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

August 2007

August 2007: Better As A Memory, Michelle Obama, Para Poppins, ACL Festival + Shifty


The Killer Angels—Michael Shaara

   Published in 1974, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, The Killer Angels is a deeply human novelized treatment of the Battle of Gettysburg. More than a recounting of who was there, how it looked and what happened next, author Michael Shaara puts blood beneath the flesh and impulses into the hearts and heads of the characters—valiant men who were all fighting for deeply personal reasons, convictions and meaning.

   The gentleman who gave me the book—a smart man who has systematically worked his way through all the Pulitzer Prize winners—declared it changed the way he looked at the Civil War. It is about more, even, than the War Between States, but the reasons we fight, the things we hold dear about who we are and our nation. It is retold with rippling detail and mesmerizing insight, A forgotten jewel, truly worth the read from the man who also gave us the posthumous baseball quest novel For The Love of the Game.

soy ginger marinade or dipping sauce

   It is salty without being overly saline. It is sweet, but in a way more interesting than sugar. It is pungent, delightfully vexing the tongue. It carmellizes on flesh, vegetables, whatever—even as it breaks down the toughness in meat and enlivens and crisps squash, zucchini, onions, sundry garden what have you that would grow dry and mushy in a very wrong way.

   A quick fix. A good soak. A delicious, no hassle flavor fest.


Raising Sand Allison Krauss + Robert Plant


   Intriguing pairings are the salt of our intellectual pique, and this merging truly stands out. The angel-voiced column of silvery ache and Appalachian beauty that has anchored Union Station and reminded mainstream country about its roots, the satyr of cockrock who merged the heaviest blues thrum with Joni Mitchell’s filigreed folk of odd tunings who moaned his way through Led Zeppelin, the elegantly vintage Honeydrippers and his own hard rock solo projects join for an eclectic cocktail of Tom Waits, Mel Tillis, Townes Van Zandt, the Everly Brothers and Sam Philips on an album that is genre-melting.

   What emerges is the no/Everyman’s land between the cosmic high plains country of West Texas, earliest feral blues, the pioneering thrust of folk meeting rock long ago and faraway and a level of surprising musical merging that extends to players Greg Leisz, Norman Blake, Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger and Marc Ribot as well as Krauss and Plant. Traditional, exploratory, organic, otherworldly, this is the weightlessness of a moon walk through the mist, with the earthy reality of a pastoral crossing at night. To hear everything we know we erased, then put back together in ways that thrill one to the core is to know the power of true musical kinesis. Jaw-droppingly lovely, awe-inspiringly free, utterly reverential of the roots that provide “Killing The Blues,” “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson,” “Rich Woman,” “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)” and “Trampled Rose” with their stopping power. Quiver-inducing.


before dawn


   It is the quiet moment when the dark expands. Utterly hushed, still. There is no life, no sound. Nothing. You look out the window, and it hardly looks different than the night. But you can feel it… the impending pressure of the breaking of the light. It may be the holiest moments of the day: the perfect poised second when all is frozen, yet everything is on the precipice of what might be.

   Exult. Revel. Immerse oneself in the pause, feel the gentle momentum of a day being born.

Daily E-Mail Rap & Roll Confidential

   Started as a fly-in-the-face of censorship being wielded by a bunch of Senator’s wives, Rap & Roll Confidential has been keeping it real, honest and hypocrisy puncturing for over two decades. The Dave Marsh/Lee Ballinger omni-genre newsletter/tip sheet—which has been endorsed by Rage Against the Machine, the Clash’s Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen—is now doing a daily blast of one item you won’t see anywhere else, but matters in ways that may not hit you ‘til the next day.

   E-mail Lee at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Tell him the Yummy List sent you. He’ll put you on the list. It’s a whole other kind of aware, the kind people hurling through life often don’t have time to exhume, yet are startled to realize certain depths to the social, cultural, economic and even health politics around them. You’ll thank me.

Marvel Superhero Stamps US Postal Service


   The second series of Comic Book superheros the US Postal Service has issued, these 41 cent first class stamps celebrate another wave of “good guys” with the robust primary colors and thick stroke outline that have always made cartoons so simple, yet engaging. The Silver Surfer, Spiderman, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Elektra, the Iron Man, X-Men, the Thing as covers and action figures create a POW!, YOWIE! BLAM! ZOT! WHAM! declaration on even the simplest correspondence.
  In a world where “getting there” is it’s own kind battle, what better way for your letters to make their way than under the protection of a supernatural force of good? Superpowers evoked and engaged with a quick flick of the tongue.

