First Love, Last Love, Self Love

Great art about the art of loving

The most gnawing, dazzling, harrowing art is the art of loving. There are no auteurs in the art of loving, no masters at the practice, because loving is so personal, so unique, our wants and needs constantly shaped and reformed by the love that came before. It is this impossibility of perfection that makes love the greatest source material for great art.

I thank friend and filmmaker Victoria Rivera for bringing light to this 2023 haunting coming-of-age film based on the graphic novel Une sœur. First-time feature director Charlotte Le Bon uses confident subtlety and a bold ending to create a movie that is achingly tender. The storytelling is slow but bated, the visuals are creamy but textured (thank u 16mm), the characters are delicate but dark. Don’t be deterred by some clunky acting in the first few english-speaking scenes - hang in there. The film asks patience of its audience. And patience it deserves.

Slow. Moody. Coming-of-age.

From over a decade ago, I’d be remiss not to share this beautiful short film by TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay. If you’re in the film or commercial world, you’ve likely seen it. You might even think it cliché to include! But with nothing but archival photos & videos, a short recorded conversation, and 3.5 minutes, this film makes you grieve the reality of time while also filling you with hope. A heart-warming bite that inspires making something meaningful with very little.

Short. Sweet. Poignant. 

Directed by Aoife McArdle, this music video (also from the decade-back archive) is Part I in a triptych for 3 different James Vincent McMorrow songs. All 3 MV’s are lovely, but it’s the Cavalier video that is immediately captivating. Pitched against McMorrow’s poetic lyrics, the music video thrusts us into feelings of loss, loneliness, and the impulse to push the deep well of emotion inside us deeper until it pumps out into chaos. The music video stands on its own, but Part 2 and Part 3 of the triptych do give a fuller, richer story to the main character and this particular moment in his life. Fun fact: this is THE music video that made me fall in love with the medium.

Melancholic. Guttural. 

In 2017, at age 25, the now famous photographer Petra Collins put out her first monograph studying the life of teenage girls. Collins’ greenness helped developed a book that, instead of being slick and austere, is raw and crude and indefinite in the way young women naturally are. The photos are rich and sexy, yet resist the fashionable urge to retouch into unrecognizability. Collins’ classic cameras paired with her eye for authenticity turn the avant-garde into a modern aesthetic that felt (and continues to feel) revolutionary. The accompanying essays on Collins’ own journey into self bring gravitas to the photography, stirring in the reader both nostalgia and angst over the trials of self-discovery.

Unmediated. Vulnerable. Contemplative.

Snack: Tomatillo Salsa

I snagged my first boyfriend when I was 15. Before we were “official” he brought me a berry banana smoothie every single day at the start of school. I strung him along for months, pretending I didn’t notice his lingering eyes when he would drive me home or walk me to my next class. Then one day, as I was bossing him to take us to Brambleton Deli because I was craving a chicken caesar wrap, he slammed on the breaks to his little black Toyota Camry and yelled, “We always go where you want to go! I’m sick of doing whatever you want, we’re going where I want this time! And you’re gonna sit there and like it!” And I thought, “I’ve gotta kiss this boy.” And so that’s just something about ME! We ended up dating for 3 years and his mom hated me (the only parent to ever disapprove) but she did teach me to make bomb salsa that is delightfully simple. Make this for chips, to go on fish, to eat with veggies, and I promise you’ll make anyone fall in love with you. Even David’s mom.

Bright. Punchy. Savory.

  • Heat oven to 300 or maybe 375, I kind of change it depending on how cold it is outside.

  • Toss 5ish husked tomatillos, 1 big halved & peeled yellow onion, a jalapeño, and a bunch of peeled garlic in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

  • Roast until garlic is soft (about 10 minutes) and remove garlic.

  • Continue roasting until the tomatillos are blistered and oozing (about 20 minutes.) Remove jalapeño. 

  • Finish roast by broiling for about 2 minutes, getting a little char on the tomatillos and onion. 

  • Let that shit cool then throw everything with a full lime’s juice and a bunch of cilantro into a blender. (Literally a bunch? Yea, why not!) Blend until smooth. Add salt & pepper & more lime juice if you please.

  • Enjoy with all the ones you love.

Love big & big love,

<3 Julie

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