Seth or Ryan, Seth or Ryan, Seth or
Ryan...Anna? It is hard to know who to crush on most in the O.C. Teenage
fantasies aside, there is definitely a Newport Beach nostalgia moment going on.
Maybe enough time has passed for it to now be acceptable to revisit our
favourite over-privileged California residents, or perhaps we are just gasping
for a half decent teen DRAMA with actual ACTORS in the wake of a TV schedule
packed with 'scripted reality' crapola. If someone had told us 10 years ago
that we would watch hours of 'real people' pretending to act out their 'real
lives', there would have been mass suicides at RADA. Anyway...
I for one have been finding solace in the arms of the Cohens and Coopers, i.e.
The O.C, series 1, circa 2005. This was THE seminal programme of my teenage
years; I would rush home from 6th form on a Friday to my boyfriend's house,
where we would be glued to the TV for an hour. I remember sobbing with his
younger sister over one particularly traumatic episode - not that most episodes
of The O.C. weren't traumatic; every week something dreadful would happen.
These were the days before Channel 4 put out a helpline number after an
episode, so we just had to deal with the 'issues' on our own, and it no doubt
made us stronger, more rounded human beings. Domestic abuse, illicit affairs,
divorce, bankruptcy, and alcoholism: there was always some darned thing
throwing a spanner in the works of teenage romance.
Oh, the romance. Played out against the backdrop of California mansions, pool
houses, crazy parties, public schools and of course, Newport Beach, the love
lives of these troubled teens were all-consuming. The constant on-off Ryan and
Marissa situation was infuriating, while Seth and Summer proved that love
between a geek and a cheerleader can most definitely happen. From an outsider
perspective, the two boys represented the different male tribes: Ryan was the
macho, strong yet silent alpha male, while darling Seth was the ultimate
geeky-yet-cute-and-funny beta. I always used to be a Seth girl, but now I just
cannot decide between them. One of life's hardest choices.
Yes, I did Photoshop those hearts on myself. No, I have nothing better to do with my time right now.
Deciding who to swoon over wasn't the only thing we took from The O.C. - I
remember being crippled with jealousy after nearly every show. I wanted
Marissa's wardrobe and bone-thin physique, Summer's confidence, Anna's wit and
ability to pull off short hair, their sun-drenched lives in a glamorous US
state so far removed from my life in a sleepy English village it was laughable.
Thankfully, I have outgrown my O.C. hang-ups and general life envy, although it
has left me with one scar: an unshakeable desire to go to California, just to
see if life really can be like that. One day...
There was a period in my life (when I still had access to a Sky box and a real television) when my viewing pleasure of choice was Miami Ink. Ms Kat von D, tattooist to the stars, was one of my favourite teevee personalities, and last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with her to discuss clothes, tattooing and the life of an alternative girl.
Kat was in town (such a showbizzy expression) to promote the new collection from her clothing line, Kat von D Los Angeles, which is, as you might expect, not your average celeb fashion collection (if it was, it wouldn't be on this blog, that's for sure.) The clothes are a direct extension of Kat's own unique style, which is something I got to discuss with the lady herself...
"When I grew up, all I listened to was church and classical music, but then when
I was about 15 I discovered punk rock and that changed everything. The way I
dress has always been heavily influenced by the music I listen to." Kat explains on her website that she has been making clothes from a young age, and her love of music just encouraged her to try more outrageous ways to customise garments. "I think there are a lot of girls like that too, we did a video on my site on
how to make your own ripped tee and everyone went crazy for it!"
When asked if she ever got stick for dressing in an alternative way at school,
Kat shrugs it off but says that "everyday, someone will look at you in a strange
way, but as long as you feel confident, that's all that matters." It's a good way to be, but something you definitely grow into...
Kat von D Los Angeles 'Treasure Coast'
"This collection is all about expressing yourself, I'm so inspired by nature and the almost spiritual aspect of it. Also memories - I draw on my own past for inspiration. For
example with the first collection, a lot of the clothes were lined with fabric
that was printed with my old love letters and journals. The colours of this
collection were definitely taken from nature, from the forest greens, to the
dark rust, which came from the idea of a ship's chain which had been at the
bottom of the ocean for years."
"I'm obsessed with detailing - from the fabrics, to the buttons, to the linings,
I make sure they all have something special. I work with a great team who help
me to achieve what I imagine. I also won't put anything out there that I wouldn't wear myself."
