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

February 2004

February 2004: Discomfort, Creativity + Chocolate Covered Pretzels Edition

“Doing new things can cause discomfort,
but discomfort brings creativity.”
—Michel Comte

Noted photographer Michel Comte, who does the most insane things with light and flesh, has a wonderful perspective on pushing the envelope and stretching our comfort zone. Rather than being scary, we are liberated by the promise of what we shall find.

“Against The Ropes”

Meg Ryan as winningest female boxing promoter Jackie Kallen shows pluck not only by bucking the male system, but by fighting as tough as the people she’s in business with. The notion of “less than,” “not good enough” or “no place at the table” is the bit she spits out as a secretary who—as her friend and co-worker points out—is down so far in the basement she can’t even “see the glass ceiling,” taking a shot on a crazy dream in the name of the prize. What she learns about herself, her soul and her heart alone are worth the price of the ticket.

Celadon

If there was a color that embodied tranquility this is it. A little more yellow than mint, but with a touch of gray, it is dialed down to where it evokes limpid pools on long afternoons, Chinese porcelain, walls of English country homes and a green you can sink into without feeling consumed by a sugary adult beverage.



Miu Miu Hand-Tooled Dorsay Pumps

The Wild West meets Italian fashion in a French shoe shape. The toe and heel are a pump, the middle portion is cut-out, leaving less to the imagination, more to hope and a graceful line that is utterly feminine. A bit more buckskin, though ultimately glazed rather than untreated leather, the rose design lands in the center of the foot, making this every cowgirl’s night-out native charm dress-up footwear. With jeans, a black dress or anything plucky.

The songs of Lark Watts

Losers and outlaws and people wedged between the cracks, etched and scraped clean with barbed wire. There’s anger and danger and the ability to punch through the limitations and finding a deliverance within the bonds that hold you in a moment. Imagine Steve Earle without the drugs or overt politics—and a voice that is all the conflicts turned inside out, passion played and worth dying for, a commitment to whatever he can scratch together and the refusal to go quietly. Kerosene, gasoline, sparks and a cold dark night to flame against, to make the heat and the heart burn that much brighter, hotter, worth fighting for. Immediate, potent, flesh-raking, utterly hostage-taking. Seek him out.


“Splendid Table” NPR www.splendidtable.org

Talking about food, kinda like smelling architecture I thought. And I was wrong. Surveying the landscape of local cuisine, great restaurants, ingredients worth being aware of, simple fixes on things you can fix, history, laughter. Imagine having a friend who was a great cooking coach, who had interesting friends and always knew just where to get everything—and was as generous as they were knowledgeable. You do: Lynne Rosetto Kasper. Tune in and listen. Type in and surf. Either way, you win.

propinquity noun (pro-pin-qwui-tee)      1) proximity in time or space.  2) kinship.

What a great word to sling about when trying to establish closeness of the connection or parameter. Dazzle the friends. Frazzle the neighbors. A Harlem Globetrotters’ kinda word, you can spin on the end of your finger and double-dribble in everyday conversation.

Neosporin in the Nose when Flying

They say—in this age of way more recycled air on airplanes—this acts as a germ killing filter. Urban legend? Common sense for the common cold? I’m not sure. But my smartest holistic friend ALWAYS does this, and she’s rarely sick. On the back end of some serious bronchitis, I ask myself, “How bad can this be?

Cartoons in The New Yorker

A smart laugh easily found.


Fig + Prosciutto Pizza, Figs, LaGuardia

Yes, the airport. Yes, figs cooked down in balsamic vinegar, sliced and placed on a gorgonzola heavy crust than layered with salty, yummy prosciutto. It’s minimal—and the flavors melt into each other, yet contrast with a twinge, making for some very happy tastebuds while killing time in the travel maze that life in this high impact airport security heavy world has become.


