Beauty & Personal Care/Anti-Aging
dry skin around the eye
1. Himmelfall (Sky is falling) -- Joner is still great. *happy sigh* Bizarre film about the patients at a mental institution. Low-key, pretty enjoyable (did I mention Kristoffer Joner's in it?), ensamble. Norwegian.
2. Footloose -- Still horribly gay in parts. I keep rewinding the scene where Ren teaches Willard to dance. Teehee. It's a bit dumb and silly 80's movie, but hey, it's enjoyable, and some of the characters even have layers! And did I mention the gay?
the fics I love and are the reason I haven't abandoned the fandom completely. Because, you see, I don't really have that much interest in it, but fics like these just make me come back for more. I'm such a fic-slut, yo.
1. The Curious Vengeance of Draco Malfoy by Halrloprillalar.
"This is a good place to think," Cho said. "Today I'm trying to work out what to do when I leave school."
"Mmm," said Draco.
"It's only a few more months and I still have no idea. It's very worrying." She frowned, then turned to him. "I suppose you have it all planned out already, for next year."
Draco realized he'd never actually thought about it much. He assumed his father would find him something suitable to do. Maybe he'd travel first. "I suppose," he said.
They sat a while longer, both looking out into the trees. Then Cho jumped up. "I've got to go." And then she smiled at him. "You know, you're nicer than I thought."
"No, I'm not," he said, but she was already taking off.
2. Draco Malfoy the Amazing Bouncing... Rat? and epilogue by Maya.
The Slytherin table was bare. Draco had no idea of how to get coffee. And Draco absolutely, positively had to have coffee.
Granger took a sip from a cup.
Draco only just stopped himself from going completely feral. He took several deep, calming breaths.
I will not torture the information out of her. I will not seize the cup and try to lick the bottom. I will retain some aspect of my dignity.
I want coffee I want coffee I want coffee!
"Oh, Granger?" he drawled in his most unconcerned tones. "How would one go about getting served at this damnable hour?"
Coffee, wailed his utterly spoiled inner child. Right now!
Granger was looking up at him with a slight frown. "In six years, you've never once gotten up early to study? How in the name of God did you get to be a prefect?"
Why are you wasting my time, woman? Give me coffee!
"I study like a normal person," Draco said between gritted teeth. "At night."
"Yes, I can see you're not exactly an early bird," she sniffed. "Are you aware that your robes are in a state and you haven't brushed your hair?"
"And yet it still looks better than yours...Look, Granger, I don't have time for this. I just want some coffee! All I want in the world is some coffee! If I had one wish, it would be for coffee!"
That wasn't dignified.
3. Flame and Shadow by Maya.
Ron was woken by the sound of someone knocking on the door. He knew it was probably Miles with the offer of a lift to work. The bastard kept muttering about incognito and Muggles in the block and how taking the car with him was better than Flooing every day, and he never realised that Ron came close to murder every Monday.
"Go AWAY!" he bellowed, keeping his head under the covers.
The knocking continued. Damn Miles.
Which was when the covers moved.
"SHOVE OFF!" screamed a female voice.
The knocking stopped abruptly, but that didn't help as Ron moved abruptly and then a tom-tom started up in Ron's head.
Trying frantically to think past the blood pounding in his ears, he stared down at the cross, screwed-up face of Pansy Parkinson.
Last night. Oh, God. Oh, hell.
Pansy looked up at him, blinked in brief confusion and then grimaced.
"Oh, no," she said. "Oh, my God. I did Ron Weasley! How am I going to look anyone in the face ever again?"
4. The Revenge of Lord Vodkamort by LizBee.
"You could ask Professor Snape," suggested Hermione.
"Or I could poke my eyeballs out with a spork."
"Well that won't be helpful. How will we deal with the wardrobe then?" Hermione lowered her voice. "It's probably tasted human flesh."
"I know it's tasted my favourite violet cloak," sighed Lavender. "And I got a really nasty bruise when Harry pulled me out."
"We could chop it into firewood," Ron suggested.
"That won't release the curses on it, though," said Harry.
"It'll be evil firewood!"
"For evil fires!"
"And evil guys on Guy Fawkes Night!"
"Coming to life … lurching through the streets of Hogsmeade … eating Snape's brain with a spork…"
Hermione stared at them. "You and sporks, Harry. Is this something I should be concerned about?"
"I have a problem."
"We knew that," said Ron, "but it doesn't explain the sporks."
5. Lust over Pendle by AJ Hall.
"Can we get on?" Rita Skeeter asked irritably. "Would you say, Narcissa, that Draco's inclinations are a result of the influence of his father?"
Mrs Longbottom nodded sagely. "Wouldn't surprise me. After all, they invented it, didn't they - the aristocracy?"
She pursed her lips.
"Homo-sex-u-ality, of course."
Rita Skeeter bit completely through the end of her quill, Narcissa gazed into the middle distance with the Look that Celestina Warbeck had once described as 'having the serene remote beauty of an Alaskan peak" and Rita had dubbed "the stunned albatross expression", and Camilleri bent over his photographic kit, apparently suffering from an acute sneezing fit. Mrs Longbottom straightened the vulture by half an inch or so, smiled in a satisfied way, and said
"Anyway, I mustn't interfere. Do go on."
6. Lustre by Calico and Julad.
Draco stretches out his arm languorously, fingers spread wide, enjoying the way Crabbe and Goyle flinch and back away. They have no appreciation for the truly aesthetic. Draco closes his eyes briefly as the cool silky weight around his neck shifts, gliding down his arm and weaving round his fingers. This is beyond wonderful.
"Isn't she marvellous?" he murmurs, and hears Crabbe gulp. "My father sent her. Very rare, of course. And extremely expensive."
"Great," Goyle blurts, and Draco smiles to himself. It truly is. He becomes aware of other interested Slytherins casually turning up at his table to hover, and pretends not to notice them just yet. It's surprisingly easy to ignore them, as he lounges in an armchair with a corculus anguisa wound lovingly around his fingers.
He turns his hand over and admires the silvery shimmer as the snake winds itself over his palm to rest her little wedge head on the back of his hand. She's long enough to wrap five times around his wrist, or twice round his neck with a curl of tail trailing against his collarbone, and she's slender as his thumb for the most part, tapering down to a single scale's-width at one end and a tiny snub muzzle at the other.
7. Potio by Seeker.
Keeping his head down, hair falling over his face, shielding it from the passers-by, he kept as much in the shadow as he could. It was a weekday, the foot traffic was light, and he went unchallenged by any strangers who might have known him from his old life. The one he didn't know, and was determined to discover. A creaking sign above the walk declared one tall dusty building a bookshop, and he decided that was as good a place to begin his search as any.
There were newspapers in the front, with pictures whose inhabitants peered and made rude gestures at him. His brow wrinkled as he stared down at them. Did everyone hate him? Perhaps it was as well he didn't know who he'd been, if that was the reaction he got. Still, he couldn't begin to build his new life until he knew what he was leaving behind, so he headed for the shelves. Perhaps his books, the ones they'd not let him read, would give him some clues.
He couldn't find them. He tried fiction, since the doctor had said they were, but there were no Lockharts to be found. He tried humor, since so many people laughed at him, but they weren't there either. Staring around at the various categories of non-fiction, he sighed. He had no idea where to start.
"Help ya, sir?" a thin voice piped up behind him. He turned with a grateful smile. The proprietor of the bookshop, a very tall, very thin man wearing a black gown, winced and glanced away.
He knew why. The scars along the side of his face were a constant ache now. Trying to ignore the book seller's reaction, he asked tentatively, "I was looking for books by Gilderoy Lockhart. D'you have any?"
The man's laughter sounded genuine. "Looking for a good laugh, eh? Right you are then, they're back here with the remainders. Sell you the whole series for dirt cheap. Nobody wants 'em now it's out what a fraud he was."
He swallowed heavily. He was a fraud? Biting back the questions bursting at his lips, he simply picked up one of each of the severely down-marked books from the huge pile and stuffed them into his pack. The proprietor rang up his purchase, less than three coins to pay for the lot, and waved him on his way without ever looking at his face again.
Not that it would have mattered. Settled at a table in the back of a dark pub, staring at the photograph smirking and winking at him from the back of the book, he knew no one would look at the wreck he was and see the golden beauty he had been. Although from what he'd heard, from several sources, that beauty was as false as the scars on his face were real.
The waitress came over, took his order, tried not to make it obvious that she was disturbed by his face, and left without attempting small talk. It was just as well. He had a lot of reading to do and was in no mood to see any more pity from anyone.
8. Transfigurations by Resonant.
He looked past Malfoy to Hermione. "Gryffindor kids look good," he said.
"Yes," Malfoy said before she could respond, "nearly all of them look sensible enough not to jump off a roof on a dare."
Harry felt his mouth tighten. He really wished Malfoy would give it a rest; he was worn out from travel and his control of his own temper was uncertain.
Hermione, though, picked it up as though it was a continuation of an earlier conversation. "Oh, Draco," she said. "The Slytherins will be all right. They're young, that's all."
"Young," he said contemptuously. "Look at them. Sneaks, paranoiacs, and Type A high achievers."
Harry followed his gaze to the Slytherin table. Most of them really did look as though they had something to hide, but what was new in that?
"There was a time," Malfoy went on, "when Slytherin attracted serpents -- not jackals."
"Not when you were there," Harry said before he could stop himself.
But Malfoy didn't even pause. "It's not just the Slytherins, either. Look at Ravenclaw. Nothing but precocious smart-alecks. And Hufflepuff -- they're about to expire from sheer earnestness." Harry could hear Hermione trying to stifle a giggle.
Now McGonagall was giving the students the usual cautions -- no going into the Forbidden Forest, no venturing out after curfew. Rather more than the usual cautions, in fact. "You'll see barriers in places which are still considered unsafe. In particular, the old Potions wing is off limits to all students and staff as well. I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to heed any barriers you see. Any student caught trying to cross a barrier will be expelled immediately." Harry looked around, hoping the barriers would be easy to spot; he hadn't seen any yet.
"The Gryffindors are all right -- as all right as Gryffindors ever get, anyway," Malfoy went on, nodding at Lupin, "because Fenris understands the history of the place." Harry set his teeth at the cruel nickname. "But the rest of the houses -- look at them. I told you so, 'Mione. They're parodies of themselves."
Hermione shot Harry a fondly impatient look over Malfoy's head. "Draco believes the Sorting Hat is somehow reacting to the wishes of the Heads of House," she said. "And he's not happy with the Headmistress's choices for Heads."
There was no need to wonder who Malfoy thought was a better candidate for Slytherin head, Harry thought as the table was cleared for dessert -- no, wait, pudding.
A Malfoy was out for himself, first, last, and always. It was strangely reassuring to know some things hadn't changed.
9. Harry Potter and the Polka Dot Plague by Mariner.
A number of people were talking excitedly in the next room. Harry couldn't quite hear what they were saying, but he could make out Madam Pomfrey's voice, and Professor Dumbledore's, as well as two others he couldn't recognize. Everyone sounded extremely upset. Harry was just starting to wonder if it was worth the effort to get out of bed and try to see what was happening, when the door flew open. Madam Pomfrey rushed in, followed by Dumbledore, followed by - Harry sat straight up in shock - Crabbe and Goyle, supporting an extremely disheveled Professor Snape between them.
Snape's black hair looked greasier than ever, and his skin was streaked and shiny with sweat. He was wearing his robes over a gray nightshirt, both of which were rather singed, and there were black smudge marks on his face, as if he'd once again stood too close to one of Neville's exploding cauldrons. Crabbe and Goyle dragged him over to the empty bed and lifted him up onto it, grunting in unison. Madam Pomfrey immediately herded them toward the exit, muttering about quarantine again. They went obediently enough at first, then stopped in the doorway and glanced back over their shoulders with identical frowning expressions.
"He'll be all right," Goyle said, "won't he?"
Harry couldn't help but stare. In the four years since he'd first met Crabbe and Goyle, this was the first time he could recall hearing either one of them speak. Usually they just stood around and sniggered while Malfoy did the talking.
"Of course he'll be all right," Madam Pomfrey said firmly. "Now go and tell that to the rest of the Slytherins. And tell them absolutely no visitors, so it's no use anyone trying." She pushed them out the door and hurried out after them.
Snape fell back onto the pillows with a groan. He looked really awful. His nightshirt gaped open at the throat, revealing a dense and extremely colorful pattern of polka dots.
"Potter…" Snape's voice was slurred and his eyes looked dazed when he glared at Harry across the gap between their beds. "Fifty points from Gryffindor."
