by Grape Staff
art by Priya Banerjee
[originally published May 9, 2022]
Some bags of tea, a sketchbook and Santana Abraxas.
One thing in my bag is my lighter, and the less said about that the better. I also got my speaker for playing Future and Megan Thee Stallion’s Greatest Hits. A little bit deeper down I got my antidepressants, and right next to them I have my poetry book. Gotta fight the demons somehow, and the lighter only helps so much.
In my bag (i.e. my glove compartment) I’ve got three separate Billy Joel greatest hits CDs. I always tell people that Billy Joel was “the first artist I ever loved,” which is probably why I have been gifted three separate Billy Joel greatest hits CDs. Each one has a different track list, so I cycle through them depending on what Billy Joel mood I’m in.
I’ve been listening to this one a lot recently, so—and I hate to post cringe—I checked my Spotify stats (er, I mean Amoeba bag) and confirmed that my top song the past four weeks is John Hartford’s “Let Him Go On, Mama” from Mark Twang. I discovered this tune from a video of Chris Eldridge and Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers) playing it at Norman’s Rare Guitars, which I totally recommend. The song is a wonderfully goofy tribute to an unnamed steamboat captain, backed by Hartford’s phased-out banjo and soft-shoeing. Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins’ untimely passing inspired a bit of renaissance, or at least a naissance (that’s French, kids), of my consumption of the Dave Grohl-led rock outfit’s music, so I’ll add 1997’s The Colour and the Shape from Foo Fighters to my bag.
I'm really excited to get to share what's in my bag. There are so many things in my bag!! One good thing in my baggu is a Cadbury creme egg from my mom for Eastover (Passover and Easter combined), and my Jurrasic World camouflage snapback hat. The Cadbury creme egg is a little dented, a little banged up, but I have to keep a snack in my bag for when my blood sugar drops. The Jurrasic World camouflage snapback kind of explains itself...it has the power to tie together any outfit.
I have this novella called Fup by Jim Dodge that I’ve had for quite some time—it’s so slim so I can bring it anywhere. It’s about this old man who makes whiskey that makes you immortal and he gives it to his duck, but it’s also, like really sad. I won’t spoil. Also, the album Entertainment by Gang of Four. I’ve received the album three separate times and haven’t gotten rid of any of them so if you’d like to lighten my bag please reach out.
1. My Mom's Ex-Boyfriend's Brother's old Harley Davidson Trucker Hat: This is pretty much just what it sounds like...an orange and black Harley hat from the 90s that my mom stole from her ex-boyfriend who stole it from his brother; it's pretty run-down and has some yellow paint on it because my mom wore it to go running in the rain a lot and also while painting the outside of my aunt's house. I started "borrowing" it in high school because it looked fresh off the Depop y2k page but then stopped wearing it because I thought it made me look too gay, then started wearing it again for that very reason last summer and stuck it in my suitcase to bring to Oberlin (sorry mom). I wore it today because it rained and I couldn't find my scarf, I love it very much even though it probably has lice living in it at this point!
2. CD and DVDs: More along the lines of Amoeba's What's in My Bag; I have an Aimee Mann CD of I'm With Stupid Now that I bought for four bucks at home and was listening to on a CD player (recently gifted to me, also in my bag) when my iPhone 7 stopped turning on and I no longer had Spotify (eek sorry) access...but I hope to listen to it more even now that I have a functional phone! I also have 2 DVDs that I should've returned to Mudd several weeks ago: one is Moonstruck which I love unabashedly but people keep telling me is a "guilty pleasure", and a random swedish rom com that I never got around to watching!
3. Decaf Carnival Cookie From Fall Semester 2020: it is green now and up for grabs
There is a very strict system inside of my bag. Loose items are separated into groups and placed in containers based on theme and time of day that I use them. For example, my ‘let’s get down to business’ themed container (discarded pill bottle) holds my delicious gel capsule Vitamin D and Fish Oil supplements alongside three keys that open three doors in the art building. I usually dig into this stuff around lunch time. Another section of my bag is ‘be careful’ themed due to the fragile nature of its contents (digital camera, Nut Punch, wallet, twigs and rocks for sculpture, claw-clip). These are early-morning and late-evening items. The rest of my bag is a secret.
