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

August 2007

August 2007: Wonderland Journals, Mason Jars, Yoda & Honey Mustard Popcorn

This Is Somewhere Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

   Raw and ravaged, a roiling blues boil that is grounded in its own funky organic stew. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are a lean rock band that leans towards the jam, but never quite meanders. Think the Allman Brothers fronted by the sisters from Heart… With a straight on social commentary in “Oh, Merie” - where the feckless female is allegorically our nation, they are not afraid to sting, yet it’s the dizzying sexual want of “Stop The Bus” that bristles with pheromones, hormones and, well, plain moans… Carnality served over a whiplash rhythm section and a steaming bed of churling B-3, this is the stuff, straight-up, full-tilt, pure-thrust and on down the unapologetic line.

Rose 31 Le Labo Grasse, France, New York, New York

   A rose is just a rose, but so much more when you factor in wood and spice. Lighter than most floral heavy scents, this is more the notion of a free range flower—and the sense of sun and grass and growth permeates this custom mixed perfume. It is hints of clove, cumin, pepper, vetiver and nutmeg that whirl around the cedar, amber and other exotic wood notes.

   Mostly, though, it is a dark room, a sense of bloom, a nose of spice and strength, To wear it is to be immersed in the mystery of much of what is… and occurs below the surface. Wear it and evoke so many essential elements of who we are, while inviting interest and suggesting worlds beyond words. Heightened femininity at its best without fuss.

Zelda Goes To The Newport Folk Festival

   They said no dogs as she whirled through on the back of the cart; she ignored it with a headsnap. The man on the scaffolding and wood plank stage declared, “no, I don’t think so…” Zelda Fitzgerald Spaniel did not care: she’d come to hear Emmylou Harris sing. And Allison Krauss with Union Station. She looked at the man as if he were a daft peasant, looked at me and sniffed, “As if.”

   Jerry Douglas, the man who redefined the possibilities of the dobro in ways that defy mere verbiage, smiled indulgently, said, “This dog is a friend of Emmylou’s…” and let it dangle. Scooping the wonderspaniel into my arms, I ascended to the viewing level and never looked back. Zelda has never been so happy: “Born To Run” and “Red Dirt Girl,” “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues,” “If I Needed You,” “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” were just part of it.

   She smiled. She watched. She reveled in Union Station’s decidedly fonkee, Lowell George-evoking “Atlanta,” the butterfly light “Lucky One” and shuddered at the shimmering vulnerability of “Let Me Touch You For A While.” Zelda went to Newport, nobody will ever be the same.

Easy Cucumber Soup


   Six cucumbers peeled, seeded and chopped chunky . Dropped in the blender with a couple dollops of sour cream or yogurt, a splash or two of (butter) milk. Snippings of fresh dill. Possibly a few chives. Mint leavers for briskness and contrast. A bit of vinegar if you’re feeling the need for tang (it’s not necessary). Whir-whirrrrr-whirrrrrrrrrrr-whirrrrrr. Adjust for consistency. Chill. Serve.

Two Elles 12th South District, Nashville, TN

   If Alice in Wonderland had a shop, it would be this quirky darling store that sells books, china, cute clothes and candles - all bound together by an overwhelming sense of whimsy and wonder. These are the sort of Bohemian lines that deflect fashion in the name of comfort and cute, but not cute in the sugary treacly sense.. It is all ultimately functional, practical without being cubicle and absolutely free of any sort of preset definitions. Whatever you are, whomever you might believe yourself to be, this is the place to let it free—and find freedom amidst the tea cups, beauty products and hand bags. A mini vacation in a store!

The Parking Lot when the Show’s Sold-Out

   Inside, it’s teaming, sweat against someone else’s skin, the foment of the heat making any gasp of air about all you can hope for. Yes, there is the excitement and the thrill, being seen and who’s there, energy buzzing out and around… absolutely… And there I was, not getting in, needing the release of the rolling and bucking beats under a clear moon, knowing inside was the last place I wanted to be.

