What more needs to be said? Beyond get some Crayolas or Pro-Tools, and get busy!
If you’ve ever heard Buddies Miller’s turpentined barn wood voice, you know he’s a witness to deeper truths just by virtue of the tone that leaves his throat. One part soul, one part heart, one part divine intervention. On Universal United House of Prayer, Miller offers an album holy and elevating, while employing his funky, clunky organic take on songs—soul music for the soul, if you will, and utterly transfixing. As unprocessed and unfettered as it can be, this would be an album of spirituals for the Americana set. But it’s also a coping mechanism for people struggling to get by, a way to reach a little Higher and seek out solace in difficult times. Buddy would never presume to preach, but he would offer a hand or a shoulder or even a ladder to a faith that’s sustained him: whether it’s the jettisoning recognition of “Worry Too Much,” a questioning aggression interpretation of Dylan’s “With God On Our Side,” the acapella gut-scraping soul sister entwining “Fall On The Rock” that opens up into rusty hangers guitar sounds and a lumbering beat or the churling get-right-right-now “Don’t Wait,” which bumps and thumps down a Glory Trail with minor keyed abandon. Let the secular get sacred—and the sacred get their acoustic-tinged glory.
Tim, perhaps the most “got game” bartender in a pretty impressive town of same AND hands down the most suave and Cole Porter of them all, does this thing with orange rind, the rim and a match that’s pretty spectacular. But for those who just like a light and refreshing take on adult beverages, this sparkles in its citric notes, but has a base that is far more body and flesh to it. Pomegranate juice is new elixir of everything—so you can have your sin and your miracle antioxidants, too!
Sounds like a bad night at the honky tonk, but as the fall descends its chilly mantle on our freckled shoulders, they are out and pecking at the leavings. Far more elegant than their domestic counterparts, they almost have the walk of the peacock as their legions offer a concrete example of what made the pilgrims celebrate the earth’s bounty.
After a career of sitting through patched-together-talent-in-celebration-of- some -cause, -artist or -genre, one gets pretty inured to the all-star tv-taping ratings grab. But when Ken Ehrlich and Tisha Fein decided to honor a true legend, they maintained a clarity of vision: illuminate the way Charles refused to believe in labels or limitations, suffusing everything he did with soul. So they cast an unlikely net of diamonds and pearls, creating a farflung celebration of the music with enough broad spectrum artists to demonstrate how far the blind pianist’s artistry extrapolated. Tied in part to Taylor Hackford’s very human biopic—starring Jaime Fox, who looks eerily like Charles—David Wild’s script was beautifully written and tenderly evocative of the multi-faceted nature of the gift. Usher Raymond slinked through “Georgia,” weaving a blanket of desire for a place that outstripped lust for any hottie, while Norah Jones’ fetid “Drown In My Own Tears” was reminiscent of the Squonk itself—and Stevie Wonder’s “I Got A Woman” was as barrelhouse funky as you’d want. But the scene stealer was the Reverend Al Green who’s flash-flaring “What’d I Say” was all pyro and gyrations—we’re talking a hip swiveling, up’n'down milkshaker of a performance. Tune in or Tivo, but don’t miss it.
Props to Goodys! Finally someone figured out that if you’re into blue or pink or a couple other choice colors, you don’t need the orange rubber band. Rather than an assortment of lifesaver colors, one can now purchase in thick or regular a deepening collection of ponytail holders that can match or offset whatever one chooses to put on. As a way to accessorize at a whole other level, bring it on. These guys have raised the stakes exponentially.
It is all a state of mind. Losing has nothing to do with the score, but letting go of your reason to. And the reason to be, do, love, fly, dream is the essence of the struggle. Stay on the horse, take the hill, give your heart wings. It’s your mind, not your flesh that determines how the final read shall be—and I for one don’t want to relinquish that which faith, passion and hard work could deliver.
A multi-culti melting pot that offers frighteningly fresh produce, stands of ethnic cuisine—ranging from Latin American empanadas in myriad flavors to authentic Asian, goombah Italian oozing cheese and red sauce to Mexican stands that’re as authentic as Tijuana on a Saturday night. A few apothocaryists and herbalists complete the scene—for a bristling, bustling piece of authentica in the heart of downtown this takes everything wonderful in L.A. and slices it into stands, where you can taste what makes diversification great.
