I made a non-Gut Feelings zine this Summer, it’s a partial autobiography of my life in smells, called ‘Life Stinks’. I tried to imagine people, places and events in my life as though they were perfumes and asked myself if they were what would the notes be in those perfumes?
It is my sense of smell that, more than any of my other four senses, most powerfully and most frequently takes me hurtling on trips down memory lane. There are days when I think it may be the sense I treasure the most. For me, love is sticking your nose in their armpits when they’ve been out for a run and being in heaven, friendship is being able to pick their perfume out of a line up, the best food can be smelled from two streets over and is like a siren song to every curious belly, and each season is defined by the individual smells that fill it up, from the cold smoky air of Winter to the sticky coconut and ocean salted skin scents of Summer.
My zine only has 12 pages of writing (there are another 12 of illustrations) so it is maybe less of an autobiography and more of a vignette of my life, and 2 of these 12 pages are taken up with the smells of California. I don’t know maths, but I reckon that’s over 5% of my autobiography at least. I think. If you know me and Sophie (and if you don’t you’re missing out, kid) then you’ll know that we are constantly California dreaming and the only time we’re not dreaming about it is when we are out there experiencing it.
Presented here are the notes of the perfumes, ‘Los Angeles’ (2013-2015) and ‘Joshua Tree’ (2013-2015).
– Sophie’s hand rolled cigarette smoke mingling with her Marché de tabac perfume, sparkling notes of orange and clove and vanilla filling the car as you both sing alone to Tom Petty at the top of your voices. Neon lights blurred from the passenger seat window. “After all it was a great big world, with lots of places to run to”.
-Medium, crispy, chicken wings at Ye Rustic bar. Your fingers delicious and sticky and comically red. Blue cheese and ranch dip. Hot sauce stench from the kitchen that could singe your nostril hair.
-Alkemia’s smoke & mirrors perfume you wore, the mesquite incense blocks you smoked your white dress with the Halloween that you were Joan of Arc ‘on fire’ and met that kid in an Inglewood parking lot while the rain fully extinguished your cardboard flames.
-In’n’out double double and animal style fries, or a Fatburger dripping with grease and promise, eaten on your laps in a parking lot in Hollywood.
-concrete ground underneath you, a blanket on top of you, the milky way and the draconid meteor shower above you. There’s a stick of palo santo burning on your left and a man trying his very hardest to love you on your right. That medicinal tinged incense smoke, that you first smelled in Dave’s rancho just up the road, is wafting over you and sneaking it’s way inside the creases of your crumpled clothes so that months later when you unpack your dress from the suitcase this night will hit you again. Hard.
-the skunk your best friend is smoking in the drivers seat of the rental car you’re both sleeping in for the night. Hot boxing a Toyota while Gregory Alan Isakov plays on the stereo and the two of you giggle at the feeling of having got one over on the world somehow just by saving hotel money for one night.
-Mesquite BBQ smoke and strong Margaritas in salt rimmed Mason jars at Pappy and Harriets. Another beautiful wannabe cowboy takes to the stage to break the crowds heart while the bikers play billiards in the back, dusty desert heat still warming your skin.