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

July 2005

July 2005: Hollywood Sign, Flying Horses, Musc Candles, Meshell Ndgecello

Driving Into The Hollywood Sign on a Clear Day


There it was. Straight before me. Looming large. Looming glittering in broad daylight. The iconic word that envelopes dreams and glamour and art for the masses, not to mention thrills, passages, laughter and the transformative power of fame. The Hollywood sign. Block letters, dropped onto the top of a foothill that rises from the tightly-knotted carpet of housing that is Southern California, reaching up to remind everyone how quickly it can all change. 
   There was time to kill before the meeting—and winding around the streets crossing Melrose, down where Larchmont turns into the Latin part of soon-to-be-almost-downtown L.A., the up and back can be tedious. Except for the moment when you turn back towards the hills, see it and catch your breath. In moments like that, you remember why dreams matter, why illusions work, why fairy dust is such an essential part of even the most stoic lives.

Peppermint Essential Oil


To wake up. To feel happy. To be alert. Shake a few drops on your wrists or into a little dish—and feel your head, your heart, your thoughts open up. So quick, so easy, so pick me up.

The Flying Horses Oak Bluff, MA 



The oldest carousel in America, polished and painted and buffed to a blinding glow. With animals in the eyes of the horses, detailed scenes on the center, the sleighs and anywhere else that could sustain enough space to capture the life that was a seaboard town dedicated to the beauty of the ocean, the people, the moments. Real brass rings amongst the many plain iron ones—the literal manifestation of the prize we all seek—to grab as the music pours out, the horses spin and the laughter rises giddy and joyous. So pretty, so very pretty, chasing in an eternal circle by the water with generation after generation after generation of children enjoying the legacy with unbridled wonder.



Falling


You don’t even know you’re doing it. Don’t notice it, think about it, recognize it for what it is. Then you’re teetering, brinking, tumbling, wondering, “What the hell.” And you can surrender to the momentum, let whatever happen, scream all the way to the bottom. Or you can try to grab, stop it, stiffen, maintain the strain, save yourself the biggest bruises with a few scratches here and there, though—of course—you could jam something permanently.
   Who’s to say the scream is pure terror? Maybe elation and euphoria pump, too. Maybe that’s the option.


Albert’s Famous Mexican Hot Sauce


You can only get it in Louisiana—and it must be refrigerated. Looks are deceiving, too, as it just mostly looks like pureed tomatoes, and 
it probably would (truth be told) be pretty fine on a plate of steamy cheese manicotti. But Albert’s Famous Mexican Hot Sauce works best as a low burn, deep tasting salsa that explodes the tomato’s robust nature with underpinnings of some spices, a dash of sugar and something that defies description, but is obviously the reason for the addiction.



The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance of the Infidel—Me’shell Ndegecello


She of the grooves deeper and funk roiling boiling broiling without pause eases into a pensive space, where the jazz merges into the multi-culti for a cauldron of free music designed to take the listener away. Guests glitter like the Milky Way on a clear night—Jack DeJohnette, Don Byron, Kenny Garrett, Oran Coltrane, Cassandra Wilson, Lalah Hathaway, Frederico Gonzalez-Pena among them—as the tide pulls you away from the shore. Close your eyes, explore the galaxies inside you; feel the ebbing, lulling, thrilling, willing energy within. Be transformed without—or with—moving.
Intoxicating. Utterly. Deeply. Absolutely. Put it on, and drift, drift, away.


Hayes, Deana Carter’s little boy



Blond hair, uncertain legs, a smile that can not be unplugged. Deana Carter’s little boy can’t laugh enough, crawl enough, flirt enough, and to see mother and child is to understand the power of a baby to transform even the coolest chick into something even more beguiling. But the draw is that bit of sunshine with the 6 teeth, the blue eyes, the corn silk hair and that way of fixing his eyes on you that melts you like butter earmarked for lobster.