The drummer from Semisonic—of the ubiquitous “Closing Time” and ultimate blurrers of pop/rock/alternative aesthetics—writes the most EXACTLY how it is reflection on what it takes, how it feels, where you end up of getting broken both literally and figuratively. Here even the glamour gets held up for the ironic trap that mixes self-importance with self-mockery all in the name of fame—and a lot of illusions are left shredded on the ground. Mostly frustration, incredulity and bone-tugging exhaustion define the action, but for anyone ever wondering about the life beyond the spotlight, here it is without flinching only the humor of someone embracing Elvis Costello’s ultimate truism: “I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.”
Wanna know what kind of man you are? Old school carny classic, littering midways at every level fair (state, county, community) from sea-to-shining-sea—waiting to measure your muscle or mock your vanity. And the more rickety, the better, because what has that faded glory sense more than a paint chipping metal thermometer of might? Virile, macho—and the hollow, yet solid steel chime of the bell when you knock it to the top is as satisfying as any sound short of the Friday work whistle.
The brisket. THE BRISKET! Goodness, and what they do with it! Aside from smoking it in the biggest kettle smoker perhaps outside Texas, they offer it lean or fatty, in tamales, as a sandwich or a plate. And then there are the sides. And then there’s the soft-sided generic white bread to sop up the rich thick slightly sweet normal sauce or the puckery prickly hot version that’ll scorch just enough to make you appreciate it. www.poynter.org (especially the columns) The site promises “Everything you need to be a better journalist” and the takes it offers and challenges it makes will surely make any writer covering stories better. But it will also make anyone paying attention to the news more aware of how “spin” is deconstructed or swallowed, the clashes and conflicts that mire down reportage, the loop holes that make no sense—and the various ways to get inside a story.
Your toes can match your soles, as the hippest line of make-up matches the underside of French shoe master Christian Louboutin’s elegantly sophisticated/sexy footwear with a lacquer that stays on and on and on. A bit of a vanity, yes, and utterly catering to the Marie Antionette fetishist within us all (“let them wear stilettos,” we cry unabashed). A naughty, ebullient color to perk up the little piggies during the ensuing fall.
Crisp. Clean. Fresh. Slightly flowery. Ultimately Awakening. A treat in a tea cup.1-877-MYT-LEAF www.mightyleaf.com
The book was riveting: a depressed small town whose psyche is grafted to the fate of their high school football team’s journey to the state championship. As a witness to the fragility of the human condition and high impact nature of life, it was so much more than a football book—and Billy Bob Thornton as the much scrutinized coach proves why he’s one of his generation’s very best. Human, humane, clay-footed, veering from kindness and dignity to the rafter-raising poundings that are deemed motivation, his kids are gonna fight for him - even as they fight for their few scattered moments of glory before settling into a life of settling. Tim McGraw as the abusive alcoholic father who was once the star magnifies the tragedy of the small fish whose pond runs dry, and evokes compassion even as he repels with his outbursts. A must see, and a must read as well.
Utterly totally full-immersion decadence—and all for the purchase at Wild Oats! We’re talking high fat content whipped cream permeated with the essence of high quality vanilla. This is swoon-inducing stuff. Just as easy as Reddi-Whip, but so much richer and taste-bud consuming. It’s the kind of thing you put in your coffee and never need to go out again, dollop on pudding and seem like a chef, decorate a store-bought cake and look like Martha Stewart.
Johnny Ramone is dead. The third original American punk definer of iconoclast-meets-Beachboys in two years. Who will carry the torch of amped up, jackhammered punk bridled to a melodic sense of pop that is pure candy? Chances are Green Day, who come into their own with an open-eyed survey course on the reality of suburban youth in the vast wasteland that is modern America. Somewhere between Catcher In The Rye and Springsteen’s Nebraska or just about any Mellencamp record is the truth for the anti-heros of these songs, grappling with ennui, emptiness and the evasiveness of the American Dream for even those who have plenty—plus the jagged edges of teen angst and broken hearts to temper the socio-political undercurrent. And they bring a pure pop/punk melodicism and percussive sense that sets its tentacles deep into mainstream as it rebels.
