zine: Plant Witch (666 Apartment on Lygon St / The Altona Oil Refinery Warehouse) by Alison Evans and Tegan Webb
drink: Mission Gose (4% ABV, 12 fl. oz.) brewed by Westbrook Brewing Co (Mount Pleasant, SC) for Evil Twin Brewing (Brooklyn, NY), USA
music: Late Night Tales: Franz Ferdinand compilation
I’m still in the process of having to wait a few months for various treatments for various chronic illnesses to start working, so I haven’t been doing much writing, because ‘existing’ has been taking up most of my time.
I did recently start trying to read Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal in its original French, and learnt the word ‘le jumeau‘, which kind of translates to ‘twin’ or ‘double’ depending on context. I’m going to finish the bloody book or I’ll die first, dammit!
A few weeks ago, I also watched a film about Serge Gainsbourg called Gainsbourg: La vie héroïque where as a child, he imagines he has this grotesque, enlarged, exaggerated version of himself (no doubt fuelled by the time’s anti-Semitism post-WWII; he was originally a visual artist and later became a singer-songwriter). That’s why I chose the beer I’m drinking now…evil twin, it’s freaking hot for autumn, so thought a refreshing gose would go well with a zine about plants…
(Patreon-only photo here…)
What the heck is a gose (go-suh)? Briefly, it’s a salty-sour beer style, usually pretty low in alcohol content, and very thirst-quenching when the weather is disgustingly hot. It’s the kind of beer you have more than 3 cans of and not too feel too shabby after a session, even if they are some weird boozy version of electrolyte-laden beverages! This one is very sour at first, then coats your mouth in salt, and has a hint of coriander in its taste (don’t worry, none of that soapy business, it’s suuuuuuuper subtle, promise), and smells more of promised eucalyptus than tastes of it.
(Patreons get my awful handwritten not-so-eloquent this time around beer tasting notes here)
Though there’s eucalyptus in the States, I often associate it as a very Australian thing. I guess I didn’t really know about eucalypts existing till my family moved here. It’s got a pretty distinctive smell, no? Lots of native Australian flora does. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate that, but there’s also probably a lot of not-great reasons for that too.
(Patreons get my better handwritten notes copied straight off the beer can here)
I should probably also disclose that I do know Alison and Tegan in real life, and consider them both friends and writing colleagues. That’s why I bought the zine in the first place: to support their work.
How fitting that the narrative should start with a description of wattle flowers (the true enemy of anyone with hayfever!). Each section has two distinct narratives or seems to be told from different points of view, which conveniently is typed up in differing fonts.
The first narrative seems to describe a walking figure and the flora around them. The second narrative is at the apartment, and its resident seems to be preparing to ‘cleanse’ it. There’s lots of talk about plants, suburbs in Melbourne, and alien/ation.
Reading the zine reminds me of an old housemate I miss very much who was really good with plants, and gardening. Before meeting him, I’d always thought I was pretty shit with plants, but he taught me that you only really have to care, and observe, perhaps similarly to the way you can read your cat familiar, if you’re lucky enough to have one. My cat is next to me right now, as I read, as I type. She follows me out to the tiny backyard in the house I’m in now, where today I’ve got my hands filthy from pulling out tenacious ivy growing between concrete and slate cobblestones delineating where the garden beds technically start. It feels good to have hands filthy, not from blood, or from fountain pens’ inks gone rogue (like what happened on the weekend!), but from a plant, an intrusive one.
I know it’ll survive and start sprouting up from somewhere else. Winding plants are stubborn that way. Another good friend today told me I had my first non-PTSD dream, and I wouldn’t have known otherwise if they hadn’t pointed it out. The living can be really, really resilient, and good at being stubborn and surviving: alone, or with help.
(Patreons get a bonus photo of me, zine & kitty here! look, she’s my mascot, okay?)