Sunday, 7 June 2015

world of 'wichcraft (firstlove #2)


My mum used to make me elaborate sandwiches for lunch in primary school. Multigrain rye with lettuce, alfalfa, cucumber, avocado and pickled relish. I would always throw it away because: 1. everyone else had sandwiches with spread only and would make fun of my lunch (now I know they were just basic bitches with basic sandwiches), 2. the cucumber would always get the bread soggy and 3. I was a dumbass kid who didn’t understand the value of food. Fast forward to now, having been forced into controlling the contents of my own sandwiches since those childhood days--I have come to grow, respect, and appreciate this labor of love and symbol of life.

Here’s a more objective look at sandwiches to bring you up to my plane:

1st Century B.C.
Hillel the Edler, a famous rabbi, has his name down on record next to the first recorded sandwich. He pioneered the custom of sandwiching a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices and wine between two matzos during Passover.

6th to 16th Century
Open-face sandwiches first made its appearance during the Middle Ages, where breads were used as plates. These stale, thick and coarse blocks called trenchers would absorb the juice, grease and sauces of other foods piled on top. Depending on one’s satisfaction, the trencher would be eaten, tossed to the dogs, or given as alms to the less fortunate.

The word ‘sandwich’ made it’s first written record in a journal on November 14, 1762 by English author, scholar and historian Edward Gibbons (1737 – 1794). He writes, ‘I dined at the Cocoa Tree... Twenty or thirty of the first men in the kingdom... supping at little tables... upon a bit of cold meat, or a Sandwich.’ John Montague (1718–1792), the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, whose refusal to get up for meals led him to ask his valet for salt beef tucked between two pieces of toasted bread. Being the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, he led others to order ‘the same as Sandwich’.

Englishwoman Elizabeth Leslie (1787-1858) introduced the sandwich to America in her cookbook, Directions for Cooker. The recipe was for a ham sandwich. ‘Ham Sandwiches: cut some thin slices of bread very neatly, having slightly buttered them; and, if you choose, spread on a very little mustard. Have ready some very thin slices of cold boiled ham, and lay one between two slices of bread. You may either roll them up, or lay them flat on the plates. They are used at supper or at luncheon.’

The American diet took a liking to the easy and portable meal. Bakeries started selling pre-sliced bread for customers to easily recreate the sandwich for school children and workers alike.

And here we are...

As we grow up we explore the world of sandwiches. In Gansu, China, many are partial to roujiamo (肉夹馍), where a wheat-based flatbread in the shape of a disc called bing, is sliced up and stuffed with chopped or minced lamb, coriander and pepper. Bing dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC to 206 BC), making roujiamo a candidate for the world’s oldest sandwich (take that rabbi Hillel). In Australia, kids (myself included) all grow up big (5’10) and strong (I can do half a push up) thanks to Vegemite, a spread made from left over brewer’s yeast. It’s often eaten on toasted bread above a layer of butter or margarine. How the Vegemite fails many outside of Australia--is because y’all spread this pungent and salty concoction like Nutella. It’s not. It’s freaking leftover brewer’s yeast. I don’t know much about leftover brewer’s yeast you would eat but I would go easy on it. Vegemite with avocado or tomato and pepper makes regular appearances in teacher’s lounges and on the morning tea plates of those between 15 to 85. Through travelling and exploring, I’ve met the chip butty in England, the francesigna in Portugal, the doner kebab on every street corner at 3 a.m., a katsu-sando in Japan, the banh mi in Vietnam and arepas in the US, because I have yet to go to Venezuela. Through terrain, ocean and all forces of culture and nature, a sandwich is something almost all of us have in common, unless you’re low carb paleo, also known as: please check yourself.

People live sandwiches too. They make a living out of this and what a living it is. In New York City, my favorite food truck is The Cinnamon Snail. Their sandwich flavors extend to lemongrass five spice, maple custard, Korean BBQ, Thai BBQ, creole, and I’m only scratching the sourdough surface. Adam Sobel, the owner, has been spreading his sandwich love for five years now. What started as a place for ‘the craziest architecturally looking entrees’ has since turned into a lunch staple for those working on the busy island. ‘It soon became evident that people weren’t going to eat crazy entrees, especially not on a paper plate on their lap on a park bench.’ Adam muses while flipping tempeh on the grill, ‘it was also difficult creating crazy food within most people’s lunch budgets.’ A Cinnamon Snail sandwich sets you back $9, but the ethos of the business makes it a standout.

Another thing that made sense in a particular moment that I have since come to question, was my quest to make The FIRSTLOVE Sandwich--a combination of the most popular ingredients by my peers and fellow contributors (except for Daniel because he once called me a food snob). Of the twenty people I questioned on their sandwich preferences, I realised 1. I don’t know them at all and 2. Did I ever know them? My favorite sandwich is sweet potato and arugula. My must-have in any sandwich is the bitter greens, something to kick you in the face, keep you on your toes. Everyone else? Four people favored grilled cheese, another four declared their love for ‘turkey sandwiches’--I didn’t even know people consumed Turkey outside of forced family gatherings, and two Seattleites chose banh mi as the ultimate dream. Other favorites were caprese, gherkin, mustard, BLT, steak, roast beef, ‘I prefer bagels’, a cuban sandwich and chicken pesto. A number of people just sound like they are putting last night’s dinner between two slices of bread (my favorite dinner-in-bread is ‘last night’s spaghetti’), but that’s what sandwiches are all about, right? Everybody is able to make one.