   Out in the parking lot, maybe in the back near the buses, the night is cool and spread out over the scarred blacktop or plain dirt field. The only undulation is from the bass reverberating through the walls, but as the music pours out from the capacity buckling walls, it’s amazing what seeps out. You can ride the currents and tides of songs, feel the euphoria and buoyancy of the music. If the rush isn’t as extreme and hurled full-tilt, there is a measured appreciation on how great what’s going on on that stage is with a perspective that is wrapped in enough air to actually breathe and take the music in.


Gramercy Classics

   Inexpensive palm-sized literature, making the great books truly a handful. These pastel covered volumes are affordably priced and easily carried—making a better, smarter self oh so impossibly accessible. Whether it’s Tom Sawyer, Jane Eyre or Great Expectations, the means to elevate is now at one’s fingertips, cheaper than a paperback and charming enough visually to give people pause. Tuck one in your bag, thumb through while you’re waiting, marvel at what it does for your synapses, imagination and thinking.


Honey Mustard Popcorn Indiana Popcorn


   A viciously subtle snack, the kettle corn is covered in a tangy bit of mustard then sweetened with a dash of honey. Not one uniform mixed flavor, but rather two different tastes colliding. It comes in great big bags, bursting with fluffy white morsels - yet, hording the can’t-put-it-down snack seems more a by-product. It melts away if you let it, crunches and gives you plenty of chomp if you’re about chewing. Impossibly, irrevocably addictive: I can’t be left alone with a bag for anything.

Perseids Meteor Shower

   It is as if the constellations exploded into a million more stars. No moon on top of it, making the startling bits of light shine that much brighter, that much more brazenly against that black velvet sky. Tonight and tomorrow, the heavens do their own celestial fireworks—and all we need do is bundle up, look up and smile. To know vastness, brilliance, diamonds beyond settings, this is the annual nocturnal light show that says everything about what makes the heavens so holy.

Thieves of Kailua

   A kitschy, clever tour of Hawaii from the pen of indie isolationist Jason Holstrom, this is humor, humidity, hospitality and enough tropical rhythms to evoke leis, grass skirts and grown-up drinks in pineapples. Short bursts of undulatious island music, ukeles plinking and a sense of disposable moments tied up in palm fronds make this the ultimate tiki torch party music - and the sort of thing that merges kitsch with honest Hawaiian sounds.

   Not quite supplemental music for Elvis’ “Blue Hawaii,” but absolutely a frothier authentico take on the wave Jack Johnson rides—and something you could needle-drop anywhere if you decide to have a Gidget’n'Moondoggie theme party. Absolutely the kind of record all your rum drinking friends will ask you about.


www.kayak.com 


   You need to fly. You can’t possibly find a travel agent at whatever hour. There are too many sites and airlines to juggle. STOP. Five letters do it all: sorts, stacks and spews myriad options based on price, travel time, direct v.stops. You can single out given airlines, compare discount sites. All in a matter of moments. Think of it as a slot machine of air travel: put your information in, hit return, watch the tumblers turn—and then assess the damage. Simple. Quick. Perfect.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Haagen Daaz


Pure creamy evil! Slightly sweet, very vanilla confection that is riddled with thick veins of the buttery caramel normally used to drench the moist, intense plum cake that is so dense it is more pudding than baked good. And yes, the “pudding” is chunked and loaded into the mixture - the freeze adding a texture and a chewiness that gives dimension to the calorie-laden indulgence that has marked British dining establishment’s for years and now available in this thick milky varietal in any grocer’s freezer near you.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”
              —Yoda

   It’s that simple, really. If are doing, then you have already superseded the notion of trying. It is about the action, the commitment, the reality of being in the process. To try is just an accelerated version of not doing. Yoda—here from “The Empire Strikes Back”—brings a Zen simplicity to the notion of being and nothingness… in a way that removes the challenge and heightens the inevitability and desirability of getting started.

