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

September 2008

September 2008: Prada Lace Dresses, I. Flathead, FlowerMart RIP + The Fabulous Stains

Beets, the New Spinach

No, really. The New York Times said so. After being assured they were all sugar, now we find out the root vegetable not only wallops antioxidants, the deepest purplest vegetable in the garden also provides all sorts of meaningful benefits. Roasted, pickled, cold or hot as soup, even shredded in muffins, this is one of those convertible foods that can be lotsa things in different guises.

Flower Mart, RIP Hillsboro Pike, Green Hills

A local flower and garden supply store. They have sold me my geraniums and pansies every year since I bought my house in 1993 - and have sent many a flower arrangement to my front door. They were the place to go for tulip bulbs, orchid meal, terra cotta pots and plants as exotic as you might wish. They had herbs, trees, any number of tools and soil additives, but even more importantly, there was a love of all things growing and the will to share that passion with you.

When buying peonies this year, the man explained the thick droopy blooms that are the embodiment of nature’s luxe blossom won’t appear the first year, should be covered during the winter and require nothing too strenuous - a relief as my gardening skills are tenuous at best. When I went back for the closing sale, he asked if I got them in the ground okay, and I replied that I had. “Good roots, that’s the secret,” he smiled… letting me know it would be years of beautiful flowers.

A casualty of the economic contraction and falter, I’m going to miss them very much.

Cowgirl w. a 6-shooter in her Back Pocket Tattoo

My friend doesn’t have it yet, but she speaks of this tattoo with a whimsical smile that is more promise than taunt. The idea of the cutest Vargas cowgirl - with braids or pigtails - looking over her red & white checkered shoulder at you, hip-cocked holster out. It’s not that she’s gonna use it, but more that you know that she can.

In life, it’s not about threatening. It’s knowing how to deliver when you have to. When people know you know how, they take you a different kind of serious. When your eyes twinkle, you understand and you laugh, it’s not even an implied threat, it’s just a matter of “yeah, you know…” To see this barely 30-year old’s espirit de vie, it’s hard not to just do as she wishes… which is why the tattoo might could be overkill for someone as inimitable as the cat of Snell.

“Beyond talent lie all of the usual words: discipline, love, luck but most of all endurance.”
James Baldwin

Being gifted is not enough, Having talent doesn’t mean you’re owed anything. Indeed, talent comes with responsibilities: for if you are gifted, you owe the talent the discipline and the effort required to nurture and develop it, to realize it’s potential. There are many geniuses who are less the footnotes; it is the bold who refuse to buckle, to buy into those who do not understand who matter.

Endurance is, in some ways, a gift beyond talent. It doesn’t seem to be a gift, but a burden… and yet, the thing that realizes what we are given? What do you call something like that? Beyond catalyzing, it is only everything in realizing the harvest of one’s seeds.

Pink Garden Hose, Clorite

Fifty feet of medium duty construction with nickel plated couplings and a collar guard, this is a bubblegum colored conductor of hydration for lawn, garden and kiddie pools. Maybe it’s washing your car - or hosing off the patio furniture. But to augment the Susan G. Komen Fund for the Cure, one’s yard chores can now take on a decidedly girly demeanor. Too much fun… and then some!

www.coloriteplastics.com

Bar Band Americanus, Charlie Picket   the Eggs

A backhoe driver from Hollywood, Florida, Charlie Pickett was an almost faceless blue collar cog in the realm… Until the straw-headed blond strapped on a guitar and made it snarl, strafe, buzz and lacerate with the feral rancor only the unseen can muster when revolting against the status quo. Life, love, faithlessness and a general rage was shot through with elements of punk, stripped down rock, gut bucket blues, Western iconics, 60s girl group innocence and a beat that just kept snapping down.

“If This Is Love (Can I Get My Money Back)”  was an underground anthem in South Florida, it’s scathing vitrol dripping from his half-brayed vocals, while the kick drum went straight through your sternum. A couple albums for Minneapolis’ indie TwinTone (home of the Replacements and Soul Asylum) and the production help of REM’s Pete Buck wasn’t enough to get this American hybrid of early/mid-career Stones, cosmic cowboy Gram Parsons and primitive bluesers like Son House, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf broken.

