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

December 2005

December 2005: Darling Clementines, Big Nicks Diner, the Right Room & “Bless The Broken Road”


kosher salt


Rugged. Jagged. Deeply saline. It is the depth of what the ocean tastes like, and it can be right there on the table, ready to sprinkle and bring one’s food to a whole other kind of life. Or serve as a thick crust holding the juices and heightening the flavors within an eye of the round or standing rib roast. And it’s hell on an icy front stoop or driveway; not to mention a mind-bending exfoliation, rubbed all over the body with vigor, then showered off or dissolved in a tub to also draw toxins. A world of uses, all in a grain of sand.


Unplugged—Alicia Keys


Moaning intellectual pop blues, Alicia Keys understands the classical underpinnings of piano in a way that gives her rolling, roiling melodies a wrought iron filigree to twine around. When she throws back her head to near-groan songs of want, loss and love, the river of emotion that pours out is an electric witness of something so much greater than words can articulate: it is a witness beyond words, lunging and surging, reaching and seeking some kind of deliverance that ignites even deeper smudge pots in our hearts. Then for all her timeless soul glory—her raw-throated takedown of the Stones’ “Wild Horses” transforms what is moth-eaten into a weather-washed testimony to commitment beyond common sense—Keys is also deeply anchored in the now, bringing out emcees to kick up the street factor and remind us how young she truly is. 



red cowboy boots


They are bold in a way that captures the eye. Juxtaposing denim, khaki and all the deep jewel and earth tone corduroys that are fall staples. Unexpected, they pop up from the street, not quite rubies of the gutter, but cardinal-toned cowhide that say “life is a big firecracker/rose/valentine, go get it!” Nothing is as euphoric as red cowboy boots on a blah day; nothing is as smile-inducing, freedom-invoking, convention-jettisoning.



St Anthony (again)


My best friend Emily—now dead 10 years from asthmatic arrest—had given me a rose quartz heart 15 years ago, “So no matter where you are, you’ll have my heart in your hands” and my father’s St. Christopher medal from the war were lost and DHL could not figure out what had happened. Delivered to the wrong address, there was no rhyme, no reason, no clue, no sense.
   And so I prayed—sick to death with yet another bronchial takedown—to St Anthony every time I thought of it, which was almost constantly, for three days. During that time, committed to maintaining my calm and not annoying the people around me, my dear friends Sam and Ali were on quest. They knew what was lost, and they were determined things that precious wouldn’t, couldn’t be gone. House-to-house, querying anyone who might’ve been misdelivered to, Sam finally found the driver from the day—and was taken to the door of an empty garage apartment behind a house that wasn’t even nearby. Wedged in a door, that even the home’s owner didn’t know held my precious talismans, the package was found and retrieved. 
   Once again. St. Anthony answered the call of “St Anthony, St Anthony, please come around, something is lost and can not be found.” Sick as I was, I was in no shape to find it, nor did I have the local knowledge to know where to begin. With grace and prayer, the people who could make it happen were there—and the faith in a patron saint of lost things helped close the gap that was beyond computers, guarantees and random reality.



The Melancholy of My Whores—Gabriel Garcia Marquez


It is not what you think—beyond beautifully written. The controversy, dropping Marquez’s latest to this side of Nabokov’s Lolita, is a hype and a mis-service, as this is not the tale of bedding a seriously underage girl and the attendant libidinous adventures, but more the deepest truths of love and emotional connections beyond the realm of physical release. Speaking to the deepest realities of a life lived beyond commitment to another, it exhumes the power of emotional bonding even as the twilight of a life falters—and offers the redemption of release within the parameters of deepest feelings.
   Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

“Walk The Line”



Like “Ray,” this telescoped look at the life of a larger-than-reality American musical icon, “Walk The Line” captures lives like bugs in jelly jars, magnifying certain aspects, doing the best they can with nuance. What emerges is a tortured soul committed to truth and music, bloodied on the jagged edges of momentum and parental rejection and lost in a sense of vertigo about the things that matter.
   As June Carter Cash, Reese Witherspoon embodies a love one doesn’t want, tries to deny, but ultimately must fight for. Joaquim Phoenix takes Hellbent to a reckless frenzy. Ultimately, the toll of the pull, the realizations of the prices paid and the pace’s tax and taxing nature create a higher mandate, which is what holding one’s ground and walking a line should be all about. See it and understand courage and conviction in the name of expression, righteousness and commitment to another in spite of anyone’s best instincts.