Harper’s Bazaar Spring Fashion Issue

Okay, Carrie Bradshaw’s impossibly played out [will “Sex & The City” 
please just end, already!]… But no one adores fashion more than Sarah Jessica Parker, and it shows! And with spring’s clothes being so pretty, so romantic, so whatever makes you smile (athletic, streamlined, classic, girly)—it’s an explosion of rainbow brights and the yummiest pastels. Girl porn (see Yummy prior) at its finest! Draw a bubble bath and immerse.


“16” on DVD

Brutally honest look at burgeoning adolescence through the eyes of two young disaffected teens, finding themselves, losing their inhibitions, seeking deeper truths and meaning. It is Holden Caulfield in tube tops, as sexuality surges and pulls away from the shore, drugs find their way in, rebellion boils over—and the lack of knowledge is illuminated in the mistakes, consequences and tax on an entire single parent family, barely held together by Holly Hunter, who received an Oscar nod for this performance.

The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene - Jane Schaberg

For all the DaVinci Code junkies, this is a little bit more real deal 
about the whole “truth” of Mary Magdalene. Opening by drawing Virginia Woolf into the mix, this is a scholarly tome well researched and brave enough to debunk in the name of fact more than sensation. And Schaberg can turn a phrase as well as she can make a point. Consider this the master’s study into what the deal really was.


Flannel jammies


The more you wash ‘em, the softer they get. And you can be straight up and down (basic Brooks Brothers solid with piping), a lumberjack (hello, LL Bean, which plaids are in stock?), whimsical (Target does fun ones) or girly (though I don’t think Fredericks has bought in on this concept, yet)… Takes the notion of “The Pajama Game” to a whole other level of womb-returning comfort!


Dinner parties

They’re just not done anymore, but what better more civilized way is there to mix it up? Delicious food, a big table, interesting people and enough time to savor them all. And if you think it through and are willing to get on a roll, you’d be shocked at how easily it can come together—or how you can elevate what can be a gathering opportunity to a much-talked-about occasion! My friend Colleen DeGregory, who owns the Mirror in Nashville, threw a Sino-chic one that merged “Japanese low country” cuisine with fascinating people from across the community and no one wanted to leave.


Painted ceilings that look like the sky

In the Regent Beverly Wilshire, there’s a dining room that evokes the 
Belle Époque era. The flowers are exquisite, the gilded moldings are so gilt and grand, you can’t help but smile and the murals on the wall suggest pastoral tranquility—even for those making deals with two or even three commas. But if you look up, there deftly painted is a rendering of the perfect blue sky. It is vast, it is welcoming, it is the promise of freedom and joy. Any time you can be in a room with a ceiling painted to be the robin egg blue of the sky on a perfect sun-soaked day, do. It’s almost even more transcendent than looking up from the concrete caverns of New York or the gridlock of an L.A. freeway and seeing a ribbon or blanket of the same, because there is nothing so relaxed as a perfect room where you can sink into the possibilities.


Fefe Dobson

Punk funk with go-girl candor. Fefe Dobson looks like you’re basic r&b street diva… until she opens that fist with a paring knife to the sternum voice of her’s, jamming right into the heart of some pretty concise, pretty 
confrontational lyrics—and you know this shitzu bites! But that’s the good news. In a world of pliant girls, one who’s doing her own state of the young girl address with the frankness of “Just A Love Song” or “Didn’t Need You” (an indictment of an M-I-A father), this is the Gwen Stefani of the urban sidewalk kingdom or Alannis Morissette rockfunks and rollovers.


MAC Playboy collection

Pink. Utterly, totally, girly-girly pink. Like a poodle and bubblegum and Pepto Bismal all melted into tubes and vials and jars. It has that forbidden burlesque quality that is at once a throwback and current in a way that’s almost in front of the fashion curve—pushing the envelope in a way that’s acceptable, but so far beyond even what’s “now.” Like the Pussycat Dolls, Carmen’s Elektra’s dance troupe/exhibitionists/vaudevillians/Gypsy Rose Lees. And as the 50th anniversary of the Playboy empire is in play, seemingly a way to merge innocence and awareness, sexuality and sensuality, dangerous curves and naïf excitement.



