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

February 2006

February 2006: Cream Soda Blues, Target Chocolate, Mother Goose   


Christian Louboutin Open Toed Lace Up Espadrilles


Bubble gum and celery with the rope wedge heel. Open-toed, wrapping about one’s ankles like a ballerina at the seashore. Feminine, but solid enough to say “I’ve got game. I can hang. I’m not some cupcake, teetering about on thin little fairy heels.” This is a woman who walks through the world, but is perhaps not quite of it. And they come in pink on pink, as well. Though there’s something a little more eye-catching, a little sportier, a little less prissy about the combo that revs up the green, fades out the pink of the standard prep combo. Plus, you get that signature red sole, at least until your soul dances the soles right off. 
   Bergdorf Goodman Shoe Department on 2.


A Tribute to Nicolette Larson Various


It is only now that I understand “Lotta Love” was a song about going deeper, getting more out of any interaction with overtones of the heart, carnal or otherwise. Effervescent—with that swollen sax line—the feel of Nicolette Larson’s lone approach at the top of the pop chart was such an accurate reflection of who she was, it was easy to get lost in the sunshine ‘n’ laughter aspects of the woman songstress/humanist/encourager of all who got close to her.
   But for two nights, it was a pop music altar call for the glitterati determined to spark her spirit with a melodic Ouija board and world class players. With Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Dan Fogelberg, Little Feat, Carole King, Dan Fogelberg and Crosby, Stills & Nash—plus Joe Walsh waxing wah-wah on “Rocky Mountain Way,” this reads as a one disc survey course on much of what was good about the singer/songwriter movement of the late 70s/early 80s. Larson’s love was echoed in the songs and channeled through the performances, reminding each of us how powerful the connections of sharing, opening up one’s heart can be. Indeed, her currency was love; and anyone who knew her remembers that cock-eyed grin and the simple declaration of “We’re having some fun now.” Even now, yes, Nicolette, in our remembrance, we are.


Choxie Espresso Truffle Bar Target


Fine chocolate? Target? Seriously? Actually, yes. Slightly bitter dark chocolate with a strong hint of espresso; milk chocolate covered with broken toffee that’s infused with the essence of ginger. This is smooth, rich, wonderful stuff; pungent enough to quicken the tongue, quality enough to warrant letting it melt—slowly. And the best part is: Target priced. Decadence can’t get any more affordable than that.


Cream Soda Blues  Nevin Compton Trammell


Somewhere between Charles Bukowski and Lewis Carroll, Nevin Compton Trammell takes the blues rhythms and scans, takes stray images, sensations and emotions and crafts a free scat kind of rhyme that brings to mind Langston Hughes. Working in essences, distilling moments and details into the nucleus of what mattered, Cream Soda Blues offers up the way it looks and feels with no fat, no extra, no embellishment. But in that to the bone, unblinking framework, there is truth in both the honor and the conflict of the human condition. Refreshing in its directness, comforting in its clarity and evocation, healing in the mirror it holds up to our souls.
www.creamsodablues.com


wood ducks


Maybe the sexiest of all ducks—with their deep forest/emerald green feathers, their impossibly hip duck tail coif, that little flourish of color on their head. Wood ducks look cool; they just do. Easily the most interesting duck in our 4th grade ornithology class, I’d never seen one; just the pictures in my Field Guide to the Birds that were so stunning, they made them seem almost beyond the real world. Until yesterday, coming out of the woods at Radnor Lake, and there they were: 6 of them, 4 males and 2 females—tipping upside down and feeding, swimming in that motionless way that makes graceful seem impossible for earthbounders to achieve.


Clorox Pens


Point and shoot just took on a whole new meaning. Small enough to tuck in a jacket, purse or briefcase, this is instant stain removal—and all you have to do is uncap and gently work in. Since most of the damage is done in the drying and setting, this circumvents the crisis with ease.


