SLow IT DOwn.

We’ve reached the muggy midpoint of July, when there tends to be more time to drift. This edition of Friend Report wanders through pals’ experiences, lifestyles, and ways of being...

Rajiv Pinto took his parents on a road trip.

Rajiv and I met five years ago, at the late-June wedding of our friends Michael and Penny. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I can still see what he was wearing (sandals, shorts, and a calico shirt with the sleeves rolled up) and know that he took a photo of a beetle that landed on my shoulder. He's an architect for the City of Chicago (here’s a video about it), and on July 6 he became a citizen of the United States. Last month, his parents visited from India and he drove them around the California coast. A road trip with family elders is something Rajiv suggests trying... 


“[My parents] were a captive audience for two weeks. I could make them listen to the music I wanted to, and I could make them listen to the podcasts I wanted to. It was kind of funny, feeding my parents’ ears as an adult. They had never been to California, so I was excited to show them what it looked like...”

Rajiv’s parents, Anil and Marie Anne.

“Growing up, perceptions of what the United States was and what it is were two very, very different things. I remember traveling here for the first time when I was in sixth grade. I came to New York and I was like, Oh, this place is kind of dirty, and it kind of feels like Bombay.’ And then I went and visited my cousins in Peoria, Illinois, and I thought it was the most beautiful place in the world. Everything was clean and neat and everyone had a driveway. And you could go from the house to the car without having to go outside. [My parents have both been to Peoria,] and it’s so weird how that is absolutely not my life anymore...” 

“It was really nice to show them what I like about this country, and the places I like, and the people I like, and the scenery I like. We stayed in the heart of San Francisco, and I drove them up the coast to Point Reyes National Seashore. I drove them to Big Sur, I drove them to Los Angeles, and then I dropped them off. It was nice seeing so much of the country, also, before becoming a citizen.”


Timmy Watson explains “the salt life.”

Even in the year 2017, there are things Google just can’t explain—like something as nuanced and intangible as “the salt life.” This time of year, I hear people refer to this mysterious experience when they see someone jet skiing with a bottle of Pacifico in their non-steering hand, or napping on the sunny side of a boat. I think I get it. If it’s what they say I love it, especially later in the summer. But I don’t really know. Maybe it’s not as good as it sounds? I asked Timmy Watson—businessman, native of Jacksonville, Florida, and friend til the end—for some clarification about what the salt life is...

TIMMY: The salt life is a feeling, I think, but The Salt Life is a sticker company from Jacksonville, Florida. A few guys started it in the early 2000s, and it caught on really quickly. You’d see it on cars and everywhere for the next couple years. And it’s now a very large brand. I’ve seen Salt Life stickers as far north as Chicago. The Salt Life has their own clothing line and surf shop in Jacksonville...


LENA: It’s a sticker?


It encompasses a lot more than it used to.


What does the salt life feel like?


I think it was borne out of the feeling of being in the ocean, like when you’re fishing or surfing, or how the actual salt feels on your skin.


Can you experience the salt life when you’re not near the ocean?


People currently are, because they seem to represent The Salt Life far and wide. It definitely has taken on a life of its own.


Is the salt life good?


Good in what way?


Like as a state of mind.


I think when it started, it was something that people had pride in. At least, something people who lived at the beach had pride in. Now, because of what it turned into, it has a negative connotation. It’s a corporation. An investment firm bought it. [In Jacksonville] there’s a restaurant and a store, both new construction, that say Salt Life in giant signs out front.


I had no idea. I thought it was just a cool way to be. 


That’s how it started.


Now that the salt life has been co-opted by capitalism, what do you say? What do you even call it?


I don’t know. Maybe the point to go back to is that you don’t have to wear it on the back of a truck, or on a T-shirt. You just be it. You have to live it.


Remember that Airbnb Molly Marcucci mentioned in Friend Report 2? She and Timmy Watson are officially taking reservations. It’s a beachy, tiki dream. If you’re visiting Chicago, it’s about as close to the salt life as you can get.


Jill Wignall believes creativity = bravery.

I’ve known Jill Wignall since the summer of ’07. She is, without question, the most consistently creative person I’ve ever met. Evidence (like on her Instagram, her other Instagram, her shop, her website, or her old blog) supports the fact that she draws, paints, stitches, collages, or collects every day. I’ve never been inside her brain, but it seems like her secret to being so productive is peacefully coexisting with her curiosity and creative output, rather than judging or bossing either around. 

Last week, Jill launched a newsletter called “Notes on...Creativity As Self-Care.” You can subscribe through her website, or get a taste of Jill’s teachings and philosophy with this collaged picture frame project...

“Look through your recycling bin and pick out any cardboard or paper items that have some colors, patterns, or textures. I picked egg boxes, tea and cereal boxes, a leaflet with a map on, and a pink receipt.”

“Find an old frame, then take the back cardboard off—the cardboard is what you will be collaging onto. Rip or cut out patterns or pictures that interest you and start sticking them down in a border around the edge of the cardboard. Layer the papers to create details and textures. Have fun with it.”

“Once you’re happy with your border, stick a picture you like inside. I chose a photo by Nicholas Haggard.” 

“Now put the cardboard back inside your old frame and hang it on the wall. It takes bravery to be creative. Be proud.” ☮ 

Last year Jill moved from London to Lancaster, England. She met a lighthouse keeper named Bob Parkinson, who told her about his life and the region’s history. This weekend at the Stone Jetty Cafe in Morcambe, she’ll open a solo exhibition of textile art inspired by Mr. Parkinson’s stories. The party is on Saturday, July 15 from 6 to 8 PM, if you’re around and want to come. 

The intro collage/photo for this edition of Friend Report is by Morgan Thoryk, powerhouse music supervisor and my younger big sister. She’s one of my favorite feminist artists and you can get her work here.


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