If you wanna understand the verdance of the lushness that is sun and soil and rain brought together, this is the time of the year. Drive where the fields grow high, then are cut down to feed the animals—and inhale green at its headiest. A broad scent that is clean and wide open, that brings you to the earth, but with a strong presence of the sun, this is one of the most dizzying smells ever created.
A lost day with an old friend, who mostly exists in the cybertraffic in my office. A searching read of the sky, the night, the German afternoon, the thrill of music discovered, the quiet of an engine humming. My friend works a mystic tip—knowing no fear because he’s connected to something far greater than the human ratrace. When he returned from his last adventure, he sent me a hawk feather— small and soft, chocolate and black stripes matching. I’ve kept it in my journal. After this last encounter, he gave me a larger feather, more rigid— stronger and set to the task of flying, carrying over the land on currents of air. Holding them, you can feel the power of the sky—the electricity of carrying a truth to another place. Symbolic? I bet like anything.
An American equivalent of Britain’s Lush—home of bath bombs that fizz, amazing soaps that are cut from bricks, talc free dusting powders and “on
ice” beauty potions, Bathos has its packed on ice scrubs and masks in the back. The Pineapple Yippee dissolves dirt, gently eats dead skin, smells pornographically good and won’t upset even the most sensitive skin. No matter what age, what problem, whatever, Pineapple Yippee is a treat that feels good, isn’t too expensive to preclude regular use and isn’t packing your skin with synthetics.
Imagine feeling an affinity to a star in trouble, dashing off a letter of support and finding yourself waist deep in a correspondence that would open up both your world and the famous person’s? It seems the stuff of a streetwise Danielle Steele novel, but for Atlanta’s Angela Ardis, it was an unfolding friendship that was as soul-baring as it was morale-building. With the erotic-bent that only a man deprived can lean towards, the letters, poems, calls and moments—told from the young lady’s perspective - offers a tender, sensual portrait of a man who was one of the OGs. A summer beach read of a whole different color.
Ohmyheavens! Mexican popsicles in every flavor imaginable—and some you’d never even quite get to on your own. Some just fruit, some with cream, some made from other things. What is your wish? Chocolate with chili peppers? Hibiscus flowers? Prune? (don’t scoff, the prune is decadence on a stick) Ginger? Watermelon? Lime? Dulce de leech? Peach? Yogurt with fruit and nuts? And and and AND and… The cold refreshes. The flavors are reduced to their essential nature. It’s being immersed on whatever you select, and the kind of treat that brings one back to life rather than sending you off to the land of nod. Indulge.
Gentle. Quiet. Coaxing. Amidst the cacophony of creation, ideas and chord progressions zooming, there’s an island that is quiet and calm reflection. Looking into that peaceful pool, the answers become obvious. Is he a wizard of suggestion? A Vulcan mindmelder projecting his will? Or such a clear space, he refracts the honesty of the answer. Regardless, the music rises in columns with roots set down in organic beauty, branches reaching for the glory of melodic flourishes, wailing solos, deep sweeping textures that carry the emotions aloft.
Knee high. The dustiest pale pink. Nubuck which isn’t so smooth like leather, but isn’t rough like suede. Matching thread stitching in a gentle pattern around the mouth of the boot. And 3 1/2Â½ stacked wooden heels. If Stevie Nicks created a pair of boots for Emmylou Harris—an understated pair of boots, mind you—during the Roses In The Snow/Blue Kentucky Girl era, these would be them.
The proud cities of the Rust Belt had their economic sanctity tied to these towering, smoking blocks of industry—where fire and flesh and big machines created the steel that served as the backbone for this country. They are toxic for this world, no doubt, but there is a terrible beauty in the desolation that is one of these areas on a Saturday afternoon: railroad tracks veining the concrete to take the goods away, the rippled metal walls and concrete foundations of the older buildings, the fortresses of manufacturing, scraggy weeds pushing up through whatever cracks and cast-off corners they can find. Mad Max—in many ways—before and after.
Sold as a three-pack, it’s a purse-size mascara, a pair of glosses that are golden and deep pink and taste like vanilla and berry and a quad of shimmery light through earthy brown tones of eye shadow. Reasonably priced, you could use these three purse-sized, environmentally-aware packaged products all summer and need nothing else. Oh, if only everything else was so easy!
Stalks stretching for the sky! Floral lava lamps of the most intense colors—every pink, burgundy, blazing crimson, whitest white—on leafy spears that float weightlessly, petals rising and falling on the currents of air. A common flower that once it starts, there’s no stopping it. But why would you want it to?
