Imagine someone taking a faded green chenille comforter and tossing out over the bed without too much intent, just an ease of living. Let it overgrow and die out in various places. Let the brush grow. Let the doublewide two lanes rise and fall, weaving you in and out, under blinking red lights and through countryside farflung enough to set your imagination pounding down the moments like a herd of horses chasing whatever freedom they’re sure lies beyond the horizon.
No pressure. No time consumed. No need to respond. At the sound of the tone, give someone a vote of confidence, a ray of light, a slightly plumped up pillow of good thoughts. Or else just amid all the “I need…,” “It’s overdue…,” “Where is…,” there’s a landmine of kind words, a compliment or encouragement that restores your faith in your own humanity. At the sound of the tone, sow something that inspires another—and if you reap a random message of uplift, remember to pass it on the next day.
With Johnny Cash gone through the Pearly Gates, the hardcore hillbilly mantel of authenticity needed to fall on the shoulders of someone willing to be what they are, sing their mind and scrape back the artifice that sludges up the 6-1-5 and leave the jagged cuticle that is so much a part of great music. With a voice that is wallpaper torn from the hallway to deeper meaning, Loretta Lynn and producer Jack White—of Detroit’s garage rockers the White Stripes—fashioned an album that’s as much raw wound as startling commentary on feminism, heartbreak and loneliness. A spectral witness that’s about the right things, White’s one-take vision of the pride of Butcher Holler, Kentucky is potent stuff—like mainlining Dran-o and opening up the entire system.
It feels as if you can reach out and touch them—soaring just beneath the black velvet expanse, jumbo, yet perfectly faceted rhinestones, winking at you conspiratorially. Not that most of us ever get the opportunity to be up front as the plane cuts through the night, but if you ever do, don’t pass it up. It’s about as close to God as you can get while continuing to draw breath, and the humility that you reap will keep you reaching for something better without ever losing sight of the things that truly matter.
Mexican popsicles. Often made with milk or cream, but not enough to qualify as a creamsicle or fudgesicle. Usually long on whatever the featured flavor is—last time I went it was honeydew, chocolate strawberry, tangerine and mixed berry—they’re often homemade, always gourmet and just worth the money. As one of those borderline indulgences that you can just sink down into and be consumed by while you’re consuming it, paletas are a frozen source of pleasure on a stick.
All the tales of unwanted stepchildren and wicked stepmothers make me laugh for the dreadful horror of that state. Never marrying, I’ve still had two—children who weren’t mine, but with whom I shared many vulnerable, tender, incredible moments. Whether they were the ones gaining insight or me coming away more aware, there was a semi-permeable membrane of love between us that was so nurturing and supportive, it transcended friendship, melted generations and offered acceptance and solace where one’s peers just wouldn’t work—either for fear of losing face or overwhelming them. My first stepson arrived a refugee in search of his father. He got me—and later his father. But watching him find himself has been as instructive for me as anyone. My second is still on the cusp of adulthood, a brilliant musician and child of the corners who’s as much carny as prankster—and as quick to be sweet and endearing as he is whimsical and insightful. Both are gifts the the highest order—and blessings I have been dumbstruck to realize landed in my lap. Think of it as family planning without having to put up with having a significant-other-who’s-not-so-significant around.
It’s a whole other kind of soul, ecumenical in the way desire on every level is the ultimate act of self-surrender. Buddy with that voice that’s burlap and dirt tempered with the sweat of humanity and Julie whose voice is a loop-de-loop of ethereal and sparkle soaked in wonder and fragility offer windows to every aspect of our humanity. On Holy Saturday, it was as much a witness to Revelations as it is the wondrous gift of a band that merges its tautness with grooves loose enough to crawl into. Whether Julie’s tear-wrenching “Broken Things” or slung-low rocking of “I Need You” or Buddy’s haunted take on the wages of fame “This Showman’s Life,” you were moved in ways you couldn’t consider. If they play near you, make it required rocking.
A British seed company, you can order from online. No one has lusher, more sumptuous gardens then the English—and this is hybrid maximization at its finest. Whatever you like—it’s here. Happy, hardy and ready to sprinkle. And if you hit the right key, they’ll even include you in their online catalogue mailing. It may not be a bustle in your hedgerow, but if it’s decadence in your landscape you seek, this is the way to go.
