The Love List: May.

Ahoy, bangin’ babes of the blogosphere! I return, my body practically convulsing in exam period hysteria, to bring you another instalment of the Love List. Yes, it’s back! Like a nasty dangin’ flu you just can’t kick (or Arnie Schwarzenegger, for a much more pleasant analogy. BYO Austrian accent, of course).

It’s been a blustery, arctic month here in Melbhattan, what with winter drooling icily over the CBD, suburban backyards, faraway mountains, and often my Saturday night plans. Yet I’m pleased to report that despite said frosty temperatures, I have ventured outside the house on multiple occasions for an annual uni ball, drunken dumplings sessions, potluck dinners, spontaneous Brunswick adventures, walks along the Yarra and some Body Attack classes that are probably more aptly described as an exercise in self-inflicted torture. I’ve also been doing a shit tonne of online shopping this month because, hey, ASOS exists, and I possess about as much self-restraint as I imagine Tony Abbott would at a Speedo’s convention.

Song of the Month:

At the risk of sounding like a total bore, a ginormous chunk of May has been taken up by study; be it written assessment, textbook reading, or cramming ten million trusts cases. Like many, I float between background music while hitting the books, although certain artists definitely woo me into a productive frame of mind more than others. Key favourites are Bonobo, Bon Iver, London Grammar and some wonderful random classical music playlist I stumbled across via Spotify. But the holy grail of study music for me is definitely Grizzly Bear. This is for a thousand reasons, one being that their 2012 album Shields is the dictionary definition of perfection, another being that they are absolutely stupendous live (my housemate and I saw them in Stockholm, Sweden when I lived in Paris back in 2012 and I have never been the same since) and one more being that Ed Roste just generally takes the cake for the most awesome frontman on the planet (side note: check his Instagram. Nature porn on crack. Just on another level). So this month, although it’s a slight throwback, I’ve been all about Shields’ ‘Gun-Shy’; a quiet, unassuming track that just oozes cool and calm vibes.

Media-gasm of the Month:

The New Yorker is, and will always be, my biggest source of inspiration. Yes, it’s snotty and elitist, but the journalistic talent that rests between its pages is nothing short of genius. There are so many articles I want to link, because each feature just transports you to a whole other planet, usually about something that’s never even vaguely crossed your mind before. That’s one of the reasons I love this month’s ‘media-gasm’, Stephen Rodrick’s ‘The Nerd Hunter’. This article is all about Allison Jones, an American casting director who may not exactly trigger your memory at first, but is the guiding force behind the careers of everyone from Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and James Franco, to Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Wiig, and Aubrey Plaza. She’s also the mastermind behind casting the likes of Rainn Wilson as The Office‘s Dwight Schrute, Nick Offerman as Parks and Recreations‘ Ron Swanson, and, in a great touch, The Office’s Phyllis, who for years apparently worked as Jones’ casting associate and isn’t a trained actor (doesn’t that just make your heart burst?) Look, I think I’ve divulged enough already. If you’re a TV nut or just like learning about the entertainment biz, this read is right up your glorious media-gasm alley.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/06/the-nerd-hunter

Fashion Item of the Month:

Rejoice, all ye fellow fashionistas! Revel in the rare event that trainers are en vogue, even if it’s just for a few minuscule moments. In the midst of a property law-induced haze, I caved into buying these babies online, the Adidas Originals Superstar 80s DLX Trainers in White and Green (woah! What a mouthful). I am so far from being a sneaker person. A velvet slipper or fun pointed flat, sure, but runners? Not usually my jam. Still, to me these scream “Hi! I’m a sophisticated French tennis player from the ’60s!” and “How ridiculously comfy are my feet right now?!” They also yell, “Don’t you dare get dog poo on me!” and “What’s for dinner?!” but I’ve usually told them to be quiet by then.

image1xxl

Meal of the Month:

