The Yummy List


All content copyright 2009 by Holly Gleason. Web design by Lauren Carelli.

October 2008

October 2008: All Saints, All Sinners, Blood Oranges, Vote Early, “Chinese Democracy” + ARTS, INC.

“Chinese Democracy” Guns’n'Roses

To keep track of how long it has been in the making misses the point of such feral yowling. And for those who wondered about Axl Rose’s ability to maintain the rage inherent to angry young men, whatever it is that plagues him - doubt, drugs, too many opportunities - it isn’t a dead-end with an expiration tag fueled by exhaustion. It is inside, scratching at his very being… and it makes him blast through vocals with a fury.

To come to the lacerating guitar track looking for a breakthrough is a bit much. To consider this a wound-up rock track of intensity, precision, pounding and forward thrust is to come to it with a context that serves what has been served up. It is not about the quarter century it took, but the way rock & roll slams even when it’s being delivered with a rigorous quality control. In a world of machined music, this is something that sounds as if there’s the tiniest of edge of what might.

Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin, Jon Bream

There are those who would argue they were the greatest rock & roll band of all time. Certainly they found a way to merge filigreed folkiness with a throttling reinvention of gutbucket blues. It was heavy… heavy metal… and it pulled you in the way the first truly hot member of the opposite sex absolutely buckles your knees. Electrically charged, corporally enlivening, this is a thrill that surges through you like a white rapid.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune critic Jon Bream knows pop music inside out - and he assembles a team of critics, photos onstage, backstage and beyond to reflect a band who defied rules, created a realm of aural landscapes and gave the hippy trippy post-Summer of Love culture enough hoist to matter almost four decades later. Thorough, engaged, but especially enthused, this is an exhaustive book that never gasps only leaves lovers of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones breathless.

For fans who rock, roll or fancy themselves purveyors of contemporary music or pop culture, this is a must Christmas gift this season.

Levi Stubbs

That growling tremor of need… They called that kind of selfless exhorting “the beg,” and the Four Tops front-man did it like no other. If you were the woman of his desire, you understood that you were truly all, and that need, that shameless desire left jaws slack and people knowing what it meant to be in the throes of another.

Anyone who has ever heard “Bernadette” might not remember the Tops, might not know Stubbs’ name, but they KNOW from the inside out how it is to be reduced to a quiver and a raw want. The any-way-I-can-get it “Standing in the Shadows of Love” or the frenetic “I Can’t Help Myself.” The centrifugal force of must - even in the face of can’t - was Stubbs’ stock in trade. To hear him wail was to know how far one could fall…


Spider Mums

The name is deceptive. But rather than a tight wad of wide petals opening up like some succulent pompom, spider mums have long thin petals that reach out into space rather than cluster together in a fist full of flora. Airy, graceful, reaching into space with a weightlessness that makes anything possible, spider mums evoke the gilded beauty of Japanese paintings, drawings and pen and ink renderings.

In a tall vase with a narrow opening, it is like so many sunbursts or fireworks on stalks of pine-colored green. Each individual flower holding its own space, yet part of a bouquet that has reach, depth and the notion of composition that is neither formal or stiff. If Degas dancers were flowers, indeed.

Small Bite Mature Dogs, Science Diet

Zelda would sit like one of Thurber’s dogs just kind of looking at the bowl. Walk the kitchen - or dining room. Not say too much, nor eat too much either. My beautiful gorgeous wolf of an eater, if not indifferent, not exactly ravenous either. Sometimes that food would sit there for hours… and it made no sense.

Then came Small Bites. Looks almost like rabbit food, the nuggets are that tiny. But oooooh, they are just the perfect morsel-sized delight for the queen of the spaniels. Put a scoop in the bowl, turn around and wonder how a ladylike girl like Zelda Fitzgerald Spaniel Gleason could inhale food so quickly.

