The Yummy List


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

July 2008

July 2008: I Left Most of My Heart In San Francisco Edition

Seal Rock Restaurant @ Seal Rock Inn, 545 Point Ave, San Francisco

Before Beat Culture was franchised, this is the sort of old school joint where the unlikely would turn up. Out of the way, formica tables, ’50s food with a lean towards the Mediterrean, tucked into the ground floor of a small hotel that caters to European tourists on “plans.” Beyond the obvious time warp effect, though, there is the view - a panoramic sweep across the street, down the rocky tumble to the sea coastline and out across the vast Pacific.

Seal Rock Restaurant is frozen and fluid. It is Hawaiian Burgers (ham, swiss and pineapple) and cottage cheese on the side. It is “ladies lunch” portions. Just as importantly, it is classic American food that sticks to the soul from the good honest kitchen more than the fancy elevated ingredient recastings of the food so many Betty Crocker Moms once made.

Inspiration Point, the Presidio San Francisco

Every town has their highest point, their majestic view. It’s all about taking your breath away. And in San Francisco, it is as much about how farflung that ocean can be as it is grand old trees with the sweeping branches and thick thick trunks, the jagged craggy rocks and ledges that drop down to the beach and a sky that just keeps rising up.

There on the swung out road that winds around the Presidio and its attendant park is Inspiration Point, with its waist-high concrete wall to create a barrier to lean against as you reach towards the brink of whatever it might be. It’s a great big world; to experience its vastness, one need only to stand here and gaze, dream, believe in the possibilities.

With a coterie of all kinds: a jazz guitarist, young lovers, older people remembering when, a couple rastas playing hacky sack, it’s not a rainbow coalition, but more a reminder that the world isn’t monochromatic but rather a rich cocktail of flavors to be savored each to itself for a complex alchemy of the spirit.

“The Love Guru”

The reviews were awful. The Eastern-philosophy-spirituality-self-help-movement almost too ripe for the skewering. The physical humor almost beneath pratfall. And yet… Yet… in a world where irony is sliding into cynicism, there is a sweetness to Mike Myers little movie that didn’t quite that makes me bessech you to go have the kind of laugh that is stupid and dumb and — ultimately — reaffirming.

I went. I ended up being that person. The one who can’t stop laughing to the point where you’re annoyed, only even that doesn’t stop them. They just keep laughing at every too-obvious punchline, every site gag, every musical cue that ripples with absolute jackhammered soft-cell. And then everyone else in the theatre starting laughing, too. Because once you let go of the intellectual flex and just surrender to the inanity, it is funny… and escapist… and dear. A comedy for the days you don’t even know why you bother… and just need to giggle.

Farleys 1315 18th Street, San Francisco

On a tilted street of basic storefronts, this little jewel of a newsstand/coffeehouse sits. A clean well-lighted place, perhaps not of Hemingway proportions, and yet… white walls, local handbills, organic everything and the sort of roasted and blended caffination that makes the Starbucks nation an abomination. Italian sodas. Sandiwches and sweet things. Hours can melt over tabletops while talk moves from the Giants’ road streak to romantic tides, records no one remembers to books everyone should read.

It is the languid passage of interchange between people, the dynamic of time spent with intent, even as its idly invested in self. Once upon a time, coffeehouses were cool for all these reasons, and at Farleys, it remains so. Like a local bar, it has all the cache without the neon or the jukebox.

Calla Lillies

It is the promise of a graceful open space. Rolled up — all snowy white on an emerald stem like some hand-turned Cuban cigar — and yet so succulently floral. They are the essence of Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings, sensual to the point of merging the sexes in on lean bloom, yet also innocent in its freshness.

An armful of Calla lilies, so much the embodiment of the Southwest. Of Frida Kahlo and even Diego Riviera, and yet… One single Calla lily, tied with a bow, remains perhaps the most perfect bridal bouquet ever. To capture the imagination with a flower that is simple and perfect is inspiration in its truest form.

Old Jukeboxes

Something about the neon that seems alive. The sound of the records hitting the turntable, the needle hissing on the vinyl. Maybe it’s truly old school, vintage recordings — suitable to the era — or maybe it’s a personal statement of what makes the owner’s personal sonic statement. But there is a sense of memories made, moments shared, songs sung and the heat of another’s body pulled close.