So many people living on the margins, in the shadows, on the fringes of the past. It’s so easy to not think about it, because it’s not right there—and those are the people who need it most. Next time you’re trying to figure out what to do with some old thing, you wanna make a difference, wonder about who can’t make that difference—and reach out. Anonymous gifts of stuffed animals, stationary at old folks homes, books left in waiting rooms - and always, always, always warm thoughts and soft prayers. You don’t need them to know who or how for it to mean as much, and that’s the very best part.
My friend Jay Why swears by this. And there’s something about Coke in that curvy green glass bottle that is just better: the taste, the level of carbonation. And as someone else at the table pointed out, even if the Coke doesn’t work—the chilled bottle will good against your aching head.
It’s the design key for this season’s Ralph Lauren campaigns: heavy/ornate turquoise jewelry against all black clothes. It’s so simple, so striking, so earthy. The two just pop against/off each other—and in that easiness elegance transcends to a new level.
Not just the guitars, but the formations of geese winging South for the winter. Fanned out across the sky—an innate line-up that makes you smile just the naturalness with which they fall into it. Occasionally, there’s a double V, which scans for me as potently as a double rainbow. The wonder of the universe, the power of nature—and being reduced to the strength in those wings beating down in the name of hurling across the sky.
In a world that obsesses about the darkness, the emotions that are anything but uplifting—albeit often for the good of trying to alleviate same - not much mind gets paid to what’s already working. Kay Jameson wrote the best-selling The Unquiet Mind which dealt with much of that type of affliction—and to yang the yin, she now delivers Exuberance, an examination the way passion can drive people to excel, give life purpose and offer the ever elusive drive to get where you want to be. Not so much a self-help as potential reality rotator/recognizer, Exuberance creates a context for those people whose passions offer inspiration to us all, perhaps even to the point of annexation. A fascinating take on another way, and one that’s not so far beyond the grasp of most.
They’re three games down. They labor under “The Curse of the Babe” —for Babe Ruth’s just flat-wrong trade to New York all the way back to when Babe Ruth was king. People are dancing on their graves—one more game, and it’s over. And then the Sox start finding extra innings, which lead them to victories. They play with their hearts in the outfield—digging in, hitting hard, throwing with everything. All of a sudden, the kick the dirt in on ‘em it’s over little team from Fenway has tied things up—and it’s on! Whether they can pull Game 7 out of their ballcaps remains to be seen, but they’re showing more grit and determination in a tight spot than almost anyone in sports right now. Facing the best team money can buy, they’re not folding, they’re flying—something we all wish we could do!
Loaded with nutrients. Slightly bitter. Cooked til they’re good and kilt. Shake vinegar that’s had tiny Tabasco peppers soaking in it on the tangle of sautéed greens, and get ready for the tart and the puckering to mingle. And just when you think, “Ick!,” your lips start to smile ‘cause it’s actually good eating. Make your doctor happy—eat your turnip greens and get all the vitamins, minerals, et al, that nature packs in a green leafy thing.
Like Bertolucci, men who weave stories with film can actually change the way we see the world, the way we appreciate different kind of lights, the way we can shift the angle we’re standing at. Sean Silva, who makes videos most notably for Kenny Chesney—but just spent a long night on a hilltop outside of town by a faded and torn revival tent where he strung an electric highwire meditation on the duality of humanity and divinity across a higher energy fireworks and brimstone performance, offers that same kind of perspective expander. Gritty, yes; but also one that opens up the windows in your soul—all if you’ll look beyond the famous and the backbeat. Watch for him.
A teeny little lilac building holding mend-bending breakfast pastries, sweet treats and cakes that will make you see pyramids—not to mention the dreams of its owners! Cream cheese brownies, fruit bars, real true scones (don’t tell Starbucks), blondies, lemon squares, macaroons and strawberry or caramel cakes—not to mention a wicked red velvet—that stand almost a foot tall! F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American life. Fitzgerald was wrong. Dan Einstein walked away from a 20+ year career in the music business, creating small labels and co-managing John Prine, to follow a dream of more direct contact, the smile a really good cup of coffee and a cookie induces—and he’s forging a future with his hilarious wife Ellen who’s fingers turn butter, sugar and flour into a bounty of yummy.
