The Yummy List


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

December 2007

December 2007: Grey Flannel Santa Pirate Bones, Wish Candles, Anders Osborne + Tide Free

Truth & Justice for Fun & Profit  Michael Heaton

Michael Heaton is the best kid of journalist: a man with a passion for humanity, a soul that recognizes facts are only the beginning of the tale, an incredible love affair with the notion of “Why?” and a willingness to see beyond the obvious to the nuance of what makes the complicated something worth truly examining. Truth & Justice for Fun & Profit is a pinwheel of circumstances, realities and the way of the somewhat rubbed thin American dream: a woman escaping the gypsy life, a councilman committed to actually making a difference, an undercover agent who had to walk away, the shrinking suffocating, world of the stalked and the stalker, a Viet Nam vet who rose to the highest clearance and level of service only to find his morality made it impossible to serve hypocrisy—and a look at big hair and why women need it.

With his gift for detail, his sense of whimsy, his willingness to stay after the story past when most others would give up lends these pieces—a collection of 30+ years of newspapering - the immediacy and electricity of life of Hemingway or Bukowski, yet there’s always a gentles and compassion to the conclusions the readers are led to. Reprising the next generational impact of the cross-Atlantic madcap sailing adventure of plain old sailboat The Tinkerbelle, the quirky world of comic book revolutionary (and frequent “Letterman” guest, as well as creator of American Splendour) Harvey Pekar, the rarified world of fox hunters on the hoof, a Catholic priest fighting for the children in war-torn El Salvador, as well as capturing the rush on frontline reporting and the gap between Cleveland’s much separated West and East sides.

In some ways, this is local reporting for the eroding rust belt city on Lake Erie. But in the truest sense of local being the most intense form of global, this is a microcosm that speaks to the individual realities and truths that make universal any human being living in America in the 21st century. He writes with a straight razor, he grabs your emotions and churns them to passion, concern, laughter and outrage. It is what the best columnists seek - and usually fail - to do.

The Art of Love & War Angie Stone

An old school soul album seems miles away from today’s hip-hop aggression, yet Angie Stone’s steamy, emotionally charged tenor knows how to turn dirt and grit into silk and sex - and her gift is put to exquisite use on this most expected musing on the state of erotic affairs. A full-tilt woman in an upside world, Stone serves up the yearn for fulfillment of both the emotional and sexual stripe - and she knows how to undulate under the pain of no-good, ripple with the lashing intensity of anger and surrender with the seismic shudder of consort.

Voices whirling and swirling around the individual piano notes that open “Take Everything In,” this is a 360 degree tour through the phases of romance, love, desire, forever and the jagged rocks that busts up the best things. There’s the demi-gospel “Go Back To Your Life,” the attenuatedly staccato pledge of fidelity “These Are The Reasons” and the raving funky state of the nation “My People” for diversity. Like Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear and other slow burn erotic explorations, this is thinking carnality, comfort in the storm and dignity in the wake of whatever it’s going to be. A slow-burn, sink-down-in-it makeout record nonpareil.

Aztec Gold Hot Chocolate

It is creamy in its cocoa, spicy in the chili and cinnamon mixed in. This is the sort of shock that keeps the children’s night-time beverage from being cavity-inducing treacle. Subtle in every way, yet piquant without fighting with the slowly deepening chocolate flavor, Aztec Gold gives grown-ups their dignity and their nurture, too.

Immune Support Essential Oil Wyndmere

Lemon, peppermint, niaouli, pine, thyme, patchouli oils come together in a head-opening, gunk clearing cocktail of scent. In a world of aromatherapy offering alternative relief, this is an essential oil designed to kick one’s immune system into high gear, while bolstering one’s energy and clearing your head.

“The Angry Mogul” Seth Mnookin Wired December

The article where Doug Morris, head of the uber-powerful Universal Music Group, explains what the heck happened to the record business. Already buzzed about in New York, Lefsetz Letter and industry conclaves everywhere, it is a sober yet bleary-eyed reckoning for a problem that’s now out of control. What happens from here remains to be seen: there are no easy answers, nor is anything here suggesting solutions - and yet that honesty is its own kind of bravery.

The Narwhal + the Unicorn Action Figures

Two mythical creatures—one on terra firme, one aquatic in every sense. The horse with the horn in the middle of its head—and the dolphin/seal with the horn for a nose. As action figures, this is the battle of land and sea. It figures of fancy, they are a bit of fantasy for anybody’s desk.