If old jukeboxes could talk, oh, the stories they’d tell. As it is, just standing motionless before the glass , considering all the slabs of black plastic grooved to capture songs you know and love or treasure to discover, you can almost feel what has been witnessed by that jewel-toned Wurlitzer or whatever.

Slackonomics Isa Chamberlain

Somewhere between the Boom and the X, many economic principles that seemed unassailable eroded, imploded or just plain got outmoded. But in clinging to what we’ve been to conditioned to believe, a dissonance settled between the classic build a career and a new era of greed and fulfillment. Though the greed was more the result of those who don’t understand innovations throwing money at whatever (dot.coms, real estate) in an attempt to dominate.

Slackonomics — written by a former alt weekly editor in a voice that is just how your friends would tell you if they’d done the homework — examines not just the professional/societal/cultural disconnect, the realities that are shaping the future of how Gen X shapes and deals with financial insecurity and the unique reasons they marry, breed, seek satisfaction and realize a life beyond the grooved expectations of a nation in transition

At a time when everything is changing, clinging to what was — as the models, truths and security are eroding — is suicidal. While this is not for all, the insight is invaluable, and the quick readability is as entertaining as it is engaging. Genius. Provocative. Wonderful.

Pencil Cactus

Emerald coral, twined and reaching higher. A succulent, there is a sense of lushness to this water-once-a-week wonder. Yet, it evokes the branches of the oceans flaming orange calcium build-up with that same graceful reach. Easy to maintain, suggesting the sea and the lawn tucked in a corner of your living room, the bend in a stairway or punctuating a hall.

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.” n Zora Neale Hurston

It is your truth — and it burns to come out. The things that have brought you, the forces that shaped you, the moments that defined you, the realizations you live by. Especially the ones you don’t like to look at, to think about, to dwell on. That which you suppress represses you - and the agony comes in waves that seem to have no connection.

We are as engaging as what we share. The things that we run from are usually the ones that make us so much more than than the white noise of a humanity desperate to fit in, blend, get by. Whatever it is, get it out… make us all more, inspired by your strength and your grace and your beauty.

Real Animal Alejandro Escovedo

Urgency with the kind of melodies that graft punk euphoria with the swooping pop harmonies that steeped the Ramones, Blondie, even the Pretenders with an infectiousness that made the feistiness of insurrection somehow endearing. A barking pledge of desire’s fidelity “Wasn’t I Always A Friend To You” pushes the pieces into some kind of fortress of what it takes, while the serpentine “Chelsea Hotel 78” with its sinister bass creep, acid guitar twirls and frantic beat capture a time when NYC was too alive, too raw, too available to all sorts of thrills and misadventures or the girl group elation, ardent harmony vocals and Duane Eddy-esque tremelo guitar of “Sister Lost Soul” or the farfisa-laced new wave moment in time Polaroid that’s “Nun’s Song.”

The flat voice of a weather-beaten stucco wall, there’s the unblinking witness to all that’s passed before, beneath and beyond Escovedo, the anchor of the white light roots-punks True Believers that sings in a no frills baritone that doesn’t judge, but does carry large quantities of emotion without bravado. But it’s on the plangent “Sensitive Boys” that the ache of a rager’n’raver emerges, while the almost weightless elegy of “Hollywood Hills” drifts in a sanguine pool of what was that Escovedo’s pining ardor is its most ear-catching, near Zevon-esque vulnerability. Tenderness on the block - and beyond.

Relaxation Response Herbert Benson + Miriam Klipper

Meditation without the cosmic hippie/religious overtones. Breathing, clearing the mind, letting go of the chaos and overstimulation that is the rush-rush of modern American culture. This is a simple program that requires tremendous discipline. To sit still, silent, to drop all need to think, to consider, the remember, to deal… It’s harder than it sounds.

And even when you have that moment of dissolving into that electric being/nothingness, you will snap back to with a “Got it” most likely. To exhale, to say “thinking,” to try to relax and return to that state. The more you do, the longer you stay - and the fresher, smarter, clearer, more vital you’ll feel.

