Tag Archives: London

(LISTS) 20 Things That London Taught Me

1. Discussions about the differences between British and American English never get old. Fries are “chips” and chips are “crisps,” whaaaaat?!

2. Cabs are much cooler when they look like they’re from the 1960s.

3. We (Americans) talk too much. Especially about our feelings.

4. Catherine Tate is a comedic goddess. Case Study #34:

5. The statement “Americans don’t get irony” isn’t true. We do get irony. But, as Simon Pegg always says, Americans just feel the need to call it out every time we use it as to avoid damage (“…oh but I’m just kidding!), whereas the Brits just go for it. Enter amazing British cringe humor.

6. No matter where I am in the world, my hair will routinely evolve into a Jew fro after three months.

7. David Attenborough is a TV commentary G-d. (Don’t know who he is? He’s like the UK Morgan Freeman except smarter and better.)

8. Europe is neat because its proximity to so many neat cities makes traveling incredibly easy. By comparison, America is kinda sorta stuck in its own little world.

9. “Loo” is “restroom,” which makes more sense because the restroom isn’t really the premiere place for relaxation.

10. Gay clubs, no matter where you are in the world, are the scariest places in the world when the lights go up at 5 AM.

11. Bieber Fever is ubiquitous.

12. In a similar vein, the Boy Band is very much alive and far-reaching. Case Study #1,234,567:

13. “Sorority Girls” is the worst TV show I’ve ever seen. (Or is it the best?)

14. New York City is Heaven.

15. Heaven, London’s most popular gay club, is Heaven on Monday and Saturday nights.

16. The ideal seat on a double-decker bus is the front right seat on the top deck.

17. Queens are dope.

18. Everything sounds better in a British accent.

19. Nobody does grab-and-go sandwiches like Pret a Manger.

20. Dinosaurs are real:

Advertisements

(THE LONDON CHRONICLES) #5: Fall Break in Paris and Amsterdam, “Choose Your Own Adventure Edition”

Travel blogs are cool because you often get to read about places you’ve never been to before. They suck for the same reason: Like diet soda or hot guys, travel blogs can be a tease. I recorded some videos during my week in Paris and Amsterdam, so hopefully they won’t annoy you and will instead make you feel like you’re right there with me. And get ready to make some decisions of your own along the way, too.

Let’s travel!

Once upon a late October, I went to Paris. I stayed at The Perfect Hotel, which was really just a shitty hostel that should’ve been called The Shitty Hostel. They served chocolate croissants and baguettes every morning, which were excellent until the end of the week after we’d eaten bread three times a day and had therefore developed a visual and emotional aversion to carbohydrates.

If you want to hear more reasons why the hostel sucked, scroll down to II. If you want to see a cool video of something lighting up like a pretty Christmas tree, scroll down to III.

II. There was no WiFi, the staff knew nothing, and an old man roamed the building in the early hours of the morning and made weird noises in the bathroom.

III.

Next, my guidebook told me that “when Paris sneezes, France catches the cold.” Basically this means Paris is a massive cultural capital and therefore has lots to offer its tourists other than opportunities to critique their hostels and to oogle the Eiffel Tower. We inevitably went to the Louvre because I was a tourist and tourists in Paris go to the Louvre. We saw the infamous Mona Lisa, which wasn’t as small as I was told it would be. This was disappointing until I noticed hoards of people crowding the portrait like teen girls (and their “straight” guy friends) do to J Biebs.

But my favorite part of my trip was the day trip I took to Versailles. Before continuing, watch the video below:

Seen the movie? Doesn’t matter. Point is: Versailles is breathtaking, and so is Marie Antoinette. Girl got what she wanted. Cake? Done. Shoes? Yup. Leisure area focusing on zoology and botany? Obviously. A village to provide country amusements for herself and her children? Um duh.

To see a video of Marie Antoinette’s estate, scroll down to IV. To see how the best thinking place ever, scroll down to V. And if you’re feeling really ballsy, scroll down to VI to discover a really cool random fact.

IV.

V.