Like vertical break-dancers, hip-hoppers on Hee Haw, square dancers on X or g-rated Vegas show girls, the Opry Dancers are as much the rich tradition that began at the Ryman as rhinestones and Roy Acuff’s spirit. Spanning several ages, they’re keeping the notion of clogging, buck dancing and do-si-do alive with bright smiles, taps on their shoes and enough up’n'back to flummox a synchronized swimming choreographer above water. Every weekend, there they are… and they remind us why traditions can be as alive and vibrant as the latest thing.
Start with the banana gingersnap cream pie with the lichee meringue. That way if you die before you get to any of the pan-Asian fusion cooking, you will have died and gone to tropical desert tantric heaven…Sweet, light, creamy, rich, just enough snap to keep it interesting. Ugh… (in the best possible way). And their grilled strip steak in an earthy dark hoison-anchored sauce, Peking duck (served whole, as a warning), wrinkled spicy beans, steamed shui mai pork dumplings, imaginative sushi roles and commitment to excellent in ingredients make Music City’s take on elevated interior (water pours, Thai paddles fam the wood is dark, the lighting innovative) anything but a traditional Nashville experience.
In these days of cracked down security, getting to split up at the gate isn’t as simple as it used to be. But there I was in Nashville, heading to Texas, there he was heading to the City of Angels—and in the sweetness of two children being sent to separate camps, we smiled, hugged and steeped in the simple connection that was two dear friends seeking diverging paths, even as their hearts maintained the fidelity of people who’ve shared much, wish for more and know their relationship will remain constant through all life’s changes.
A dear friend has a tricked out barn—and sitting outside on the benches, these feathery daredevils swoop and precision fly around you with utter abandon. With downy chests, marked by just a hint of peach, they’re as Easter parade as they are barn swallow dignified, plus their willingness to just fly through it, around it, in it makes them smile-inducing of the first order. We should all be so free. And until we are, we should watch, dream and marvel at their facility of freedom beneath their wings and quick-drop loop-de-loop flight plan.
Pimps have to be the least appreciated people on the face of the earth—and this site (with its Pimp of the Month, suggested Pimp Moves, coming soon merchandise) is all about recalibrating the way that Pimp-Mind is regarded. The proprietors’ will tell you pimping is about l-o-v-e’n'r-e-s-p-e-c-t, and if you take it all the way to the curb, literally, it is! Aside from some deep, rolling laughs—and who doesn’t need more of those these days?! - where else could you can type in your name and get your pimp handle? Because if you’re gonna rule the streets, you better have a fly tag to be addressed by… Score at your own risk, but get ready, because any website that can turn Kenny Chesney into Fine Ass Chezney Skillz can recast your humble moniker in some pretty wide-lapeled tones.
The ultimate in tragedy—I lost my journal. And it was nowhere to be found. Not even the public places I thought it might have been. On the brink of madness (think of the secrets and truths lost within), I remembered to bring St. Anthony into it with this little prayer: “Saint Anthony. Saint Anthony. Please come around, something is lost and cannot be found.” Within 12 hours, the manager of a chain restaurant where I’d had a quick business meeting had left me a message, saying they’d not only found my diary, but my drivers license was in it. Imagine my relief to have that dog-eared book back in my possession! St. Anthony can help you, too.
Before Diane Warren, John David Kalodner in a wedding dress, the sneaking suspicion this was headed to either a Saturday morning cartoon or Disney ride, Aerosmith were howling, yowling, ground pawing, nostril flaring blues-slamming rockers who were as nasty and venal as any mere human could be. Drugs, booze, broads—and then came to the wake-up call. It’s as if they went back to the crossroads to get their souls back, the ferocity of their attack on classic inspiration the tearing the moments from history and reigniting them with kerosene and one vicious spark. To understand why they’re the baddest muthas in the valley, and the gold standard of American rock & roll, dig right in!
Oh, the euphoria! The giddiness! The raw exuberance! If you wanna understand the meaning of true excitability, this would be ground zero. It’s spring. There are proms and parties and the promise of first romances and crushes to be cast across the summer—in the bubbling giggles, you can remember everything pure and sweet that lies at the core of attraction.