Crushes Just Cause

Sometimes it’s just good for the soul… A flirty little fixation, a cute boy, a girl with a single dimple. Whomever they are, for whatever reason they catch your fancy, there they are. Nothing more to be done than to surf the crush, play with the moments of engagement like a cat with dust diamonds in a ray of languid sunshine. The pulse races a little, the smile is its own reward. Nothing more required beyond remembering how innocent bliss can be. Indeed, leave it in all its total crush glory, and there’s no need to crush the rush of the flutter of a certain someone who is plenty just on their own.

Pear and Tomato Gazpacho Fido, Nashville, TN

It seemed strange. Pears? In Gazpacho? The spicy cold tomato-based soup of Spanish origin? With fruit? But the chef - who had just returned from Barvelona - assured me it was going to be delicious. Served with a small dollop of cucumber sorbet. And it was…
The contrast between the earthy sweetness and the piquant spices were the perfect foil for heirloom tomatoes that matched the red vine fruit’s acidity and fleshiness with a slightly soil-grounded sweetness of its own. Never in a million years would I have thought, yet the taste is not to be forgotten.

ATH-M50 Headphones Audio Technica

They are the best of what sound can be - in a range that people who aren’t audiophiles or studio mongers can invest in. At a time where sonics are a lost commodity - because, tragically, I-Pods and computers do not carry warmth or nuance, but more the framework of the recording - the ATH-M50s get the best out of whatever’s been recorded.

Not quite a return to the dope-smoking Dark Side of the Moon exploratories of a certain kind of youth, but a definite open window on the subtleties of CDs, the thin layers, the way a vocal might break or fluctuate, the tiny jaggedness in a guitar’s tone. It all emerges in these headphones, which also go miles to eradicate the extraneous environmental noise that can also overwhelm one’s listening experience. The kind of investment you won’t understand until these nuancical gardens of sound and song begin to open wide inside your ears. Just listen…

1969 Pontiac 350 Convertible

An impossible blue… if sapphires were turquoise, original upholstery, chrome bumpers. Under the hood, that low rumble that says, “The road… is… mine…” And it is. Yes, there are technically sexier cars - flossier, glossier… and absolutely, more expensive cars: Bentleys. Ferraris, and mondo-Mercedes and all sorts of Lotus- type machinery, but this is the kind of car that real people drive.

Suspended on a sunny afternoon, light on your skin, wind in your hair, there is nothing else you could want. Time opens and takes you wherever you want to go… down the oceanline, through city streets, site-seeing through glorious neighborhoods in a rolling architectural dig. In a car like this, there is nothing else, not does there need to be.

Everything I Intended It To Be Emmylou Harris

With the silvery, slivery moon of a voice, Emmylou Harris has been a star for souls sad, torn, worn and weary as well as ether-light from elation to steer by for the past three decades, and in many ways, this elegant collection of songs weaves her past into whole cloth and casts an eye to what the future of quality music based on vulnerability, dignity and emotional clarity can be.

Songs by Mark Germino, Tracy Chapman, Merle Haggard, Patty Griffin, John Wesley Routh and Billy Joe Shaver sit beside Harris originals - two co-written with Kate and Anna McGarrigle - and remind the listener about the potency of well-turned songs. Working with producer Brian Ahearn, from the glory days of Harris’ Hot Band tenure, the guests range from Dolly Parton to the Seldom Scene’s Mike Auldridge, Karen Brooks. Mary Ann Kennedy and Pam Rose amd Little Feat’s Bill Payne, Harris emerges as an artist committed to exploring the less obvious paths to reveal the sentiments that ripple and provide the electrical current that drives lives being truly inhabited and engaged in.

20 Ounces of Water To Start The Day… 20 To End It, If You Can Tolerate It

All the talk of detoxing… chemicals and toxins… The expensive cocktails, the extreme programs… Maybe it doesn’t have to be quite so difficult. Maybe it’s just giving our body the tools it needs to do what it was set here to go…
Twenty ounces of water, chugged down. Before you put anything else in your system. Before you brush your teeth. Almost before you breathe. Get up, get it down. Let the free passage and the amount of water wash through your system like white water surging to its logical conclusion. By flooding the digestive track, especially on a regular schedule, you practically pressure clean everything from your stomach on down… and if you can stomach the twenty ounces before bedtime, you’re loading up your natural detox efforts with the clean, clear water that is essential for the function fixing to be functioned.

Pretty simple stuff, but pretty effective. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to work.