My bag usually has whatever I put in it several weeks ago, and I allow its contents to accumulate until I can’t bear it any longer. Right now I have five pink bouncy calls from Ben Franklin’s, a photo biography of Bjork in a plastic cover that I bought for $17 last fall, twelve hot glue sticks, and three different half-full packs of mint gum. I carry the one notebook that I buy at the beginning of the school year that I take all of my notes for all of my classes in. Also one pen that I can never lose. This has all worked for me so far.
I got this black tote bag from Turntable Lab as a Christmas gift, it has a really cute Peanuts cartoon on it about buying records when you’re sad, and I love it so much I pretty much carry it everywhere, it’s so roomy and it fits my laptop and water bottle and portable charger and wallet and lighter (I don’t even smoke, I just like having a lighter on me) and pens and pencils and notepad (for impromptu offline note-taking, I guess?) and a bunch of other stuff, like my sunglasses and glasses cleaning spray and a Germ-X bottle that I filled with 70% isopropyl alcohol because I think it’s less gross and slimy even though everyone I tell this to is like “that’s fucking insane, pure rubbing alcohol is horrible for your skin.” That’s just the essentials, anyway. Usually I’ve got a book in there too — currently Lester Bangs’ Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, this collection of arcane and jargony music reviews I’m slowly working through. Have a DVD player in my dorm so of course there are a lot of movies in the bag, mostly from the library; right now, I’ve got Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate on that Criterion blu-ray, and DVD’s of Fat City (John Huston boxing movie), Point Break (self-explanatory), and maybe Michael Bay’s The Rock, if the asshole who hasn’t returned it to the Oberlin Public Library in two months decides to have a fucking heart. Of course, since it’s a tote made for vinyl, I’ll include my record haul from Hansons’ this past weekend, where I found an $8 copy of Paul Simon’s self-titled debut (“Duncan” is one of the best songs he’s ever written), and a $3 single of Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King’s “Shame,” a truly perfect disco song if there ever was one. Actually, can I toss in my blu-ray of Whit Stillman’s Last Days of Disco? One of my favorite movies ever, precisely because the movie knows when to can its talky script, shut the fuck up, and dance to “Shame.” Sometimes, I wish I knew how to do the same.
So lately I've been lugging around a very classy Thou tote I nabbed when the Baton Rouge metalheads came to the 'Sco last month. The band was incredibly kind after their set, telling my sloshed, stoned, and sweaty ass that I could take it for free. Thanks y'all! My treasured tote contains, among other things, a copy of The Spectre's Spring '22 edition, a weed grinder, two very weathered legal pads (the only real way to take notes in class before promptly tearing them to shit in your bag), a flyer for Radical Departures on WOBC -- Mondays at 5 pm -- whose host, Rabble Rouser, I had the pleasure of meeting last week, approximately 18 loose plastic decafe spoons, a teeny tiny paintbrush, and a packet of off-brand Midol. I never go anywhere without this bag and its contents -- an amalgamation of shit -- reflect this well.
Ever since I had these roomates tell me that I am too fucking disgusting to live with, before even living with me, (just based on my disgusting personality! Slay!) I have been such a scent queen. My secret? Oil Perfumery. They make amazing dupes that last me so long. Currently I’ve been wearing their Santal 33 dupe (okay unisex gender-nonconforming performance artist comedienne musk) and some of these solid perfumes from Lush I stole from my mom. This is all in hopes that one day no one will ever find me gross, even though I do horrifically vile things like talking and breathing. Hopefully this will reach the incel crowds, but I love listening to comedy albums on long drives. I really like Atsuko Okatsuka’s “But I control me” and Jo Firestone’s “The Hits.” Also want to shout out some other comics I have been into lately and am dying to recommend to everyone: Rachel Pegram, Dylan Adler, Carmen Christopher, Robby Hoffman, and River Ramirez. My favorite Dolly songs at the moment are “Traveling Man” and “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That.” And as if I couldn’t be more earnest, I do carry a little orange joke notebook on my person at all times, much like you would a gun! If you loved Patti at Finney, you should totally check out “Disease Sleuth” on Soundcloud and “A Woman’s Smile” wherever you stream podcasts. If you loved Good Talk at The ‘Sco, you should probably seek out a mental health professional or something. Knowing what is in people’s bags makes robbing them way more efficient. Sucks these guys are all fuckin nerds tho.