Radio Was Party Shuffle Show www.MyDamnChannel.com

   Ramshackle content smushers enlist quirky iconics for various web possibilities—and much of it is oddly deeply, well, odd. Harry Shearer’s Dick Cheney gags are spot-on in their skewer, while Hot Mental Freedom will grow up to be a sound-off box for every and all brave enough to upload. And then there’s uber-producer/utter quirk Don Was, who not only does a top-flight interview show and offers free music each week, but opens up his perfectly stocked IPod for a myriad mix of rock, pop, jazz and beyond obscurata.

   Figure any mix that includes a bootleg of Lenny Bruce getting busted, along with Pharaoh Sanders, Old Crow Medicine Show and Keith Richards singing on a Stones track Was himself produced defines—or perhaps defies—the notion of eclectic. With that raspy, hippie, zoned out commentary to offer context of what we’re hearing, it’s the ultimate connoisseur’s mix.


Hydrogen Peroxide

   Yes, it is a disinfectant… and can be sprayed on counters, diluted in water to use as a vegetable wash to remove chemicals, even used full strength to kill mold in showers. But just as importantly, it can be diluted and used daily as a mouthwash, poured into a load of white laundry in lieu of bleach—and should there be blood stains, poured directly onto the stain, rub, rinse with cold water and wash as directed.

   At a dollar a bottle, it’s not quite a miracle. But it’s a simple solution to myriad problems. Even a toothache: use one capful and swish for several minutes a few times a day. The ache (or canker sore) will go away.


Public Cowboy No. 1 Holly George Warren


   Lovingly and exhaustingly researched, award-winning journalist and historian Holly George Warren takes the American cowboy idol’s story and gives it four dimensions. Not only are there the facts and a sense of the man and his journey, but Warren infuses every moment with not just meaning but relevance to Gene Autrey’s place in our culture.

   Not just an icon, a businessman, a family man and someone who’s endemic of the values that defined the romantic strength of the cowboy way. On the 100th anniversary of Autrey’s birth, George Warren gets people to remember, open up papers that’ve long been sealed and celebrate a friend, a movie and singing star, a husband, fellow musicians and visionary across the backdrop of a nation coming of age.

Pink Pirate Ribbon Flip Flops Eliza B

   Pink ribbon dotted with the classic skull and crossbones motif is mounted on a lime green bit of cotton webbing. It is the standard issue thick black soled flip-flip, the sort worn around the world for too many years and then some. Nothing seemingly special or even out of the ordinary—until you look down. Then you see the grounded treasure, the poof! of “ahoy, matey” and you smile.

Green Tea w. Mint Bigelow

   Antioxidant, yet crisp. Fresh, yet earthy. What could be more accessible than Bigelow tea? Yet, what packs more good for you reality than this combination? Sometimes getting it right doesn’t have to be a llama in lotus position, but just a slightly more aware decision in your grocery store.

   Great hot. Better cold. Make it a little extra strong, add a dash of honey, a squeeze of lemon. Slowly warming and relaxing after a good hot steep; brisk and quenching when iced.

Peaches on the Tree

   The boughs bend slowly and deeply towards the ground, heavy with the lightly fuzzy orbs. The peaches themselves, bulbous more than round, are apricot, deep red, yellow in places. They are at the peak of their lusciousness, and they are suspended in time and place, waiting for their opportunity to be realized in someone’s mouth.

   It is the beauty of nature, the fullness of fruition. As the tree resplendent in a bevy of deep green leaves offers its verdance, the peaches offer the promise of the best of what orchards realize. Just stand there and look, breathe in the perfume of the sun-warmed fruit still on the tree; in that moment, one need not even taste to know the succulence of the flesh, the slightly tart sweetness that is the core of the height of the season.


“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
        —T.S.