Organdy Nail Polish Chanel

   Paler than bubble gum, but every bit as girly, this flat lacquer from the ultimate high end purveyor of women’s fashion strikes the de rigueur color note for the impending fall season. Perfect for the end of summer and fading tans, Chanel’s Organdy also maintains it’s toe hold on the look of startling brights amongst the traditionally muted fall palette. Whether working strong neutrals, dialed back basics or rich jewel tones, Organdy is the compliment that is both fresh and exuberant. Pricy, but as a within-grasp-splurge, every girl can have a little luxe treatage.

Live at the Roxy Bob Marley

   In 1976, Bob Marley had emerged as the scion of reggae, the man who would bring the undulations of the Caribbean and the notion of a black culture rooted in a world beyond the American mass imagination to the world. Today, merely a t-shirt marking icon signifying what has lost its flesh and blood sense of lifeforce in the same way insurrectionist revolutionary Che Guevera has, Live at the Roxy demonstrates the spark and fire of the charismatic man who enlivened a genre of music that reaches into the vast wells of modern pop, rock, jam and beyond.

   Opening with a percolating “Trenchtown Rock,” Marley incinerates songs of righteous indignation “Them Belly Full, But We Hungry,” “Burnin’ & Lootin’,” “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)” before exploding into the slow roiling boil over of “I Shot The Sheriff.” Still there is the tender encouragement of “No Woman, No Cry” and the feel good “Lively Up Yourself” and “Roots Rock Reggae.” But it is on two-song second disc where the musicianship snakes and coils with a searing tautness through the always kicked back ease of accepting the moment as it is of “Positive Vibration” and the medley “Get Up, Stand Up/No More Trouble/War” that Rastafarian revelation comes home in terms of players seeking higher ground, audiences transcending place and culture and a man on aflame with a music that is more than merely than songs and moments. Listen and understand the lasting allure.


Bold Truth


   To tell the whole truth and not pull any punches. To let it fly in all its Technicolor glory. To unfurl the how it is, the why and the what in a way that brings it to life rather than reduces it to a few beige words. You can pull your punch with the truth—softselling to not get a reaction—or you can throw it down blazing. If you believe, the gauntlet is your’s; if you captivate, how can people not respond?

Sparkling Water Beverage Meijer

   Not too bubbly, not at all sweet. With a label that promises no calories, no sodium, no sugar, they somehow manage to pack a wallop of peach, green apple and black cherry in every swallow—and they do it without that artificial, chemically-induced sense of pseudo-flavor. that punches one’s gag reflex from the first mouthful The product of a local Midwestern grocery chain, this stuff blows up great big 3-dimensional flavor in your mouth taking the daily water consumption from dutiful to delightful.

   Think of a Pixie Stik melted into some kind of soda water, only more intense and real fruit tasting. If you like anything more than lemon in your water, this is the way to go.

Ragstock  Madison, Wisconsin


   A store designed to cater to college kids, this is the Trash & Vaudeville of the flyover set—and far less tragically hip in its ability to hit a cutting edge bulls-eye for the rebellion that isn’t merely Xeroxing the Hollywood gutter. Whether it’s a tattoo transfer t (that isn’t Joe Hardy) proclaiming “Love Kills Slowly,” a cotton/wool close fit cable knit v-neck with a very DIY felt skull & crossbones appliqué or some kind of rump grazing kilt, Ragstock gets the notion of letting one’s freak flag fly without the too slick post-designer sense that afflicts the scenesters who lack imagination.


Grilled corn and tomato salad


   Sam Berlow soaks his corn, then tosses it on the grill ‘til a serious char develops. Lets it sit in the husk a bit for the sugar to settle, peels the green leaves and slices it from the cob into the bowl. He then chops up whatever the freshest local tomatoes may be—some nights yellow, some nights roma, some nights grape-sized, some nights purple, some nights a mélange of heirloom and beefsteak and whatever else strikes him. Chiffonading oodles of fresh basil which he covers the bursting with just pulled from the ground veggies with, he whips together high quality balsamic vinegar, honey, cold pressed virgin olive oil, a shake of sea salts, grinds of fresh pepper and pours the mixture on top of it all.