"There, there, Severus." Dumbledore patted Snape's shoulder sympathetically. "Don't mind Professor Snape, Harry, he's delirious."
10. L'Heure Bleu by Dale Edmonds.
"Again," snaps Draco.
Riley concentrates. It's like an itch at the back of his head, as if his hair wanted to sneeze. His fingers tingle and blue-white light pours out of them. He's stripped off his clothes and is standing barefoot in his boxers, sweat dripping off him. He's been practising the damn spell for two hours now and when the light streams out, it's a rush, a low, sweet rush that sends his heart racing and leaves him feeling like he's run a marathon.
Draco does this without any visible effort. Waves his hand and incinerates the target. So far, Riley's singed the edges.
The light fades. He drops his arms and collapses on the floor. The stone flags are blessedly cold. He's thirsty, hungry and the Army never said this was going to be so fucking difficult. Military advisor to a group of English wizards. He'd always thought Giles was weird, and now he's convinced they're all freaks.
"Get up, Riley." Draco toes him in the side. He opens his eyes and looks up. Graham, the fucker, assigned himself to Harry Potter. Flying around on broomsticks and drinking butterbeer, he said. Gossip added a Ms Granger to the list, while Riley's stuck with Draco Malfoy, heir to the Malfoy fortune and private army.
Two weeks he's been trapped in the rambling castle, unable to wander about on his own. House-elves shadowing him everywhere, locked doors and paintings that not only watch him, but scream at him. He's taken to showering in the dark.
The first day, Harry Potter, a skinny dark-haired kid who looked strung out on nerves or crack, had been there to talk to Draco. Riley wishes he'd paid more attention, but he'd been a little on edge himself. No broomsticks, but Draco's driving was worse than Buffy's, and there'd been a damn dragon on a leash outside the front entrance.
Arguments the first day with names he didn't know, half of it just plain hissing that the two of them looked like they understood. A disappearance before dinner that left them dishevelled. Riley could put two and two together. It helped that Draco was so fair that his stubble burn could be seen across the room.
Potter had stormed off after Draco tried again to get rid of Riley. Draco, whip-tight with tension, had waited at a window. Riley waited a while, then went back to his room to check his email.
Two hours later, a sharp rap on the door and he'd staggered out of bed to open the door. Draco, a silver-scaled hood drawn over him, and a softly growled command. "Come and learn. If I have to keep you, you'd better be good."
11. Scrabble by MartianHousecat.
Malfoy sneered at his competition and drew his wand. He shifted his gaze from the others and turned it to the difficult task at hand - getting new letters. The gold letter bag sat quiescently for now, so he slowly inched his left hand towards it.
A hush fell on the spectators and some vainly tried to push closer, but were neatly stopped by Crabbe and Goyle, who, like always, worked the crowd.
"Come on," he whispered under his breath. The game had been underway for several hours now - the scores only as low as they were due to the usually counter-cheating - and the bag was getting testy. This would take finesse, but luckily he'd enough of that to charm every girl in the year, and enough left over to start in on the boys. Assuming that Parkinson didn't gut him after the first.
His fingers brushed against the shiny fabric and it rustled restlessly, still playing coy. In one smooth, practiced motion he brought he hand down against the bag, hard, and shot off a stunning spell. The bag, being sneaky, managed to curl enough of itself away just in time, and flapped in his grip, trying to break free.
He managed to wrestle it flat against the table, one handed, but it successfully dodged his every spell.
Then, every Scrabble player's worst nightmare happened - the bag went on attack.
He shrieked in fright, as it slipped from his fingers and launched itself at his face. Oh no, he thought. Not the face. Ruthlessly, the bag scratched its rough side against his delicate complexion and its corners smacked him like four tiny, embroidered fists. In panic now, he tried to rip it from his face, pulling and tugging and even trying to shred it with his short nails. But all was to no avail.
Finally, admitting defeat, he signaled that he wanted to take his last time out, by waving his hands madly and kicking his feet. A gong sounded and the bag hopped off his face. Malfoy, by this time half-suffocated, sucked in a long, shuddering breath and glared at it. It just waved a corner and toddled off, back to its resting place.
He fell back to the floor and lay still, not capable of much else. Madame Pomfrey rushed to his side and quickly checked him over, all the while muttering about Mad Snakes and silly games. "You seem to be fine, Mr. Malfoy, but I wouldn't suggest another go with the bag."
"How do you suggest I play, then?" he sneered. "Oh I know, maybe if I ask it nicely, it'll give up letters!"
"Perhaps," she said, clearly short of patience. "You should stop playing." A collective gasp sounded from the crowd.
"Are you mad, woman?" Zabini jumped to his feet, waving his letter holder. "We are Slytherin, and therefore we play!" Cheers sounded, all over the common room and chants of 'Go Malfoy' and 'Za-bi-bi' swelled. Bulstrode and Parkinson's supporters, not to be outdone, added their voices to the clamor.
12. the Familiar by Resonant.
Snape set the frog on the table in his sitting room. It regarded him through its ridiculous spectacles.
He fetched the largest shallow bowl he could find, washed it well, and filled it with water. He lifted the frog in. It splashed into the shallow water and looked at him expectantly.
Snape sighed. "Accio housefly," he said, tapping his cupped palm with his wand.
The frog sat in the water and blinked at him. Oddly, the spectacles appeared to have lost their earpieces in the transformation. Just as well, as the creature now had no ears. Through the tiny lenses, the frog's green eyes looked at him moistly and without complaint.
"Hmph," Snape said aloud. "It's an improvement, if you ask me."
13. the Lodger by Mad Martha.
At one point the little witch managed to pull Harry to one side, whispering frantically that she was so sorry, she hadn't known what to do, it had been so difficult finding this gentleman somewhere to live .... It was Harry's private opinion that her employers were the most unprincipled pigs in the trade if they could drop a hot potato like this in a junior employee's lap and expect her to deal with it. It didn't take a genius to work out why Draco Malfoy was a difficult customer, after all. What Harry wasn't sure he understood was why he was looking for a room to rent in the first place.
The room in question was the big guest bedroom Dumbledore had stayed in once or twice. It was pleasantly furnished and had an en-suite bathroom. Digging his hands into his pockets, Harry watched Malfoy for a few minutes as he looked over it silently, then said "Well?"
Malfoy turned to look at him. His face was as mask-like and inscrutable as it had been at his trial. "Why did you set the rent so low? Who were you expecting to turn up?"
Harry shrugged, a little surprised at the question. "I'm not renting it out for the money. And I didn't really expect anyone to turn up."
Miss Gabelot made a tiny sound of protest which both men ignored. Malfoy seemed to be turning Harry's response over in his mind, silently digesting it. From the look on his face Harry guessed that he wasn't buying it, although it was, in fact, the complete truth.
Finally he said, "All right."
Harry nodded. "Good. I'll give you a set of keys and you can move in whenever you like."
"Now?" That was almost a challenge.
When Harry raised a brow at him, Malfoy pulled a small package out of his pocket; a spell-shrunken bundle of luggage. For a moment Harry was reminded of Ron's zipped cat. For all he knew, Malfoy's parcel could include a zipped House-elf; the idea was almost funny.
He nodded again. "That's fine." He turned to the relieved agent. "Do you have the contracts?"
14. Third Eye, Third Sister by Orphne.
Later, at Hogwarts, she lived in the dungeons, which felt much like a cave, she thought. When she spoke, the echoes returned in hollow whispers, but she never wrote down or spoke of what she heard. She dreamed too, back then--of Dark Lords and curses and the ruins of Hogwarts. In class, she sometimes spoke in tongues long forgotten and not yet born. In her bed at night, she would ghost her fingertips against the rise of her forehead, and feel the shadow of a third eye, dry and lidless. It never blinked, it never closed, and it never slept.
She learned that she could not change what she Saw, and had accepted it. Sixth year, after she Saw Myrtle Maltpress fall against the toilets, body stiff, she had helped her with Divination the day before she died. After she Saw Tom Riddle murder his Muggle father, she had told him that he could copy her Charms' assignment for that day since he wouldn't have the time to do it himself. Years later, when she Saw Voldemort fall by the will of an infant, she had sent him a note wishing him A Happy Halloween.
After Voldemort fell, she moved to the top of the North Tower.
She is old now. The smoke in her rooms sheathes a film over her eyes, and she rarely dreams. In her old age, she has taken up weaving. In the evenings, she presses her spindle-like body against the loom and runs her hands over the wooden frame, embracing it as an old lover.
In her old age, she has grown sentimental.
15. Dancing Queen by Maya.
“My, what a surprise,” [Draco] drawled, running a negligent hand through his hair. Harry noticed that his nails were painted silver. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m straight and I’m here nonsexually with my cousin,” Harry said promptly.
“Fancy,” said Malfoy, and his eyes were caught by something over Harry’s shoulder. Harry recognised the suddenly glazed look in them as the look of someone who had been blindsided by the pants.
“And this is my cousin,” he said wearily, preparing for the Great Mockery.
“Wow, Harry,” Dudley said in his ear. “You work fast, don’t you? What a pair. God, look at the blond!”
Harry numbly accepted the Bacardi Breezer, wondering if he’d feel better if he was drunk.
Dudley still had his eyes on the graceful line of Malfoy’s throat and – well, the graceful line of Malfoy’s everything, Harry supposed - and he said in awed tones, “Mmm, pretty,” which wasn’t something Harry had ever wanted to hear about Draco Malfoy’s anything.
“Are you straight?” Malfoy inquired suddenly.
“Yes,” Harry said in fear and with all the vehemence he could summon up.
Malfoy beamed. “What a coincidence,” he said. “Me too.”
“Oh God, not another one,” Dudley said.
Blaise made an exasperated noise. “No you’re not, Draco.”
“Am too,” Malfoy asserted.
“Draco, you were just dancing onstage and being smeared with glitter as a drag queen licked your bellybutton!”
16. Thing by Cimorene and Wax Jism.
The frost-bitten morning turns into a rainy afternoon, pelting liquid ice into his hair, seeping into his boots and turning his hands into numb, useless clumps. The city is too busy for a dog; he can't hide in Padfoot's sturdy body, has to make do with this scrawny human shape that shivers and stumbles through the puddles. The rain is, at least, an excuse to keep the collar of his stolen coat turned up to hide his face from the cold, from curious eyes. There is a map on a wall, marked with an I, a small, red dot to say you are here.
"Thank you," he mutters at the map, but it's a Muggle map and doesn't reply. He follows the unfamiliar streets through unfamiliar neighbourhoods. He knows the Tube or a bus would take him closer, faster, but he has no money and no wand to charm the Muggles into giving him a ride, so he walks and walks. There are uniformed policemen in the streets here, and he doesn't dare steal anything. The papers show him no pictures of himself, so he walks taller. He's tired of cowering like a sick cur.
It's still hard to dig out the good memories - what the Dementors couldn't find he's hidden so deep that even he can't search them out. He'd rather not think than remember the bad things.
He notices jolly red and green and gold in the display windows along the street, and realises that Christmas is coming. Or here already. He's not even sure what month it is. He remembers another Christmas in London, a young, red-cheeked Remus next to him, James' laughter, cramming dirty snow down the back of Lily's coat, arms catching him and swinging him around.
James' voice saying, "Oi, Sirius, you slag!"
To stop himself from thinking about James - how can thirteen years disappear like a mist and the return pain bright sharp cold clawing through him - he thinks about Harry. Lily's eyes in a face that's softer and prettier than James' ever was, but the hair is Potter hair and those same glasses that Remus and Lily said made him look like one of the Beatles. Sirius can't remember the names of the Beatles. Remus must know. He can ask. Soon.
17. Playtime by Keieru.
Of a sudden, another boy appeared, crashing through the trees. He was a blur of wild sunbright hair, with dark clothes tailored to his slim young body. He didn't see Gregory and Vincent until he was almost upon them, and he fell heavily into the dirt when he tried to skid to a stop. "Ouch!" he cried, landing hard on his side. "Oh, look at that, my robes are torn already and this one is new, I bet Mother's going to throw an fit when she sees -- you must be Mr. Crabbe's son, and you're Mr. Goyle's, aren't you? You lot look just like them." He gazed up at them from the ground, pale eyes catching the afternoon sunlight. "Hi, I'm Draco Malfoy. This is my father's house."
Gregory stood silent, dazed by the sudden rush of words. Vincent was staring at the newcomer as well, his mouth gaping slightly open.