   You know those people, the ones who just won’t quit. It is so easy to roll your eyes, mock their passion… and then you realize: they’re getting things done, making it happen, defying the conventional wisdom. T.S. Eliot is right—only those willing to go to far can truly know the limits of how far one is capable of traveling. When you look at it like that, how far—really—is ever enough?


SOS: Save Our Soul Marc Broussard


   Louisiana man Marc Broussard brings that pulse-quickening steaminess that he’s known for to old school soul standards in a way that doesn’t just turn ‘em out, but brings ‘em in. This is the sorta full-roll funk’n'soul expedition that excavates the passion that charges Marvin Gaye’s socially aware “Inner City Blues,” Stevie Wonder’s plucky “You Met Your Match,” the Staples Singers’ twist-down dignity’n'empowerment anthem “Respect Yourself” or Al Green’s slow-build “Love & Happiness” with such vitality.

   As a survey course to an era long gone, this is an update that maintains the charge of the originals. With a trip through Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can, Can” and Otis Redding’s tortured “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” Broussard mines the swampy home turf for a reason to hit the old school black music that’s more than mere nostalgia. It is as mouth-watering as it is mood-elevating, just what the doctor ordered for a CD about soul salvation.

Walking Through Clouds

   In the morning, sometimes, they settle. Just touch down and kiss the ground ever so softly. Cool and moist in a way that’s finer than particles, one’s skin feels touched, yet barely aware of the patina of moisture that’s settling. But mostly, it is the mistiness that one can touch that lets you know clouds are indeed tangible beings that one can also put their hands through.


French Dip Radius 10, Nashville, TN

   It is more like a slow cooked steak sandwich, sliced not shaved and oozing the succulence of beef on the crusty roll. There is, of course, a deeply reduced au jus to dip in - the very essence of the cooking, as well as a homemade worcestershire sauce. With French fries in a white paper cone—equally.


Glide Dental Floss

   Slightly more expensive than traditional floss, ultimately a much easier navigation between our molars, cuspids and the like. In a realm where dental hygiene precludes a variety of health issues—the plaque on our teeth has been correlated to the plaque in our arteries—this is a way to make getting into the cracks easier, deeper and gentler on the gums. Not the kind of thing most people even think about, butt absolutely the sort of thing that makes the kind of difference in one’s well-being that matters.

Libertine Collection Target

   The punk/prep iconoclastic designer becomes Target’s latest cutting edge designer to contribute to their suburban sartorial insurrection. Little skirts embroidered with whales—and skull & crossbones? Grown-up crepe de chine black dresses with scalloped cream cutaway trim? Toast military coats with a bird on the back and extreme bolero tailoring? Absolutely. And with no pieces ringing in at more than $40, anyone can afford to play the fashionista game—even if it’s just a little lipstick and crimson striped jersey butt-skimming dress.

Back To Back Zelda

   The hot blond has become insistent on human contact. Specifically running her spine along mine. She wiggles in, presses back, settles in. It is a definite sense and presence—and the warmth is a comfort and genuine offering of spaniel love. To have a dog who cuddles is one thing, or a canine who drapes themselves across is a pleasure, but there is nothing like sleeping back-to-back with a fluffy puff of silky Zelda. Why didn’t she think of it sooner?


“Love is an act of endless forgiveness.”
            —Jean Vanier

   It’s a simple thing: those whom we love we can harbor no resentments towards. Whatever they do, it is forgiven and forgotten. Maintaining truth and beauty, dignity and the best nature of a relationship—this offers the chance for healing and second chances without acrimony, sanctimony and a projected sense of shame. To love is to let go—literally and figuratively. Here is a perfect maxim to go by.


Chesterfield Hotel Palm Beach, FL


   It is the last of what was old Palm Beach… and the Leopard Lounge, wall murals and classically attentive, but homey staff attest to the potency of an era of subdued comfort over pristine luxe. With rooms that are tiny, but beautifully appointed, Moulton Brown amenities and a tucked away pool to languish at, this is the kind of disappearing act that retros without going kitsch. And the people watching is superb.