VI. Clouds and a descending airplane were the inspirations for bubble wrap.

I took this video on my way out as a final emotional albeit tearless goodbye:

And to summarize the remainder of my trip: I saw other pretty gardens, saw a silent movie in a Chinese pagoda, searched for a flea market and ended up in the public library, and met an American named Jeremy who took us back to his apartment and showed us his awkwardly large collection of music from “Glee.” Paris was sexy. I hope you agree.

Key word(s) of the trip: bread, merci, bread, carbohydrates

Then I went to Amsterdam. The first thing you notice when you get to Amsterdam is how, in short, it doesn’t really feel real. It’s incredibly beautiful, filled with scenic canals and beautiful people who are probably high as literal kites.

I walked straight from the train station to our hostel called The Flying Pig. I’d heard it was a social hostel, which I believed when I walked in and saw people dancing and playing pool and doing shots. After screaming over the music to check myself in at reception, I journeyed through the club/hostel to my room. As I opened my door, I stumbled upon five straight bros talking about how they avoid certain parts of Texas because gay people roam there. Gay people! Yuck! I was going to fit right in. But then I went out with my friends and ate four plates of pasta and had chocolate pebbles in the morning and everything was OK.

We switched hostels the next day. This one was called Hotel Cosmos. The owners had a cat named Simba, but I didn’t really have any feelings toward her until she caught a mouse that was scurrying around our room. There was also Poop Man, who I named “Poop Man” after he made yucky noises while using the bathroom, and The Italy Cowgirls, the six girls with whom we shared a room. They had Southern accents and cared a lot about how their hairs looked every night.

To read a list of sites we visited, scroll down to VII. If you want to learn about the exact moment in which I transitioned into adulthood, scroll down to VIII. And to learn what “bears” are in the gay community, scroll down to IX.

VII. Anne Frank’s house, some street with a funny name, Van Gogh Museum, some other street with another funny name, Bulldog Café.

VIII. Walking in the Red Light District, I noticed girls standing in windows. They were nearly naked, which led me to believe they were selling themselves for—gulp—sex stuff. I’d heard of this on the Internet, but then I saw it in real life. I grew up.

IX. I ended up at a bar called Church. I walked in and a pack of bears (Definition: Heavy-set, hairy gay men.) were cruising all up on the half naked employees. I got scared and left.

Key word(s) of the trip: food, animals

Then I flew back to London on Sunday and woke up Monday morning to start my internship on a BBC science show called “Bang Goes the Theory.” When my coworkers asked how my trip was, I decided not to tell them about VIII and IX.

If you want to know what I learned during my first week at “Bang,” scroll up to VI.

Until next time,

Jonathan

(ON TOPIC) My Big Gay One-Year Coming Out Blog Anniversary

Two blog-worthy anniversaries are happening this week. One year ago I wrote my first post on this blog. One year ago I also told my best friend Chelsea that I’m gay, marking the beginning of my “2010 Coming Out Tour.” With those achievements in mind, a celebratory blog post seems fitting.

I think these pictures speak from themselves, but I offer them as a visual answer to the question, “When did you first know you were gay?” Or, in other words, “How did anyone not know I was gay?!”

Enjoy!

Rainbow colors for a very straight rainbow drawing.

Purple and pink reinforcers

I would like the colors of the rainbow.

Assignment: Draw a self-portrait.

“The Rainbow Series” (1994)

Suggestive imagery

Yup.

I told everyone I was going to marry her because she was “cute.”

Yup.

So gay!

Letter swirls

My bedtime buddy would be a banana.

Gymnastics and Beanie Babies? Yup.

Cheers to reinforcing gay stereotypes!

-Jonathan

(THE LONDON CHRONICLES) #4: Jude Law, Big Foot, and Sra. Fish Lips

Dear Reader(s),

Once upon a time, I waited in line with my comrade Juan Cocuy (pronounced Kuh-coo-ee) to get tickets to Jude Law’s last performance in some play you’ve never heard of:

Homeless boy. Or Juan?