Fenway Park



There are places that are just holy. You see them and you know; your breath catches. They are merely wood and steel and paint, and yet. They embody so much truth, so much courage, so much decency. Fenway Park—like golf’s Augusta National—is absolutely one of those churches of dreams and athleticism, excellence and mastery, but especially humanity. And the thing that elevates the green painted, middle-of-Boston ballpark to such exalted territory is the fans: people who believe, expect, exhort and yet never ever under any circumstances—no matter how rough it gets—jettison their commitment to the boys of summer who play there. 
   To approach the ivy covered structure, to sit quietly or loudly in the stands, to walk through the structure, electric with baseball fans buzzing, to see someone in the bleachers catch a foul ball—indeed, to read such simple joy is to remember how dear people are at their core. For if you believe in it, you can carry it with you when you return to the dog-eat-dog—and remember how gentle, yet a rush unadulterated euphoria is.



Weathervanes


Nothing to think of really, easily passed by without recognition, yet a whole kind of American craftsmanship that brings sculpture to function, as it measures the elements and forces of nature. Whether it’s roosters (a classic), a dinosaur or somebody’s favorite dog, weathervanes can bring whimsy to the roof peak—and smiles to the faces of those aware enough to look heavenward and scan the sky for direction. Cast in copper—especially copper fired to bring the ferrous elements out in all their crimson glory—time plus the sun, the rain, even the wind itself will bring the marker of the wind’s whim to a patina of green that speaks to an aging of beauty, witness and evolution.



Cameron Crowe’s luminescence



He’s just standing there, floppy hair not quite in his eyes, smile as luminous as any prize pearl. But it’s the eyes—dancing, beaming, 
fairly glowing with the joy of consumption for everything before him—that take one in, sweep them up, make them feel cherished as a piece of rare Chinese pottery or a magic hybrid flower. Add an acute curiosity, a deep gentleness and a sense that life is a carousel that you can ride limitlessly, and you begin to understand how sweetness can permeate the every fiber of what any of us creates for ourselves. Townes Van Zandt once wrote, “To live is to fly.” Cameron Crowe embodies it every moment of each and every day.



Sound of the ocean, Sand under your feet


There is power in the echo of waves slapping, rolling, breaking. There is eternity in the grains of sand—warm and wet—splayed out beneath your feet, giving slightly to support the weight of your being. If you truly want to understand it’s all bigger than you are, get totally present at the beach; sink into the textures and sounds and marvel at how great this world is. Indeed, how much greater than whatever foibles, tragedies and dramas we often find ourselves—even through no desire of our own—immersed in.


Al Wilson


Old school soul rolling off crew bus 2, Al Wilson gets after that Otis Redding humidity with a want that can pass for PG, but the little girls 
who’re clued in know it’s a far more slow burn carnal thing. For the unwashed—and I admit that I was completely unaware of “Queen of the Ghetto”—the hit is “Show & Tell,” an original “Soul Train” slow jam if ever there was one. And Wilson’s version of “Poor Side of Town” will break your heart with no apparent exertion.



Cain’s Ballroom Tulsa, Oklahoma



The dance floor is spring-loaded and the room has played host to everyone from Bob Wills to the Sex Pistols, Merle Haggard to the Pretenders. And in that high holy temple of music at its purest sensibility, Cain’s Ballroom’s clientele serve as notice about the importance of music directly connected to its source. It’s not about chasing the trend, tapping the hook, but more leaning into the curve, making it burn and bringing it back as hard as you send it out. Easily the Filmore East (or West) of honky tonk in all its forms—honky tonk being that blistering real life snapshot of the moments that are missed but defining, often in the harshest relief possible—Cain’s is a witness to everything that matters about why music is played—and consumed.


People’s Memories


Sometimes your friends don’t even realize the magic and the sparkle of where they’ve been—and in drawing people out, hearing their tales, pressing for details, reaching down into the emotional eddys, one finds truths for themselves, and the people you love—or just met—come to know deeper realities about their own being. Each life is a feast; it’s how you set the table and eat the meal. Try it.


