We shall have to wait until September to see it in all its American heavy metal glory, but our good friends at Ford have cowboyed up to return the Mustang to its sleek original body. The promise of speed, of freedom, of some kind of muscled up turbo-propped escape module is finding its snub-nosed maximum impact body shape—and we’ve all lived long enough to see it! As the proud owner of a ‘72—the last year of the only body shape that ever mattered—there is something slightly dangerous, a little bit fast and very much easy on the eye about the classic Mustang. It was cute enough for a girl with some attitude, tough enough for a boy looking to shoot out the heart of Saturday night. If you want your own link from what was (glorious) to what can be (even more so), the fall of ‘04 is coming. See your dealer and get on the list!
Patrick Monahan is an incredible singer - and secure enough in the sweet, yet yearning pitch to his instrument that he eschews the usual calisthenics that lesser vocalists default into to show you “their talent.” Instead, he digs in, digs deep and pulls back the curtain on oceans of emotional nuance, while laying bare want, desire, appreciation and vulnerability. And when he digs into his record collection—Zepplin’s “Ramble On,” Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” the pliant quality twinges with muscular command. But what was especially heartening about their 3 night stand here—and several other major cities around the country - is the notion that Train is a full-service, hit their marks, push the gas going into the corners band, as comfortable on a vast array of covers played for the sheer joy of it (Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” to George Michael’s “Faith”) as the songs America has used as totems of romantic doubt and devotion. Guitarist Jimmy Stafford’s sun through a magnifying glass leads buzz with the nervous edge of great rock, while the rhythm section pump a groove with locomotive intensity and deep-seated roll—proving that melody doesn’t negate one’s ability to rock, that pop doesn’t have to be wimpy and that lyrically coloring outside the lines is as captivating as ever.
Butter pecan ice cream and butterscotch sauce. Maybe go a little longer on the ice cream than you would for a chocolate shake, so it’s really thick, perhaps just a bit lumpy from the pecans. Or if you’re feeling decadent, add some extra pecans, redolent with salt for the contrast of cold and sweet and rich and the bite of the sea. Maybe don’t quite blend it to uniform liquidity; leave it a bit thicker, with teeny pieces of the nut adding a hint of texture to something that is wholly your’s. And if you wanna pretend it’s almost a tin roof sundae experience, supplement that butterscotch sauce with a bit of the Hershey’s syrup and really create a topsy turvy old-fashioned dairy bar extravaganza in a glass. Whipped cream, by the way, would be redundant.
Workload and scheduling kept me from this year’s South By Southwest Music Confab in Austin, Texas—traditionally ground zero for roots music of every stripe. Having received to date four very detailed accounts of what happened, who played, who showed up, who didn’t and what set their individual souls ablaze, it’s almost as if I was there. Quite the comfort, since I’d been tragically forlorn about being shipwrecked by other demands. It is the generosity of others to share their moments, experiences, insights, passions and even letdowns that creates overlaps between worlds. I am blessed to know those who do—and can hope only to reciprocate in kind. If you’re not exchanging your world with someone else—and I have an old high school friend who makes me part of her everyday and an air traffic controller I’ve met once who’s house and puppy I’m watching evolve—you’re missing an incredible chance to have more than one life to live.
It is not so much where we sleep, but what we do within those walls. Not so much how it looks as the way the people we share those moments look at us and how we regard them. These are the feasts that shall sustain us in the quiet moments—to remember that is to always find joy and grace in what might otherwise be meager.
It has been a strange winter. One day scraping 70, then hurling snow at us the next. It seems, though, as if spring has finally declared residency. The evenings have a warm tinge to them that permeates our body—and creates a tempo that is languid, yet unfurling. Bask in these first days of fewer clothes, enjoy the end of the day as a time to unwind and reach for the sky… It is truly the blessing of winter’s end, and it should not be taken lightly.
Sweet corn cakes with stuff inside. My favorite are a buttery oozy mozzarella cheese. Found at the Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach and many, many South American groceries. It’s kind of like a Monte Cristo sandwich without the meat or batter—only better.
A working class Dem from outside the oil fields of Bakersfield, John Hobbs possesses an outsized IQ and a major passion for the fate of the average American. Having spent most of his life locked in a recording studio, his activism is based on sussing out the facts from our fate—and trying to ascertain just where the truth is. Overly concerned about the amount of misinformation in the political arena that’s currently being shoveled, he’s begun studying all political talking head shows, crucial websites and any other reasonable source of data or analysis. Lucky me! I get to share a couple meals a week with this piano-tickling wonk—and the breakdown, tempered by a humanistic consciousness, almost relieve me from doing my own research. Informed in a way I’ve never been, the JHPD is the answer to every concerned citizen’s dream, and it’s all explained in language us mere mortals—versus political activists—can understand. If you want your piece of the Hobbs, e-mail me. I’ll pass it along. Maybe he’ll newsletter…
They’re cool. They’re mysterious. They convey whatever attitude - and also conceal whatever attitude - you want. Classic in the way cowboy boots, leather jackets, buttonfly Levis and James Dean are - and they’re UV rated.
