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

April 2006

April 2006: Bleu Cheese & Bernaise, Tie-Dye Cashmere, Lloyd Dobler   Vertebrae Adoration

Cheese Sticks John Wm. Macy


   Crispy crunchy yummy. What you’re sure is sourdough puff pastry, twisted into two-finger width breadstick length for the ultimate snack, scoop, salad or soup embellishment. Sprinkled with a sharp cheddar is the classic—as defined by Macy’s career as a top Martha’s Vineyard caterer—and it is an exemplary snap of bitter cheesy goodness baked into length of a drumstick. It is, quite simply, everything that makes savory so much fun to munch on.


Fine & Large Crystal Sea Salt in the Shower

At the end of day—or any time you want to exfoliate and perhaps mark the passage of some event (work, a bad day)—climb into the shower with a couple boxes of sea salt: one fine crystals, the other coarse. Turn on the water, get wet and pour a small amount of both into your cupped hands. Gently place your hands on your body, begin rubbing in clockwise circles—starting at your stomach and expanding up, down, back.

   You can rinse—or you let it sit, drawing out toxins in the time-honored means of the ocean, while you take a second small handful and begin working on your arms and legs. Really experience the curves of your body, the planes that our flesh creates from one section to another. Gently rub away that which doesn’t serve us—be it dry, dead skin, psychic woundings or just the computer refusing to co-operate—and find the shining glowing skin beneath all those dull layers of nothing.

Burger w. bleu and béarnaise PJ Clarke’s 55th & Third

   About the size of your average homemade barbeque patty, it is covered with big chunks of bleu cheese, then drowned in béarnaise. Nothing about this is exceptional—indeed, it is served on what could delightfully be deemed a plain white grocery store bun—and yet it is utterly, wonderfully, decadently delicious. PJ Clarke’s remains a NYC bastion of local joint—with its big personality servers, fist-sized drinks and classic American menu, and their crowning achievement may well be taking the cornerstone of local cuisine and finding a way to cast it elegant and over-the-top even while keeping it’s napkin tucked in collar down-home accessibility.

Leda & The Swan Joseph Spellerman

It is the place where Georgia O’Keefe meets the Fauve movement—a naked, reclining Leda surrenders and receives a Sleeping Beauty kiss from a prince in the form of a snow white swan, his breast swollen, his neck a graceful curve that winds back and around to the mouth of his beloved. Cast in the prettiest colors of the spring and summer flush, Joseph Spellerman’s painting from the early 1920s pulled me up short—walking through New York City at closing time.
 
  As the window dressing for the Spanierman Gallery’s Century of American Modernism showing, there are magnolia’s shedding their glory, a bed for their merging of lotus and waterlillies and skies the color of aquamarines. Just primitive enough to make it gritty, this celebration of Yeats’ poem has both the weightlessness of desire and the sensual intensity of color, shape, emotion that makes the best art touch us without words, reasons or quantified emotions. Elementally exquisite.

Tie-Dyed whisper thin cashmere

With summer coming, you still need that layer of warmth, but the will to wear big thick serious sweaters has died with the crocus. For a slightly off-kilter, whimsical take on keeping the heat near our flesh, Armand Diradourian has created cashmere sweaters that are in robust colors, tie-dyed for a bit of hippie boheme and close cut enough to the body to remind people that there’s a girl in there; somewhere.


Acknowledging it’s not quite spring has never been quite so fun—or easy.


Perirehaedulus Richardsi


   Make whatever joke you wish about Jurassic rock, I don’t care; Keith Richards shall always set my heart aflame, and that’s just THAT! Still, and all, Adrain & Edgecombe named a new trilobite discovered in 1995 after the slashing rhythm guitarist with the pirate swagger and the gypsy soul. A no-nonsense player with a downstroke that shreds any sense of what—or whom else—might rock, it is fitting that something as timeless as an extinct marine creature with a mineral-ladden upper shell that survives in its fossil form should bear the name of hands down the gnarliest Stone.

   Beyond a kiss from my own sweet lips, I can think of no finer—or more lasting—honor.