   Now ten days running, there is not a night that goes by the entire batch is not gone, The essence of summer in a bowl. The sweet crunchy incredibly fresh taste of truck stands and local farms personified. Simple, easy, wonderful! Don’t thank me, thank Sam… He’s the one who created it.

Zelda Eats Sushi

   She is 15, and her life just began. A friend who’d brought enough to share—not knowing that I didn’t indulge in the raw fishy goodness—gave a bit of yellowtail with rice wrapped in seaweed to the spaniel. Everything changed. She sat up taller, smiled brighter, beseeched without begging even more charmingly than normal.

   Zelda loves sushi! Sushi span with her eye on the ginger and her tail choppering around at a brisk pace. If it took until now to experience it, Zelda has—like Frampton—come alive, and she’s on the hunt for more bait.

A great big plate of here ya go…


   When it’s not worth the hassle, all you have to do is listen. People will tell you what they want to hear. Pay attention and you can serve it back to them, no waiting, no whining, no reason to bother. A great big steaming plate of ‘Here Ya Go.’ When it doesn’t matter, sometimes it’s just as easy to give the people what they want, let them reassure themselves of their own brilliance and move on.

Sailor Blue Flower Punch Out Clogs Troentorps

   Medium blue, not navy, not baby. They have holes punched into the tops, leaving a lovely floral pattern across the top of the foot. With rubber bottoms, they are far more forgiving than traditional all wood clogs, yet they have the same easy slink factor of the beloved Swedish footwear. Toss’em on, get gone, What could be simpler?


Valencia Orange, Cedar 50 Hour Candles HomArt

   Relatively inexpensive. Poured into the green bottle glass that Coca Cola comes in. Long burning, deep scent, no cheap perfume oil to corrode the natural scent. Individually, they are the essence of what is promised; together, they offer a sun-drenched juiciness of citrus mingled with the crisp tinge of acrid wood shavings. It is yin and yang for the olfactory realm, sense expanding and imagination engaging. The pair commingled makes one alert, emboldened, enlivened. It has been what I’ve burned for long nights most of the summer.

Austin City Limits Festival Sept. 15-17, Austin, Texas

   It is a meeting of the tribes. Every kind of band with any sort of roots or real music component converging on Austin for three days cast across eight stages. Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket, the White Stripes, Steve Earle, Grace Potter + the Nocturnals, Wilco, Amos Lee, Lucinda Williams, the Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A., Asleep at the Wheel, Damien Rice, Ziggy and Stephen Marley, Joss Stone, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Muse, Kelly Willis, Arcade Fire, Charlie Musslewhite, Biork, Del McCoury Band, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and… and and and…

   “Austin City Limits” defined what it meant to be tasty “Texas style” in a state where blues, rock, country, troubadour and any amalgam that had soul stuck. The PBS concert show expanded into the concert realm, becoming the nation’s premiere event for thinking music lovers. Joining forces with KGSR, a radio station that defines what FM in the 21st century can be, the ACL Festival is one stop shopping for everything anyone needs to know about the state of the real and grounded in modern music from around the world.


Pastilles Rescue Remedy

   From the people who gave us the ultimate stressbuster tincture, Bosch now delivers a gummy chewy lozenge that exudes elderflower and orange essence in its quest to even out this crazy nutty world in which we live. Tuck in a purse, backpack or briefcase, remove as necessary and suck on the honeyed textured all natural composition that’s a little bit candy, a little bit chewy cough drop, a little bit instant exhale. Easily carried, absolutely a refuge.

Fast Company

  Not your typical stack-up-the-profit-margin sort of business periodical. Decidedly younger, more forward-looking, fast-paced and evolved in the humanistic nature of its prism, Fast Company is a progressive way of taking on the rapidly shifting realm of work, corporations and the way companies make their living.

   The current cover story—“He Sold His Soul To Wal-Mart” about a green activist trying to walk the line with the antichrist of fare wages and reasonable business practices—says everything about how they view the economic and commercial realities facing modern global practitioners of trade and expansion. Examining the realm of American business in China; Microsoft’s tentacles into American education; Hollywood reconstructing New Orleans—these are not black and white stories, but various shades of gray. A crystallizer, informer and reason for finding a stake in the fiscal reality of modern America, this is a must read wherever and whomever you are.