100 Calorie Hershey’s Pretzel Bars

   It’s actually two. They come individually wrapped. Long thin pretzels with a thin frosting of caramel. Salty. Sweet. Rich. It is just enough to truly sate the sweet tooth - and the portion control eliminates the need to paying attention or will power. Tear one open and let the slow savor begin.


Finches

   They are the tiny court jesters of the bird world. Small enough, yet coming in reds and blues and yellows, as well as the traditional sooty brown. They dart and light and peck. There is a whirling about them that isn’t skittish, but more the unfettered joy of freedom, the effervescence of near-weightless flight, the fluttering in wings and the quickness that comes without size.
   Watching their morning - or any - rituals is cause to smile. All you have to do is pause long enough to watch them feed and frolic.

Cameo Apples

   They are beautiful—with their shiny mottled pinkish red and slightly faded greenish skin. The meat is smooth, giving way easily to the teeth, yet having enough body to make chewing it a juicy crunchy exercise. Chilled, they are almost like a liquor, they become so sweet and complicated. Room temperature gives them less intensity, more nuance to the flavor. Either way, good eating.

Carnival Cards teNeus

   The freaks and attractions rendered in old school print motifs. The smaller than half sheet cards make a quick note seem like plenty—and gives one an excuse to let people know you’re thinking of them even when you don’t have much to say. Factor in the whimsical running off with the circus thematics and it’s a little bit gypsy, little bit whimsy and a whole lot of imagination set sail.

Teavane Atlanta, Green Hills Mall, Nashville


   In a world of Victoria’s Secret and the Body Shop, the Gap, Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch, the notion that there would a minimalist store that sells tea varietals seems counter-intuitive. Yet Atlanta-based demi-chain Teavane seeks to offer loose tea, Japanese iron pots, clear glass infusers, muslin filters and a slew of accessories for tea ranging from Zen to high.

   Drawing from a vast menu that mixes greens, whites and roiboos, as well as tisanes of both common and exotic origin, Teavane creates a venue where the curious can explore and learn and the connoisseur can seek some special secret blend. Whether one wishes to buy a smattering or several ounces, Teavane makes opening the plethora flavors and benefits of tea as easy as running by the mall.

Diana Chronicles Tina Brown

   A naughty guilty pleasure. Ten years later, the world is still obsessed with Diana of Wales, “the People’s Princess,” and with good reason. Hardly of the royal stuffiness, she made nobility a place of rare grace and glow. Though the pressure of the station ultimately rendered her more coal dust than diamonds, there was a dazzle to the beautiful young woman that captivates an entire globe… and if her charitable works were never enough to offset her inherent glamour, she was an escape from the mundane and dreary.

   Written by her friend and confidante Tina Brown, of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and the wildly failed Talk, this is a portrait from an up close perspective. In so many ways, we should be over this, but perhaps in this day of peroxide teens who’re beyond over-indulged a swan disaster may - sadly—be a far more elevating proposition.

Beautiful Road Kate Taylor

   Created out of love and finished in loss, Kate Taylor - the saucy vixen of the musical Taylor family that included iconic singer/songwriter James, the late bluesy Alex, the troubadour bard Livingston - has grown from ebullient eclectic into a ruminative vocalist who can let life filter through the velvet tone of her worn in alto.

   “I Will Fly” as elegiac as it is life-affirming opens an album that is as much about the joy of having lived and known as it is about the holes and sorrow of loss, while the sweetly pensive duet with dusty suede throated brother James on the complete “Auld Lang Syne” offers a benediction of hope and possibilities amongst the memories. Having lost husband, collaborator and writer of six songs herein Charlie Witham, Taylor brings a grace to the most difficult transitions that transcends the hardship and expands the beauty… with guests Mavis Staples, Levon Helm and Chuck Leavell, this undiscovered jewel is grown-up music that sows a more expansive sense of what it means to live, die and be fully present in the now and the gone.