Sail Away - Various Artists

   Randy Newman understood that irony was its own dry martini cocktail of wit—and by skewering extreme attitudes with even more extreme inhabitations, he was able to cast commentary over belly laughs. But just as importantly, he could throw a net of fragile emotions, quivering devotions that seemed capable of transforming the singer with a mere sigh or smile. And as potent as his portraits and professions are, it is the mark of the truly gifted songwriter to have his songs land in the hands of others and not only find new altitudes, but interpretations that match the originals emotional resonance.

   And so it is that acoustic/bluegrass-based Sugarhill embraces Newman’s songbook with an electronically brittle, dry echoing “Rednecks” from roots insurrectionist Steve Earle, a bawdy lust’n’ lingerie exultation “You Can Leave The Light On” from Louisiana’s Marc Broussard that is utter erotic undulation, the sweet sadness of Sonny Landreth’s bleeding yearning “Louisiana 1927,” an almost prayerful “Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father” from Kim Richey and an almost Emily Dickenson or Christina Rossetti sigh-steeped declaration of romantic surrender and desire “Marie” as sung by “Allison Moorer.

Not Taking It


   People can dish it out. Anything they want. Any way they care to. They can sling it, hurl it, epithet it or—as recently happened to me—e-mail it. That doesn’t mean we have to take it. Or accept it. Just smile sweetly at whatever is out of line, step to the side and keep walking.

   Not taking it doesn’t mean engaging, telling them, making the point. Not taking it means letting it pass through you as if it never happened, not allowing it in or to have any emotional quarter. Whatever the transgression, now you know—and you can just keep going, knowing, wiser and every bit as serene, perhaps even more so because you will always have a sense of how the other person is. And if they are indeed out of character, the opportunity for it to clear, for them to say they were out of line will only strengthen the trust and bond, because not seeking retribution is the highest act of kindness to ourselves.

Opening Day for Eli April 24, 2006

   The Sox—Red AND White. The Cubs. The ‘Stros. The As. The Angels. The Tribe.

   Yeah, well, it’s opening day for Eli Berlow today; and THAT is a game that’s gonna rock. Win, lose or draw—all those weeks of practice, scrimmages, drills and fundamentals come together for what will be big fun, teamwork and a chance to grow as an athlete—and an opportunity to cheer for someone I love.

Hotel 57 57th and Lexington


   There one floor up from the major artery of midtown is a quiet lobby with helpful people. The rising 17 more stories heavenward are tastefully decorated rooms laid out to make sense with adequate closets, good sheets, bath tubs you can submerge into. It is not an illusion, though you keep telling yourself, “This is too good to be true; too good to be true;”

   It’s not too good to be true, but may well be the last affordable lovely hotel in NYC.


Praline Spread Pain Quotidien

   Serializing a perfect French bakery/bistro has given the global Pain Quotidien a genteel way to franchise, but the organic-driven menu is anything but McFood. Fresh-baked breads of the highest quality, open-faced sandwiches and a vast array of breakfast options are just the tip of the menu; but it is this: the praline spread—served with 4 Red Fruits and Apricot Preserves—with the bread basket that is to die for.

   A whipped spread of Hazelnuts that truly recalls the pralines that’re such an earmark of New Orleans confectionary, it is creamy, rich, sweet and DNA-altering. Slathered—and that is the only way to experience this gooey, sticky spread—on any of the light as air or densely packed baked goods heightens the contrast of sunny, yeasty earthiness and the tongue-swaddling gift of rich sweetness.


Hot Pink Patent Leather Criss Cross Strap Peep Toed Mary Jane Pumps Prada

   The toes are open to merch your pedicure; The heel is thin and high and rising like a column of pleasure and grrrrl power writ stiletto; The patent leather shoe is deeper than bubblegum, but not quite fuchsia; and the straps cross over the top of your foot, implying bondage without ever getting vulgar. With an innocence of material and execution, Prada has once again created a sexy, sexy shoe—and made it look like just another day in the office.



Tangerine/Rosemary Candle


   An instant pick-me up with a wick. Soul-tingling, smile-bringing, crisply citrus and just the tiniest bit herbally prickling, a tangerine/rosemary candles stimulates your brain, your mood, your reasons for getting out of - or perhaps into - bed. Something so happy ought to be illegal.