Sky Bar


   Not the trendy, tony L.A. bar attached to the Mondrian Hotel, but the old school 4-chambered milk chocolate treat with four different taste sensations by old school candy company Necco. Caramel. Vanilla. Peanut. Fudge. Eat across to commingle. Break off a square and savor one flavor at a time. With its old school packaging, the Sky Bar takes you back to the days of dimestores, soda shops and Main Streets that really were.



Buckskin Suede Skirt with Lace Insets June


Basically straight down, but not quite A-line, with a few little 2 inch ruffled layers towards the bottom and an inset of matching lace, this is classic, feminine, a little bit Western and utterly easy to wear. If you’re frilly, girly, more tailored or just looking to warm up your neutral palette, this is an easy way to interject variety without betraying the core of who you are.



Comfort 3 for Women with Sensitive Skin Bic


A triple bladed disposable razor that sits at a forgiving angle, packs an aloe and vitamin E strip and has three blades to stretch hair and make sure it’s all gone. With a soft grip handle, this is a gliding, forgiving way to maintain smooth legs without getting those gnarly lumps, bumps and irritated patches so inherent to this time of year. 



Our labor here is brief, but our reward is eternal.Be not troubled by the noise of the world that pa

Be present. Show up. Give back. Don’t let the bastards get you down. There are millions of reasons to get bitter, see the worst in people; but if you focus on the beauty, the joy, the best in the moments, you make the walk-up to the sweet hereafter something that makes others’ lives that much more, sweeter, easier. What you give sometimes even better than what you get, and Claire of Assisi knew that inherently.



“I Hope” Dixie Chicks


Bleeding vocal chords that’re the closest thing to Bonnie Raitt in any genre, the Dixie Chicks return with a lean, Rick Rubin-produced song that is a plea for living at peace in meaningful ways. It’s balanced and hopeful and given the raw acoustic arrangement that has enough heft and backbone to have the same presence as the best rock records. With lots of air to make what’s on the track that much more vibrant, this is everything we love about the Dixie Chicks on a song that’s as compelling as their musicianship, showmanship and style.

Habituel jeans



With the Byzantine cross on the pockets. Dark denim. Slightly flared legs. They are slimming. They are flattering. They are lean enough to be tailored and sophisticated. No matter whether it’s Madison Avenue, the Ivy at the Shore or a beer joint somewhere, they more than fit in.

Peyton Manning FINALLY Wins at Gillette Stadium



The New England Patriots are formidable. The Indianapolis Colts hadn’t won in 8 trips to Foxboro. Sometimes the mental block can be worse than the actual acuity of the other team. And so it was when Peyton Manning rolled into Gillette Stadium for this week’s match-up.

Scones Ritz Carlton, Central Park South, New York City



Airy buttery clouds of more than pastry, but less heavy than bread. Heady with the sense of butter, but also a light touch of a pastry chef who understands the idea that the scone is there to conduct clotted crème (something between well-whipped cream and butter) and the highest end preserves. And preserves, mind you, not jam or jelly—but a whole four forest fruit mélange that compliments the almost candied sugar and over-dried fruit bits that have been whipped into the batter.
   Not the dense, dry hockey pucks from Starbucks with chunks of preserved leathery fruit that mystify people about what the English see in this tea time standard. No, no—all the quandary diminishes and fades as the scones begins dissolving on one’s tongue, a marriage of sweet, savory, tart and rich, without even beginning to chew. Pricey yes, but the kind of decadence that every once and a while reminds us about the beauty of flawless execution. 


“Broken Flowers” Spectravision


Building on the battered intimacy of distanced vulnerability and need that he turned into an archetype in “Lost In Translation,” Bill Murray goes on a quest through his somewhat farflung amorous past—reconnecting with cast-off lovers in hopes of finding the son he fathered two decades prior. The crazy quilt of lives, loves lost and patches of unraveled connections that have grown in unlikely, practically disconnected directions. Directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Julie Delpy, Chloe Sevigny among the cast, this expands Murray’s true charter as an actor or grace and meaning. With his opaque veneer barely covering his lost sense of direction, Murray’s performance speaks volumes about the impact of the inability to commit on a deeper level to being shipwrecked in one’s own seemingly functional life—and the emptiness inherent.