Writing by Candlelight

In that glowing darkness, not quite invisible, one’s flaws fade just enough… It is harder to torment oneself about the slight mistakes, awkward spots and rough patches. Instead, there is a dreamy romantic shimmer to the flicker that offers up the light you can work by. Different heights, in glass or just waxen pillars - the flames slowly melting each as the words pour from you.

Whatever it is you need to say, there is no more welcoming way to do it.

Spicy Infused Vodka Bloody Mary South Congress Cafe, 1600 Congress Ave, Austin, TX

In a world where nothing is ever truly original, they infuse their vodka with chilis and jalapenos, giving the classic Bloody Mary a whole other kind of zip. Snappy, kicky, POW! WOW! Good morning comes with all the vegetative nourishment that a good Bloody Mary should pack. But then, there’s just a little bit… positively addictive, and perfectly complimentary to the Tex/Mex down home menu.

Lucky Pup 1200 Villa Place, Nashville, TN

For pampered pets, this is a one stop luxe bed, bath and beyond for pups of all sizes. Whether it’s a fancy collar, a functional leash, clothes for canine dress up, all natural treats, special grooming products or the perfect toy, if Lucky Pup doesn’t have it, they’ll do everything in their power to help you find it.

With DIY dog washing - in raised tubs with purified water, organic shampoos, hair dryers - this is the way to clean your dog without turning your home into a post-cyclone towel’n’puddle proposition. On Thursdays and Saturdays, they’re even doing the bathing for you. A must for the pet spoiler within.

Rocky Road Bars

Whipped marshmallow fluff is covered in milk chocolate with bits of cashews added in for good measure. Locally made — in San Francisco — this West Coast-based candy bar is one of those not preservative-laded confections that can be sticky and gooey, yet airy enough to not weigh you down because it is so fresh.

No substitute for quality ingredients rendered by the people who’ve owned the business for years, Rocky Road Bars - with dark chocolate and mint variations - prove that drug store candy doesn’t have to be a plastic waxy sucrose/corn syrup glob of diabetic coma. This is sweet enough, chocolate enough and melt in your mouth enough to remind you just why candy bars caught on in the first place.,1-0,rocky_road_bars,FF.html

Neil Young cover story Mojo

Iconoclastic, yet always a true believer, Neil Young has defied convention and trends since joining the Mynah Byrds with Rick James… and along the way, he’s conjured a back-to-nature folkie/songwriter aesthetic, a raucous garage band with Crazy Horse, computer generated, rockabilly, country and concept forays. But the one constant has been the Canadian-born’n’raised musician’s steadfast commitment to world truth as he sees it.

Beyond his work for family-based agriculture - through Farm Aid - and taking special education into a personal space — his storied Bridge School benefits — Young has never been afraid to sound off on the state of America. Casr against the Berlin Film Festival debut of “CSNY Déjà Vu,” which documented their 2006 Freedom of Speech Tour, Young considers America’s place in the world, the war being waged, what it all means and the reality of whether music can change the modern world. Provocative reading from a man who’s not afraid to call it as he sees it, to commit to his viewpoints and also to realistically consider where we go from here.

“I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.” n Vincent Van Gogh

He is right, you know. Everything is relative, except for the way the stars make you feel. So far away, yet winking and twinkling right where you can see’em. The stars — cast against that black velvet night sky — impossibly wonderful and as dream-inciting as anything. They beckon and say, “What is it you can only embrace in the darkness? Bring it out. Let it eat.”

And so, whatever it is, look at the stars and hold it close. Let it loose. Let it fly.

Lime Mint Mojito, Adina Organics

Wildly tart. Incredibly minty cool. Without the whiplashing sugar jag of the Cuban rum drink — there is no muddling involved here — this is the quick fix pick-me-up that is a slightly lime-ier take on the classic cocktail that is guzzle-ready, Vitamiin C-ladden and thirst quenching like crazy. With smart waters, pasteurized smoothies and all sorts of juice boxes, this feels somehow lighter, fresher and snappier. If you see it in your grocers refrigerated section, a deli or sandwich counter, make it your first choice… Beyond the digestif properties, it’ll leave you feeling just the way you’d think one of these sort of drinks ought to.