“Overtown” is a lost soul’s tribute to Miami’s most forgotten ghetto: junkies, hookers and the less than less thans, tamborine shaking and smacking with insouciant challenge, chicken wire guitar circling the holes sans Pickett’s proclamations. Swagger, saunter, sneer and brazen bucking, this is everything rock at its basest oughta be. If you discover one band this year, this is the one.

http://www.myspace.com/therealcharliepickett

Concrete Lady, 1001 Old Hwy 31, Jeffersonville, IN

If you want it rendered in ce-ment, the Concrete Lady’s got it. Saints, angels and Blessed Virgins, zebras, dogs, giraffes, flower baskets,  gargoyles, geishas, frogs, Buddhas, benches, jockeys, gnomes, fountains and almost anything else you can imagine. This is the 3-d signify and declare your reality jungle - because whatever the Concrete Lady offers yard sculpture from whimsical to serious.

Open 7 days a week, the primary retail outlet is a 4 acre festival of art and irony - 2 short miles north of Louisville. Beyond that which is cast in concrete, this is also a comprehensive water garden center… so, you can pick up a few koi or a pump as well as a few concrete cranes, tiki men, hear no evil/see no evil/speak no evil monkeys or elephants. Jaw-dropping in its enormity and reasonable given the uniqueness of what you find.

www.concretelady.biz

Dos Papas Burritto   SATURDAY ONLY, Sweet 16, E. Nashville

It is a total carb load, and yet it is so savory, so soul-satisfying in the right way, it is worth the extra treadmill time. Sweet and white potatoes, two kinds of cheese, three kinds of onions, subtly spiced, yet bursting with slow burn flavor. This is the way to start a day of action, to have the blaze that isn’t crippling, but more vata pita is a thrill.

The secret spices are the key… and Al, the chef, wont tell. But sometimes the experience of chewing. Letting the flavors spread out across your tongue, through your mouth, into your tummy is reason enough. Only on Saturday, only while they last… a gooey yummy eggless burrito reason to make the pilgrimage to 16th and Ordway Place.

Dara Torres

That, at 42, she is haled as a miracle tells us how little we expect. Or maybe it’s everything about how we settle. And most of us do not have the fiscal resources to do as she did. Yet, it tells us what the potential can be. Not from an arrogant mortality-defying way, but more the sense of not buying what we’re sold about the back half.

Yes, things change. Yes, priorities much shift. But, in the end, it remains what we make it.

Dara Torres, a child prodigy swimmer, makes it glorious-and triumphant. Long after the Olympics is past, her triumph speaks to our potential… and her quest for excellence beckons from ahead. Even her stretching routine - adapted for mere mortals - can increase your possibilities.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29torres-t.html

Charles   Ray Eames Stamps

A streamlined, but curvy way of making art, their furniture was modern in ways that melted the conventional aesthetics of solid and heavy. The husband and wife design team were their own aesthetic reality - applying their unique way of seeing the world to architecture, furniture, film, graphics and exhibitions. What you get with these stamps is a single page journey through their chairs, shelves, tables, installations, buildings and a portrait that captures the couple’s esprit de vie!

When is a letter more than just a piece of mail? When you make it a little bit more with something like this tribute to taste and genuinely American design. An unlikely thing perhaps to ask for, but absolutely perspective expanding.

www.eamesgallery.com

Bumping Into Genius, Danny Goldberg

The careers that Danny Goldberg has touched reflect the arc of American pop culture: Led Zeppelin in their prime, Kiss, Stevie Nicks on the brink of her solo career, Bonnie Raitt at her ascendence, Nirvana, Warren Zevon towards his final days, Steve Earle right now. A publicist, manager, label head, Air America creator, activist, evolved citizen of the world… Goldberg’s take on why music matters, what a steward owes the artists and a sense of respect for both the art and the humanity at times seems counter to the get me more-mine-now screed that drives the record business, yet the former head of Atlantic and Mercury/Polygram Records is as savvy as he is aware.

