In honor of my recent arrival at Algonquin (and, let’s be honest, my birthday week), Algonquin has been nice enough to let me cap off the month by sharing a few of my favorite things. And what better way to celebrate my birthday than to offer a giveaway, right? Share with me one of your favorite things in our comments and the person who has the most interesting response will receive an Algonquin title of their choice, as well as a surprise bonus gift guaranteed to be shown off among friends.
One of my favorite independent bookstores in NYC where all the books are donated, the entire staff is volunteer, and all the proceeds go to help the homeless living with AIDS. I volunteered there for a good two weeks one fall (and was paid handsomely with a rocking employee discount). Not to mention, their events’ coordinator–Rachel Fershleiser–was an absolute riot to work with on our recent New Stories from the South event.
I feel like writer/artist Allie Brosh understands how I feel about showers, sandwiches, and turning into an adult. I may have sent this link to every person in my address database, including several times to my eighteen-year-old sister Addie Lee, who, at one point, emailed me and said, “I get it. It’s not that funny. Stop sending it to me.”
It was nearly two and a half years before my fiancé traveled back to Los Angeles with me. We hadn’t been to my hometown together yet, and we were planning on meeting my best friend Melanie for dinner. During our many trips, I complained endlessly about the lack of good Mexican food and how nothing–absolutely nothing–compared to El Cholo.
When we got there, Melanie ordered the chicken tacos–chicken and cheese only (Melanie only eats black and white foods, however, that is a story for another day). I happily awaited the delivery of my cheese enchiladas and michalada. My fiancé–adventurous gourmand that he is–went the route of the shrimp tostada.
“THAT” he cried out later in the car. “That place was the be-all, end-all of Mexican food? That’s what you’ve been going on about for years?”
“You ordered wrong,” I finally responded. “Let’s go back tomorrow.”
Usually when I get into a song, I really get into it. I play it–and only it–on repeat. I play it so many times that eventually, I get nauseous when the song comes on and I never want to hear it, ever again. (I’m thinking of you, “Clark Gable” by The Postal Service.) However, the one–and only–song I can listen to and still get chills and still want to share with every person I know is Bonnie Prince Billy & Tortoise’s cover of Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.”
Side point number one: I had never actually heard “Thunder Road” (apologies to John Gregory Brown, who I know will send me a scathing email after reading that sentence) until after I heard the cover. The first time I heard the Springsteen version was in a karaoke bar on St. Marks Street with my best friend Abby and a literary agent named Evan who ran around the room, belting out the song pitch perfectly, eventually sliding to his knees at the end of the song, leading the packed room (on a Tuesday night, mind you) to a standing ovation.
Side point number two: The one time I was truly flabbergasted (ok maybe one of two times I was truly flabbergasted) around a celebrity was when Bonnie Prince Billy–the day after he played a gig in Charlottesville–strolled into the Mexican restaurant, La Michoacana, where my fiancé and I were getting tacos. “Isn’t that Bonnie Prince Billy?” my fiancé asked and I promptly dropped my not-El Cholo salsa all across the floor.