"Designing for the summer months is always hard for me because I can't make
people wear black all the time... but all the pieces are available a black option, of
[Gbird: girl after my own heart]
I watched the catwalk show and can safely say that there are a lot of pieces in Kat's latest offering that I would wear myself - she's a fan of the skinny trouser/leathers, lots of motorbike detailing, slim jackets with defined shoulders and an amazing bustier dress that any pin-up would be proud of. It's still got all the gothic/dramatic/dark touches that you would expect, but they are the kind of clothes that can be styled how you want, depending how much like Lisbeth Salander you are feeling that day (today I'm on about 65%) It's great to see the devil in the details too - everywhere you look Kat has left her personal touch, just like her instantly identifiable tattoo style. Obviously, I wanted to find out all about her life as an internationally acclaimed tattoo artist, author and TV personality (jealous, me? well, alright maybe a bit.)
"I did my first tattoo when I was 14 and it felt like the most natural thing. I've
been drawing since I could hold a pencil, according to my mum! I just loved it."
"People often ask if it was harder for me as a girl to get into tattooing but
actually I don't think that was the case, if anything then it worked in my
favour. It is a male dominated industry, but it is also one that judges people
on their talent and skill, so I just had to prove myself - which is lucky,
because as a girl we are good at doing that."
"Tattooing has meant I've met and tattooed a lot of my heroes. A friend of mine
pointed out that it's a real honour when one of your heroes is walking round
with your artwork on them, it's kind of a mutual respect thing."
I asked about her favourite clients, but Kat isn't keen to name-drop. "It's not so much the people as the projects that I'm proud of. I get excited about every new piece of work."
Not that she has much space left, but Kat is still adding to her own collection of inkings. "I'm working on my back piece because I'm just finishing off the third book - which is less
of a biography, more of a visual documentation of life - and in that, I detail my
back piece so it's time to get it done!" She is also still filming a documentary that should be out this year, along with taking vocal coaching lessons to prepare for recording an album. Not to mention running High Voltage, her tattoo shop back in L.A. and neighbouring Wonderland boutique where she curates exhibitions from some of her favourite artists. It's safe to say that Kat is a very busy lady right now - and to think, it all stems from her talent with a tattoo gun.
"I'm still amazed at how far tattooing has taken me today" she tells me, just before running off for the catwalk presentation.
It's often weird, meeting someone who you admire, but I'm happy to report that Kat was everything you'd expect - she's a creative, romantic soul who is working hard and who isn't afraid to express herself.
The Treasure Coast collection will be available soon from
Recently, Brighton was invaded with a lot of tattooed people. More than usual, anyway. The reason? The annual Brighton Tattoo Convention had arrived. Organised by Woody, one of the best known tattooists in town, this convention brings together some of the most exciting tattoo artists in the country.
I made a last minute decision to go along on the Sunday - it was definitely one of the weirdest ways I've ever spent an afternoon. For a start, it was a rare occasion where I felt self conscious about my lack of tattoos. My small collection was nothing in comparison to the full-body coverings on show. There was one dude who was completely, totally covered, and there was a lot of him to cover, ifyaknowwhatimean.
It was fascinating and inspiring to see the tattooists at work; there were so many different styles in action. As well as witnessing new tattoos being inked, it's safe to say that there were some fine people watching candidates in attendance, all with different levels of body modification.
Sadly, my bank balance was somewhat shameful at the time, which meant I had to leave without any permanent souvenirs (next year will be a different story, let me tell you that for nothin'). The endless inspiration was worth the entry fee alone, because I discovered not only new artists but also the coolest, creepiest, interior design company you have ever seen.
Interior design at a tattoo convention? For sure...because it was this kind of interior design:
Those are real bones, by the way. because no home is complete without a genuwine Jack Skellington in a box. Of course, these incredible artifacts are the work of EatonNott, a design studio that is the brainchild of artists Jess Eaton and Jon Nott. Jess is responsible for Roadkill Couture, which does exactly what it says on the tin. They all things weird and wonderful - oddities, antiques, specimens, their own artwork, and jewellery made of actual bird skulls. What more could you want from a shop? I'll be making a trip to 26 Preston Road in Brighton very soon.
I digress from tattoos. Not at the convention, although I'd watch this space for next year, was an art school friend of mine called Jean Le Roux. You know when you all leave university, you wonder who is going to go on and achieve great things? Well, I have high hopes for Jean. His illustrations are out of this world...
Pretty sure that something this guy can draw will be permanently etched on me in the near future, once he has done his apprenticeship at London's Black Garden Tattoo. One to watch...
Some visual inspiration to brighten up the dullest of dull days.
Come and take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words
This is the last time
Cause you and I, we were born to die
I know, everybody is talking about her, writing about her, analysing so much as her every sneeze. But I felt left out, okay?!