Hold Out - Jackson Browne


   Released in the shadow of the seminal live road document Running on Empty, Hold Out got lost in spite of the sweeping solace of “That Girl Could Sing,” the celebration of Lowell George’s daughter on the advent of her father’s untimely passing “Of Missing Persons” and the tersely rendered melodic thrust of the hunt of the hormal ebb-and-flow “Disco Apocalypse.” Songs that held moments, turned them over, made them shine, then offered us all a way to find ourselves within such distinctly personal songs defined the breadth and depth of what singer/songwriters should do.

   Amazingly, the production holds up - and Browne’s voice, always a magnet for girls, shimmers with the promise of a sensitive heart hung out to dry and heal in the throes of the album’s journey. Worth every moment you listen.


Chateau Clos de Latour Bordeaux 2002

   It is a big wine. Heady. Fruity. Full. An absolute mouthful of intoxication and possibility. Letting this deepest red substance run over your tastebuds, there is an infinite sea of scenarios that can play through your mind. Good conversations, a solid meal to stick to your being, music that transports you to places of dreams and satisfying memories.
   This is not a frivolous bottle—to be opened and giddily consumed. No, this is to be saved and savored for the people who make your world more, who seek beyond the pale and who enjoy the complex taste of grapes grown in old vineyards. Mmmmmmm;

Lloyd Dobler


   Perhaps the ultimate downtrodden good guy hero. The anything-for-love dreamer/optimist who aims for the girl so far beyond his league and gets her, only to have circumstances conspire against him; With practicality as an enemy of the heart, it sets up the ultimate conflict in Cameron Crowe’s “Say Anything” as a morality play that pits “the right thing” against “romance,” and makes one wonder if fidelity and true hearts are—in the end—the more valuable and reliable cornerstone to build one’s life on. Oh, if only all suitors, be they personal, professional or practical, were Lloyd Dobler—or maybe they are if we’ll just take that pivotal music cue of John Cusak standing on his car beyond Ione Skye’s room and blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” to heart.

Lloyd Dobler


   Perhaps the ultimate downtrodden good guy hero. The anything-for-love dreamer/optimist who aims for the girl so far beyond his league and gets her, only to have circumstances conspire against him; With practicality as an enemy of the heart, it sets up the ultimate conflict in Cameron Crowe’s “Say Anything” as a morality play that pits “the right thing” against “romance,” and makes one wonder if fidelity and true hearts are—in the end—the more valuable and reliable cornerstone to build one’s life on. Oh, if only all suitors, be they personal, professional or practical, were Lloyd Dobler—or maybe they are if we’ll just take that pivotal music cue of John Cusak standing on his car beyond Ione Skye’s room and blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” to heart.

Hashbrown casserole in the skillet in a minute


  Dump the shredded potatoes in the skillet and sauté away; Scraping back and forth, back and forth with perhaps a dash of worcesthire sauce for a tangy smack and some color until they’re heated through and approaching done. Then take a bag of shredded cheese and pour it over the top. Glop a small carton of sour cream on next. Cover with green onion tips. Then fold and turn and fold and turn, fold and flip. As the heat melts the cheese and the sour cream binds everything, you’ve got instant hashbrown casserole in 15 minutes—and you can add whatever other sautéed bits of this and that that strike your fancy, be it green peppers, onions, bacon. Simple, easy, quick—just the way we like it.

Elvis Edition Mojo

   No one does rock magazines, like the Brits. Their attention to minutiae and detail is dizzying—and when they send Memphis journalist Robert Gordon, a man with a passion for the root of it all, to deconstruct the expulsive rise and career of the man we call “the King,” it is the kind of freewheeling narrative that takes you hostage and leaves you breathless by its scope and tone. There are plenty of other features and reviews as well, but even if it was mere birdcage liner, the Mojo Does Elvis compilation—with tracks ranging from Bettye Levert to the Dead Kennedys—makes it more than worth the import price! What a way to spend an evening;

Lying Out


   On your tummy. Sun on your back. Doing nothing. Just letting the sky open its glory all over you, knowing that time is drifting by at its own cosmic pacing, and you’re not engaged in any of it. Even for just a few moments, there in the springtime, you can just lie there, knowing that in those precious seconds, nothing is wrong; no matter what might happen next; and you can hang onto that until the next time you steal away.