“Why The Pilgrim’s Progress Still Matters,” 
Kris Kristofferson cover  No Depression


No one poet/artist/renegade has offered as much truth about the ties that bind, the unrelenting desires that drive and the need to be unto oneself as Kris Kristofferson. A gorgeous man whose muse makes him even more compelling, at 70, the Country Music Hall of Famer is as committed to himself, his quest, his loves and the process of writing as when he was penning the songs that made Johnny Cash, Sammi Smith, Janis Joplin, Ray Price and Willie Nelson—and in turn America—turn to him
   Beautifully soul-plumbed by author/critic Bill Friskics-Warren, No Depression’s cover profile stands as everything feature writing ought to be—the door into the secret garden of wonder, the window to the why of what captivates and the how of what fires the creative process. Just as importantly, the history is illuminative rather than merely a recounting of the timeline. 


Punching


Totally, utterly aerobic. Quick bursts, deep burn. Focus, focus, focus. Understanding beyond words of whatever is working your subconscious—and a sense of getting it out that doesn’t require “processing.” My trainer started working it in as a way of changing up what we did, but I now sulk if I don’t get to “put on the gloves” as a way of exorcising my demons, known or unrecognized. 


The Elements of Style, Illustrated


Not since Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s The Transitive Vampire has anything made the basic rules of grammar and composition so clear for the pedestrian. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, the illustrations to accompany the bible of written English create indelible examples of the rules—and make getting it right easy. With a new introduction by Roger Angell and the E.B. White classic from the 3rd edition, this book looks utterly Kate Spade and is absolutely the manual for exquisite communication: style meets style with a perfect binding.


Anatomically Correct Men


There has been a dearth of them out there. Men who will stand up, stand out, stand by you. Men who know their way around too many situations and would rather square back those shoulders and look you in the eye than skulk away and cover their tracks by any means necessary.
   Yes, it IS hard to be a real man—in EVERY sense of the word. They are rare and precious and to be savored. And a real man is all about that, too!



“Therese” DVD


A cast you’ve never heard of. A saint that many miss, in part obscured by the Catholic church for her charismatic relationship to her savior. Beautifully rendered and inspiring in a way that extends far beyond the standard tract of doctrine. This was a woman whose faith was a passionate matter of living—and watching this, whether you choose to believe or not, you will be swept in the power of how deep our everyday can be if we stay open and embrace the possibilities of fate amongst the hardship.


“Simplify, simplify.”
       ——Thoreau


Taken from Thoreau’s masterwork Walden Pond, it seems unattainable in the way he lived it—and also absolutely a done deal in our glossed over American way of “got it, check, good.” The truth of the matter is this: this is a life code, a way to be that’ll give you peace/piece of mind. Expect less, give more, bring it into a quieter, stiller place. How much do you need really? Why? What for? In all of that is an escalating whir of the wheels, an increasing velocity that can’t be maintained, only eventually crashed; in that wreckage, who wants to start over? Shards of all the really didn’t matter, pieces of what could’ve if only and bits of moments missed to haunt you.
   Simplify, simplify, simplify. Even if it means dragging your soul to sort out what’s important, the investment is going to give you a depth of resonance that’ll increase every moment’s meaning exponentially.

Zelda Road Trips


The wonder spaniel is ready for new horizons, better adventures. She’s got her bag packed, her sun glasses ready; and all she wants to do is drive. It’s a great big world—largely deprived of her wonder, grace and beauty—but the hot blond with the wet nose is about to change all that. With her Backstage Lounge geared up and stocked full, she’s heading north in the name of whatever the highways offer.



Long Shorts O’Neill


Close to the body, but baggy enough to be comfortable. Loads of pockets for all the things you require. Easy to wear, easier to take off and hit the water. O’Neill is a surf/beach manufacturer who understands utility is as important as style—and they’ve figured out how to serve both masters with clothing that gets it done, holds up and isn’t afraid to hit it as hard as you do. Their blurb is “People + Art + Music + Environment”—cast into a world like that, what couldn’t be possible? Or just as importantly, inspiring? Just put ‘em on and go.