Of all the sandwich responses, queen of beauty and burgers Anna Mishke, and fashion designer Enoch Ho’s devotedness to the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich really stood out to me which made me think the banh mi is a pretty damn sophisticated sandwich and punching way above the others.

Anna’s testimonial
The chewiness of the bread is essential. Banh mi has a freshness to it, the pickled vegetables and grilled meat or pâté lend such a different flavor than any other type of sandwich. Maybe I have some appreciation for it in my blood because I’m part Vietnamese, but there’s really nothing better than tucking into a slightly tangy, savory sandwich that ends up leaving a literal breadcrumb trail.

Enoch’s testimonial
The baguette, crispy at the shell but immediately soft, fluffily nestling the fillings. The pâté, strong and flavorful, followed by several layers of meat in different textures and chewiness. You’d think the sandwich is dry, but the buttery mayo sauce keeps the whole bite moist and aromatic. Just when you think it’s too heavy, you feel the cucumbers, daikon, coriander and spring onions cutting in for a clean finish. There’s not a single more complex but well-balanced food on earth, with so many different flavors and textures that blend so well together into a salivating journey. Now that I have tried pushing the banh mi as the deserved 1st place for sandwiches in a totally unbiased way, what are the must-have ingredients then? Six people’s must-have is cheese, five people reasoned the important of a baguette, two chose bacon, two chose mayonnaise, and one each for salmon (bagel girl), lettuce, tomato, pickles, salt and pepper.

And now, let me present to you the ultimate FIRSTLOVE sandwich (that you should make RIGHT NOW):



(published 2015)

note: in hindsight please don't make that *right now* or delay its production for as long as you can because it sounds like your basic cardiac arrest recipe and i want y'all to live to see equality.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

julia stone

a. julia stone is a babe.

b. the first season of #siliconvalley is worth binge watching (just ignore the male only cast and use of the only east asian character for broken english comic relief). the second season... *shrug emoji* eh.

c. you should check out the following #coolmusic:

raleigh ritchie

d. hazelnut butter and raspberry jam is worth shutting the front door for, whoever discovered peanut butter and jam stopped too soon.

e. is for elephant.

Friday, 15 May 2015

everything is embarrassing

south island

the light in new zealand is way harsher than new york, i overexposed three film rolls in a row. 

have you ever been in a deep asleep, only to wake up with the sun beaming through your windows? the light is blinding, and you take all morning to adjust?

Monday, 9 March 2015

sucre #3

thank you angela and sophie for the cover and interview. please purchase a copy to love and cherish forever.

this 'delicacy' issue is filled with talent and etherealness you want to leaf through for days. wow i sound like a saleswoman on a shopping channel but really i'm just a working bee on a honey farm owned by ray liotta.

Friday, 30 January 2015

winter blues

nora: i'm freezing today
me: maybe you need a bigger coat 
nora: no, i need more body fat

we found out we have mutual friends in europe, asia, america, south america, and australia. i think once you have lived in hong kong you are within two degrees of every person in this world.

and this...

me: how did you end up in new york city?
nora: it is actually a very long and dramatic story that not many people know of. at first i came here as a tourist and fell in love with the city from the first second. i went back to hong kong, packed all my life and decided to move here. my plan was to sign with an agency and 'make it' here. so i flew all the way with my most precious outfits and big dreams. after 15 hours flight, i got stopped at the border, was kept at the airport cell for 24 hours and sent back to hong kong and given a 10-year ban from the US. i still don't really understand the reason, but I guess i wasn't allowed to even be looking for work with a tourist visa. it was all very dramatic, but made me want to be here even more. i went through quite a lot, but finally still managed to get a visa. they will not get me out of here now.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

new ro rhymes

oh na na, what’s your name? i had no idea you were you yesterday.
my name is aaron johnson, but i go by jay rano.

how did that happen?
jay is for my surname johnson. rano is an anagram of aaron with an ‘a’ removed. i’ve got people in my family who i’ve known my whole life that call me ‘rano’ so it just stuck with me and now it’s my rap name.

i was hoping it would be a crazy story.
na, na…  

what is your story? it doesn’t have to be crazy.
i started to rap when i was 6 years old. i used to freestyle with my older brother. as i got better, he began bringing me to record in a studio he had set up with his friends. over the years, i fell in love with it, and started making beats of my own at about 12. i took drum lessons from my best friend’s dad early on. i was freestyling at lunch by the time i got to high school. i began recording my own music and releasing it on facebook for my classmates to hear. people took notice and liked it. after i graduated, i left new york to go to school in florida. i made and released more music which got attention from people in the industry. i ended up leaving school and moving back to new york. when i got home, we made some music videos and then finally released my first project, ‘the love always ep’ in 2012. that’s a really condensed version, but that’s some basic insight into how this all began.

