Book Review: M Train by Patti Smith

Description from the publisher: From the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids: an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.”

M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima.

Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.

Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, M Train is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature, and coffee. It is a powerful, deeply moving book by one of the most remarkable multiplatform artists at work today.

“I’m sure I could write endlessly about nothing. If only I had nothing to say.”

I was lucky enough to get a chance to see Patti Smith in person being interviewed by NPR critic, Maureen Corrigan, about her new book on Friday, I read about a third of it before the interview and finished the rest on the metro ride home. This book is lovely. Reading it feels akin to moving through a dream. Parts were enigmatic and parts were so relatable, they made me weepy. I could write more, but I cannot do this book justice, so I will simply insist that you read it and promise you will love it too.

Lest you think I’ve been watching The Hills for four months…

I have not.

I just unintentionally fell off the face of the blogging world due to typical busy life things. I got a new job (yay!) which has me working different hours and feeling like I have four fewer hours in the day (boo!) and a LOTTA overtime, so when I’m home, pretty much the last thing I feel like doing is plopping down in front of a computer and putting sentences together.

But! My awesome new job has me spending 45-60 minutes on a train twice a day, so I’ve had more time to read and listen to podcasts than I have in years (yay!)

I have a laundry list of things to review and plan to hop to it post haste.


20 Thoughts I Had While Randomly Re-Watching Season 2 of The Hills

So… you know how I recently admitted that I’m a fan of reality TV?

I was perusing On Demand offerings a week or so ago and noticed that MTV has a “Retro” section where you can access old shows. And guess what I found??

the hills lauren conrad heidi montag whitney port audrina patridge spencer pratt reality tv mtv

I got all nostalgic and decided to watch a couple episodes and ended up watching the entire second season. (Oops.) I also decided it would be cruel to keep my thoughts to myself.

Let’s do this!

  1. I think it’s pretty official that Lauren Conrad is not known as “The Girl Who Didn’t Go to Paris.”
  2. Spencer was SUCH a douche right from the start. I totally forgot about him two-timing Heidi and Audrina. And frankly, I kind of miss Heidi’s old face and Heidi’s old backbone.
  3. Jen Bunney’s new face, however, is a definite improvement.
  4. Oh Lisa LOVE. I miss seeing her on my TV. I love how they constantly make it seem like she thinks Lauren is the biggest idiot in the entire world.
  5. Side-note: I used to want to be an editor for film or television and actually used to daydream about being an editor for MTV reality shows or Bravo reality shows. They make their stars SO ridiculous and I just imagine that most of their time is spent giggling. (The rest is spent rolling their eyes, obviously.)
  6. “Us ugly people have to work our asses off.” LOL. And truth.
  7. I’m starting to think Heidi might actually be a real life Benjamin Button. She has become more immature since this show which is really saying something. (See: Marriage Boot Camp.)
  8. I still find it a little incredible that these young (non-married, non-mother) ladies were better at avoiding drama than every single Real Housewife out there. And they actually talk about their issues. Probably because theirs was real drama and not manufactured just for TV. Man, I actually do miss this show :(
  9. It’s incredible how MTV expected viewers to believe that these were real conversations when they always show the other person’s face while the person who’s talking is talking and it’s clearly inserted audio. Yet I fall for it every time. Well, not every time. But a lot of the time.
  10. Heidi and Lauren had a really genuine friendship, and it still makes me a little sad that things imploded SO badly between them. That said…Team Lauren.
  11. “There is no where else in the world I’d rather be right now.” Brody. YOU JUST MET. Calm down. Also, how hilarious would it be if Lauren decided to score points with Lisa Love and replied that she would actually rather be in Paris.
  12. Ladies of the world (especially young ones): If a boy you are dating threatens one of your coworkers with bodily harm because of a comment they made about your outfit, walk away. No, RUN away. It’s not chivalrous or normal or cute. It’s cray cray.
  13. I’ve lost count of how many times Audrina has said “EW” after Heidi accused her of hooking up with Spencer.
  14. This is like the reality version of The Other Woman! Except Heidi’s a fucking moron.
  15. HOLY CRAP. I am 99% sure that I just saw Lauri’s daughter, Ashley, from Real Housewives of Orange County!
  16. I love how much Lauren hates Intern Emily for seemingly no reason. She’s great at her job, clearly works hard (18 credits and two internships??) and knows her flowers. What’s not to love? “She’s like super intern.” You know…Emily is actually kind of how I imagine current-day Lauren Conrad. Oh the wonders of Instagram.
  17. Ouch at Lisa Love dismissing Lauren and Whitney from the dinner but inviting Emily (to make her own place card LOL.) Stuff makes me believe that The Devil Wears Prada wasn’t too far off.
  18. And with that we’re at the beginning of the end of Heidi+Lauren=BFF.
  19. “Spencer got you some flowers!” “That’s nice of him. Is he going to give them to Audrina tomorrow?” LOL
  20. Audrina and Lauren totally predicted that Spencer would try to isolate Heidi by putting ideas into her head. Spencer is like the human version of Scientology.