“Through love, through friendship, a heart lives more than one life.”
        ———- Anais Nin

   So many ways for a heart to move through the world with passion. Yes, there are great loves, profound romances, barely breathing/quivering knee buckling crushes, but what makes life rich are all the other veins of emotional consort we share with each other. It is in the variety of emotional communion that we find out who we truly are—and in the myriad strands of love, we embrace any number of lives that leave us richer, more potent, more exhilarated by the possibilities. Open your emotions, share your caring, find out how much love your heart can hold.

Para Poppins T-Shirt www.Threadless.com 


  My beloved Kathie Orrico is always one to point to the famous or not quite realized who can’t quite deal and suggest that like Mary Poppins, my best defense is to know when to exit. Here is the t-shirt for the long walk and the slow fade: a military green all cotton body hugger that is littered with men in parachutes and punctuated by one Mary Poppins, gently floating to Earth with her parasol extended.

   When one rides the currents of air with something as ordinary as an umbrella, that’s cooping without ever cracking a sweat. It’s the key to survival in the jungle of bold face and the insanity of the ego zoo. All you have to do is blend in, keep breathing and don’t flinch as you let go and float off.


Michelle Obama, Lindsey Lohan pieces Elle September


   The much-heralded, utterly tragically timed Lindsey Lohan cover interview that spoke volumes to the layers of deception, enabling and the way the table tilts to protect the self-destructive was a fascinating glimpse into the tiny ways implosion creeps up on you. An indulged barely woman/adolescent who is painfully aware of her own narcissism, is charming in a way only one for whom the greatest privileges have been accorded and vulnerable as only one who is impervious of the true consequences can be, it is a ground zero read for anyone wondering how the youth culture has come to such white trash, drunk and addled baseness. Even the pictures show a hardened, lost beauty surfing her own sense of entitled wipe-out in a way that speaks more than words could possibly.

   At the other end of the pole is Alice Randall’s black-woman-looking-at-black-woman assessment of what makes Michelle Obama such a compelling running mate in the far more noble, marital sense. Strong, smart, aware of the conflicts between race, class, opportunity and education, she is as grounded in the reality of how the business world works as she is aware of the traps and obstacles that plague kids from the fiscally-challenged lower middle class and ghetto cultures where she herself emerged from. An always incisive writer, Randall cores to the molten center of her humanity, creating a sense that Michelle—like Elizabeth Edwards—might be an even better President than even the other half she married; in an election where every wrinkle matters, this may be more pivotal than we think.

Gehwol Extra Gerlachs

   Billed as a “Universal foot cream with a broad spectrum of action. For daily intensive care…,” this holistic German cream soaks in, soften, cools, revitalizes and heals soles that’ve been through the wringer. Eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender and thyme oils offer healing, as well as warming and protecting our primary source of traverse from the cold and the damp. A bit of a search, but slathered on, then rubbed into the heels, the arches, the toes and tops of ones tired feet—and perhaps swaddled in heavy wool socks—it is a tantrus of way high to great personally induced proportions.

Pam Greer

   She is the queen. Cleopatra Jones defined the Nubian goddess as hard-ass, no-mess street fighting woman. Pam Greer was better than sex in a test-tube: she was rough, tough, smart and above all sizzling. She had fly clothes, steady aim, a high karate kick and a sense of the down low that made her more than a match for any scum bag, bad dude or shifty character.

   Thirty years later, she still has it—as Quentin Tarantino’s homage to the siren of blaxploitation “Jackie Brown” more than demonstrated. But what’s really stunning is how erotically charged Greer’s ‘70s genre-specific films remain today. Dated, yes, but potent in a way today’s show-us-what-you-got sex kittens will never have the ovaries to command.

Mountain Pose

   Plant your feet shoulder width apart. Stand straight. Stand tall. Stand strong.
  
  Reach your arms over your head. Reach with every fibre of your being. Feel how strong your body is. Sense how far your sinew can extend. Push just a little bit more and get the sense of the expanses your body can explore with just a little discipline. Steady. Slow. Empowering.

