Ever since Blake Lively gave The Cut that interview where she guessed her natural smell as "cookie" and mentioned the Cheesecake Factory unprompted four times in four successive questions ("Cheesecake Factory is great. It should have Michelin stars"), I have been anticipating the launch of her lifestyle site with a moderate degree of excitement. PRESERVE, I thought, might be an important cornerstone in my own holistic pilgrimage towards a clear understanding of the gnomic meaning of "lifestyle website," two words that have always appeared before me with a Borgesian epistemic circularity: a lifestyle website is a website that will teach you to style your life for the web so that on the web your life may appear stylish enough for a lifestyle website, and on and on until the earth is a heap of flaming garbage and we're all taking pictures of our eggs in hell.
PRESERVE launched yesterday, but my attention was elsewhere. Only in the wee hours of the morning did I remember PRESERVE's existence. I typed it in like a prayer ("Preserve.us/oh/l0rd") and sighed with a relief that lasted the four seconds it took for the home page to materialize.
PRESERVE loads dark and overwrought, with filters suggesting your high school friend who recently started dabbling in photography and fonts (so many fonts) that bring to mind a slightly goth Southern boutique. Its navigation is barely sufficient to merit the word, so when a spectral black-and-white picture of Blake streamed by I wagged my cursor at it frantically, whispering, "Serena, come back." The baroque fugue of life simulacra kept scrolling but her editor's letter remained.
I'm no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear, or eat. I am hungry, though...and not just for enchiladas.
Here were my takeaways. First: Blake Lively knows in her heart of hearts that she should not have started this website. Second: If Blake Lively's impostor syndrome is justified by her lack of qualifications, negated by the fact that no one is actually qualified to tell you what to buy/wear/eat and absolved by her ghostwriter's disingenuous openness, is it even impostor syndrome at all? Third: In the brain of Blake Lively there is an ongoing inside joke with America involving somebody (everybody?) really wanting enchiladas. Fourth: I wanted enchiladas.
Where's the enchilada recipe, PRESERVE?
Clicking around quickly to shield my delicate female sensibilities from the copywriting struggle (A sundae is a message from the subconscious, a stratified glimpse into a man’s desire hierarchy) and the quest of the scarecrow for his brain (Gentrifiers maintain that converting warehouses into residences is a healthy part of urban renewal. Purists only see history slipping away. In any case, the phenomenon is a boon for the likes of John Sorensen-Jolink, the man behind Brooklyn design shop, Coil and Drift), I found what appears to be PRESERVE's first and only recipe (there are probably more, but the site is, as I mentioned, unnavigable).
"KICK ASS BABY," said the picture. "BACK PORK RIBS."
Okay, I told myself: I wasn't really feeling Coil and Drift, but this (either the kick-ass baby or the back pork ribs) seems like a lifestyle I can get behind. On the other hand, here's the start of the recipe:
What is a Great Gathering? Who is the King? What are his Ingredients?
Blake tryna give me a recipe from the back of a goddamn rib sauce bottle? Which costs $25 in PRESERVE's shopping section and isn't even linked from this page? Hell no to all of it. Following these ingredients is another set of ingredients, this time for a basic pork brine. By the terms of this recipe, which appears to have been "sent from my iPhone" by a person who has never been held accountable for their actions, it's "thebrine." (Too, the all-purpose rub appears in the recipe as "therub.") You're supposed to bring the ingredients to a boil for one minute, and then, "remove pot from heatlet cool to room temperature." Get it off that heatlet! Get it off!
Then theribs sit in thefridge in thebrine for 24 hours and afterwards get coated in therub. Then:
Just start a small coal base in your barbecue pit, or fire up the old electric smoker. There are no instructions for what to do if you are not a "MEAT KING" or whatever Blake's editor is going to call the ribs vertical.
I have never met a person with a dedicated barbecue pit, and I'm from fucking Texas.
So you are left with raw, brined meat covered in spice grains, a meal fit for your King at the Great Gathering. PRESERVE says make sure you warm up some extra sauce so you can dip the ribs as you go. "Get busy!" urges PRESERVE.
I think I understand lifestyle websites now.