And the best part is… is the Spencer Gifts of the Internet! Bacon lunch boxes, punching nun puppets, pirate paraphernalia, latex acupuncture dogs, rubber haegis. If it’s crazy enough to defy logic, it’s here—and it’s only a mouse click or two away. When you need a gift that says only I would push the limits of reason quite so far, start with the narwhal and the unicorn and just keep going.

Zelda Eats A Pancake

It was warm—and battery. Golden brown and fresh from the griddle, puffy enough that she could chew it, let it melt in her mouth. At first she was puzzled by how easily the doughy substance dissolved in its buttery goodness, then she smiled chomped and delighted. Zelda eats a pancake: she can’t figure out what too Mommy so long.

Alkmaar Body Soap Lush

It doesn’t get thicker, silkier or more indulgent than this. Thick lather that is redolent with jasmine and honeysuckle essential oils—your synapses open and you almost drown in the scent of creativity and springtime. Like all Lush products, it is completely natural, so there are no chemicals to dry or irritate your skin, and the glycerin-based bar melts slowly, richly and in a way that almost evokes the richest body cream right there in the bath. Decadence for normal people. Mmmmmmm…

Bonus FYI: Lush’s fizzing All That Jas is the matching bubble bicarb bath product.

“Dan In Real Life”

Exactly what the whole family needs for the holidays: a smart non-pandering grown-ups looking as ridiculous as the teens on full-thrust hormones while trying to act like adults. Steve Carrell is droll as the widower with three girls and an advice column for parents at wits end who can’t quite move on from the love of his wife—only to be floored by the always soignée Juliette Binoche, who tragically just happens to be his brother’s new belle.

Family holiday get-togethers bring motley crews together, but nothing is as funny as the mix and match hodge podge of teens needing their space, little ones needing their parents, grandparents still parenting their own children and the kind of real life is just like that swerve’n'sometimes crash. Perhaps it is just too adroitly what one would expect to be great cinema, but as great entertainment for all but the cynic, there is a sweetness, a yearning and a bit of outloud laughter to be enjoyed.

Vulture Blog /daily/entertainment

Edited by Dane Kois and Lane Brown, the quick hit, jotted blips of gossip, media centralizing and general titillation more than lives up to its billboarded “Devouring Culture” subhead. Whether its ribald mocking, the news “they” don’t want heard or some obscure bit of wonder, this is comprehensively broad spectrum - embracing the world theatre, music, film, television, books, art and any other means of celebrity. Puckishly skewed, it’s a quick-me-up… Click, scan, have cocktail fodder for wherever the night make take you.

The Steeldrivers

These veterans play rootsgrass with an intensity that is trumped only by singer Chris Stapleton’s rip the ceiling down, craggy raw tenor. As aggressive as his vocalizing is—“Drinking Brown Whiskey” is an unhinged, momentum building affair—the playing is even more intense, even more full throttle. Given that Dead Reckoners Michael Henderson and Tammy Rogers are part of the drive, it is well established that this is a band about pushing the possibilities—and push they do.

To hear people push songs so hard without ever losing control, to understand the intensity that is acoustic music given an unbridled assault is to get to the essence of what drives the Steeldrivers: these are career pickers who take no prisoners, shed whatever blood is necessary and thrill to the way songs can expand and contract by virtue of how they attack the strings, lean into a verse or a solo, attack the beat without mercy. Fans of hardcore musicianship, lean songwriting, the wear and tear of getting by shining through the performances will swoon to what will be one of the most acclaimed debuts this year.

Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls w Bleu Cheese Crème Whole Foods Grille

Crisp wonton wrapper lightly fried, stuffed with buffalo seasoned chicken. Snap! Pop Hot! Yet not that viscose-drippy-oozy not-quite-liquid goo that covers traditional hot wings. Instead the lengths of rubbed white meat chicken are artfully arranged on puddles of bleu cheese crème, for a mellow but pungent counter. As a snack or a meal—depending on how hungry you are—this is a guilty pleasure rendered reasonable enough to not destroy one’s health in the process.

Strength in the Storm

Sometimes the going gets rough. You’re sure you’re gonna cave; you can’t get through, can’t go on. And then you wake up, get up, make it happen. We are all stronger than we know—and often we have no idea how strong until we’re face down in a crisis. When the storm hits, don’t just weather it: make sure you use the opportunity to truly understand your inner resources. It is a gift, if you’ll view it as such. Be present in your presence/presents, indeed.