Draco Malfoy seemed to be in constant motion, looking around with quick shifts of his eyes, legs fidgeting, arms brushing off his robes, never keeping still. His quicksilver presence wrapped around them, animated and bright, bringing a curious sort of sparkle.
It was as if the world instantly became more interesting, with this swift-talking shining boy in it. Perhaps that was why Gregory reached out, holding out a heavy hand that somehow seemed too broad and solid, to help the boy up. Vincent reached out at the same time. Draco Malfoy accepted with a quick flashing smile, his slender hands grasping theirs, and together they pulled him to his feet.
"Your fathers are inside, with Father's other friends." Draco pointed towards the mansion. "Why're you two just standing out here? It's hot in summer."
Gregory blinked. He hadn't even considered moving.
"Da left me here," Vincent volunteered. Gregory nodded in agreement.
"They wouldn't mind if you came inside," Draco said with an engaging grin. "Come along, there's food, and I can't eat lunch by myself, it would be ever so boring. Mother says I never eat enough anyway, come on, besides it's too hot out here -" and before they knew it, Draco Malfoy was tugging at their hands to follow him.
Gregory exchanged a puzzled glance with Vincent. They followed docilely after the small talkative boy, who was babbling ceaselessly about cold drinks and sunburn.
18. the Almost Legend of Draco Malfoy by Zahra.
Draco Malfoy never wanted to do great things: they required too much effort. Great things took time and dedication, and inevitably were extraordinarily messy. Voldemort had been required to kill several hundreds of people before anyone noticed him, and Draco wasn‘t interested in doing that much work. Blood was impossible to get out any sort of quality robes, and Muggles simply weren’t that important to him. Draco didn’t have any great cause that fired his blood or called for him to use the Forbidden Curses. He certainly never wanted to be anybody’s hero – the word alone had so many negative connotations that Draco would have been appalled if anyone had even used it in the same sentence as his name. All Draco really wanted was to do what he wanted, when he wanted, with the minimal amount of fuss on his part and the maximum amount of pain to everybody else.
Draco was never ‘good.’ He was never ‘confused’ or ‘concerned.’ He never had a crisis of conscience or faith.
Draco never had faith to begin with.
At the end of the day, he didn’t give a toss.
Draco looked out for himself, and everyone else was irrelevant.
19. Come Shots by Kate Bolin, art by Glockgal.
Parvati's getting dirt on her knees. That's the only thing Hermione can think about as she's gripping the edge of the table, nails digging into the humidity-softened wood. Parvati's getting dirt on her knees and Parvati's hands are pushing apart her thighs and Parvati's head is under her skirt and Parvati's mouth...oh...
She can hear the plants rustling in the pots next to her, and she wants to reach into their pots, lifting up handfuls of dirt and compost and squeezing squeezing squeezing as she comes, dirt under her fingernails and Parvati against her clit. She can't grab the plants, she can't do anything but grab the table, because the table's holding her up, her hands are keeping her up, she can let go with one hand and lift up her skirt and run her hand through Parvati's long cascade of hair and press her closer and to the left and just so and...and...and...
She falls back against the table, knocking over one of the ferns, arching her back and moaning loudly, leaves and branches tangling in her hair. Parvati is kissing her thighs gently, her knees still on the ground, dirty and bruised.
20. excuse me, but by Silvia.
Let me tell you a love story.
You think only pretty girls get love stories? There aren't enough of them to make the world go round. There aren't enough of them to fill a shoebox.
There's the rest of that want out there, nipping at smooth heels and calloused ones. Tightly strung wards and booby traps in the basement, just waiting for you to step into the parlor and sit your ass down. It'll settle if it needs to, will take your fingernails bitten and your toes packed in wrong. It'll whisper you promises.
There's enough for a pug faced girl, with thick thighs and broad shoulders; if love has time for Malfoy, it can fit in anyone.
Because Diamonde is very, very funny.
Postcards from the Animal House by Lennie.
Nick pulled out the prints and it occurred to Justin that he hadn't taken out the ones of the people.
"Ignore the ones of Lance. I brought those to show him so he can give me permission to enter them in a competition."
"They're good." Nick looked at the second one, taken just as Lance looked up, which JC had barely glanced at except to comment on his eye colour. "Fuck, he is a suspicious bastard."
"Hmmm." Nick looked at the two best pictures of Chris and AJ then flicked through the selection of animal shots.
Justin stared at the walls of Nick's office and decided that they were really boring. JC would have wilted at the sight of them. But then, JC thought that a bare wall was a crime against God and pieces of paper with writing on them didn't count.
"Well," Nick said finally, "I am impressed by your ability to make our staff appear photogenic."
"They are." He could take pictures of them all day. Preferably naked, but whatever worked.
"No, they're mostly minions of Satan sent to make my life hell. Kind of fun, though."
I like to call this collection "Jayne is hot, yo".
1. Big Damned Zombies, Sir by Shrift.
"What seems to be the trouble?" Mal asked, watching Jayne shuffle along real slow. He was looking more perplexed than Mal had ever seen him, although technically speaking, Jayne didn't look terribly perplexed all that often due to a significant lack deep thought on his part. The big guy lurched sideways and slammed his shoulder into the wall, then just kept going without making a sound. Mal winced; he knew Jayne was no sissy, but that one was definitely gonna leave a mark.
"Is he drunk?" Wash said, peering over Mal's shoulder.
Jayne muttered something real quiet-like and lurched again, narrowly missing putting his eye out on some metal pipe.
"What's he mumbling on about?" Mal said.
"Brains, sir," Zoe answered, easing along after Jayne.
Mal followed her, motioning at the others to stay back. "The who now?"
"Brains," she said again. "All he's said since I found him in the cargo bay, sir."
Mal stared at her for a good while, but Zoe's poker face didn't fold. "Huh. Well, ain't that something."
"Oh my god," Wash said in mock horror. "Jayne's been zombified!"
"C'mon, Wash, that's just --" Mal started to argue, then stopped right quick when Zoe quirked an eyebrow. "Zombified?"
"Don't rightly know," Zoe said, watching Jayne raggedly turn the corner that led to the crew quarters. "Could be he's been zombified."
"Ain't no such thing," Mal scoffed.
"Braaaiiins," Jayne said, and fell down the ladder leading to his quarters.
Mal stood over the ladder and looked down, his head tilted in sympathy. "Okay, so maybe Jayne got himself zombified. Is his neck supposed to bend like that?"
Mal climbed down the ladder when Jayne managed to get to his feet and shuffle into his room. Zoe dropped down beside him, and they found Jayne kneeling on his bunk and clutching his gun to his chest like a teddy bear.
"Look at that," Mal said, grinning at Zoe. "Guess Jayne came back for Vera. Suppose there's no reason he'd wanna leave behind his favorite lady just 'cause of a nasty case of zombification."
2. Unchained Melody by Bonibaru.
You're more devoted to Vera than you've ever been to anything in your poor-ass excuse for a life. You can feel through your fingertips when she needs extra attention. You take her apart with gentle hands, reverently laying each piece out on the bed. You dip a cloth patch in cleaning solvent, fix it in place, then push the jag slowly into her barrel. You swirl it around, feeling your way down the tight length. The better you make it fit, the more firing residue you get out, so you make sure it's always as tight as you can get it because your life depends on a gun that fires clean. Ten times you slide the lubricating patches through in a firm, steady rhythm, loosening the copper fouling and making her insides all slick and shiny smooth again. In and out slowly ten times more with a clean, dry patch finishes her off and she shines like new when you put her back together again.
3. Tetchy by Debchan.
Jayne smirked at Simon all through lunch and asked pointed questions about how he found his chair. Not too hard, was it, and did he need a cushion, and hey, was that epoxy he smelled?
He stopped smiling about four bites into his stew. He was mid fifth bite when his eyes rolled up in his head and he pitched face first into his plate.
Everyone at the table paused and stared, first at Jayne, then at Simon, who carefully set his fork down and dabbed at his mouth with his napkin. "Oh dear," he said casually. "Stew must be off."
Once Jayne regained consciousness, Simon anxiously waited for the other shoe to drop. But when nothing unusual happened for a few days, and he began to allow himself to relax. This, he realized, was a tactical error, when he found the door to the head in his berth had been welded shut while he'd been bathing.
"You shouldn't have drugged him," Kaylee told him through her welder's mask two hours later.
Barely covered by a towel and shivering, Simon brushed past her and grabbed a robe from his bed.
She must have missed the sarcasm, or else his teeth were chattering too much to make it comprehensible, because she nodded and added, "Too nice. Guys like Jayne need something a little stronger. You know, to make a point."
"Like a spanner to forehead?"
She tilted her head, then said, "That might do it."
4. In the Before by Kirby Crow.
"You were going to shoot my sister?"
"She was gonna kill me!" Jayne presents his bloodied arm for evidence, but the doctor is unconcerned as he mutely offers a long strip of dermal weave. His posture and attitude say what he will not; that he's bled for River before and would do it again. Instantly. Without question.
Jayne realizes that Simon expects the same from him. He stares. "Well. That's a helluva lot to ask."
Especially from me, goes unsaid. Too, there is the niggling truth, shredding away at him with spiteful little fangs, that Simon would rather see him shot than River. Perfectly understandable, yet bitter all the same. Not that they had ever agreed on terms anyway, and the word love had yet to take the stage and make a bow, but it hurts to see yourself ranked and fall short.
He nods slowly, his mouth curled in, the lower lip tucked in his teeth as if retreating from harm. "I gotta think about this."
"I can't..." The short protest dies. Simon's shoulders move in a useless gesture, fatalistic acceptance of what he can't change. "She's why I'm here."
He whispers it like it explains everything, then sees that Jayne needs more, needs words, memories, fragments of a past he's trying to bury.
Again, he turns away, ignoring the rasp of Jayne's surprised intake of breath. That is, until Jayne seizes the edge of a surgical tray and sends it spinning across the lab, smashing, leaving glass shards and strewn metal implements in its wake. There is success in rage -- something a mercenary already knows -- because it does make Simon turn back.
Jayne breathes hard as he gazes down on Simon, scanning his features for any trace of emotion. Finding none. His hand half-clenches into a fist and the moment seesaws on the edge of becoming dark and ugly, and then Jayne spins on his heel and stumps out.
We reprint the following, with permission, from mAlice's World Wide Web site: http://www.arches.uga.edu/~maliced/gothga../home.html
Check out her site for further gardening lore in the same vein.
The Somber Garden
This is the original theme that gave me the idea for Gothic Gardening and will obviously discuss black (or near-black, since in nature black is a fairly rare color) plants. It seems that about once a month on rec.gardens someone asks the question "Are there any black flowers I can grow?" This list is not all-inclusive, but it's as complete as possible.
Note: I've included many plants in this list that I have no earthly idea of where to find them.
Roses: I'm sorry to say, there's just no such thing as a black rose. I could probably write an entire column on near-black roses alone, since this seems to be the black flower everyone wants (but not me... I'd rather have true-black tulips). "Taboo" claims to be the nearest yet, but I found the flowers to be fairly red. The Taboo rose came from Germany, which does earn it some goth points, but it's still not dark enough for me. In Germany, it's known as Barkarole. The experts on rec.gardens.roses recently discussed the question of black roses, and the list of cultivars I have is derived mainly from them. I haven't personally seen many of these roses, so I can't vouch for just how dark they are, and I am most certainly not a rose expert....
(Note: Many people have e-mailed me to tell me many of these roses are nowhere near black. Caveat emptor.)
"Ink Spots": supposed to be slightly darker than "Taboo" and also supposed to be better able to withstand heat. One description was "sooty black over fiery red."
"Ingrid Bergman": dark red rose, highly recommended.
"Oklahoma": dark red buds, a dark, purplish red bloom, hybrid tea rose, also highly recommended.
"Sympathie": a climbing rose with dark red buds.
"Black Jade": a miniature rose that is dark red, reportedly about the same shade as "Ink Spots."
"Brian Donne": another miniature, slightly lighter than "Black Jade."
"Love's Promise": a black/red rose with a raspberry scent.
"Tuscany" and "Tuscany Superb": antique roses, deep red with blackish overtones and lots of fragrance.
"The Squire": a David Austin rose with near-black buds and dark red blooms.
"Souvenir du Dr. Jamain": a Hybrid Perpetual, deep burgundy, with some purple.
"Nuits de Young": a purple-black moss rose.
"The Prince": a dark red-purple English rose.
"Papa Meilland": dark red-black in colder climates.
"Kentucky Derby": similar to Papa Meilland.
"Onyx": a Hybrid Tea, dark red-black.