To understand how the machinations - and disconnects - come together in the name of fame lies between the covers of Bumping Into Genius, where not just the what, but the why is explored with striking clarity. If the model is now skewed to right now, big wow, this memoir of a life lived in service of some of pop and rock’s biggest names makes a case for the slightly more thought-out, music-driven approach to artist development and the record business. Because if Goldberg is right - and his success ratio is pretty high - it takes a bit more work, but the artists are built to last and to believe in.

www.dannygoldberg.com

Zelda & the Butterfly

She is, of course, basically blind… but even at 16, still has the heart and paws of a ballerina. She can walk 2 miles at Radnor Lake and make all along the scorched blacktop worship her grace and beauty, because no one moves quite like Zelda. But the other day on the spillway, there was a butterfly, slowly opening and closing its wings to enjoy the sunshine pouring down. Zelda sensed her, bobbled a little excitedly. “What…,” she seemed to muse with joy and wonder, “is… this…”

And began the dance. Zelda trotting up, the butterly fluttering off… or around… Circling down… flying over her back and loop-de-looping in front her her… Zelda and the butterfly engaged, trotted, paused and drank in each other’s gentle curiosity. It was two creatures enthralled with each other, enthralled by the loveliness of a creature unlike themselves, yet embodying the same spirit. Zelda and the butterfly: for 15 perfect minutes, time stood still.

“Ladies & Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains” DVD

With the battle cry “We don’t put out,…,” a baby teen Diane Lane leads a trio of punk girl rejectionistas with no prospects and an opening act freak slot on a sagging rocker’s death march tour. Raging against sexual identity and expectation, brokered messaging and the impalement of the American dream, this is the kick inside the have-nots in what was once a land of plenty… and 26 years later, the truths being hoisted high are more current than ever.

With Tubes frontman Fee Waybill playing the aging geezer rocker in all raw entitlement and utter crassness amongst the wreckage of what was a career and a middle act that is the apex of British punk with the Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook and the Clash’s Paul Simonon, the historic nature alone is worth checking out. But as an exploration of the media’s ability to cause, create and then destroy a sensation, it is unparalleled.

http://www.fabulousstains.com
http://www.amazon.com/Ladies-Gentlemen-Fabulous-Stains-Diane/dp/B001B94JWE

Carnations

Perhaps the humblest of all flowers, carnations are readily available, long lasting and available in any color you could imagine. In that almost omnipresence, it’s easy to miss the jagged explosion of petals, twisted around one central point. To overlook the way that fist of a flower opens out of a small green base with the very embodiment of abundance.

Once you overcome your sense of how common the lowly carnation is, though, something else begins to permeate your senses: the scent. Nothing smells quite like carnations, floral and powdery, so subtle, you don’t realize how pleasing the smell is… and then suddenly it hits you. There’s a headiness to the bouquet that you never forget and almost become nostalgic for. The smell of carnations lingers longer than roses and lilies, and reminds you that luxury and grace come in many unlikely forms.

“Own Your Strength” Bridgett Walther

It is quite simple. You have resources. Perhaps you deny them. But they are there. All you have to do is acknowledge them. Consider their power. Own them. Especially since you’ve been applying them in ways you’ve not recognized for years…

www.bridgettwalther.com

Paul Newman Profile, Vanity Fair, Sept 2008

So much has been writing, so many tributes to consider. This - most likely readied to be in front of the post-mortem crush - shines with the vivacious way Newman came to life. More than a movie star, an activist business scion, a fast car racer, there was charm and humility and a genuine dedication to craft. Written by Patrician Bosworth, an Actors Studio student of similar vintage, these are firsthand glimpses and unguarded recollections from people who were more invested in the man than the myth.

Paul Newman was a glorious looking creature, but it was the commitment he made to the things he did - as a professional, a husband of 50 years to Joanne Woodward, a father - that Newman’s true distinction emerges. This captures those deeper truths in a way the other tributes didn’t touch.

www.vanityfair.com

Hobo Bag, Roberta Roller Rabbit

Tropical silk screen all cotton oversized bags that can handle a little or a lot, they come in fresh colors - the warm tones of the equatorial sun, lush greens of tropical foliage or the cool blues of Caribbean waters - and have a haphazard chicness that is life after properly unwinding somewhere in the sun. Perfect for everything one could need for the gym or a day at the beach - or even some kind of randy sleepover - or just to tuck a few things in as you’re running errands, I’ve taken to packing my aqua persimmon/floral with the striped straps’n’binding flat and using it as my second carry-on for trips with multiple trips/airports. Truly liberating.
Snappy Turtle, Delray Beach       (561) 276 - 8088

www.robertarollerrabbit.com

Joint Health Tea, Traditional Medicinals

Working the premise of herbal solutions to vexing physical problems, Traditional Medicinals merges Indian medicine with Grandma’s common sense for a refreshing tasting tea that relies upon tumeric, cats claw, devils claw, yucca root, lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint, celery seeds and alfafa seeds to create a cup of tea that supports the joints, boosts circulation and brings down inflammation.