So much drama, y’all.

Book Review: Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids Patti Smith

From the publisher: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe weren’t always famous, but they always thought they would be. They found each other, adrift but determined, on the streets of New York City in the late ’60s and made a pact to keep each other afloat until they found their voices–or the world was ready to hear them. Lovers first and then friends as Mapplethorpe discovered he was gay, they divided their dimes between art supplies and Coney Island hot dogs. Mapplethorpe was quicker to find his metier, with a Polaroid and then a Hasselblad, but Smith was the first to fame, transformed, to her friend’s delight, from a poet into a rock star.

Just Kids is a love story, though not the traditional kind.

It’s an ode to transformative love between two people and their shared interest in art and creating, and how this love permanently bonds them to one another. It’s a tribute to the kind of friendship that transcends time and inspires self-confidence.

The book’s title was inspired by a conversation Smith overheard when she and Mapplethorpe made it a point to dress eccentrically on a visit to Coney Island.  An elderly couple took note of their attire, and one of them asked aloud “are those people artists?” His wife responded, “I think they’re just kids.” It was a question they were trying to answer themselves, surrounded as they were by creators, writers and musicians, many of whom proceeded confidently in the artistic direction of their choosing.

I grew up with Smith’s music in the background because my mom is an enormous fan, but didn’t know much about her or Mapplethorpe prior to reading the book. I just kept hearing how wonderful it is, and how if you consider yourself to be creative, it’s a must-read. I finally picked it up and couldn’t put it down. I’m actually find it hard to put how I feel about this book into words. It moved me so much. Suffice to say, Just Kids has easily become one of my favorite books I’ve ever read and I recommend it wholeheartedly to any creative soul.

Link Love

Here are some of my favorite things I found around the internet this week:

  • I’m struggling this winter. I struggle with SAD every winter, but this winter feels more never ending than usual. Most of the DC region had a snow day on Monday and it both helped and hurt. So, I related to NPR’s Linda Holmes’ Monkey See article on Making Peace with Snow Days and Seasons.
  • Megan Amram, prolific Tweeter, writer for Parks and Recreation, and all around funny gal, wrote a book that I’m super excited to read! But in the meantime, I enjoyed this illustrated interview with her on The Rumpus.
  • BookRiot posted a fun article on Literary/Pop Culture mashups.
  • This American Life has done two fantastic shows about the issue of policing and race in America. Part one is here and part two is here.
  • This American Life also did a fascinating episode where they replayed a BBC documentary about William Burroughs (author of Naked Lunch.)
  • Time posted an interview with the wonderful Rainbow Rowell, where she discusses her upcoming novel, Carry On, which will be released in October!  Is it too early to start squeeing?
  • I recently discovered the podcast, Watch What Crappens, where Ben “B-side” Mandelker and Ronnie Karam discuss Bravo reality shows, and I’m SO glad I did. I’ve been a fan of B-Side ever since his TVgasm recaps of Laguna Beach routinely made me laugh until I cried, and Ronnie’s recaps of Real Housewives shows do the same. This podcast is snarky and hilarious and if you like Bravo shows, you will love it.

Happy perusing and happy weekend!