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

July 2006

July 2006: Lime Piquante Corn Nuts, Dancing The Waves, Picasso’s Words, Cereal Killers   Waxing

Hotel California - Barney Hoskins

   It was the soundtrack of the ‘60s and the ‘70s—the Byrds, the Mamas & the Papas, Buffalo Springfield and then Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young), the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Linda Ronstadt. Endless waves of agrarian underpinned utopia, sun-kissed and golden, ready to Pacific Coast Highway or desert languish into a laconic peaceful easiness. Or so it sounded
. 
   British journalist Barney Hoskyns sands off the gloss, illuminates the why and the how—and does a pretty good job keeping the players straight. Anyone who ever turned up “Take It Easy” or “Life in the Fast Lane,” who embraced Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon” or was seduced by the harmony-driven rock that was the bedrock of the above, this is the story of how it happened, the intermingling of the players and the realities that brought three waves of music to fruition. A must summer read for anyone who ever hummed along.


Green Chile Enchilada Potato Chips   Mama Zuma’s Revenge


   The slow burning tang of green chilis infused far enough into the chips that the flavour deepens and expands. Kettle cooked for the extra crunch, the firmness that gives chips body rather than just the slight go-to-crumbs—and without the grease-saturated reality of most fried snacks. Good most likely with dips, but engaging enough on the tongue to be plenty on their own. Truly a Mexican snack chip that embodies the flavor all by its lonesome.



www.rt11.com



“One’s life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.”
  —Anais Nin

   It takes courage to be happy, I am fond of telling my friends. Not that the path of least resistance doesn’t have its rewards, but the deepest, truest, most solid execution of all life can be does require presence, clarity, an understanding of the reasons to believe. If you’re willing to be open, to throw your heart wide into life, it takes that moment of GULP! then jumping into the brink—and that’s where the fullest, deepest, mostest resides.

Hampton Inns

   They aren’t luxe or flashy. They don’t offer mondo-threadcount linens or a club floor. But for straight-up overnight lodging, there is so much to recommend this sea-to-shining-sea chain: free wireless internet in the lobby, a prodigious breakfast buffet, solid workout areas, realistic kitchen situations in the rooms, convenient locations and always friendly staffs.

   The one in Cleveland, Ohio—off I-271—is a better stay than than Ritz Carlton downtown. The one in Green Hills, just south of Nashville, is all polished wood and quiet retreat—two yards from the Mall. And while the Boston Airport one was a little loose on their shuttle, the suites and the lounge (something none of them have) almost made up for it.

Negra Modelo

   Dark. Brooding. The full taste and body press down on you—and you sink into the hushed places that beer buzzes don’t always provide. With a pinch of lime, it is a vacation in a pear-meets-mallet shaped bottle—all slung out at the counter, oozing a languidity that says “take the afternoon to finish me off and let your thoughts meander while you do it.”


Tumbleweed Connection  Elton John

   If you wanna talk about pastoral moments that roll and roil, with funky beats and the whelping yelp of a master meloditician coming into his own, this album is the perfect place to start. Fantastical enough to lift one from their everyday realm, emotionally cognitive enough to feel like we do, Tumbleweed paints places, people, times with distinct detail—and offers a tide to set sail on.

   “Death of a Well Known Gun” with all its staccato funk’n'glory juxtaposes the rising and falling rural reserve of “Country Comfort.” And in the Civil War realm, “My Father’s Gun” embraces the notion of differences dissolving in the passage of generations and the recognition of the elder’s values being grounded in wanting to preserve the future for the children. In a few turns, it takes you back to the thrill of discovery and the joy of melodies being filled out with notes and chords and passages that expand what’s there.

Zelda Drives at the Ocean


   Anyone can drive on the highway; it takes a special gift to steer the waves breaking and the gulls swooping. And so it is that Zelda Fitzgerald Spaniel Gleason assumes her seat at the wheel, guides the Audi across the water—and gets ready for the onslaught of miles that can be driven while I type and write and wonder my fingers to the bone.

   No one is a more convincing driver than Zelda at the water. Propped up behind the steering wheel, she is an acute navigatress - measuring the waves, the horizon, the path that she wants to travel. Little Zelda committed to her route can drive for hours, and often does. No greater reward, perhaps, than the going.

Pink Grapefruit, Lavender Candles  Rosey Rings

   They are composed of beeswax and vegetable oil—and their scent is the closest to real you can get. Maybe, in an odd way, even more so than essential oil. It is a clean burn—and lit together they clarify your mind as they drop you into a tranquility that puts everything at ease.

   On those days when I wish for my mind to be sharp, my heart to be quiet, this is the aroma cocktail that I create. It is a blissful wonder when I can embrace the calm and be so present in it. And to glow while it’s happening, that is even better.


