The Yummy List


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

May 2004

May 2004: Tongues, Tales, Rivers + Rest Edition

La Dona—Teena Marie

Back in the day, Teena Marie was the Vanilla Chile prototype of “Superfreak” Rick James. A musical prodigy with chops and hooks for days, her “Square Biz” was a liberation—and “Lovergirl” was the shining phoenix-rising work of a woman who knew how to blow it up and roll a groove hard.
Now the gypsy queen of funk returns with an album as much a work-out on what she knows as a roiling r&b boil of groove and “game on.” Produced in part by Cash Money’s Mannie Fresh, “I’m Still In Love” is a groaning witness to keeping the faith, while Gerald Levert shows up for “A Rose By Any Other Name,” “The Mackin’ Game” features acolytes M.C. Lyte and Medusa, the uplifting “Recycle Hate To Love” offers Lady Levi and Alia Rose,” Common checks in for “Revelations 3:18” and James helps fire and ice “I Got You.”
Lady T knows life is deep and complex, love is critical and reaching higher the only option. On the demi-thematic La Dona, which revolves around the notion of Marie as a street matriarch/guardian angel, she gets all those aspects together in the name of the funk. It’s good to have her so free, so there, so throwing down—even in the laidback places.

Hotel Biba West Palm Beach

A skid row motorcourt gone crackhouse, rehabbed with all those “Miami Vice” power-pastels, Hotel Biba is now the visitor’s jewel in West Palm’s rising El Cid neighborhood. And with a happening bar and a real size pool, it reminds one that classic motels from the 50s and 60s worked for a reason: decent sized rooms, showers that had power without drama and windows that opened. Nostalgia infused with the right now, oh wow aesthetic sense the hipster requires.

Reviving Mist Aveda

Some days, you just need to go. Fussing over your coif—or even needing to simply erase the evidence of last night—is a time sucking luxury that can’t be accommodated; and yet! From our good friends at holistically leaning Aveda comes the great liberator: lavender-based reviving spray. It moisturizers, brings back your look from the dead and smells heavenly. Spray, tousle, go! Oh, the freedom!

American Demographic

If you want to know which part of the world is doing what, all you have to do is read here. Trends and tastes and shifts and dynamics. Culture with two staples examined, filleted and offered up in a few tidy articles that provide more insight into how people think, what they respond to and why the shifts happen than most cultural commentators flapping away on a Sunday morning. In a rapidly shifting world, this is checking the water levels and tides with little strain and much gain. Highly recommended.

Speaking in Tongues

From the church of never-say-never: It happens. Sweeps you up, carries you away. Fear gripping you that perhaps it will not happen when all eyes fall upon you expectantly, not knowing what’s happening when your tongue takes on a life of its own, not even having a clue about what it all means. And that’s the beauty of speaking in tongues: it’s a language so perfectly beyond that our comprehension is not required.
   Passion. Faith. Commitment. An ardent desire to express one’s heart to God in a way that supersedes our need to understand. It’s communication beyond communication, praise so heartfelt that it projectiles into another realm of _expression—and when the power hits you, it has its own pulse and leaves you strangely calm and resolved once it passes.

“The Cooler” on DVD

William Macy earned an Academy Award nomination as a down-in-the-mouth who’s luck is so bad an old school Vegas casino uses his big loser energy to rub off on tables that get “too hot.” But in this how-the-real-world-works passion play, not only is the way-it-is sobering, but the notion that humanity and the heart can supersede the power of power. Graphic in terms of sex and violence, the brutality of the player’s natural order is tempered by portrayals of people who refuse to compromise their true nature. Inspiring, if sobering—and truly an award-worthy performance.

Pushkin & The Queen of Spades—Alice Randall

Randall, the Harvard educated songwriter-turned-screenwriter-turned novelist, has a love affair with language. And in her perfect bound reality, the woman whose last book was a Gone With The Wind send-up called The Wind Done Gone ignited a controversy for both post-slave vernacular and the notion that Rhett had a love child with a slave again pushes the envelope. Writing with her usual rapier eye, Randall examines another aspect of life that makes no sense to her—and opens our thought processes along the way.

Sugarfree Vanilla Syrup

Almost no guilt—and voila! your plain coffee masquerades as an almost decadence-driven café/confection. Tastes just like the real vanilla syrup. Sweetens, enriches, mellows and nuances the quick jolt bolt of joe that gets us through the dragging and the morning hours—evening for the more normal amongst you—and hints at a luxury that isn’t present. The ultimate bait-and-switch.

