This isn’t the year we imagined.
A (hopefully) once-in-a-century event began across the world last December. In the weeks after we toasted our glasses and made our resolutions for a better year, we became aware of its presence. It began as a blip on the newsfeed, a strange “somewhere else” thing that we never imagined could come to our city, utterly obliterate our day-to-day, distort our sense of time, end lives and livelihoods, separate us from our families and friends for months on end.
Argentina has yet to peak in cases. We have been in strict lockdown since March 20th, with no end in sight. The year stretches out in front of us, entirely uncertain in everything but its profound sense of isolation and strangeness. Sure, things are slowly relaxing, somewhat. The streets are full of masked families on Sunday afternoons. We abuse our errands to stretch our legs. Friends and lovers seek illegal comfort, justifying their need for contact with risk calculations that unfailingly favor just one more embrace. Few among us can claim 100% fealty — the zoom chats just aren’t cutting it like they used to. We are part-time outlaws, united under one cause: the need to feel human again. (Please wear your mask. Please wash your hands. Please take care of your high-risk neighbors, family and friends. Please be careful).
But gatherings are gone. Parties are prohibited. Live music may not return until 2021 or later. Our favorite film festivals are postponed or cancelled, our museum exhibits closed to the public. Much of what we love about this city that we call home is no longer available to us. Our once raucous city is muffled, muted.
So where does that leave us as La La Lista? We began two years ago today as a live music agenda with food and film recommendations, and then expanded to cover all of our favorite creators. But they no longer have restaurants to fill, crowds to perform for, face to face audiences to connect with. The vibrant arts and culture scene we’re entirely dedicated to was disappearing before our eyes.
When lockdown began, I worried to myself, “what if our writers walk away? What if everyone just gives up?”
I needn’t have feared. Our writers rose to the occasion in ways that neither I, nor the other editors could have anticipated. In the first weeks after the city shut down, our food writer published a piece with a live spreadsheet of restaurants still offering take-out and delivery so that our readers could support them (while eating something delicious), and then a grocery shopping guide to help our readers shop for food responsibly. Our music agenda writers wrote about virtual concerts and creativity in lockdown, and profiled favorite bands. Our food agenda writer wrote about dreams and pandemic cohabitation. Our newest writers covered everything from celebrating birthdays in quarantine to virtual museums and online education directories. Our art director illustrated our quarantine stories and so many others. Our regular contributors pitched in with beautiful art, thought-provoking pieces, and even exclusive premieres.
Nobody gave up. Because nobody else in this city was about to.
So no, this isn’t the year we imagined. And in some ways, it has been undeniably horrible and heartbreaking. But in others (in resilience, in reckoning, in reflection and growth) it has been so much more. I know that’s been the case for us at La La Lista. And I hope that it’s been the case for you too.
To celebrate our second birthday, I asked all of our staff members to contribute one song that has helped them get through the last few months. Happy Birthday La La Lista. You are big as your collective hearts. And that is to say: pretty damn big.
Thanks for reading.
The Weekend – Blinding Lights | Kevin Vaughn
“Every time we put this song on, no matter how our day was, we can’t stop ourselves from dancing.”
Palta and the Mood – Hurricane Ballad | Nicki Vera
“The rhythm perfectly captures the mood of laying on the grass as the sun sets.”
Kamasi Washington – The Rhythm Changes | Eze Mancilla
“Not only is this song from one of the most important jazz albums of the decade (The Epic) but also the lyrics and the mantra-esque phrase “I’m here” really resonates with me. Being locked up can really take you to some nasty places and this song is like a lil balm for those aches.”
Cameo – Candy | Jamie Larson
“It became my favourite feel good song after a drunken night out in Camden, London with a whole bunch of my girlfriend mates who proceeded to do the Electric slide in the middle of a busy bar. It makes me smile every time I hear it and takes me back to the moment”.
Selena Quintanilla – Como la flor | Magu Fernandez Richeri
“This song makes me happy. It’s a great karaoke song and now it is my number one masked lip sync song. It helps me to relax when i have to face the outside world”
Cocteau Twins – Throughout the Dark Months of April and May | Pablo Damian Perez
“I hadn’t thought about this one for a while, and then quarantine happened. The ominous title and the song’s icy textures just seem to fit the general mood these days. Also, Victorialand is one of the most perfect winter albums out there and you should totally check it out.”
Fiona Apple – Drumset | Bonnie Rowland
“I like the rawness of it and there’s something cathartic about hearing Fiona sing ‘Why did you take it all away?’ again and again.”
Mel Bryant & the Mercy Makers – Never Thought | Emilyann McKelvey
“This one is by a woman I met while running topless through the streets of New York one night in 2014 and we became instant BFFs and I never saw her again. Because I definitely Never Thought this would be happening and it’s an excellent punk anthem”
Nasty Cherry – What Do You Like in Me | Jorge Farah
“It shouldn’t have been surprising to me that this is one of my most-played songs of the last 3 months. It’s essentially a remake of Sky Ferreira’s ‘Everything is Embarrassing,’ from the drumbeat to the keyboard chords to the pitched-down vocals repeating the refrain. It’s also a gorgeous pop song about romantic insecurity. And when you’re locked inside for several months, it’s nice to retreat back to the familiar, and it’s comforting to hide away in thick synth lines and honey-sweet pop hooks.”
BADBADNOTGOOD – Time Moves Slow | Monique Nicholas
“Whether you’re sliding around in the kitchen washing dishes, or feeling the weight of the world, this tune brings a certain beauty to the yearning to escape our walls.”
Atlas Sound, Laetitia Sadier – Quick Canal | Evy Duskey
This song reminds me that we learn something with every struggle, and it can help us grow if we let it:
“I thought saints were born saints
I looked in the dirt
And found wisdom is learnt
Through a costly process
Of success and failure.”