Alley’s General Store Chilmark, MA



The hardware and videos are together. The lunch meat is gourmet. They have candy bars you don’t remember. Garden supplies. Postage. Magazines. The counters are wooden; so are the floors. Since 1758, Alley’s General Store has been outfitting a little island off the tip of Massachusetts with everything - just about - they need to survive. A modern execution of a bygone way of retailing, charming in its expansive edited reality, nourishing as a reminder that all the options, choices and overkill is just that: chaos goes commerce.



Chris Whitley, R.I.P.


The roots-driven guitarist who burst onto the scene with Living With The Law in the early ‘90s lost his battle with lung cancer last week—and we lost a slide and National guitar player who could make notes shimmer and burn like heat waves undulating on the highway. It was stark music, haunted—and it rustled the most desolate places in your soul.
   Not quite a spectre of the lost nights given over to rumination, devastation or the sense you’d not find your way home, it gave you the feeling that you need pay attention. For if you didn’t, it would all be gone before you knew it, and what you’d be left with would be bereft of heart, sweat or meaning. And so he’s gone, and it is as he suggested. Too young, too soon, too much.


keeping up


   It is drop and roll. Maintain the strain. Falter not. Rush rush. Go go. Hurry. Chop chop. No one should have to live like this, and yet, sometimes centrifugal force hurls you through the finite. Then all you can do is let go and let gravity. This has been a time of keeping up, dancing as fast as I can, grabbing the scraps of whatever is left for rest and comfort.
   But as the drapes of sunlight part—and the veil of all of that lifts, there’s a softness and accomplishment in what’s been done. Maybe unseen by anyone else, but deep down knowing—and knowing what has happened is solace enough, especially when looking back to the start.


Andrew Weil Anti-Aging Formulas Origins


The notion of magic mushrooms just moved from hallucinogenics and Alice in Wonderland’s Caterpillar to cutting edge skin renewal. In a world obsessed with youth, integrated medicine guru Andrew Weil takes his practices and applies that knowledge to always-organic leaning Origins—and the result a line of skincare products that are about removing, supporting, encouraging skin to stay young, vital, alive. Easy to use, it’s a simple line of products that works reasonable—and that is more than most miracle products ever actually deliver.

Habit  Bandywood Dr  Nashville


Beyond too cute without being too cheerleader, preppie or Barbie. Fringe designers coming into their own, creating looks that say style without big flashy names—and offering the opportunity to be original and stylish. Miguelina, Woo. Amo & Bretti. Sumner. Sweaters. Tops. Pants. Jeans. Body-hugging Ts. Cute little dresses. The owner is surprising helpful and adores the things that she buys in one of the best curated shops seen anywhere; no wonder, she’s a NYC secessionist who’d done time at both shopping bible Lucky and Italian Vogue, so she knows her way about the about-to-blow-up fashionistas’ must-haves. More than a habit for both locals to the 6-1-5 and visiting rock stars and movie people, it is quite simply—and rightfully—an addiction.



Rednecks & Bluenecks Chris Willman


Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Willman examines the schisms between the conservativism that now pervades America’s working class music—and the meaning of the transformation of the socio-political base that was the South’s Democratic front into something staunchly Republican as family values was co-opted. As much profiles of today’s major country stars and critically heralded alt.country names as a treatise about political alignment amongst the working people’s music makers, Rednecks & Bluenecks is well-reported, better-written and provocatively cast for anyone who’s sure they understand just why and how various factions align.



Sepiessa


A holy beach on Martha’s Vineyard with only a dirt road to lead you there. Tall reedy grasses reaching for the silvery sun that shines in an almost dove-gray sky. Washing away from the island, cold and solid, Sepiesaa is the embodiment of the wild, lonely nature of our soul—out there, it is a thing of beauty, something to be nurtured as much as the convivial nature that is so commonly promoted. For it is in the lonesome expanses of one’s soul that our deepest truths emerge. Just standing on the railroad tie steps, as the water lapped in, the wind whipped my hair into spirals of freedom and Max the dog swam back with a yellow tennis ball in his mouth, it is the simplest moment writ large.



“Breakfast with the Arts” A&E


Smart questions that get to the core of the creation and the overlap with the creator’s reality. Snippets. Clips. Performances. Broadway, film, tv, music. it’s all there: a one-stop survey course of the most eclectic, now moments in pop culture. An hour that opens up the week of entertainment on a deeper plane, it is an investment in what’s going on that is human, engaging, lighthearted, yet deep enough to matter. Instant everything in the realm of escape and insight that inspires and elevates in one over-too-quick sitting.