Milk Fig Incense Sticks Terre D’Oc


Taking haute hippie to a whole other sensory plane. Plush, intriguing, intoxicating. Long burning incense that hangs in the air like the 
tension between two who will to, but can not cross the line. To transform stale hotel rooms or cast a spell of something more paisley than plywood, Terre D’Oc—from Provence—infuses the mundane with enough romance and poetry to make even a Best Western exude a bit more Morocco, and your same old, same old seem somehow more lit through loose-woven linen.


The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. 
-Joseph Campbell


That which we most desire mocks us with our inability to believe we deserve it. That which dazzles must be an illusionary reality, a quavering mirage, for surely it is not what we see. That which makes us back up must certainly come with the inherent dauntage of want; because wanting in our culture is two steps short of an invitation for mockery. Regardless, hold your breath, cross your fingers, close your eyes and proceed. The spoils of risk are sweetest, especially when the fear calmed was one of pulse-quickening desire.



Sympathy For The Devil DVD


A Jean Luc Godard film, capturing a turbulent time in the world—cast against the tableau of the world’s greatest rock & roll band rehearsing to record one of their most definitive albums—is a metaphoric sociological treatment of the creative vortex and a seismic cultural shift. Whether you’re looking for a document of a major upheaval to the status quo or just want to understand where and how the music from the palms of Jagger/Richards comes from, the Rolling Stones have never been writ with such cultural reflection, force or meaning. 
   Just for the virtue of the way it’s shot, the moments captured, the frisson inherent that is essential for music to truly grip and haunt, “Sympathy For the Devil” is a riveting watch. When you layer the juxtaposed footage, you ascend to the realm of a document that will help future generations understand how the whip came down.



Outdoor Showers


Out under the stars. In a garden. Behind white washed fences. Obscured by plenty of foliage. With the sun shining down. Supplementing the gentlest rain. Outdoor showers take the process of washing away the day or getting a clean start on a whole new morning and set it in the purest space imaginable. Like “Petticoat Junction” meets Tom Sawyer with a fluffy towel and the softness of air in its own native environs.


Butterfinger Crisp


Take a Kit Kat—crunchy wafery chocolate sandwich—and merge it with a classic Butterfinger—thick crispy peanut butter center—and you get a light, snap-when-you-bite-into candy bar that isn’t too heavy, too much, too chewy. Having your chocolatey, peanut-buttery yummy thing without all that teeth-coating gunk is what this is all about—and as someone who always loved the taste, but hated the sensation of that filling on my teeth, it’s festival of everything that works without any of the clinging ookiness.


F-350


The power. The weight. The ride. The glory. Yeah. Mmmmmmmmm. Hell, yeah. American heavy metal with a rockin’ suspension and the will to grip the curves and tear up the highway. As good as it gets, and then some.



friends’ friends


To understand your friends, meet their friends. To have a panoramic view, embrace the myriad facets and perspectives others bring to the people you hold dear. As a bonus, if you hold someone precious in common, then you can rest assured there is enough common value to quick-forge bonds that last and bonds that matter. Be open, ask yourself where the differences expand the overlap—for don’t we all seek to be broader, deeper, more?—and thrill to the beauty of the rays emanating from your friend’s sun.
   It is the adored morning e-mailer Clyde, and Binny, and Pat, and Jay, and Sandy, and Cub and Will, and the She-Daisies, and Derek—especially little Derek—and so many more to come. Indeed, so many more than could be counted here.



