Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Weekend List: No. 13


The places we've lived: Harriet Hapgood's piece on rented housing got me thinking about the places I've lived in Manchester, and how each home is remembered in a way that neatly consolidates a moment in time. There was Royle Street for depression, nursing friends through break-ups and the nine days when the rain fell without mercy. Copson Street for movement; for loving cycling everywhere and learning that all I wanted from a night out was to just dance and dance and learning to feel okay about saying "no". Old Moat Lane for that wonderful, long back garden (grass! finally!) and feeling like we'd figured it out, ill-advised bedtime stories, gloriously cheap rent, and break-ins. And my current place for the novelty and freedom of living alone, of battling with prehistoric storage heaters and still experiencing the feeling (80% of the time) of a teenager who has been left home alone whilst parents holiday. (If I want I can eat dinner naked! I can invite men over! I can stay in, dig through my wardrobe and wear those gold heels I forgot about while dancing to disco records!) This afternoon my heart is swelling as I rifle through photographs from the last four years, crush on the people who I've shared them with, and, well- just generally avoid the Christmas shopping I should be embarking on instead of sitting on my favourite, cosy cafe. (Must I? I can't face another trip to a bookstore during which I sadly realise the books I've chosen are really for myself, and not other people at all.)

As this is most likely the last post I'll have time to write before Christmas, I hope everybody has a lovely break. It can be a wonderful time, and it can be a funny time too. Sometimes funny ha-ha, sometimes not. So don't feel hard on yourself if you're not feeling funny ha-ha; the holidays have a habit of making us feel obliged to have the best time ever, to communicate our past year with relatives in the most eloquent and least small-talkish way, and there's nothing like that sort of pressure to put the kibosh on chilled downtime. Is this all a little melancholic? It's not supposed to be, but maybe how that's come out, a projection of my own little personal post-it note reminder that Christmas will never regain that magic it possessed in childhood, but that going with the flow helps. I'm looking forward to returning home to Bristol, reading the books I didn't get time to read, sitting at the end of my Granny's bed, drinking fizz regardless of the hour, and crisp walks. Happy (almost) New Year!

Culture

"A story can be like a mad, lovely visitor, with whom you spend a rather exciting weekend." The Art of Fiction, with Lorrie Moore.

"My house, shared with four others, was fine at first...I mopped my wooden floors. Bought my own curtains. You can do a lot with twenty quid and a trip to Ikea... Our neighbours in the Residents' Association gave us a vintage sideboard that we filled with fancy-on-a-budget wine and we had people round to dinner. I made tacos!" Harriet Hapgood on calling your landlord every week, making a home from a rented house. 

Inside the iconic Habitat 67 housing complex.

Do artists have a responsibility to address social issues through their work? A double bill: A.O Scott's essay "Is Our Art Equal To The Challenges of Our Times?" and this resulting panel discussion.

Style

I know you care. Lindsay Lohan's Top Shelf for Into The Gloss.

Birdsong London, an online shop stocking products handmade by women's groups and charities.

Watching

Simon Amstell's Numb

Listening

Beats In Space radio show #757

David Sedaris: The Santaland Diaries goes live on Christmas Eve. Savour it with a mince pie, or whilst wrapping presents.

I Am Not Afraid by Owen Pallett. From the album I've been binging on all week. Part Sufjan Stevens, part In Rainbows, with hints of Perfume Genius and John Grant;


Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Weekend List: No. 12

A bumper Sunday edition of The Weekend List. This weekend has been a low-key one for me; yesterday was particularly marvellous, and for the first time in months I spent it lazily indoors, over at Nanon's, sprawled under a duvet on the sofa, with her mirroring me on the one opposite. With absolutely no intention of moving, silent laptop marathoning with a best friend, mince pies to hand, central heating on and an occasional grunt from one sofa to the other "I just watched the Beyonce film. I think I'm ready to be back in love with her." "Mm-hmm." "I've just remembered we ended last night dancing to Voulez Vous and feeling like the best dancers ever...Voulez Vous!" You need a Saturday like that every once in a while. Without further ado, some links to lose yourself in. Pop the kettle on, you know the drill.

Clockwise from top left: Little Chef, Lolworth, 2013, Benjamin McMahon; still from William Onyeabor: Fantastic Man, directed by Adam Bainbridge and Camilla Wasserman; Bushman's Cave; Eartha Kitt. 


Culture

This brilliant and bizarre interview with Michael Keaton in small-town Montana

Eartha Kitt on love and compromise

Good for the soul. New Yorkers roller dancing to William Onyeabor over at Nowness.com

Chris Hadfield's Reddit Q+A from when he was on the International Space Station. (Side note: I interviewed Chris Hadfield this week and it was everything I dreamed of and more. He's one of those people who is consistently fascinating and articulate- poetic, even. Even though he had this tired look in his eyes, of somebody who was essentially just working, and repeating the same ideas over and over and giving a lot of himself, it was amazing to speak with somebody who has been to actual space and looked at us all from above. You can listen to the very short interview here, just as long as you're patient with my early awkwardness and inability to get my words to match the ones in my head. Babysteps.)

Issa Rae, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Lena Waithe in conversation

Food

I Was A Teenage Little Chef Supervisor

Spine Trolley's utterly brilliant #soupreviews

Listening

It's that time of year when we all naturally take a look over our shoulders at the last 12 months and reflect on the things that we did, didn't do, and the things that we liked along the way. For me, this year was especially big on a-u-d-i-o, and so this is a bumper edition of some wonderful things I've listened to. After moving into my flat in June, and choosing to go without internet, I've spent a lot of my time demolishing podcasts and listening to the Radio. There have been epiphanies and sex advice with the Savage Lovecast whilst cooking dinner, wet eyes listening to the 2014 Reith Lectures, evening walks with my headphones and Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow and the Nerdette women, and hanging washing and then eventual apathy with Serial. There's also been a heap of new music I probably wouldn't have otherwise discovered after a new guy joined us at work and got us all listening to NTS. I also met Nija, who runs the wonderful In The Dark Radio nights here in Manchester, and who has introduced me to some wonderful radio documentaries, all in the setting of cosy, pitch-black rooms in pubs and back rooms around the city.

Singing Together with Jarvis Cocker 

No Man Left Behind; one of my favourite listens this year; a story of deep-cave diving and death in Bushman's Hole, one of the deepest freshwater caves in the world.

Japan Blues

Ann Powers' Top 15 albums of 2014; I relish lists like this, full of albums I've missed, or artists I've never heard of.

Shamir's Northtown EP

Shadow of Blood by Lena Platonos. Very sexy; how I imagine the soundtrack to Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin holidaying on a Greek island might sound.

Steve Gunn's Way Out Weather. Pretty country, fairly Bill Callahan, the sort of album that makes me wish I was a man, living commando in one pair of denim jeans, against an Annie Proulx landscape (but free of the death and angst), a few healthy repressions, and lots of horses to whisper whoahhh to. Start with this;



Snacks

The 10 best John Barry soundtracks

City of Sound

If you're looking for Christmas present ideas, my good friend Charlie is making and selling beautiful jewellery