Driving Under Thunderheads

Sometimes, I get in the car—and I roll. NO idea to where, except ahead. And on those long winding blue line highway adventures, you can run into anything. But there’s nothing more humbling that driving under thunderheads: the dark clouds moving with or across you, wind sweeping by, rain almost falling, the far off flashes of lightning that say “this is bad; but this is not here.”
   You can watch the sky shift mood and color by the minute—awestruck by the ferocity, yet calmed by the way it doesn’t settle down on top of you. This weekend, the sky changed it’s mind and demeanor 6 times in 90 minutes, and I rolled through it all: low pressure cells, humidity that almost clung to the skin and the bright light of clearing that isn’t destined to last. As close to one with Mother Nature as you’re gonna get.

Chocolate Tasting Olive’s, Bellagio

Mocha cheesecake morsels with caramel ice cream. Milk chocolate pot de creme that’s silkier than traditional, but no less rich. Chocolate sorbet on an almost filo-thin chocolate wafer curl. Drizzled with appropriate sauces—dulce de luce sweet caramel on the cheesecake, citric-sour raspberry for the sorbet—and dolloped with confectionery sugared extra thick whipped creme where necessary—the pots de creamy creme.
   Small enough not to weigh you down, rich enough to make even someone gone bust feel sated. One small platter of heaven riddled with cocoa products. Mmmmm…

Caravella Limoncello (& Soda)

The intense distilled Italian lemon liqueur is instant capture-the-senses! The yellow color of the new VW Bug; the snap of those Lemonhead candies when you bite into them. You can pour it on fresh fruit for an adult kind of shortcake. You can put it on crushed ice for a grown-up snow cone. But for a refreshing, slightly kicked back pick me up, mix with club soda, add a spring of fresh mint and smile.

Miss Hannah’s Wedding

The child grows up and becomes a princess. As Southern as the drawl that rolls off her lips, as sunny as a Gerber Daisy, as whimsical as the 5 best episodes of “I Love Lucy.” Hannah Crowell embarks on her own life with dreams and poems and a too darling step-daughter small enough to think being the flower girl is probably the reason for the party.
Belle Meade Plantation during what used to be Fan Fair. A whole other kind of gathering of the country music tribe… Played out to honor the transition of one of the flowers in the crown of a more rootscentric, hippygirl electric, deepsoulmover… Bring Kleenex and noisemakers: it’s the only way.

One Moment More—Mindy Smith

Dolly Parton can’t be wrong, and Kenny Chesney pronounced “Come To Jesus,” the opening track, “realer than real. I listened to that song over and over and over, ten-times-in-row.” With a haunted voice that glistens like sun rays breaking through thick forest leaves and branches, Smith’s organic high tension wires strung electrically from redemption to sexual betrayal, faith and faltering in pursuit of dreams and passions and an anchored sense of seeking one’s way in this mortal plane make for arresting listening.
When she tosses back her head and moans, this is a whole other kind of transformation. And if you’re looking for someone to merge the spiritual and the sensual, the sexual and the divine, Mindy Smith is a self-aware cipher offering up a whole new realm over 11 songs.

Oligomer Bath Phytomer

Nothing rehydrates and pulls toxins quite like this. A bit pricy and you’ll feel a little “coated” when you get out of the water. But too much sun or just too much icky—just add slightly more than lukewarm water and soak. You’ll be glad you did.

Battery Express

They shall pry the Star-Tec from the clutch of my cold and rigor mortised hands. Short of that, I will not surrender the ultimate “phone only” instrument on the market, the chalice of my trade and the leash that keeps me tethered with amazing acuity. Simple. Straightforward. Ten outgoing calls and twenty incoming numbers held in easy access limbo—and the ability to fit perfectly down one’s cleavage—make it a de rigeur for anyone serious about their mobile phone.
   And what Battery Express has to do with it is this: In the rush for newer, better, faster, more, most cell phone service providers have discontinued stocking the supplies to support my beloved Star-Tec, which put it on an endangered species list that’d make Marlon Perkins blanch. Thankfully, Batteries Express have no problem coming up with the batteries, the chargers and anything that’s about powering the best ole phone—both in terms of ease and its ability to send and get calls when many other’s just won’t—so that what could go the way of the DoDo and Brezhny’s Horse won’t have to.

Crossing the Mississippi At Night

The windows down and the radio up. The moon over your shoulder. Shoot down I-40 West outta Memphis, straight into Arkansas. You go across a bridge, traversing Mark Twain’s muse, Jeff Buckley’s funeral bed, the device for a wondrous Train song, the spark of a classic spiritual and a metaphor for the passage of time—as the night air whips through your hair, around your face and out the other window. You can feel the soul of that dark water—even as you arrive on the other side, a song pounding in your ears and the power of the current somehow transferring to your veins. Humbling in ways I’d never considered—until I thought about what that body of water truly meant.