Set To Pop Bill Lloyd


Bill Lloyd shines in a sky of smart pop that is populated by supernovas like Alex Chilton, Jules Shear, Marshall Crenshaw, Nick Lowe and even Elvis Costello—and his sweetness and joie de vie for jangle sparkle pop music basted in rock rather than disposable, empty caloried fluff gives him hoist to go with that oh-so-dear smile and reverence for song structures, well-turned phrases and hooks that last longer than all-day suckers. With a Rickenbacker, a tweed amp and merseybeat, Lloyd—half of the quirk-country-duo Foster & Lloyd—takes a song like “I Went Electric” and turns the folkie accusation into a metaphoric celebration of seeing the one who must be THE ONE. Genius, but more enjoyable.


Harvest Loaf  Bread & Company


Golden and red raisins, bits of apricot, whole grain flour. This is a loaf that makes surprising sandwiches—the unexpected nuance of the fruit, crunch of the nuts and slightly sour taste of the dough—but was born for the most decadent French toast ever. Moist enough to stay fresh for days, lush enough to work on its own, satisfying without being a cloying fruit bread, the Harvest Loaf is the best of conventional bread and the more high-test dessert loaves. Try it, and see how many ways you can envision consumption.

Spring Training


Right now sets the stage for the entire summer. Let the major leaguers play—and play. Let them rediscover the joy of the game, remember 
what fires that competitive instinct, figure out just what ignites their reason for chasing three outs and four bases. Opening day is less than six weeks away; this is the time when the men become honed to capture our imaginations, take our breath away, offer up an athletic benediction on a sport that is metaphoric for life itself.


I Can’t Stop Loving You: A Tribute To Ray Charles + Country Music Country Music Hall of Fame


Ray Charles in his blindness saw no boundaries, walls or fences. He had a rolling sense of rhythm and a will to hurl himself at a lyric that turned emotions inside out. To hear him sing “Georgia” was to understand a full-immersion performance, and that total commitment to a song defined his catalogue. Though a black man and a straight-up soul/r&b performer, the boy raised in north Florida couldn’t escape country music—and his love for the simplicity of it, along with the elevated opportunities for vocal expression, was something he’d never deny.
   His Modern Sounds of Country & Western Music kicked open mainstream America’s appreciation of the “hillbilly genre,” and his relationship with Nashville would only grow in its stead. There were a series of albums on CBS Nashville in the ‘80s, when color lines were more obscured and formats more rigid, and a few of those hold up (Charles’ “Seven Spanish Angels” with Willie Nelson remains a high watermark for the last quarter of the 20th century in country music) with the best of music in any genre. 
   March 11, 2006 general opening; gala preview March 9, 2006.

Unexpected fans (and the rush they give you)



Standing in the hall of the Ryman, waiting for Elvis Costello’s Opry debut, Emmylou Harris smiles and starts talking about getting rid of her e-mail. “It was just too much,” says the silvery voiced songstress whose taste is beyond exquisite. Smiling and nodding about the invasive, assaultive nature of the cyberonslaught, the jaw drops to realize that this is the preamble to a witness about how much she misses getting the Yummy List, how she printed them out “and REALLY read them, really take my time ‘cause there’s so much in there.”
   It is in those unsought after moments that connection strengthens, that one’s sense of purpose broadens, deepens, recommits. You can’t always know your impact, but every now and then, often at a time and place you least expect it, someone you really respect flips on a switch of why it matters. It is a rush and an honor and a blessing. Take them, reflect upon them and hopefully improve as a way of honoring the gift.


Rhubarb Grapefruit Jam Loulou’s Garden


Think about it. Seriously. You don’t even need me to wax rhapsodic about this bad boy; but because I can’t help myself: there is nothing as succulently tart as rhubarb, the spring tonic that is quick bubbled and set to cook down, and here it is given the added blessing of pink grapefruit, a touch of Meyer Lemon and a little sugar. English muffins have never had it so good!
www.loulousgarden.com


The Original Mother Goose


Find the child who wasn’t raised on the cow jumping over the moon. old Mother Hubbard and those classic illustrations, and I’ll show you a child who was denied whimsy and joy. Though I don’t believe such a child exists. Looking at the pictures, those timelessly rendered art deco/Maxfield Parish-feeling nursery pictures and you can feel the years melt, the innocence well up inside you, the must-go-rush-pressure-shattering-coal-rather-than-making-diamonds reality recedes. And to give it to a child is to bring them into the ring-around-the-rosie of our culture—a gift that is as much a gift to the giver as it is to the recipient.