Jet Blue

   Sure, they’re the inexpensive airlines with TVs, but that’s not all. Their staff is friendly. They have free high speed internet in their JFK gate area with adequate electrical outlets. They have enough leg room. Easy online check-in. Routes to places people want to go. Top shelf snacks, like Terra Blue Chips and actually gourmet brand cookies. But what brings this one home is the fact that when so much of air travel has become a major hassle, Jet Blue is no strain, little stress and a pleasure to ride.

Peppermint Tea Celestial Seasonings


   The quickest, brightest, now-est wake-up ice tea I’ve found. Brews quickly to a nice mahogany color, it quenches thirst, settles the slightly queasy stomach, clears the palate and doesn’t require any extra fresh mint to give you that garden party exhilaration. Take 4-6 bags, put them in your pitcher and put it all outside: fresh made and ready to drink shortly, you’ll love the brisk, clean departure from standard iced tea.

Jukeboxes

   Instant archeology for the beer joint, diner or tavern in question. Flip through the selections—be they singles or full CDs—and know much about those who quaff there. Sinatras heads, classic rockers, soul survivors, Marley mavens and other reggae junkies, cosmic cowboys and whiskey chasers, biker metal, cool jazzers, cocktail weepers in lush dresses. So many waves and moods and colors—and to find one that takes you everywhere you wanna go is to find a place where you can live a life in a night, one quarter and a couple buttons pressed at a time.


Vertebrae


   Each one, so strong, so supple, so much a part of the flow of movement and the support of self. Straight in its own curving way, the vertebrae are a gift and a miracle, wiring us together even as they provide incremental motion with the fluidity that renders us upright and mobile.

   Take a moment and let your fingers explore your vertebrae—or someone else’s, if they’ll let you. Linger on each nugget, each gem and consider all the fluids, the musculature and tendons that’re part of it. Run your fingers across a few—and understand how inextricably linked it all is, then marvel at the miracle of such intricate integration.


The Kitchy Keds

   It looks like a Marc Jacobs skimmer flat—only with a white rubber sole. Rendered in ridiculously ornate brocade, it is over the top playground wear for girls who can only bare to have so much of their feet covered; and given that it’s Keds, it’s as Americana as it comes.


Forsythia

Bright lemon yellow bursts like frilly trumpets, clinging to twigs. They are sunshine covered sticks, emanating from one or two places in the ground, reaching up, leaning down—telling us that the big ole summer sun is almost here. Reminders that are as exuberant, ebullient, bowing in the wind as these are everything the glory of spring is all about, and right now, the forsythia is bursting out everywhere. Drive by and grin, knowing the best is yet to come—and the right now is positively effusive.

Children of the Self-Absorbed - Nina W. Brown

   There are two flavors of narcissists: the garden variety me-me-me ones and the destructive not-just-me-but-ONLY-me variety. Tragically, the latter spawn—and what you’d assume would be normal parental drives end sublimated, allowing for the destructive narcissist to do anything to destroy anything that gets in the way of their glory, undermining development of esteem and individuation and turning any positives into a reflection of how their fabulosity made it possible.

   These are brutal people, who have no idea often of the pain they inflict and the damage they do. If you try to get them to understand, you only incrementally increase their capacity for acting out—because if you feed their doubt, dent their sense of perfection, they must eradicate the evidence and work overtime to reinforce their inflated sense of ME!

   They can’t help themselves, yet that doesn’t eradicate the damage done. Any parent whose self-involvement comes with a side order of belittling, sowing doubt or outright emotional sabotage falls into this subgroup—and Nina Brown’s book can quickly and easily help you identify this person—indeed, it need not be a parent, as I realized an old lover more than qualified - - and take the steps necessary to both undo the damage and fill in the gaps this behavior created. Most brilliantly, for anyone who’s ever suffered at the hands of one of these people, the emancipation from the blame you’ve been sold makes for an independence day unlike no other.

