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  • Writer's pictureLisa Czarina Michaud

#2: pink flowers and pop culture crushing.

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

March 19, 2021

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope everyone had a nice week. Here in Seine-et-Marne (about an hour from Paris), it's been raining and oppressively cold, as we get in those last days of winter. The trees, however, didn't quite get the memo and they've been blossoming these gorgeous magnolias, wisteria, and small pink flowers that I'm not even going to try and play like I know what they are. We're still in pandemic mode with our cafes closed (since October) and it was just announced last night that we're starting a four-week lockdown, so it'll be another weird Easter Sunday with our son hunting for eggs. Alone. Okay, that's dramatic, we'll help him search for things we hid ourselves but it's still less fun because we're mom and dad. Anyway, we're managing, staying safe and distant and hoping to move on soon. To kick off the last day of winter, in this week's newslettah, I share some things I'm vibing on (old and new), and continue the story of my novel-writing settle in and let's chat!

Currently listening to: All Fours, by Goat Girl

Since the release of this album I haven't been able to stop listening to it. It's hitting all the pleasure points I look for in a record this time of year. Reserving my woodsy-sounding acoustic albums for fall, in the winter I usually look for optimism in a trench coat with a smokey eye.

This album met that criteria.

With arrangements that feel good on my ears, the South London band keeps the vibe both celestial and moody. With melodies reminiscent to Zero 7 (when Sia was on vocals), synth poppier than Stereolab, and the accessibility but with more texture than Esthero, All Fours has that 90's downtempo feel that I tend to gravitate towards in the cold months, but updated with a little leftover rust from 2020 and packaged with the gloss of 2021 hope.

Perfect for dinner and maybe a Zoom date... (I'm old, can you listen to music on Zoom dates or is it annoying? And are Zoom dates still even happening?) this album gets my j'approve.

Favorite tracks: Bang, Closing In, and Pest

Oh wait...speaking of Zoom. So, I had my first Zoom a week ago (I know. I know.) and it was a professional meeting that in the plainest sense I do not know these people outside of this one context. At one point, I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom. Well, I thought that once you turned the camera off the sound goes off with it too.

It doesn't. But of course, everyone knows that. But me.

Long story short. Everyone heard me. Mortification ensued. I have to see these people every week. 1 pm EDT.

Current throwback crush: Debbie Gibson's "Electric Youth"

One of the vinyl accounts I follow on Insta posted this album last week and it sparked some major sense memory. Has this ever happened to you? Suddenly under my nose I could smell plastic, pepper, and four-leaf-clover...(?) because that's exactly what this cassette tape smelled like. Incidentally, so did Madonna's "Like a Prayer"....

Once I got over the cassette tape smell that still, after thirty years I can't tell if it's gross or not, I was like this album. YES.

This one is my personal favorite album by Debbie, ahem, Deborah Gibson. I don't know if you remember, but this album was supposed to demonstrate her mature side. Gone with the smiley face drawn on her knee with a sharpie and in with the royal blue blazer, the drama mask pin on her hat...and the wind machine. I think she moved to "the city" from Long Island around this time too.

Anyway, at 8-years-old, I bought it hook, line and sinker, and as an adult now, it's still delivering the goods. I have since been doing aerobics to it in my laundry room feeling majorly indebted to that Instagram account that brought this album back into my life. Zappin' it to ya.

Currently re-reading: "Hit So Hard" by Patty Schemel

I'm going to make a bold statement and say this rock memoir about addiction and working in a popular but difficult band filled with egos (in this case, one huge ego) is better than Keith Richard's "Life". People get upset when I say that. But it's true. I don't know if it's a generational thing but this memoir kicks some serious ass. And you don't have to be a die-hard Hole fan to appreciate it.

Offering her perspective, as well as recounting her participation in the Seattle grunge scene, the Hole drummer tells a page-turning story of her journey as a lesbian in this macho-world of moshing and flannel.

A candid retelling of her struggle, Patty doesn't hold back with her drug addiction, what it was like to have Courtney Love as a boss (spoiler alert: it's as absurd as you think), and being on tour with Hole (hello, Lollapolooza and Drew Barrymore cameos!) as they rose to fame in the shadow of tragedy. She manages humor in this heartbreaking story with under-the-bridge scenes in Los Angeles that would shock even Anthony Keidis. There are also super sweet memories of Kurt and the at-the-time newborn Frances Bean.

The audiobook is narrated by her. And for those interested, it is also a documentary, but I'm going to be annoying and say the book is better.

Lisa fun fact: I used to rip Patty's DW ads out of my dad's drumming magazines and tape them to my wall. This was what I did in high school.

NOW...Back to the novel journey...

The last we left off I had just written the great Paris memoir that blew massive chunks. However, I persevered and continued writing because, frankly, I don't know what else to do with my time when I'm not working or pretending to be a guitar player.

So picture it. October 2019. I had spent the past three years writing and translating copy for these 3,000 euro/night weekend "getaways" for a luxury travel company. It got to the point of "seen one picture of a villa on La Côte d'Azur with an infinity pool dripping into the Mediterranean and a heliport on the roof" seen em all.

Day after day of writing this shit, I started getting loopy, as I imagined the guests staying at these joints being total d-bags. People I had never seen or even spoke to I had decided were just plain awful as I closed out each villa description with a "gold-star guarantee of 24-hour concierge service". I cringed envisioning a request for, like, a magnum of Veuve on a Sunday. In the month of August. In the backcountry of Portugal...

I felt complicit in the douchery.

Anyway, one Saturday night, I got drunk. And it was glorious. However, the morning after? The glory had faded. Unsure what to do with my pathetic self that probably didn't need that last drink (or the reenactment of the "Dirrty" video by Xtina - yes, Xtina) I decided to make a sweet potato soup and listen to a podcast...this was when some fairy dust had sprinkled over me and a story began to sculpt in my head...Dun...dun..dun..! Until next week....!

Some things to look forward to: Next week I have my author "photoshoot", which is promised to make me feel like all shades of camembert but with the help of a good playlist (hello RuPaul!) va aller...and speaking of cheese...we're also going to lasso the newsletter back to the village here in France and talk about my cheese guy. As usual, I make it weird.

Until then, I wish you a gorgeous first day of spring tomorrow (as I write this with two sweaters and a scarf on)...!

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