LESLEY'S LIST: Five Bright n' Shiny New Things Holding My Attention in a Post-Holiday Week of Distractions

Books, expensive smells, delicious coffee, hair like a stop sign and Miss Piggy in a sauna. Sounds like a party.
Publish date:
November 30, 2012
shoppables, perfume, books, coffee, red hair, graphic novels

Spit and Passion/Hot and Heavy

Spit and Passion is a graphic novel brought to print by my own book’s publisher (full disclosure!) so you know it must be good, because they have impeccable taste. Luckily I’m a professional who can lay her bias aside to tell you about a really marvelous book.

Spit and Passion is a memoir of growing up Cuban in Miami, and coming out through punk, written and drawn by Cristy C. Road. I have automatic love for a solid queer memoir, but I felt a particular connection to Road’s story because we are contemporaries of a sort, and we both saw our identities evolve and grow, lubricated by the introduction of non-mainstream music, in the uniquely complicated culture of South Florida.

Road’s art is meticulously detailed and brings her storytelling into perfect focus; in weird moments I half expected to see my teenage self lingering somewhere in the background. Although obviously our paths were different, good memoir allows folks with a variety of experiences to find something to connect with, and anyone who has felt like a hopeless outsider will discover familiar points of reference here.

Hot & Heavy, on the other hand, has April Flores on the cover, so you know it must be good, because APRIL FLORES. Subtitled “Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion,” I’ll admit I am equally biased about this one, as I’ve been reading and following (and being friends with!) many of this anthology’s contributors for years. Broken into three sections composing Life, Love and Fashion, this collection of essays really works to cover the gamut of fat-girl experience.

Standouts include Rachel Kacenjar’s tale of virginity loss in the context of fears that no one would ever have sex with the fat girl; Golda Poretsky’s speed-dating conquest; and Margitte Kristjansson’s ode to shorts. There’s also an excellent conversation on fat fashion between anthology editor Virgie Tovar and Deb Malkin, proprietor of ReDress, now an online shop but once a brick-and-mortar boutique in Brooklyn that furnished me with many of my favorite pieces of clothing, not to mention some of my favorite fat memories, and which, as a truly radical body-positive space, was a revolution for many of the folks who shopped there.

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb

Totally shit beauty writing time! Longtime readers know my fragrance preferences tend to run toward scents brewed by gothic hippies or found by the checkout counter in a gas station. My husband, who is happiest when I reek of something mundane and unchallenging like Sunflowers, is long-suffering in this regard. I am not a lady with a signature scent. I am a lady who likes to SURPRISE you.

Indeed, the last non-oil-based perfume I bought was a rollerball of Lady Gaga’s Fame. I bought the tiny rollerball version because I really can’t justify buying a giant bottle of anything as I get bored with scents so quickly (see the two-thirds-full bottle of Chanel Chance I’d had for, oh, four or five years?). I bought it at all because, um, Lady Gaga. Also it really does smell nice, although it lasts for like a minute on me.

At any rate, a few weeks ago, on a visit to my family in Florida, my mom and I went shopping, because that is what we do. My mom had some elaborate coupon plan she was working in the fragrance section of Nordstrom while I wandered amongst the bottles, trying to occupy myself. One caught my eye, because it kinda looked like a grenade. “I wonder if this smells like explosives,” I thought, spritzing my wrist absentmindedly, only to be carried away on a cloud-chariot pulled by rosy-cheeked unicorns to a warm glowing palace of smoky peppery spicy citrus, fully upholstered in vanilla-rubbed leather.

What the shit IS this stuff? I asked myself, looking at the bottle in my hand. I must have it. Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb, it told me. I looked closer at the boxes lining the shelf. Pour Homme, they added, unhelpfully.

YOU STUPID JERKS, I thought. Because men’s fragrances don’t COME in little affordable rollerball formats. They come in BIG-ASS BOTTLES and I am NOT going to spend $75 on a bottle of perfume I’ll get bored with in a month, when I have shoes and dresses and pink Lego bricks to buy.

The moral to the story? Anybody who wants to buy me an expensive present for giftmas knows what I’m about. In the meantime, I’m grabbing sample vials in lots off of eBay until the novelty wears off.

Bialetti Moka

Every Thanksgiving, my whole Florida-dwelling family (okay, three people, but still) assembles at my place for a long weekend of togetherness. My family is completely awesome so this is actually a good thing. However, it does necessitate giving the house a thorough cleaning, which really only happens just that once a year and really only because of the motivating factor that is family coming to visit.