Small enough to be tucked in a pocket or briefcase, this is an earthy grounder that takes the meter and the moments that make the blues such a contraction of real life… and offer it up on page after page of lyrics and poetry. Seven sections—broken down into Standards (which predate WW2), Some Songs, Form, Facing Off, Figures, Freight and Finale (for Bessie Smith)—trace the soul, the heart, the themes while drawing from musicians like Ma Rainey, Robert Johnson, Son House, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Ida Cox and writers ranging from Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden and more recent poets Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Margaret Walker, Allen Ginsburg and Joseph Brodsky. The blues is more than a song or a state of mind—it’s the way emptiness settles on you like an old coat that’s too tired to hold its own on your shoulders, and Blues Poems captures that listless truth-telling that has nothing left to fight or hide.
Essential oils of lavender, cedarwood, marjoram and ylang-ylang open your brain and gently pull it out from the rush-rush of the right now, hurry hurry, wait-wait. When it’s time to unwind, put a little bit of the balm on your ear lobes, between your eyebrows, on your wrists and drift away. Just close your eyes, exhale deeply and feel the calmness seep into your recently ruffled consciousness without even a second thought.
Sometimes the rock & roll answer really is the easiest and most practical. For Keith Moon, the gonzo drum-basher from the Who, it was his response to being caught red-handed mid- or just-post-hotel room trashing. It really just takes the edge off the nightmare, and buys a few moments time.
Friends have written checks with commas to get Rachel Ashwell’s vintage British cottage look. And it is sweetly chic, properly faded, the essence of pastoral perfection. Now they can all kick themselves as Ashwell introduces three distinct color patterns to Target—where America can get all the Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, Cynthia Rowley and Mossimo they can handle. Maybe the top shelf Shabby Chic is a little softer, but the difference isn’t appreciable—and the stuff is darling. Beddings, especially, in a sweetpea pink medley, a blue-ish variation and a floral lavender/lilac combo.
Throbbing. Primal. Techno. Beat-heavy, but so much more. The Neptunes personal recording project, “She Wants To Move” packs more backfield in motion emotion than almost anything this side of Andre 3000—and they’re able to be a bit more obscure while hitting the bulls-eye of where the money and the moment of dance floor propulsion is. If Justin and Britney, et al, are too treacly, dig this. But know it’s sole music of a whole other kind of leather!
In the drugstore candy bar revolution, ‘Smores are exactly as billed. Graham crackers and marshmallows covered in dark chocolate. Not as gooey, so you lose that—though perhaps some summer dashboard-seating could change that—but just as yummy. Summer camp without the mosquito bites!
Nothing honors progress quite as well as looking over one’s shoulder and going, “Damn…” When you look ahead, all you see are the endless horizons to cross. It can be thrilling, daunting, even a little overwhelming. But when you look back—and often it’s a lot father back than you remember—it’s shocking, humbling, chest-swelling to realize how much ground you’ve already covered. Take it in from time to time, and smile with the sense of accomplishing a life!
Silk satin ribbons, woven together like the wires on a bird cage—lifting the foot with its implied bondage of the toes. Raising the arch, tilting the foot and being tied up around the ankle. Kinky on so many levels, breath-taking on still others, creating a bit of boudoir drama on the paws of the best-heeled.
Rodney Bingenheimer was the ultimate modster, working the Sunset Strip in its fullest glam regalia. By the mid-80s, Rodney on the ROQ—as his progressive show with a local flair on punk/new wave/alternative radio outpost KROQ—was known was required listening to know what was… Period. A scenester who’d seen it all, this film captures the world, the heritage, the legacy of a time when platforms, shag haircuts, leather pants, long scarves, satin jackets, decadence and debauchery all had an innocent tinge to them. Imagine a male Penny Lane from “Almost Famous” and you’re getting warm. This is a documentary breaking now in theatres, worth seeking out—even if you must wait for the DVD in progressive rental palaces!