“Messin’ with the Kid” Jr. Wells w Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes PBS Clip


   There was a time when rock bands could truly jam, could expand and expound on a theme, could take a melody and make it mean ten different things. When Springsteen sidekicks Southside Johnny Lyons and the Asbury Jukes enlisted Junior Wells to join them on a special PBS taping, they worked through enough blues-steeped rock & roll to evaporate any kinda sweat, rain or whatever with the sheer heat of the playing and Wells’ intoxicatingly smooth wailing.
   Dressed like an uptown Saturday night, the Jukes—horn section high-steppin and dancing, grown men resplendent in their flashiest garb—flexed their best licks and left the fonkee “Messin’ with the Kid” in shreds on the soundstage. But it was Wells in his natty suit and highly polished demeanor that went through the tricks, the changes, the moves like it was a hot knife through butter. To be so nonchalant while so highly charged is the mark of what was—and to see an elevated band workout with such dexterity and euphoria is to understand a time when musicianship was a universal bar to be cleared for compulsory membership in the realm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf35d0Km0E4 


Rose of Sharon

   There are paper roses and then there are the crepe-y seeming flat-faced flowers that grow on rangy bushes with the Irish sounding name. Lush pinks and purples with deeper centers, whitest white with a crimson pink punctuation in the middle - all with pistils sloping out, weighing heavy under its furry burden of pollen—make something that is both tropical and garden variety.

“F” Peach Ball Cap University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

   Not everything need be garish blue and orange. Here is a pale peach all cotton baseball cap with a single old school block letter tacked on. Yes, the “F” is for Florida, but it could be Fabulous, Fun, Frolic or even Frompy just as easily. With an extended brim suitable for personal arching and a flat enough tone to compliment a broad palette of colors, this is instant camouflage for a bad hair day that is unique enough to leave the illusion that you’re trying.

Banana Cream Pyramid Lure, Edgartown, MA

   It is the thickest banana cream pie filling, piled high and whipped until thick enough to hold the narrowing triangular planes. Covered in chocolate ganache, this is not some foo-foo rendering of a threadbare dessert, but a stand on its own confection that merges several aspects of sweets into a mouth-wateringly creamy mini-mountain of tropical fruit, cocoa rendered with much butter, a whirl of contrasting citrusy puree.

   It is decadent without drowning you in a stomach turning richness nor is it tongue-burningly sweet. This is cool, balanced, light, yet satisfying for people craving something to sate the post-dinner savory contrast reflex. Created with a bit of the nouvelle, but grounded in the traditional, it works both sides of the menu without ever pandering to the haute or the downhome,

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign then ta

   Nothing enflames one’s hunger and will to explore and achieve quite like desire. There is technique. There is raw material. There is the manifest of those who go before. But when one learns to yearn for something, suddenly the pieces don’t just fall into place, they come together with a fire and desire that causes its own momentum.
   Whatever it is you wish to inspire people to do, capture their imagination. Create a need within the soul, a churning yearning to experience the tautness of what might be, to immerse oneself in the trajectory of how it is. Show them what could be and watch what happens.

OxiMagic Spray Clorox


   Not quite a magic potion, but color safe enough to point, spray, rub, scrub and run under temperate water in the name of eradicating wine, tea, food and other vexing stains. This is as straightforward as it comes—releasing the substances that’ve bonded to one’s garments fibers with a miracle alchemy designed to relax the grip more than strip everything but the fiber.


friends you hardly talk to, never see, always have

   Thirteen years. Same swoop of hair across the forehead, same grin that says far more than they intend. You walk down a hallway and there they are—and time is the least relevant commodity in the universe. The people we love, laugh with, recognize some facet that matters or sparkles in, it is not about the daily grind but they way they shine—and the way we shine in their presence as well.

   The friends you hardly talk to, but know on a cellular level… they’re the ones who’re soul tight no matter how long, how much, how far you go When you look in their eyes, you know they see the deepest recesses of who you are, the things most people miss. In that, you are known in ways most people never bother to get to—and that is why they will always be your’s.


Pink Satin platform peep toe ‘20s starlet stiletto pumps ABS www.fabreana.com

   Pink is the color of the fall season. Shocking. Hot. Schiaparelli. And what would be more siren/vixen/soignée torchmuse than a pair of satin peep toe stilettos? Lifting the calves, pitching the hips, suggesting the forbidden curves with that thrust of the heel and the tilt of the top of the foot. Moderately expensive, these soles will set your soul on fire, embolden any man within smiting range and suggest resources you didn’t know you have. Decadence that’ll put a wiggle in your walk and a drawl in your talk… Promise.