Skull & Crossbones w. Santa Hat Grey Flannel Pants J. McLaughlin

Slightly whimsical luxe preppy outposters of mostly women’s wear, often rooted in grosgrain ribbon, take their men’s line into a slightly quirky, highly mirthful detour. Classic grey flannel pants rendered beyond the realm with embroidered skull & crossbones littered all over; but not just the classic pirate icon, mind you, holiday-centric Santa hat sporting pirate signifier.

Hey, even Captain Jack Sparrow wouldn’t high jack the fat man from the North Pole on his appointed rounds. Shiver me timbers might be a bit more apt as shiver me pine tree, but who’s to split Ho Ho Hos with something so quirkily Christmas-centric?! The holidays just got a bit more dangerously idiomatic. And that’s not a bad thing.

Springsteen/Win Butler Conversation Cover Spin, January 2008

Each is a pronouncedly individual populist. Both mine the Steinbeckian images and lives as they have created singular sounding oeuvres. If Springsteen leans to the post-Phil Spector in his early defining work, Butler’s Arcade Fire walks a line between the post-punk of the Cure and an almost Norman Mailer-esque take on Springsteen at his most lost and rootless. Here—moderated by journo Steve Kandell—is a conversation of art’s enduring nature, the consumptive/destructive axis of popularity, touching the people who listen and getting by in the eye of the public eye.

But it’s not just that. The issue harkens back to Crawdaddy’s vast consideration of music: capturing a lively q&a with chunky punkster Beth Ditto, Tool frontman/neo-porn solo artist Maynard James, a look at Lil Wayne’s milieu, Radiohead’s downloadcentric business model in a way that gauges more than just dollars and sense and a plethora of equally diverse artists who veer from cutting edge to almost undiscovered, legendary in their realms and—in Springsteen’s case—practically redefined. A seriously pulsing reality of music coverage… just when it seems rock criticism at the curb level is extinguinsing

Jack Kerouac’s American Journey Paul Maher, Jr

On The Road may be the most iconic work of beat/restless/rootless prose poetry ever published—and Jack Kerouac’s soul masterpiece came as much from the shards of a life consumed completely as anything. Here scholar Paul Maher, Jr. explores the names, places, moments that shaped the man, the time, the experiences that cast this American classic in a whole new kind of literature.

With the eternally overturning diaspora of youth—each generation’s wave of disaffection crashing upon the generation before’s—On The Road remains a constant. To be inspired, to be electrified in your will to tumble and roam, it is The Bible, and Jack Kerouac’s American Journey is the work that shows where and how it came to be, as well as offering a thrilling look at the other highly electric voices of the time: Allen Ginsburg, William S Boroughs and beyond. For those who remember how it feels and those just coming into their own impossibly moorless yearnings.

“Time spent laughing is time spent with the Gods.”
               ——Japanese proverb

Is there anything better? More thrilling? More relaxing? More, well, more whatever than a good laugh? No matter what is happening in your life, things become sweeter, easier, closer because we found the connection of laughter. And laughing by oneself is plenty spectacular, but laughing with your friends? A bond of joy and happiness, silly perhaps, or knowing? Nothing is more transformative, or lasting. Laugh much. Laugh hard. Laugh now.

Cordless Immersion Blender

Anyone who has ever whirled batch after batch of soup in an attempt to smooth or cream knows the physical commitment, the clean-up, the time… and yet, what is more sophisticated—or nurturing—than a velvet textured winter soup? Which is what makes the cordless immersion blender so wonderful. Insert the mixing end into the soup cauldron—or whatever else you need mixed to a puree—and let it do its work! Lift up, wash off, serve. Nothing could be easier. Well, except maybe eating the soup.

Make your own radio station. Literally. Hit custom, start sliding artists into your own little well and let the mix-up of every artist you’ve ever loved—or every mood you want a custom soundtrack to—begin. Obscurities are not a problem: Valerie Carter, Alex Bevan, Sanford & Townsend, Paul Thorn, Sippie Wallace, as well as copious amounts of Joni Mitchell, Chet Baker, Nina Simone, Emmylou Harris, Little Feat, Led Zeppelin and the Louvin Brothers abound.