Terri Clark “Size Don’t Matter Anyway” T-Shirts

Hot pink. Retro type face. Vivid. Wow. Terrifying. Now.
   Talk about stopping power! In support of her “Girls Lie, Too” single, her latest bit of merchandise makes one wonder which is the greater truth and/or bigger comfort. The notion that girls would never ever lie (like their well-meaning, if weak-resolved, conflict-hating men might) or that size might actually BE an issue. A conundrum. A quandry. A yin/yang dilemma to keep the less-than-secure up at night.

Sun Up In Las Vegas

It starts slowly, small and gray. It is the promise that another day WILL dawn in the city that never sleeps, another endless evening will wind down and be vanquished by the sun. The hills shiver expectantly, there below the bottom of the strip, lights twinkling among the lifeless veins of concrete and pools at one’s feet. And then the yellow breaks through, turns to molten morning—bathing the expanse on golden glow. And still the morning rolls on, white and clear, then utterly blue.
   It is not the rhinestone and sequins flash of night-time neon, which is what people clamor to Vegas for. In many ways, that juxtaposition—the gift of daybreak in the ultimate high-rolling, flashy/shiny yeah-baby town—reminds us of the universe’s true order without ever getting on a big harangue. As the night gives way to the day some morning, hum a little of Tom Waits’ “Ole ‘55” and think about what you’re watching.

Once Upon a Tea Sereniteas

Chocolate, vanilla and mint, loose leaf, in an overstuffed bag. It is cleansing, sweetening, indulgent, decadent. With hot water, you can luxuriate, unwind and sink into something that is both relaxing and pulse quickening. And for the most part utterly easy to deal with. Worth seeking out on the days when desert isn’t an option, but a little splurge is necessary.

Manolo Blahnik re-issues

Billed as “One of My Favorites” on the platinum colored slightly oversized shoe boxes, the high priest of sexy footwear (take THAT Jimmy Choo) has decided to bring back a limited edition of several of his most seminal styles and watershed designs. They are beyond too-die-for—luxurious in a way that makes the air thin, lavish the way only someone who lives beyond the pale can be.
   My beloved Kix Brooks actually threw down for a pair of court mules that’re lavender, tangerine and pink, covered with rhinestones that look like stars torn from the heaven and pearls that look copped from a Vermeer painting. Three-and-a-half inch heels that look like something Marie Antoinette would wear right after decreeing the poor could eat cake or Cinderella would put on upon discovering that while the glass slipper fits, it might also break and cut her poor feet to ribbons.
   And yes, I did scream! Right there in the cocktail lounge where my friend and his friends were kicked back in wait of the ultimate reflex reaction.

Calla Lillies In Tall Vases Filled With Green Orchid Heads

There is nothing like the flowers at a Four Seasons hotel… Blood red zinnias in small glass bowls… bunches of wedding pink roses in snifters… stems upon stems of cymbidium orchids. But perhaps nothing is as jaw-dropping as several stems of callas—think the long stemmed cornucopia hand-rolled looking flowers of Georgia O’Keefe’s best work—rising from a tall cylinder that is filled with water and the heads of many, MANY green orchids, unfurling with the lush fecundity that makes these tropical stems seem such beacons of fertility.

   Hands down the strangest thing ever on this list. A web-site with a man in a very bad Mexican wrestling chicken costume in what looks like a brokedown do-it-yourself-porn-movie set—where they rent the motel rooms by the hour. You can see the band on the arms for the wings to be attached and it’s a rusty colored yellow body covering with a mask/beak effect that is beyond retro.
   Type in your command. Subservient chicken lives to please you. And on those days when nothing is going your way, the notion that something this odd exists to empower you is either a gift or a mockery—but either way, he’ll do the Funky Chicken, give the wall the finger or jump and down to delight you.

Stand Up Live - The Christianaires

Anyone who remembers Ry Cooder’s brackish Skid Row exhortation “Jesus Is On The Mainline” from his wondrous Paradise & Lunch record, will be knocked over by the Christainaires reach-out-and-witness testimony that is “Mainline.” An old school r&b gospel quartet—captured live in the on-fire Mississippi delta—the Christainaires make you KNOW you’re ALIVE, celebrate the WORD and offer PRAISE like throwing off a hair shirt and dancing for joy.
   Having left 92-Q on following a particularly high spirited Saturday night, their Sunday morning worship rolls in with some big bass beats, spiked exuberance for all that it can be - and the kind of music that feels so good, you’d listen to it even if it wasn’t about Jesus. Hard to find, but utterly worth the effort: Stand Up Live plugs you into a Higher Power of an order that defies reason and brings it home in short order.