Cafe Felix, Ann Arbor, MI

A cross between Spanish sophistication and a hipster Paris café, this small plate restaurant has a plethora of French wine by the glass, expensive proteins by the small plate and crisp greens artfully dressed in a simple Dijon vinaigrette. Brightly lit, but with mustard-toned walls, the effect is warm - and the brightly colored over sized French posters conjure l’aire jolie.

To loiter over an early dinner, stop before a show at the Ark or while away a low key Michigan evening, it’s the kind of low-key setting that is bolstered by the wonder of its menu and the friendliness of its staff. Exactly the kind of place most people would give anything to have in their neighborhood.

“Don’t go by what is, go by what can be.”  Trini Rodriguez

There will always be a how it is… and if that’s all you choose to see, that’s all there will ever be. But to look at where you are, what is happening, to consider why, you can begin to dream beyond to moment, envision how it can be more, brighter, greater. It is about the promise, not the falter, that progress becomes real… and it is in that notion of what might that the best things are born.

Kelly Pavlick

He lost the fight…. The real life “Rocky,” from Youngstown, Ohio. The kid form a dried fragment of what was the American Dream, who stayed in forgotten America - working out in the same hard scrabble gyms where he started out and then kept training. Never mind the 130+ fights on his way to this shot at the shot for a meaningful title bout… or the fact that the man who beat him, former title holder Bernard Hopkins - also looking for another shot at a title that mattered - was 42. These were both men fighting for their lives, and fighting with their hearts.

In a world of the entitled, this fighter truly takes it to the streets… shows that heart, discipline and focus can get you a shot at the shot. Where it goes from here, it’s hard to say. But to believe in what J-Lo celebrated as “Jenny from the Block” in a quick-fisted frame of steel from the land of no advantages, well, that’s something the have nots, less thans and slipping aways can believe in.

Aglio y Olio

Nothing is simpler. Or better. Good quality olive oil warmed. Freshly chopped garlic sautéed for just enough time to release its goodness. Toss with good quality fettuccine. Let stand for a moment to let the flavors settle. Perhaps a pinch of sea salt… a few grates of good reggiano. Mmmmmm…,1-0,aglio_y_olio,FF.html

Skull Pashmina, Alexander McQueen

If Keith Richards were a girl, I’d say… except that Keith Richards drapes two rakishly over the lamps in his recent Louis Vuitton ads. Wool challis with a perfect frayed inch all the way around, the skulls are suitable curvy, the eyes appropriate large from all they’ve seen. If you wanna rock & roll, this is the ultimate must have accessory… Better than walking the plank and it’ll keep you warm’n'dry

Alphabet Tray, Butterfly   Love Small Plates, John Derian for Target

Decoupagist John Derian translates his impossibly expensive glass pieces into a limited line for mass retail chain Target - offering tempered plastic takes on some of his most enduring pieces. The alphabet tray is a writing chart that’s the right size for a few things, whether sitting on a desk, a night table or a bathroom counter. Sophisticated in its commonality, it’s style for the masses.

The circular butterfly and love plates are perfect for a large pillar candle to burn itself down on… or as a no-break grazing plate. The sort of thing one can use at a cocktail party with a bit of flair and no concern about the sound of shattering ceramics.

If The World Was You, John David Souther

Grown-up and smart; sophisticated without being stodgy. This is where Bill Evans meets the zen aspect of Willie Nelson with a waft of Chet Baker… songs that are unabashedly romantic, utterly male and absolutely enchanting. That it took Souther - an unseen architect of Southern California’s singer/songwriter/country/rock movement - 24 years to arrive at this record is both Herculean and a testament to his craftsmanship. Spare, yet arcing, the melodies bend into the sentiments, the words reveal so much more than sketched, the voice is smooth and absorbed in the moments.