Little Dipping Donuts Weekend Brunch, BrickTops

Imagine a slightly loftier beignets. Or a lighter elephant ear. Rolled in sugar crystals. Served like some kind of yeasty sweet calamari with a raspberry reduction, impossibly thick warm chocolate ganache and a vanilla sauce for the dipping. Thin little mini-donuts. Perfect to dunk in coffee. To enjoy with your Sunday morning mimosa or as a punctuation to any number of omelettes or benedicts.

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon + The Journey of a Generation n Shiela Weller

Beyond the tragically top-heavy title, the notion of feminine boheme freespirit and consequence makes this a bit of a family values cautionary tale. It’s also a bedpost notcher that would be redolent of bravado or at least putting those double X chromosomes to a more better use, except that the sex usually comes with a back story that is of being cast aside. Perhaps it is the hero’s journey, sown with betrayal of the heart. But regardless, the candor embraced - and note that only Carly Simon spoke to Weller - isn’t one of freewheeling moments and happy endings.

So, why then? Perhaps because these three women were endemic of an age where the possibilities seemed endless, the rules changing. In that anything’s possible era, three women wrote songs that scraped their distaff side of their generation’s - and several generations to come - at times conflicting experiences, aspirations, dreams and disappointments. The lives they led were often tangles, the choices made telling in terms of how their success and happiness played out… and like their music, often the stories reflect not just a prototype dynamic for women of their era, but enough of the fantasy of bold faced lovers, sold-out crowds, acclaimed recordings and the opportunity to see how it all plays out.

(Telling) Secrets with Purpose

Sometimes it’s not just for the power of others not knowing… Sometimes for a purpose or protection… and sometimes a revelation to share the kinetic connection and forge a deeper kind of bond. Secrets that are about something wonderful, that are shared for support, for the thrill, for the moment are the sweetest truth of all - and it is in both knowing the difference and choosing the reasons to share for something other than glory that make them the fuel dreams run on. In a world of an almost gynecologic letting it all hang out, mystery may be the most romantic thing of all.

Backyard Gardens

There are a million reasons why we can’t… not enough room, not enough light, not enough water, not enough enough. But in a humble plot behind a basic house on Rhode Island in the Castro Hill section of San Francisco, there is a slice of Eden. Fruit trees and pepper plants, potatoes and tomatoes and cucumbers. Lots of lettuce and radishes and berry bushes. And then there are the flowers.

To have a refuge, a sanctuary in the midst of urban reality, it doesn’t take nearly what you think. A few plantings, the willingness to nurture, a sense of communing with the earth. A staggering site there in one of the most urbane cities in America, so welcoming, so alive, so romp and appreciate this basic beauty. And all you have to do is start with a little and see where it grows.

Mary’s Gone Crackers Black Peper or Caraway

Wheat-free, gluten-free major crunchy crackers that are made from whole grain brown rice, organic quinoa - a high protein grain, flax and brown sesame seeds. Crispy, with enough body to handle toppings or dips, yet thin enough to crumble on salads or into soups, Mary’s Gone Crackers are delicious on their own. In the spicy Black Pepper or rye bread-invoking Caraway, even more flavor.

Plank Position

An almost perfect exercise. Arms straight down to elbows, extended flat with hands out, raise the body up and balance on one’s toes. With your body making a straight line, parallel to the floor, all the core muscles engage - and time begins moving at a far slower rate. Still to strengthen up, to lean up, to get your trunk, along with thigh and butt muscles, engaged, this is an easy to execute move that shows you just how strong your body really is.

Thirty, forty seconds to start, slowly build up your endurance. The longer you can hold it, the better support your organs and spine will enjoy. And it’s so basic, you need nothing to do this - beyond enough room to stretch your body out.

“Wild Mountain Honey” Steve Miller Band

One of those songs you’re sure you know… until you listen again. Is that… an electric sitar? Something that sounds so majestically otherworldly… yet plugged in? That swirly melodic line that is positively raw silk paisley, nubby and transfixingly, complicatedly beautiful? The vocals not exactly trippy, but fluid enough to expand into whatever interpretation of a pretty cosmic lyric.

There were hits on Fly Like An Eagle. Arena rock anthems perfect for both the freeform AOR FM outposts of the day and the hook-grooved mono AM radio that still rocked many a family vehicle. But “Wild Mountai Honey” was different, deeper in a metaphysical way… and if you stepped back from the cool moistness of the track, there was a definite zen consideration going on. This wasn’t a hippie love song, so much as an exploration of what things truly have value, the quest for more, especially of a tangible nature missing the pier by mountains.
Go back. Listen — preferably with headphones. Be moved by the confluence of music, metaphor and message. Heady stuff, indeed.