Drinking Lots of Water

It hydrates. It refreshes. It purges toxins. It washes away germs. It makes you feel full and awake. It is essential. And with a bit of lemon juice it eradicates the need for empty calorie-laden sodas, caffeine-infused iced tea and whatever else wets your whistle. Cold clear water; nothing like it

Schwab’s Beale Street

Established in 1876, Schwab’s is the upscale Woolworths, as channeled through Maria Laveau, the Cajun voodoo queen. Outmoded, forgotten, arcane—you can find it at Schwab’s, which is venerated as “the oldest family-owned and -operated general store in the South.’ Their motto is “if you can’t find it at Schwab’s, you’re better off without it”—and it holds water. Original issue sailor pants, Elvis lighters, trinkets, penny candy, incense to ward off enemies and 7 Spirits Bath Oil, wooden trinkets and various flags, publicity stills, vases for arrangements, a selection of sauces, jellies and relishes and cardboards of bobby pins.
   Schwab’s is a world long gone, yet right there. And it’s all yours for walking in the door.

Dancing with Yourself

Life is too short to let your fate rest on waiting for a rhythmically challenged boy to take the plunge. Rather than wait on the courage of another, seize your own BPM destiny, free your hips and let your exhilaration follow. Indeed, there’s something liberating and inspiring about jumping out there all alone - ands you’ll be shocked at the awestruck faces of the appreciative and envious. Bonus points, btw, to all willing to dance on bars, tables or street corners - truly manifesting the all-that in a most display-driven way!
Whether it’s a Beale or Bourbon Street in the lost hours, your favorite band in concert, a disco or your own home, there’s something the elevation of your heart-rate that is sole surrender to the music that’s transformative! Get your groove on all by yourself, and feel a new kind of freedom.

Shambhala Books

Smaller than pocket-sized. Wisdom like crazy. Tuck one in your jacket, your purse, your briefcase. The Book of Wordly Wisdom, which precedes Ben Franklin’s Rules for Life by centuries, offers a perspective for walking through the madness with grace that is quick and easy… instant karma with a papercover and a perfect binding. Not everything’s so heavy. But it’s all good. Seek these morsels of life lived in the moment out and indulge your will to be present.

One A Day Active Vitamins

They have done away with Unicap Stress formula—and this is the closest verve-inducers that’s grocery-store accessed. With loads of B vitamins, ginseng, potassium, iron, etc, this energy-enhancing supplement helps you keep it moving without a needle in your rump or something far less appropriate up your nose.

Chance Meetings, Random Moments, Drive-By Revelations

Something about convergence just opens up windows and gates in the universe of our souls. There at a 5-star table between Vince Gill—the man who made me realize I could be anything I wanted, including Cameron Crowe—and Rodney Crowell, the man whose songs for Emmylou Harris gave emotional recognition to my topsy turvy world growing up—was the notion that the tides of life are strewn with the strongest fiber there is: love and friendship. That strength survives all, becoming more enduring the most faded it gets, tighter the more its tugged on, easier the more it weathers.
   The night before in a late night, too smoky bar, a lost face in a crowd. A shared moment to sow understanding across that which never made sense. A peace to the piece that had been torn. Almost nothing said as two faces moved in opposite directions, everything delivered with a warm smile and a deep searching eye lock.

Puma Pink Running Shoes with Gray and Black Stripes

Taking the Supergirl motif as far as it gets in the most literal terms. Take a faded bubblegum pink and impose the Puma sweep logo in gray and black - making it punk, chic, grounded in one pre-Nike-esque swoosh! You can walk, run, kick butt with all the serious sneaker power, but still be as girly grrrrl as you wanna be while doing it.

Timberline Lodge Claypool Hill, Virginia

It sits at a crossroads and weighs in at $34.99/night. But it’s the execution of theme - all the furniture is fashioned from wood designed to look like thick pine bows - isn’t kitsch, retro or throwback, but real. Serious in it’s presentation, the Timberline has hot showers with good pressure, AC that will stun, decent cable and beds that might be firmer.
   But as a reminder of a simpler way of travel; a time when Hemingway’s “Clean, Well Lighted Place” was enough; a sense that trying something evocation, but covering the basics was what it was about; the Timberline is a classic old school motor lodge. Everything that made this country great in its ability to make the road your home.