Washington Square Serenade Steve Earle


   It could just as easily be called Good-Bye Guitar Town for the hardcore troubadour and populist rocker’s latest is a more personal, in some ways joyous reflection on the passage of a life thoroughly lived. Love songs that stick, sociological studies, modern moments crowd around an album that hybridizes turntables and banjos, organic mixes and loops.

   It is a folk-grounded song cycle that pushes the envelope on what Gerde’s Folk City hath wrought. Whether it’s the pining “Come Home To Me,” the lilting multi-culti “City of Immigrants,” the churning “Satellite Radio,” herky jerky “Oxycontin Blues” or exuberant “Sparkle and Shine,” these are the lives and times of a man at peace in the world he in habits. Capped with a churning redux of Tom Waits’ “Down in the Hole,” which serves as the theme for HBO’s prison drama “The Wire,” it is the tension Earle weaves sans self-consciousness—and that ease of moving through phases, stages and emotions is what’s held our gaze for the past two decades. Decidedly personal, it’s a coming of age we should all take note of.

Benign neglect


   Sometimes it is best to let people figure it out for themselves. If we deny folks the dignity of their struggle, how will they ever learn? And if we’re constantly swooping in, solving the problem, how can we ever expect them to function? In a world of do-more, divest-of-responsibility, benign neglect frees us up to take care of ourselves, while allowing the people we love to sort it out and make sense of the issue—knowing all they have to do is ask if they need us. What could be more empowering?

“Final Blow” Edward Helmsmore Vanity Fair, Sept 2007

She was a fashionista, a style icon, a blazing trendsetter on par with Diana Vreeland. The idiosyncratic Brit who was the queen of the chapeau, Isabella Blow was on the pulse point of what was the look of the moment, an aesthete who could churn opposing elements in couture caliber reality with a few stray touches and a wave of her hand.

   That she would launch Phillip Treacy’s maddest hatting, position John Galliano in the catbird seat at Dior only to find herself discarded and fall from grace with a mother-in-law who ultimately had providence over the home she shared with her equally singular husband. To be highly, wildly individual is its own perceptual marksmanship, yet there are inherent recoil falter points. For Blow, who seemed to crash into every possible pitfall, it was too much… and Helmsmore captures the ultimate price she paid for her snowflake uniqueness and iconic perfection: death by imbibing weed killer after several botched attempts to exit the world at her own hand. Sobering, cautionary, tragic and ultimately, the scales of what is gained against the cost. Riveting.

Canada Across the Water

   Just across Lake Michigan, you can see it, twinkling like some magic star. One quick trip over the bridge and you’re in another country. Wheels turning, water passing beneath, sky ablaze and all the time in the world—though only a very few minutes to devote to actual travel. Accessible exoticality.

   Downtown Detroit—the only place where one must go South to get to Canada, for you bar wagerers—is as hardcore blue collar America as it gets. Yet you turn the key over, turn up the Grand Funk and put the hammer down. In short order, it is Great Britain, a whole other kind of innocence and the notion that it all spills north to the pole. What a difference a quick trip over some water can make.

Truffles Candinas, Verona, Wisconsin

   They are smooth and rich, but not sickening. The chocolate melted slowly and tempered, folded into itself and reduced to the essence of what cocoa can be. Nine perfect truffles—each infused with a different taste or texture—boxed in a 5 inch by 5 inch line graphic square. To be nibbled slowly at room temperature is to experience how far into a flavor one can journey - the various ingredients rising up out of the thick creamy chocolate ooze.

   These are hand made in the truest sense. From a place where handmade is a point of pride rather than pretension or pose.. A tiny factory in the heartland, a candymaker who believed the best of the global confectioners could be harmonized through his own fingertips and the kind of uncompromising quality of ingredients that offer nothing less than a peak experience. Four continents, countless options, one quietly unassuming definitive chocolate eating experience.

Emotional p&%#y

   There has always been the notion of sex for sex’s sake. The disposable body bags that take our heat and exist for nothing more. But what happens when we’ve been too long in the emotional wasteland? When we need to believe, crave connection, but are so parched we couldn’t possibly have anything to give that would give us a true lasting soul companion?

