Lana FML

"We want to die."
By Al Bedell 
Illustration by Sam McKinniss

Lana Del Rey’s music encourages obsession. Listening to her allows me an escape from my
Cruel World, leaving me assured and nurtured by the illusion of Lana’s World, where problems are glamorous. When real life tugs me back into its orbit, I’m left wanting more Lana. I can’t listen to just one song; I need to listen to every song on repeat for hours, maybe days. I have allowed myself to become obsessed – literally obsessed – with Ultraviolence.

Why just like something when I can obsess over it? When I like something, I want to like every aspect of it. I need to learn everything about the subject, so I research it. I would never purchase a new moisturizer without performing hours of Internet research beforehand. I need to find out which one is the best and why. I use the same in-depth method when I need to decide if I should have a crush on a person or not. It’s as if the Internet is designed for passionate researchers and obsessive learners: Everything I need to know about a crush candidate is just a Google search away.

When I’m obsessed with something, it takes over my malleable reality. The obsession
is my reality. Everything I see, feel, think, and say revolves around that obsession. I craft a cloistered world decorated with talismanic artifacts from my obsession.  

I understand that it’s unhealthy to live like this, but that doesn’t stop me from entering Lana’s World. In my obsessive state, a discarded can of PBR on the sidewalk is an elegant remnant of Lana’s World. Receiving a text from my crush, “What’s up” translates to “I love you” when I’m in Lana’s World. Lana’s World shatters when I find out my crush loves someone else. Why would I want to live in an ugly reality devoid of extravagance, where love is not reciprocated and cars never stop honking their horns as I maneuver my way through foot traffic? I’d rather construct my own reality.

To craft this reality, I let Lana’s World blend into my own. When I’m at a party where everyone looks particularly beautiful and I’m wearing my favorite pleated mini skirt, hair is actually washed and I’m wearing mascara, I allow Lana to creep in. When I’m feeling intoxicated with confidence and allure, I become the prettiest girl at the party. I mimic Lana’s movements as I’m transported to a warm desert and my crooked hair bow becomes a flower crown. I dance and sway as I mesmerize everyone with my undeniable magnetism. The next day, I scroll through videos online only to see myself spilling Coors all over my clothing, jerking around like a wounded possum on the side of the road as everyone else in the room is left unfazed.

Carefree and composed, Lana Del Rey drapes her immaculate body with the American flag in several music videos and photos. In an attempt to display my regard for Lana’s American Dream and to resurrect my dormant youthful freedom, I bought an overpriced vintage American flag. I wrapped it around myself like a cape and immediately took it off. Feeling foolish for thinking I could wear a piece of patriotic cloth as a luxurious gown and for making such a vacuous purchase, I decided to hang the flag up. It took two minutes to realize there was no place for the flag in my tiny Brooklyn bedroom.

My obsession with Lana Del Rey makes it so that sometimes I think I am Lana Del Rey. In my world of Obsession, Lana and I are the same. We crave youth, beauty, and freedom. We are devastatingly sad. We want to die. We are the best,
hell yes. She sings about longing to be a child, loving someone who will never love her back, her need for approval and admiration. I feel those things too! How different can Lana and I be? Sometimes I refresh my Twitter feed over and over again, waiting desperately for fav’s and RT’s. How can I exist without the approval of an audience? If I tweet something and no one fav’s it, why tweet at all? The only person I am more obsessed with than Lana is myself, but I’d prefer to live as a hybrid of Lana and myself: the best, most beautiful, self-loathing superhuman that ever lived in a world that barely exists.

It’s important to recognize that Lana Del Rey is not a real person. Lana Del Rey was born Lizzy Grant and grew up in upstate New York. Lana Del Rey is a fabricated persona that only exists to lure others into a fantasy. In this world, obsession runs rampant without barriers or stop signs. Her world couldn’t exist if devoted fans didn’t go there with her. 
“I’m your National Anthem,” she boasts. The only way to enter Lana’s World is by way of allegiance.

Lana’s World is comprised of motorcycles, Hollywood, the Hamptons, diamonds, pearls, flower crowns, bare feet, and moonlight. You can drive down open highways in a convertible at 99 mph as the wind blows your perfect hair into your eyes. You can carelessly spill champagne all over your dress and still look radiant. Time moves fast and slow in Lana’s World. Jim Morrison, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys still live in Lana’s World. No one ever dies even though everyone wants to. The grandeur of Lana’s World is blanketed in warmth, beauty and sadness; it’s a
Dark Paradise.

The second time I went to California, I left New York on an early January morning, landed at 10 AM and went straight to Venice Beach. Thirteen hours of inhaling poppers, eating Adderall, and day-drinking later, I was in a dark karaoke room with three of my friends. I could barely keep my eyes open but I was thrilled to be there. I wanted it to last forever. My friend Dana, another girl with allegiance to Lana sang
Video Games. I closed my eyes and wrapped myself in my sandy beach towel.The air-conditioned room became a small vessel sailing away to Lana’s World. I let the essence of Lana permeate me as I fell asleep in my damp bathing suit.

The next day I woke up in Skid Row and decided to go the Standard Hotel. Entranced by the residual glamour of Lana’s World from the night before and the warm California sun, I overdrew my bank account as I ordered poolside bottle service.

Ultraviolence ends, my camaraderie with Lana fades and I’m back to my own, personal sadness. Outside of Lana’s World, the sadness is less glorious. I’m not pretty when I cry. I spend hours researching remedies for aging, pills that will make me thinner, products that will make my hair more luscious. I’ve done countless facemasks and innumerable juice cleanses. I’m obsessed with the lines on my face and the weight I can’t lose. “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?”Lana and I both want to know. Lana claims to be a Brooklyn Baby but she fails to mention the sticky turmoil and ugliness attached to living in Brooklyn. In Lana’s Brooklyn, there are no rats or trash, and you don’t have to pay rent.

My Brooklyn is Sisyphean chaos. It consists of overwhelming anxiety, constant heartbreak, looming clouds and rain, empty bank accounts, and it never let’s you reach the top - it drives you to the bottom. Lou Reed isn’t alive and he is definitely not playing at the Factory. If I had a boyfriend, he most certainly would not be strumming a guitar. In my Brooklyn, they all play sonorous metal or produce violent noise. I wouldn’t be singing either. I’d be getting drunk enough to deal with my bohemian
Brooklyn Baby boyfriend as he freaks out over his “music career” after playing to seven people in a basement. Lana Del Rey does not have to experience any of that.

She doesn’t even know who I am. Though Lana and I are both
Sad Girls, it’s not the same sadness. When Ultraviolence stops playing I see that Lana is The Other Woman and I’m extremely jealous of her. In light of my own depravity, I resent her for beguiling me into a fake world in service to a nonexistent woman. But Lizzy Grant isn’t Lana Del Rey either. Lizzy might resent Lana just like I do. Perhaps Lana’s World is like a paradise of last resort, and maybe it’s for both of us. I play the record again.

From Sex Magazine #9 Fall 2014
Labelled Life