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Scene report  

In the Court of the Superstar Princess


Everyone talks about Meg. In the bar. In Lower East Side indie newspapers. In that stupid vibe shift article in New York Magazine. In dressing rooms at fast fashion retailers, in friend groups, in families. It sometimes feels like there’s nothing left to say. Maybe there’s not, but I’ve known Meg since we were little. Since strangers were taking photos of her weed leaf ankle tattoo at Jamba Juice. That’s my only qualification for this. That we are childhood friends. That I might know her a little better than someone else. And even then, this was a chase. Chasing Meg, chasing a scene, chasing whatever it is that has her on the lips of the city. I didn’t catch up to her, or catch it, right away. But sometime, somehow, I did, and this is a literal accounting of time with Meg over a couple nights in New York. No metonymy, no archetypes. I will block my Mother on Instagram before this is published.


Un


It seems only fitting that Instagram is the primary way to contact Meg. Even in high school, she understood the depravities of the medium better than us all. Did she want me to delete the questionable photo I posted on her 17th birthday? No, she just wanted to point out it was bad.


My DM about following her around for a night and writing about where we went and whatever scene she or I may or may not be a part of goes unanswered. Our mutual friend Kaelo drops a line to see what I’m doing. To see if I want to join him at Jade Bar for a drink. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am hoping in the back of my head to find Meg amidst the smoke filled back room.

Before I get there I get a text from Adina, a city kid who gives off a cool I can only describe as infuriatingly effortless. She tells me to come to Mood Ring around 11 with the caveat that her friend from Westchester has never been and wants to go. It’s the only reason you’d ever drag  either of us there. It’s only been open since 2018 but it feels like it hasn't been cool since 2015. She introduces me to her friend Delaney from Westchester who works at a Michelin starred restaurant in the financial district. Delaney tells me she grew up in the small town my college was in. I tell her how much we hated the townies. She asks if I did heroin there. I lie and tell her yes, all the time. I grew poppies in my dorm room. She believes me and offers to buy me and Adina’s drinks. Delaney insists we dance but the dance floor is empty. I don’t mean like a couple-people-tangling-feet-in-the corner-empty, I mean not-a-single-solitary-soul-empty. Adina and I insist we leave.

Delaney is only interested in dancing, so we suggest Rash. Adina whispers to me and I ask Delaney if she has some coke, who seems thrilled to be of use. She dangles it before us and tells me she does it everyday, even when she commutes on the Metro North. When I don’t seem impressed she holds out a little longer, like her addiction should prove her vitality and interest. Finally we all tuck ourselves into a secluded corner behind a construction site and assume our best circle-jerk circle and do a few rounds of bumps from her pink vile. It goes up like chalk, probably cut with baby powder. Delaney asks about Adina’s shirt. ”Yo dude what’s up with your shirt? Is it like ironically racist?” Adina and I are confused. “What?” I say.  Delaney’s tone shifts. “It looks like a like KKK thing dude.” I cut in, “You’ve never heard of the Clash? That’s literally just their logo dude.” Adina tacks on “They’re literally like one of the most famous bands in the world.”  Delaney doubles down. “I only ever listen to the Dead Kennedys.” Adina and I both nearly fall out of our chairs. “That’s a particular brand of philistine you’ve chosen,” I say. “Yo you’re literally  never allowed to call a black woman a philistine. Ever.” Delaney responds.

Adina and I bail to link with Kaelo at Jade Bar for what we assume is a final round, only to find that he knows the bartender and we’re welcomed in after they lock the doors. She mixes us free drinks. I nearly choke on the amount of campari in the negroni. Kaelo tells us Meg was feeling sick or something tonight and couldn’t make it out. “On sabbatical for the evening.” It’s of little consequence now, and in the bathroom he gives me some more coke. I sniff it off his hand, he sniffs it off mine.

Walking home in the rain I get a DM. “hii omg sorry was so mia. i’m down to do le mag thing if u still wanna.” I invite her to a party at my loft next week. “Oui after my fauxbriety moment. what r le deets?”


Deux


Look, yes I live in McKibbin. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe I lied about not being the right person to write this. It’s my roommate's birthday and I tell Meg to come around 11, and that I’m running late. I’ve been on a date with a bartender from this formerly canceled and then re-branded dive bar up the street. She comes with me to the party. “Is Meg really going to be there?” “Yes,” I say. “But please don’t be weird.” 

The party is full of kids my roommate and I go to grad school with, plus a bevy of transplant-cohorts from his youth in London. Meg calls me twice to let her and her friends in the front door. “Omg you look great! Like, professor vibes but like professor who smokes too much weed.” “I don’t smoke weed anymore,” I say. Dressing around Megan, or for whatever it is we are doing with Megan, is always tough. Meg wears clothes in a way that makes you aware of how hard you’re trying not to try. I don’t know anyone else who could pull off an oversized “War Is Over” shirt with a SnapBack and tights. “Remember when I used to wear like neon blue sperrys and Hawaiian shirts and had frosted tips? I was so tragic.” Meg scoffs. “Whatever! You like totally had a vibe and were doing your own thing.” She takes a photo of the doormat that says McKibbin lofts. Normally I’d be embarrassed by something like that, but Meg embraces the banal and cringe of New York (or humanity) that she writes about with such sincerity and aplomb it’s hard not to be won over. Anyone who knows her will tell you that; call it performance or call it shitposting, but Meg lacks the defensive and deflective post-modernity and irony that so many others fall prey to. It isn’t affected.