“Borderguard” has the tension of one who wants, yet fears their own failings; “Back At Closing Time” is sweetly erotic and the staccato blare of “House of Pride” is a vanity indictment that’s sheer beat poetry/jazz cacophony. Then there is the thing he does the best, unabashed yearning with a clear-eye on the truth: “In My Arms Tonight,” quixotic, fanciful and slightly truculent, it is desire simplified yet not quite realized. Ahhhhhh, the knowing realized…

Getting Lost in the City

Walk out the door. Walk and walk and walk. Drink it all in: the architecture, the trees, the cracks in the sidewalks, the people passing by, the scents wafting from windows and open restaurant doors. It is the ideal way to experience New York, but it works anywhere… all you have to do is open your eyes.

Spiking The Basket (of the Coffeemaker)

That coffeemaker with its diaper full of ground coffee waiting to be scalded into a cup of wakefulness… It is so tired, so there, it’s almost hard to notice. What it does is functional, like the table you eat at. Nothing more, nothing less. Until you spike the basket.

Drop your ground coffee, but then… get creative. Ground cinnamon, maybe some ginger powder. I’ve added whole cardamon seeds for a slightly Morocco in a glass sensibility. A few shakes of cocoa… a bit of vanilla infused sugar. What strikes your fancy can take standard brew and make it something that will surprise your guests and make your morning jump start infinitely more interesting.

Vote Early

Right until the end of October here in Tennessee. Off times, whatever location is near by. Today, I walked right into the polls, showed my voters’ registration card and was out the door 6 minutes later. It is quick. It is easy. It is our civic duty. No excuses. Make the time. Participate.

Edie Adams

She won a Tony in L’il Abner, sang with big bands and was the va-va-voom on variety shows. Heck, Edie Adams was a woman who was the first woman to have a variety show built around her. But really the voluptuous woman with the cascading hair was the original Jessica Rabbit, the spokes model for Muriel Cigars, who looked beyond sex poured into a black form-fitted dress, knew how to double her ententes and flirt from inside a little black box in your living room. When people wonder about vixens, flirts, fantasies who weren’t airbrushed, but ignited as much between the ears as the legs, Edie Adams - now gone and eulogized everywhere from TIME to The New York Times - is gone, but we’d be a lot more engaged in the fine art of connubiality if we paid women like this a bit more attention.

Blood Oranges

Slightly larger than a Clementine, but this deep ruby red that suggests hedonism beyond the obvious scurvy solution. A blood orange is sweet, yet with just a hint of tart. Seeming so decadent in its deep color, the juiciness that almost splashes your chin when you sink your teeth into a section. Even the peel is a deep shade of rose. Whether to juice for some kind of cocktail, to peel and eat for sheer pleasure or to toss into some kind of salad or chill into a topping for ice cream, they are exotic without being too far out, delicious in a full taste immersion kind of way and just different enough to stand out.

No Depression Quarterly, University of Texas

It was the one comprehensive place you could go and read about roots music: the performers, the movements, the forbears. Exhaustively complete features about artist who could fall through the cracks without touching, Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock’s utterly DIY bible of the organic, the heartfelt, the at times not quite cooked music was the antidote to commercial waxy build-up.

Americana, blues, alt-country, roadhouse, Texas songwriters, Cajun, bluegrass, folk, hybrid, beyond. If there was no radio format for it… if there was no urban buzz that fit… if there was no major money to be made… It could be found, lovingly chronicled, assessed and documented between the covers. Now with back up, the University of Texas brings in a perfect bound over-sized paperback bookazeen. Every four months, lovers of roots music can turn here - and read profiles, see genuinely creative pictures and read the important reviews of the quarter in a form that is tactile. Tangibility may seem outmoded, but then, isn’t that hold-in-your-hands reality everything that this music turns on?

“Beauty’s not caused, it is…..”      Emily Dickinson

Wherever you are, however you are… just stop. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Completely. Beauty is right there, right now. Let go the doubts, the criticisms, the singular obsessions. Beauty is. Period. All you have to do is get out of its way. Rather than dwelling on an artificial, air-brushed standard, see how gorgeous living, breathing flesh is in and of itself. It’s not what you do, it’s whats inside: let it shine.

