They are light—and yeasty. A bakery cloud of warmth that almost melts away as it lands on your tongue. Just enough body to give way beneath your front teeth as you bite down, just enough snappy cinnamon to temper the doughy taste that can become paste in less practiced hands. And the frosting is more drizzle than goo, keeping that thick confectionary sugar from clogging up the real star of the show: the buttery goodness that is the dough baked to airy homey comfort and coffee womb-returning perfection.
Guttural, sensual in a way where the hair gets matted with sweat, longing in a way that is this side of a papercut and strong in the way that lofts you up without denying your free will. Grace Potter has a voice that is as much gospel witness as it is whispered winsome wonder. Her songs are empowerment even as they hurl themselves at desire, carnal and otherwise. Like Norah Jones with more moxie, Bonnie Raitt’s quieter places with a bit more deliverance (church and backwater both), a bit training tempered with unbridled soul, Original Soul is the kind of discovery that becomes the story of whomever finds her’s year—and at 21, the dark-eyed beauty is more bewitching than just about anything being shoveled blunt trauma force through the system at us.
It’s even poured into one of those paisley-esque Indian juice glasses. But light the wick and have the heady scent of cardamom and cinnamon swirling about you, with enough milky bottomnotes to give you the relaxation-inducing chai anti-buzz without the calories. As a mood-setter, this is one that screams nurture from the places of well-worn alpaca throws, best-loved wool socks and someone adored’s flannel shirt worn with nothing under it.
The Chaplain at Yale, a noted activist who catalyzed SANE/FREEZE and the inspiration for Doonesbury’s Rev. Sloan, this is a thinking man’s musings on the major themes of what it means to live a meaningful life in American today: Faith, Hope & Love, Social Justice & Civil Liberties, Patriotism, Nature, War & Peace, Life & Economic Rights, Life in General and the End of Life. It is not rote church-speak, but dig deep perspective on the truth beneath what’s unthinkingly held. Sent to me by a friend who is one of the most creative, catalytic people I know—a man of great passion and commitment to the things that he does—it is a source of fire and inspiration in his life, enough so that he wanted to pass it on. Offered up in nuggets and morsels, it is easily digested, easily folded into the fabric of how one views their life. Utterly consumable, absolutely the stuff that makes us all better—just by amping up the awareness of how we move through the world and each other’s realities.
Beautiful bohemian clothes for everyone, man, woman, child. Shoes and jewels as well as bags and baubles. Books and candles and facial potions, too. Not to mention furnishings and kitchenware and linens and mirrors. It is a lifestyle central for the kind of person who merges mystery and whimsy, gypsy and fresh young thing, a bit of the Orient, a dash of Indian, a taste of the Southwest and Mexico, a shake of old Europe, but not so far out that even the most civil civilian couldn’t pull it off.
British music magazines just flat rock, but this month’s Uncut—with a young virile utterly traffic-stopping Van Morrison on the cover, taking candidly on the cusp of his 60h birthday on the entirety of one of the most captivating and cloaked careers in pop music—is worth the search. And not only for their always comprehensive, but provocative editorial, but this month’s issue comes with The Original Soul Brothers (and Sisters) sampler. Yup, if you wanna funk on down the highway, the bass so fat a double wide can’t even think about handling it, you got yer Joe Tex, Ohio Players, Bobby Womack, Last Poets, Mavis Staples, Meters, Gil Scot-Heron, Sly Stone, James Brown, Funkedelic and a bunch more. Elevate, then decimate. Bonus Round: Magic Time—Van Morrison. Shimmering piano figures almost mirror the emotional ripples that have always marked the Irishman’s silken voice that is an unfiltered cistern of feeling. Being hailed as his best in years, the critics don’t lie. A bit smoky in some quarters, way old school cocktail chanteuse/Rat Pack in others, this is music for salons and gatherings of laidback intellectualism—or lying on one’s back, listening to rainfall dreaming thick velvet dreams and inhaling the promise of one’s deepest fantasy realm.
Yves St Laurent’s Touche Eclat remains the winner and heavyweight champ, but Neutrogena comes close—at a demi-fraction of the price AND available in drugstores just about everywhere. Two colors, so the fair doesn’t make olive/darker complected girls look anemic; and toss-in-one’s-purse-and-don’t-worry-portability make this instant freshening, immediate brightening, bye-bye boo-boo coverage with no major investment, no spilled-or-melted tragedies. The working, playing girls’ best defense/perfection weapon.