It sounds too good - and simple - to work. But a cup first thing in the morning, another midday and one before bed provides an increase in suppleness and - though not warranted on the box - calm. Equally delicious cold, there is something consoling about a hot cup of Joint Comfort Tea. Try and be set a little freer.

www.traditionalmedicinals.com

Cafe du Jour 1107 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA

The working class bohemian neighborhood with the narrow streets and old brick buildings is scruffy in the uncontrived way of forced hipness. With organic coffee shops, tattoo parlors, handmade chocolates and cutting edge record/comic book stores, it stands to reason a plain jane storefront would hold a homey French bistro with a garden/fountain in the back that is as charming as it is delicious.

Café du Jour is a gem, perfect for a laconic brunch or early evening dinner lingered over with good friends and better coffee. An asiago/spinach dip comes with thin slices of freshly toasted baguette, while their savory tartes, brothy soups and crisp leafy greens freshly dressed with unlikely ingredients are piquant, light, yet filling. Refined in the most welcoming of ways, this is heartland hospitality with Left Bank je ne sais crois.

“Pas de jour, mais aujourd’hui.”

No day, but today… and so it says on the end of my dear friends business communications. She is impossibly gracious, but alive. Sunshine captured within flesh - and that’s on a bad day. She meditates on this phrase, and probably hopes it rubs off on all of her correspondees. After all, the more we understand tomorrow is fine, but right now is all there is, the more grounded, centered and capable of enjoying the moments we do have.

Ahhhhh, yes….

Black Lace Dresses, Prada, Fall 2008

So thick you could almost strangle someone with it, yet so exquisitely detailed, it is the most romantically rococo bit of weaving imaginable. Then cut into dresses that drape and fall with an exaction that says “the figure female is God’s ultimate work of art.” Not prissy, not choking on its frilliness, these dresses are architectural in the cut, yet figure accentuating.

Elevatedly high fashion, yet it’s the subtlety of the workmanship that does most of the heavy lifting. If you were to have one indulgence dress in a lifetime, this is the safest money you could spend: breath-catchingly stunning, it will transcend time, place and reality over and over again.

www.Prada.com

Set List Tracker   www.springsteenradio.com

Every night about that time, this all-Springsteen all-the-time internet radio station plugs into wherever Bruce Springsteen is firing up - and they run down the show, song for song with key live performances from all over the world, as close to real time as it comes. Wherever he is, they are vis-à-vis the vaults of Brucelegs. With a pretty active chat-stream, it keeps the community active… and puts you as close to the fire as you can be without being on one of the tour buses.

http://www.brucespringsteen.net
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOpIfbneeHg&feature=channel

Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cocoa Beach, FL.

24/7. Pull up, stroll in, get what you need to hit the waves any time of the day… or night. And this isn’t for the tourist board-rider, though they are certainly made welcome in the art deco sand castle that at 52,000 square feet has anything you could need.  Roxy, Hurley, O’Neill, Billabong, Quiksilver are just a few of the names… and if you want it and they don’t have it, chances are it’s not worth seeking out.

Lessons. Gear. Demos. This is one stop shopping for boards, rashguards, DVDs, training equipment, books, fins, racks and beyond. To get started, to get to the next level. For anyone who’s ever dreamed of riding the waves with that sense of gravity-defying freedom, the centrifugal force starts here.

www.ronjons.com

Spearmint Bouquets in Budvases

Bright green leaves with rippling edges, spearmint grows faster than weeds and throws its stems in all directions. Cutting a few boughs at whatever length suits your vase gives you a full bouquet that is pleasing to the eye and a surprise to the nose. With that refreshing whiff of mint, you can bring vibrance and a hint of living color to any room for pennies - and create an oasis of flora from a mostly unlikely source. Scatter them everywhere, and see how they pick up any space you place them!

www.funnyordie.com

These are the lovely people who bring you the Paris for President ads. A video cavalcade of comedy from Will Farrell, Judd Apatow, Chris Henchy and Adam McKay, the scattering of celebs includes Jack Black, Sara Silverman, Fergie, James Franco and Eva Longoria mocking the very trip they tip. Send-ups, stand-up and parodies are just part of the action… Wait’ll you see Dave Grol and Farrell scrape the rafters with a 12-string takedown on Stevie Nicks’ “Leather & Lace.”

