at night EP is such a solid collection of melodic, raw, angular indie rock, with the above tune “house of cats” being my absolute favorite. 

the redwalls

proving once and for all that if it’s a retro-sounding band that involves brothers, i’ll *most likely* be onboard, the redwalls were a beatles-esque quartet from chicago i was deeply into for like six months. i recently had the brilliant idea to check and see if pitchfork ever reviewed their album, and sure enough, they gave 'em a very specific 3.6 and called them "60s pop fetishists." still slinging the same exact jabs 14 years later, eh? expand your fuckin’ vocab, ya nerds! this is my favorite track, but the whole album is a fun, lighthearted listen.

living things

also brothers! why these guys never made it big is still kinda baffling to me, but i probably listen to both this song and their other very minor hit, “bom bom bom,” at least once a week. straight-up, bad-ass, strutting rock ’n roll.

thunderbirds are now!

high-strung, mid-2000s dance rock at its finest. they also had some great song titles, including “better safe than safari” and “enough about me, let’s talk about me.” this song is a freaked-out treasure!

robbers on high street

so, this was the band that sounded a lot a lot A LOT like spoon. but, instead of launching into another one of my rants where i wonder for the 100th time why people absolutely lose their shit over derivative bands, i’ll just say (one more time for the snobs in the back) that i doooo nooooot caaaaare! riddle me this: i like spoon. why on earth wouldn’t i like a band that has different songs that sound very similar to spoon’s?? refusing to like a band “on principle” or for “philosophical reasons” is truly the dumbest shit i’ve ever heard. i feel like i’m taking crazy pills. long story short: i kind of lost interest in them after the first album, but the first album is so good! i still listen to it regularly.

the fictions

omg, i miss the fictions so much and there is absolutely no trace of their songs on the internet aside from this one—at least i have a bunch of songs on my old laptop. sunny, LA indie pop with a cheeky sense of humor (they literally had an innuendo-filled song called “the handjive” which included the lyrics “can i get a handjiiiiive, can i get a handjiiive from you?” also, it was soooo weird—except not really because this is my life we’re talking about, after all—like 10 years ago i was watching sixteen candles and tweeted my favorite line from the movie, “sofa city, sweetheart.” and then a one-man band called sofa city sweetheart saw it and we became internet friends….and then i realized HE USED TO BE IN THE FICTIONS! the universe is absolutely wild, folks.


boston’s own!! my memories are choppy because it’s been so long, but i remember that the lead singer worked at the emerson bookstore (where i went to school) and i was buying my books and freaking out because i was so into them at the time. and then i don’t really know how it transpired, but my friend and i hung out drinking warm beer with them in their van one night in front of bill’s bar, and one of the band members played this crazy song called “i do dream you” by an italian band, jennifer gentle, which i still love? it’s all a blur at this point, honestly. this song rules though.

sahara hotnights

is there a band that still makes music that sounds exactly like sahara hotnights' 2004 album kiss & tell? because i've been looking and i can't really find it. it's garage rocky, it's power poppy, it's vaguely swedish...which makes sense because that's where these lovely ladies are from.

the kinison

thiiiiis is how you do post-hardcore. the kinison always struck me as very dark, but something about them was so compelling to me after my friends and i happened upon them at warped tour in 2004. screaming is usually hit or miss for me, but it just really works for them, i think in part due to the catchy choruses.

the star spangles

best CD i ever bought at wal-mart. i remember thinking they were british because...don't they seem british? they're just new yorkers, though. i'm a sucker for anything reminiscent of '77 punk, and their debut album bazooka!!! is a hard-hitting, punchy collection of tunes that still hits that spot for me.

the mooney suzuki

so underrated and so much fun! i'd much rather a band be unapologetically silly, bombastic, and over the top like this than dreadfully boring and bland. taking yourself seriously is for squares and bumps on logs. plus, "turn me on and turn me up and turn me loose?!" pure poetry. I. AM. ALIVE. AND. AMPLIFIIIIED!


and speaking of over the first introduction to this band was at a free concert in 2006 at vassar college, when they inexplicably opened for talib kweli, and it still stands out as one of the most memorable live performances by a lead singer I've ever seen. vocalist chantel claret absolutely owned the stage, and at one point brought a random dude from the audience up and stripped him down to his skivvies for their song "take off your clothes." it was funny, it was kinda sexy, it was totally wacky, and i loved it. i feel like she also rode a toy pony at one point, maybe? good stuff. fun fact: she went on to play mickey's friend shaun on the netflix show love.

