Category Archives: Likeable Things

Able Friends Doing All Sorts of Things.

My friend Hannah is terrifically able. Like, everything that she does, she does really well.

Now, she is making a series of videos to go along with her foodie/cocktail blog, Sweets and Bitters. Because I’m a bit of a lush, I chose her “how to mix a drink” video. Just watch it. You’ll like it.

Also in the news, my able friend, Lola, went to the Lizzie Borden House for Valentine’s Day and all she and her girlfriend got were feelings so creepy that they had to stay at our house instead. But they went back for breakfast. And then wrote about it for Vice magazine. And now, you can be more like me and ask Lola for free medical advice. Bless you, internet.

And now, here’s the part where I wear clothes so that I can:

-go to work.

– get home early and spend that extra time just dicking around.

Boots from Macy’s of Toms River, NJ | tights from, uh… somewhere. They have to have come from somewhere | Teensy black mini skirt by me for I’m Your Present | T-shirt from Pretty Snake | Track jacket, straight from the early 2000s from Old Navy of TR, NJ| Cotton Woolrich scarf from Saver’s of Providence, RI.

In my classically subtle manner, the back of this (early aughts hipster) jacket has a Bauhaus back patch. Jake Eichten, are you wondering what happened to your favorite shirt after we broke up? Now you know.

This is the t shirt that you didn’t really get to see. It’s from my friend Joe‘s line, Pretty Snake, and features some burning witches as an all-over print. A total crowd pleaser. I’m always receiving compliments on this shirt… which I take as evidence that people are rarely paying attention very closely.

He also knits crazy, photo-realistic ponchos… among other things.

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A Place for Lists.

I found this apropos/Eno-ian ashtray at Saver’s this afternoon.

It really seems to have my number. I’ve spent these past two weeks doing very little, if anything at all, productive.

The pendulum swing towards inadvertent sloth and complete avoidance.

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Weekender Forever.

Whoa! I missed seeing this write up on the One Way Gallery blog until right now. I love the copy on it. Just the kind of plausible half-truths that I can get behind!

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CFCFG.

Speak of workouts and fight clubs, these are my friends and this is some of the stuff we like to do:

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Worn Fashion Journal.

A romantic interpretation of what I did today.

I’m not sure how this periodical went under my radar for so many years but I’m so very glad that some back issues found their way under my Christmas tree this year.

Now, I am a person who deals with clothing. A lot. I make clothing almost every damn day. I made and designed costumes as a supplement to my official “College Education”. I have pressed my face into a couple of Charles James gowns to see what was up with that crazy construction he was so famous for. As a kid, I loved my Crayola-brand fashion design set. It had sheets printed with clothing elements that you would trace over and line up to create all sorts of late 80s, early 90s, big-sleeve’d, big-hair’d styles. And you know that shit got me believing that I could, very easily, become a fashion designer. In addition, I spent middle school, high school and all of college thrift shopping up a storm. At certain points, the Second Time Around Consignment shop in Toms River (not to be confused with the high end consignment boutiques in the New England area. This one smelled, and still smells, of house-bound grandmothers) became less of a store and more of a rotating closet due to my high turnover rate of purchasing and re-donating. By senior year, I must have approached the speed of sound- a sonic boom being created as I simultaneously entered and exited the door.

  Once, also in senior year of high school, my biology teacher handed me a test bearing something, like, a B- on it. “Don’t worry,” he said, “You’ll make a great fashion designer, someday.” Of course, that statement made me “worried” about a whole mess of other things.

Shortly after moving to Providence and setting up what could easily be called “my adult life”, I began a really nihilistic cycle of being. I’m not sure of the catalyst but I’ve come to suspect that it was something called “early 20s”. While I’m pressured to believe that the early 20s are a magical time that truly represents the bloom of upper-middle-class Northeastern-white-American youth, I’ve been perversely heartened to see my younger friends, one-by-one, falling into the same pit that I found myself in around 2007 and 2008..or 2009…or….sometimes…. now. At least it means that I’m fairly normal. Here’s hoping.

To try and pull myself out of the pit of “Ugh. Everything’s awful. Nothing matters. Then, you die.” (UEANMTYD?), I worked around the idea that if nothing matters, you are at least left with a blank slate. So, I made things matter. Blasting Lady Gaga at work mattered. Riding on the bike path mattered. Eating Chex mix until I puked really, really mattered. One by one, I allowed the joys to creep back in and positioned them to obscure the things the bothered me. As a patch job, it will do.