So this is what this little blog is adding to the cacophony of Lana discussion (the Tower Of Rey-bel, if you will): we are all Lana Del Rey. Lana Del Rey is all of us.
Why? Because it doesn't matter who, what, when and why Lizzy Grant transformed into Lana Del Rey. She's a 25 year old girl/woman - I can feel a Britney lyric coming on there - who has found who she wants to be. I think I can state with some degree of authority, as someone who is also 25, that it is a weird age. You finally feel as though you are becoming the person you are meant to be, but you still have a lot to learn and mess things up on a regular basis. Very regular.
Discussions with a friend earlier tonight involved anecdote swapping about our late teens and early twenties. Otherwise known as 'The Dark Times'. Forgetting even the personal, academic and car-related screw-ups from that time, I can look back (read: squint through shaded eyes) at my outfit choices from just four years ago and want to DIE. Preferably QUICKLY, and where no-one will ever see my embarassed face again. I'll be honest, in 2005, I had shit hair. I'm not saying it's fantasticarama now, but back then, it was really shit. I went to three different universities and at each one, attempted to peel off the shabby layers of teenage chrysalis to unveal the sparkling, dazzling personality I hoped might lay beneath my dodgy jeans and heavy handed eyeliner applications - all to no avail. This stuff takes time.
*By the by, for anyone over the age of 25, I know this isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff. Bear with me, I have a point and will make it eventually. I promise.*
My point is (see, I told you) that sure, Lana/Lizzy looks pretty dreadful in those old YouTube videos, singing on stage in a godawful baggy green t-shirt and faded jeans, her hair peroxide yellow, her lips decidedly un-bee-stunged. Her songs are nice, her voice an even quieter version of its current babygirl whisper. But if you look n' listen closely, you can see the beginnings of Lana. The foundations of a star.
And so, a few years later, she discovered hair dye and rollers and lipstick and/or a plastic surgeon. She got a good stylist. She worked with the best producers around right now. TA DA! She looks and sounds a whole lot better than she did before. Do you look exactly the same as you did three years ago (especially if you are 25 now)? If you do, then you might want to get a haircut. No offence. It's essentially all just about growing up.
The debate rages as to whether Lana's evolution is all just one big stage-managed piece of cynical marketing. Now, as much as I hate being sneakily sold anything, my answer to that is this: if she was completely void of talent, a hollow shell made beautiful by a money-hungry record label boss, then how would she get so many people to fall in love with her? There are twenty two million views and counting on Video Games. If that's not fans, then that's a lot of people who are morbidly curious.
Her live performances are shaky, nervous, awkward - and yet we are all fascinated by her. There is a difference between someone who is genuinely vomit-inducing awful on stage (anyone remember a pregnant Katie Price in a pink PVC catsuit, attempting to sing a Eurovision entry? Yeah, I had repressed that one too) and someone who is not conventionally perfect, who maybe makes mistakes, yet still has something special about them.
I reckon Lana is special. I like everything about her. Maybe she is just a young woman, still discovering who she is. Or maybe she is a figment of a marketeer's imagination. If she is a made-up character, then I like that made-up character. Either way, she has hit on something genius, which has made her the fastest rising star on the planet.
That other bird who we all used to talk about, Gaga whatsherface, once said that we were all Born This Way. That's kind of true, but even she was Stefani Germanotta not so long ago.
#nowplaying Lana Del Rey - Born To Die (obviously)
Many posts have appeared then vanished from my brain over the past few weeks but seriously, who needed yet another 2011 round up? We had enough 'best of' lists to last us 'til next Christmas and anyway, Charlie Brooker covered off anything you needed to know about 2011 in his Screenwipe. He's such a clever chap, that Brooker. Funny, too. Let's just not mention farm animals.
My current plan of attack for 2012 is childishly simple. No looking back. Je ne regrette rien, or whatever that Piaf bird sung about (incidentally, if you happen not to have seen La Vie En Rose, rectify that immediately.)
Last year saw yet another surreal chain of events occur on a global scale, but also in the life of YT, so with the view that things will probably get a bit 'round the twist' again, I am focusing on the good stuff that will definitely happen.
First up, the Refused and At The Drive In reformation. Oh hi, two of my favourite bands who I never thought I'd see play live. Who gives a flying flip that they are being paid big $ to play again, as Daniel P Carter pointed out, at some point professional musicians do need to earn some actual cash.
New Noise by Refused changed this little girl's life; when I first heard that song it was like someone lit a touchpaper in my brain. There was a punk club night that went by the same name in a tiny bar in Kingston when I was a student - none of my friends liked rock music, so I'd get in my car and drive there alone, just to listen to the songs. This plan worked really well until someone recognised me from my Myspace profile picture. Now THOSE were the days of social media glory, friends. (Truth be told I was mortified and left pretty sharpish.)
