Herb Sundays 57: Allison P. Davis
The beloved New York Magazine features writer comes correct with a "rainy Sunday pathetic fallacy" mix.
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So, this fourth season of Herb Sundays is shaping up to be “OOPS! All writers” but that’s ok. I love them and their wild interior lives which drip with secret playlists. What better way to put off finishing a piece than to make a mixtape?
I’ve never met this week’s guest, or even spoken with them before. I’m just a fan, but I had an inkling there were Herb Riches to be found behind the words. Allison P. Davis is a magazine features writer who has worked with GQ, The California Sunday Magazine, The Economist’s 1843, The New York Times, and Esquire, but is best known for her work for New York Magazine. She’s currently working on a book of essays about sex in New York (“which is harder to crank out than I thought”). I’m a big New York Mag/The Cut/Strategist fan so I’m very happy to have one of the elite in Herbzone. I look to these pages often for guidance, which unearth gems like my fave new protein bars thanks to an Allison Brie piece (“I’m not vegan, but like a lot of people, I’m a gal on the go”).
Allison is a deeply funny writer and knows how to hit the zeitgeist with something funnier and smarter than the rest. It’s like when Robin Hood splits the arrow stuck in a target’s bullseye with another arrow in the epochal 1973 Disney animated film. Her “Vibe Shift” piece earlier this year took Sean Monahan’s phrase to the masses but I first clocked her name with the New York mag cover story about meeting a male sex doll (which is very much her).
“I’m driving down the San Diego freeway, searching for my exit, feeling jumpy and a little bit lost. I’m hoping a few wrong turns early in my drive won’t make me late. I still need time to stop off at a strip mall with a Starbucks and a big parking lot — someplace I can put on deodorant and maybe a little makeup after my cross-country flight.
I prefer to think this is because I want to appear professional to the human man I’m on my way to see: Matt McMullen, the founder of Abyss Creations and its offshoot robotics company, Realbotix. But once I find a place to park and start brushing my hair, I realize that some deranged sliver of myself feels as if I’m primping for romance. This is a complicated realization. In addition to McMullen, I’m about to meet Henry, the first available male sex robot.”
Allison loves music and often covers musicians (“I find myself loving to profile musicians more than anyone —blame too many viewings of Almost Famous I guess. I once had to drink 4 monster energy drinks to be able to stay up to interview Mariah Carey”) so I was excited to see where the mix would go. It is indeed stupendous, sharing artists with other Herb mixes but throwing different shapes. It’s all Coltrane (Alice), Minnie, Built To Spill, Mazzy Star and more.
Allison’s mix is entitled "rainy sunday pathetic fallacy” and she did us a solid by gracing us with a breakdown. Enjoy:
“I like to treat every Sunday like it’s November pouring rain outside and I’m not going to see the sun for 24 hours and I’m resigned to staying inside all day with myself being self-indulgently moody. I like vibes to come in a set of two, so I use the rainy day energy outside, as a moodboard for the energy inside my apartment. (This is harder on a sunny Sunday, but you can use the playlist to make it feel as if it’s so rainy outside you can’t leave. It’s like a spell.) If used correctly, it should make you feel like you’re in your favorite emo place (a moody damp Berlin evening, Big Sur in the morning before the fog breaks, 5pm in your childhood home in that weird time before dinner hits the table) feeling your favorite emo feelings.
I’m a Pisces so I have a lot of deep emotions that I could get lost in all day every day, but I have to get things done during the week, which requires me to just repress everything until Sunday, when I really get into them. Sundays in my book are not for productivity or errands (the dry cleaner isn’t open! Free yourself!); they’re for introspection, waffles, exploratory slow-tempo sex (solo or with someone or someones), making soup, reading, zoning out or writing nonsensical thoughts, baths (one upon waking and one before bed) with epsom salt, walking in circles until you remember what you task you were about to do, outfits of a sweater and no pants. the occasional stroll around the neighborhood but only if the air is damp and brisk. Maybe yoga if you really want to. I guess being earnest is on the menu too.
The playlist starts where I like to start my day, meditatively in the bathtub, it’s like putting a tap into my brain and turning on the spigot and then I need songs to cry to , self-indulgently, so call upon whiny white guys (Built to Spill), manipulatively melodramatic pop bands (hence this random Snow Patrol song that makes me cry every time thanks to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Denny and Izzie forever.) and soul music that forces some deep excavation. One you’re done with the emotional cleansing, there’s a reset period before you go on to do the things you have to do (cook, eat, cook, eat) with a new lightness. So, in the middle of the mix, some songs for bursts of energy (songs to make you groove, but still with a touch of dramatic maudlin). And then songs to take you into dinnertime, wine time, TV time, and bed time where I like to snuggle up with all of my sunday feelings (except the sunday scaries.)”
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