Pretty quickly Meg, a few of her friends, a few of my friends, my date, and I file into my bedroom. Meg has a bottle of wine (she’s off hard liquor) and the rest of us pass around beers and a bottle of whiskey. It feels charmingly underage. One of her friends asks how we know each other. “High school,” we say. It’s the truth, but it doesn’t get at the truth of it. I tell her that Meg and I once were in a car crash together with our friend Matty in the parking lot of the BJ’s at the mall. Meg and I spiral down the rabbit hole of old friends who married or became pregnant. At least this is the kind of spiral we go down now. Nigel, a middle-aged Londoner whom I know from Columbia (and suspect to be a member of the British aristocracy), comes in with some coke for our gaggle. He’s wired, and seems too excited to meet Meg. He’s always sending me memes from nolitadirtbag, so I have to assume he knows who she is. The memes are never funny. I tell Meg that a couple weeks ago he asked me to dinner at Estela where, upon showing up, a friend who works the bar told me everyone has been talking about how coked up the guy at table 61 was, only for her to realize he was the friend I was meeting. Then Nigel proceeded to tell me about how over the summer he spent three days in Rikers after getting blackout drunk and shoving his wife into a wall after she bit him for coming home hammered. I can’t tell if this is true or not. The accent makes him a good liar. He changed his voice to do American Psycho impressions all throughout dinner, and wouldn’t stop despite my begging. When the bill arrived he told me he couldn’t actually pay and that he also needed to borrow $200 cash to pay for the coke he had already ordered to the restaurant. Against my better instincts I covered both, but told him I couldn’t stick around. Thirty minutes later I got a text saying that “the liberal cucks" had “thrown [him] out and told [him] never to come back,” and that he would “burn the restaurant to the ground.” He unsent every message on WhatsApp before I could bother to ascertain why.  He Venmoed me $1,000 as an apology in the morning. Before descending back to the depths of the living room he calls me a cunt in a tone close to warm-hearted. Meg says she’s obsessed. It’s the kind of story that you might find on her blog if she didn’t have it together and didn’t want to “look out for all the thousands of teenage girls who read [her] blog.” It can only be a sign we’ve grown up that she would say that. The Tumblrs we read as teenagers while getting stoned in her living room and watching 90210 were truly bleak.

She asks me what I think about her starting a substack. That she could monetize the blog and what she’s doing, but that it would be like “Facebook in like 2009 before it became full of old perverts and annoying ads.” I tell her that Christian Lorentzen has one. “People would pay for your takes.” There was a second there where no one really knew if that was true. That they would pay Meg, that is. We lost touch when we both moved to the city, even though we went to school 30 minutes apart. I think that was true with a lot of her old friends. Hearing that Meg was around was like a rumored celebrity spotting. Even before Interview Mag it felt like a kind of fame followed her. It’s different in different places though. From home, it’s infamy (albeit deeply misguided infamy) where people from our past almost always ask about her after a few courtesy questions about me (or moi as Meg would write it). There’s an exoticisim to being the star of a kind of life that seems so far away, so foreign. But in New York that star is something real. Something tangible. Thousands of people in the scene, whether literally or digitally, read Le Hipster Portal. It’s an influence in a way that Instagram influencers can only actually dream of, because it’s not sought. I’ve never seen Meg social climb (e.g. she’s hanging out with me). She knows that the ladder of social media doesn’t go that high; there’s more for her out there.

We all do a few more lines and dance to MIA and LCD and the Cars and other shit you played on your way to 10th grade. I guess this is indie sleaze. Meg pulls me aside and says they’re departing for the night before exiting McKibbin with an appropriate ceremony. “Let’s get together next week for le mag thing, yea?”


Trois


“Wya”

“Clando”

“I’ll be there in a sec. Don’t leave”


I wasn’t planning on seeing her tonight, but this is maybe the only way to ever see Meg. Serendipity. Surprise. I see her snapback and fur coat from the corner table I’m with some friends who are on a bender after getting off from their shifts at New York’s most reviled and beloved three-michelin starred restaurant. They may or may not have just gone vegan.

Meg tells me she’s been writing for her blog about missing fashion week and being a hermit. We talk about the Ana Bolina show and the fake eyelash Rachel Rabbit White left in my bedroom. I tell her what I’m working on. I tell her about this piece. She has a special ability to let you know she drowned out the noise of the room to hear you talk. I think most would be incredulous of that because of her Instagram, like somehow being loud and messy in a post makes you so in life. Pretending that your account mirrors your identity is deeply embarrassing. Meg would agree I’m sure. In the middle of our conversation this lanky girl bursts out of the bathroom with her jeans in her hands. “I pissed myself!” She goes out to have a cigarette, just in her underwear. Even for Clandestino, even for Meg, it’s a lot. “I feel like Russian models can just like get away with anything,” she says.

We get another round. “Like three men came up to me trying to talk to me about their writing,” she says.  “Anything good?” I ask. Meg tells me one of them is an English teacher and kept talking about how Suri Cruise is in his class. “I told him his life is like that season of Girls where Hannah teaches high school. He laughed and said he went to that Ohio writer's thing.” Meg tells me she wants to write more, to write a book. “I would absolutely read that,” I say. Not only because she’s better than half the dreck out right now, but because it makes sense. People talk about Meg, follow Meg, read about Meg. It feels only right she’d want to set the narrative outside of the blog.

With a final slug of a drink and a hug, I stumble out of the bar. “I’ll text you about going out again for the profile?” I ask.  

The next day I send a DM “What time you wanna hang tonight? You around?” It goes unanswered, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll see Meg when I don’t plan on it. Like it’s always been, and like it always should be.






Max received his B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently an MFA Directing Candidate at Columbia University.

His work often explores social malady and has screened at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, Nashville Film Festival, and Frameline International Film Festival. He is a 2021 Reykjavík Talent Lab alum.

When he was seven he tried to cut off most of his hair with pink child scissors.

   
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