“Here For The Party”—Gretchen Wilson

Any record that contains the line “I’m here for the beer and the ball-bustin’ band” ain’t afraid to laydown a gauntlet or get the nightlife priorities straight—and Gretchen Wilson, with a chainsaw voice fueled by straight kerosene, knows how to dig in, kick out and go for the good time jugular. With brazen guitars, the hottest little honey this side of the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines cuts to the chase with a voice that’s swagger, sweat and sex—and never looks back. The redneck distaff nation now has a battle cry!

Power Naps

When it’s all a little fuzzy around the edges, lay down. Just for 30 or 45. But when you wake-up, you’re gonna be shocked at how focused and refreshed you are. Take it to the hoop or the wall with abandon ‘cause you’ve recharged the battery and can now more-than-max what you’re made of.

Los Lonely Boys, The Ride—Los Lobos

Two Mexican bands that’re offering up myriad rhythmic structures—one currently enjoying radio success with “Heaven,” the other a standard-setter since their seminal Will The Wolf Survive dropped almost two decades ago. Los Lonely Boys are a scrappy Texas three-piece who use their native musicality to inform a basic blues-driven roadhouse music—and the brothers Garza are the embodiment of the family delivering each other paradigm. Deemed “Willie Nelson’s favorite local band,” these Austin boys use heart rather than gimmicks and offer basic sold song sense in lieu of pyrotechnics.
Los Lobos is a weathered family unit that have stuck together through massive pop fascination—their “La Bamba” was a #1 pop hit from the Lou Diamond Philips’ film celebrating Mexican rock pioneer Richie Valens’ life—and pristine folkloric explorations. With The Ride, they call on some old songs of their own and others along with new material and an honor guard of guests that includes Mavis Staples, Elvis Costello, Little Willie G., Bobby Womack (reprising his terse street life portrait “Across 110th Street”), Ruben Blades, Richard Thompson, compadre Dave Alvin and Tom Waits and Martha Gonzalez.
   Cultural hybrids that elevate everything they merge. Must listen.

Surf clothes

Roxy. Lucy Love. Even Lilly Pulitzer’s board shorts. We’re talking athletic ‘cause they’re clothes you can move in, practical ‘cause they wear like iron and are way-easy care, happy ‘cause the prints and colors rock and sexy ‘cause they do what they do - work the curves—without being obvious. Vintage island prints, washed-out and sun-faded solids and a coterie of brights that’ll soak up the sun and never be a hassle to wear. Easy going, a bit of whimsy, but more invoking nature than anything.

Aurora Bakery, Nolensville Road

An unassuming little bakery in a non-descript building. But for Mexican pasteries, it is to die for. The guava filled snowballs of yellow cake rolled in jelly and coconut, empanadas filled with apples and guava and queso, elephant ears that’re sweet and flaky. And they make multi-layered sheet cakes that are have fruit between the layers—covered in confectioner’s sugar sweet icing that is immersion in birthday memories.

Foundation Room, House of Blues Las Vegas

While the utterly scintillating music rooms are on the ground floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel at the far out end of Vegas’ acclaimed strip, the Foundation Room sits at the top of the hotel. With the HoB’s usual mix of outsider folk art, heavy Thai and Voodoo influenced furnishings, black & white portraits of blues legends and icons (and this series was spectacular) and enough velvet to make you feel plush, the Foundation Room Vegas offers a patio just above the glittering letters that affords a view of the whole Strip. You can feel the night air whip around you, pull your wrap a little closer and lean into the ether as you see the pulse of a city who never slips rolling out and away from where you gaze down.
   If you see no beauty in the city of flashing lights and jangling slots, this is removed enough to insulate one from the sensory-slammage and fresh-aired enough to allow clear-headed appreciation of the aesthetics which are pretty one-place-only. Watch the river of decadence flow, see it for the tilt-a-whirl thrill it is in a world where shiny makes crows happy and smile. It is a place all its own, and anyone who’s ever basked in the triumph of individuality can be humbled at least by that.

Big Birthdays

If it ends in an “0,” it’s a major transitional number. Rather than running and hiding, dig in and celebrate: the knowledge, the vision, the understanding, the life lived. Wisdom tempered with grace, infused with humor, maybe even a couple well-earned breaks—the big birthdays should be stood up for and claimed for all their glory—because these are watershed moments that are both acknowledgements of life’s rich pageant to date and doorways to deeper, smarter, more intense adventures, if we’ll just throw our arms around them.