Acidophilus Pearls Enzymatic Therapy


Imagine acidophilus that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Easy to store. Easy to pack. Convenient little pearls in a hermetically sealed bubble pack that pop out and offer guaranteed live cultures - superseding the need for yogurt during the day to maintain balanced bacteria in one’s body. During this antibiotic-prone time of the year, this is a quick way to keep the good pH at levels that prevent overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria, and one small pearl a day is all it takes.



Morrocan Fig Candle Votivo


Not quite mirrored tapestries and clove incense burning, but there’s no jet lag, Instead it’s earthy fertile lushness; slightly fleshy, definitely tart, yet sweet in a way that isn’t cloying. Strike a match, lower the lights, let your mind drift - and if not quite the casbah, there’s more than enough mystery is the scent rising up to capture your imagination AND set it free.


Great Thoughts series Penguin Books


For less than $10, some of the classic works of thinkers, scholars, visionaries and revolutionaries are your’s to take home in a small 
enough to fit in a pocket or backpack, purse or briefcase paperback. Books you know—Machiavelli’s The Prince, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Seneca’s On The Shortness of Life, writers you’ve heard on things they’ve pondered—George Orwell’s Why I Write, Darwin’s On Natural Selection, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and people known more to scholars on thoughts guaranteed to open the mind and discussion—Michel de Montaigne’s On Friendship, Nietzsche’s Why I Am So Wise or William Hazlitt’s On the Pleasure of Hating. 
   To be inspired, challenged, examine one’s beliefs is a powerful thing. This series is a match to a too dry field. Delve into a volume and watch your world turn, open and evolve into something deeper. 


Kiss Nars


A deep plumy copper lipstick shot through with enough metallic shimmer to announce “It’s time to be festive” at a 7 a.m. breakfast meeting, Kiss is universally flattering—and dramatic on any woman willing to pucker up and apply. Not for the faint of heart, but evocative of whatever the wearer brings, Kiss is the kind of lipstick on which a million daydreams are launched.


Black Rabbit Fur Knee High Boots Ulu 



Waterproof. Insulated. Lace to the ankle or the top. They can be worn barefoot in the middle of winter without a chill—or sloshing through puddles with no fear of seepage. That they are darling is merely a side note. These are no nonsense winter boots, designed with their leather uppers, 200 gram insulation and rubber bottoms with enough traction to cover (and maintain balance over) most ground, Ulu has created the ultimate merger between practical and style. Step in a pair and see.



Clementines



Smaller than an orange, sweeter than a tangerine, clementines are a thin-skinned, easy-peeling, seedless source of vitamin C. Small enough to put a couple in whatever you’re carrying, clementines are a quick and easy snack that’s good for you and anything but empty calories. Coming in a demi-wood crate that looks perfect on a counter, proclaiming “Darling Clementines” - thereby invoking the American folk classic—this is a citric change of pace that is more than just a diversion, it’s a gift of yummy that’ll help keep you healthy and happy as the temperatures drop, the weather turns and the germs romp with frisky abandon.


The Ocean in Winter


Yes, it can be angry, raging, howling. In that whipping wind sense of alone, though, there is majesty, power, fury—and also a sense of what greatness our humanity embodies in its isolated moments. Walking in the wet sand, watching the gray horizon—littered with gulls dropping through the bitter chill of the wind into the waves for food—above the slate- or steel-colored water, there is a communion of our most feral state and the contained rage of nature.

Big Nick’s Diner Broadway @ 76th New York City


Everything New York should be, and often isn’t. 24/7. Just about anything in the realm of breakfast, sandwich, Greek or diner food you can imagine. Copious portions a giant—or a New York Football Giant—couldn’t finish. Waiters and waitresses that have the NYC attitude, but are also willing and ready to help you wade through what seems like 2 billion choices with patience and oddly enough passion for the kind of food that once made Belushi and Ackroyd bark “cheeburger, cheeburger” and “no Coke, Pepsi.”
Reasonable prices. Something for everyone. All that a trip to the Big Apple should embody. And they do it without fan fare, just a sizzling grill, clinking tableware and a pace that keeps you moving when there’s way too much to do—or allows you to linger and languish in the resplendency of the moment.


the right room


You walk in, and the energy stops you. The details don’t even matter, aren’t even seen—though they emerge in the moments. But what stands out, no stuns you, is the way the whole thing feels different, jumps out, gets into your veins and your pulse. THIS is the PLACE you’re SUPPOSED to be. Doesn’t happen very often. Pay attention when it does.