Any time you need a break, this is 5-10 minutes well spent.

www.funnyordie.com

18 Laps   Staying With It

Low impact exercise even for the most sluglike. The notion of doing that to my core muscles almost made my eyes cross, but once I let down my superachiever mustMUSTMust drive, I was amazed at how simple and easy it is. One lap, slowly stroked, parting the water, feeling the distance pass away.

You don’t have to pound them out. You just have to get in, and start swimming. If not crawl, there is breast stroke or some kind of jheri-rigged frog-kick dog paddle. You can backstroke and consider the beams and dreams above you. Whatever it is, you can reacquaint yourself with the miracle that is your body - and you can do it with nominal impact to your joints and bones and a weightlessness that sets you free from whatever physical kinks might be keeping you from other types of exercise.

Eye Roller, Garnier

Unscrew, roll over the puffy eyes and squinting corners. Give it a few minutes. Let it work. Not sticky, not stinging, just a cool sensation that dries almost on contact - and tightens, brightens and refreshes without any big sensation. A drugstore discovery that makes overnight flights, double shifts and the sort of debauchery we don’t seem to get enough of more a memory than bags beneath the mirror to one’s soul.

www.garnier.com

The Art of Civilized Conversation, Margaret Shepherd

We can talk, therefore we know what to say. Right? Well, in this fast-moving cultural kaleidoscope of interaction, this comprehensive little book gets you in, through and out of myriad socially fraught or potentially boorish situations with grace, common sense and the ability to be appropriate in the occasion. As simple as the best way to talk to children or older people, as tricky as friends who’ve experienced a death, serious illness or lost spouses or jobs.

In a world where connecting is trickier than ever, here’s a basic playbook you can return to time-after-time. Though much of it seems obvious, in the moment where it’s all happening, this is the ramp out of the freezing silence of the inability to speak or saying just the wrong thing. More than merely good manners, this is the field guide to putting yourself and others at ease.

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Civilized-Conversation-Expressing-Yourself/dp/0767921690/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226969046&sr=8-1

“Experience Hendrix” DVD

Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies - Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Buddy Guy - are joined by many of rock’s most luminary players for a celebration that makes the trailblazer vital, now and still appreciably one of the most innovative guitarists of all time. Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Stones vet Mick Taylor, Bad Co belter Paul Rodgers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, sacred steeler Robert Randolph and Living Color bring the explosive gypsy guitarist’s canon to life.

Whether the intensity of “Killing Floor,” the gut-bucket “Hoochie Coochie Man,” religiously-grounded “Hear My Train A-Comin’” or the splattered intensity of “Purple Haze,” these are musicians steeped in the man who set the rules on fire. Some things truly defy writing, this DVD is one of those times where description is best ham-fisted and lacking. It is reverence reborn in a way that honors the legacy and reminds you how easy it is to reinvest in the things that make you blaze.

http://www.amazon.com/Experience-Hendrix-Various-Artists/dp/B0019M7KRE/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1226969280&sr=8-1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3Mm3WPw2Xs&feature=related

Coaches

They are the ones who dig in, fight for you even as they challenge every fiber of your being. They know tactical stuff that translates talent into mastery… They see what you’re made of when you’re twisted up in your own need to deliver. Moral compasses, plagues of the ages, willing to hang in there with you, cheer your breakthroughs and find the lessons in your failures.

A great coach is everything we need to be all we can be. Potential channeled in constructive ways; midwifers of what is possible. They brand us with their convictions, they inspire us by believing when our muscles ache, our breathe is gone and we just wanna go home… To transform raw gifts into something so much more. Pretty amazing.

The Ruby Slippers, @ Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship New York location

You’ve heard the hype: Saks Fifth Avenue’s shoe department has its own zip code, which is true. Not that acreage equals high swoon factor - that still goes to Jeffrey NY in the meatpacking district, runner-up honors landing at Barney’s uptown - but when you get off the escalator and find yourself nose-to-sole with the ruby slippers, there is a definite awe invoked.