   To scared, wasted, scarred and/or angry, the risk isn’t even the hurdle; it’s what little is left. So we—as Stephen Stills once suggested, though on a whole other plane—love the one we’re with. It’s not quite duplicitous, but rather more the realm of getting through. Not dishonest, just uneven—and ultimately destined to wash up as so much less than we deserve, but in the moment the driftwood that is clung to keeps one from drowning in a black hole of emotional destitution that will stunt, blunt and ultimately amputate one’s connection to their emotional truth.

   Cheap, easy and in some ways utterly necessary. Just don’t cling once you’ve washed up on the shore—or you’ll miss your chance to emerge healed and walk upright towards a more fitting destiny for your heart.


Glossing Spray Frederick Fekkai

   An olive oil based product that is nutritious for your hair even as it serves the vanity of gleaming tresses, Frederick Fekkai’s latest spray strengthens, feeds and bastes your hair in a forgiving mist. It smells clean and light, almost evoking the beginning of springtime growth, but the way it makes one’s hair shine in any state or condition is its own special magic. Overly dry, chemically-pounded, stressed from the elements or just the wear and tear of too much washing, this is a quick fix that over time will yield long lasting results.



Lemon Lavender a Ginger Soda Pop Soda!


   Micro-brews turn to hand-crafted quaffage, as this product of Moretown, Vermont offers a slightly effervescent drink that is quenching without being overwhelming, organic without feeling apothecary. Lemony tartness mellowed with a hint of lavender, it is the suggestion of ginger that bridges the two seeming polemics into a unified taste. Stomach settling, soul satisfying, this is a killer gulp on a hot day—and the perfect palate cleansing accompaniment for whatever gustorial gusto you choose to put on your plate: gonzo gorgonzola, balsamically carmelized onions or explosionary puttanesca.


Shifty

   To look at him, stocky frame, muscularly solid, Buddy Holly frames, arms full of oversized stars inked in the most patriotic of colors, the name fits. To watch him, quiet, observing, taking it in, assessing the playing field, figuring out the margins and looking for the path of the greatest not so much ease, as sanity in the circus, it is to realize that truth in advertising is sometimes more about cashing the check of the veneer than the essence of the man.

   It is the evenness of the hand, the caution in the vortex, the measured decisions that are meted out with a kind of loyalty few can proclaim in the modern world that makes the moniker something of a deceit. Street cool, yes, but more valiant and elevated than he’d ever dare consider himself to be. A rare knight on a hip-hop fringe in the urban/suburban axis of the industrialized dream as it buckles, erodes and plays out in an every man for the moment play. Truly an inspiration of decency and dignity in a realm devoid of both, unrecognized and not worried about how he’s seen, only how he maintains the truth of his character.

turquoise blue

   It is intensely blue. Light enough to reflect the intensity of a clear midday sky. Bright enough to suggest the clearest waters of the Caribbean. Fresh enough to be the shade of a robin’s eggs and Southwestern jewelry. It is the kind of color that is vivid and vital, quick to pop and quicker still to elicit a smile. In a world of subtle and nuance, there is nothing laid back about this tone of two clicks deeper than baby blue expanse of hope and beauty.


Vineyard Gazette Martha’s Vineyard, MA

   It is simply a small town paper that is content to be just that. They cover local news, local issues, the tides, the Bass Derby, the Ag Fair as if their lives depended on it - and in many ways, they do. With a lovely quote over the masthead of the twice weekly oversized newspaper, this is about the gift of being alive in the world and in nature, the warmth that is community and the appreciation of stories well-told. There are other papers on the island, but none of them has graciousness or willingness to invest in the reality of the world so completely.

Cute little old men

   There they are: wearing proper shirts and ties with their shorts. Not afraid to wear their suits “just because.” Straw fedora-sporting in the summer. Knowing how to wear a newsboy’s cap and seeming rakish, not adorable - and adorable for that reason - or LL Bean shapeless field hats with a salty nature. They wear wool socks. London Fog raincoats. Galoshes when its wet Glasses because—as Webb Wilder used to admonish his fans—“because they need them.” Nothing makes you melt and go “awwwww…” faster than a little old man with style. The ultimate reminder of style and elegance as a matter of breathing rather than effort. Wow.