Make Way For Ducklings Statue Boston Gardens



In the middle of the capitol of American liberation, there are emerald green gardens with sweeping trees bowing down to the lawns and sidewalks. Manicured to perfection, with swan boats and bridges, it is as close to the exquisiteness of London’s parks as anything in this country—and that devotion to nature in its highest, most domesticated forms offers a reason to languish or even dawdle. But even more heartening is the sculpture celebrating the much-loved children’s book, a perfectly cast line of mallards cast in bronze—frozen in time—reminding us that children’s books offer grown-up truths, stories that hold us over the years and a reason to smile from the pure goodness of being. 
   If you’re ever at the end of Christopher Street, keep strolling. Look to your right and seek the rapture of innocence and memory without having to do anything but open your eyes. And to see those kids scampering and clambering all around the duckling babies is to understand what it means to be pure in a moment, a moment no doubt that’s buried within your own soul.



Blame The Vain Dwight Yoakam


Ain’t nobody does it like Dee-White. It is so hard, you can smash rocks with it. So twangy, it makes the holler seem like downtown New York City. So lust-addled, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee look like kids at a church picnic. And then there’s the weepy steel-drenched reverence for old school, buzzing neon torch country. The spoken rap at the end of “Intentional Heartache” alone is worth the revved-up, souped-up track that pounds along beneath it; but with Dwight, the brutality he brings to Bakersfield’s legacy proves that rock & roll is where you find it—and hillbilly music may be the most razor-sharp eroticism of all.

Blame The Vain Dwight Yoakam


Ain’t nobody does it like Dee-White. It is so hard, you can smash rocks with it. So twangy, it makes the holler seem like downtown New York City. So lust-addled, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee look like kids at a church picnic. And then there’s the weepy steel-drenched reverence for old school, buzzing neon torch country. The spoken rap at the end of “Intentional Heartache” alone is worth the revved-up, souped-up track that pounds along beneath it; but with Dwight, the brutality he brings to Bakersfield’s legacy proves that rock & roll is where you find it—and hillbilly music may be the most razor-sharp eroticism of all.

Blame The Vain Dwight Yoakam


Ain’t nobody does it like Dee-White. It is so hard, you can smash rocks with it. So twangy, it makes the holler seem like downtown New York City. So lust-addled, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee look like kids at a church picnic. And then there’s the weepy steel-drenched reverence for old school, buzzing neon torch country. The spoken rap at the end of “Intentional Heartache” alone is worth the revved-up, souped-up track that pounds along beneath it; but with Dwight, the brutality he brings to Bakersfield’s legacy proves that rock & roll is where you find it—and hillbilly music may be the most razor-sharp eroticism of all.

Blame The Vain Dwight Yoakam


Ain’t nobody does it like Dee-White. It is so hard, you can smash rocks with it. So twangy, it makes the holler seem like downtown New York City. So lust-addled, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee look like kids at a church picnic. And then there’s the weepy steel-drenched reverence for old school, buzzing neon torch country. The spoken rap at the end of “Intentional Heartache” alone is worth the revved-up, souped-up track that pounds along beneath it; but with Dwight, the brutality he brings to Bakersfield’s legacy proves that rock & roll is where you find it—and hillbilly music may be the most razor-sharp eroticism of all.

Being Stupidly Sentimental


Everyone puts such a premium on stoicism—keeping it together, the placidity of “handling” it. But when you’re waist deep in the joy of interpersonal communion, sometimes the gesture is the ultimate genuflection. Is it a message about how good it was, the quick e-mail witness about the glory of the moment, the card tucked into someone’s bag or journal telling a truth. People who can’t hang for the “awwwww” have no emotional fearlessness; for it’s in the little things, the deeper sweetness is exhumed. And who wouldn’t want to be consumed by the passion of the interpersonal? The overlapping fait accompli? The done for because it demonstrated some deeper emotional connection? Indeed.


Tequila In The Freezer


Nothing quite like it. Pop it in. Know it won’t freeze, just wait deeply chilled for you to pour a couple fingers and suck it down with a chunk of lime. Nothing knocks back quite like some icy cold tequila—and when you’re chasing the highways with the boys of the fretboard and you want to toast the revel, shoot out the lights and truly enjoy the moment, Sauza in the deep freeze is about as sacred a toast as the kickers and the pickers and the cowboy angels can muster.