TIME

EMOTIONS

FOOD REMAINING

3:10 AM Just woke up. Is this real life?
  • 1 PB&J
  • 1 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Blackberry & Apple bar
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 water
3:41 AM Legitimate excitement. We’re the first people in line!
  • 1 PB&J
  • 1 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Blackberry & Apple bar
  • 1 water
4:41 AM It’s cold out. First person has arrived, an aspiring actor from Boston. We shall name him “Big Foot.” Juan says: “I don’t like people.”
  • 1 PB&J
  • 1 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Blackberry & Apple bar
5:41 AM It’s still cold. Second person has arrived, a posh Spanish woman. We shall name her “Sra. Fish Lips.”
  • 1 PB&J
  • 1 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Blackberry & Apple bar
6:41 AM We’re standing up. The blood is flowin’. Things are good. (Wait. Where the heck is Sra. Fish Lips?)
  • 1 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Blackberry & Apple bar
7:41 AM Sleep.
  • Nothing
8:41 AM Talking to Big Foot. (No seriously. Where is Sra. Fish Lips?)
  • Nothing
9:41 AM Quiet reading time. Drinking coffee.
  • Nothing
10:41 AM Tickets in hand. Sra. Fish Lips found. Sleep please.
  • Nothing

Your mind takes you to funny places when you’re stationary for an extended period (Aaron Ralston/James Franco: I feel ya.), so I also recorded some of the questions that popped into my head throughout our wait. I’ll leave you with a random selection of the most poignant:

  • Will we be obligated to talk to the first people behind us? Who will they be? Boys? Girls? Jude Law fanatics? Antique teacup collectors?
  • At what time should I pull out my iPhone to maximize its battery life?
  • Will I get mugged?
  • What the fuck is this play about?
  • Why is the man cleaning inside shirtless?
  • Where did money come from?
  • WHERE THE FUCK IS SRA. FISH LIPS?
  • Why is Taylor swift so awesome?
  • No but seriously…what is this play about?

Until next time,

Jonathan

P.S. Watch Beyoncé’s new video. She’s cooler than you.

(THE LONDON CHRONICLES) #3: Spider-Man, McDonald’s, and Jude Law’s Abs

Dear reader(s),

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’d planned to update this nightly or weekly with what I’ve been up to, but then Beyoncé released her new music video and I got busy trying to memorize it.

Anyways I figure a list will serve me well here as I attempt to highlight the highlights of the last couple weeks. (Fact: Henry VIII invented lists because he couldn’t keep track of all his wives.) I’ll go in chronological order so it’ll be like YOU’VE BEEN WITH ME ALL ALONG! I’ve been taking pictures while here, so those will surely help, too.

1. I graduate in December so I seriously began my job hunt. I applied to an internship at Pixar, and then I stopped my serious job hunt because Pixar is the only place I want to work. (Dear future employers other than Pixar: Just kidding. I love you.)#intern4lyfe

2. I saw Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus” at the Globe Theater, a modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original 1599 theater. I was one of the “groundlings” in front of the stage. It rained right when Faustus delivered a line about rain. #magical.

3. I saw a play written by an 18-year-old Christopher Hampton called “When Did You Last See My Mother?” It starred Harry Melling, better known as Dudley Dursley from the “Harry Potter” flicks. Instead of being fat and visually repulsing, he was skinny and visually appealing. It rocked.

4. I took a BBC camera course and it involved making a short film in which I wore my Spider-Man suit. It was both awesome and necessary. (Picture to come.)

5. I saw a play about 9/11 called “Decade” and got interrogated by an actor playing a TSA official before walking in. I then took my seat, thoroughly excited for an unorthodox theater performance, but then the play happened and the British actors’ American accents sucked and things got bad.

6. I toured the 2012 Olympic stadium. It’s literally in the most disgusting town I’ve ever been in. (Not true. I’ve been to China.)

7. I endured (Dramatic word ah!) a 4-day BBC course about directing TV in a live studio setting. I was a literal and metaphorical ball of anxiety throughout, but I ended up directing 13 minutes of a (kind of) live show called “The One Show.”

8. I celebrated the end of the course that Friday night and ended up at the apartment of approximately ten incredibly attractive British people. The night ended at 7 AM with an order of 6 chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. It was disgustingly perfect. I wish I had a picture of this, but for now…

Happiness.

