Best Living Thing That I Can Pretty Much Completely Neglect: Air Plants
I just learned about air plants, which gather their nutrients through their leaves instead of through their roots, which means that they don't need soil to grow. I like having plants around but I'm also lazy and have a proclivity towards accidentally neglecting things, so these low-maintenance plants appeal to me. They look cool and I don't have to worry about them. (You can order them for under five a pop at www.airplants.com.)
Best Record That Is Just As Good As It Was The First Time I Got Obsessed With It When I Was 17: Shock Troops by Cock Sparrer
You know how you'll be going through your record collection and you'll come across an album that you used to play ad nauseam like five or six years ago, and you go "Holy shit, I loved this record," and you start listening to it and it still sounds so fucking good after all these years that you kind of feel like an ass for ever letting yourself forget about it in the first place? That how I feel about the British oi band Cock Sparrer and especially their great '83 album Shock Troops, which I played to death when I first got it back when I was a teenager and which I've had on repeat on my iPod for the last three weeks for reasons I will not yet divulge for fear of jinxing myself. Seriously, this album is total and complete working class London perfection -- it makes you want to put on Doc Martens and down a few Newcastles and get in a fight, and it's still somehow it's one of the most upbeat, positive records I can think of. Listen to "Where Are They Now" and then go buy this album.
Best Blog That I Would Totally Be Ripping Off If I Didn't Already Have My Hands Full With WR2BAM: 30 Is The New 13
Embarrassing confession: I was a huge, huge Baby-Sitters Club fan as a kid. Even more embarrassing confession: In recent months I've discovered the rather massive BSC fandom on the internet, and I spend a couple of nostalgic hours a week reading the snarky recaps of BSC and other YA books on blogs like BSC Revisited, Sheep Are In, and Dibby Fresh. Through these blogs I discovered 30 Is The New 13, a blog run by a hilarious and apparently totally un-self-conscious woman named Sada. As a preteen Sada made countless attempts at writing her own YA fiction, heavily influenced (and sometimes completely ripped off) by the popular kids' novels of the '80s, from Judy Blume to Sweet Valley and, of course, the BSC, and on 30 Is The New 13 she posts these opuses in their entirey -- complete with felt-tipped illustrations! -- for our amusement.
I can't really describe or explain this blog except to say that it's incredibly heartwarming and funny for me to read as I, like Sada, fancied myself quite the authoress as a pre-teen (I was constantly at work on my own YA "series" that featured, naturally, a set of identical twins always finding themselves in the midst of completely unbelievable, or, on the flip, laughably mundane adventures). I grew up on the same books that she did, writing strikingly similar stories, and reading her laborious preadolescent works of fiction makes me feel incredibly nostalgic in the best way possible. I'd wager that women born between 1979 and 1987 will probably be the only ones who truly "get" this incredibly sweet, funny blog, but if you should happen to fall into that category -- and especially if you ever had a penchant for The Unicorn Club or Barthe DeClements novels -- please, read and enjoy this blog.
Best Health Program That Gives Me Hope For The Future: College Bound Sisters
I read about this program a couple of weeks ago and I've been thinking about it a lot ever since. College Bound Sisters is a program that was set up at the University of North Carolina Greensboro for the younger sisters of pregnant teenagers. The young girls (aged 12-18) attend weekly meetings with adult leaders where they can discuss adolescent issues, go on field trips, listen to guest speakers, and so on. For every week that each girl stays in school and doesn't get pregnant, $7.00 is deposited into a college fund for her. Upon her eventual enrollment in college, each girl will receive the money she's earned. I can't help but feel that this kind of incentive program is exactly what young women need to protect themselves and to stay in school. I'd love to see something like this adopted nationwide.
Best 40-Year-Old Skater Dude: My Boyfriend Rusty
No big deal, just Rusty shredding the gnar at the Volcom skate park in Costa Mesa, CA. We've been together for three years so sometimes I forget that he's not just my boyfriend, he's a super cute skater dude. Rad.
Best TV Show That Simultaneously Makes Me LOL And Feel Like I'm Not A Horrible Person: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
My core group of buddies and I are legit obsessed with Always Sunny. Every Friday morning you can count on most of my friends' Facebook statuses being quotes from the previous night's episode. We like it because we are a big group of assholes, and "the gang" on the show makes us look like total angels. We also like that Charlie and the Waitress are married in real life.
Best Hot Pastrami Sandwich In All Of Long Beach (That I Know Of): The Koufax from MVP's
Oh, people not from Long Beach, I pity you. I pity you for reasons myriad and ridiculous, but right now I pity you most of all because you don't have MVP's Grill & Patio and therefore you don't have the Koufax. The Koufax is a hot pastrami sandwich on sourdough with Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. If you think that sounds gross, I don't care, because hot pastrami is basically my Holy Grail of sandwiches, and you'd be surprised how tough a good one is to find here in Southern California. MVP's is at 3701 4th Street and it's cash only. Call in fifteen minutes ahead of time, order two Koufaxes, and then walk two blocks down the street and bring me one.