Dark Matters

I’m tired of hearing “it’s a matter of taste.”

Is it? Or is bad taste one of those things — like porn, pain and excess — where you know it when you see it, when you feel it? I’ve been circling this question for years, and each turn is another uncomfortable opportunity to interrogate my certainties. I don’t have many. But in my brief adulthood I have armed myself with a few inflexible convictions on matters humble in scale — e.g. the perfect pizza temperature, the ideal noodle doneness, the barbarity of certain phrases (looking at you, “as well as.”)

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Wiser

I come from a place in California that has been criticized for having no history.

It’s as if the story began there with the houses, the suburbs, the sprawl. I grew up in the last district of the San Fernando Valley to suburbanize. Porter Ranch sits on the very edge of what, for many Los Angelinos, passes for the wild. New settlements are still being built, gauche gated communities of potted palms and Spanish tile roofs, rows and rows of the same house lining up like so many school children.

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Then, butter

Nothing can cure the senses but the soul, just as nothing can cure the soul but the senses.

Oscar Wilde said that. Or a character in one of his novels did. It reminds me of me, of the bad habits I’ve been nursing. These days I come home, swearing to do some useful, necessary thing, but instead plunge headfirst into the pursuit of pleasure. I’m a walking appetite. Salt, water, moon, bread, tang, sweat, sweets. It’s extraordinary, the way things taste.

Fun fact? Sasha Grey took her stage name from A Picture of Dorian Grey. An interesting study in appetites, Sasha. And the book. And the name.

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On Flesh

Some thoughts on what it means to have a body:

One: All the good street art faces east. We are riding the train north, passing one of the Red Line burning men—long-faced, suited men engulfed in pink and green flames—when the suited middle-aged lady beside me extracts a roll of toilet paper from her large straw bag. She begins to blow her nose, emitting this percussive, unrelenting, glottal-sounding sound, the relentlessness and percussiveness of which I am powerless to describe.

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Heat

I have little patience for complaints about the weather, but I tell you I’m ready to throw in the towel if we don’t get some heat here soon.

Last week I heard someone say this has been the coldest spring since…and I stopped listening, stopped hearing: too demoralizing. But it’s coming. Can you feel it? I mean not the season itself–not the flouncy skirts or the scant underthings or the towering espadrilles, not the day games or the melted lake or the milky blues or balmy weather–but the heat, the devotions it inspires in us.

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Endive, Apple, Mâche

Then there’s the warm weather.

It’s been beautiful for three days. There’s a part of me that thinks, something’s gotta give, right? But people on the street are smiling at nothing in particular. Grinning at dogs, beaming at, like, infants and bare branches and unbloomed tulips. I even saw the pan-handler in front of Potbelly’s get some love.

And walking to the bookstore today I got whistled at for the first time in… for the first time in a long time. I’m telling you. Weather.

Weather that brings about a change in my taste, my desires. This is right about when I start waxing poetic about crispy, fresh, vegetable-y things. Not that I couldn’t totally kill a juicy undercooked burger right now, but in general I’ve been thinking about something else. Continue reading