Monthly Archives: April 2015

Culture Connoisseur: The Top 10 Albums of My College Experience

Music of all genres has always been a significant part of my life. Here are a few of the vinyl records I enjoy most.

Music of all genres has always been a significant part of my life. Here are a few of the vinyl records I enjoy most.

The other night I tweeted about how I tend to associate music and books. I like to listen to music while I read or do homework (which usually involves reading anyway) and can often think of a book or album and what I was reading or listening to at the time. I also realized that there are certain albums that I associate with particular times of my life. As I approach graduation from college, I’ve been thinking about the albums that have had some kind of personal significance for me in the last four years. Here are the top 10 albums that have marked my college experience.

1. AM by Arctic Monkeys

I have been listening to Arctic Monkeys since I was 13 (it was one of the first albums I uploaded to iTunes and put on my iPod nano), and will wax poetic over the band’s entire discography for days. But what has a special place in my heart is AM, which came out in 2013. I saw the band perform three times for the AM era, and know 98 percent of the lyrics. This, I feel, will be an album that I will never get tired of. “Do I Wanna Know?” is my text tone. I have the digital version, the CD and the vinyl. Out of all of the albums on this list, it is definitely the most personal. AM reminds me of September nights, driving in Los Angeles and relationships that didn’t work out.

2. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

This is also another deeply personal album for me, and the record that made me a Vampire Weekend fan. I still enjoy dissecting the lyrics of MVotC, which deal with time and mortality and love and sense of belonging, amongst other things. I also got to see Vampire Weekend while it was promoting the album, and I desperately want to go again. This album reminds me of my school commutes, dancing around in my bedroom and rainy days.

3. Yeezus by Kanye West

This album is what made me a true believer in Kanye West and his cultural significance. Yeezus also changed my life. It is my go-to “gotta get shit done” album, and I find something new to analyze with every listen. This is not an easy album to listen to, but I think it’s the perfect example of just how powerful music can really be. Yeezus reminds me of many late, sticky summer nights.

4. Days and Atlas by Real Estate

This is a 2-for-1, but I discovered Real Estate in my second year of college and fell in love with the beachy sound. Atlas came out in 2014, and I have had it in heavy rotation. I also like how both albums talk about what it feels like to be displaced from home. Real Estate in general reminds me of both Berkeley and Washington, my discovery of lattes, and cold-but-bright winter weekends.

5. Sunbathing Animal by Parquet Courts

I believe my good friend Valerie recommended Parquet Courts to me, and I like Sunbathing Animal‘s balance between sentimental lyrics and good old fashioned rocking out. This is also a “gotta get shit done” kind of album for me, which has gotten me through many papers and planning sessions. This album reminds me of walking around on campus, feeling like a badass for the great things I said in class or about to go take care of business.

6. Is This It? by The Strokes

This is kind of a cheat, because I discovered The Strokes in high school (Side bar: I was in love with the friend of the boy next door [who I had never interacted with] and I found out through his MySpace account [this was like, ninth or 10th grade so don’t judge me on any of this] that he loved The Strokes) and have loved the band ever since, but I have found myself returning to Is This It? over and over again in the last four years. For me, it’s one of those albums you can play all the way through without skipping anything. I guess it’s my safety blanket. And “Someday” has been resonant for me at many points in the last four years. Is This It? reminds me of listening to vinyl records in my bedroom and doodling lyrics in cursive all over my French notebooks.

7. 2 and Salad Days by Mac DeMarco

I discovered Mac DeMarco last year through my brother Graeme. Graeme doesn’t like him much anymore, but I have a soft spot for Mac DeMarco. He’s a very weird dude with very weird preferences, but his music can be very tender. “Ode to Viceroy” and “Let My Baby Stay” are two very good examples of both the former and the latter, and happen to be my personal favorites. These albums remind me of Burgerama with Graeme and the Law siblings, the last summer at Public Affairs and multiple trips to and through San Bernardino.

8. Dead Man’s Bones by Dead Man’s Bones

I bought this album on a whim in October of my freshman year, mostly because Ryan Gosling was in it. I distinctly remember sitting in the library between classes, previewing this album on iTunes and immediately falling in love. It has sort of morbid subject matter, but it is very earnest and endearing. “In the Room Where You Sleep” comes to mind. Dead Man’s Bones reminds me of fall quarters and walking to a deserted parking lot after 7 to 8:50 p.m. statistics lectures.

9. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late by Drake

This is a very recent addition to the list, but a great one. I had never listened to much Drake before this mixtape came out, and we listen to it constantly in the Poly Post newsroom. If I remember anything about my Poly Post experience, it will be our spirit animal Ferlinda Shedricks (don’t ask), “apparently” and this mixtape. It also has got some fantastic lines that I have made a part of my vocabulary, and I listen to a song from this album at least once a day. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late reminds me of Sunday deadline night and boba runs.