All you gotta do is whip open your paper, right there at the pool and watch the constellations rise. Skewer your blackberries, play with your melon slices, maybe spread a little marmalade on a halved’n'grilled bran muffin, which has gone almost crispy caramel at the contact points and watch the reindeer games. A recent breakfast with a former boss, a soul-searching mission about coming of age, letting go of the weight and seeking the simple what matters, turned into a frenzied toboggan ride through the “biz” when David Coverdale approached and Billy Bob Thornton dropped by, interrupted by a phone call from John Prine who, too, raved about the tucked away jewel. New Old Hollywood in the very best, collegial manner.
You see these ads everywhere: real people with interesting jobs in their signature style Levis. Black and white, proper angles to enhance their proud humanity. Details on the cut running down one side, our imagination running wild down the other—about the things those jeans have seen, the places they’ve gone, the reasons this architect or roper or whatever has chosen them. If ever there was a totemic you-could-be-here evocation of each of us against a product that represents such a large slate of our culture, this is the one.
If the Boston Red Sox bullpen has been the issue—and it always seems to be those relief pitchers where the games get lost—then rehabbing Curt Schilling, who is every bit the red hot starter prospect when 100% by giving him a few innings that count to build up his strength is uber-genius. We’re talking a mondo-arm in a place that’s been lacking; the ability to prep back to full strength, while shoring up a weakness; the intersection of compromise and conquest. Thursday at Fenway—right after the All Star Game—is gonna be sick.
When you wanna talk archetypes, totems and cliché‘s, this one takes it in a walk. The not-so-new, dirt-caked hardcore American truck—with the Harley Rider underplate—rolls hard, makes its presence known unequivocally and flies its position unapologetically and aggressively. Then again, in Jasper, Alabama, subtlety and nuance aren’t exactly what they’re swinging for, so aside from marveling at the perfection of execution, hell yeah to a culture that can embrace this as the ideal.
Sometimes it’s just that simple. There are a million reasons for why not, a ton of excuses for why bother? In the valley of it can’t happen to/for me, being willing is the first step of the journey to where you want to be. Because if you don’t take the first step, you’re stuck right where it isn’t working. Be bold. Be brave. Put your toe in—and see how easy it is.
A wrap of roasted chicken, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and slightly spicy peanut sauce. What could be simpler? Cleaner? Yummier? The last time I was obsessed by a sandwich like this, it was the Grumsteer—from Cleveland Heights, Ohio’s hippie sandwich works Grums—with its pungent horseradish sauce, herb blend and soft/crunchy Italian roll. In the simplicity and contrast, that’s where the convenient lunch hostages are taken—and this is one of those cool, refreshing not-too-hungry-but-somehow-SOMEHOW-inhaling-the-whole thing propositions.
The whole issue is classically RS Summer Double issue—hot ingénue on the cover, intriguing profiles and examinations (the Killers, the new virginity movement), amazing pictures (Nigel Parry’s heart-stopping soul-glimpse behind the Rushmore countenance of Norman Mailer)—perfect for long beach days. But where the rubber meets the road is Peter Wilkinson’s exhumation of the Children of God’s cult/culture—and the saviour they generated who killed himself from the topsy turvy world they created and inculcated.
Cheery, hippie triangle tops that can be adjusted to accommodate whatever’s going on with one’s body—and bright thick cotton strings that tighten when they’re wet and make the happiest bows, peaking out from collars and waistbands. Indian prints that are exotic, yet playful enough that to the unpracticed eye it’s just sunshine and spring break.
Cool. Wet. Sweet. Juice dripping down your chin. Nibble, bite, suck, savor. Fresh summer decadence.
There is no shine, no reason to capture the imagination without work, commitment, passion, pride, sacrifice. In a world where “good enough” is “more than plenty,” it is easy to forget what truly makes the difference. It is easy to mock those whose standards are beyond the norm, who give their passion wings through practice, who fail to settle and rather strive to make it more. To me, it is the only way—the personal best, the need to see how far and well it can be done. But, too, it is the way to create and serve in ways that matter, ways that are as good as that which we are privileged to empower.