St. Lazarus


Lazarus was a poor man, long suffering but good. His master was rich and unconcerned with others. When Lazarus died, he wanted to help his master who was cast into the eternal inferno that’s Hell, but it was too late. But in light of his generosity of spirit, Lazarus’ goodness was rewarded, being deemed to help the poor in spirit as well as wealth, if they will pray to him. Someone who found solace in the Lord during a life of lack now has the blessing of alleviating the suffering of the less than—and in that, Lazarus is a patron saint who works for so many on so many levels.


The Bases Were Loaded (& So Was I)—Tom Callahan


With a voice like Damon Runyon or Studs Turkel, noted sports journalist (Time, Golf Digest) Tom Callahan repels through the world of high end sports with an awareness that can be tough-minded and an eye that embraces humanity with a velvet glove. In a world of overly sentimental heroization, Callahan tells the deepest truths about the sports figures—from Ali to Payne Stewart—that catch his eye in a way that raised the courage, the decency and, yes the drama to illuminate that heroism is for the mortals who’re willing to embrace their inherent limitations and work through and beyond it.
   Plus any time the New York Times’ Janet Maslin is willing to endorse a book, you know the writing’s gonna be tight—and move like an express time at rush hour. Even if you don’t like sports, these tales and vignettes will do much to raise your respect level for an arena where people prove their faith, heart and passion with a glove, a helmet and especially a ball. 


An amethyst silk camisole + slip with lemon yellow trim Lindsey Luxe 


It was a gift, a payment of a debt—and a reminder that context is everything. Context and understanding. On its own, the camisole and 
half slip are the stuff of overly indulged femininity—pretty the way women’s underthings should be—but as a statement of faith and friendship from a friend for whom you’d done the unthinkable, it says things that almost defy language. Over too many years and even more laughter, to be seen that sweetly and vibrantly, to be given something so lusciously soft and eye-catchingly beautiful, speaks wordless volumes about the deepest places of my soul, my heart, my character. We should all be so lucky to get presents that create such a glow for our past.


Cape Air


Nothing so completely, so wholly evokes St Exupery’s wonderful book of essays The Wind, The Stars & The Sand quite like lifting up off Martha’s Vineyard and watching the topography fall away. Feeling the wind against the hull, nature rolling and rising, falling and gnarling below—the moments cracking open wide for the people below, unknowingly seen, yet utterly lost in their lives. For a French Foreign Legion pilot, carrying the mail and adventure through a night sky, this picks up the heritage of his magical journeys—and all one has to do is cross your fingers, exhale slowly and allow the two aesthetics to merge.



Vicodein & Prayer Michael Stanley, American Road


The stinging terseness of the serrated, snaking guitar part underscores the bitterness of the spat lyric. Here—in less than 5 minutes—Michael Stanley razes the self-involvement and chaos of addiction with a seething containment of the beyond-disgusted. It is a song of foreboding, loss, egregious recrimination for the ones who won’t get a grip, and the final heave of repulsion that brings the level to the table. A burning tautness to where we are—knee deep in the smoking wreckage painted in the harsh light of how nasty it can get, the anti-heroine so fraught with self-destruction there’s not even a shred of pity available—this is a survivors anthem, walking away with scratch tracks and bite marks, but utterly free of the enmeshment.


Rocky Road Braum’s, Oklahoma


Imagine Swiss chocolate—that light brown color that is both sweet and deeply, subtly intense in a way that is the taste equivalent of sinking into a 6” feather bed. Whip it lightly, freeze until it’s not quite brick hard, add in whole almonds, fluffy marshmallows, bits of chocolate. Serve it up in sugar cones that’re crisp and taste slightly of malt. Somewhere along the road in Oklahoma, you’ll find a Braum’s, a demi-grocery/cheeseburger shack that’s also 1/3 ice cream parlor. To experience the best rocky road ever—one that understands the lightness of a frozen dairy reality maximizes the flavor of the chocolate—all you have to do is pull in.