10. George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Between my second and third summers of college, I started watching a lot of Woody Allen movies. The opening scene of Manhattan references Rhapsody in Blue, and when I looked it up I fell in love. Rhapsody in Blue is the aural version of my life. It is nothing like the other albums on this list, but discovering Rhapsody in Blue is a hallmark of my attempts to widen my cultural horizons and appreciate art to the fullest. I will never forget seeing it performed live at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. Rhapsody in Blue makes me feel invincible and bold.

My honorary mentions include Allah-Las, Albert Hammond Jr., Spoon, Divine Fits, The Shins, Beirut, Arcade Fire, The Police, Fleet Foxes and The Black Keys.

Do you have albums that you associate with particular points in your life? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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Link Party: 4/20-4/24

A snapshot of some hot pot I had this week. Good times.

A snapshot of some not-yet-consumed shabu shabu hot pot I had this week. Good times.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. Avocados are very important.

2. This is what happened when the Washington Post sent its food critic to critique a restaurant 80 Yelp users have rated 1-star.

3. Emoji are also very important, especially on the linguistics front.

4. Mallory Ortberg‘s advice to her younger self is wonderful. (Side note: She was great at the Festival of Books.)

5. An interesting history of Rube Goldberg and his machines.

And a bonus: This cool watercolor print project is going on my lists of DIYs to do after the quarter is over.

Have a great weekend!

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Think Tank: My One Gray Hair

My life, actually.

My life, actually.

I was in the bathroom at school today washing my hands, and I looked in the mirror to make sure that I didn’t have anything in my teeth or gross on my face (as one does), and I saw something I was not expecting to see. One single, long, course, gray hair towards the middle of my head.

I guess this is a thing that can happen to you when you’re in your 20s, even though it’s associated with being “old.” But when I saw it/subsequently asked my friends and family to confirm that yes, that is a long silver strand of hair on your head, I found it to be one of the funniest things ever to happen to me. And the more I think about it, graying is actually a pretty interesting experience. Let’s talk about it.

I went through four years of college and all I got was this lousy gray hair.

That is a gross misrepresentation of what I’ve gotten from my college experience, but you get the point. As I’ve been approaching graduation I’ve been reflecting on how much work I’ve really done in such a short amount of time, and I guess the stress of that amount of work has manifested itself in less noticeable ways. I’m actually kind of surprised that my whole head isn’t silver, considering all of the stress I’ve put myself through. But at least I’m starting to get used to it at 21 years old.

I don’t know if what’s happening to me is just genetics, and it very well may be. But even if someone said to me at the very beginning of college to choose between having an illustrious experience or premature graying, I would still probably pick the former. I don’t know if that’s the right choice, but it’s the one I’m sticking to.

The social pressure that we put on women about graying is terrible. 

According to the article cited above, there are quite a few things that can cause you to go gray, especially at a young age. It can be hereditary, or nutritional, or even the result of an underlying medical condition. That being said, I don’t feel any less 21 than I did before I found this gray hair, which I’m sure will have friends soon. When I do have more, I’ll embrace the change. I think it sucks that women feel like they have to dye their hair to get rid of gray roots. There are some dye jobs I’ve seen lately that are purposefully gray that I think are really awesome.

I do understand that if you’re in your 50s or 60s and you have a lot of gray hair that you may feel like you’ve lost your youth, and that dying it back to your original color restores part of it. At the end of the day, you should do what makes you happy. But I think I’m going to see how long I can go without resorting to pulling the hairs out or eventually coloring my whole head.

It’s actually pretty badass.

I’ve always envied Stacy London for her gray streak (even though that’s the result of an autoimmune issue and that really sucks) but she looks so damn cool. If I could have a fraction of Stacy London’s coolness by proxy, I will take it.

But really, just having one strand on my head has made me rethink what it means to go gray. I think you should wear your gray hair as a badge of honor at any age. Growing older and getting gray hair also means that you’re growing as a human being and getting more life experience, and that’s something to be really proud of. In the meantime, I will embrace my gray.

How do you feel about your graying hair? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

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Link Party: 4/13-4/17

L.A. life.

L.A. life.

There were a few things I wanted to blog about (like my last capstone paper and the Time 100 list) that I just didn’t have time for. #TeamNoSleep, but that’s what next week is for. Anyways, here’s what I read this week:

1. The importance of coffee for Icelandic culture.

2. It’s comforting to know that even 20-something Jacques Derrida received some harsh criticism.

3. I was too young for Jennicam, but it sounds like a fascinating anthropological study.

4. I love Into the Gloss’s interviews, and one of this week’s was a good one.

5. FOGO is the new FOMO. (Side note: I’m not quite sure if fear-of-going-out really encapsulates what’s going on here, but it’s a start.)