when will you release the lp version of that ‘really condensed’ story?

your tracks are basically short stories, and you present a picture in every song. you’re incredibly lyrical at 22, i thought you’d be older. where are you pulling all these experiences from?
the experiences are life experiences, they are just drawn from my friends’ and my own lives growing up. i guess i experienced enough at a young age to stand out. sometimes people experience a lot of things but can’t necessarily put those things into words, but for whatever reason i’m able to.

can i see your driver’s license? i don’t think i’ve ever seen the ny license.
[yep, he just turned 22]

this looks way better than the maryland one.
it’s okay.

cliched but genuine question: musically, who/what shapes/d your sound?
jay z, kanye, drake, j. cole are definitely artists who have influenced me. as for sounds, i was a gamer growing up. i also watched a lot of pokemon—

—did you want to be the very best?
that no one ever was. 

[sings entire pokémon theme song]
yeah, that made the way for the influence to a lot of gaming soundtracks, and the strings and piano from anime soundtracks. there’s also the influence of classical and soul music. i’ve always wanted to be different, which means exploring beyond boundaries. i try to find sounds that the average person may not hear. the world is so trendy now. 

‘the world is so trendy now’… that would look really profound as graffiti.
everyone is a fashion designer because they can slap a logo on a t-shirt in photoshop.

who do you make musical decisions with? who’s on your team or is it a very one-man process?
my musical decisions are almost never a one-man process. my team consists of myself, my brother barry, who is my mixing engineer and also helps with a lot of business decisions. my best friend from the time we were children, carter, who is my manager. my friend moe, who works as a fashion designer. and ryan, who is also part of my management team. the name of our team is ‘one wing angels’.

when people receive music, it’s a finished product. how much of the process do you involve yourself in when it comes to creating a track from conception to release?
i’m involved in every part of the process in one way or another. when i started, i was doing everything by myself. but even now that i have a strong team around me, i still make sure i’m a part of all the steps in the process.

jay rano track 101?
well, every song is different, some songs i have already written and i have to put a beat to them, which is the more difficult way of doing things. other songs, i dive into my stash of beats that i’ve previously produced and just start writing. generally, after i write and record a song, i sit down with my brother while he mixes the record, and he gets some insight from me about what direction i want to go with the sound. then i sit down with my managers and plan out how we want to release of the record.

the internet has kind of changed the way people deliver and consume. what are your views on how people release music in the modern day—has it made it easier or more difficult?
the internet has given talented people a straight shot at the consumer without having to go through a label or having anybody pour tons of money behind them to get the music into the public’s hands. that’s a good thing for independent artists like myself. at the same time, it’s kind of opened the market to pretty much anybody who wants to make music, which could be difficult for your music to be heard. the internet is over saturated, and people are a little afraid to click certain links. you also hear things like ‘this person is a twitter rapper’ or ‘this person is a facebook rapper’—and they won’t want to click on links from artists like that. at the end of the day, it’s always good to have a platform where there’s the opportunity to hear the music. i’m pro-internet, because without it i wouldn’t have as many fans as i do now. i guess just certain aspects of it have to be cleaned up a little bit.

what would be the ideal situation for you?
ideally i’d like to keep my music independent. in terms of a contract, i’m much more interested in the terms of a contract than the money. right now i have complete freedom to do what i want with my music, and that’s very important to me because of how personal music is for me.

what’s the most important thing to you in what you create? 
for me, the most important part of my music is the honesty within it. i don’t want to be one of those rappers that people can’t believe. i think i write my music with intentions that somebody out there can relate to it, but these are very personal stories from me and the people that i love and care about. i hope that is one of the first things that people notice when they hear the music. like, wow, this guy is telling me stuff that i probably wouldn’t tell to a stranger. i think a lot of people are scared to be honest with themselves. and i’m not. i’m very honest and open with myself, and very honest with my listeners.

what’s important in life then?
God, family, friends, and happiness. i won’t get into too much about religious beliefs, i believe that many people have spirituality within them. a code of conduct for themselves: personal laws that they abide by. morals that they look toward to determine how they’re going to conduct themselves on a day to day basis to be a better person. happiness is different for every person. when i say happiness i mean my personal happiness which comes from: seeing the people that i love and care about happy, achieving my goals, and being able to change other people’s lives for the better. that’s where my happiness is derived from. if you go through every day and you can’t crack a smile, i’d say life pretty much sucks. happiness is important.

where can we find you? 
twitter @_jayrano, instagram @jayrano

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Friday, 7 November 2014

south korea: school, suicide, surgery

(published 2012)

thank you emma (my favourite lead paragraph writer) for scanning this. we did this interview together in australia over skype (which is never recommended because the call may drop any time thanks to ancient broadband, plus my parents live in the bush). i really wanted to share this and the last interview with you. i would love to hear your thoughts and/or insights.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

heart of a lion

(published 2012)

you can find cabra missions on facebook. i'm always moved by the work they muscle. deng is one of the most humble, down to earth, and joyful souls i have ever met. if you're in high school, please keep them in mind for your school fundraisers; prayers would be equally wonderful. there are now three schools!

Thursday, 30 October 2014