The ruby slippers. The ones that Judy Garland wore on her trek to the Emerald City, through Munchkin Land, across poppy fields, against all odds and flying monkeys. If there’s ever been a literal metaphor for shoes power to overcome any situation, this is it. And for whatever kinda shoe kink you have, you can find it tied up one way or another in these great American maraschino cherry sparklers.

www.saksfifthavenue.com

Praline Pecans, The Peanut Shop, Nashville Arcade

Like dry-rub ribs, only cinnamon and crunchy sugar. Not grainy, but like a praline made from fair dust. This is one of those old-fashioned feeling indulgences that can’t be mass-made, yet it’s not so high-faluting that it seems like the sort of treat you can indulge in on the rarest occasions. This is something so utterly Southern, it practically drawls when you open the bag - and fresh scooped, it is warm when you leave the store.

A bit of history in a district only the old-timers know of, you can get your nostalgia fix - along with any kind of fresh roasted nut you desire. It smells like salt’n’heaven, that wafting scent of mixed nuts that fills the air. With more tchatchkas than one could imagine a city might churn out, this is a place to view as much as a Southern Cultural Institution as its a snack food supply center.

www.thepeanutshop.com

Little Honey, Lucinda Williams

Exuberantly rocking, Little Honey finds the glimmering side of lucky-in-love Lucinda Williams. Not the traditional dour crow-on-the-barbed-wire songstress, this is a lean album that rocks with joy and hope and passion. From the opening “Real Love,” whose guitar solo quotes Jackson Browne’s “On The Boulevard,” to the closing AC/DC redux of “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll),” this a song cycle that celebrates how bright and shiny rock music can make you.

Definitely romantic, openly celebratory, it’s basic guitars, bass and drums line-up flexes and revs, rumbles and hums across the longing “Circles and Xs,” the forward -looking “Plan To Marry,” the transformative “Jailhouse Tears” and the bright “Little Rock Star.” Hearing Williams like this proves misery is not necessary for artistry… At a time when the world reels and churns, an injection of good vibes and better grooves from a voice that is raw and ragged and real is just what the doctor ordered.

http://www.lucindawilliams.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE2uEl_aB9E

Trails Cut In Overgrown Fields, Chagrin Valley Metroparks, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

They let the fields grow. Tall. Taller than corn. Then they mow paths through it. Several paths that intersect and meander. It is almost a maze, but it is linear enough that one doesn’t have to wind. But it also puts you into a giant meadow of supertall grass, wild flowers, birds and bunnies hiding amongst the vegetation. Not quite Alice in Wonderland kilter, but certainly something large scale enough to literally wow you with the scope of it.

Peaceful. Verdant. Grounding. And when you’ve had enough of the fields, there are also the bridle path under the trees, along the river. It is a walk in the woods that merges the Chagrin River at some of its prettiest places. Heaven on earth - as it’s meant to be.

www.clemetparks.com

Olive Tortilla Chips, Food Should Taste Good

Tortilla chips, but made with bits of greek olives. The salty pungency of the chopped fruit define the crisp snack food - and dipped in an olive tapenade, there’s an Aegean tinge to the traditional chips’n’salsa. Lighter and more interesting, they can be crumbled over Greek salads for a little crunch or had with hummus or other dips.

“We have art in order not to perish in truth - Nietzsche

It is the way it speaks to you beyond words: the curve of a line, the colors melting into some evocative truth, the emotion pulled through the eye of needle or the progression from one chord to another. Art transcends facts, realizations and creates a higher plane to breathe rarified air, to experience a sense of marvel at what can be created from thin air with a few raw materials and talent.

When the stacking up of “all of it” gets to be too much, art is the final refuge. A place to go and disappear into a painting, a sonata, a garden of intricate composition, a poem or story that evokes or stirs your essence. Art is the salvation in a world that is cast in black, white and granite.

Chocolate Brown

There is a richness to this deepest shade of dirt that is as chic as black, but somehow a little warmer. To wear chocolate brown is to drench yourself in a color that is earthiness, yet somehow more sophisticated and more welcoming. Never mind that it invokes the sweet complexity of cocoa and coffee beans, the implied creaminess of high quality chocolate.

And as a base color it mixes well with most shades, be they gemtones, pastels, bold primaries or basic black. Perhaps the utility player of the rainbow’s palette, chocolate brown is an instant win.