Arts, Inc: How Greed & Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights,  Bill Ivey

  Former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Bill Ivey is a thinker, a visionary and a committed protector of the various forms of artistic expression. An archivist with a strong sense of history, he helped build the Country Music Foundation/Hall of Fame into a repository of history that even the Smithsonian took note of… and with Art, Inc, Ivey applies his comprehensive sense of what came for, why it matters now and how erosive the lack of arts education/awareness is on the larger realms of our culture.
  Once upon a time, creativity was valued as more than a means to fame and riches. The expansion of art, music, theater, and dance was applied to science, math, creative problem solving. The connections - and ability for abstract reasoning - were logical, encouraged, celebrated. Ivey makes the case, illuminates what was lost and creates a compelling argument to reinvest in something so fundamental.

Garden & Gun

They bill themselves as “the Soul of the New South,” and the outdoors/foodie celebration of the land below the Mason-Dixon Line brings an elevated discourse to hunting, feasting, fashion, literature and any number of scenic landmarks. With Palm Beach, author Pat Conroy, golfer Davis Love, surf babes, bird dogs and country maverick Miranda Lambert as cover subjects, the vastness and elevated approach to covering Southern Living is more than demonstrated.

“La Dolce Vita”

    When glamor truly was… Italian film makers brought the ecstasy of being alive to the brink with their far flung emotional planes and almost manic plots. “La Dolce Vita” is perhaps the most exhilarating of them all; certainly a visual cocktail that sweeps ones feet out from under them, working religion, sex, paparazzi surges and the kinds of frisson and crossed loyalties agendas that make for the best action thrillers - only here without that sort of violence.

The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen

One of my too hip younger buddies… the very person this book, subtitled How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the rest of Today’s User-Generated Media Are Destroying Our Economy, Our Culture and Our Values, skewers… is the embodiment of Gen DIY. But there is truth in the erosion of quality, the powers of discernment and the inability to appreciate long form explorations of thought, let alone the somewhat loose sense of balance and accuracy.

At a time when content is being devalued by the sheer kudzu of written diarrhea of varying levels of professionalism, the sense of execution and the increase of arrogance passing for authority has exponentiation. My friend who wrote for Vanity Fair when it really mattered views his competition for writing at a level worthy of awe and respect as mostly dead… and this is the reason.

For anyone who believes in the potency of critical mass, the experience of reading the written word and being taken away or transformed or the notion that there is a higher form of not just communication, but exploration of ideas or particular voices, this book is a must-read. It will give you the hollow-point arguments to ripple this reality to where it might make a difference. It did for me…

The Smell of Vanilla

Homey. Sweet. Full. Welcoming. Vanilla is one of those scents that creeps into your brain and lulls you into a sense of the familiar, the safe, the permeating comfort of nurture. The gentler cousin of bourbon, it has a way of opening one’s olfactory system wide open and then lulling you into a place of deep calm and relaxation. On a bad day, a dab on your wrists or your ear lobes can rotate your reality completely.

Rosanne Cash for Vice President

Qualification for qualification, the Grammy-winning songstress/writer can match or best Body Shot Barbie - and she’s not only every bit as bone able, but she’s the kind of romp that comes with an intellectual Anais Nin charge. More importantly, she’s willing to change parties, cowboy up her extensive global reach and bring a true sense of urbanity, suburbanity and rurality to the Executive Branch - by way of her life in Manhattam (she saw the Twin Towers fall, rushing to get her child from school), she’s soocer’n'ballet Mom’ed in Nashville and she’s captured the hearts of country music fans nationwide.

More importantly, she understands the power of people talking, defining their needs and honoring their truths. She could probably even realize John McCain’s deepest realities given the chance… and as a graduate of some very elevated work required to graduate from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, she’s got the truth inside. If there’s a woman you want a heartbeat away - especially one who’s sartorial decisions are worth noting - it’s this

The Beehive       1327 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA

It is a warren of rooms, great big picture windows, crannies and old style booths… as well as pool tables, funky lamps hanging from the ceiling and a plethora of vibes to pick from. Just as important: the organic coffee, snacks, vegetarian soups and sandwiches, the sweets and treats, including a wickedly awesome Mexican hot chocolate that isn’t sweet, but rich and redolent with flat cocoa and cinnamon.