And a bonus: I actually came across this last week and didn’t have space for it in my last Link Party, but look at this pencil shop (!!!!!!!)

Have a great weekend!

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Culture Connoisseur: Zoe’s Very Official Southern California Coffee Awards

Smirking emoji.

Smirking emoji. (Also, we should talk about Special Agent Dale Cooper if you know who this is.)

One of my favorite things about living in Southern California is the close proximity to so many good coffee places. I appreciate the convenience of Starbucks (or making my own iced coffee) just like anyone else, but there’s nothing quite like a drink from an independent cafe. I’m no Yelp Elite, but I can enjoy a damn fine cup of coffee. So much so that I thought I should come up with arbitrary awards for the places I like that are relatively local. So tonight, I bring to you the inaugural Zoe’s Very Official Southern California Coffee Awards.

Best drip coffee that isn’t Starbucks: So I’m bending the rules a little bit on the independent cafe thing from above (and just this once, I promise), but I really enjoy Einstein Bros Bagels drip coffee. There’s an Einstein cafe at school that’s much closer to my work building than the campus Starbucks, and it tastes great with any bagel. Sometimes you just need an afternoon carb pick me up that isn’t Starbucks (¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)

I wish Klatch was closer to where I live, but it's probably a good thing because otherwise I would spend all of my time and money there.

I wish Klatch was closer to where I live, but it’s probably a good thing because otherwise I would spend all of my time and money there.

Best “treat yo self” coffee #1: Klatch. I started going here in high school with friends, and it is one of my favorite spots. I usually get coffee with a humongous slab of the coffee cake. It has a good atmosphere and lots of light. 10/10 would recommend.

Best “treat yo self” coffee #2: 85 C. I am not a humongous fan of Asian bakeries, but I love love love 85 Degree’s sea salt coffee. The first time I had it I got a huge first sip of salt, but I learned that shaking it is the secret. I still don’t really get the plastic film lid and having to puncture it with a sharp straw thing, but it tastes great.

Best enjoyed with breakfast: Some Crust Bakery. The last time I was here I got an iced coffee and a raspberry pinwheel, and it was a fantastic decision. My favorite thing about Some Crust is actually the waxy paper bags with the bakery logo, but I’m a nerd. Tl;dr get the iced coffee.

A honey cinnamon latte from Augies. The baristas know their latte art.

A honey cinnamon latte from Augie’s. The baristas know their latte art.

Best enjoyed with a friend after Thai food or a Eureka burger: Augie’s. It can be ultra-crowded in here — it’s in the same storefront as an ice cream place — but the honey cinnamon latte is a great after-dinner treat. Yellow metal chairs and cute baristas are pluses.

Best $5 latte that tastes like $5: Dripp. It is a really pricy place to go all the time, but every time I go I haven’t been disappointed. I recommend the vanilla latte. I also like that Dripp gives you a to-go cup that’s corrugated. If I’m paying $5 for a latte, I need all the hipster accoutrement.

A hand pie from N7 Creamery is basically a grown up Pop Tart.

A hand pie from N7 Creamery is basically a grown up Pop Tart.

Best enjoyed with a hand pie: N7 Creamery. I’ve been here twice — once for ice cream (which is also good) and once for coffee and a hand pie. I don’t know what was in that hand pie (apples and crack, probably) but the coffee was what really made it good. It was thick without being sledge-y.

4.5/5 stars, tbh.

4.5/5 stars, tbh.

Best enjoyed in Los Angeles: Philz. I went here on Sunday and I’m still thinking about this mint mojito iced coffee. You wouldn’t think that mint and coffee would go together, but it definitely does. My only complaint is that the barista made it hot and used a ton of mint, so the ice took a while to bring it to the right temperature. When it was cold enough, though, it was excellent. Again, corrugated cups are where it’s at. It’s probably the most hipster coffee place I’ve ever been to. Take that as it is.

I’m always looking for new cafes to try. Any suggestions? Leave a comment for me.

 

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Link Party: 4/6-4/10

Man, I am really going to miss this place.

Man, I am really going to miss this place.

I was actually really productive this week — must be the Week 2 recharge. Anyway, here’s what I read:

1. A four-in-one about how the restaurant business is reinventing food waste. My personal favorite is the photo essay about the aprons.

2. I also would like to attend the Audubon Society’s school for sick burns.

3. In light of two classes I’m taking on the subject (more about those classes later), a very good piece about the classroom and the discussion about racial violence.