Never ever thought of a truck stop as a home of haute couture. Still not sure I’d call it quite that. But of extreme recent vintage, my beloved Austin has started picking up short sleeved checked shirts to wear over a Brando “On The Waterfront”/“Streetcar Named Desire” white wifebeater special. For $10.99, you can vex the fashionistas—they can’t place it, because it’s beneath them—and look even more than the cutting edge.
As the day unfolds, what better way to melt into it? My Funny Valentine hanging languid in the air. Sketches of Spain pricking your senses, enlivening your pulse, switching your skirt as you dream deep mysterious sensualities to carry you forward. Birth of the Cool to get to the zone of utter yeah. Miles Davis in the morning, mmmmmm-hmmmmm.
Sub-titled The Principles of Cultural Branding, this book from the Harvard Business School Press lays out the deepest truths about not only how, but why perception anchors into a reality that defines us. In a world where people crave identity, smart brand marketing supplants the larger myth-making reality—turning products into heroic talismans. To read Holt’s book is to understand the way labels can take on context writ large, truths invested so far beneath the surface of what is being sold to transform a product into a way of life and what/who we are becomes brokered from the outside in. Fascinating reading, illuminating that which is utterly unseen, yet ultimately concrete.
Not sure what’s more fun—giving or receiving. The plotting, the perfect gesture, the look on their face is pretty wonderful, as it opens a whole secret garden of quest for a loved one that takes you out of your world and deposits you in a place of generosity and grace. And to be remembered, thought of, celebrated in even the smallest way. What could be better? Presents, surprises, goodies. Just say “yes.”
Lighter somehow, yet with plenty of heft. Oversized, salty like the sea. Stands up to salsa. Make the tummy feel loved all on their own. If there’s a grocery gold standard, this would be it.
Decadence within reach, real life escape in an envelope. Tear it open, pour it into swirling tepid to steaming water, watch the flakes—which reminded me of Dreft Baby Detergent—dissolve. As the scent of dairy lushness takes over the bathroom, remember Cleopatra bathed in milk because she valued its soothing, smoothing, softening properties, and prepare to melt into a 20 minute soak that will remove you from wherever and deliver you to the land of lulled and ready for lullabye.
The state bird of Ohio, they are as crimson as it comes with a comb that sticks straight up with pride and pompadour inspiration. So common back home, I never ever really thought anything of them—until I saw their brilliance in the desert in Arizona, against the deep forest green of Massachusetts, the summer emerald of Tennessee. In those other places, the cardinal with a song that calls into your soul suddenly seemed like a polished couturier—and I was the unappreciated thug who’d missed the glamour and dignity of something right beneath my nose.
As long as I’m sticking pins in high dollar cosmetics this list, here’s a Walgreens/Wal-Mart kinda brand that does every bit the work of Lancome’s Juicy Tubes. Thick, lasting, shiny—and translucent enough that you don’t have that opaque mouth dipped in molten plastic look that is soooo harijuku (thank you Gwen Stefani). Cheap, slick, utterly disco; for this look, as trashy/tarty as it is, why would you want to spend any money? www.cooksnotebook.com The essays from a regional NPR show of the same name. Short bursts of writing about food and drink and tastes, and the emotional grounding of so much. Straight recipes with a waft of memory sometimes, but also farflung moments that’re anchored by the flesh of a plum, the inside out warmth of soup. That which we eat can be the cement that glues, solidifies and maintains our relationships and connections; Ali Berlow’s show is the embodiment of same. Prepare to be taken away by something homey, cozy and wise in the way it casts nets of memory to harvest emotions, sensations and the deepest connections we can have with another: the sanctity of a flavor shared.
Not necessarily fire, but knowing. The lips meeting yours, recognizing that which is inside the other. It is deeper, even in its gentleness. It is to feel everything strip away, rise up, return to its place better somehow. The gentle strength of a whole other kind of contact; a lingering that is more than want, and ultimately more intoxicating. The kind of kiss that isn’t fireworks, but its memory lasts for days. Dreadful, really. Dreadfully good.
Sometimes it’s not about the harvest, but the tending. To give care to beauty is a thrill unto itself.