At least one t.v. show (which shall remain nameless) is not going with the 5 second delay. But even without the standards-and-practices game of chicken, it’s good to have Miss Jackson back where she belongs: putting the emphasis on her urbane urban-ity. For while Jackson thrives in the most sexually forward lyrical positions, her music is straight-up funk for an utterly rainbow coalition. Anyone who likes to shake it, rock it or just plain groove knows that Janet Jackson understands the dance floor the way Elizabeth Taylor understands high profiles paramours. With “Good Morning America,” “Ryan Seacrest Live” and “Primetime” all in the offing, the woman who’s wardrobe malfunctioned (please! soooo beneath her…) is set to launch Damita Jo in a whirl of media frenzy. It’s all good. And perhaps once we get the album in the stores, we can shift back to what really matters with this youngest of the Gary, Indiana tribe: an ability to make rotation penetration about a car radio and the way a groove can become ingrained in our mind.
Perhaps the single most omnidirectional utterance of the last too many years. Uttered with incredulity, it can be the ultimate endorsement or utter thumbs down. Draw it out. Punch it up. This is as DIY a proclamation as you can get - and yet, it will do whatever you wish. Try it and see…
Decadence within reach. A sparkling rich, deeply hydrating shower gel that exudes the essence of ambergris, vanilla, bitter orange and pink pepper. It’s the kind of scent that is at once heady, yet clean, tickling, yet mysterious, clever without being too piquant. A tiny bit will fill an entire bath with clouds of dizzying scent - and the bits of glow will stay with you if you towel off gently. Studio 54 without the crash-inducing heels or high-powered hangover.
Janine Dunn, married to quite the singer—for whom allergies are beyond a bane of their existence—swears by this stuff. Doesn’t dry, doesn’t make you nod off. But it knocks allergies out, creates the ability to breath as if one’s respiratory system wasn’t under blooming assault - and is right there, waiting for you at the local druggist. No prescription necessary. What’s better this time of year?
That voice—Irish lace with the sun shining through. Like being inside a silk worm’s cocoon, but the strands are blazing fire that doesn’t burn you,
but consumes you in a blaze of endorphins. This is excitement in a lulling form. You are fed to the melodies, captured by the lyrics, left to be baked and bleached by the blaze of noon utterly content with what you’ve learned. Extra credit: the current No Depression with its wondrous cover story and breath-taking photos.
Beef sliced relatively thin. Served on pieces of lettuce, but cooked with chili pepper, lots of lime, green onions and sometimes purple onions as well. This has a spark to it. A definite bite. It makes the tongue tingle, stand up and take notice. It is the kind of dish that you will love or despise… but you will not forget. A Thai appetizer that can serve as a main dish, especially when teamed with Tom Ka Kai, the sinful coconut milk-based lemongrass-tinged chicken soup.
Ohio City, actually. The well-loved vintage part of old Cleveland that no one can bear to part with gets a well-restored new outpost of good friends, cheap booze and great food. Think of it as the 2-1-6 Cheers. Knowing my cousin Alex, who’s never known a stranger in his life, is one of the owners, you know that’s what it’s gonna be. A hang out that’s both comfortable and encapsulates the history of one of the Midwest’s most interesting population bases, The Olde Angle resuscitates the Ohio City Hardware in a way that’s making screwdrivers and rusty nails a bit more quaffable—and creates a whole new kind of history for the landmark location..
The best shirt on the Kenny Chesney tour isn’t available at the merch table. You gotta be one of the working few to take home the grey screened tiki tee that’s only for, “The first to come and the last to go…” With a Pacific rim looking design, this is low-frills, big impact—absolutely in concert with the tour motif. Make friends with a local roadie - and you, too, could be the bearer of the best shirt the man Rolling Stone called “Nashville’s Jimmy Buffett” won’t sell.
Smartly packaged in what looks like a water color tin, top make-up artist Sonia Kashuk brings the most wearable shades of lip gloss to her Target line—and women nationwide—for a mere $14.99. We’re talking everything your lips will need ‘til fall, packaged to travel and looking streamlined enough to have been purloined from Barneys, Bergdorfs or Neimans.
As the weather warms, the will to let our muscles truly relax increases. So, too, should your will to drink rum, the ultimate lubricant of the laidback and easy-does-it. And not just rum in teeny-bopper, umbrella confections that’ll bring on dry heaves faster than you can say “colada,” but rum consumed as a serious adult. That means, straight, on the rocks or perhaps with a bit of club soda and a squeeze of lime. This kind of consumption would suggest nuance to the imbibement, some layers to the taste, maybe even something to captivate the imagination. If Cruzan is known for a 101 flavors of low-powered rum, their Estate Bottled is its anti-thesis. Sophisticated, it opens up all kinds of taste possibilities for what’s become a fairly obvious liquor—and this is where adults seeking respectability for the rum they sample come in.