Common things imbued with larger context dignity, grounded in humanity and offered as balm on nights that are under your skin in the wrong way. Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet as the 19th Century turned into the 20th Century, born in Dayton, Ohio and obscure enough that until I commented on an image in a friend’s e-mail—and they confessed a demi-xerox—I’d never heard of him. Don’t leave it to the chance of metaphor—cause you probably don’t have a friend like the one I have who dropped it—go to the website.
A real live, old school drive-in movie theatre. They only do movies on Friday and Saturday nights—and you have to call to see what’s playing. But the flat-roof snack bar, the grass covered parking lot and the tree lined parameter take you back to a time when drive-ins were big doings!
That voice—dusty muddy roads baked over, parchment pages in a 6th generation Bible, truths that don’t require telling—returns on a self-penned project that’s the kindling of desire waiting to ignite, the madness of doubt and rejection and the righteous reality of feelings felt, no matter what they are. “If I Were An Angel” literally drops a match in a too dry field—all surrender and torture, resignation and the notion we can fly without ever leaving the ground or our sorrow, while the minor key rhapsody “Runaway” haunts like midwinter waves lapping at an abandoned shore and “Stepped Right In It” is the effervescence of jubilation at what love’s found. There’s harrowment (“Where’s The Boy”), raw want (“You Made My Skin Burn”), contentment (“Still Warmed By The Thrill”) and the joy of giving it away (“Just To See You Smile”).
On a flight back from Cleveland, washed in the blood of spontaneous rock & roll combustion two nights in a row, delighted exhaustion tangled in my hair, tears rolled down my cheeks. Not sorrow, not anguish, just the release of 48 hours well lived—and the gratitude for being able to connect to life on that level: pure, deep, there.
Michael Wurster represents the best of the American dream: a second generation family business owner. Always busy. Always solid. Always able to figure out how to look at your car if you’ve got a long road trip, but just as importantly, concerned about how to keep your car in working order at an affordable rate. And when you’ve got a car of German or British persuasion, most dealers just don’t care that much. A bit of a drive, but utterly worth having people who give a damn be the ones to tell you “it looks good,” because you know they mean it.
In theory, this is common ingredient spell-binding—and if you go in for that sort of thing, sure, okay. But it’s also a pretty easy way to create bath salts, incense, creams and essential oils that smell good and increase supple skin, mental serenity or acuity and a good solid dose of Martha Stewart without her preening prissiness. Great fun. Better projects for a group. Amazing gifts. And no matter what you like, there’s something there to enchant you.
In the world of uber-conservativism—due in part to the polarization of prayer in school, choice = murder, gun control flying in the face of the Constitution—being a liberal isn’t quite as sexy as it is on the coast. But this year, as many of country music’s biggest stars co-opt patriotism in the unstated game of commercialism, there’s been a recoil. Several very brave industry leaders have banded together to serve as a place that Democrats, humanists and people who want a slightly more conscionable government than is currently in power can band together in the name of increased momentum. Whether they change the ruling party or not isn’t even the point, it’s creating a place where the Democratic platform can be discussed and understood from a place of information rather than derision—thereby equipping my kind to be better educated going into the jingoistic dogma that is often the bedrock of country conservatives. www.musicrowdemocrats.com
He’s back. And it looks ever better than last time. Toby McGuire representing the “Superhero” in all of us, so gawkily bones and limbs; Kirsten Dunst all hope and desire and decency, not quite sure why her heart has led her down a dark road. And the villain—the bionic scorpion with no scruples. It’s a metaphoric battle against the dark side that can be translated to wherever we need it. I can’t wait.
A friend of a friend asked me to speak at an Al-Anon meeting in a women’s prison. I didn’t know what to say. I did it anyway. In theory, I had nothing in common with those 50 women. In reality, we all face circumstances that’re bigger than we are. In that recognition of the commonality, everyone—but especially me—grew. Profound and powerful—from a very humble place. If you serve when called, you’ll be shocked at what happens.
The best use of neoprene ever—and the quickest return ramp to being 13 and in the sway of the day EVER! You lace up those ankle high skates (or blades), and just bend your knees, let your shoulders roll in time, the laughter pouring out of you as the polyurethaned floor falls beneath the wheels. Michael Jackson. Disco. Fleetwood Mac. Foreigner. It all sounds fresh when it blares out under the mirror ball and flashing colored lights.