Rebel Meets Rebel


Take the Pantera boys who were working the Damageplan tip—including the now departed Dimebag Darryl, who was killed onstage a year ago, put them in a studio with country kamikaze David Allan Coe and you get a musical hybrid seamless enough to not be able to finger genres, combustive enough that it straddles the most frenetic aspects of metal and the most farflung insurrection of Waylon, Hank Sr or Coe himself, and relentless enough to give bikers, scrappers, outlaws and insurgent room to pause.
www.RebelMeetsRebel.com



Hand of God



You need a parking space on a crazy busy, running late afternoon, one’s right at the front door. You walk into storage and the nice lady knows just what you need—and articulates it in a way that crystallizes everything you’re thinking. You are worried about what’s going to happen next, and an old friend shows up with just the right insight into who you were, who you are and how it always worked. Just that simple, because it’s so much bigger than you are.

New Shower Curtain


It’s the same wallpaper that I’ve had for 13 years—and it’s well-hung, perfectly suitable and absolutely happy. But, sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to keep the same old from being just that. And so, armed with a little cash and the enthusiasm of loving my space, I hunted and killed a brand new shower curtain—and, viola!, there’s a whole new lease on the place where I wash off the day, brush my teeth and look into the mirror to tell myself all the things that must be faced, are currently being feared or are meant to be attained. A shower curtain, a simple basic shower curtain, changes everything. Look for the small tweaks and embrace them.

Shun Lee Palace Café  Lincoln Plaza & 65th


The carts roll by with the little steam dishes, filled with dumplings and rolls, bits of meat and sea food. It is an uptown take on Chinatown, and it has the bustle of a diner with the ambience of a fairly nice, if casual restaurant. You can order from the menu—or in the case of my scallion pancakes, you can order from Shun Lee Palace’s menu—or you can make a meal of the little dishes being offered. Either way, it’s authentic Chinese, and from hailing the heart of Nashville, that is its own special kind of thrill.



Grown-Ups with the Dreams of the Young


My friends Judd and Dana did the craziest thing: disengaged from their very steady reality—that both paid and gave them a place in the world—to start over at the bottom. Not quite the bottom, because their talent is honed and their sense of self defined to where it serves them, but still; coming to a town where they know no one, seeking a dream that has a waiting list of thousands and little hope of ever turning into the grail.
   Yet, they are happy. Realistic about the chances, yet thrilled by the adventure. Shining, luminous people who just want to know what the ride tastes like, how the entree is meted out and what it takes to succeed—beyond the standing in line, crafting each break, seeking new avenues. Whether their dream comes true or not, they are whole, they are fulfilled, they are grateful to feel the heat of the furnace—and no matter whether they return to their pond or wiggle around the ocean almost unnoticed, they are happy to have seen, better for having sought and utterly grounded in the love of what they do no matter where they ply their gifts.


Bach Flower Therapy: Theory and Practice  Mechthild Scheffer


Bach Flower Essences are non-prescription ways to deal with life’s little emotional bumps. Having teetered on the brink of intense exhaustion during the siege of a major client crisis, their Olive essence—designed to enhance energy—became a mainstay. Now on the backend of an equally profound life change, the Walnut—literally for times of major decision and life change—has helped maintain my resolve when my body, depleted from the toll of the demands placed upon it, and mind were not all they usually are.
   They have them for sadness, apathy, frustration, jealousy. They have them for doubt, fears that are known or unknown. And there are so many to choose from, so many subtle differences, the pamphlet they provide may not be enough; that’s where Scheffer’s book comes in. More detailed, specific and analytical, it’ll help you find the exact combination—or single essence—that’ll ease your mind. In a Prozac nation, what could be better?



Little Surprises


It was a UPS envelope, wedged behind the storm door, when no package was expected. The address was an old friend, who’d heard the news about the end of an era. He’d sent me a bound notebook with a note that said, “You know the legend, no doubt. Now make one of your own.” It was the best “Vaya Con Dios” ever—something that is so totemic of my journey, so simply turned and yet so deeply given. It was humbling in the best way.