Lilac Bouquet

   It is anything but. More a euphemism for something not often said in polite company, evoking a ladies hygienic of a politer time, long ago and yet utterly obvious to anyone with any sense of the past and marginally active imagination. To say that something wreaks of lilac bouquet is to suggest much, none of it good; to refer to someone as being the object of lilac bouquet is to do everything but screw on the nozzle. So high-mindedly polite, so impossibly damning… ahhh, the secret handshake of it all.


Alice Cooper Print Ads John Varvatos

   On an opulent couch on a velvet pillowed veranda sits a man in a wickedly cut black suit, an impossibly tailored white shoot falling open to the clavicle, a black tie or thin scarf tied loosely but seriously at the point where his throat meets his body. That he is planting a walking stick, brandishing a top hat at with a rakish perpendicularity to his head and is gazing with a certain searing indifference into the camera takes on a whole deeper haughty fraughtness when one gauges the thickness of the eyeliner ringing his orbs or the giant python encircling his frame and languishing on the lush Schumacher striped satin upholstery. Suddenly, this isn’t merely the bored and entitled, but rather the ultimate a nightmare: a rocker of means and elegance. Oh, no!

   Leave it to high end men’s designer John Varvatos to enlist high watermark rock portraitist to conjure the essence of ‘70s shock rock innovator Alice Cooper on a tableau that is old money and clenched jaws. To juxtapose what was, what is and what could be utterly conjurable, the collaboration is a riveting black and white double truck photo that more than illustrates shattering convention can be done within the framework in far more shocking ways than mere guttural jettisoning of the quo.

Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Baron de Boutisse, 2000

   Bottled on the property in the Chateau Boutisse, this is a Bordeaux that is full on the tongue, lingers a few moments than recedes to leave you marveling at the earthiness of the flavor. Deep, haunting, the essence of time and rich soil and vines - the Saint-Emilion is a grown-up vintage that takes on hostage from the first sniff of a decidedly heady scent and melts everything bad about whatever may’ve happened as one surrenders to the nearly black ruby liquid that warms its way over your tongue, down the throat and into your stomach.

   A slowly opening warmth emerges, along with a sense of subtle indulgence and the subtlety that is the gasps and caverns of a perfectly aged wine. A special treat, an adult pleasure, a reason to know luxury isn’t just flash, but something that offers recesses and essences of how nuanced and delicious what the chemistry of culture and cultivation can create.

“Better As A Memory” Kenny Chesney, Just Who I Am, Sept. 11


   Every now and then, an artist stands naked, vulnerable, honest. When Kenny Chesney exhaled the opening line of this revelation/recognition of being better as a memory than as your man—“I hang on like a sinner’s prayer”—you get the sense of the pain that comes with self-knowledge and self-awareness. To hear a vocalist emerge wholly inhabiting a song as a second skin is to impale the artifice of brokered emotion, synthetic moments and conjured connections.

   A tough song about letting go of something one loves, because they know the shattering truth of the cold dawn of what they can’t give, this is a stark whisper of cruel kindness. It is the awareness that the other’s fate lies beyond this moment and liaison and the knowledge that “I’m just a dreamer, nothing more…” that makes the loss so heartbreaking, and yet… It is a brave man who can declare “all my friends are pirates, it’s just who I am” and still walk away from a comfort in the storm in a way that is selfless rather than selfish. Maturity works well for America’s latest beachboy—and it suggests that there is more Springsteen than spring break to this faltering songwriter from East Tennessee.



Embroidered Pink Elephant Jeans Lilly Pulitzer


   Classic American jeans weaved with just a hint of Lycra to make the fit curve in ways that keep even the most athletic girls look like boys, the good folks at the Lilly Pulitzer home office have found yet another way to accent a wardrobe staple with a certain esprit d’esprit that is whimsy personified. Pink elephants - the ultimate talisman of cocktail frippery and the Ganesh of good times for the pink & green nation - are embroidered across the field of denim in a size that makes them defining, but not overwhelming.

   A friend wearing the same was approached by a shocked old friend, who stammeringly decried, “But… why… I didn’t know… you… were… a Re-PUB-li-can…’ My friend smiled deeply, inhaled calmly, smiled serenely and responded without missing a beat, “But I’m not… I’m all about going to the party.” A smart woman, she needs to reason to declare, only to engage - and so it was in the grocery store aisle. Shake up—or stir—a little perception challenge of your own.