In this age of the corporate franchise coffee house reality - where even Mom’n'Pop are worried about consistency of product and the just whatever environs - the Beehive hearkens back to a day when funky went either way, gouged Naugahyde was the reality and people linger lost in thought, a book or conversation not because they had nowhere to go. This is the celebration of everything coffee culture is: from the fiercely individual barristas to the sinfully good café au laits to the way sitting in in the storefront display area like the doggie in the window equal an experience that’s both authentic and charming.

Skinny Pickles

Like Grandma used to make… if Grandma had the perfect blend of spices, sweetness, crunch and a hint of salt. Skinny Pickles are world class bread & butter pickles, canned from organically grown cucumbers, hand sliced in a commercial community kitchen by Alex and Deidre Bevan - he of the name-lending “Skinny Little Boy from Cleveland, Ohio;” she of the obsessive need to get it clean, delicious, memorable and especially infused with love.

The essence of summer in a jar: sunshine, earth, abundance. There’s nothing - whether on a burger, with a sandwich or along with some sloppy barbeque - like the perfect pickle. Here with a green rendering of the Northern Ohio folkie on the label is an option so good, it’ll make you sing!

Vitamin Moisture Mask, Dr. Brandt

It looks like purifying clay and dries to an eerie white. But Dr Brandt’s Vitamin Moisture Mask leaves your skin feeling even, supple and perhaps a hint less cruddy. Does it neutralize bacteria or pull impurities? Hard to say. But it does make your face say “thank you” without words: just the feeling that there’s everything beneath the surface that your dermis might need, even in times of stress.

Hotel Amarano, Burbank, CA

On a quiet street in a non-descript neighborhood, there sits a charming little hotel that merges the coziness of Beverly Hills uber-chic L’Ermitage with the business travel friendly Hotel Nikko. Large rooms with big bathrooms - and tubs that beg you to use them. Lots of light streaming in. Good beds. A slightly elevated quality of snacks in the mini bar, as well as a demi-kitchenette with kettle, coffeemaker and two burners, plus microwave.

The living room/cocktail lounge feels like an airy library or den. Areas to accommodate clumps, clusters or couples marks the common area - that is also wifi-ed for those who like to do their cyber-bidding around their fellow human beings. The food is commendable, and there is a grocery store (as well as a Starbucks and several grazing options) across the street. To travel anonymously, this is a wonderful option close to the studios, NBC and various record companies.

Fall In Your Lungs

It is crisp that smell of the seasons shifting. Not quite winter, but a definite sense that temperatures are dropping, the briskness that permeates the air. Draw in the clean, clear atmosphere - all the way into your lungs, and feel alive.

If there is anything that makes your lungs truly experience their capacity and the exhilaration of breathing, it is walking and savoring the inhale on days like what we have right now. Bracing without being brutal, chilled without cutting, this is the weather that is the maximum reality for the human form.

Nathan Bell, Don Henry, Angaleena Presley, Robert Ellis Orrall: Oct. 28, Bluebird Cafe

Don Henry is a quirky Grammy winner who writes songs of impossibly gentle compassion for the human condition. Robert Ellis Orrall is not only friends with Al Gore, he wrote a song called “Al Gore.” Angaleena Presley has a name that wallops. But it is iconoclastic rock firebrand Nathan Bell who’s bringing the blowtorch to the fuse factory.

To say there will be social commentary at this in-the-round at Nashville’s legendary songwriters’ room is like saying Manolo Blahnik makes shoes. These are engaged people who write what they see, especially Bell who lives in a world of less thans, left behinds, lost souls and not enoughs - and isn’t afraid to rail against the scraps that are supposed to suffice. Get ready to be inspired.

