Athena Scalzi

Day 2 of Santa Monica

The first thing I did for my second day in Santa Monica was get a pedicure. I figured if I was going to be wearing sandals everywhere, I should make my toenails purple! So I just popped by the closest nail salon I could find, and while the pedicure itself was totally fine and whatnot, I was very intrigued by the decor choices.

I could not look away from this unique poster. I had no idea what was going on in it, or why the nail salon would choose to promote whatever it is. They had an entire glass case of merch of this strange penguin, as well.

Whoever this penguin is, I guess his name is Norky? It was very strange, but hey everyone has their special interests. [ed. note: I have found the Norky Web page — JS] The lady that ran the place said she’s owned the salon for 23 years. That’s literally as long as I’ve been alive! So that was definitely an interesting experience.

After my pedicure, I popped next door to an art supply shop called Blick. I’m no artist, but I wanted to see if they had any neat stickers. Unfortunately, their sticker selection was slim, but it was definitely a cool shop regardless and I had very friendly service.

Then, I walked up the street to a frozen yogurt shop called Yoga-urt. I half expected it to be a yoga studio combined with a frozen yogurt shop, but it was just a normal fro-yo place.

Upon seeing the menu, I was impressed with how many choices there were. There were so many that sounded good, how could I possibly pick from all these flavors?! And then I realized that all those flavors listed are rotating flavors. They actually only had about five available. And none of the five they had were flavors I had been considering trying out.

Alas, I picked the pistachio, as I am a big fan of pistachio ice cream and figured the fro-yo version would be pretty good as well.

The waffle cone was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was perfectly crunchy and sweet, and didn’t get soggy throughout the entire duration of me eating the fro-yo!

They did have toppings, too, but I just prefer plain usually.

Once I completed my fro-yo, I stopped by the market next door for a few more groceries and picked up this can of watermelon water.

(Don’t worry about my arm. It’s just poison ivy, I’m fine.)

This stuff was super good, it literally tasted like I was biting into a real slice of watermelon. Like if you just squeezed a watermelon into a can, this is exactly what it would be. I had never heard of watermelon water before, but I’m glad I impulse bought it. I definitely recommend it (you can actually order it on Amazon, too).

I also bought this glass bottle of chocolate milk because I am a chocolate milk FIEND, especially when it comes in fancy packaging.

This chocolate milk was pretty good, definitely not like astounding. But chocolate milk is almost always good, anyway.

Later that night, I wanted a late-night snack, so I looked up places that served food late. I found a place called Longitude, and headed out. Upon arriving, I realized it was inside a Marriott. I can’t believe I hadn’t realized when I looked it up that it was in a hotel. I debated on going in, since I wasn’t a guest of the hotel, but I had walked almost twenty minutes so I figured I might as well try it out.

Once I sat down inside, I was told the kitchen closed five minutes ago. The waiter offered to put in an order for me anyways, but I am not a fan of fucking over kitchen staff, so I said thanks but no thanks. The waiter then told me their online hours were wrong. I was a little miffed (not at him obviously).

I was still hungry, so I walked a little further to a place called Jameson’s Pub. Once I got there, the waitress informed me the kitchen was closing in two minutes. I swear these places keep saying online that their kitchens are open later! I’m not meaning to inconvenience people! I did actually place an order this time, though, at the waitress’s insistence, and got this pesto mac and cheese.

Honestly, it was pretty mediocre. Which was disappointing because pesto mac and cheese sounded so good in that moment, so having some that was just okay was kind of a bummer. Also, there was a live music performance, which is so not my thing (too loud). Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

All in all, it was a pretty good day, and I got to try some cool new stuff! And the weather was perfect again! I am really starting to love it here.

Also, thank you to everyone on the last post that recommended places! I now have an extensive list of places to check out.

Also also, I know I didn’t include a cat picture in my previous post, and that’s because I wasn’t sure how the owner would feel about it, but then I realized I had already posted a pic of her on Twitter, so here you go! Her name is Lily and she is the sweetest cat I’ve ever met and I love her so much.

Have a great day!


Personal History of Music

A Personal History of Music, Day 21: “Day After Day,” by The Pretenders

I suspect most people, if you asked them, could tell you who they thought was the coolest person in whatever genre of music they liked the most, or maybe who was the coolest person in all of music. “The Coolest Person” was not necessarily one’s favorite musician, although there was usually a high correlation between the two, but it was certainly the person who, when you saw them in videos or in concert or being interviewed on MTV or whatever, you thought, “damn, they’re so cool, it must be awesome to be them.”

For me, that was Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. The Pretenders were not my favorite band growing up — although I did like them a whole lot — but, bluntly, most of the bands I did like growing up weren’t all that cool. I loved Journey, but any pretense of cool they might have ever had went out the window with that infamous “Separate Ways” video, and the other AOR bands of the era I enjoyed were saddled with the edge of ridiculousness that is fun in retrospect but did not exude cool at the time. I also liked Depeche Mode and a lot of their British synth-based contemporaries, but they were all too mopey to be cool. Other stuff I was listening to at the time – Billy Joel! Vangelis! Men at Work! — were almost aggressively anti-cool. Which was fine by me; I was not then nor am I now, anything close to cool, and one should not expend a lot of time worrying about whether the things one likes are cool or not, one should just like them.

But I knew what cool was — or thought I did — and Chrissie Hynde was it: Smart, attitude-filled and not here to take your shit, whoever you were, and the leader of a band that would rock your face off and maybe beat you up in the parking lot later if you needed an ass-kicking. Is this who Chrissie Hynde actually is? Got me, I don’t know her, and if I had to guess I would suspect on a day-to-day basis she’s probably just trying to get through life like the rest of us (you may recall I said similar things about Shirley Manson of Garbage, who also exudes cool, although a couple of decades later). In public, however? A fuckin’ star.

Who also not-entirely-coincidentally made some of the greatest rock of the late 70s and early 80s! The first two Pretenders album, largely written/co-written by Hynde, are a masterclass of guitar rock that no one else has sounded like before or since. Then, after half the band died of drug overdoses and a bunch of other wild shit happened, Hynde picked up the pieces and wrote the band’s biggest album ever. She’s a badass.

Any number of Pretenders songs could go be picked to exemplify Hynde’s coolness; the one I’ve picked is “Day After Day,” which I think has all the elements that go into that band’s great songs in almost-perfect balance: James Honeyman-Scott’s ringing guitars, Martin Chambers’ relentless drums with Pete Farndon’s bass keeping time, and, way up in the sky, Chrissie Hynde, and a voice that will never be confused with anyone else’s, singing about loneliness. There are more popular songs in the band’s canon, but I would argue, not better songs.

Chrissie Hynde is still out there, still spitting attitude and still being cool. I could never be that cool; I don’t aspire to that level of cool. It would be a lot of work for me, especially at this late date. But I like that she is cool, and when I think of what it is to be cool in the world of music, she’s still who I think of.

— JS

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