Sylvester Sessions #92
Dana wears Tied Up Shirt and Tied Up Skirt
You seem very connected to green spaces and nature. Where do you go in LA to find reprieve from the city?
I try to be connected to green spaces and nature as much as possible! And amazingly, it’s not too hard to find that in LA. It continually delights and surprises me to remember this—so much so that when I remember to go for a walk, if I’m heading to dinner, or just have a little bit of time to kill, I am often awestruck and find myself taking photos of the miraculously lush rose bushes, the bushy fountain grasses, the fragrant jasmine or the violet jacaranda trees… literally stopping and smelling the roses, haha. If I’m walking somewhere to meet someone (and not just wandering!) I like to leave myself an abundance of time to get there to allow for this sort of time wasting. I view it is the height of productivity. It’s the best. Of course, sitting in the grass in Griffith Park or Elysian Park does the trick if you just need to be around really big trees. But when I really actively need to escape, I will drive out to Ojai and visit the hot springs and the orange groves. It’s only an hour and half outside of LA, which to me couldn’t be a more worthy excursion. And honestly, that’s about as long as it would take me to get to the West side in traffic.
You've just moved to a new area. What are your favourite things about your new neighbourhood?
This is my first time living in any of the hills in LA and it’s a really cool change. It’s a totally different soundscape, especially. Way more birds. Little bit windier (the windchimes are all very happy). And the quiet hum of the freeway down below. Not to mention the view of the city approaching sunset! I don’t know what it is about distant green hills with a light wash of late day sunlight, do you? It’s good. It’s a magical, cellular thing, I think. It is like a sigh suspended in landscape form. Then, a few nights ago I was walking home a bit on the late side, and encountered a lone coyote. He kept his eyes on me for quite a while. That was new and pretty special.
Do you have any escapes planned for the summer months? What are you looking forward to?
I love the summer. I love eating fruit all day long and the feeling of a bathing suit warming in the sun after a swim and drinking iced tea with loads of ice cubes and how everyone suddenly has a little bit more of a weakness for adventure about them. It’s a season of “Yes, And,” which I welcome because I can be a person of pause, if I’m not careful! I have lived in Los Angeles for nearly 8 years, but I grew up in the North East, in New Jersey. Lately, I have found myself missing what summer feels like there. Not just the idea of it, but the feeling of it. I miss the humidity and the heaviness of the air. I miss hot nights! And fireflies! We don’t get those in California. I’ve already snuck in a trip to upstate New York once this summer, and hope to do so again before the season is over. It’s my favorite place on the planet. Also, it’s my birthday over Labor Day Weekend, so I’m also hoping to get away with a few friends. New Mexico is calling to me! I think it’s the spirit of Georgia O’Keeffe.
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I’m watching the final episodes of The Sopranos—finally. I’m listening to Rufus Wainwright circa 2003 and new Yo La Tengo, Marlon Williams, Amen Dunes, George Harrison always, and the song “Summer’s Easy Feeling” by Kelley Stoltz over and over again, just as a friendly reminder to myself. As always, I’m reading too many things at the same time. It’s a bad habit, but I let myself have it until it gets so bad that I feel compelled to hide every book except the one I’m resolving to finish. The four I’ve been traveling with so far this summer are Sula by Toni Morrison, Bluets by Maggie Nelson, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin.
What books to you return to, or prescribe to others?
I’ve been telling everyone to read Cruising Paradise by Sam Shepard. If you’re a writer, it’s a good lesson in short, economical mood-building with soul. (May we all write stories with soul!) If you’re just a person, it’s a good lesson in rich, soulful living. (May we all lead rich, soulful lives!)
What do you do to cool off on the hottest days?
Eat fruit all day long ‘til I can’t stand any more. Swim as much as possible, if I’m lucky. Let my hair air dry under a straw sun hat. Drink chilled red wine with people I enjoy, if I’m lucky. Go see a movie (or two) if all else fails.
Tell us about your wardrobe, what draws you to clothing, any particular textures, colours, fabrics?
My style can be a bit all over the place. The romantic way to say this is: “I dress according to my mood.” More accurately, though, I think I enjoy dressing to create a mood, and I really appreciate a theme, which just means that each new day I might find myself drawn to something different. Some recurring favorites include: Summer Love in Italy, A Little Bit Disco, and Picking Wild Blueberries in Upstate New York. These are good themes, no? But in general, I am most romanced by movement, fabric, color, and juxtaposition. I love sheer things and stiff things, silks and linens especially, and love a good drape and swing. I like wearing a heavy, sorta-kinky collar necklace with floaty shades of cream. I like buttons and unexpected details. I love colors that make me think of foods or drinks I like. Right now, I’m playing favorites with a vintage silk blouse the color of apricot or maybe Aperol, and a 1950s knit cardigan the same shade of green as mint chip ice cream. And I could not live without my vintage button-fly Levi’s. I have two pairs that keep ripping right on the bum, but I can’t quit them and keep getting them patched. Forever and ever, amen.
Interview & photography by Greta van der Star.
Check out Dana here.