"Black Tea": not really black, but brown.
"Deep Secret": red-black buds, dark red flower, fragrant.
"Black Lady": again, near-black buds and dark red blooms.
"Cardinal de Richelieu": a dark purple Gallica rose.
"Deuil de Paul Fontaine": a dusky purple-red moss rose. Goth points for the name - it translates to "mourning for Paul Fontaine."
Hollyhocks: Found labeled as Althaea rosea nigra, A. nigra or "The Watchman," these are single saucer-shaped blooms that are a deep, chocolate maroon. This was grown by Thomas Jefferson. I wonder if he was secretly a goth....
Snapdragon: The "Black Prince" cultivar has foliage that is dark green with dark reddish maroon overlay. When it flowers, the blooms are very dark, velvety crimson.
Gladiolus: Cultivars I've seen listed that all seem to be dark black-red, rather than a true black, are "Morocco," "Black Stallion," "Black Swan," and "Bewitched."
Canna lily: The "Black Knight" canna lily doesn't look that dark to me. It's supposed to be deep red with burgundy foliage.
Sunflowers: There isn't any such thing as a black sunflower, but there are several options for dark colored ones... which are a dramatic change from the big, bright yellow ones people are used to. Deep-hued "Evening Sun" sunflowers have deep, rich, earthen tones (mahogany-red, rusty bronze, deep gold, burgundy and bicolored combinations all with dark center disks). Two other dark cultivars I've seen are "Floristan" and "Velvet Queen."
Salvia: Andean Silverleaf or Peruvian Sage, Salvia discolor, has spikes of dark purple-black flowers and silvery foliage. The scent is a combination of fruit, eucalyptus and resin.
Tulips: "Queen of Night" dwarf tulips are a deep velvety maroon, as is "Black Diamond." Supposedly, when tulip breeding was an art several centuries ago, there were black tulips. This is the closest I've seen commercially available. There's also a "Black" Parrot tulip, which is deep purple and has "whipped" petals, and a "Black Hero" double tulip, which is derived from "Queen of Night" and has flowers resembling a peony. I've also seen a listing for the "Black Swan Tulip," Tulipa gesneriana, but I don't know how black it is, or if you can buy it.
Bachelor's Buttons: Also know as cornflowers, there is a deep maroon variety, known as "Black Ball" or "Black Boy."
Columbine: Aquilegia vulgaris has a deep maroon and white spurred variety, which is known as "Magpie" or "William Guiness." A. atrata is the black columbine and has purple-black flowers. A. viridiflora has jade green and black flowers.
Cosmos: The chocolate cosmos has burgundy-black flowers and a slight chocolate scent.
Kangaroo paws: This flower is native to Australia. The black kangaroo paw has flowers and stems that are covered by black hairs - the green barely peeks through.
Fritillaria: F. camschatcensis, also known as the black rice root lily, black lily, chocolate lily, or Black Sarana, has bell-like flowers that are ruby-black. F. davisii has deep-green bell flowers that are heavily tessellated with purplish-brown so they appear black. F. persica has spikes of very dark plum flowers.
Daylilies: The darkest daylily cultivar I've seen is "Smoking Gun," which is a maroon-brown-black color with yellow star points. There are lots deep red-black and purple-black daylilies, including "Eleventh Hour," "Night Raider," "Cairo Night," "Vintage Bordeaux," "Dominic," "Ed Murray," "Khans Knight," "Midnight Magic," "Night Wings," "Super Babe" and "Troubled Waters."
Scabiosa: Also known as the pincushion flower, the "Satchmo" variety is a deep maroon. These are excellent cut flowers.
Hyacinth: "Distinction" isn't that close to black but is deep cherry with a maroonish-black stripe down the center of each petal. Simply gorgeous.
Dianthus: Dianthus includes pinks, carnations and sweet william. Dianthus nigricans has very dark flowers, and there is a cultivar known as "King of Black," which I haven't seen, but I suspect is dark. There is also a cultivar that is deep purple-black with white edging, which I've seen named "Velvet and Lace" or "Black and White Minstrel." I've seen mention of a black carnation, but the closest I've found is a deep crimson variety, "Douglas Phu." Sweet william, Dianthus barbatus, has a variety called "Sooty," which is near black and has green-black leaves.
Dahlia: The pompom form of this flower has several deep purple-black varieties available, including "Glenplace," "Moorplace," and "Black Tuber."
Nemophilia: This is a very short plant with penny sized blooms. "Penny Black" has flowers black flowers edged with white, and "Freckles" has white flowers covered with tiny black spots.
Poppy: The peony-flowered poppy has a black cultivar, sometimes listed as "Black Cloud." These are a deep purple-black.
Iris: Unlike other flowers, black varieties seem to plentiful in the iris family. Bearded iris varieties include "Superstition," "Study in Black," "Licorice Stick," "Swazi Princess," "Night Ruler," "Hello Darkness," "Paint It Black," "Night Owl," "Black Tie Affair," and "Before the Storm." There's the "Black Gamecock" Louisiana iris. And the Chinese iris, Iris chrysographes, has a black, non-frilly flower.
Butterfly Bush: The "Black Knight" cultivar has blue-black flowers.
Hellebores: Hellebores are one of those flowers that have a range of colors from white to near-black. They are prized by many because they are in bloom in late winter, when not much else is growing, let alone blooming. The H. orientalis hybrid "Atrorubens" is fairly easy to find and has plum colored flowers. However, there are blacker varieties out there; they're just more difficult to find. Some blackish-purple strains I've seen listed include "Alberich," "Andromeda," "Ballard's Black," "Black Knight," "Castor," "Pollux" and "Sorcerer." "Nigricans" is indigo blue-black, and "Philip Ballard" is a very dark blue-black. I've also seen some stunning pictures of H. torquatus, which grows wild in (the former) Yugoslavia. The flower color is variable, with dark plum, violet-black, grey (!), and green inside/black outside all seen. This is often the species used to hybridize H. orientalis to get the darker colored flowers.
Geraneum: Geraneum phaeum has very dark purple flowers. It was once known as Mourning Widow because its flowers are so dark.
Sweet Peas: Grown for the blooms, not a vegetable. "Pageantry" is a beautiful deep red-purple. Sweet peas are found most commonly in mixes, though, and almost all the mixes will include a deep maroon or deep purple one.
Primrose: There are very deep purple primroses that look almost black available at most nurseries. There is also a gold-laced primrose, "Black and Gold," which has a yellow eye at the center of the flower, nearly black petals and a rim of yellow on each petal (the "lacing"). There are show auriculas that have white centers and black petals, although the color of the petals is obscured by either a grey-green or green color, so that there's only a ring of black around the center.
Heather: The darkest colored heather I've seen mentioned is a cultivar of Erica cinerea known as "Velvet Night." The blooms are supposed to be purple-black.
Rudbeckia: An unusual daisy, "Green Wizard" has only green sepals (no petals), and a prominent black cone. Very odd.
Viola or pansy: Violas and pansies are not the same flowers but are often listed interchangeably. The black pansy really looks black, although you can see the slightest hint or purple around the yellow eye. I've seen it listed as "Bowles Black," "Black Prince," "Molly Sanderson," and "Black Magic."
The Gothic Gardening "Black Thumb" award goes to Clive Lundquist for sending all of the following suggestions for black flowers:
Arum conophalloides var. caudatum: Gorgeous, deep purplish black arum.
Eminium rauwolfii: As above but very black. Needs dryness.
Trillium sessile: Commoner, blacky/purplish "flower."
Calochortus nigrescens: Black hairy flowers but needs warmth and likes it dry in winter.
Roscoea scillifolia: Very black, very small, short-lived flowers
Gladiolus atroviolaceus: Needs dry summer, black flowers in spring.
Arisaema ringens / triphyllum: Black, gorgeously gothy.
A. speciosum / griffithii: Brownish but still very gothy aroids.
Bellevalia pycnantha: Deep browny-black grape hyacinth.
Muscari commutatum: As above.
Iris nicolai: Black and white flowers in midwinter (often called I. rosenbachiana black and white).
Clover: Black four-leaf clover, Trifolium repens "Purpurascens," is actually chocolate brown with light green edges.
Tiarella: False Miterwort has a new cultivar known as "Inkblot," which has glossy leaves that are green on the edges, but blackish in the center. It has light pink flowers in the spring (cut 'em off!).
Heuchera: The "Pewter Moon" variety of this plant has purplish black leaves with a silver gloss.
Pussy willow: The black pussy willow comes from Japan. The catkins are so dark that they appear black against the red twigs.
Black Mondo Grass: Ophiopogon planiscapus "Nigrescens" is not actually a grass (it's really a member of the lily family). It has purple-black leaves and small pink flowers that are followed by glossy black berries.
Bamboo: Phylostachys nigra has pitch black stems. Warning: Bamboo is usually invasive. Grow it in a pot.
Ornamental Sweet Potato: Ipomoea batatas "Blackie" has black leaves and stems.
Taro: The "Jet Black" ornamental taro is actually deep burgundy.
Fountain grass: Black fountain grass, Pennisetum alope "Moudry," has ribbon foliage with ebony seed plumes. P. staceum "Rubrum" has bronze-purple leaves and flower spikes.
Smoke Bush: The "Royal Purple" cultivar has foliage that opens red but matures to a deep purple. The flowers are feathery purple plumes.
Carpet Bugle: Ajuga "Royalty" has midnight purple leaves. This is used as a ground cover and can be walked on!
Ornamental Pepper: Capsicum annuum "Black Prince" has black-purple foliage. The young fruit is red but turns black as it matures.
Durum (ornamental wheat): "Black Bearded" durum has cream-colored heads that splay out into 4- to 6-inch stiff bristles, which turn dark black when mature. "Black Eagle" has glumes that are partially black and continue onto the awns.
Broomcorn (sorghum): Two varieties are of interest: "Black Kafir" has black club-shaped heads. "Black Amber" has amber seeds covered with a shiny black coating.
Oats: Yet another ornamental grain, the "French Black" cultivar has jet black heads. All of the ornamental grains work well for unusual flower arrangements.
Everyone knows eggplants are nearly black, but here are a few unusual black vegetables....
Tomato: "Black Krim," "Black Prince" and "Southern Nights" are all varieties that produce black tomatoes, which are really a dark brown-red or garnet. All of these varieties are heirlooms from Russia. The reason these tomatoes are black is that they retain their green pigment even as they develop the red pigment... other tomatoes lose the green.
Lettuce: The "Ibis Hybrid" variety is such a dark red that it appears black. Another "greens" alternative is Tatsoi, which is an oriental green with black-green spoon shaped leaves.
Bell pepper: There are chocolate peppers, which are really dark brown, but closer to black is the "Purple Beauty" cultivar, which as you may have guessed is very dark purple.
Black Spanish radish: One of the oldest of heirloom vegetables, black Spanish radish has been cultivated since the sixteenth century. The skin of the roots is deep, deep, purple, almost black, with white flesh. Of course, you can't see the roots while it's growing, but you could always prepare a gothic salad of black lettuce, black tomato, black bell pepper and black radish.
Black Aztec corn: A sweet corn that should be eaten when the kernels are white but will turn black when fully mature. This was apparently the first corn noted by the Europeans in 1493.
Basil: This is an herb, not a vegetable. The "Dark Opal" variety has very dark purple leaves. It is excellent for flavoring vinegars and oils.
Snap Beans: The "Royal Burgundy" or "Purple Tepee" varieties have beans that are almost black - but unfortunately turn green when cooked.
Fruit: This is a fairly common province of black in nature, including black cherries, black raspberries, blackberries and black plums. These are all really common, so look them up yourself.
I HAVE POSTED A PICTURE IN THE PHOTO ALBUM OF RUDBECKIA, AKA GREEN WIZARD
One recent morning, I was sitting at my desk in my home in Los Angeles when the telephone rang. The display on the caller ID said Sandra Bernhard and indicated a number in the greater LA metro area. I took in a minor gasp. The actress/comedienne Sandra Bernhard, who has always occupied a place on my altar of celebrity worship, was calling me. What could she want? Perhaps she had read something of mine, a book or an article, and wanted to work with me on a project. Maybe she was developing a cable television show or radio program or humor book about some cultural malady she thought I’d relate to, like chronic misanthropy or dry skin or dogs that shed. Perhaps she knew someone I knew—how many degrees of separation could there be between Sandra Bernhard and me?—and wanted to “touch base,” “put a call in,” issue forth some recognition of our shared sensibilities, invite me out for coffee to talk about the possibility of collaboration, or whatever, you know, just say hi. It was a Monday morning, the first day back to work after a long holiday weekend, and as the ringing phone vibrated in my palm, the promise of good fortune buzzed through me like caffeine.