But clothing was kind of a weird one. It was indulgent. The industry around it is, undeniably, a multifaceted gem of all things disgusting. I told myself that I was too smart or too humble or too something and thus! able to resist the siren song of thinking about clothes that I like. Or styles that I like. Or general “Looking Good.”But, after a few years of only adding band t shirts to my wardrobe, it started to become clear that mid-20s Liz had to give up the stinky polyester and garish irony of mid teens Liz. I had to deal with style. Grown up Liz pruned her wardrobe and faced the facts that there were only a few colors that she cared to wear… and that was okay. Red, green, navy, and black. Polka dots and stripes. I even came out as someone who liked dresses. Which was kind of tough. I had long held onto the weird where-did-this-come-from belief that outright femininity was equivocal to pretty much everything bad and everything that I was not to actually be. Girliness was giving up. Girliness was failure.

But a love of clothing is not purely the territory of blushing, giggling folly. What about the fops? What about the historians and the caftan-clad art teachers? What about the vast sea of menswear blogs? I got into reading streetwear blogs, like Wardrobe Remix. I liked the reader-submitted content for its democracy and for the subtle ways that each picture would hint at the reality of its subject. Clothes had a function. Clothes had a life. When I would talk with my friend who was, at the time, in the beginning stages of transitioning from female to male, clothes became a big deal. Figuring out how to dress a currently-female body as a convincing and comfortable male body? That was a big, fucking deal. That was the death knell of seeing my interest in clothing and style as just being shitty, sugary icing on the gross cake of feminine vanity… for lack of a better metaphor. There is a reason we wear what we do. It can be studied. I can look at it closely and not feel ashamed.

So, that’s what makes me like, nay, love. Nay. LOVE. Worn Fashion Journal. It is topical but timeless. It features clothes but, more so, it is about clothes and why we wear what we do and why this is important. Style is all over the internet and this ubiquity has really made me question if I like… anything at all. Something, a style or a garment or a concept, might start off as something that I am drawn to but when it is laid out, writ large, and I can see it from beginning to end, it loses something. When something comes too easy, why want for it at all? I want it. I want to carry it around the house under my arm and read it during all moments of down time. Worn is so damn interesting and well made that it makes me forget that the internet exists. That is, maybe, the highest compliment that I have ever given. The thing I was interested in? Turns out that it is interesting again.

In fact, I am going to buy the 3 newest issues right now. I consider it an investment in relaxing this jaded heart of mine.

all images stolen from the worn website.

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28th Annual Liz Novak Day.

It’s my birthday! The most fabulous day of the year.

On December 16th of every year, I willfully throw humility out the window for 24 hours and celebrate and sing a song of myself.

On that tip, here are two of my favorite things in New Jersey, my dear homeland: my favorite house in Island Heights* and my favorite motel sign.

*It faces that bay that Mr. Whitman loves so much with as much dignity as a house can muster.

Wild, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Steady the roar of the gale, with incessant undertone muttering,
Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing,
Waves, air, midnight, their savagest trinity lashing,
Out in the shadows there milk-white combs careering,
On beachy slush and sand spirts of snow fierce slanting,
Where through the murk the easterly death-wind breasting,
Through cutting swirl and spray watchful and firm advancing,
(That in the distance! is that a wreck? is the red signal flaring?)
Slush and sand of the beach tireless till daylight wending,
Steadily, slowly, through hoarse roar never remitting,
Along the midnight edge by those milk-white combs careering,
A group of dim, weird forms, struggling, the night confronting,
That savage trinity warily watching.

Patrolling Barnegat by Walt Whitman

Despite being my favorite poet, I don’t think Uncle Walt had anything to say about this one.

I bet he could come up with some real zingers, though.

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Even More Shoe Care.

Hoo- ray. The Art of Manliness has released another infogram about shoe care. I was so chuffed by their shoe polishing entry so you can imagine that my fastidious lil heart is swelled up to three times its size.

Travel Times, New Times, New Things.

Holy crap. So, after that last post about how to make a sock monkey, I received a small note from Mr. J Linderman himself who stated in agreement that I am, in fact, “a classy broad”. If it were in a non-electronic form, I would pin it above my desk and sigh because Mr. J.L. is a folk archivist dreamboat.

Sigh.

Now that’s a reference to put on the resume.

But speaking of ephemera from a century just past, I was at my crazy-huge-neato supply palace on Monday and I innocently opened up a box to find these guys: a whole bunch of stamped shields in six “new” designs!

The gang's all here.

I do love tiny things and these little friends are pretty close to perfection. I’ve yet to find much information as to who produced them and when but, from what I have seen of them in antique malls and flea markets, it seems that the crest goes into a shield-like setting and the setting gets attached to… what have you. Sometimes, I see them simply set as charms but other times they emblazon some other souvenir-type gifty- such as a poker chip holder that was marked with one from Las Vegas.