Make as many stations as you want. Share them with your friends. Pick on the subgenres within traditional categories. Type in an artist, see who they view as consistent with your taste. Quick. Easy. More comprehensive than most people’s record collections—and certainly a lot less wieldy than slogging around through one’s collection looking for that one thing. Though obviously far more random and a lot less control, the magic is in the surprises.

2006 Pinot Noir Cutlidge & Browne

It hits the tongue and is so present, so musky, yet fresh. There is everything about sun and vine, and it overwhelms your nose, your tongue with the most satisfying sense. And then it is gone. No lingering aftertaste that only reminds you of the vintage’s one flaw… just a whisper of what was that begs another sip.

It is a subtle flavor, yet bold in the way it arrives in one’s mouth. Something to savor, to enjoy, to experience in all its velvety lushness. From the Napa Valley, this 2006 Pinot Noir evokes the old vines of France with a lightness that is only to be had in Northern California.

Downward Facing Twisted Dog

It looks like something from the contortionist’s beginning book, but it’s more optical illusion that double jointed folly. Assume the traditional downward facing dog—feet pressing into ground, hips lifted, rib cage moving back into the hips—then gently move one arm to the center and when balanced turn the shoulder blade under and to the ground and let your arm lead. Feel the strength within; feel the body come alive as you gently gently twist your core. Slowly deeply inhalingly… and then repeat on the other side. Releasing… Empowering… Heaven-sending…

Impressionist & Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art Cleveland, Ohio thru 1/13

While the Cleveland Museum of Art is being renovated and expanded, they recognized the tragedy of so many of their best and most telling works going unseen. And so a road show was arranged—and the tour includes Barcelona, Seattle, Japan, Nashville for the Matisse, Mondrian, Miro, Mondrian, Monet, Picasso, Gauguin, Cezanne, Rodin, Van Gogh and beyond—that would share the abundance of telling art with the world. For a brief stop, the works return to Cleveland, where they are being exhibited in a truncated 19 room area, but what emerges from the abbreviated collection is a sense of the power of art to evoke, the variances of creation, the way Degas’ ballerina skirts defy gravity, Picasso’s literality turned into the planes of a fragmented world view, Dali’s surreality was fetching in its defiance of reason and Rodin understood musculature in a way that made the human body the strongest composite of them all.

To see these works collected is a dizzying load, and yet, it quickens the pulse with the possibilities of eloquence in short jabbing brushstrokes (Van Gogh), elongated forms (Modigliani), literal juxtaposition (Magritte) and ethereality in cloudy renderings (Redon). If it is coming anywhere near where you might be, as a genius overview, quick full-spectrum immersion or just way to open your exposure up just a bit, this is a showing that will enthrall and inspire you.

“Tuned In, Turned On” David Gates,’s “The Boomer Files”

Aside from writing wonderful novels like Jernigan and Preston Falls, Gates has been a cultural critic for Newsweek for over two decades. With a vast knowledge of the arts, especially popular music, this essay makes the case for 1968’s most lasting impact not being politics, the war or the movies, but music - and he flings his net from Bob Dylan to the Beatles, the Stones and beyond.

While his writing is always evocative of the moments he captures, it is the whipstitching of the soundtrack of a turbulent era, the charge that music still holds - especially when held up to reflect the moments in our nation’s generational revolution - and those songs ability to weather almost four decades with lasting relevance. To praise music is easy, to tether it to moments of seismic significance is something else altogether. Gates does it without cracking a sweat. 

Thea Grant Jewelry

   Elements and aspects of what was rendered right now: charms, rhinestone broaches, whistles, keys, watches, even long barreled pistols. Brass and silver, gold plate or gilded, patina and shiny and, well, great bit chain links. It is punk. It is pretty. It is architectural. It is hard. It is whimsy.
   Operating with her partner/husband Nicolas Bazzani, Grant seeks to the capture the energy and unique style that is beyond fashionista Brooklyn. Every piece is one-of-a-kind. Each speaks volumes about the potential of the wearer - and quite possibly the giver. Nuance in common things, put together to create a spell that bewitches whether it’s chic or insurrection at play.

“What Would Jesus Buy?”

A documentary with its crosshairs on the season of consumerism and greed, “WWJB?” uses an old school evangelist Rev Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir as the spear through which to take on the brokered holiday glad handery, debt to leave the illusion that we care and his own self-named “Shopocalypse.” With a page torn from Steve Martin’s “Leap of Faith,” a demi-romantic comedy set against the carny-for-Christ circus atmosphere of load-up-the-bus-n-pitch-a-tent-for-the-Lord revivals, this is a full frontal guerilla assault on merchandise for the masses.

