I can’t believe it’s officially PUB DAY. It’s been a long, winding, wonderful road writing this book, and I can’t wait to finally share it with you. To celebrate the publication, I put together a book club kit with Penguin that includes a Q&A, playlist, map of Hadley, California (see above), and my guacamole and sangria recipes. Check it out HERE and happy reading!
One of my favorite bookstores in the world is easily Oakland’s Book/Shop. Owner Erik Heywood sells a rotating selection of unique titles along with bookcases, tote bags, and artwork in a beautifully designed space tucked down an alleyway. It’s pretty much a bibliophile’s dream (as is their Instagram feed).
When the hubs and I were visiting last fall, Erik kindly asked us to contribute a short film to Book/Shop’s inaugural the Book Was Better® Film Festival. The rules were simple: make a short film based on a chapter of a book. We chose Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, specifically the conclusion to the book, and gave ourselves the challenge of shooting and editing it all in a single day. We wanted to capture the feeling of being solitary in nature while also highlighting one of our favorite secret groves hidden in the hills above Los Angeles. Take a look at the finished film below!
“I used to be a miserable wretch but I realized this was an idiotic waste of time.”
Ripped apart by sunshine with the sky pouring down her throat, she was a fire-breathing hero of women, of writers, of speakers and preachers and people so ignited by life they had to spew it from the lung rafters. Maggie Estep is an inspiration to me—as she was to many young women of the ’90s—and to anyone desperate to throw their own words against the concrete. Because of her, I sought safety and solace in coffee shops, found catharsis in shouting ill-formed words of youthful vengeance to caffeinated strangers, and never once questioned the pervasive rage of my gender.
We were celebrating a birthday at a crowded bar in Los Feliz. Somehow the conversation veered towards the end of 2013, and somehow we got on the subject of kittens and kale. Call it momentary meme-ory loss or the fact that two of us had just adopted rescue kittens, but when the words KITTENS & KALE poured forth from our collective, wine-stained lips, little light bulbs went off.
I spent a good portion of the glorious nineties tooling around Austin, Texas, in a car named after a Star Wars character. When not speeding off to study at all-night diners, I made repeated weekly visits to Waterloo Records. It’s weird to remember those days before iTunes, pocket libraries, and unlimited streaming. Checking out new music took actual work. It meant researching bands in newspapers and magazines, standing at a listening station waiting for a melody to decimate you, or taking a chance on a band simply because you liked their album cover design.
My favorite days were always the ones involving joy ride listening sessions through the sun blistered Hill Country, bluebonnets and live oaks waving along to whatever soundtrack fit the mood. Though the music always changed—and could be anything from hearty sing-a-longs involving Alanis Morissette to respective silence during a complex Built to Spill opus—the experience of finding, digesting, and communally sharing new tunes was much more time consuming than it is today. I’m not saying I prefer one way over the other (and I can’t imagine not being able to stream whatever I want, whenever I want), but there are pros and cons to both.
Because it was Austin, and because it was the 1990’s, I had friends who were in bands. One of them was Evan Dickson of Hidden Speaker, an enjoyably laconic and lyrical alternative to Pavement (though I hope he doesn’t throttle me for typing that comparison). Evan lives in Los Angeles now and is a writer/editor for Bloody Disgusting—when not penning his own screenplays—and he also still writes music. His former bandmates comprise The Octopus Project, a fantastic instrumental outfit who are also recent Sundance Jury Award recipients for scoring the film Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. When Evan recently completed a new batch of songs born out of self-described “procrastination time,” the band reunited to record Wet Recluse, which is now available on iTunes. Continue reading…
One of the pleasures of living in Los Angeles is the close proximity to nature. I still can’t get over the abundant hiking trails dotted with yellow wildflowers or the occasional coyote sighting. After growing up in the desert—where I painted rocks or spoke to silent cacti—and after years in New York City where I saw many a fire escape garden wither in the grey heat, I decided to resurrect my nonexistent green thumb. Luckily, the Book Stand pop-up shop at the Hollywood Standard was offering a plant workshop devoted to kokedama, aka the art of Japanese hanging gardens. If you’re imagining Scarlett Johansson stumbling upon a languid flower arranging class in a high-end Tokyo hotel while an Air soundtrack magically tinkers in the ether, you’ll understand how I saw myself in this situation. Sadly, I’d mistaken kokedama for ikebana, but I was still intrigued. Continue reading…
“One does their work for the people, and the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is. You don’t do your work and say, ‘I only want the cool people to read it.’ You want everyone to be transported or hopefully inspired by it.” —Patti Smith