The days had been unremarkable of late. A slow September had folded into a slower October and November, the lack of seasons erasing any sense of urgency or passage of time. But there I was, on the first day of December, receiving a call from Sandra Bernhard, who was possibly calling because she wanted to option an obscure article I’d written for an obscure magazine, who possibly suspected I was a person whom she should get to know, who possibly wanted to be my friend, possibly very soon. There was a rightness about it all, a karmic logic, proof, finally, that things really did turn around when one was patient. This entire sequence of thoughts passed through my mind in the time it took for the phone to ring twice. I waited through the third ring to answer, preparing an air of vocal insouciance that would conceal my euphoric anticipation.
It was Blanca Castillo*, my cleaning lady. She was calling to ask if she could come on Saturday rather than Friday. In my shock, I barely listened to her. I wondered if Sandra Bernhard was right there, puttering around in leather pants and Manolos while Blanca stole away to the telephone. I wondered if Sandra Bernhard was neater than I was, if Blanca preferred her to me, if Blanca worked for celebrities throughout the week and saw me as a kind of charity case, a neophyte in the realm of domestic employment. Though she’s been in this country for almost 20 years, Blanca’s English is halting and uncertain, and as she stumbled through an apologetic explanation of why she couldn’t come on Friday, I felt a chemical shift inside myself—the euphoria vanished as quickly as it had appeared. The disappointment was almost overwhelming. Sandra Bernhard had not called me. It was another Monday, another month. Soon it would be another year. Still, the sun shined.
I cannot take this anecdote any further without explaining that before moving to Los Angeles, nearly a year ago, I’d never employed outside help to clean my house. I grew up in a family whose liberal guilt collided with its Midwestern origins with such thunderous intensity that I was 30 before I ever drove into a car wash (unsure of what to do) and 33 before I considered the possibility that paying someone $20 an hour to perform services for which they actively advertise and/or take referrals is not necessarily on a par with running a sweatshop. Still, I can’t help feeling that employing a cleaner represents some kind of foray into a phase of my life that might look something like adulthood, but has more to do with the simulation of movie and magazine-spread life that is at the root of the current American bourgeois construct. In recent years, I have come to own or lease a number of entities that would have been unthinkable during the pre-bourgeois years of my 20s. I have a house, a car, an 80-pound collie/St Bernard mix, and a sofa that I purchased at Crate and Barrel. And since I have reluctantly decided that the dog sheds more hair in the house than I can keep under control while fulfilling my own professional responsibilities, I enlist Blanca twice a month to perform duties that, prior to the Reagan era, the vast majority of Americans managed to do on their own quite nicely. This isn’t anything I’m proud of. The fact that I cannot keep my own house clean strikes me as more than a minor character flaw. But if I’ve discovered anything since moving to Los Angeles it’s that the assimilation process feels a lot like the aging process: We mellow out, we settle down, we accept, as a yoga teacher might say, “our possibilities and our limitations.” Put another way, I could say we lose our edge, become resigned, learn not to flinch so visibly at the price of real estate. Which is to say, for better or worse, we let the tides of bourgeois culture crash over our rough spots until we’re smooth as stones. Then we hire someone to clean up all the debris on the beach.
It feels not entirely accidental that my foray into the bourgeoisie coincides with my arrival in Los Angeles. This is a city that is bourgeois by necessity, less for its codependent relationship with the automobile than with its desperate love affair with the home. When you inhabit a geography that is at once so sprawling and so congested, when the prospect of going to a concert or a ballgame or a dinner party often means an hour or more on crowded, menacing freeways, the home becomes the primary focus of leisure activity. If there’s anything Angelenos enjoy more than going out, it’s staying in. And as much as the rest of the world may perceive Los Angeles as a city obsessed with cars, locals know that the car is simply a means to our most precious end: our houses. The amount of time discussing paint samples and Pergo rugs and the proper, earthquake-safe bolting of water heaters makes the topic of Lexuses (or is it Lexi?) and BMWs as incidental and irrelevant as the weather. Cars, like the 70-degree sunny days, are merely an ongoing condition. The house, be it a Brentwood estate or a slablike bungalow in South Central, is a living organism. And it is the house, more than the cars or clothes or Botox or anything else associated with LA’s celebrated materialism, that supplies the canvas for our bourgeois expression. We redecorate, we remodel, we refinance. Whether we’re spending $100,000 on a new kitchen or $40 on a designer doormat, we all have the opportunity to assert some symbol of affluence. That’s because the bourgeois lifestyle is no longer exclusively the domain of the bourgeoisie.
Though the term “proletariat” has become quaint, even politically incorrect, the fact that 43 million Americans lack medical insurance is, on its own, evidence that social and economic disenfranchisement is alive and well. When Karl Marx wrote that “the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, a series of revolutions in the modes of production and exchange,” he could have easily been talking about the corporate monoliths that now sell us the Indian jewelry and shabby chic furniture that deliver an aura of hipness without the hassle of rummaging through flea markets. But anyone who’s shopped for a blender or even cotton underwear in the last several years has been wooed by the slick, shiny packaging in which our current mode of production and exchange is wrapped. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there that’s not very expensive. The economic course of the 21st century has helped to spread, if not the wealth itself, at least the trappings of that wealth into further reaches of the culture than Marx could have imagined.
The revolution did indeed come. It’s just that it was a revolution not of politics, but of style. Any Democrat who’s scratching his head wondering why the lower and working classes continually vote against their economic interests would do well to visit a Target store. Target, as most of us now know, is less a store than a phenomenon. It is what makes the poor really invisible. It makes them look just like the rich. In fact, at Target the poor shop right alongside the rich. If ever there was a symbol of the democratization of design, of the sudden ability of the average or even poorer-than-average American to appear affluent, it is the fact that a sleek, conspicuously modish Michael Graves “spinner whistle” tea kettle can be purchased at any of more than 1100 Target stores across the country for $29.99. Gone are the days when the rich had lustrous kitchen appliances and the poor made do with garage-sale items. Never before have so many of us been able to join this game of bourgeois dress-up. If the Roseanne show were still on the air today, the working-class Connor family might have a Michael Graves tea kettle. At the very least, its costumers and set designers would note that an Isaac Mizrahi zipped cardigan hoodie can be picked up for $24.99 and Cynthia Rowley and Ilene Rosenzweig’s Swell line offers a smartly chic fabric shower curtain for a mere $14.99.
As I write this, a giant Target is being built on an entire city block in Hollywood, just a few miles from where I live. This is a prospect that excites not only me but dozens of friends and acquaintances who view the opening of a new, convenient Target as a major asset to our quality of life. The frequency with which Target comes up in conversation, while amusing, is not exactly surprising. Now that the dues of bourgeoisie membership exist on a sliding scale, most of us can afford to stay in the club. This gives us all a common reference point, a safety zone in which we can discuss our consumer habits and tastes without fear of alienating others or appearing elitist. The reality that there is a yawning gap between the rich and the poor, the fact that a rich person’s Target experience (a playground of items that seem practically free!) bears little resemblance to the required discipline and inherent anxiety of a poor person’s Target experience can be easily dismissed. What matters is that we all have the same tea kettle.
I’ve been known to use the word “bougie.” I use it as a derogatory expression connoting various cultural forces that I and others of my ilk deem loathsomely middlebrow. By “ilk” I mean people who spent their late teens and much of their twenties engaged in a violent struggle to keep at bay anything that’s less than hip. We are people who have had the luxury of a certain kind of educational or class privilege and, as I see in retrospect, used that privilege as a means of rejecting almost everything in our midst rather than taking advantage of the myriad options that lay before us. That is to say we only liked things until the rest of the world liked them; then we hated them. Every generation keeps its own list of treasonous icons—the bands that become too popular, the authors that dare to write best sellers, the sneaker styles that suddenly show up in the mall. That I continue, on occasion, to trot out the “bougie” allegation surely points to some form of arrested development. It also roots me firmly within my age group. The things I find middlebrow are usually things my parents’ generation embraced as symbols of their cultural or socioeconomic prowess. It runs the gamut: bagel slicers, Volvos, Garrison Keillor. It’s also about as moot as anything could possibly be. As anyone who’s over the age of 27 (34 if you live in a major metropolitan area) knows, today’s highbrow is tomorrow’s middlebrow. The brows descend along with the rest of the sagging face—that’s why it’s called growing up. Insofar as going bourgeois reflects the aging process itself, we may be forced to reconcile it as a simple fact of life.
Not being 21 anymore means coping with the fact that the stuff you like is probably considered fogeyish by those who are 21. In my less self-conscious moments, I can even admit to myself that I kind of like Volvos and Garrison Keillor, that given the choice between Garrison Keillor and, say, 90 percent of what’s on the radio at any given time, I’d buy a ticket to Lake Wobegon and stay there until spring. To grow older is to accept that bourgeois is in the eye of the beholder, that “bouginess” is less an objective description than a way of calibrating our relationship to culture at large. But I think what dogs us, at least what occasionally gnaws at me when I’m sitting in my car (Subaru) listening to music that may pass for easy listening and fretting about how I still haven’t read The Tin Drum is the anxiety stirred by the fear of becoming one of them. Even as the universe expands, the world shrinks. The more connected we become, the more we know about stuff. And the more stuff is known about, the more bourgeois it becomes.
Not being 21 anymore means I’d be lying if I said that was all bad. Some of it, like the anxiety about my music in the car, is a waste of energy. Other parts of it may just be residual flotsam from the consumer carnival of the 1980s. In other words, it’s Ronald Reagan who made me one of them. The degree to which the economic policies of the Reagan administration lay the groundwork for the democracy of tea kettle design occurred to me last December during a broadcast of the TV movie The Reagans. Amid an otherwise unremarkable sequence of biographical snippets about the couple’s rise from Hollywood B-listers to the White House came a scene wherein Ron and Nancy, up late after attending a Republican fundraiser, mull over the ramifications of leaving the Democratic Party.
Ron: I like those people tonight. You know? They were really nice. Don’t you think? Nancy: And rich. Ron: I’ve never seen so many rich people in one place. Nancy: Yeah, it was a whole new level. Real money. Ron: Yeah, different. Texaco. Shell. Mobil oil. And they didn’t even look tired. You know? They look like they spend all their time on vacation. Nice fellas.
This exchange still leaves me with an uncanny déjà vu. I’ve heard this conversation somewhere before (minus the references to big oil and Senate campaigns). I’ve heard almost these exact words in more conversations than I can count and it’s never exactly about switching political affiliations; it’s been about moving to Los Angeles. Most often, it is how New Yorkers sound when they contemplate moving to Los Angeles. The thought sequence is nearly always the same, as formulaic and intoxicating as a pop song. There is the initial suspicion of the apparent ease of it all (it can’t be as good as it looks), and then there is the initial seduction of the weather (warm but generally not too warm, dry and sunny and moodless—weather on Prozac). Then the Californians begin their seduction. They’re really nice, don’t you think? They’re rich. Even the ones who aren’t rich seem rich. Such lovely homes, such lawn maintenance, such friendly dogs that don’t leave a trace of hair on the sofa. They don’t even look tired. You know?
Moving to Los Angeles is a bit like becoming a Republican. It is also, especially for New Yorkers, the ultimate bourgeois act. There is an element to living here that involves a certain hanging up of bohemian credentials, a surrender to the strip malls and car culture and suburb-oriented infrastructure that rankles those of us who purport to be “against” such things. As unimaginative a political position as this is, it can’t be denied that LA, for all its corners of funky, urban grit (see: the tattooed hipsters of Silverlake and Echo Park), will probably never shake its reputation for bottle-blond wannabe starlets and drug-addled, mansion-dwelling lotharios (see: the Phil Spector homicide scandal). Despite a formidable, albeit subtle, intellectual community in Los Angeles, the city’s brand recognition remains tied around a celebrated American stereotype: the general flakiness of Californians and the more particular (and insidious) shallowness of Angelenos.
