One of Claire Messud’s notebooks. She writes her novels in longhand.
For about 12 hours after I landed, LA felt strange all over again. The 70-degree weather felt miraculous as opposed to routine, and the freeway system felt unfamiliar as opposed to grinding. I can’t sustain the feeling, but I’m grateful for it after every long vacation. I still love you, Los Angeles.
An inside look at Dust to Dust, the best track off of The Civil Wars’ latest album. According to iTunes, I’ve played this 122 times in the last 2 weeks and counting. The world may never see this song performed live. It breaks my heart.
Mosquita Y Mari is sublime, heartbreaking, and beautiful. For all the nerdy bookish girls growing up in the projects trying to break the cycle; for love; and especially for you, Los Angeles.
Emeli Sande - Read All About It Pt.III
I was walking in London when I heard this song for the first time. I was getting on the tube (the Victoria station maybe) when this came on and the first line hit so hard I literally stopped walking. I had it on repeat for the remainder of the trip, because I needed to hear that line again and again. I still do.
Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons cover the boss’ The Ghost of Tom Joad.
Good Girl Dinette’s owner, Diep Tran, absolutely kills this interview, calling out all the racism that comes with talking about Vietnamese food, staying real to the Viet Am experience, and generally laying waste to all the other foodie bullshit. I just about died when she said, “what they don’t know is that I opened this restaurant for dykes.”
Squid Ink: Maybe that’s a good place to start. What questions aren’t you asked?
Diep Tran: I feel like they [interviewers] always ask something about my heritage. It’s always coded as my “community,” and they always talk about it as it being an ethnic community. And they don’t know that I opened up the Dinette, really, for dykes, you know?
When I was interviewed by Steven Stern for The New York Times, he asked a lot about my grandparents, and my growing up as basically a kitchen slave in various kitchens. He said, “With your restaurant, are you cooking for a different community? Or are your reasons for opening your restaurant different?” And I said, it’s actually not, because I really do believe that my grandparents and my aunts and uncles opened up their restaurant for the community, and it wasn’t just Vietnamese. It was very specific: It was for nguoi bac [Northerners], it was for Catholics of a certain ilk — it was very particular. The idea of community was more nuanced, versus just ethnicity.
I feel like with Vietnamese cuisine, it’s almost like talking about Italy, where there’s so many different regions that you can’t really say there’s one unified Italian food, because it’s so changeable. But people don’t really ask me about that. They ask more of a global question [about Vietnamese cuisine], or they’ll ask where you’re from or where you were born. And, well, just because I was born in the south of Vietnam doesn’t mean I’m a Southerner, at all. So, it’s hard for me, sometimes, when people ask about my heritage, because what are you really asking? I mean, I know exactly what they mean, but I don’t want to answer that question.
S.I.: But how do you answer that question, about heritage? Because to a certain extent, every person runs into that problem of trying to figure out what someone really is intending to ask.
D.T.: Well, every woman of color. Not everybody. If you’re closest to hegemonic society, then you get asked very specific questions about the texture of your bread, or some shit. Otherwise, you get something nebulous.
S.I.: Right, because you know where they’re coming from. And you’re right, all these words are just codes for …
D.T.: For what they can only see. They can only see something, which is your ethnicity, or your gender, or maybe your sexuality.
I think that’s why I struggled with the breakfast menu quite a bit. You want a menu to make sense; it has to have some sort of internal logic. When I was thinking about things I loved, what I wanted on the menu, I thought, Does it seem like a hodgepodge? But in my head, it totally makes sense!
S.I.: No, it doesn’t seem that much like a hodgepodge.
D.T.: Thank you. But that’s the fear, right? The menu for me is a snapshot of what it felt like to grow up in the ’80s, in Cerritos, being Vietnamese. We ate chao and eggs and pâté chaud in the mornings.
S.I.: I love pâté chaud in the mornings.
D.T.: Right? Actually, my favorite — and I could just never figure out a way to make it on the menu without people thinking, “This is bullshit” — but I love just bánh mì and hot condensed milk.