The Rochester Hotel, lovingly known as the Rochy, met a cruel fate early last year when it closed its grimy, beer-stained doors after a few difficult months. This Fitzroy pub is an absolute institution to my boyfriends’ friends and I, having spent countless dirty Saturday nights obscenely loose on its dance floor, and many a Wednesday howling with laughter at its famous Trivia evenings. We befriended the most amazing staff, flew paper planes down its sticky floors, took over the pool table, danced to sweaty bands upstairs, drank our weight in free cider jugs, and agonised over the meanings of the cryptic notes on its toilet doors. My boyfriend Michael even had a crack at their famous Clive Parma Challenge, where he attempted to chow down five chicken parmagianas stacked on top of each other with a serve of chips and salad – $30, and your money back if you finish it. Needless to say, much like the old Rochy we adored, Michael just didn’t make it to the end.

After many painful months standing by as the Rochy decayed into a boarded-up, heavily-graffitied, ghost hotel, I was beyond delighted when new owners began to breathe life into the pub we once called home. A few Friday nights ago, we ventured back to our beloved haunt to try its new incarnation, Miss Katies’ Crab Shack.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.52.09 pm
This is definitely not the first time someone has got crabs from the Rochy… ha! Oh, and this is my boyfriend. He will probably bombard me with embarrassed texts in T- 20 minutes when he reads this blog post and sees his photo here. Hi Michael! Say hi to Michael, internet pals! Bib aside, I promise he is 10/10 rad and awesome.

Feasting on their famous country boil of a ginormous crab, surrounded by potatoes, corn and Kransky sausages, we also ordered soft-shell crab sliders, beer, and salty chilled prawns, which were as delicious as they were fun to pull apart and devour. We didn’t go overboard on the ordering, because Michael had already tried the fried chicken with waffles, and their chilli cheese fries. Needless to say, they are apparently nek level and I experienced crippling food envy upon seeing them on fellow diners’ tables, so God help me I will be back before the month ends to try those too.

While the crab was mouth-wateringly good (once you eventually tore it apart), I really wasn’t there for the boil. Frankly, it was enough of an adventure just putting on our geeky plastic bibs, using such novel utensils, and seeing the space we worshipped transform into such an atmospheric, hipster seafood joint. Where were the sleazy Strokes fans liasing by the bar tables? Why can’t I smell that intriguing stank of grit, sweat and vodka vomit?!  The actual food at Miss Katie’s is probably about a 7.5/10: great fun when you’re in the mood for some quirk and a cheeky calorie hit, but perhaps one to miss when taking Mum and Dad out for a sophisticated birthday dinner (or looking to impress a first date without wearing a bib drenched in ranch dressing). Still, a place where the music rocks, the candles are lit and memories flood back of grungy dance floor raves, pool table successes and questionable life choices? That will bring me back, time after time.

Most Googled Topic of the Month:

Without a doubt, this has to go to the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. It only finished less than 24 hours ago, and thus the smell of smoke machine and Russian tears still lingers nostalgically in the air. This was the first year in history that Australia was allowed to compete, which is both insanity and the most incredible thing that has ever happened to this country, ever (too far?). Being a little too obsessed with this Europop glitter fest that basically entails fighting World War 3 through spandex and key changes, needless to say, this has been a hot topic for me this month. What’s more, having all round Best Person in the Universe Lee Lin Chin read the Australian votes just took it to a WHOLE other planet. Swedish winner Mans Zelmerlow was of course a standout, and Australia’s rep Guy Sebastian killed it (despite wearing a fedora, ew), but my favourite would have to be Estonia’s entry “Goodbye to Yesterday”, which is genuinely a seriously addictive tune I may quietly download later on this eve (hey, don’t hate the playa, hate the game, baby). I would link it, but let’s be real, these gifs are far more entertaining.

tumblr_inline_notzo63oN31sue6b8_500

tumblr_inline_nou1gyeopZ1sue6b8_500

tumblr_inline_nou10y7YS61sue6b8_500

Inspiring Person of the Month:

