The universal closure of bars and restaurants has resulted in a noticeable absence of pictures of alcoholic drinks assembled on a bar table/airport lounge, as well as the ubiquitous latte art pictures on social media. It also reminded me of something: I have not had coffee since the lockdown started as I do not own a machine (I strategised early on in life that if I never learn to make coffee, I’ll never be asked to make some at work/other situations. So I cannot brew a cup, and have no intention to learn anymore).
While I appear to be doing absolutely fine without my daily, overpriced lait russe, I miss the ritual of it, as I’m sure do many of you. Herewith an appreciation of all things non-essential, accompanied by the kind of vintage photos we no longer see anywhere.
We start with an instagram classic of a rustic coffee cup with a touch of latte art, with a glimpse of a menu (Jack’s Wife Freda in Soho NYC – from when we were free to non-essentially cross the Atlantic) and a notebook, because whenever I am not photographing my food and drinks, I’m full of deep thoughts that require immediate jotting down.
I am absolutely not advocating smoking, but look at that. How great was it not to park on a terrace and take the first drag on a cigarette after about two generous sips of ice-cold rosé?
This time of the year would traditionally mark the start of al fresco rosé-season, something I have always taken great pride in meticulously observing, until its end in about December.
Unfortunately, as things stand, I’ve rather started jogging, which is, by any standards, fucking desperate.
Remember the time when it was possible to have drinks prepared by other people? When there was an actual choice of delicious things to choose from, rather than raiding the larder and figuring out whether Pisang Ambon, Kahlua and Diet Coke would make for a refreshing, yet festive, cocktail?
The above picture from Marlon, Paris, mocks me on many levels. To think there was a time when I was able to have a complicated-looking toast sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
To think that I was able to cross a border to Paris just to enjoy a lavishly topped piece of bread, garnished with pomegranate seeds and some freshly cut green substance.
At least I had the foresight to record a memento for the history books.
Finally, a short heads-up about a cultural event that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your confinement. I recently raved about Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Blonde, which is a facts and fiction remix about the life of Marilyn Monroe. The under-your-skin -book has always been very divisive – the legendary New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani was not impressed by the way Oates blended facts and fiction, and said it “played to readers’ voyeuristic interest in a real-life story while using the liberties of a novel to tart up the facts“.
However, Blonde was nominated for both National Book Award and the Pulitzer Price in 2000.
Now, this year is the 20th anniversary of Blonde (Definitely something to remember 2020 by!!!) and Brad Pitt* is producing a Netflix film based on it (Ana De Armas in the title role). The film has been a long time coming, with negotiations with both Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain about the role of Monroe. The release date is not yet announced, but I will be watching Blonde with great interest, as I just started rereading the book.
Harvey Weinstein was delivered his verdict at the cusp of the current crisis, and understandably #metoo as many other important pre-corona topics have given way to the urgency of the pandemic reporting. The timing of the film will, in any case, be an important addition to the conversation about sexual abuse, harassment and assault in the entertainment industry.
Blonde always had a strong feminist undercurrent, and the film is likely to be a contemporary justification to its fury, said critic Elaine Showalter, who wrote an introduction to the reissue of the book to mark the anniversary. My edition in the picture is from 2018 by 4th Estate.
*My lockdown boyfriend.