rock 'n' roll soldiers

if there's a better lyric than "we're the cold hand slidin' down your warm shirt," i don't want to hear it. okay, there are probably better lyrics, but that's a darn good one. i'm pretty sure that during the summer of 2005, i got into my car after every awful 5am-11am shift at dunkin' donuts and cranked this tune via mix CD for the 10-minute ride home. i was a motherfuckin' rock 'n' roll soldier ringing up crullers and coolattas, man!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

ceviche all day: a week in peru!

so, peru was amazing and perspective-changing and beautiful and i had a wonderful time, but first things first: fuuuuck american airlines and fuuuuuck miami international airport for ruining the beginning of my trip! i think i cursed myself by mentioning to my seatmate on the way from boston to miami that i was two for two in terms of awful experiences at MIA.

long story short: i got to miami at 11am and my flight to lima was supposed to leave at 3:45pm. they boarded us on the plane, made us get off because the AC was broken, started boarding us again, stopped, then proceeded to delay the flight countless times for SEVEN HOURS with excuses ranging from "they're cooling down the plane" to "they're replacing the cockpit seat." at one point, this elderly dude sitting near me at the gate goes, "i'm an old man. i've seen a lot. i've never seen so many lies!" LOL.

during this time, i also spotted two other people from my tour group by their luggage tags, so we quickly bonded and commiserated together. we were told we were finally leaving at midnight and—i shit you not—at about 10:45, they go "folks, we have a brand new plane, we have a pilot, and we have flight attendants. we're just looking for a first officer. once we get an update on that, we'll let you know." at this point, we're all like....this is an absolute joke, right? we're being punk'd, right? RIGHT?! two minutes later: "ladies and gentlemen, this flight is canceled."

picture being at an airport gate for nearly eight hours with ~200 other people, delirious, upset, and tired, and finding out you're not getting to where you're trying to go anytime soon for no discernible reason at 11pm. people were legit SCREAMING—like, to the point where people were recording the pandemonium. it was truly hell. we all had to stay overnight in miami because AA couldn't rebook us on a flight until 5:30pm the. next. damn. day. at least they gave us a $12 "meal voucher" which covered half a stick of gum!

funny enough, i had written a blog post for my side travel content writing gig about the wynwood walls in miami just a few months ago and was like "huh, sounds like a cool place. maybe i'll make it there someday!" little did i know, that day was coming way sooner than i expected! it was a cute way to kill some time.

anyway, my flight to lima left on time that night, but that wasn't the end of it. because our group had already flown to cusco, the next destination, we slept for 3 hours and had to hop on another flight at 3:30am from lima to catch up with them. but we did it, dammit. and then the fun began!


we kicked things off with a sightseeing tour of the historic city sites:

the convent of santo domingo

sacsayhuaman (which, yes, is pronounced "sexy woman")

i didn't really have any major issues with the altitude, probably because i was paranoid and had been taking chlorophyll supplements twice a day beginning the previous week, but hoo boy. at 12,000+ feet, you climbed five stairs here and legit felt like you just ran a marathon.

we explored the city center a bit:

i also posed for the best picture i'll ever be part of in my life:

so i was cracking up at this today because it is the PERFECT example of everything looking better on social media. don't get me wrong, holding a baby alpaca is undoubtedly a highlight of my life and this was an amazing moment, but here's what you don't see:

-the fact that i could barely keep my eyes open because i was so sleep-deprived and delirious
-that right after this, we went to lunch where i barely picked at my food because i had absolutely no appetite, went back to the hotel, slept for an hour, threw up from probably a combo of the exhaustion/roasted guinea pig i ate/shot of pisco my group convinced me to take at the chocolate museum, slept for another hour, and forced myself to go to dinner with the group, where we watched some traditional folk dancing:

fortunately, after i got one decent night of sleep, i was good as new!

pisac market

i was a little obsessed with this small village with a ton of vendors selling handicrafts, clothing, and souvenirs. this was what i pictured when i thought of peru—it was like stepping back in time. and, considering that there was not a functioning ATM to be found despite our best efforts, it actually WAS stepping back in time. i got a little magnet and a journal and an alpaca shawl for my mom.


these ruins were incredible! it was a great place to visit the day before machu picchu because i was like "how can machu picchu be better than this?" i mean, it was, but this was still awesome in its own right.

