In an online landscape littered with ill-seasoned mouse fodder and misled QWERTY maniacs, charlieporter.net is to the blogosphere what dog acts are to Simon Cowell… Unbeatable.
Click images for more from Charlie’s net.
Dapper quill flasher, an all weather friend to i-D and style saviour to bemused would-be gents from Savile Row to the Burtons’ sale rail, Charlie Porter knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. A successful couple of decades at the forefront of journalism and fashion through his work for GQ, The Guardian, Fantastic Man, i-D and many more besides, means Charlie has lots of tales to tell.
Longterm and loving pen pal of the printed word, early in 2012 Charlie surfed onto the web-waves with charlieporter.net and since then has been supplying his fast-growing audience with regular diary entries in Realm, serialising his fictional writing via Tower and posting lots and lots of words in Transcriptions. Documenting his day-to-day, offering all manner of niceties-food, fashions, flowers and everything fun in between-it’s unadulteradedly jolly and unashamedly jazzy.
On the right we’ve listed some of our personal favourites from Mr Porter’s realm and below’s what unfolded when we visited Charlie’s own sun-soaked Silicone Valley to ask the man behind the magic a couple of questions about his garden, his reading list and other razzy lolz. Get bookmarking.
What’s the first website you look at in the morning? Boringly, The New York Times. I look at WWD early, then give the Daily Mail celebrity sidebar my full attention. I am very old, and so I am very old media in my focus, even in this new world.
Could you describe the difference in how you approach writing an article for a print publication to writing an entry for the realm? The biggest difference is that I feel like I’m writing for an individual reader, rather than for an editor. This makes me write what I really think, rather than what I think someone might want me to write. And so I can put more energy into working out what I think about things, which in the end makes it more rewarding for me. It’s much more of a fulfilling process. But there are also many similarities in writing: it’s about stating the right information at the right time, in the right order; about allowing a piece to build and for ideas to develop, and for the ending to be just as engaging as the beginning.
How has your experience of creating charlieporter.net affected your relationship with language? I started working before email was prevalent, and so I’ve seen my language develop in two ways. I’ve learned how to write formally, in the traditional patterns of journalism. But I’ve also learned to write emails, most of which are private and just to whichever friend I’m emailing at the time. I’ve long thought that some of these emails are among the best things I’ve written, and long wanted to translate this language into a more public sphere. This is what I think I can do on my realm – use the ticks and thought processes of email conversation (and other online ways of writing) to find new ways of talking publicly about the things that interest me. I hope it results in a new intimacy with the subject, and a way of writing that in some way feels original.
Another important part of the site is my fiction, which I’m serialising each week. It’s called The Tower, and I’ve written it in chunks to be sent out and hopefully read electronically. I’d love for people to read it on their phones on their way to work (though at the moment I’m aware most people print it out – I’m hoping to find a way around this). I’ve reached the end of the first section. There’s two more sections to come. And I’m going to start a new project in August.
Could you tell us your favourite thing about ‘being a blogger’? It’s how I’m able to make everything that interests me all part of the same thing. The realm and the fiction sit together, along with other projects which will be added to the site along the way (I’ve got some big plans how to expand the breadth of the site). It’s keeping me insanely busy, but with a complete sense of satisfaction. All I want in life is a feeling of contentment, and I feel like I’m on my way there, touch wood.
What are you reading at the moment? Laurent Binet’s ‘HHhH’, and ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce (I am literally reading it. Literally. Along with the ‘Bloomsday’ book which tells you exactly what’s happened on each page).
And what are you cultivating in your garden? It’s a happy summer for me this year, as it’s my first full summer in the UK for years – when I was working on Fantastic Man, much of the summer was spent in Amsterdam. It means I can grow things that need attention like Sweet Peas, and veg too – broad beans and peas especially. I am also obsessed with thalictrum, eupatorium and asters, all things I’ve picked up from Piet Oudolf, the designer of the High Line who I interviewed for Fantastic Man.
Could you tell us the recipe for your delicious quinoa, nettle and mackerel dish? It’s so easy. For two people, put half a cup of quinoa in a pan, and add to it a teaspoon of buillon powder. Boil the kettle, then add a cup of water to the pan and put it on a low-to-medium heat. It should take 15 minutes to cook, though keep an eye on the pot to make sure it doesn’t run dry – if so turn it down and splash on it some more boiling water.
While it’s preparing, chop up whatever salad you’ll eat with it. I like to slice half a raw fennel, and a stick of raw celery. You can also add raw carrot, raw onion, whatever you like. Also get ready your smoked mackerel, roughly pulling this into pieces.
When you are preparing your nettles, wear gloves to protect from stinging, and put about half a bag in in a colander to wash – about the same amount you would of spinach.
Wash it thoroughly, and then 5 minutes before the quinoa is done, put the nettles in the quinoa pot, and put a lid on it. The steam from the quinoa, and also from the water used to wash them, will cook the nettles down, I promise. If nettles are out of season (which they are for most of the year), just use spinach.
Stir the nettles into the quinoa, and then share between two bowls. Divide up the salad, and then put a splash of white wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil on each bowl, and a squeeze of lemon. Salt, pepper, and you’re done!
I literally eat this every lunch. Freelancer’s fuel.