Bitsy Bikini Lilly Pulitzer



As winter descends, this classic tie triangle bikini is a pink and green patchwork symphony that screams Barbie Meets Gidget. Better than Calgon to take you away, this is time and beach travel with 4 tiny bits of lyrca and thee happy pink tie to adjust the fit bows.

“Bless The Broken Road”



   Grammy nominated in one of “the Big 4,” every voting member casts a ballot category, “Bless The Broken Road” has been recorded by both co-writers Marcus Hummon and Jeff Hanna’s Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, along with several other deeply moving versions. But it was pop-country behemoths Rascal Flatts, who spent multiple weeks at #1 on the country charts, who brought the song about shifting realities that can be so rugged, we give up hope and sometimes faith on our way to something so much better than we ever could have imagined.
   Started as a conversation in a bar, written to celebrate two old friends who realized they were meant to be together, played with love by musicians who believed in the message, “Bless The Broken Road” became a song that embodied thousands of stories—stories that found their way to the men who wrote it. “Some songs demand their day,” laughs Hummon, “and this was a song that was determined to be heard.” Indeed, it did—and was. And so many people recognize the twists and disappointments that life deals are often about keeping them ready for the moment when it all comes together.



I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
—-Booker T. Washington



No matter what you do, I have two choices: how I shall respond and how I shall feel about you. While I may choose not to accept the unacceptable, I will not lower myself to do anything except love the pain and the flaws that create whatever it is you’re doing that is a problem for me. To hate another is to hate myself—and I shall choose to love whatever is human in you beyond that which is revulsive, that way I can always see the highest plane wherever I go. 
   Not as simple as it sounds, but worth the effort, absolutely. After all, most people work from fear, not malice—and in their ghosts, bad experiences and sense of missing self-esteem, they feel far worse than whatever they do to you. Knowing that, creates compassion; compassion brings that love I want them to know and hopefully balm their pain and suffering.


Peppermint-Ginger Tea



The ultimate digestif. And no caffeine to keep you up ‘til 3. Fresh. Tongue-tingling. Palette (and breath) cleansing. Hot, it opens the sinuses, settles the stomache. Cold it refreshes, makes you smile and savor the way certain tastes just wake you up.


Tussionex Suspension Cough Syrup Prescription Only


   As cold season deepens into bronchitis, walking pneumonia and worse, this stuff will make you stop coughing, relax the seizing in your lungs and, quite frankly, put you down to sleep off whatever is attacking your body and your immunities. Get ready for an underwater sense of disorientation, a spaciness that makes stacking thoughts near impossible—but also a way to get beyond the must-do/hurry, hurry that marks the season-of-getting-better. Serious stuff to not be trifled with, but also surprisingly, startlingly effective. Who knew? Just don’t do as I do - and stop taking it before you’re truly better ‘cause the recovery time you waste will be your own.



View of the Magic Castle Radisson Hollywood, CA


Formerly the Hollywood Holiday Inn, this purchased and completely rebuilt institution looks out on some of Hollywood Boulevard’s best views. But if you’re lucky, you’ll get a room facing away from the action at the back, a room pointed towards “the Hills,” but most especially the Magic Castle—where magicians hold court for one another, the customers - guests of card-carrying magic men and comedians—wander from room-to-room amazed by the sleight of hand, the turn of the moment, the tricks of the mind. 
   With its Victorian frame, pitched slate roofs and filigreed trim, it is better than a gingerbread house cast in real life dimension. To gaze upon it and know what goes on behind those walls is to smile at a world where people make wonder and magic out of the every day and inspire us to see the dazzle rather than deconstruct that falls before our eyes.



Ballerina Shrug Sweater Mossimo, Target 


They are soft, like cashmere. They tie at the solar plexus. They maintain a lean line, even as they keep you warm—allowing for camisoles or t-shirts in the chill. Utterly affordable, impossibly utilitarian. Once again, our good friends at Target solve a bunch of challenges with a single item. Buy now, while the black and chocolate brown are still in the stores.


get down time


Put up or shut up. Now or never. Jump or fly. There are those moments where you either rise to the occasion or fold - and knowing you’re in the centrifugal force of one of those reckonings makes it get down time. ‘Cause knowing makes the stakes that much higher, but also makes the knowledge that this is one of those moments when things change empowering to the highest order.