The hexagonal tin container not much more than two inches deep is pleasing in its oddity. Inside, though, is a scent that masks all hotel room odors—and offers relaxation steeped in promises of Morocco or magic carpet rides, the inside out of crystals or scarves draped over lamps to make wherever seem a bit less straight, a bit more witchy. Small enough to throw into even an overnight bag, the amber/lavender scent doesn’t have the chemical afterburn that catches in your throat, just the synapse opening olfactory trigger that brings on sleep or at least a sense of “whatever… it’s fine.”
A 5-CD tribute to the late great original vocalist Bon Scott—including the first post-Bon Scott Back In Black, which became a rock’n'roll talisman for its relentless pounding and nasty guitar sounds—this is all kinds of live and unreleased studio takes for the obsessive near you. For the less than possessed, this is the way to knock out a long drive without too much coffee and reciting the alphabet backwards to stay awake. A pumping, thumping, bumping surge of adrenaline, AC/DC rocked without pause—and they reminded us how hard rock can be if you’ll let it, yet always maintain the control that keeps the song structure cogent. Dirty nasty stuff for a frayed, raw, ripe legacy. Bon Scott would be proud!
Don’t tell the folks at the Rue Du Cambon, but Banana Republic is knocking off all of their cleverest pieces. The enameled camellia bracelets and rings are being almost Xeroxed—and the free floating sculpted roses that Chanel has done from year-to-year appear here as a rose quartz-looking resin proposition, dangling from a far hipper leather chord. Not cheap, but hardly what you’re gonna pay at 10,000 Things or Necessary Objects, the chandelier earrings will be something the next generation will drool and fight over.
Forgotten compadres. Sworn enemies. People you’re sure would bore you to tears. Open your heart, your mouth, your mind. Find the common bond, celebrate the pronounced differences. In the abyss, you will be forever elevated—inspired, even. Unlikely companions are strewn like broken bottle diamonds sparkling in the dirt with the reflected glory of the sun, all you have to do is recognize the brilliance of what so many never even bother to acknowledge as they run. Riches right there, never seen, never reaped, only sown without regard.
On a moonlit night. On an empty highway. With your foot on the gas and the radio up. Gearing down into the turns. Stamping it through three gears as you open it wide. Yowling with delight. Feeling every bit of the road. Laughing ‘cause you’re alive. There is no moment as free, as there, as wow! as driving a stick shift pick-up in the lost hours.
Jane, March, 2004
“Meg” by Claudine Ko, pictures by Carter Smith (also worth noting!)
America’s ubersweetheart/girl-next-door waxes tres candid about fame,
obsession with celebrity minutiae and how she chooses to deal with it all. Frank, fresh and to-the-point, she lays it all down with a clarity that is stunning and perspective realigning in our do-it-all-on-camera-reality-based-tv-world.
New York, March 22-29 2004
“Best of New York”
This is the one-stop shopping guide to everything anyone NOT living in
Manhattan needs to know about where to go, what to eat, the places to shop and and and AND and… Seek this issue out. Seem far more aware and in touch than you have a right to be, and tell no one how you got so darned informed from wherever it is you call home.
Texas Monthly April 2004
“Texas Music Issue”
If there’s a state that has produced more great and diverse music than
Texas, name it. With Beyonce doing Willie on the cover, you know the lasso’s being thrown far and wide in its quest to capture everything great about the Lone Star take on music. With the 100 Best Texas Songs—named by no less than Jeff McCord and the wondrous John Morthland, plus Michael Hall digging into Beyonce’s family Knowles, an analysis of how demonic Clear Channel Entertainment really is by S.C. Gwynne, John Spong’s take on Spoon, a portrait of the man who revolutionized norteno music (his name is Ramon Ayala and he plays the accordion) plus as told to’s from George Jones, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Alejandro Escovedo, Hillary Duff and Kinky Friedman’s recollections about the one “Austin City Limits” that never made it to air is just the tip of the magazineberg.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”—Carl Jung
Isn’t it funny how we can notice everything beyond ourselves? It’s so simple to see how slightly off the wallpaper is, the way two socks of the same color aren’t a pair or the variances in the shades of a flower’s petals. But what do we see when we look inside ourselves? When was the last time you really gazed at your soul, considered what you were made up of, what you valued, where you wanted to be? If we don’t know these things about ourselves, how can we really temper our opinions? Know our mind versus that which is foisted upon us? Let this be an invitation to get to truly know the person you spend the most time with: yourself. For everything wrong with each and every one of, there’s just so much more right. Start there - and move out. You’d be amazed at the power, passion and perfection you will find.