To travel or one’s travels. As summer touring season opens up full-bore, here’s a far more lofty way to say 18 cities in 21 days… and even commodify one’s daily migration as something far more mysterious than just two meetings and the post office. A little poetry never hurt anyone; here’s a window to an elevated verbal reality. And yes, the peregrine hawk is derivative of this word.
They’ll tell you it tastes “just like root beer.” I don’t know that I’d swallow that explanation, but as a ticketless return to Daytona, Cabo, Padre Island, Key West, Fort Lauderdale or any other youth-heavy spring break locale, it’s as good as old home video! You drop the shot of Jaggermeister into the beer, drink quickly (without breathing) and impress your friends with the boldness of your willingness to jettison all sense of adult responsibility and decorum.
Inspired by the teachings of Buddhist/Jesuit Anthony DeMello, this is a daily inspiration that pops up as your day begins to offer a gentle, probing, challenging filter to consider whatever happens. Wisdom that is this distilled, this clear, this easy to digest—and yet tickle one’s fancy as it elevates your thinking is pretty wonderful stuff. E-mail Scott and ask to be put on the mailing list. Every day, a new bit of insight arrives—giving you something to think of as you move through the daily grind.
You know the type, no play—all say. The slouch, the head cocked to the side, the no-getting-it-under-any-circumstances. It’s bravado without back-up. Ludicrosity unhinged. And somewhere bubbling in that oozing pool of delusion is enough bad vaudeville to make tagging the offender with the very tag he believes he’s inhabiting the ultimate irony. And when they go to the valley of “uber-big-time,” that’s when “extra-super-large time” kicks in.
A manager of an act that went a different direction actually admitted to me it was a mistake. Then told their client as much. Then told the person who’d recommended me. It wasn’t a mea culpa for political or capitol gain, but an exercise in acknowledging something important to them: their humanity! Talk about a lesson. And it’s only a lesson learned if one can stay open enough to see people, especially people we’re “sure” about, as they are. If you can stay open, sometimes you’re shocked at what you’re wrong about. Imagine.
Theodore Geissel made rhyming about nonsensical things—especially animals and made up creatures—such whimsy, it was narcotic. Green eggs and ham and cats in hats and Grinches and Hortons and Whos! To that end, the U.S. Postal Service has created a stamp that builds a wreath of his characters to wrap about the good Doctor of Seuss, allowing us to share our passion for the man who’s mission seemed to be lacing laughter with lessons and meaning with meter and rhyme scheme and whatever else danced through his mind that day!
If this is the year of bright colors—and green is flung across the fashion tomes—what could more startlingly verdant than the color of good bent grass? Walking around the fairways of the Shaker Heights Country Club on a Monday before golf season begins, it was crisp, yet yielding, blindingly fertile and the embodiment of emeralds cast in some kind of growing carpet of nature’s very, very best.
Rolling Stone, The Immortals issue
The greatest names in music celebrate their influences. Jackson Browne on Springsteen alone—in a turnaround is fairplay take on the Boss’ induction of the Pretender at this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction—is worth it. But to see how music impacted the artists who impacted us, to gain that perspective makes every bit of pop, rock, urban and beyond that much sweeter and deeper.
The Neon and Day-Glo thick lettered graffiti covered designer who brought punk to high fashion and gave Blondie an edge to go with that heart-shaped silent film siren beauty passed away. Morrison brought a gently loving take to a life lived for the fullest potential, a will to smash the rules and a refusal to be beige or obvious in the name of running a business. Esquire, May Johnny Depp cover story. How it is inside the mind of the one young actor who never got caught up in the fame, defied conventional wisdom and found the way to win is be true to oneself. From “21 Jump Street” to Captain Jack Sparrow, his instincts helped him navigate the treacherous waters of ambition in Hollywood with a grace that evaded even the best of his peers. Here’s the outlook that created this trajectory.
Maybe it comes off as a little pretentious, but it really is ground zero of everything that matters. And if you love God—whatever form you believe him to be—then you have to love that God in everyone else. Because we’re all made in his likeness, and who wouldn’t be kind to the Big Guy? But equally as important, isn’t it just yummier feeling to BE nice? Kindness turns away much hard feeling, but even more importantly, reaping what you sow is so much softer and more encouraging—not that THAT’s the reason to do it.