In light of this infectious Eurovision fever, how can I not give the title of most inspiring person of the month to Conchita Wurst, aka Tom Neuwith? The Austrian hosts jokingly called her the “Queen of Europe” at the final last night, but I’ve got to say, I quite seriously agree with that title. The impact of Conchita Wurst is something that deserves a whole other blog post of its own (one day soon I’ll write one!), but let’s just say this for now- what she has done for LGBTQI rights and stigma in Europe is nothing short of unbelievable. The tolerance and equality she promotes is so much more than a European karaoke contest or a big silver trophy, and the light she has brought to so many lives cannot be underestimated. Above it all, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing a person truly comfortable in their own skin (Also, just saying, wouldn’t you sell a kidney for a waist like that?! And the sparkly pink jumpsuit. #FLAWLESS).

tumblr_nor6oxlJ2Y1tbh64fo1_r1_500

tumblr_nou0szSFc01r3ecqno1_500

Note: Conchita holding the hand of Russian contestant and runner-up Polina as she nervous cried and freaked out as the votes were being read. Comforting someone so publicly even though the country they represent not only wants to censor you from their TV screens, but actually has laws that cripple your sexuality? Now that is class.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.53.16 pm

TV Show of the Month:

Orange is the New Black. I don’t even need to say anything else. Watched the entire thing in 10 days, without even a smidge of guilt. This show is seriously, seriously good. Go on, finish season two, so we can talk! Quiiick!

tumblr_nov2xo4VAe1r6snl9o1_500

Holy guacamole, what’s that? You got through that ginormous rambling post and have still hung onto the end?! Sweet Jesus, what a marathon. You deserve the largest M&M McFlurry I can find at 11.18pm on a Monday night for this kind of commitment. Second best to that, here’s a topless photo of the winner of Eurovision this year. I mean… what? How’d that get in there?

tumblr_inline_notsetoo4L1rfnk8i_540

You (and your ovaries) can thank me later.

An open letter to Facebook

Dear Facebook,

Thank you for asking how I’m feeling today. That’s really very sweet of you. You often seem to enjoy knowing what’s on my mind, so it’s about time I let it slip. How can I put this? Dear Facebook, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

I’ve just had my pesky wisdom teeth surgically yanked out in bloody Dracula-like frenzy. Safe to say that with hazy painkiller eyes and frozen peas permanently attached to my swollen cheeks, I have both literally and metaphorically sunk my teeth into the sickly hermit lifestyle. Nothing is spared. My hair is unwashed and permanently topknotted, I’m living in tragic nighties I’d be mortified for the Microsoft Word Paperclip to see me in, let alone actual humans, and the only social activity I entertain is either spending the arvo with Lorelai Gilmore or patting my dog, who frankly enjoys digging up mouldy Smackos out of the gardenias more than he does cuddle with me.

Naturally, in a drugged-up state and dying a slow death of midday cooking shows, I log on to you, Facebook, to cure my boredom. BAM. Social overload. My newsfeed is bombarded with Photoshopped ladies in skimpy tight dresses cahooting around exclusive bars, bikini-clad school friends fanning their perfectly bronzed selves in the Greek Islands, mates from uni I haven’t seen all year now posing for cringe-worthy couple shots during sunny dates, or even just statuses from a few random acquaintances over last night’s cray occurrences- OMG TEQUILA WAS A BAD CHOICE! LOL! HASHTAG YOLO!

That’s cool, guys. I’ll just be sitting here in my spaghetti-stained pyjama top. No, really. As you were.

These days, every single pain-stakingly mundane moment of our lives is documented. More than that, it’s approved. Friends, acquaintances, even strangers now ‘like’ our nightclub check-ins or filtered photos of today’s fruity granola. Technically, we should be feeling more accepted and densely networked than ever. We should be rolling in Beyonce-like confidence knowing that a full 23 people other than our own mother clicked ‘like’ on that cheeky indulgent selfie.