then we hopped on the perurail train to aguas calientes, which was cute. they gave us free coffee and a little brownie and the scenic views were amazing.

aguas calientes and machu picchu

we stayed overnight in the town of aguas calientes aka "machu picchu town," which solely exists as the gateway to machu picchu for tourists. kind of wild. i was actually really charmed by its narrow cobblestone streets and massive market. our hotel was also super cool, nestled into the hillside, and had great food and a bar where we had drinks before catching the train to the sacred valley.

but first...machu picchu! pictures truly don't do it justice, and every level you ascend just gives you a breathtaking new perspective. y'all know i'm not a super-huge nature/outdoorsy person, but it was absolutely stunning and worthy of a bucket list item designation.

my tour group

sidenote: this was my second tour with go ahead (and third with EF), and i was once again so incredibly impressed with the experience from beginning to end. in the midst of the disastrous flight situation, they were on the phone with us constantly to figure out the best course of action so we could catch up with our tour as soon as possible, and kept us posted the entire time. and, of course, the group itself was great. it's always an interesting mix of personalities and you instantly bond over the fact that you're americans navigating a new culture together (and in this case, an extremely different one). highly recommended!

there were 24 of us but this was some of the group! my cousin and her friend came along, too.
sacred valley

our hotel in the sacred valley was this cool converted monastery, and i loved it even though my room was kinda dungeon-like:

since it was in the middle of nowhere, it was its own little village with a restaurant, coffee shop, pizza place, etc.



you know i'll try just about anything food-wise and i'm all about adventurous eating, but real talk: aside from the ceviche in lima, peruvian food was decidedly not my jam. i think it mostly had to do with the specific meals i had, but a lot of the staples in their cuisine are sweet potatoes (ick), squash (blech), and lots of straightforward meat-and-rice-and-vegetable type stuff. the first night we got here, i was so over it and was craving a cheesy, saucy pizza. my prayers were answered in the form of a pie with chorizo, pepperoni, onions, and olives. paired with a glass of white wine, i was such happy lil' american.

then, the next night, our entire group got dinner at the fancy restaurant and i ordered bolognese lasagna, which was probably the best meal i had the entire trip. i like peruvian italian food, i guess? i also sinned and ate a bite of alpaca steak just to try it. it was delicious but i just couldn't bring myself to eat one of those adorable little dudes!

the one thing i did love was the country's signature cocktail, the pisco sour. knocked a few of those tasty guys back GLADLY.

sorry, back to the actual sites:

maras salt flats

salt for daaaays. it was cool.


more inca brilliance:


aside from machu picchu, visiting this village was probably my favorite part of the trip. we ate a really good lunch at this cute restaurant (i had chicken crepes and pork chops so again, not really super peruvian)...

and then headed to this weaving co-op. the women were so joyful, warm, and welcoming, smiling and dancing with us. they even gave us this delicious mint tea to sip as we watched their weaving and textile demonstration. the one that led it was hilarious! she held up a bone and asked us whether we thought it was a human or animal bone and goes "maybe my husband bone? maybe my mother-in-law bone?" bahahaha.

this adorable little girl started following me around with her basket of dolls and speaking to me in spanish and melted my heart! i somehow remembered the word for "dolls" (muñecas) and she was all "sí, sí!" and it was the cutest damn thing i've ever seen.



i couldn't leave peru without seeing at least *some* of lima, so i extended my trip by a day in order to explore. honestly, that was more than enough. the city was big, dirty, depressing, and uninspiring—and this was in miraflores, which is considered to be the bougie, hip district. :|

however, it was my mission to eat at maido, which is one of the 50 best restaurants in the world and the #1 sushi restaurant in the world. i got there before it opened, hoping to try my luck for a sushi counter seat because reservations for this place book up many months in advance.

i got there before it opened, and they ended up giving the one open seat to the man who walked in right before me, but i wasn't about to give up. they told me to come back in an hour, so i wandered around for a bit. it was during this time that i walked by a shop that was blaring "rude" by MAGIC! aka the worst song i've ever heard in my entire life and i actually burst out laughing, because i was like, "okay universe, i get that you're trying to fuck up my vibe right now but YOU WILL NOT SUCCEED." and it didn't! i came back and got a seat and had an amazingly delicious lunch and all was right in the world:

hasta luego, folks.