Release Of Two New Books By Lucia Berlin

Written for Flaunt.com

Lucia Berlin reached world-wide recognition eleven years after her death with the publication of selected semi-autobiographical stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women. The book made the New York Times best-seller list in its second week and Berlin subsequently became one of America’s most influential short-story writer. From Alaska to Albuquerque, Kentucky, Mexico, New York City, California or even Chile, the author spent her life on the move and lived a life full of experiences and adventures that makes up the great tales in her books. She has been married three times, has had four sons, worked many odd jobs and had a weakness for alcohol that led her to rehab a couple times.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux is simultaneously publishing two new books by Berlin: the short-story collection Evening in Paradise and a memoir with selected photographs and letters Welcome Home.

Evening in Paradise brings together twenty-two stories not included in A Manual for Cleaning Women. These fictions share the same voice, warmth, depth and humor of the best work from prior collection.

Welcome Home is a book of previously unpublished autobiographical sketches Berlin was working on before she died in 2004. This memoir consists of more than twenty chapters, structured around each of the places she called home during her lifetime, beginning in Depression-era Alaska and ending (prematurely) in 1966 in southern Mexico.

Date Me Like One Of Your French Girls

Piece assigned by an editor for Flaunt.com

A year ago I moved from my native little Bordeaux to one of the biggest cities in the world, Los Angeles. Once settled in, it didn’t take long for me to venture on dating apps to see what this city is made of. After carefully avoiding any guy posing proudly with an American flag or, holding a gun while sporting a red hat, I finally dived into that stinky, filthy green-colored pool that is dating in Los Angeles. Even though you’d be right to assume that guys are guys anywhere on the planet, whether they are having a croissants or a burritos for breakfast, I did found some cultural differences I wasn’t quite prepared for.

LESSONS ON FRENCH FLIRTING.

We have very different ways of showing to someone that we like them. When I first arrived in the U.S. and still today, I have trouble distinguishing if someone is flirting with me or if they are just being friendly. I’ve had a couple encounters when I mistakenly assumed a guy was gay when he was in fact flirting with me. It only hit me that I was being flirted with when the person tried to kiss me. More often than not those attempted kisses came out of the blue for me as I had no idea these persons had any interest in me. With a French guy it doesn’t take me more than a few minutes to understand that he is interested. I would describe it as French people being a more direct when Americans are more implicit. I feel like there is that grey area with American people where you’re not sure if you are being hit on or not, you kind of have to guess, be instinctive. On the contrary when a French person is flirting with you, you’re very unlikely to doubt they are. In France we have this expression “faire du rentre-dedans” which means seducing with ostentation, or even with abruptness. I guess you could talk about aggressive flirting? We like verbal flirting, playing with words and their meaning and being straightforward regarding our intentions, it’s a game. You’re flirting in a very obvious way and it’s fun to see the other person being destabilized by it.

GETTIN’ READY FOR THE FIRST DATE.

This is the primary difference between French and American dates. I’ve noticed that an American girl getting ready for her date will try to put all odds and her side, putting her best makeup skills at work, highlighting, contour and even some glitter (No offense, they do look magical). An American girl will show up to a first date looking like she’s about to be cast for the next Victoria’s Secret show. I showed up to my first ever American date wearing jeans, converse, and no more make up than usual, which means mascara and foundation.

Culturally in France, you don’t arrive to your date dressed like it’s New Year’s Eve, we’re too proud to let the guy think we’d even try to look our best just for him, so we stick to the mantra ‘less is more.’ One might say we try hard to make it look like we didn’t try hard. It’s actually more about finding the right balance between ‘I’m wearing my most expensive clothes, putting on all of the makeup I own on my face and may I just find one last thing to throw on! Gosh, I hope he likes it” vs ‘This is the sweatpants I slept in, where is the beer at?’

WHO’S PAYING?

Now after a few drinks and hopefully a good talk the barman/waiter, no question asked, hands the check directly to the guy. That’s downright offensive to me. French women are independent women or at least trying to be and someone paying for your drink can be seen as going back to when we had to rely on a man to buy something. During my first night out in LA every time a guy would ask to buy me drink I would answer: “No, I can pay for my own drink.”