With an excorcism at Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters, retail interventions at the Mall of America, flowing robes, wailing singers, questions of sweatshop ethics and morality, rampant overconsumption and bigger debt, not to mention mondo-chains eradication of mom’n'pop retail (ie: your local merchants), this is a far more reaching enterprise than merely a “Best In Show” juxtaposition of evangelical zeal overlaid on the lust for more holiday retail rush. As Rev. Billy raves at one point, “We are hypnotized and consumerized.” Thought-provoking, indeed.

Warhol-esque Monkey Portrait

Seriously. And totally fabulous. You click on the brightly colored background you want. Send in your picture. Wait for your simian self to arrive. It is so primary, so primitive, so return to devolution, you can understand from whence you came. Happy. Joyous. Whimsical. One click makes a monkey out of you—or a loved one—for this rapidly approaching holiday season.

“Back In Love Again” Sweetpea Atkinson, My Damn Channel

The gruffest growl in modern pop music, Sweetpea Atkinson possesses the dry irony that helped Was (Not Was) “Walk The Dinosaur” and gives Lyle Lovett so much of his sangfroid cool. A genuine Detroit texture, the pimp-hat sportin’ soul man who is always as turned out as he is down tackles a rubbery funk song that is the backsliding into the one thing we can’t outrun.

With a performance clip that brings you into the studio, it’s a chance to watch Grammy winning producer Don Was (Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen) at play—as well as capture the loose-limbed groove that are truly the stuff pop radio cries out for. As a moment snatched, worth the click.

Double Boiling Brussel Sprouts

  First you quick cook, then cold rinse. Then you boil them again for 5-8 minutes. What you get is crunchy fresh rather than gritty mush. If you’re all about the big nutritional punch of le petite chou, this insures maximum taste, texture and desirability. A bit extra work, but anyone who’s ever suffered through overcooked, starchy or sandy sprouts knows the few extra minutes are a world of difference.

The Lady Is A Tramp Nail Polish Deborah Lippman

   It is a deep smoldering red. More than crimson, but not quite blood. And it beckons, makes a statement that while charged with carnal promise isn’t so obvious as to seem cheap and obvious. No, this is a subtle invitation, one that borders on thick velvet curtains, thicker rugs and the kind of dark and heavy wooden furniture so elegant the gravitas need not be stated. A red that is not a harlot, but rather a silent siren of strength and reserve. It is everything you need to know if you know the deepest cisterns of pleasure.

The Unbelievable Happening

   It was done for kindness, for wanting to see how good the music could be. It grew from one to two to four CDs—and the time investment quadrupled accordingly. But the musical director/producer believed in the artist’s vision, the chance to make a musical statement that embodied the true depths of the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s talent. And when people—even people who’d been part of this artist’s glory days—snickered, joking about the hubris of 4 CDs, he maintained this was good music being properly realized.

Now These Days, Vince Gill’s 4 CD box of all new music featuring guests ranging from Diane Krall to Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris to Sheryl Crow to Del McCoury, is nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys - alongside Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, the Foo Fighters and Herbie Hancock. That John Hobbs never got frustrated when it went on and on, that he always brought his most musical best and believed in what the multiple Grammy-winner was capable of netted him something the man who’s shared stages with everyone from Eric Clapton to Merle Haggard never contemplated: a Grammy nomination for the biggest and most prestigious Award in contemporary music. Sometimes doing good things for the right reasons does pay off.

“What if we couldn’t always tell a trick from a miracle?”
                  ——Diane Arbus

What if could check our cynicism and believe? What if we knew it could and worked on faith anyway? Because to truly savor our time here, miracles are a necessary part of the arc—and it’s not the blind seeing so much as the person we don’t want to give up on proving us right, someone we were sure wouldn’t get recognizing the truth in a moment, the way the sun bleeds all over the end of the day, the first day of baseball season, Keith Richard’s choppy chunky downstroke or the smell of good coffee when you walk in to a coffee house on a real cold morning.

There are illusions and tricks. Sometimes that is the miracle in itself. All you have to do is smile and recognize it for what it is. Even the knowing if you accept it can be the miracle of the day. Small miracles create big lives; start looking.