Publishing maven Tina Brown - deemed the Vanity Fair/New Yorker salvation editrix - returns with a mash up site that is theoretically a magazine/web hybrid that offers provocative thought, strong writing and daily pulse points. Pulling in pop and political culture vets ranging from Gay Talese to Gail Sheehy, Andrew Morton to Stanley Crouch, Toure to Christopher Buckley, this is cognoscenti central - and if not definitive reporting, certainly schools of thought that are divergent, intelligent and view sharpening.
  With topics ranging from the Why of White Middle Aged Suicide to picture of Versailles, feminism, economics, “Saturday Night Live” and Larry Flynt. With the Big Fat Story being a break-out modular take on various outlets addressing aspects and perspectives on a big story (pirates, Oprah, 2008 Swift Boating), it’s a quick hit of compendium of what’s going on, further chunked down to size with the Ten Points of Right Now the Buzz Board. Entertaining in a brain twister lite sort of way.

Zelda Skypes

International superspaniel Zelda Fitzgerald Gleason turns her pretty face to the camera and let’s a new friend in Switzerland gaze upon her beauty. It is one of those things that requires a little patience… the notion of a blind little dog figuring out which way to look… but she knows kindness in the speakers, and she welcomes sweetness however it comes. So sophisticated, just like the friend she was smiling at, of course the Prada Spaniel can use computer based international software Skype with the best of them.

Miel         53rd off Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN

A pair of private chefs opens a clean white restaurant off one of Nashville’s most lower working class drags - and brings the real world to lovers of accessible haute cuisine. Duck confit in cherry reduction, organic beef deftly cooked to maximize flavor, truly home made noodles for the fettuccine with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. It is small comforts with big flavors - and a wine list that my xenofile dining companion pronounced yummy.

It is also tiny plates—a 5 selection cheese plate, fresh greens, truly vegan butternut squash soup—and the ability to respond to local harvests that allow grazers an optimal opportunity to enjoy the abundance of nearby, while also being offered the best of what the world has to offer. Lavender lemonade, a from the basics chocolate mousse, French press coffee… Miel is a restaurant to seek out and savor.

Jeweled Jewel-Toned Flats, Sigerson Morrison for Target

Yes, chalk up two for Tar-jhay. But the upscale Wal-Mart for Yuppies knows how to bring home the luxe at reasonable prices. And here you have metallic pointy toed flats with bright oversized jewels, making for puckish dress down or glitzy night-out soles. Purple on purple. Green on bright aqua. Silver with diamante. Black with your choice of silver, blue or purple.

Absolutely affordable. Impossibly cute. At $26.99, nothing to get turned inside out about. At a time when the Chanel “gun stilettos” include a comma on the pricetag, this is proof one need not be nosebleed rich to be well-heeled.

Stories Done             Mikal Gilmore

Mikal Gilmore has been looking at pop culture and making the larger connections for almost four decades, and his insight into creativity, why it moves us and unconventional thought is unparalleled. Not only does he use the language beautifully, but he gets the iconic to show him the most unconsidered parts of their souls - which makes Stories Done: Writing on the 60s and Its Discontents a chronicle of social change, the forces that set what was ablaze and the stories of the ones who inspired it and us to become a whole new culture.

Arbiters of a new world order poet Allen Ginsburg, drug gurus Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary, the Dead and their leader Jerry Garcia and the Haight Asbury’s Summer of Love are the essays that open Stores Done and set the tone for reflections upon the Beatles, the Displaced (Johnny Cash and Bob Marley), Genius, Intoxification, Downfalls and Hard Reclamations ranging from Phil Ochs to the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin to Hunter S. Thompson and Pink Floyd only to land on the still living Dylan and Leonard Cohen. As much an examination of mind-expanders impact on the messengers of modern thought, this is a cautionary volume that never judges, a truth-tell that is anything but sensational and especially an honor placer for exceptional thinkers, dreamers and outlaws of the standard forms.