American feminism is more like “I’m a pretty girl and I know my worth, the least this guy could do is buy me a drink.” In Los Angeles it seems like a standard for the guy to pay for the first drinks or the first restaurant but even after that it’s very common for them to try to pay for everything. In France the norm is equality, everyone pays for their own drink or food. We simply don’t like to feel like we owe the guy something because he got the drinks. At the beginning I was very embarrassed to let a guy pay for myself. To a French girl, it feels like the guy is trying to show his financial superiority if he doesn’t at least let you reciprocate the gesture. To be fair, that’s the one thing that wasn’t so hard to adjust to. It’s pretty easy to abandon your “I’m an independent woman” flag when you’re working two unpaid internships and a decent enough looking stranger offers you a drink.

THE. FUCKING. TALK. (THAT NO ONE EVER WARNED YOU ABOUT)

Eventually you end up developing feelings for each other and fall into that grey area where you’re not sure that you’re in a relationship, yet you don’t feel like it’s ok for either of you to see someone else. And that’s where our two countries diverge.

In the U.S., as long as two people do not SAY they are exclusive, each of them are free to see other people, even if they’ve been seeing each other for months. If they don’t put a word on the relationship, if it’s not clearly defined, you two are not exclusive. And that’s where I’d like to thank no one because no one told me about this. In France, you don’t have to talk about it to know that at some point, after a couple months of dating, it’s definitely not ok to see someone else. You just know. After months of hanging out and just naturally shifting from solely nighttime activities and bedroom fun to seeing each other in plain daylight and meeting your respective friends. It would make sense that you’re now more than hookup buddies and are implicitly, without having to talk about it, not seeing anybody else.

As a French person, it just sounds absurd that you have to say things when all you have to do is observe. If you know how you both feel toward each other, you know it’s time to not fuck around, no talk needed.

The Neighbourhood Plays At Greek Theater In Los Angeles

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Assigned by editor For Flaunt.com

Nestled in the Griffith Park hills, the Greek Theater seems like a perfect fit for LA-based band The Neighbourhood. California native, the group is composed of vocalist Jesse Rutherford, guitarists Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels, bassist Mikey Margott, and drummer Brandon Alexander Fried. Their recent self-titled album released earlier this year has been subject to bad press review but the band can count on the generous support of their fans, the hoodlums. “Scary Love”, the first single from the album reached over 3 million views on Youtube.

Unfamiliar with the band’s sound, I start to do more online digging and it looks like The Neighbourhood’s music is hard to label, from alternative rock to hip-hop to urban pop. I’ve seen many attempts at describing their genre-crossing style. Arriving at the show, I didn’t know what to expect but a few minutes in and it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a rock show. The lead singer, Jesse Rutherford, used a voice-transforming microphone to obtain that autotune-like vocals during the whole performance which kind of took me by surprise, I’ve seen playback singers before but never live autotuned ones. I guess you can easily feel like an outsider at a Neighbourhood performance, the crowd is actually more of a big mass of young fans singing, sorry I mean screaming, every word along with Rutherford, sometimes even covering his amplified voice during the hits. After the few first notes of every song, a wave of screaming follows. The scene is a mix of screams, Rutherford’s seductive moves and more screaming. Rutherford swings by a vintage microphone hanging from the scaffolding, he flies above the first rows and I wonder if he is going to jump. He doesn’t. You can tell the show comes to an end as the band is blasting their more popular tunes. Is there any song those kids don’t know all the lyrics to? It feels almost rude to not sing along but here I am, a quiet outsider surrounded by young people having the best time of their lives.


Photographed by Nicole Busch

FLAUNT PREMIERE | EASY ‘NOTHING NEW’ MUSIC VIDEO

Written for Flaunt.com

Los Angeles-based, rock ‘n’ roll band Easy formed in early 2017 by Josh Landau from The Shrine, pro skateboarder Don “Nuge” Nguyen, Run The Jewels’ producer Wilder Zoby, Amoeba Records’ Jordan Jones and Ben Brown on synth, debuts a video for “Nothing New” shot by Chris Blauvelt. The track comes off the group’s debut EP ’Nothing New’, released earlier this year.