And yet, whenever I log on to you, ye olde Book of Face, I can’t help but feel a little, well, isolated. Back me up here, Jay-Z. “I’ve got 99 Facebook friends, but a real pal ain’t one.”

This is, of course, a complete illusion. I know I am popular. I know I have wonderful friends that love me for me, and that there are thousands of exciting plans on the horizon. I know all of that. And surely we can all admit we like to adjust our profiles to create an idealised version of ourselves, as a way seeming cooler we really probably are. Regardless, the moment Facebook rears its ugly head; I can’t suppress intense feelings of inadequacy. It seems everybody is one-upping everything I’m doing. It’s stupid, but I’ll sometimes get a little upset or offended that I’m not invited to things I see other pals tagged in. I see check-ins to airports and fancy Turkish hostels and think, “their life is way more fabulous than mine.” Someone might status that they’ve got an incredible new job. Sure, I might’ve also recently secured an awesome form of employment but nothing can prevent that tiny little voice in the back of my mind that screeches, “she’s got everything under control! Why is your life such a mess?” Let’s face it. Social media is no longer just a vehicle for communication with long-lost rellies and untraceable globetrotters, or a platform for revolutions and debate. My dear Facebook, you are a new-generation depressant.

Image

Truthfully, I hate seeing people validate their lives via Facebook (“going for a walk! Then back to study!” – please, let Warner Bros. buy the movie rights to that riveting post), but I’m just as bad for judging them for it. The sad thing is that Facebook has developed a horrifically mean social code of it’s own. Allow me to enlighten you with a few handy examples. If you’re not friends on Facebook, you’re not really friends. If you write on somebody’s wall, it’s a big deal. Like, you want the entire universe to see that post. You want to scream it to your grandparents and not give a rat’s arse if it’s published front page on the New York Times. If you change your profile picture, that must mean you think you look a bajillion dollars. Do a status that gets less than 5 likes? Oh man, take that down quickly before someone important sees; how embarrassing for you. Less than 10 birthday wishes? Er, do you even exist?

I’ve luckily never been in the position to do the change from “in a relationship” to “single”, but I feel for anyone that has. It’s mortifyingly public and cruel.

As much as we all relish stalking an ex-boyfriend and revelling in how god awful they look, is it really worth it? Facebook and similar social medias seem to be honing a new type of online citizen- one who is not so much interested in the lives of others, but instead enviously craves the dopamine attention hit that comes alongside a gratifying notification of approval. It’s scary to think this way, but this is reality. We are becoming obsessed with others’ lives- but only in the way it reflects on our own. And every time I think my age group is bad, I just take one look at the eighteen-year-olds I know and cry for humanity. A 200 to 300 like profile picture is the norm, usually if pancake makeup, bandage dresses, an exotic location and Tony Bianco high heel wedges are involved.

Above all, with the immediacy of online communication, we’re all guilty of not feeling quite the same need to reach out to our pals for a quick chat. But we need to. If it’s true that people hide behind their online personas, more than ever, we need to contact others face-to-face to break down those walls and cut through such social isolation with more than 140 characters. I can’t put a finger on a solution, because it seems that Facebook is now so ingrained into our social lives that we just can’t live without it. How else would I find out about that housewarming event? How else would I see the photos from a 21st? How else can I contact my friends in Europe? Facebook, I’d love to break you, really I would, but you’re a horrible boyfriend I just can’t quit. You keep luring me back, you and every begrudgingly bright notification you sport.

So, to answer your question, what’s on my mind? Well, it’s surely time to update my cover photo now. Cue scouring Tumblr for something that shows I’m achingly hipster and trendy yet totally don’t care what the online world thinks. Oh Facebook, you’ve created a monster.

Yours unwillingly,

Phoebe.