Random Kerouac

Pick your moment. Grab your quote. It’s like an 8 Ball of beat. And if you just keep clicking, something that works will always come up. As a last resource to look a bit more hip than average hipster, this is the kinda pocketknife that just keeps cuttin’ through the hubris.

Good-Bye 21st Century David Browne

In so many ways, they were the post-punk, post-art standard setters. Never truly broken through, ever pragmatic about business, always willing to push when others would’ve backed down, Sonic Youth - Thurston Moore, Lee Renaldo, Kim Gordon and a rotating cast of 4th members — created music that while not always accessible was personally reflective of the things they believed in. Willing to do without, yet not willing to be slaves to being cool, they championed Nirvana, blurred lines between fashion and music and labels.

Entertainment Weekly longtime critic — and Music Sound Output editor with a vision — David Browne understands what a band can mean. Using that filter to tell the story, to reveal the choices, to explain the reasons and ultimately to celebrate the band that influenced so many others, he’s written a book that stands as a witness to how it works, why things fail and standing by one’s decisions. Even if you’re not a fan it’s an amazing look at the geography of underground in the bright lights, and absolutely instructive in its thoroughness of dynamics musical, personal, industry political and beyond.

Chili Cheese Chicken Paul Prudhomme version

Rib-sticking fricassee that is as tangedelic as it is comforting. Somewhere between creamed chicken and Texas, this is a slow cooked deeply satisfying meal that uses chicken pieces on the bone, plenty of peppers, just enough cheese to give the sauce body — and a reason to wipe the plate clean with a torn off chunk of good sourdough bread. Mmmmmmm…

Cactus Café University of Texas, Austin, Texas

It is an almost British looking, Goth leaning room, and yet… The brightest story-telling, singer/songwriter voices of the past quarter century have some through there. Lyle Lovett. Lucinda Williams. Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Joe Ely. Nanci Griffith. James McMurtry. Alejandro Escovedo. Butch Hancock. Tish Hinojoa. Elyza Gilkyson. Rodney Crowell. Guy Clark. Townes Van Zandt.

As unassuming as it is, it’s the last of dying kind of venue: a place you can trust. Any night, you know the music will be good, smart, organic. Maybe you won’t know who it is or what it grounds in, but you will know that you will be enriched for listening. If you’re in Austin, seek it out…

Seeing Through The Spin

There is how it’s told, and there is how it is. A bit of gray between the two… but more the fog of not plugging in. It takes awareness and paying attention to get beyond the blaring “talk points,” the shading of what someone wants you to perceive and believe, and yet… yet, without seeing through the spin, we are lost to a life lived at the mercy of someone else’s agenda, and that may well be an agenda or perspective that doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

As a dear friend emblazons all of their CD packaging: It’s Your World. Pay Attention.

Coconut Lime Moisturizing Shave Cream (in the Tube) Alba

It is like a Key West/Caribbean vacation in a tube. Thick, lathery more than foamy, smelling like the kind of drink that evokes happy hour or soignée under the moonlight’n’palm tree foxtrotting, Alba’s environmentally sounder shaving cream is a way to dodge nicks and sink into a more indulgent frame of mind than the traditional swipe’n’rush of leg shaving on the go. Spring break in your shower…

Rearview Mirror Tears Kendel Carson

Canadian fiddler Kendel Carson is a 23 year old with a stoneware soprano that can wink and sob as needed, and her ability to deliver a song that is honest and grounded in how it is to be coming of age outstrips her tender years by easily a decade. Not since Allison Krauss has a young woman emerged who can embrace traditional forms with a shine that transcends the Smithsonian aspect of mining a genre that’s well-entrenched in its classic forms.

Whether it’s the wryly real life “I Like Trucks,” the wistful want of “I’m A Child All Over Again,” the lusty romantic pragmatism of “Ain’t That A Sun” or the stoically aching “Ribbons & Bows,” Rearview Mirror Tears owns the reality of how it is to be growing up in the 21st century. Produced by Chip Taylor, who also spotted songstress/violinst Carrie Rodgriguez years ago, the Canadian fiddler is given a bed of basic turpentined country, plucky folk and enough songwriter confessionals that she almost seems like the female Elvis Costello of My Age Is True vintage.
As a new voice to pat attention to, this is a must hear. To romp, to weep, the seek: it’s all here.