Makers Mark


Rich warm Kentucky bourbon. Pour it in a glass. Drink it slowly. Feel everything slip away. On a recent night in a landmark from a dear friend’s life, I drank three fingers and thought about their journey. Sipping while I watched the people come and go, an ice tea back for good measure, the mind sought all sorts of insight into songs, love, hurt and how wild a ride this can be. Properly applied, Makers Mark can open all kinds of doors to so many secret gardens: the choice is your’s entirely.


Potatoe + fig gnocchi w. shaved truffle cheese

Bella Blu, Lexington + 70th

It was an odd merger—the notion of whipped potatoes and fig paste. Yet the idea of gnocchi, the little downy, chewy pasta pillows made from tubers being shot through with one of the most succulent fruits there is was more than my curiosity could take—especially served with a butter reducation and then a fine grating of a creamy truffle cheese.
 The result was forkfuls of pasta that gave to the teeth, surrendered to one’s mastication. Balancing the traditional gnocchi sense of homey comfort with the slightly exotic fig, its sticky seedy essence permeating the plain with a musky sweetness created a dish that was heady, yet happy. It wasn’t that this wasn’t a serious dish—for it was a major merger of odd, yet wonderful things, but more than it was the kind of thing that exults the bounty of our larder, while giving us plenty of reasons to celebrate how good things can taste and enjoying them for the sake of the meal and the moment.

tanga pants

For those of us who refuse to join the thong generation, tanga panties are lace and offer equal coverage front and back. Cresting the buttock, covering the bottom swell of the abdomen, they gently cling to your skin in a way that saves you from the dreaded pantyline. And even if no one knows you’re wearing them, there is a bit of the pretty girl lingerie kick to be had from knowing you’ve got them on. You can buy them in virginal shades of white and light pink, or go for the more pulse-racing tones of ruby, crimson and fuchsia.

“I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock & Roll)” Nick Lowe

Wry whimsy swung to as lindy-beat, New Wave architect Nick Lowe—who produced Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True and joined Dave Edmunds to anchor rockabilly-tinged punk-poppers Rockpile, as well as charting the early Stiff! Records releases—was his most sardonic naughty boy on this 3 minutes of knowing the bride when she was her most far-flung and fun-loving. Sure, she may wear white and have gone legit, but back when “she used to do the pony/ she used to the stroll,” she was something to see—“punching all the buttons on the record machine”—in a way that remains indelibly etched on one’s mind. Once upon a time, I thought this would be the closing theme to my “happily ever after.” Now I know it’s that whole issue of tense that makes me so tense: “used to” implies it’s over. For wild hearts that’ll never quite settle, it’s a battle cry and a manifesto—fists and hair flung to the wind—and for every girl who finds Prince Charming, a lovely, frothy reminder of the joy of the unfettered in all its full-mast glory.

Team Novel

Whomever said it takes a village to raise a child had obviously never tried writing a novel. Not only does it take a great acupuncturist, a shrink with insight, agents to explain a foreign land (that of publishers), friends to feed you and believe in you and listen to you, and yes, even marvel at you for letting go of the side and submitting to such an extended gaze, it takes a group of smart people with varying perspectives to read and ride along, experience the journey as it falls from your fingers and lands on the paper. And while there are those well-meaning friends who’re good for a few chapters, but fall away from the sheer volume of it all—and how can blame them: the missing words, the bad spelling, the busted syntax, the shifting character names? - it’s the people who show up chapter after chapter. Their enthusiasm for the next installment contagious when you’re distraught, their celebration of the well-turned phrase, their laughter at a character who particularly delights them, their sense that it’s all happening; those are the ones who bring you when you can’t quite bring yourself. And for me, it’s a motley crue of impossible intelligent men AND woman, watching a 14-year old girl come of age on the golf course, finding reasons to believe, moments that promise a life beyond the sand traps and insight into how great this world can be. To a world-class piano player, a travel agent, a general manager of an impossibly innovative 21st century business, a housewife who is just starting to believe she’s a writer, a ninja communications specialist and the man who named the Dead Kennedys, thank you. To everyone else, know this: they’re out there—the people who whatever it is you dream will dream it right along with you. Look around, whisper your confession and see who swims up to your bow. In that moment of looking out, you’ll find the ones who can believe.