I had wanted to photograph them on a map (trite. I know.) but it somehow seems like we don’t have any world maps on hand. Instead, I lined them up on the cover of my 1939 Official Guide Book. That’s almost like a map of the world… a map of the corporately-imagined world of tomorrow. Deliver us from all evil, Westinghouse!

Speaking of world travel, I’ve had the opportunity to go out a bit and collect fun times and new things.

The first new thing of note comes from my friend Hannah, whom I stayed with in Brooklyn a couple days before Thanksgiving. Her boyfriend is very talented artist dude who works mainly in the medium of, you better believe it, cut vinyl stickers. His gallery work is way more impressive than this but there were sheets and sheets of these little guys floating all over her house. I’ve never been one to plaster my crap with stickers but I couldn’t resist once I realized that I could use the Apple insignia to make the cross on the coffin glow all blue-ish and pulsing.

Also in the realm of “Getting Things”, Dave and I finally took a long awaited trip to Lowell, MA: Crack Rock City and my Teenage Heart of Darkness. We kept our travel plan simple.

1. RRRecords.

2. Food.

We accomplished both but both were hard-fought. RRRecords (pronounced as it sounds) is compact, extensive, well-priced and delightfully staffed. It was difficult to not spend forever in there as well as to not bring home more things than we really have room for. After an hour or so of myopic concentration and small muscle movements, we burst onto the street only to be met with the local Winter Wonderland parade. Yikes! We had to wade through strollers, more strollers, and so many bored teenagers acting like they didn’t care about Christmas before we could find some sort of edible/ place to wash the record dust off of our hands. First world problems, amirite?

I’m really happy with my four purchases, Ultravox- Ultravox, Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark- Organisation, Gary Numan and Tubeway Army- Replicas and Sisters of Mercy- Floodland. Lola tells a great story about Floodland:

“4. here’s a story that i feel requires no personal knowledge of any of the participants to enjoy. my friend liz once woke up at her friend’s ben’s house in new jersey and walked down the stairs to find him in the kitchen, frying eggs while hula hooping to “Dominion/Mother Russia

Which is mostly true except for the finer details.

Anyway, a few years ago, Dave laid before me this old, portable turntable so that I could finally play all 11 or so of my 78s again. A few weeks ago, I finally dragged it out of the closet where it was resting (very peacefully) and into my studio so that I could really up the ante on how seriously I took myself. I spent a bunch of time listening to Eno/Byrne’s  My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and The Gun Club’s Miami while furrowing my brow. Seems like I take myself pretty darn seriously.

The capstone fun-time-that-resulted-in-new-things, however, was this past weekend’s trip to Danielson, CT- home of a large concentration of white supremacists, inbreds (these facts are probably related. Pun!), and Logee’s greenhouse (probably not related at all). Begun in 1892, Logee’s is awesome! And expansive! And amazing! But hard to photograph.

via the blog of Mimi Kirchner

 

Rumor has it that there is an orange tree that, over the years, has had a number of different varieties of orange trees grafted to it. Thus, it is one, giant, super-orange tree that grows different varieties of tasty oranges ALL OUT OF THE SAME PLANT! They are playing God and I am totally okay with it. The greenhouse is half retail and half jaw-dropping botanical display. After two hours of perusal, I had a rough time narrowing down my purchases- which included a Black Jewel Orchid:

and a Staghorn Fern:

Which, along with my own corporeal frame, I will try to not destroy through my rampant ignorance and negligence.

Here’s hoping.

House Jungle.

Not to be confused with any kind of music that lends itself to the wearing of big pants.

One morning, I woke up in this room. After waking but before the hang over was able to kick into my consciousness, there was a surreal minute of muffled silence as my senses began to whirr back to life and I remember thinking, “Gee. This room is perfect.”

I’ll be forever holding it against myself that these are the only pictures I have of this house. After these two, the camera’s battery died. I assure you though, every other room was just as wonderful and the entire house was handmade by a 1930s communist who didn’t follow any directions but did sculpt a plaster relief of Vladimir Lenin around the main entrance. There was a double glazed window filled with dead bees as one of the walls had become a make shift hive.

I spent my hang over roaming the grounds (extensive!) and, once I was feeling better, my friend and I spent the day rolling around the house, reading each other silly poetry, listening to records, and eating the leftovers from the previous night’s party. He moved away shortly after that and I was never able to get back to take photographs. It’s the one that got away. Hell to care for… but perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect!