I, Flathead, Deluxe Edition, Ry Cooder

Like the great pulp novels, Ry Cooder offers a novella about an alien, a hot car, a hotter love, the conflicts between white trash and the status quo, a philosophy as secessionist as it is pragmatic to accompany an album that mines jukejoints, roots picking, country’n’Latin influences and his turpentined tenor. Is the concept a soundtrack for the novel, or a novel to tie songs like “Drive Like I Never Been Hurt,” “Ridin’ with the Blues,” “Filipino Dance Hall Girl” and “5000 Country Music Songs” together.

Hard to say. Or maybe it doesn’t matter. What you get is a full-steep mix of songs from tacerns where daylight has not penetrated in more than 50 years, and that barbed wire picking that has distinguished Ry Cooder over and over again. The final chapter in his California Trilogy, this is painting a picture of mid-20th century California in its desolate rebel outsider kinks of glory.

http://www.ryland-cooder.com
http://www.amazon.com/Flathead-Limited-Deluxe-Ry-Cooder/dp/B0017PCXQG/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1227046773&sr=8-1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoGkPTjZoBg

Fit Flops, www.blisspa.com

Fans of the MBT rolling platform sneaker have more cause to celebrate. Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss Spa in New York, set her mind to merging the gravity-challenging footwear with the ultimate toss-on-sandal the flip flop. What emerged was her ultimate thong: the Fit-Flop.

Embracing the leg firming, posture aligning sole that made the MBT famous, the Fit Flop gives girls who wanna know their every step is making them more a laidback way to keep in shape. Affordable, easy to wear and cute enough (they even come in black patent leather) to get away with anywhere you’d wear your Jack Rogers Navaho sandals, this is three kinds of revolution in one.

www.blisspa.com

The Clydesdale who didn’t make it commercial, Budweiser

Not everyone can make the team, especially the proud Budweiser Clydesdales. And so when one horse isn’t chosen, it is his friend the barn dog who steps in and trains his friend through rain, snow, heat, obstacles… and keeps pushing and inspiring. It is the pay-off - not so much the horse being chosen - but the computer-generated equine/canine high-5 that’ll make your throat a little lumpy.

Harvard Classics

Five feet of the greatest works of literature. From Darwin to Aesop, Virgil, Shakespeare, Adam Smith, The Odyssey, The Bhagadavita, A Thousand and One Nights, Epictetus, St Augustine, Cervantes, Dante, and a near perfect anthology of poetry. History. Science. Theology. Biography. Literature. My father believed that if you owned a copy of The Harvard Classics, you needed nothing else to be a well-read educated man. Cloth bound, perfectly matching, they speak to a certain erudition - and offer great companionship and clarity on lonely nights and curious mornings.
Originally published to be a complete course of study for modern man - incorporating The History of Civilization, Philosophy & Religion, Education, Science, Politics and Criticism of Literature & the Fine Arts - Harvard President Charles William Elliot created something of enduring value at the opening of the 20th century. 51 volumes of the best of critical thinking and writing… easily found on Ebay or at certain well-heeled garage sales for a few hundred dollars. An amazing gift to oneself or someone you truly love and admire.

Organic Ginger Cookies, www.organicadeluxe.com

Moist intense ginger/molasses melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. All organic. Intensely spiced. Dusted with sugar. Baked to a firmness that yields to the teeth - rather than dog biscuit crunchiness - one of these cookies is enough for two people. Impossibly wonderful with a cup of good coffee; a piquant pairing with hot cocoa.

I’ve warmed them in the morning, then enjoyed them with fresh fruit and some tea. As a tummy-sticking day starter, they are not too heavy or gluey to weight you down, yet offer enough substance that you know there’s something in the furnace. Everything the yummy list is about.

www.organicadeluxe.com

Artistic Luxury: Faberge, Tiffany, Lalique, Cleveland Museum of Art

A Russian, a Frenchman and an American: mastercraftsmen in the realm of luxury goods and jewelry each plied their craft and - as is the nature of people at the top of their game - pushed the others with an “oh, yeah?!” rivalry that culminated at the 1900 Worlds Fair in Paris, where each presented their greatest accomplishments. Enamel, stained glass, gems and precious metals just begin to address the mediums Carl Faberge, Rene Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany worked in.