Grinch Comes To Broadway St James Theater, 246 W. 44th Street, NY, NY

Dr. Seuss grumpy-gets-reclaimed holiday favorite that countered treacle with some smart sassy commentary was the object of a classic animated special, a hilarious Jim Carey theatrical release—and now a romping Broadway spectacle. For anyone who’s ever been charmed by Cindy Lou Who’s innocence, Max the Dog’s loyal dogmatic conscience prodding or the Grinch’s evil glee and subsequent redemption, this is the ultimate over-the-top romping. For kids, or the kid in you.


Capote in Kansas Kim Powers

Truman Capote in his waning days is plagued with nightmares - menacing appearances of the victims and killers from his fomenting real life pulseracer In Cold Blood—and those nocturnal visions drive him back to the cast-off confidante and dear friend Harper Lee, who lived through and abetted the reportage for the Breakfast at Tiffany’s author’s most serious work. In this novel, which is told in terror-dumps and flashbacks, the complexities and complications of friendship, the exhumation of the facts and the conflicting loyalties that come into play inform the most compelling aspects of this novel grounded in what really happened.

For Lee, who was about to emerge on the American literary horizon as the creator of the race/justice/youth classic To Kill A Mockingbird, it’s a shuddering remembrance of her friendship long worn down to nothing. Sanity, gothic Southernism, indulgence and vanity be damned, the intersection of these elements, two great literary works, too deeply singular voices are a fertile field for Emmy-winning writer Kim Powers to flex his use of small detail, large betrayal and economy of language to evoke a story that’ll hold you, inform you and ignite your own imaginative reflexes. This is an elevated escape with perfect binding.

Put Your Fed Ex Account In Your Cell Phone

Rushing, I landed at the Kinkos without my Fed Ex number. Calling anyone I could think of who might have it, I got no answer. Frustrated with myself, the clerk smiled and leaning over conspiratorially whispered. “I had another customer who had their Fed Ex account in their cell phone. They told me it didn’t matter where they were, they always had it.” Kindness and practicality in one hurried moment. Genius.

Valomilk (the original flowing center candy)

Imagine room temperature molten marshmallow, flowing from a cup of bittersweet chocolate… Imagine the sugary goodness and the bite of dark cocoa… Imagine a sticky gooey mess that clings to your teeth, your lips, your tongue, making a bit of candy a far more tactile and lingering process…

Imagine not. Seek out Valomilk’s in their silvery pewter retro-package. Two to a pack. So you can share… or have one for later… Regardless it is time travel, sensual sweetness in a multi-dimensional delivery system. Not the easiest find, but as a little exotic common candy frolic, well worth the work.

Imagine having a best girlfriend who had a direct line on the most stylish clothing from the 20s through the 80s… And not just unique and exquisite pieces, but gently worn and well-tended vintage… And she was always around when you needed her? And because you’re friends, she didn’t charge you Lily et Cie prices, though her stuff could make you feel every bit as glorious as the high end LA temple of classic fashion.

Like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I’m not sure that friend truly exists, either (although I’m not gonna say “never” because I can’t quite let go of the dream!), but I do know that poshgirlvintage is as close a gamut-running house of the sort of fashions that made Bacall, both Hepburns (Audrey AND Katherine), Hayworth, Loren, Bardot, Gidget, Ann Margaret individual icons of style. As everything is genuine, it is not a multi-sized proposition, so be prepared to fall in love and be denied; but know, too, there is one of a kind treasure here for whatever mood you wish to conjure - the very sort that no one has a prayer of ever getting close to.

Morning Frost

It is like the thinnest coat of diamond icing. You look out, and it’s all sparkling, crisp and clean. Fairy dust and endless inspiration there in the cold snap of the day not quite awake. To stand there, breathing in the bracing air and feeling the endless white carpet is to be enfolded with how alive we are, how much might be, how amazing the world’s machinations. It is a prayer for our eyes and our hearts.

Wish Candle

Peppermint + vanilla twist and mingle—waft through your house a crisp clean comforting smell that at once says “wake up” and “be calm.” The Wish Candle—soy wax in varying sizes—does the seemingly impossible: it invigorates even as it imbues a sense of all is well. It is the mixture of baking and wake-up scents that provide the perk-me, soothe-you seamlessness that can be a lifesaver at this time of year.