Johnny Depp in “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”


It seems perhaps the perfect overlap between over-the-top scoundrel Captain Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean” ilk and the man who wrote Peter Pan in the sweet real life drama about the reclamation of kindness “Finding Neverland” for Oscar winner Johnny Depp. With wit and whimsy, the young man whose roles in bent indie-even-when-it’s-big-budget cinema like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Donnie Brasco” or even the scenery-chewing rockabilly on acid setpiece “Cry Baby” can bring the nuances to the man whose balance between that which matters and a purveyor of childish pleasure to life in a way that will surely make role originator Gene Wilder proud.
   Coming this summer. For grown-ups, kids and everyone wondering just how the calendar squares with how they feel. Because ultimately innocence and wonder aren’t about how much you’ve lived, but the way you decide to look at the way life rolls out before you.



Dave Adelson’s Buddha Beads


My friend—and former hellion of a boss—the hilarious, brilliant, laserlike Dave Adelson informs me Buddha beads should be given away. I know that to cling is to miss the point. I love the reminder and lesson. I struggle. I knit my brows. Then vexation ebbing, I smile. “We’ll trade,” I enthuse. “And then not only will I remember the lessons of the beauty of the ordinary and plain, I will think of how much I love my dear friend who I never see.”


Sensitive Moisture Therapy Cream Oil of Olay


With skin that turns red and blotchy when people just look at it. That stays dry and upset from the flying and long hours, the notion of something that does the job without being soooo heavy that you feel gross seemed beyond hope. Who knew the good people at Oil of Olay would understand? Creating a line of skin care you can get at the drugstore, we’re talking fragrance free, quickly absorbed, utterly emollient. Basic packaging means even men taking too many flights can benefit without any loss of virility - and with price points below $10, you can leave it behind guilt-free, though WHY, oh WHY would you want to?



Grosgrain


In the midst of a secret project, needing to access a time long ago, tying my hair up in a grosgrain bow is a time machine in deep blue, emerald green, bubblegum pink and lemon yellow. Not naive, exactly, but young. Or younger, even as there was insight far beyond the age of the girls addicted to hairbows. Nothing is quite so fresh, so unilateralizing for women. No matter the age, the size, the form, a bit of grosgrain around the waist, the wrist, the hair—and it’s instant desirability beyond the obvious, and not just desire of the sexual sense, but of the purer, deeper, lasting type. Buy a yard and see.


Night Ride Home—Joni Mitchell


An overlooked latter career offering from the woman who gave us the full-steeped sorrow meditation Blue, Night Ride Home weaves jazz and multi-cultural melodies and rhythms to create a songwriter record that transfixes with the moods it casts, the moments it lights, the ways that it gets inside without even seeking. That voice—exotic as the word Marakesh, as haunted as a lone loon across a pond—is a gift beyond words, and as it’s aged and deepened it’s added nuances that can only be likened to Russian leather, current jam in tea and the poems of Ahkmatova.



Musc Candle Diptyque


In a world were musk and patchouli can pass for a means of disguising hygiene that’s a little too organic, Diptyque has found a way to make a candle that embodies the sensuality of musk with none of the throat-catching earthiness of Jovan’s once-ubiquitous essential oil. When left burning, the Musc candle lulls you into a zone of well-being, centered sensuousness, an open zone to evoke dreams. Like Night Ride Home, this is a transformative commodity accessed easily and consistently.



The morning glory growing up through the cracks in the driveway


There is no reason for it. There was nothing done to induce it, coax it, support it. Other than not tearing the green shoots out when they began sprouting up, it was the work of the sun, the soil and the rain. A stray seed found a place to take root, gently pushing up and one day, offered the miracle of its small white flower. It is there, every day when I pull in, smiling and reminding me—as I chase dreams and fame and truth—that there are some things that will just happen no matter what you do or don’t.