Since I’m not one to deny most stereotypes their God-given kernels of truth, I will admit to running up against slightly more airheadedness in Los Angeles than I have in other parts of the country. Maybe it’s the automobile-induced isolation, maybe it’s the lulling effects of weatherlessness, but certain Angelenos, for some reason, like to talk about astrology and spirit guides and gurus and Scientology. This is their brand of bohemianism. And the speed with which this bohemianism has been converted to the bourgeois (see: the yoga aisle at Target) has less to do with shallowness than with a kind of willingness to grow up. Angelenos, as a group, do not rail against the bourgeois affectations of Garrison Keillor; they sit back in their cars and drink him in. They do not shout at one another in a crowded supermarket; they take a breath, find their balance, and say a prayer of thanks for all of life’s blessings—for instance, the availability of a certain perfectly good table wine that sells in California for $1.99. As a New Yorker at heart and a snob to the core, I can feel my edges being sanded down by these blessings, and I don’t always like it. But I try to chalk up this dichotomy to the yin and yang of the East Coast/West Coast continuum. What are the coasts if not the most tangible manifestations of the opposite sides of the cultural spectrum? What is California if not the epitome of the West, of the other edge, of leftness itself? What is Los Angeles if not the corporate headquarters of that edge, the McWest, a mammoth left-turn lane on Bougie Boulevard?
What California is and, more importantly, what Los Angeles represents to the vast majority of its residents is an exhilarating merger of middle-class values and upper-class aesthetics. If Target were a city of eight million, it would be Los Angeles, a place where ambition is expressed through appearance and form trumps function any day of the week. The rather cumbersome ergonomics of the Michael Graves tea kettle present the same contradiction as the million-dollar house perched ludicrously on the Malibu mud slide: It may not last forever, but it sure looks nice. At the same time, there are plenty of ordinary things to choose from here. For every Porsche, there are a thousand Toyotas. For every nipped and tucked Beverly Hills maven, there are a thousand office girls just trying to pay the rent in Torrance. The beauty in all of this lies in the degree to which everyone can absorb the glamor. With bourgeois sprinkled so evenly throughout the atmosphere, descending upon every man, woman, and child, like ashes from the wild fires, the democracy of design can give us the illusion of real democracy.
Los Angeles’s chief export may be the movies, but its local economy is largely in the business of lifestyle. The gleaming cars—never rusty or mud splattered—the generically attractive citizenry, the conspicuous yet largely unmentioned racial segregation all conspire to make the city look like a soundstage in the very movies that sell that lifestyle to the rest of the world. The degree to which my house looks like a movie set (albeit, given my minimalist tendencies, the set of Witness) has less to do with any particular decorating skills than with the value—some might say the moral value—I have come to place on the beauty of things. Like so many others here, I have come to answer the question “Why do you like LA?” by listing any number of visual effects: the pink sunsets over the palm trees, the twinkles of mid-century moderns in the nighttime hills, the way every stoplight offers a slide show of passing drivers. It’s a voyeur’s paradise, a thousand stories unfolding behind glass: Here is a man on his cell phone, here is a couple laughing, here is a mother with her child. These streams of traffic are our versions of snowflakes, dissipating into the background, replaced in an instant, no two ever alike.
I answer the question “Why do you like LA?” the same way I’d answer the question “Why do you like the United States?” I like it because for all its hypocrisy, for all its unnaturalness, for all the lies it sends to the rest of the world, it has found a way to wrap itself around the human ego like the sweetest sleeping partner. It nuzzles us when we need it to. It rolls over and gives us room when we need our space. It flatters us with its company, separating us from some fantasy of ourselves by only the tiniest increments. My phone rings and, for a moment, Sandra Bernhard is my new best friend. The next second, the tables have turned. Blanca Castillo needs to reschedule. Blanca Castillo is in the home of a celebrity. Blanca Castillo, though she lives in a cruel world where people do not clean up after themselves, is absorbing the most base form of American glamor, the glamor of celebrity, and I, in turn, am absorbing it from her.
Is this not, in the end, the road map to bourgeois life? What are we if not vessels of our aspirations? What is America if not an agrarian nation that feeds the world our fantasies along with our corn? Los Angeles feeds us in the best and worst possible ways. It lets us pretend ordinary people can look like movie stars. It turns our tea kettles into objects of beauty, our limitations into possibilities. It lets us grow up gracefully, unburdened by seasons, absolved of guilt, safe from the dark corners that house the damage we inflict. Every day the poor get poorer. And every morning the tea kettle whistles, and the fog burns off, and the sun shines.
*Blanca Castillo’s real name was changed for this article.
• Goggles with foam lens lining-available in Venice on the boardwalk OR at a cheap sunglasses place in the Toy district on Wall, a few stores South of 4th street- apx $10-BUT REMEMBER…sometimes it’s a white out AT NIGHT…get lighter color lenses. I know a lot of people who couldn't see at night with their dark goggles! Aardvarks has some fun buggie-shaped bono goggles for about $10 that I SWEAR BY. Venice Beach as well is agood resource
• “Camelback” style backpack hydration system. Camelbacks are pretty expensive, but at Target they have a brand called TFO…nice ones for about $28. You’ll want one with at least one pocket to hold essentials like trash bag, wet wipes, sunblock and lip balm
• If you can’t afford a Utili-Kilt…make one of your own. Take your favorite outfit, skirt, pants shorts and add pockets to it with scraps of fabric – Velcro is easy to sew in and keeps things from blowing away
• Blankets-bedding gets rather shredded-I suggest Velux blankets-they’re synthetic blend…feels like suede/velvet - nothing sticks to them…playa shakes off easily-super cheap downtown or at K-mart
• Fire Performers – have extra Kevlar, chains, pliers, Kevlar thread etc for fixing your tools. Make extra wicks ahead of time. Get with Crunchy way before you leave for bulk orders of Kevlar.
• Pictures of loved ones to make camp more family. Remember those you care about and what they mean to you. Make something special for anyone who is sick your who you’ve lost in the last year for a personal moment or ceremony at the Temple.
• Go to http://www.copquest.com/nametapes.htm and get several embroidered name tapes (they’re $4.95 each and you can put several on one. Sew them into your favorite jackets, camelback etc
• Get your playa shoes early to break in. www.copquest.com has great deals on tactical military boots that vent but keep sand out (leather cracks easily on the playa)
• SCOTSCHGUARD everything you can-bedding, leather, suede etc to keep supple and clean
• Buy one spindle of blank CDR’s, and burn copies of the CD’s you’d normally bring onto the playa…then only bring the burns…no originals. Trust me…they’ll get trashed no matter how careful you’ll be. It’s much cheaper to trash a burned one than your original.
SOME GOOD RESOURCES:
• Cheapo Fabric: For basic cheapo fabric-go around the corner of Wall and 9th Street-a the corner are several $1.99 fabric stores you'll see signs for. My favorite resource is Kashcool (213-489-3010) rocks for older fabrics-last years' fun fur.
• EZ Fabrics: My favorite for really nice fun fur/holographic fabrics…go to 9th street one block East of Maple/Wall area…on the same side as Kashcool, one block East…you'll see fun fur outside of the most beautiful kind-BARTER BARTER BARTER. If they let you walk out of their store, it's too low for them to sell it to you. But if they can even make a buck above their cost, they'll sell it to you.
• For awesome accessories esp hair stuff/tiaras, go to Top Line Accessories at 1109 Maple Ave-tell them you are a wholesaler. JUNE on Main St too…They RARELY need a sales id number-tell em you forgot it if they do ask…amazing stuff there including wigs, long satin gloves etc all _ price of what it litsts for.
• Great cheap shoes and boots…on maple, between 8th and 9th…there's a pavillion of 4 stores…most below $25…amazing shoes
• Next to the shoe places, same side towards 8th street next to a great beads/trims shop is a fantastic lingerie place…super cheap…great for arm length gloves too…awesome for cheap bras to be beaded or decorated
• Note: the YMLA outlet is now closed…crap.
• Moskatels on San Julien (between 7th and 8th) is Michaels Crafts outlet store…everything is cheaper and you don't need a resale license-but don't park on the street…it's not a safe neighborhood. Look for the parking sign above it…you'll get a ticket and it's free with validation w/security on duty
• THE 99CENT STORE AND PIC N SAVE. I swear…they rock for the basics.
• Campmor.com, Sierratradingpost.com both have great cheap camping gear. Also try ebay for glacier glasses, goggles, tools etc.
• Fire performers – Wilson’s leather outlet on Magnolia in Burbank (between Buena Vista and Hollywood way) has amazing stuff – I got lined suede pants for $10-Ijust need to add a zipper. For $25 you can get a nice pair that doesn’t even need alterations
• VENICE BEACH-awesome for sarongs, sunglasses, flip flops and breezy, soft and thin cotton long sleeved shirts to keep you out of the sun. There is a whole mess of middle eastern places in one section…it’s a red brick building complex on the boardwalk south of the Sidewalk Café. There is a bellydancing place (I get their broken pieces to rebuild) and some amazing shops w/playa wear. Relatively cheap too.
• Santee Alley Downtown-the alley is NOT for anyone with claustrophobia, but amazing resource. Santee Street around 12th street has several middle eastern and African shops for great playa wear relatively cheap.
HELPFUL HABITS ON THE PLAYA
• Make sure ALL your coolers have spigits on them to drain the water!
• RECYCLE YOUR COOLER WATER. If it's clean (IT SHOULD BE because all your food is double ziplock bagged), use it in your solar shower…less water to haul and easy easy easy!
• Keep one 3 drawer bin ($12 at Target) for each member of your tent, label each drawer – keep handy with daily essentials…flashlight, swiss army knife, hammer, duct tape, wet wipes, lighters, kleenex, gloves, etc..so you don't have to search for it…THEN, don't just lay these items down anywhere…put them back so you know where they always are
• Bring some barter stuff…fimo necklaces…bindies…etc. make something creative-not just crappy Oriental trading co trinkets!
• As you are packing, assess EVERYTHING YOU'RE BRINGING and any accessories you might run out of or need…what batteries you'll need, cords for boom box, extra propane, butane, pump for your air matterss, mattress repair kits, spatula, cooking accessories and oil/butter, can opener, bottle opener …etc.
• We always need batteries. Save money and either go with rechargeables, or go to Costco and get one pack of every size in the big pack.
• Get one set of silverware for each person-no disposables-and clean each night, put back in Ziplocks to keep clean-Pic N Save is great for this. OR, use wooden chopsticks when you can – burn them each night
• Have one bin for anything you can burn, then each day, slowly burn in your fire barrell etc.
A MUST: keep one change of clothes hermedically sealed in plastic to use on the way out.
• Costumes of all kinds.
• Glitter-bindies-hair ties (NO FEATHER BOAS-ONLY MARIBOU)
• Shorts, Sarong, Bandanas/Scarfs
• Hats, Shirts-long and short-Go to Venice Beach-they have LOTS of super thin, soft long sleeved shirts to keep the sun off your back
• Rubberized rain jacket w/fleece lining (can often be found at Costco for $20)
• Comfortable nighttime shoes/boots for walking around-or if you wear Tevas, invest in some fleece socks apx $10 at REI…very comfy and warm
• Warmie clothes-flannel pajamas, ROBE, fleece, Fun Fur Jackets
• Socks and cushioned shoe liners
• Thermals/Nighttime – work out a few cold weather costumes
• FLEECE FLEECE FLEECE…did I say fleece? Playa shakes them off easy
• Shoes: If you get new shoes before the playa…BREAK THEM IN BEFORE HAND FOR AT LEAST 2 WEEKS!!
• Carpet gets nasty and you have to throw out after each burn. I suggest rubber sections (like kiddie mats) can be found at Home Depot/Lowes. Easy to clean and sweep off. OR, Ikea sells 2’ sanded wood sections-like soft pallets for $5 each. For $50 you have a large deck that is reusable and weatherproof.
• Large 5 gallon refillable water containers so you can refill your camelback, or your little water bottles to put back into coolers…5 gallon green ones apx $7 each at Kmart. You don’t want a dozen 3 gallon plastic ones…way too much trash!!
• Camp Fire Tools-rake, shovel, bucket for ashes, large magnet, a covered bin for burnables so they don’t blow away before they’re burned
• A large 5 gallon icewater cooler w/spigit like they use on football fields… every day buy one block ice or 2 bags of cubes and refill with clean drinking water. Use this to refill your camelback with icy cold refreshing water
• A one-gallon spigit cooler for JUST GATORAID. Go to Costco and get one large can of powder-every day fill with fresh ice and water. If you see people in need…get them some electrolytes!!
• 5 large bottles of Pedialite – Every year I encounter a dehydrated person and offer it to them.
• A good Tent-and stakes. Look for sales at Target or Kmart-we got a 3 roomer for $125. COVER YOUR REBAR: Bring either tennis balls, long pool foam tube-float…cut sections to fit over your rebar or impale stuffed animals for a more sadistic look to your camp-$1 at kmart or 99cent stores.