Burning Sage

When you just don’t feel quite right, burn some sage leaves and move them around your body. Sounds simple—or a little bit crazy—but you can feel the uneasiness flowing out of you. Smells great, too! Opens your whole head up and makes your synapses throw their “arms” open to the universe!


Chocolate covered pretzels

Salty. Sweet. Flat. Rich. The juxtaposition of every taste sensation, merged in the same common notion as Reese’s Cups. The bite, the mmmmm, the comfort, the smile-induction. Nothing could be simpler, yet you still have to hunt it down—and you don’t think about it when you don’t see candy counters without pretzels dipped into chocolate. Make the effort!

Tracks


At a time when the publishing industry’s in a funk, Spin and Vibe former editor in chief Alan Light stakes his claim to the music the people who have eclectic taste listen to. It’s not about BPMs, taut bellies, sexsationalism or pushing the limit of shock, violence, nihilism or alienation to the breaking point. Smart, well-written pieces on music by writers who care more about getting the story than their reflection in the moment. If you love Norah Jones, Lou Reed, the notion of Steve Earle on the Beatles or even a perspective on John Mayer that doesn’t make you feel lame and old, this must be the place we’ve all been waiting for.


Cheery-Oh! Lilly Pulitzer Print

Imagine bubble gum and hot pink, lime and kelly green paisley. Now put it on steroids. Blow it up big. Factor in whimsy. Screen it on good cotton and stretch silk. Put it in the hands of the Lilly Pulitzer design team to cut into little skirts, narrow pants, little sun dresses and the like. 


Seeing people through God’s eyes

If we look at people with that kind of compassion and understanding, even the most difficult become more lovable. Now given that I’m NOT God, I’m not saying I’m batting 1000 here, but it helps. Because, let’s face it, mostly people don’t set out to be miserable or to plague you… and if you can find the thing that makes them act out, you can give them the same break you yourself may need sometimes. And maybe they’ll notice you not being so harsh or judgmental and respond in kind.



“Blues For J”—The Incredible Jimmy Smith


All of Organ Grinder Swing is the down low fonkee jazz that was so ‘60s, but “Blue For J” defies the concept of dexterics. What Jimmy Smith—backed by the psychotically brilliant Kenny Burrell on guitar and the equally groovadelic Grady Tate on drums—does creates a whole other dimension of what’s possible on the B-3, almost requiring 2 or 3 listens to get your head around the entirety of everything he’s doing. Whether you make the commitment or merely bob on this insane groove, masterfully embroidered by the kind of precision super-stitching that becomes a whole rather than a sum of the notes, this is beyond mere verbiage.

Little Black Book of Cocktails, Little Black Book of Chocolate

Lots of recipes. Some clarity of terms and techniques. Several resources offered. Bits of history to spice up your own ability to discuss the above topics. Hand-sized field guides to two passions of modern culture: adult beverages and milk, dark and semi-sweet chocolate, as well as cocoa powder. 


Roller Skating

Sooooooo ‘70s. So Off The Wall. So feathered bangs. So big comb popping out of the pocket of Jordache jeans. So sailing along on a heavily lacquered wood floor, knees bobbing, hips swinging from side-to-side like the garden gate in the wind storm. This is where even the whitest, tightest person becomes loose and free, bopping on 4-to-8 neoprene wheels, fat and round and ready to swallow the real estate as they turn over and over and over and over again.

Michael Moore Profile The New Yorker

The finger on the woobie spot, part rabblerouser, part extremist, part social conscious, this picks apart the man who makes us ask all the big questions about morality in the modern industrialized world. For him it’s not cash on the barrelhead, but blame, accountability and awareness up front and personal—and it shows in the incisively written, often relentless profile.


“Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”
 —Mark Twain

At a time when the world is at a crossroads—or several really—it might be time to really think through what we believe rather than just relying mindlessly, reflexively on what we’ve always thought. As the world’s changed, perhaps our attitudes and biases ought to realign in a cognitive way that is as much about humanity as profit margin - and as the best reporters always say “follow the money… it’s there somewhere.” The world you change for the better could be our own!