To understand opulence as functional as well as ornamental, the 300 objects on display at the recently renovated Cleveland Museum of Art offer an insight into a more gracious time where quality and execution were an earmark of desirability… and each of these men pushed to see how far beauty could be taken in the realm of housewares as well as adornment. This also marks the first time since the 1900 Worlds Fair that these items have been shown together.

www.clemusart.com

St Anthony

The patron saints of lost and missing objects. The one who can locate and bring about returns when nothing seems plausible. A songwriter friend of mine - rushing to make a flight to Europe somehow realized he’d been separated from his book of lyrics and was in a panic. We shall say the prayer, I told my somewhat dubious about my somewhat charismatic Catholic faith… and pray we did. When he returned almost three weeks later, there was a note in his mailbox… from someone who had found the book and realized what it was.

These things can and do happen. All the time. All you have to do is intone three times: St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around… Something is lost and can not be found. Well, say it and mean it. It’s a Godsend and a miracle in the prayer of a child.

The Slippery Noodle, 372 S. Meridian St. Indianapolis, IN

In every city in America, there is - or should be - one of these: a bar that’s been there forever, that believes in the power of a band that knows how to press down the accelerator in the turns, the lubricating power of cold tap beer and the empowerment of friends kicking out the jams and forgetting whatever just happened. It is not about a permanent solution, but more the rescue and release of a few hours that stays ones reserves to carry on.

Originally opened in 1850, this is Indiana’s oldest concurrently running place of quaffage, and with two stages and a definite reliance on the blues, it is the kind of place that proves sweat is as good on the skin as it is on the bottle. Loud, vivacious, impossibly crowded, immediately convivial and utterly in your face, this is the right kind of fun in a Historic Registry Building. Exactly everything the heart of Saturday night ought to be.

www.slipperynoodle.com

Olive Scrub, St. Ives

Drugstore beauty. In tight times, there’s nothing like a brown bag beauty aid to stretch the budget and give you the smirk of one who’s put something over on the vanity brokers who make the case for expensive lines, major marketing and crazy claims. St Ives is one of those post-health-food store lines that has been as much about affordability as it is basic ingredients that yield meaningful results.

Non-drying, this exfoliate can be used everywhere - and dry patches are not just gone, but the skin beneath is nourished and moisturized. Scrub easy. Rinse away. Glow and marvel at your new found softness.

www.stives.com

Zelda Purrs

She is sleeping. Or being rubbed the right way. Whatever it is, it is good… and the guttural gurgling is the beyond verbal sound of complete and total pleasure. There is nothing so sweet as the rest of spaniels: I know I sleep with one.

Time The Conquerer, Jackson Browne

One of the voices most of us came of age hearing, Jackson Browne traded the topography of the human heart for more politically, socially and - some would argue - morally charged terrain. His activism at times derailed the nostalgia tip, but his songwriting remained razor sharp and vital. With Time The Conqueror that gift for emotional excavation found itself leaning towards the questions of innocence, youth, aging and the shifting realities of the things that matter.

The arresting “Where Were You,” a nine minute hypnotic churn raising questions about Katrina’s devastation, the polyrhythmic “Goin’ Down To Cuba” that offers the freedom of a life simpler than our own, the ardor and personal treason of “The Arms of the Night” and the supplication of “Just Say Yeah” paint the picture of a man both seeking and finding a sense of where within the whirl. Not an easy proposition nor solution, yet in the questions comes the path to where one might want to arrive. A grown-up record for challenging times; a clear-eyed romantic trying to find margins for the reasons to believe that love remains the answer.

http://www.jacksonbrowne.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtan6RkKDp0&feature=related

Cat Tails

Tall. Straight. Proud. There in the marshes. The fried beyond consumption corndog on an emerald green stem, long thin leaves extending up beside the stalk. Bending in the breeze. Standing at attention as the day whizzes by, whether in a marsh, the edge of a lake or some gutter beside the highway. They care cat-tails something so basic, they can be used for wars - slammed against each other til the fluffy white fur flies and floats about the fighters.

They are fall. The moment when the seasons truly turn, and you know that the leaves are coming to color, the days are shortening and another season has been spent. Tucked into bouquets of mums and wheat, they remind us that the bogs also raise life and beauty. A true gift of nature.