4. Monograms are everything.

5. On why Columbia’s report on the Rolling Stone University of Virginia rape case article is actually not that great.

And a bonus: This list of English monarchs’ signatures ranked is A++.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Think Tank: Apple Watch

I really do not understand why this watch even exists, and I’ve been using Apple products for at least half my life. Photo cred: Getty Images via TIME.

 

I really enjoy Apple products. I’ve had two Apple laptops, and am currently typing this blog post on my beloved Macbook Pro. My first smartphone was an iPhone 4. I love my iPhone 5, and cannot work an Android phone to save my life. I spend most of my middle school and high school years with my iPod nano and touch’s headphones seemingly glued into my ears.

With all that being disclosed, I do not want an Apple Watch. At all.

It’s hard not to have heard about the Apple Watch’s imminent arrival, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months. (If you have been, teach me your ways.) Not only have there been countless reviews, but a lot of really interesting news tidbits, like the level of customer care you’ll get if you buy the most expensive model, and whether or not that’s fair for people who buy the Sports version. I’ve even read that Apple wishes to make the experience like buying a Rolex or an Audemar Piguet. What’s also interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be two distinct camps of Pro- or Anti-Watch. People are talking about it and saying that you might not really need one, but there hasn’t been a strong reaction either way to it. (Or maybe I’m just not paying that close attention to it, which is totally possible.)

There are a few reasons why I don’t think the Apple Watch is going to be all that great, but there are also a few reasons why it might be good.

PRO: People might pay closer attention to their health.

The watch is supposed to have a fitness app built into it, which is potentially a really cool thing. People who are unwilling to shell out money for a FitBit, but can justify the price because the watch can do many, many other things, may actually start to care about how much exercise they are or aren’t getting, their pulse, and whatever else the Apple Watch will eventually be able to measure. In a world where obesity is an epidemic, the Apple Watch may be a weapon to battle it.

CON: People might not pay attention to their health at all.

There are quite a few apps on both my Macbook Pro and my iPhone that I just don’t use. Some people might end up feeling the same way about the Apple Watch, and will use it for other things they deem more important. That’s not a judgment by any means, but it’s an important point to bring up. The purpose of the Apple Watch may eventually shift away from a fitness angle, if it does become a cultural phenomenon.

PRO/CON: People might actually start wearing and using watches, which may discourage people from wearing and using watches. 

I wear a watch every day out of habit — I used to work retail where the clocks on the registers were unreliable, and I couldn’t use my phone. Most people my age use their phones to check the time, regardless of whether or not they’re wearing a watch. These big watches have become a big deal in the fashion world, and even Apple has said that they want their watch to become a fine piece of jewelry.

At the same time though, there is a very real possibility that if the Apple Watch becomes a big enough deal, that people won’t wear real watches at all anymore. Not only does that remind me of Brave New World a little bit, but I think it would be very sad if the watchmaking industry diminished as a result of this product. Apple has a history of edging out its competition and I think that’s just a part of capitalism, but there is something about it that is deeply unsettling.

PRO/CON: Apple continues to ingratiate itself into our daily lives.

I am all about complementary things in my life, and I really enjoy having a phone and a computer than can “talk” to each other. It has made things for me so much easier, whether that’s syncing my phone or using Messages and FaceTime. With the Apple Watch, people will be able to add another component into the mix for complete technological harmony: computer, tablet, phone and watch. I think we all know how good that would probably feel.

At the same time though, I was really mad that Apple forced me to download the Watch app in an iOS update. I have no plans to buy an Apple Watch, but I still have to have the app taking up space on my phone. But I guess it’s truly Apple’s phone and Apple’s vision for its customers’ needs. I think we need to be really careful about how much we let a company like this one into our everyday way of life.

CON: Its price point is entirely impractical for most people. 

Regardless of the reviews you might read about how in the grand scale of the watch world a $400 starting price point is not that bad, the Apple Watch will simply not be accessible to the majority of the world. Again, I’m not passing judgment on Apple’s product direction. I’m just saying that

CON: We’re going to have to figure out how to treat it as a thing. 

We already legislate phone and computer usage on multiple levels, so we’re going to have to decide as a society whether or not to legislate the Apple Watch too. Are you going to get a ticket for using it while driving? Are students going to be allowed to check their Apple Watches in class, or wear it while taking a test? If a computer is seized as evidence in a crime, will the police also be able to seize an Apple Watch? And are we comfortable with any of these things? We have to start thinking about these questions, as I’m sure they will become real issues very soon.

CON: It is completely gratuitous.  

Think long and hard about these next two questions. If you’ve found yourself interested in buying an Apple Watch, do you really need one? And if you say to yourself, “Yes, I do really need one,” my second question is why? And I’ll leave it at that.

How do you feel about the Apple Watch? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

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