Organic Bangkok Harney & Son

Bottled tea scares me. Whether it’s whatever they add to have shelf life, inherent Southern snobbery or just the idea it sitting there in its thick glass container, bottled iced tea has never sat well, let alone appealed to me. Until I saw the words “Organic Bangkok” and the promise: “Transporting Green Tea.” What a bold come-on, a strong siren song for the parched.

Intrigued, I put my money down. Haltingly—though girded by the notion that Harney & Son makes some incredible tea—I unscrewed the cap. What flowed from the bottle and poured into my mouth was light, crisp, nuanced. The essence of a properly steeped green tea with hints of spice and a whisper of some sort of citrus element. It was, in a word, wonderful. Anyone who can not abide by package ice tea, rejoice! When you’re on the run and you see this bottle, quenchage is within reach.

Tide Free

For sensitive skin, this version of Tide comes sans perfumes and harsh chemicals. Easy enough on your clothes and clean enough rinsing, Tide Free lives up to its promise of not aggravating skin. In a world where promises are made, products are constantly reworked and nothing ever seems to get better, this is a simple recasting that is actually what it purports to be.


Not since Mary Poppins has Disney integrated animation and live action, and for this modern twist on the fairytale princess rescued by an unlikely hero, there is time travel as well as glistening heroines and cultural collisions. Amy Adams—who’s been on the brink of becoming a screen presence that matters—gets her bust-out role in (of all things) a family movie.

Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen Ira B. Nadel

He remains the ultimate downward facing dog, a romantic with a blue streak who is a consummate ladies man and weaver of words and songs. Leonard Cohen was something Bob Dylan was not: directly, wildly impossibly elegant and a straightforward inamorata. Committed to the craft of writing, breaking hearts and translating it all into songs, Songs From A Room, The Songs of Leonard Cohen and Songs of Love & Hate are the mortar that cemented the acclaimed poet and novelist’s reputation as a singer/songwriter of gravitas and wretched beauty. Indeed, “Suzanne” remains a high water mark for serious explorations of love.

Forty years of music, an extended commitment to Buddhism, global adventures and serial flames and falters, unflagging artistic standards create a life worth examination—and Ira B Nadel presents an exhaustively researched chronicle of the mythic musician. Dry at times, written through unlikely filters, this isn’t a critical assessment of the work, yet an artist of Cohen’s inscrutability is probably best left to the listener. For anyone whose ever swooned to the possibility of song—or marveled at the intertwined truths of sex and spirituality, Cohen is a wellspring. Various Positions more than shows why.

The Phunky Griddle Nashville, TN

Each table has their own griddle, which the hostess fires up as soon as you sit down. Then you may choose between traditional buttermilk or multi-grain batter and a myriad of selections to dot your pancakes with—fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, granola. The first add-in is complimentary, per order, so the more people, the more options. Then you flip your flapjacks, laugh and enjoy each other’s company as DIY breakfast takes on a whole new role.

They have egg dishes, French toast and a variety of breakfast meats—as well as a pretty lovely lunch menu. But the fun is in the spatula—so go hungry, bring friends and enjoy the moment.

Led Zeppelin issue Rolling Stone

It is so easy to bash, especially with the cavalcade of pandering cuties, and yet… Every now and then, Jann Wenner, Joe Levy, Robert Love remember what made Rolling Stone great and they quit surfing the fumes of what was or trying to capture the fizzy buzz of right now and they create an issue that makes you feel engaged in the culture of music, of life post-Boom Revolution, of America. Then you remember why this magazine mattered.

Starting with David Fricke’s cover story—delving into the layers of why Led Zeppelin mattered, the dynamics and passage of time since the heavy metal’s true defining band broke up and trying to parse why this band still matters and could matter more, you have a thoughtful bit of writing that actually addresses and offers insight into a legend. Ditto novelist Scott Spencer’s wondrous profile of progressive jazz seer Ornette Coleman and the exhaustive, but informative Special Report “How We Lost The War On Drugs” that looks at 35 years and $500 billion spent by Ben Wallace-Wells. A three page look at Feist by Jenni Eliscu gave America a fistful of the prog-folk-performance songstress’ being—both the 101 history, the why of her music and the how of her life, while correspondent Matt Taibbi looks at the Demoncrat primaries and assesses what’s really going on.

And that’s only the half of it. Pick up this issue. Remember—or learn—how Rolling Stone set the standard for a new generation. It’s not just worth the read, it’ll leave you invigorated about magazine pieces that mean something.