In Iowa, people learn to be kind, respect each other and observe that which you will not comment on. It’s with a rabid eye that Dan Colehour paints pictures of losers, down’n'outers, the damned, in addition to dreamers, believers, hard-won blue collar people getting by and the occasional twilighter finding magic in their golden years. If Eudora Welty were to write songs—whether the honor-bound gentle man who kills to avenge his girl’s name (“Outlaw For Sure”), the undulating thrill of finding the one (“Something About What Happens”), the solace of a farmer’s wife (“Still Your Ruth”) or the innocent man flung against a need for justice, even if its misplaced (“Another Man’s Crime)—Dan Colehour’s ripped pages from hard lives fully-inhabited are just the cure. With John Prine’s eye for detail and utter humanity, Colehour has a voice that is trust personified—and a band that’s loose-jointed rock’n'roll. Produced by Frank Liddell (the man behind Chris Knight’s acclaimed debut) and guitar witch David Grissom, this is a National Geographic program about the people usually reserved for Norman Mailer’s non-glam reportage. A record you won’t hear about, but must have!
You know the moment—there you are, making your way across or through a sea of bestilled cars, and you hear your voice. Always someone you haven’t seen for too long—or just the person you were meaning to call. It’s serendipity on the pavement: parking lot rendezvous, standing there, talking about nothing and everything. Catching up in the middle of the afternoon, as the evening melts into tomorrow. And the longer you stand there, the freer the conversation gets. Pretty heady stuff.
The Executive Director of Amnesty International proves you don’t have to condone that which is oppressive, but you do have to remain respectful of the dignity inherent in all humans. For to lose that is to lose your own. As he said, “You need not love your enemies. You certainly ought not to allow them to harm you. But you risk your own destruction if you deprive them of their most basic dignity. What could possess young Americans to hold someone under water until he almost drowned? To sic dogs on naked cowering prisoners? The soldiers had no training, we are told, but what training ought we need to reject such behavior other than the training we ought to have received at our mothers’ or fathers’ knees?” Amen.
Emerald green. Pale rose. Cream. With lace that almost looks vintage. Cut to accentuate the swells, swelling to forgive the bulge (should that be applicable). Feminine and sexy with class and a certain chic. As yummy with jeans and a sweater as under a suit—and relatively affordable, as these sort of Everyluxe material might dictate.
From July 26-31, teenage girls will converge on Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro to get their chops kicked up a notch, take workshops on zeen creating, DIY stuff, live and recorded sound, band photography and most importantly songwriting. With a keynote address from Rockrgrl founder/publisher Karla DeSantis and panelists tackling everything from activism in music to starting your own record label, the revvvvvvolution could well begin here. Run by volunteers—and lending instruments to the young ladies who don’t have their own—this is the best $100 an aspiring rock star could drop this summer. Gets the girls off the bench and onto the bandstand where they belong!
Very VERY grown up. The clearest elixir—raspberry vodka, a hint of chambord, heaven knows what else—comes iced down in the classic martini glass. But what really makes this feel like the freshest, earthiest, most grounded in the-bounty-of-the-picking drink ever are the three perfect, plump raspberries floating in the glass. The juxtaposition of three peak berries with this very potent cocktail creates a paradox worth noting. And ordering.
There is no greater luxury. Good sheets. Cool room. Dark Shades. ZZZZZZZZZZ…...
Not as dried out and gnarly as the crumbly crackers foisted upon us in kindergarten. These little morsels of almost cinnamon-tasting snacking delight are a whimsical bit of little kid in a very grown-up day. Tiny enough a few can be consumed without guilt, they restore a sense of not-so-seriousness to days spent commuting. First encountered on Southwest, I’ve taken to buying them for the house—mixing them into plain yogurt, nibbling a couple before bed, and yes, even handing Zelda the occasional “people treat.”
My dear littlest brother—the one with the gift to blow up any moment, any time, anywhere and transform it into something better, more, fun— decided to do something grown-up. A Peter Pan of the first order, no formal education, just a life lived on tour buses amidst musicians and stage hands, he took to the studying in serious commitment. And if it was flexing strange muscles, he just kept at it.
“Seven Year Itch” on shore leave. “Seven Year Ache” in raw silk and chiffon. Rarely has a dress personified sex to this level. Boutiques are in New York and Los Angeles, but lots of store carry the line. With this dress you won’t ever need a whip and a map to their door; they’ll stalk you and surrender gladly.
Pressure. Deadlines. Now. NownowNOW. For every coil, there must be a recoil. It’s being able to let yourself blow off that steam which is the sweetest re-set button ever. Sure, you could just go home, mow the grass, do the laundry. But isn’t it more fun to let your hair down? Surrender to the night? Shoot out the lights? Do something crazy? It’ll keep you young long after everyone forgot what the rush was all about.