Fufu Berry Carbonated Candy Jones Soda Co

   Pixie stix in tablet form. Kool-aid confection in a fizzy fuzzy mouthful. Citric acid and heaven knows what ignites a bit of faux fruit flavor that is the sugary equivalent of an Alka Seltzer for confectionary fulfillment. Pop open the little can, reach for a fufu berry morsel—and let the fun begin.

White Birch Rosemary Candle Kobo

   It is clean and clarifying, a scent that cuts through the muddle in one’s mind, evokes the woods and herby freshness. When you wish to be alert without being overly stimulated, awake without being hyper, this candle which burns very clean is a perfect recharge. Light it, leave it and let it permeate not just your home, but your senses… gently pushing you towards a higher awareness. Mmmmmm…


Jim McGuire: The Nashville Portraits Frist Center, Nashville, TN

   Senor McGuire is something of a Nashville institution. Old school in a way that has put him in the line of fire with the legendary creative free spirits, Jim McGuire has captured pictures for the past 30 years with a comfort and a lack of self-consciousness that’s made many of his pictures endure where other images have faded away. Whether it was John Prine sitting on a curb reading a True Romance magazine to his Australian Shepard, Tammy Wynette behind the wheel of his wood panel car for her Higher Ground cover or Guy Clark in a black jacket, cigarette and starched white shoot, the humanity revealed merged with a heroic sense of definition.

   Having built a franchise on dark photos with a bright key light, McGuire’s work has been collected, anthologized and displayed at the Frist Center in Nashville. As portraits of a few particularly fertile eras, it’s a historic study worth noting; as images that unveil varying essences of humanity they’re a revelation. Through the fall.

Mason Jars

   There is no more perfect vessel for liquid, be it ice tea, ice water or pure moonshine. You pour it in a Mason jar, you pop it in the refrigerator until it chills down. Take it out, unscrew the cap and have enough quaffage to keep you from needing refills, yet not so much that it’s a chore to carry around. With a lid that seals tight, too, there are no strange accidents or leaks to reckon with, either.

   And in a style conscious world, there is something downhome and charming about sipping straight from a Mason jar. It fits well in the palm, looks classically Americana and offers the perfect answer to dehydration without inviting waterlog. To stand out in the crowd and invoke a plain spoken kinda charm, this is the way to do it.


“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”
         —Winston Churchill

   In those moments when you seem to be leaning into it, fighting the uphill battle, consider the strides being made. Not merely an effortless downhill slalom where momentum is the substitute for a genuine effort, but the result of applying one’s skills, strengthening one’s weaknesses, proving - to yourself more than anyone else - what you’re made of
   The greatest strides are, indeed, the ones that come through storms, fire and exhaustion. To achieve the most that one is capable of, resistance is necessary. No one understood that better than Churchill.


Cocoa Chile Mole Archer Farms

   The classic Mexican sauce, thick and luscious, ready to be spooned out over chicken and heated - or used as a base for enchiladas. It is a basic high end Target label staple - and it takes all the time out of an exotic dish that merges sweet and hot, spicy and earthy flavors. And while no one will mistake this for Los Angeles’ legendary Lucy’s El Adobe, it is beyond serviceable and bordering on hide the jar and act like you slaved over it.

Adventures in Wonderland Dream Journal

   A small lined notebook, dotted with images and sayings from Lewis Carroll. Evoking the whimsy and wonder, the freedom from the strictures of convention and the willingness to throw everything into the air, this is the kind of journal, thought-book or perfect bound reminder that will jog the joy, inspire the exuberant and create a sense of euphoria amidst the mundane.

   Not kiddy in the least, just embracing of Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with the sort of farflung, full-tilt understanding of people who see more than March Hares, Mad Hatters, Red Queens and White Rabbits as the projections of a melting mind struggling to be resolved. Absolutely. Heaven knows, I have two.