Star Crispies Little Debbie

Chocolate, caramel and rice crispies… Little patties of snacky yumminess. Slightly sticky, definitely chewy, just sweet enough, yet with the buttery confection that gives a richness to the cocoa essence that is run of the mill chocolate. This is not high end stuff, but it’ll make you smile, feel grounded, remember your days of grade school snacks.

Backyard Gardens

There is a plot of dirt available, humble yet fertile. What is it you wish to grow? To consumer? Tomatoes? Peppers? Lettuce? Dig a little. Get some garbage bags for insulation and bug protection; cut a few holes and let those seedlings grow.

In the heart of cosmopolitan San Francisco, in a relatively established neighborhood, there is a veritable truck stand taking root. A demi-orchard flowering into fruit. Calla lilies and small French blossoms tossing along the edges and lavender scenting the air. It is verdance and fecundity at its best… and it’s a small amount of space yielding a major personal harvest.

Grace Potter Live

With festival season upon us, there is no more juicy proposition than the B-3 pounding Potter, equal parts Jessica Rabbit, Gregg Allman a couple octaves higher and irreverent firebrand. With her three fellow musicians, the Nocturnals bring a euphoria to the jam band nation - strong, long on the downstroke and precise when it comes to the beat.

Potter is the girl who hurls herself at that keyboard, downstrokes to eradicate no good men, wails because anything less would be pulling light. At a time when musical frenzy seems too chaotic and restraint is its own reward, the Nocturnals don’t just play with matches, they set entire set lists ablaze with sex, want, reckoning and the kind of truth in the moment that leaves everything in its wake naked and clamoring for more.

Mixing It Up: Taking on Media Bullies & Other Reflections Ishmael Reed

Black poet/essayist Ishmael Reed is a thinking man grounded in African American intellectualism. A clear thinker who’s not afraid to see what may well jar the status quo, he is an eloquent analyst looking at media filters, cultural bias and the agendas no one wants to own.

With the nation’s first black Presidential candidate - Barack Obama, who is the subject of the collection’s final essay - creating a whole new realm of discussion about unspoken racism in America, this is a penetrating look at how, why, what and whom. To agree or to not agree isn’t so much the issue as considering a perspective largely obscured by an intellectual brain trust invested in their “how it is.”

Well-written and challenging, this collection is guaranteed to incite provocative conversations any time it, or the points made, are raised. Consider it understanding a certain flavor of bias so that one can find their own level in much of the cacophony to come.

Zelda Smiles

She is a happy dog, Quick to wag her little Cocker Spaniel tail, always thrilled when you walk in the door. But there is more. Those moments when she looks into your eyes, opens her mouth and literally lets the edges curl up. She is smiling, big and bright and wide. Any doubt about her joy, diminished in the expression on her face! Zelda smiles. No, really.

Figs and Dark Chocolate

Simple, yet decadent. A good quality bittersweet chocolate bar - the higher the cocoa percentage, the better - and the kind of fresh dried figs you can find in any health food market. As simple as a little piece of chocolate and a bite of the still moist fruit together. They merge and mingle and compliment each other with a slightly chewy, slightly melty richness that is neither cloying, nor overwhelming.

An easy culmination of a summer dinner. Perfect with a port… or green tea.

“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world

It’s not the decibels or the platform. Indeed, the inverse these days seem to be true: the blaring, blathering reality of our ratings starved/dependent news systems has created a screeching dynamic more interested in the sexiness of what’s being proclaimed than the reasoning, reporting and responsibility behind it. At a time when so much lies in the balance, fear mongering and sensation, distrust and distortion is being used to keep people from turning their head away - and that hostage-taking of your conscious, all in the name of ratings and ad revenue, inculcates what we’re told with a price upon your head.

Listen closer. Consider deeper. Dig further. Believe that there’s more to it. And find the voices that aren’t so insistent, so veneer. Somewhere in that quiet blanket of knowing is a truth that speaks to a larger, more informed sense of where you need to be. You just need to be still to listen for it.