The 16 mm film footage is inspired by Gus Van Sant’s film ‘Gerry’ intro scene; Matt Damon and Casey Affleck in a lone car rolling for it feels like forever into the desert, into emptiness, before stepping out of the car in the middle of nowhere. ‘Nothing New’ captures this sense of evasion except this time, it’s the beautiful French model and actress Camille Rowe that we observe. Camille had never really driven before but somehow it feels easy to watch her roll away in her total red outfit matching Landau’s. “Nothing New is about feeling someone you love slipping away into a downward spiral out of your control and dealing with not being able to help them anymore,” explains Landau.

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“Nothing New” arrives as the band preps for a hometown show Friday September 7th at The Echo. The evening features some of the best of LA’s current crop of musicians including The Entire Universe, Crush (Cole & Zumi from The Black Lips), DJ set by Blake Anderson & Atiba Jefferson.  

Get your tickets here !

Easy will also play in New York City on October 5th at the Thrasher x Vans “Death Match” party.

Françoise Gilot’s Travel Sketchbooks

Written for Flaunt.com

French artist, painter, bestselling author, designer, teacher, mother but also lover and artistic muse of Pablo Picasso, Françoise Gilot, was a woman of multi-talents. Born in 1921 at Neuilly-Sur-Seine, just west of Paris, she was introduced by her mother to watercolor and India ink at only 6-years-old. After graduating from the prestigious schools of La Sorbonne in Paris and Cambridge University she abandoned her studies in Law at age 19 to devote her life to art. Gilot found inspiration through her numerous travels and despite sharing her life with famous artists she developed her own, unique organic style.

Taschen is dedicating a set of three sketchbooks to the French artist. They are made on Gilot’s travels between 1974 and 1981. Collecting direct impressions and abstract reflections, they are suffused with the distinct atmosphere of Venice, India, and Senegal.

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The three sketchbooks are accompanied by an additional booklet containing an introduction by Hans Werner Holzwarth, a conversation between Gilot and Thérèse Crémieux on the artist’s work and travels, and translations of the handwritten text within the drawings.

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Get yours now here !

Midori Takada And Lafawndah : Le Renard Bleu Vinyl

Interview done for Flaunt.com 

After nearly 20 years of silence the composer Midori Takada reappeared to present a collaboration with the musician Lafawndah for a Kenzo produced film, Le Renard Bleu. Directed by Partel Oliva the film showcased krump artist Qwenga hypnotically dancing against the beautiful score. Now a vinyl of this ethereal soundtrack has just been release on K7. In honor of its release we got to spoke to Lafawndah about the project which saw the old and new worlds of avant garden colliding.  

How did you feel like working with Midori Takada knowing she hadn’t release any music in almost 20 years?

Anxious, excited, honored, blocked, freed.

How did the collaboration come along ?

Partel Oliva, the filmmakers and creative directors at Kenzo at the time asked me if I’d be down to collaborate on a music piece with Midori Takada, which would be use as the point of departure for a film they would write around and about the music. I choked and when I was back to life, I said yes.

You wrote the lyrics, what is your personal process of writing like?

Depends. But for this project in particular there was a lot of special circumstances. One of them is, I don’t really sing on other people’s tracks. Just because what makes me wanna sing is to compose the music first. So I was a bit nervous about that. I also have never worked with someone who is such an inspiration to me. Also, she is the one who decided about the theme and asked me to write about it which is also unusual for me. Then, Partel Oliva are my favorite directors and the idea of making a piece of music for them to write a film was a lot of pressure. So I started reading a bunch of things about the fox in the Dogon mythology and also in Japanese folk and started to find a thread I was interested in, a point of view for the story and a feeling. Then I asked my partner Brian, to come help me cause I was blocked from all these impressive mountains I was surrounded by. He unblocked me and we wrote the lyrics together.

The title of the film is Le Renard Bleu meaning The Blue Fox in French, can you explain what does this fox represent?

Takada san is very interested in the Dogon mythology and in particular in the figure of the fox. People have different interpretation of it. For me it’s the good chaos. It’s the one who comes and destroys everything in order to start better, stronger, more intentionally. It’s also a divination figure, the one who knows things we don’t because it lives between two worlds so it can be used as an advise giver. It’s just a different kinda wisdom you know, the chaotic wisdom.

What are you working on next?

Music more music more and more music, a film, a documentary, a performance, a recipe book, a line of cosmetics, a dance movement. a lot of exciting things coming your way!

Le Renard Bleu by Midori Takada and Lafawndah is available on vinyl nowW

Photo courtesy of Kenzo