Obviously, being a resident of Brighton and not Los Angeles, earning a crust as a young journalist, circumstances have yet again prevented me from obtaining a Coachella ticket, so as yet I will just have to imagine their live sets. And hope, pray, beg that they come to the grotty old UK and play Reading. What a dream... Because yet again, I know come bank holiday weekend in August I'll be wearing an anorak in a muddy field, drunk at 2pm in the afternoon, living the high life at Reading Festival. Oh, the glamour! There's also Sleigh Bells and Florence gigs to look forward to, plus many more in between. Who could forget two highly anticipated and threatening-sounding albums that are due for release in the imminent future? Born to Lose and Reign of Terror, welcome to my iTunes.
It's an exciting time for music, if you ignore most of the dross nominated at the Brits (sorry, Ed Sheeran? I still don't get it.) Away from major labels, in both suburban towns and big cities, there is the feeling of desperation in the air, which in turn leads to frustration, which eventually leads to anger and a whole lot of people making angry, noisy music.
Bring that on, thank you please. Dubstep just isn't going to cut it in the current social and economic climate.
In other forms of culture, I'll be counting the minutes until This is England '90, the final part of Shane Meadows story about the kids in Nottingham. Vicky McClure and Joseph Gilgun are hands-down two of the most exciting young actors in the UK today and as far as I am concerned, they can do no wrong and lots of right.
When I'm not reading, watching or listening to something, I'll mostly be following the progress of all the incredible people I was lucky enough to meet last year. And old friends, still striving to achieve their dreams, or just to make life better. Mainly girls, each talented in different ways, working like mad to make things happen. Things will indeed happen this year, they have to.
We are all well aware that there are unspeakable atrocities happening all round the world, every day. Violations of human rights, dictatorships, the continued existence of Simon Cowell, etc etc. I am continually horrified by the forced marriages in Asia, anti-homosexuality laws in some parts of Africa and all the other injustices that Amnesty International are doing their best to raise awareness of.
However, I will admit that one such story yesterday, while it's not as earth-shatteringly horrible as other examples of prejudice, it particularly made my blood boil.
*cue the beginning of a Gbird rant. Sorry.*
Over in Aceh, Indonesia, 65 punk rock fans were arrested by armed police at a show. Purely for being punks. These kids were dragged off, had their hair completely shaved, piercings removed and any 'offensive' jewellery removed. They were then thrown into a pool for 'spiritual cleansing' and made to complete a ten day military discipline program plus religious classes.
I'm just going to pause for a second to hold back the torrent of rage that is about to flow forth.
Apparently, this province of Indonesia is governed by stringent Muslim law, which was all the justification the police needed to arrest these people.
RIGHT. This is one of the reasons I no longer have any kind of religious belief. As far as I'm concerned, religion is fine and dandy for those who want spiritual guidance, something to believe in which makes them feel they are not alone, something which gives them rules in order to structure their lives by. What is clearly not fine is when people impose their beliefs on others, or even use it as a tool to repress others. In this case, so-called religious law is being used as an excuse for abuse. Abuse of the simple human right to wear whatever the hell you like, to listen to music that inspires you. If these punks were not harming anyone, were not in any way being abusive to others, then there is no justification for the way they are treated in Indonesia.
These people are not criminals. I don't care what Muslim law says. If someone is a Muslim and they chose not to listen to punk rock, then that is fine by me. They simply CANNOT then tell others that they are not allowed to be punks. We live in an officially Christian country, but the UK doesn't force every non-Christian to abide by the 10 commandments. Too often, throughout history, religion has been the cause of some of the worst atrocities against our fellow human. I'm not even going to start listing every war that was sparked by religious tension. Mainly because that would cover the majority of wars which have ever happened.
This subject is obviously extremely contentious, so I'll be clear: Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism - I have no issue with religion as such. But faith aside, I strongly believe that no-one has the right to suppress other people's self expression (unless that expression is physically/mentally harmful to others - I'm not saying being a Nazi is in any way justifiable).
Punk rock is a subject close to my heart, as is the issue of being able to demonstrate your personality and passions via your appearance. The Indonesian police need to leave these tattooed kids well alone. Their mohawks and nose-rings are part of who they are, and removing them is a violation of their rights as a human. It's also fucking pointless - if they really are punks, do these police genuinely believe that a buzzcut and a bath is going to cleanse their blackened souls? Of course it won't. They'll endure the program through gritted teeth, go home after the 10 days, and listen to their music again. You can force someone to change how they look, but you can't alter what's inside.