• Ziplocks Ziplocks Ziplocks-DON’T GET CHEAP ZIPLOCKS. Wet cheese sucks in your cooler. Keep one full of Babywipes for your cambelback pocket (which is always on your person) but remember…you can’t put wetwipes in the portos! Get the kind that are flushable, or keep an empty ziplock in your camelback just for trash and used Kleenex/wetwipes. Every night burn it all.
• Bring a good mirror for your tent
• A CAMELBACK: should ALWAYS be on your back with water. Refill it with cold water from your spigit cooler.
• Clear Spray Sunblock. I know everyone has it around…I always use around 3 full bottles myself. Remember the tops of your feet and your hair part!-GO TO PIC N SAVE-they always have good sunblock for $3 (top brands). I like bullfrog glitter spf 30 clear gel…you don’t have to rub in the white lotion asit’s a clear spray
• Good lipbalm-bring several…you’ll lose em or have em melt
• Motorola Talkabouts…if you are campin with several people, they're a blast around the playa - I think you can get them online and at costco for about $70 a pair-bring extra batteries and wrap it in a spiffy piece of fabric to keep the dust out
• I hate using up batteries for lanterns…Get a propane lantern at Target…apx $30 bucks…extremely bright-remember extra mantles and propane!!! They last a long time and burn clean.
• Something to light your camp with-if you don’t have a generator, get some solar lamps or solar Malibu lights.
• One clean tarp handy…good to always have if the rains come or your old one rips in the wind
• Pillows And Blanket –I highly suggest a down comforter with soft duvet – nice and warm on cold desert nights without a lot of bulk
• Flashlights With Batteries-bring ALL kinds
• If you like Air mattress-bring pump – bring 5 EXTRA PATCH KITS. You’re screwed if your mattress pops-or get a really good one with an internal pump.
• Futons: I suggest if you have the means…bring out a futon frame/mattress-very reliable
• Hammock w/stand or full body chairs so you can sleep off the ground outside when your tent gets too hot in the late morning
• Ground Mat And Tarps
• Axe And Hammer
• Full Tool Kit-I recommend NOT bringing your really good tools out there. The alkaline makes anything metal rush and kills tools. We have a playa toolbox of playified tools to use every year
• Rope, Bungies, And Tie Downs
• Duct And Electrical Tape
• Clean Bucket and plastic dish bin w/soap and one scrubber
• First Aid Kit-BRING 2 BOTTLES LIQUID BANDAGE and BLISTER PATCHES, tiger balm patches, lots of advil, tampons, antacid, PEDIALITE (great for dehydration) and burn cream if you spin fire.
• Personal kit ESSENTIALS: Burts Bees Coconut foot balm and Almond hand balm
• vinyl sheer gloves…at night put on heavy lotion and let body heat heal skin – OR go to Target in the beauty section – they have moisturizing gloves that will last all week – wear them at night
• Many Lighters and long clicker lighter-extra zippo fluid AND butane fuel
• Solar Shower- Tarp (or kiddie pool for the base) Poles, Palet ($5 at Ikea), hooks, one 8ft tall pvc pipe or fence post
• Map & Compass – Print out city maps as you’ll be using them often. Make one big one to mark where your friends are camping
• Generator And Ex. Cords and power strips
• Ez-Up Shade and rebar stakes-get the one piece units-much easier to put up
• One large canister of assorted zip ties
• Wood For Burning and lighter fluid with extra tinder/starter logs
• Outdoor Fire Barrell with bricks underneath
• Umbrella and parasols
• Scissors And Safety Pins with a small sewing kit
• Personal toiletries-birth control pills, tampons for the ladies. If you wear contacts…bring extra disposables and spare glasses, and LOTS OF REWETTING SOLUTION-go to Costco and stock up
• Bring Vitamins, Airborne and Emergen-C
• Personal Towels, liquid soap, shampoo and DEEP CONDITIONER. Just don’t rinse it out
• Qtips (Qtips with the anticeptic ointment)…tweezers…nail clippers…all the usual stuff
• Bring a small shower radio (Old Navy $10) to pick up local radio stations or mount on your bicycle
• Camera/Film or digital camera with extra clip. Every night keep any camera equipment in a plastic bag and clean out well
• EAR PLUGS. EAR PLUGS EAR PLUGS and a silly eye mask so you can sleep in the afternoon-they’re only $7 at Bed Bath and Beyond. Great for afternoon naps
• Soothing eye mask….get a target..put in cooler…say “ahhhhhhh”
• Misty Mates-available at Costco. A fun must have.
• Binoculars-awesome to look across the playa-clean each night
• Dustpan, whisk broom and full broom. Metal can for ashes
• Butane, Firestart logs and bricks for fire barrel
• One extremely good nonstick skillit and deep saucepan for your camp stove.
• Dishes: There's nothing more gross than burnt grilled cheese, soaking in a tupperware bin in the sun…then you have to throw out gross food/water etc. Get a good skillit-available at Target $10.
• DISH TIPS: If you do burn food, boil water in the pan to loosen it up after you’re done cooking. If it’s dried, scrape and throw it in a fire. No one likes stinky gooey food scraps and they make garbage nasty! Use all the food you cook – walk around and give it away – empty cooking pots and pans IMMEDIATELY and put leftovers in ziplocks. Wipe down hot pans with wet wipes then burn when dried
• Heavy duty trash bags-I mean….the thickest you can find. Trust me. Peee U
• Camp Stove-I prefer butane over propane. Burns hotter longer, less trouble with wind. They’re about $25 at Sport Chalet or Big 5 Sports. 2 burner stoves are nice too
• Coffee: I highly recommend spending $40 and getting a coffee pot that works over a 2 burner propane stove. It’s a full pot in 8 minutes. Boiling water with apercolator takes forever and often you burn the coffee. Then bring a carraffe ($10 at Ikea) and fill several pots in it. 10 minutes and you have coffee for 10 people with little mess. Offer your coffee grounds to center camp for composing.
• EATING IN STYLE ON THE PLAYA: Go to your fav restaurant…order double orders of your favorite vittles. Double bag in Gallon Ziplocks…freeze flat. One skillit meals…already cooked…will last 6 days at least…keep cooler full of ice.
• FRUIT GETS BAD FASSST. I love canned organic peaches and pears in fruit juice (not in syrup). Keep in the cooler, doesn’t go bad and is very refreshing. Fruit with rinds like melons are disgusting unless dried and burned. Same with Bananas.
• BEFORE YOU LEAVE: Take apart ALL of your food packaging..less waste. Burn everything you can each night so you keep your trash to a minimum
• Pie-Irons(available at Sportmark)-fillings, butter, bread (pizza pies, fruit pies etc)
• I highly recommend Trader Joes Tayste Bite indian foods…with some Naan…easy, lasts and only a little space used. Bread gets dry quick…bring lots of crackers
• CELERY cut in pieces in a cooler are INCRIDBLE and are full of fluids-crunchy and refreshing
• Build your meals around leftovers…If you like pesto chicken sausage…bring a few cans of Progresso chicken barley soup (the greatest) and make stew the next night
• Use large rubbermade bins or 4 drawer bins for each "room"-kitchen, clothes, toiletries, etc-they can be stacked outdoors, make great tables and don't take up room in your tent-check for Kmart/Target sales..you can find the big 18 gal ones for $3 on sale. But remember *ALWAYS PUT THE TOP ON. If you don’t you’ll have 1” of dust on everything in it in the morning.
• Salt is a necessity-salty snacks are important. Miso soup is a great sodium laden broth when you don’t want anything heavy
• Food – invest in a GOOD cooler – one for food, one for frozen, one for drinks
• coffee mugs, creamer, filters, coffee pre-ground
• cups, plates, silverware bin
• cutting knife and board
• can opener/bottle opener
• spatula/stirring spoon
• soap, drainboard
• dry cloths
• stove with fuel (at least 5)
• scouring pads, hot pads
• GO TO THE 99CENT STORE or PIC N SAVE for a lot of this stuff
• Bikes-I suggest going to Kmart. You can get a brand new needs no $30 adjustment mountain bike for about $75
• Get a fixer kit, lock, pump and can of slime to keep it happy
• A can of lube for your bike or scooter-INVALUABLE-I love WD40
• If you have a Mosquito or motorized scooter, get extra of everything you’ll need…gas, 2 stroke oil, WD40, lock etc
REGARDING BIKES-COURTESY OF JET FUEL:
Bicycle Chain -
Either 8 or 13 bucks depending on which type (single speed and three speed bikes use the 8 dollar chain; 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, etc. speed road and mountain bikes use the 13 dollar stuff). They came with a monkey link so if you don't
have a chain tool and do have a grinder or hammer and punch of some kind, you can still put your new chain on. Chain tools were 8 bucks. Chains are most often rusty from that aggressive playa dust. On derailleur bikes, this will cause
the chain to 'skip' when a stiff link comes across the freewheel.
Cable Repair Kit -
Like 7 or so bucks. It comes with 1 brake cable and housing, 1 shifter cable and housing, and 1 pair of brake shoes. Buy two of these for most bikes. Cables rust in their housings and don't like to slide through them any more, making
shifting displeasureable and your brakes stiff (if not inoperable).
Grips and Tape -
There wasn't much by way of this there, but it's one other thing I can think of that rots quickly on a bicycle, is cheap to replace, and for the cost and effort, is well worth the comfort and appearance when it's done. You can get
handlebar covering of all kinds (as well as all this other stuff) at your local bicycle shop (hell, I recommend supporting your local bicycle shop anyway!). Clean the old shit off your bars. For grips, spray the inside with a light coating of hair spray and slide on. The spray will keep them glued in place. For tape, start at the end of the bar, wrapping so that the tape at the top of the bar is going away from the rider. Work your way up applying tension with every turn. Finish with a few wraps of electrical tape.
Patch Kit -
Like 8 bucks. Money well spent if you find yourself with a flat out there. Losing use of your bicycle at Black Rock City is like losing a fucking leg. ...and the only person I know that's got a spare leg is Peggo, so unless you're as cool as Peggo, ferget it. The kit comes with three plastic tire irons. That's nice.
Bicycle Locks -
All kinds at various good prices. Contrary to popular belief, hippies steal from each other. None were bomb-proof, but enough to keep honest people honest. It occurred to me that pretty much anyone can have a bicycle that runs along
SWEET for around 20 to 25 bucks, some WD40, and a little bit of very satisfying work.
My mother and I sing the following song every morning for anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on how slow she and I are moving. Every morning it includes improvisations that may or may not have previously included. I've written in as many improvisations as I can remember of the hundreds that have been created since we began sink bathing her on October 26, 2003. The basic structure of the song, though, is always the same, every day, usually once a day, very occasionally twice.
Every day, for a couple of months, now, I've realized that this song should be recorded here as a dedication to all caregivers who bathe their Ancient and/or Infirm and/or Just Beginning Ones. This is the most important song we sing with those for whom we care. It is always the first song of the day (even if it is repeated throughout the day), it allows us to draw a bead on each others' moods, sets the tone for the day and the accompanying dance, through a smoothly accelerating idle, revs our Beloved Care Recipients for the rest of the day.
Feel free to sing along and add your own verses.
Mom: [sitting on the edge of her bed] My, did I sweat, last night! I'm soaked with it!Second Verse
Me: That's not sweat, Mom, that's urine.
Mom: [glaring at me suspiciously] I don't think so. I think you're wrong.
Me: Mom, your bladder has been leaking profusely at night for over a year. Beleive me, that's urine. If it isn't, there's definitely something wrong because, I can tell you, you're sweat smells exactly like urine! [she comically mugs her displeasure with what I've said] Take off night shirt, put on bed, not over the edge...good. Thank you. Arise! Let's get you bathed.
Mom: And shine! I don't think I'll bathe today. [Mom rises from the edge of the bed and stretches.] Ohh, that felt good!
Me: It looked like it felt good. You don't have a choice about bathing. I'm not going to let you marinate in your urine all day. Okay, you know the drill. Into the bathroom, sit down on open toilet, take off underwear, throw it away in garbage, not on floor, not in bathtub.
Mom: Throw it away?!? Why?!?
Me: Because it's paper, and it's soaked.
Mom: Well, I hope we have more, then!
Me: We've got lots. Now, go, now that you're practically naked, the only warm place is in the bathroom. Go! I'm going to strip your bed, spray it and I'll be right in.
Mom: Spray it!?! With What?!?
Me: Vinegar water. Go, before you freeze!
Mom: Why are you spraying my bed with vinegar water?!?