This year’s cleaning binge began a couple weeks in advance. I was in the kitchen, polishing the appliances, when I came to my espresso/cappuccino machine, which I might add was less than a year old. I gave the surfaces a good wiping, and then, just to be safe even though I keep it pretty clean for obvious reasons, I made a halfhearted swipe at the metal milk-steamer arm.

And had the thing snap off in my hand.

It snapped LIKE A TWIG. WHAT the HELL? I was so pissed. Sure, this piece of crap could still make espresso, but the best thing about it was being able to steam the milk. Enraged, seeking to punish the machine, I marched the damn thing down to our building’s trash compactor and chucked it in, instructing it to think about what it had done while it was in there. In a MILLION TINY CRUSHED-UP PIECES.

Grouchy, I began to research new machines, only to quit in despair as my willingness to spend another couple hundred bucks on a machine that would only break my heart was just not there. Then I spotted it, the small, weird, vintage-looking aluminum pot with the fat little Italian dude on the side. I will make you espresso! he whispered to me. (Actually he might have whispered “make-a you espresso” in a bad Italian accent but I married a dude with a half-Sicilian family and I don’t want to cross them.) (In fact, forget I said that.)

Anyway, the whispering pot was a Bialetti Moka, a stovetop coffee-making apparatus that has changed little since its introduction in 1933. And it was CHEAP. I mean, cheap compared to a big dumb plastic-encased espresso machine that is actually really inconvenient to use most of the time. Thus encouraged by the whispering Bialetti mascot, in that moment I decided screw steamed milk, I am going to drink espresso like a freaking classy worldly person. So I ordered it.

And honestly, it makes the best coffee EVER. I don’t even miss my lattes. Sure, it might not TECHNICALLY be espresso because the pressure in the pot isn’t high enough, but it tastes good so I don’t give a crap. Thus, I really owe my old espresso maker a debt of thanks for breaking and sending me back to prewar coffee technology. Such an improvement over having to clean that little milk-steamer pipe EVERY TIME.

Clown Red Hair (Sort Of)

A truly embarrassing amount of my life has been spent trying to achieve red hair. My natural color is sort of a streaky darkish blonde, and I’ve never been happy with it. I started dyeing it in the eighth grade (black, because black was how I felt on the inside) and between then and my early thirties I spent maybe a year or two with uncolored hair, and then only because my hair would eventually start falling out in clumps.

Last year, however, I started to notice that despite the occasional break, my hair had not entirely taken to the decades of box dye with aplomb. I was tired of it breaking. So I decided to swear off all peroxide for good, and to investigate new options for coloring my hair that did not involve bleaching it first, because really I can only pull mouse-sized hair wads from my shower drain so many times before it starts to bum me out.

I had been relying on Surya’s misleadingly named “Henna Cream,” which did produce a nice red color but also contained some creepy industrial solvents that were drying my hair out like mad. In an effort to get good results elsewhere, I went back to the origins of clown-red hair.

In high school I had short-lived streaks in Manic Panic’s now-discontinued (SAD!) Deadly Nightshade, a really marvelous fuchsia/purple hybrid. They were short-lived because -- as with my penchant for Dr. Martens boots, lace tights and other boundary-pushing style choices not explicitly covered by my Catholic school uniform-requiring dress code -- they got me in trouble. Actually they got the dress code rewritten to include this stuff. Although the following year, when all the girls were showing up with brightly colored streaks in their hair, nobody made a big deal about it. I was, as I seemingly often am, ahead of my time.

MP is not great for bleeding, though. Like it bleeds. A LOT. Like crime-scene-in-the-shower kind of bleeding. Like all-my-pillows-are-vaguely-pink kind of color transfer. So after seeking advice from the Internet, I started experimenting with Special Effects colors instead, and have finally landed on Hot Lava (which I guess is kind of orange on most people?) as my red-hair-without-bleaching Holy Grail. The color transfer is practically zero, and the effect of Hot Lava on top of my unbleached natural color is that my hair is just a shade or two off from Bozo red. SUCCESS. Maybe I’ll try purple next.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

As a follow-up to Marianne’s excellent deconstruction of the holiday coercive-sex anthem yesterday, here is a duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” between Miss Piggy and Rudolf Nureyev, presented without further comment.