“Tonight I’m Gonna Cry” keith urban


A world class guitarist, the interminably shy keith urban has been growing into his emotional template over the last couple of records—and having mastered the art of absolute cheerfulness (“A Brand New Day,” “Love Somebody Like You”), he convincingly wades into far deeper, more vulnerable waters on his latest. “Tonight I’m Gonna Cry”—resplendent with the line “To Hell with my pride”—is the sort of naked vulnerability that allows men to feel the depths of their anguish and accept their pain so that it can be transformed. 
   The notion that sorrow is something not to be wallowed in, but considered, honored and then passed through may not be the most macho, yet it’s certainly only a field for the very brave to plow. For it takes guts to consider one’s hurt, one’s broken hearted disappointments, but that’s the twister urban heads straight into with dignity, courage and the will to let it all fall down in tears and jagged memories around him. Stunning.


“By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom. By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.”
 

It is in learning from the things we regret that we expand who we are, grow in love and maturity and find a way to offer solace to those who were impacted. It is when we can’t let go of our need to right that we suffocate our own goodness and create even deeper pain and havoc in people we care about. To say, “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong,” “I missed the point,” “I hurt you,” may be the bravest, but also the most liberating act of all; and to find our error and amend it is to make our life a prayer of healing, hope and luminous grace.
   If we can’t admit where we erred, we will drive ourselves—and the people around us—mad with justifications built on lies, untruths, shading of the facts or even dropping whole pieces of reality. If that doesn’t seem like the bedrock of shaky ground, what does? And how can we stand firm, if this is our cornerstone. Sanity is the greatest gift of all, might that I move ever towards it.


Floral Stripe Linens William Sonoma


French country cottage feeling, rendered in a washed out pink-based pastel palette—and they come with a stripe counter-pattern that keeps this from being so girly that no self-respecting man could feel comfortable eating off it. There are table clothes, napkins, placemats and seat cushions. Rather than buying a whole new breakfast table or dining room set, this is a quick way to redecorate for dimes on the dollars and freshen up one of those rooms that’s so essential to daily life we often forget to see it.


Fried Green Tomato BLT SoBro, Country Music Hall of Fame


The whole grain bread says this is substantial—and the oozing mozzarella is fresh enough to make you pine for basil. But just as you’re knitting your brow over the non sequitur, the thick slices of bacon give way in their smoky goodness—and the crispy cornmeal fried green tomatoes offer up a piquancy that says garden snap, rendered just a little mooshy, but tangy, too. A whole new, bold Southern spin on an American classic, it is the kind of sandwich that doesn’t overwhelm you when you eat it, yet your mind will keep drifting back to it.


Peripatetic (pair-eh-pah-tet-ick) adjective


Going from place-to-place. Perfect for the restless, the rootless, the unsettled or the ones who make their living on the run. It sounds so much more romantic and noble than merely “can’t be tied down,” and the inference offers the notion of something almost holy about their quest. In a world of those who can’t quite get it together to keep it together in one place, here’s your perfect word.

The Rumors Are True t-shirt Abercrombie & Fitch


Washed out chocolate brown with turquoise, almost Tiffany blue curvy, but bold script. Close to the body, almost in a melting fashion, but weathered in a way that says “I’ve been there, lived it, been it, done it.” After months of going, “Do I LOOK like I’m quitting?,” it was the perfect chorus for what was going on. But every girl who has a little mystery needs one: to say all the things that might go unsaid, her little secrets that she’d like to share, but just wouldn’t.


Car Wash


Had a friend who worked in a car wash during grad school. He was a bright good-looking guy who used downtime to study and the busy times to knock down anywhere from $500-$1000 a day. But even more than the obvious pay-offs, my friend got the kind of crash course in social hierarchy that can’t be learned from textbooks. And from that world of the unseen and don’t-matter, who people are at their core becomes more than quite apparent. Next time you’re tempted to treat someone like they’re not there—or are worthless ‘cause their job seems so trivial—remember this, then respond to the other’s humanity. What it says about you speaks even more than what it says about them.