9. I visited my friend Jessica in her hometown, a beautiful suburb called Surrey. There was space and light and forests and horses. Her dad cooked meat and I ate it. Then we watched a brilliant movie about Brooklyn called “Blue In The Face” and it made me miss New York.

(photo by) Jessica Sarah Rinland

10. I saw “War Horse,” a popular show in London and New York that’s soon to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. The story was totally Disney (read: predictable) but the horse puppets almost had me in tears.

11. I saw a play called “The Playboy of the Western World” that really should’ve been called “The Worst Play in the Whole F-ing World.” Kidding. That honor goes to 2009’s “Othello” at the NYU Skirball Center.

I was only smiling because I hadn't seen the play yet.

12. I waited in line from 4 AM to 10:30 AM to see Jude Law in his last performance of Eugene O’ Neil’s “Anna Christie.” Expect a blog post about the experience, but for now, know this: I could’ve enjoyed 1 chicken nugget on each of his 6 applause-worthy abdomen muscles. And oh yeah. The play. It was incredible. Ruth Wilson gave one of the best stage performances I’ve ever seen.

Couldn't find an ab pic. Use your imagination.

13. I finished a draft of the first episode of the first TV show I’ve ever developed. I’ve been a literal and metaphorical ball of anxiety. Writing is hard.

14. I went to Cambridge with my friend Juan. We punted. I plan to go to graduate school there because it’s beautiful and makes me feel good.

K gotta go. I’m watching Beyoncé’s “Countdown” video for the 327th time. (Not) kidding.

 

Love you. Talk soon.

-Jonathan

(THE LONDON CHRONICLES) #1: Batman, Brighton, and The Night That Shall Not Be Named

Dear Reader,

There’s something very sexy about getting a handwritten letter in the mail, so I’ve decided to get all 21st century on your arses and reflect on my London semester via the next best thing: a digital blog post written in the form of a letter. Addressed to whom, you ask? You, of course! Yes, you. Please accept these in place of pretty postcards boasting Photoshopped images of London’s most famed tourist attractions. You’re welcome. I know we’re both so green these days.

Forgive me for being short, but there’s a lot to say about my first week but not a lot of time in which to discuss it because I must figure out how to access Netflix and Hulu immediately.

My trip here was relatively uneventful. I took a nonstop flight from Washington, D.C. to London Heathrow, during which I sat next to a woman who smelled like an old-woman fart. I caught the end of this excuse for a movie called “Source Code,” fell asleep, and then proceeded to be both financially and emotionally robbed at the London airport by the international conversion fee.

Beauty.

In short, my first couple days required very little adjustment because living in one city makes it easier to get settled in another. Also, London isn’t terribly different from New York. It’s just a lot more expensive and a lot more architecturally schizophrenic. I easily navigated to my first few days of orientation in a building that was used in the Batman movies. Moreover, I survived these few days of orientation by pretending I was an extra in these aforementioned Batman movies. This made things more exciting, as at any moment I could’ve been spontaneously attacked by the anarchist yet wickedly awesome Joker! I was also tricked into being cooked on a hot bus for five hours while visiting London’s big touristy sites, but the upside to the trauma is I got to go through all the pictures on the iPad of my new friend, Kelly. Then we became best friends.

This is Kelly. She likes striped pouches.

After an unsurprisingly otherworldly meal at IKEA, we had our first night out. We went to a club called G-A-Y. It was a gay club. As we arrived, I was quickly ushered to the metal detector on the right side like a celebrity while my female friends got held up on the left side. This was sexual discrimination in action, but I liked it. Then I danced around like a drunk girl and befriended Michael, the security guard outside who introduced me to my new favorite show, “The Only Way Is Essex.” (Think “The Hills,” but in the UK and with a pig named Mr. Darcy.)

Heaven.

My second night out was…well we don’t talk about this night. It’s lit-ra-lly [said in a British accent] a non-memory. The next day I took a redemptive day trip with my Kelly and my new BBC friend Juan. We took the train to Brighton, where it was grey and rainy and so “Never Let Me Go.” I loved it. We survived a roller coaster,

"It's Turbo Time!"

jumped on trampolines, and got to see the bachelor pad of 21-year-old King George IV. He had dragons on his ceiling like a pimp! We also enjoyed an Italian dinner with profiteroles that were otherworldly but not of the same other world as the IKEA meal because the IKEA meal was better.