Me: The party line is that it's to clean your urine off your bed, but the real reason is to kill your kooties! Now go!
[Accompaniment for the following verse: A constantly running sink.]
Me: Okay, last pill, open up...nope, nope, nope, don't touch it, your hands are covered with urine...good girl...okay, water...
[Mom raises her hand, waves away the water]
Me: You don't have a choice, you're dehydrated, drink up, you may not be thirsty, but your body is...good, one more gulp...
Mom: That's enough.
Me: Okay, give me your left foot.
[I wash her left foot]
Let me know if the water temperature is uncomfortable.
Mom: If it is, I'll kick you!
Me: Whoa! You're in rare form today! Okay, right foot.
[I wash her right foot.]
Okay, lift left foot only.
[I lift the left half of the towel on which her left foot has been resting, throw it over the right foot, while holding her left foot.]
No, No, leave your right foot down, keep it under the towel. Thank you.
[I position a clean towel beneath her raised left foot, then support her left foot and rinse it.]
Okay, you may now raise your right foot.
[I pull the wet towel out from underneath her right foot, throw it behind me into the bathtub, pull the clean towel underneath her right foot, support this foot and rinse it.]
Mom: [wriggling her toes] That feels good. You can keep doing that.
Me: [soaping up the blue washcloth] I'll do it again, tonight, when I rub lotion on your legs. Now, you get to wash your face while I wash your left leg. Here.
Mom: [snuggling her hands and face in the wash cloth] Mmmm, warm.
Me: [while I'm soaping up the green washcloth] Wash all over face, both sides and forehead, to the hairline, wash ridges around nose, behind ears, front and back of neck, scrub, scrub, scrub, do everything twice, avoid eye area so you don't...dut, dut, dut...[a little louder] avoid eye area so you don't get soap in your eyes, we'll get that during rinses...
[I wash her left leg, keeping my eye on her face and neck progress]
Me: Don't forget neck, scrub, scrub, scrub...
Mom: I did my neck...
Me: No you didn't, I was watching...
Mom: How can you watch from down there?!?
Me: I have eyes on the top of my head...come on...get that urine off your neck, behind ears...good girl...
Mom: [picking through the hair on the top of my head with her free hand while I squat at her feet] My goodness, girl, one, two, three, four, you've got more than one pair of eyes, up there...
Me: I don't recall that I specified how many eyes I have up there...
Mom: Well, you didn't get those from me, you must have gotten them from your father.
Me: Really?!? I got the eyes in the back of my head from you, I know that from when I was little, you always used to talk about the eyes in the back of your head. I assumed I got the others from you, too.
Mom: Nope, not from me.
[I'm on my feet now, at the sink, wetting the rinse cloths, so I reach over and teasingly sort through her hair]
Me: No, I guess you're right. My mistake.
Mom: Let that be a lesson.
[I hand her a wet rinse washcloth, wet my own]
First rinse, face. You can do your eye area, now, first, before rinsing anything else, so you don't get soap in your eyes. Pretend you have soap on that washcloth, scrub, scrub, scrub...
[while I direct her I'm rinsing her left leg]
...no, you're not done yet, get all your face, up to the hairline, behind your ears, scrub, scrub, scrub, ah, ah, ah, you didn't get your neck...
Mom: Yes, I did!
Me: That was while you were washing. You need to rinse it now, scrub, scrub scrub...
...excellent, third rinse, scrub, scrub, scrub...get the last of the soap off...
Mom: You forgot to rinse my leg a second time.
Me: I already did. I'm faster than you. Wanna race?
Mom: No, you get up earlier than me.
Me: Okay, left arm only, start with fingers, scrub, scrub, scrub, between fingers...
Mom: [holding up left index finger, she asks with exaggerated innocence] How do I wash between this finger?
Me: Touche. Wash between all fingers, individually, all the way down to the knuckles, scrub, scrub...
Me: [smiling] Very good, Missus Hudson, you may advance to the next step, top and bottom of hand...
Mom: scrub, scrub, scrub...
Me: [while I'm stopped, soaping her right leg]...all the way around forearm...
Mom: I only have two arms...
Me: No you don't, you have four arms on each side.
Mom: You don't have four arms.
Me: That's because I take after my father.
[we both laugh]
All the way around the upper arm, under the arm, scrub the armpit, don't swab it, get this area right here [running my finger along the bottom of her upper arm] there you go, top of shoulder...
Mom: I already did that!
Me: No you didn't, I was watching, I have eyes on the sides of my head...
Mom: Now, those you got from me.
Me: Ah, ah, ah, left arm only, no cross contamination here...
[handing her a rinse cloth] Okay, first rinse, left arm only, start with fingers, in between all fingers individually, all the way down to the knuckles...
Mom: You learn quickly.
Me: I got that from my Mom...top and bottom of hand, scrub, scrub, scrub...all the way around the first of your four arms on your left side...
Me: You know what I think is funny...scrub that armpit, don't swab it, get all that urine contaminated soap off, come on, top of the shoulder, back of the shoulder...
Mom: No telling.
Me: Now that we know that people inherit their intelligence from their mother's side...get that area under your upper arm that you always miss...there you go, here, second rinse, left arm only...
Mom: [primps with her free hand] Naturally.
Me: That kind of shoots men marrying for beauty all to hell, doesn't it. And, what's the point, then, of women marrying for brains?!? We may as well marry for brawn.
Mom: That's a good idea. Maybe I'll do that, next time.
Me: Come on, Mom, rinse the entire arm...top of the shoulder, too...okay, here you go, wash right arm only, starting with fingers...I think you did. Dad was incredibly strong, besides being smart.
Mom: He was, wasn't he.
Me: [I notice Mom examining something on the side of her forearm] What's that? Looks like another bruise. What do you do in bed at night, woman?!?
Mom: I don't know. I wish I could remember. It sure looks like I'm having fun.
Me: It sure does...start with fingers...I mean, I wonder, what was Nature thinking, letting us slip into attraction patterns that would seem to be exactly the opposite of what 'survival of the fittest' would demand, anyway...between all fingers, Mom, come on, all the way down to the knuckles, top and bottom of hand...
Mom: Maybe Nature doesn't care whether we survive...
Me: I know, maybe all Nature cares about is interesting stories that don't necessarily go anyplace...all around all four of your arms, over there, don't forget your elbow, inner and outer...
Mom: Sounds reasonable to me.
Me: Ah, ah, ah, get your upper arm, Mom, top of shoulder, armpit...
Mom: I did!
Me: You got three of them, but not the fourth.
Mom: Like I said. Smarty!
Me: Here, first rinse, right arm. Get all that soap off, all the way down to the knuckles, all your fingers, Mom...anyway, regarding Nature...
Mom: What's the point of a plan if you can't have a little fun along the way?
Me: Good point. Excellent, you did that without prompting! Here, second rinse, right arm...
Mom: I think tomorrow I'll take a bath.
Me: Don't forget the top of your shoulder, Mom, you did good on the armpit and underarm...you know, I know you long to take a bath, I wish you could, really I do, but, you know, I think [MCS] had a good point, since you're prone to urinary tract infections, now, you shouldn't be taking baths anymore. I don't suppose you'd consider sitting on a stool and taking a shower, would you? Okay, good. Arise and face me.
Mom: Absolutely not! No showers!
Me: I didn't think so. Step forward a little, don't stand on your hands, Mom, stand on your feet...don't hang from the bars, it's not good for your back. Well, then, I guess we'll be doing this for the rest of your life...
Mom: I suppose so. Well, it's better than taking a shower.
Me: Okay, well, that's good. [stooping to see how the creases at the tops of her thighs look] Well, this looks much better, Mom. That anti-itch cream does the trick. I think we'll keep using it. It looks like you never had a problem.
Mom: Do you realize you have four washcloths in there? Why do you need four washcloths?!?
Me: [washing her thigh creases and pubic area with one washcloth, then switching cloths and soap and washing her front torso] Two for washing, one for you and one for me, two for drying, one for you and one for me, then, when I'm the only one washing you I trade off. It's to avoid cross contamination. It's worth it, Mom. If they every have a "Cleanest Elderly Person" contest, you'd win hands down.
Mom: Watch your language, girl! [she's referring to my use of the word "elderly"]
Me: Okay. Cleanest person who's been around for at least 87 years. Hows that?!?
Mom: Better. Not much. You already did that. [referring to me rinsing her again]
Me: One good wash, two good rinses. That's my motto, Mom. Okay, let's dry you and put on the itch cream.
Mom: You're motto lacks something in imagination. You need a new one. Don't you mean "anti-itch"?
Me: [laughing] Oh, yeah, wouldn't that be funny, applying itch cream to that area!?!
Mom: Not to me!
Me: Okay, I won't use the itch cream, then, I'll use the anti-itch cream. Turn around so I can do your back. Center yourself over your legs. Don't hang on the bars. Looks good. No interesting things back here. We're doing good.
Mom: I prefer to be interesting.
Me: Trust me, Mom. You don't want your back ever to be as interesting as it was before I started washing it!
Mom: Mmmmm, that feels good. Right there. Rub right there.
Me: Hold on, I'll rub you better during the rinse. I don't want to rub soap into your skin. Okay, there. How's that?
Mom: Good. Good. Scratch right there. Ohhh, good. Thank you.
Me: We aim to please, Missus Hudson. Okay, here comes the part that both you and I hate.
[I take down the baby wipes, open the box and pull one out, preparing to wipe her backside and her uro-genitary area.]
Mom: Is that really necessary?
Me: Well, it's working to keep your urinary tract infections down. You haven't had one in three months, now. I'm sure your urethra has snapped back from all those catheters, but I don't want to tempt fate. Believe me, Mom, I don't do this for pleasure. If someone asked me to list my hobbies, I wouldn't put, "Cleaning my mother's ass" down as one of them.
Mom: [she snickers, then mocks offense] Gail! Shame on you! You didn't learn to talk that way from me!?!
Me: [snickering] Nope, you're right. I learned it from Dad. Thanks, Dad! Okay, I'm going to dry you off and put lotion on your back...Okay, turn around, let's finish you off. Cornstarch first...[reaching into the box of cornstarch, bringing out a handful]...yeah, I definitely like this cream stuff better, the cornstarch doesn't become glue up there. Okay, let me get your underwear, hold on...[I leave the bathroom, get two pairs of paper underwear from the closet, one small, one large, and return]...My goodness! There's a naked old lady in the bathroom!
Mom: [laughing] A cute naked old lady!
Me: And her cute, clothed daughter! [stooping with underwear] Okay, lift foot, from the thigh. Okay, lift other foot, from the thigh. Okay, lift other foot, from the thigh...
[my mother snickers]
Me: Okay, let's put pants on...
Mom: You only need to put them on two of my legs.
Me: So, you want to be daring today, eh? Okay, your choice. You may sit down, now...nope, don't put your watch on yet, here, put out your hand for lotion...okay...do this...[I slap my hands together a couple of times, demonstrating how she needs to distribute the lotion between her hands]...that's right...distribute it evenly, okay, take one hand like this...[I place one of my hands palm down on the top of the other]...okay, take that stuff all the way up the arm, no, no, don't rub it in yet, distribute it all the way up, that's right, okay, do this with the other arm...[I demonstrate, again, with opposite hand and arm]...good, okay, rub that stuff in, up and down your arm, all around...[I mime rubbing lotion into my arms]...come on, rub that lotion glaze into your arms, that's right, take it all the way up to your shoulder, get the back of your arm, that's good...Okay. Good. Now you may put on your watch and glasses...[I retrieve her shirt and bra from the floor at the opposite end of the bathroom and drape them over the edge of the tub]...okay, here's your shirt and your bra...remember to latch your bra in front, swing it around and stuff your things into your thing holders...
Mom: [directing a comic smirk my way] I thought I taught you better than that!
Me: Okay, Mom, put your breasts in your thing holders, but explain this to me, if this is a thing holder, why aren't breasts called "things"?!?
Mom: I'm going to have to sit you down and have a talk with you, child!
Me: Let's do that over breakfast. Okay, [as I collect towels, cloths and soiled clothes] your house coat's hanging right here, when you're done and dressed meet me out in the dinette.
Mom: I suppose when I get out there you're going to check to see that my "things" are in my "thing holders".
[She hates that I do this but, if I don't, she ends up wearing her bra around her neck before breakfast is over.]
Me: Only if you don't want to make a little money on the side. Want me to get the change box out this morning?
Mom: No, not this morning. Maybe tomorrow.
Me: Okay. I'll see you in the dinette.