A dessert wine that opens one’s head up to a kaleidoscope of sweetness and citrus. Though not obvious flavours, but complex tastes that pull you down, create new tableaus of what and how an after-dinner wine designed to eat with more sugar again can enhance and activate the flavours being mixed. Stephanie, the beyond hip bartender in the Top Kitty t-shirt, insisted; my coconut milk rice pudding wouldn’t be as good without it. More dimension, more depth, more everything—and a sparkling, pleasing, almost palate cleaning taste unto itself.
A small book from the guy who wrote Liar’s Poker and The New New Thing about the lessons he learned from a coach that extend beyond winning and the perfect spitball. In a world of short-sheeted entitlement and self-esteem because someone’s parents said so, Coach examines the challenges of looking at one’s weak spots, the power of adversity to embolden and the truth of how-it-is creating enough resistance to leverage meaningful evolution. Billy Fitzgerald—known as Coach Fitz at New Orleans’ Isidore Newman School—turned kids who weren’t fully formed into men on a diamond harder than the ones mined in Africa with no-nonsense challenges, exhaustion-dropping drills and seeing into potential with a laser beam. Scrapping with no less than Peyton Manning, who cites Fitz as a major impactor in his autobiography, Coach Fitz believes in standards, hard work and not saying “die;” in that, he sows the seeds of what can be. In this 90 page book—filled with black and white pictures of the innocence of youth and sports—Lewis captures the hard truths and magic of a coach who changes lives, not just seasons.
We were visiting friends, and Zelda was being aloof—a privilege of the 13-year old cocker spaniel in chronic pain from a degenerative joint problem. In an attempt to lure the Wonderspaniel, my friend’s daughter asked if she could give Prada Dada a treat, a pleasure I would never deny my baby girl. As expected Z trotted straight over, made sweet, gently took the boney from the little girl’s fingers and turned to trot away. “Where are your manners?” I implored Zelda. “You know to say thank you.” On cue, Zelda turned, sat down and looked at the little girl. With something akin to a smile, she made eye contact, cocked her head, nodded twice and held the gaze. Then she picked back up, turned back towards me and devoured the treat at my feet. The Mom still can’t get over Zelda’s manners.
Pureed with maybe a dollop of yogurt and some minced dill on top. Thick enough to be filling, thin enough to not make you feel gross in the heat. Summer abundance, redolent of fresh nutrients and the sweet goodness of the earth; the ginger making it slightly exotic, easily more digestible. Not obviously, utterly easy, absolutely a grand way to make a light meal or hunger-blunting starter.
You don’t even think about the touch of the sun as you extend your limbs to feel that golden warmth. They are moments, cast into a languid pause—designed to soak in the heat of the day, feeling it reach deep inside—that are the slow passage of time. That you end with legs a golden brown, looking utterly healthy and strong as a by-product is good. Using protection—in the case of the too fair Irish tip, zinc oxide—one can still manifest the sun’s kiss, and that color of summer offers a sense of life lived where it should be: outdoors.
So thin, so light, so fresh, so instantly untangling and shine enhancing. Pour it on, let it set, rinse it out and watch the comb slide through and the shine become blinding.
To understand how to get people to open their souls up, one need only listen to an engaged practitioner of the art of plumbing the depths of other’s. Rita Braver’s genuine curiosity about where things come from, how they feel and what they mean make an interviewee feel as if their truth is essential—and in that seemingly natural exchange, revelation unfurls. Watch her gift in action on CBS News’ “Sunday Morning,” a reason—no doubt—they win so many awards, but also to wake up early and bother with tv before breakfast.
Sitting in the Detroit airport, gossiping about nothing with a girlfriend—and that voice from long ago, too deep, too rural, too manly. Calling just ‘cause. Calling to catch up. Calling to talk about music—and the things that imbue valor, honor, truth, higher callings. It had been too long, and there was so much to say. But—really—the only thing that needed to be said was “I miss you” because we both did. Calls you don’t expect can also be calls they don’t expect. Think about who you miss. Pick up the phone. Reach out. Close the gap. You’ll be glad you did. Heaven knows, hearing that wild-eyed Southern man on the line saying “You never pick up your damn phone” and giving me what for reminded me how much keeping in touch matters.