He writes big hits. He plays loud effected guitar. He romps with abandon and rocks even harder. But at his core, Big Al Anderson may well be a jazz man, dedicated to the laidback and the soulful ballad. It’s a big ditch he digs with a heart-shaped shovel And if the rompy stuff don’t get ya, “Better Word For Love” and “Right On Time” are seatbelts for people coping with rough rides and romantic buckling of faith. www.bigalanderson.com
As we rush—headlong, arms wide-open—into the acquisitive, keeping-up-with-the-Hiltons mainframe first excavated by Aaron Spelling on “Dynasty” and “Dallas,” we forget that it’s not the gimme, got-its that’re the heart and soul of this country. And it’s easy to think about rolling up the sidewalks, wonder where they go to dinner or more poignantly, how small towns survive the encroachment of Wal-Mart and the impending extinction of an economy being exported. Looking out the dusty bus windows, rolling through Tuscahoma, Oklahoma or Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, or any number of small towns—where the fair still is a BIG deal, the high school football team matters and everyone knows everyone’s names and kinda looks out for each other—you realize, this isn’t something to be forgotten, but protected. There’s a truth about the human condition being irretrievably lost in the rush to faster, harder anonymity. And maybe—because most of us can’t go back—there are some lessons to be brought forward.
The corpse pose. Though in Yoga Journal’s potential new spin-off magazine Balanced Living, they devote several pages to the notion of getting committed to the final position of most every yoga class—as both a means of grounding post-work-out and a deepening sense of one’s place in this world. They also show an advanced version of the pose, with legs on a chair, thighs perpendicular and back even more in contact with the floor—not to mention an eye pillow on one’s eyes—as a way of achieving a deep DEEP state of meditation. They say invest 30 minutes. I thought they were crazy. 30 minutes of nothing? I was wrong.
When it’s really REALLY important, there’s no one like Madame Paulette. And people ship stuff to them from all over the world. A dress that’s too precious to let anything happen to? Your child’s christening outfit that’s already been handed down three generations? Even just something you’re sure no one else can return to proper condition. Madame Paulette can—and the garments are returned exquisitely packaged. For business travelers, take your dry cleaning with you. Prior arrangements can have the turnaround done while you’re in town—and you won’t even have to pack! Or pay the shipping and handling.
Former indie music Bible Option editor Mark Kemp is a pretty scrupulous thinker. He comes from the land of the South, where cultural evolution moved at its own rhythm—and shaped its native sons with a pride and a fierce passion for their way of life. Examining the rise of rebel rock, Kemp draws parallels, offers explanations for those mystified and makes connections between various strains of Southern rock with a clarity that almost creates a raison d’etre for the genre often written off as a by-product of white trash on white lightning. If you’ve ever been lured into the web of Skynyrd/Marshall Tucker/Allmans/et al—and wanted to understand how something so seemingly redneck could hold your mind, this is the explanation. As much insight as exploration of the way this music underscored a revo/evolution, Dixieland Delight elucidates the reason rebel flags still get flown at shows with the ease and dignity of one who was born in the heart of it.
How to make the most casual sophisticated without even trying. And if you do them with enough thrown off charm, you can even pull these metallic toned flip flops off for evening. What could be better? A glittery Bohemian bit of evening chic cobbled with the most easy to walk in footwear? It just doesn’t get any better.
No added sugar. No added chemicals. No added preservatives. Fruit juice, water, carbonation. Basic stuff—making soda a whole new proposition. And the flavors: Cranberry Ginger, Tangerine, Strawberry Kiwi. Not to sweet, but utterly quaffing,
The story of Nonesuch Records, a little label that could. Grounded in classical music, it’s become a home to label-defying musical treasures Emmylou Harris, David Byrne, Wilco and so many more. The tale of how allowing excellence dictate the reality, marketing fitting the project, reason defining the expectations for the artists—and love of the music driving everything. It’s not a how-to for the masses, but it certainly offers a counterpoint to McDonalds’ Music, where the mass-appeal could be calibrated for a little bit more essence. Go into back issues. Find it. Not just educational, but enflaming.
Big rubber boots. Great big rubber boots, Tuck your pants in, slog through anything. Hose off, and forget about them. And now they come in so much more than industrial tire gray/black or combat green. With flowers or bursts of preppy Crayola colors, stigma-inciting psychedelic patterns, Burberry plaid and beyond, the most practical footwear for this transitional time of year just opened up a whole new horizon where the fashionistas and the practical can converge.