Lately, I’ve been really desirous of what I call a “house jungle”. That is, a house filled with plants. Big ones. Over grown ones.

Friends. Lovers. Neighbors. Reformed hoarders. Send me your plants! Big and little! Hanging and floor! Carnivorous and hydroponic! I want them. I need them. I will water them on Mondays and Thursdays.

Our house is a greek revival from 1858 with a Victorian ell added off the back (and humorously gaudy Victorian ornamentation trimming its once classical outside! So silly-looking.) Thus, much of our house is designed to passively hold in warmth or disperse heat. Instead of beautiful plate glass, our windows are small and double hung. Our rooms are small. We have nooks that are quickly becoming oubliettes of ephemera. But the kitchen and the bathroom show promise.

I don’t think that the landlord would be too into me turning the bathtub into a water garden.

I picked up these two bad boys one morning from my neighbor’s yard sale. She had many more, but I chose the two largest ones.

They’ve been growing very quickly since then. It’s very exciting!

All images from various parts of the internet.

House plants.

Give them to me.

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The Bicycle-Shaped Hole Where My Money Goes.

My Schwinn Suburban contemplates the liminal qualities of life. Island Heights, NJ. 2005.

Some folks may not realize this but, despite being a hot-blooded American lass, I don’t have a car.

I did drive a car for about 5 years. It was convenient but, what with its constant demands for gas and parking – plus its habit of breaking parts and or getting stolen, driving could often be kind of a drag. Part of the personal appeal of moving to a city was the ability to live free from car ownership.

Now, I’m not one of those chip-on-the-shoulder, four-wheels-bad/two-wheels good kind of blow hards. Dave has a car and it is wonderful. I really like being able to buy lots of groceries when it is rainy outside. But most of the time I get about by bicycle. Have I talked to you about my bikes? About my precious baby chromoly ponies? My sweet, bi-wheelin’ dears?

I really like bikes. I really like to ride them. And think about them. And I’m starting to talk about them and read about them. Every day, I love bikes a little bit more. I’m not sure if they will usurp my love for buildings and cities and public planning but they are ever edging closer in the polls.

Currently, my stable includes:

An early 2000s Bianchi Pista in all black everything. For the past year, I have been riding it as a single speed which is stupid for a number of reasons. The first reason is because there is only one break, on the front, and the rear of the bike is not even drilled to accept a back break. Eventually, I became sick of feeling like I was either going to plow head-first into a bus or violently flip over the handle bars so I swapped it to a fixed gear. This also eases reason number two, which is that the bike becomes all twitchy and ultra responsive at higher speeds. But if I am providing all the speed myself, well, I don’t count on breaking the sound barrier any time soon.

I purchased this Surly Long Haul Trucker from my friend this past spring. I have every intention of nicing it up and switching all the black stuff to silver stuff so that it looks pretty cool and olde timey and spiffy. At first, I was unsure if I would keep this around because the ride was less than great (and very different after years of riding super minimal single speed bikes). However, I found out that what this bike needs is a little junk in its trunk for optimal performance. Even 10 or 20lbs of groceries make a difference. I’ll probably load this up with all sorts of shit and then only ride it as far as Bristol (14 miles away). Anyone want to take me on a long-ass cycling trip?

RIP This old, half-disassembled Monark Silver King. It used to live in the basement until a few weeks ago when I took it out to play around on. The ancient gears assured that it never went any faster than a slow jog while the similarly ancient coaster break made me feel like I was living one teensy arm-pit hair away from death. Kind-of-sadly, it was just stolen from our backyard the other day. I didn’t want to lock it up because I knew I wouldn’t be bummed if it wasn’t my responsibility to deal with it anymore. But let that be a note. No matter how shitty your bike is, lock it up! There are a lot of terrible people in the world and sooner or later, one will pass through your back yard or let themself into your stairwell. While you are home. Watching Twilight. (Yes. This happened to me.)

And then there is this, my Puch mixte fixer-upper. A few months back, I got it into my head that what I needed, I mean, NEEDED, was a mixte frame bicycle. But not with those lame drop bars that always look so dinky on such a weird frame. It wasn’t until I started to see photos of porteurs and and other utility bikes that I realized, “Gee. Those frames can look really nice.” So, as if everything else going on in my life was not enough of a diversion, I went on craigslist and picked up this cherry red, small-sized frame as a great winter 2011/2012 project. The object: learn to build a freaking bike. Then, make the perfect freaking bike for getting around town in all weather as well as something that can go on trips out of town. And it should be speedy. And it should be comfy. And it should have at least one religious icon decal stuck to it. I’m no fan of the Puch font, anyway.

Here’s some around the web eye candy:

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