Luke Laird’s First #1

Once upon a time, there was a shy, good natured production assistant on a great big hillbilly neon circus of a concert tour. Quiet, willing, quick to figure out how to make it work, the rumor was the kid wrote songs—and one day, confronted by a relentless lover of same, we stole away to a double wide in some parking lot behind some amphitheatre’s stage that served as an extra dressing room and he played and played. It was jaw-dropping, and he didn’t know how good he was.

Five years later, the kid is a man. His gentle touch that pulled at the tiniest essences of what it means to be mortal and to matter have turned into songs that move others.

Rose Pfeffers Pink Pepper 70% Cocoa Choco-Lina

In a world of contrasts and juxtapositions, Choco-Lina has figured out how to merge the moody richness of seriously concentrated bittersweet chocolate with the acrid pop of pink peppercorns. It is dark and it is creamy; it is pungent and it is sharp.

Made from 100% sheeps whole milk, the decadence starts right at the outset. Raw cane sugar, good cocoa beans, Bourbon vanilla and whole pink peppercorns roughly cracked, this is the essence of what chocolate should and could be. Imported from Austria, it is a subtle, grown-up experience, one to vex and pique the tongue. Exquisite in the fullest, engaging completely.

Coming Down Anders Osborne

Languid is not a word to describe most records, yet the sultry fetid nature of the way melody hangs and drips from Anders Osborne’s thick vocal chords—recalling no less than a less phlegmy fellow Nawlinser Dr. John—it is the only word that applies. To languish in grace, to savor the senses and details that he draws from the moments and revelations is to experience the core of Coming Down, a phunky, swampy delight of singer/songwriter confessionalism.

Whether it’s the quietly redemptive blessing counting of “Lucky One,” the detail-strewn joyful/elegiac “Oh Katrina,” the undulating “Summertime in New Orleans” or the seekingly hopeful title track and “When I’m Back On My Feet,” this lulling meditation on the most intimate tides of one man’s life, ability to love and world he lives in is as inspiring as it is lulling. To put on, to drown quietly, to be pulled from the rushing shore of right now, right here, hurry up is to be returned more grounded, aware and willing. Not just a gratifying musical experience (which it is), but just as importantly, a charm bracelet of glistening life lessons that don’t preach only show the power of will, the heart and recognition.

Joey Ramone Place

Right by CBGBs. Take a cab. Lift your fist. Like some kind of fallen soldier, remembered in a way that makes no sense—except for the location—but at least remembered for those of us who care. Gabba Gabba Hey! HEY! In a pair of Jack Purcell high tops, a striped t-shirt, a motorcycle jacket and a pair of cheap wire rim shades, it’s a pilgrimage to the innocence of thrashing pop hopped up on hormones and the need to break-out of the conventions. To stand there and reflect is to ponder why something so gloriously stupid can be more spiritually nutritious.

Coffee Table Books

Oversized, beautifully photographed, lovingly written. Whatever you revere is captured in a way that will make the table in front of your sofa a full-immersion witness to the thing that you crave and obsess over. Whether it’s art or music or cars or regions of the country; dogs, cats, donkeys, homes lit with candles, colors, shoes, designers, themes, even food, the coffee table book is a visceral little temple to what you adore—in a way that might even make sense to those flummoxed by your passion.

23rd Street Lullabye—Patti Scialfa

Like Rickie Lee Jones’ Pirates, Patti Scialfa casts moments, images, feelings across the water—and let’s them swirl to obvious conclusions. Hushing you with its sheer vulnerability, the honesty that comes from seeing how innocent you once were and perhaps the pining for that sweetness again, a time when you thought you knew, secure in a knowledge that was nothing. Rocking back and forth, scattered piano notes, gut-string guitar figures swirl and vocals honeyed like Ronnie Spector, yet dreamy like the girl always looking out the window in high school, at times gleeful, at other ruminative, this sets the stage for rainy evenings, humid afternoons that won’t end and breaking days full of promise. “City Boys” is everything you want, but shouldn’t bother with, “Stumbling To Bethlehem” offers encouragement amongst the tripping points that are salvation promised with no avail and the title track is an invitation to a real
life seduction of broken dreams, fallen angels and the merging of sweat-soaked bodies in a stolen moment—delivering at least a moment amongst the heat and oppression of the grind.