Melancholy.

Then classes started. So far I’ve only had Writing For TV, which is taught by a wonderful British man named Archie. Today we pitched our ideas for the pilot of an original TV show. It was bullets of fun. I’m also in a class called Arts and Theater in London. In addition to going to a museum and a theater performance each week, we attend lectures about lots of things and stuff. Today we received a packet about the Normans and the Plantagenets! What a funny name!

Calm down, you. I know what you’re thinking. So, as a person, how have I grown since moving across the pond? Good question. Kelly took me to the local grocery store and taught me how to buy food, so basically I won ten Maturity points. I can now make a salad out of spinach leaves, dried cranberries, feta cheese, and two teaspoons of anxiety.

Anxiety.

My apologies for composing this blog post (read: sexy old-fashioned letter) with the literacy of an elementary school child.

Until next time…

Humbly yours,

Jono

(THE LONDON CHRONICLES) #.5: Goodbye New York, Hello London

The stress of living in a city does really wacky things to your mental health. It’s even scientifically proven! German researchers found that volunteers living in urban areas had more active amygdalas—the region of the brain that processes anxiety—when receiving negative comments while solving math problems. So while finishing my London preparations by finding a safe spot in my suitcase for my Spider-Man suit, I’ve been mentally preparing for life in another city.

My perception of London predictably comes from books and movies. A quick mental survey of books I’ve read that unravel in London brings to mind the following: Canterbury Tales, Oliver Twist, The War of the Worlds, and novels featuring Sherlock Holmes and Jeeves. If I lived in an unrealistically small bubble and therefore painted a picture of London based solely upon these stories, these are the phrases I might use to describe the lovely city: improper, a dirty hellhole, apocalyptic, cocaine-laden, and class-conscious, respectively.

In a probable attempt to brighten the picture, the movie survey that followed in my brain place seemed to cheerily highlight the eye-pleasing houses in which many of my favorite British characters have lived. Especially those populating romantic comedies. In no specific order, I really wouldn’t mind living in any of the following:

1. Colin Firth’s awesome townhouse in “The King’s Speech.” I know he didn’t live here, but it houses the meeting room where him and Geoffrey Rush spent a lot of time curing his endearing stammer. And it had really awesome walls.

2. Will Lightman’s (Hugh Grant) high-tech apartment in “About A Boy.”

3. Any of the houses in “Love Actually.”

4. The Roseville Cottage where Cameron Diaz stays in “The Holiday.”

5. Daniel Cleaver’s (Hugh Grant) flat in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

6. Really any other apartment belonging to a Hugh Grant character because he typically plays the male lead in romantic comedies and male leads in romantic comedies usually come with exorbitantly priced bachelor pads.

In fear of seeming too naïve, I feel I should mention that my knowledge of London isn’t totally informed by rom coms. I swear I know a bit of London’s history. It started with the Romans, and then there were a couple fights and plagues and fires, right? Settle down, dear reader(s), I know more than that. In any case, I shall be reading the “History” section of my Lonely Planet: London book on the plane tonight.

I really hope to keep blogging once I get settled because I know I’ll need an outlet for all the funny new words I’ll be acquiring. And for all the smart history stuff, too. I’m participating in a TV program with the BBC, but will also be attempting to write a TV show and do the theater/museum thing on the side. A visit to my friend who lives in Surrey is also planned, where Number 4 on the above list is located. I can’t wait to pull a Cameron Diaz and wait by the window with my pre-made hot chocolate until a drunk Jude Law comes stumbling to my door asking to see his sister. Based on my thorough research of British slang, I’ve already prepared my response: “Bloody hell, you’re completely and utterly arseholed! I say you had yourself a bender, all right. Get inside before I bite your arm off, grab a blanket, and Bob’s your uncle!”**

He’s going to hate me.

**American translation: “You’re drunk. Now get inside and let’s boogie.”