Bimini Beaded Earrings  by two’s company

   They come on fold-over cards, so as a quick present they are self-contained and require no wrapping, They are gracing gift shops of the higher end. They are also immediately evocative of the best of nature. Broad hoops wired with faux turquoise hanging from ear wires. A healthy trickle of pseudo coral dropping in trails from a post. Easily worn, easily mourned should something happen. A nominal investment, a high gloss look, a pulled together without any effort bottom line. Look for them.


Red Rose Tea


Perfect, classic English tea. Neatly bagged. Lovely logo. Brews a deep clover red. Tastes of the earthy bitter expansiveness that the best common brews behold. Takes you back to a more civil time. And inside each box is a little porcelain figure of some sort of animal—making one’s windowsill a sweet starting point for a kitchen menagerie or zoo.

Super RICH Conditioner   Bumble + Bumble

   Extra rich. Deeply emollient. Penetrates the shaft and leaves your hair nourished and incredibly conditioned. If you have fried, stressed, traumatized hair, this is a pretty good place to start turning the tide—and giving your hair the life it deserves.

Picante Corn Nuts con Limon

   Crunchy spicy tangy corn nuts. Aside from the buttery goodness of the crispy corn, there’s the tangy snap of the chili pepper and the lime. When you’re knocking back a savory salty treat, this is a small nugget of goodness that really delivers to the pop! and the pow! of tongue puckering goodness.


Sale   SageJewelry.com

   Gypsy clothes, silks and Indian-inspired pieces, velvets and beads, décolleté and various hem lengths, all rendered in rich earthy jewel tones, some beguiling pastels - all for pittances and pennies. When Sage decides it’s time for the new look, she knows how to move her last spring, her last fall, her sparkling holiday collections. The essence of womanhood - a few seasons past, yet never quite out of style for the Bohemian chic among us.

Dancing The Waves—Jean-Etienne Poirier

   Subtitled Audacity, Equilibrium, and other Mysteries of Surfing, this slightly oversized paperback is equal parts poetry, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and celebration of momentum, athleticism and the way a wave curls around the earth’s own rotation—lifting you up, allowing that centrifugal force to carry you higher.

   Part ecological, part spirituality, these careens through the history, the strata, the locales—and offers a cosmically comprehensive sense of surfing’s siren pull, capturing the essence of what makes riding the sea so alluring. There is freedom, rapture, being at one with the crash and the power of the ocean here, beautifully photographed and passionately written about, all this is defined without didacticism.

Harvest Loaf   Bread & Co. Nashville

   It is a big hearty multi-whole grain loaf, which in itself is enough of a witness to nature’s bounty. But then they add raisins, cranberries, bits of apricots. Dense without being gummy or heavy in the wrong way, this is a bread that is moist, happy, loaded with surprises and the depths of grain, fruit and the hearth Delicious as an unlikely sandwich element, yummy toasted with nothing but butter—an amazing treat with a thin layer of lemon curd.


Magical Summers


   Summers to do nothing but ponder, wander, linger, dream. Summers to laugh and explore, sleep, go to the beach, crab hunt, seek pirate ships and plunder, follow young boys on their rounds, smile and find grace. Shimmering oceans, sand between your toes, spotlights set—occasionally on stun, an easiness most of us never get to experience full immersion.
   It is a wonder and an extended moment, beauty and quiet and more.

Tahitian Treat

   It is a color that defies nature. If you fused magenta red and deepest fuschia. The flavor is an almost chemically over-ridden take on the red pixie sticks. The carbonation is hardly industry standard—yet it doesn’t come off as flat. Reminding one of the perfect mixer for vodka in the not-quite-sure-how-to-drink initial days or college—or post Kool-Aid graduation of youth, Tahitian Treat is a strange delight. Absolutely beyond anything to do with real, absolutely constructed—the Tang of soda—yet delightful in the oddest way.

Votive Candle Holders In the Freezer

The wax you can never get out. Caked in. Molded in ways even a putty knife can’t quite release. Give your votives, et al, an overnight in your freezer. Tap gently when they’re upside down. Feel the residue slide right out. Talk about easier than easy. Damn


“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’
 —Pablo Picasso

  There in the gap between what we’re given and what makes an impact is our willingness to not just embrace but manifest. Dreamers need to act. To create means to bring forth. All require effort—and the more we do with a clear mind and a willingness to keep our eyes open, the more the furies of “wow” will offer us.

   It is in application that the magic procreates. The will to recognize and keep looking, to take it in, to celebrate and exult in the headiness. But it is in the reckoning, the back-bending, the working with it that things really do take on a momentum and glory of their own.


Put The Hammer Down  the Yahoos

Good dumb knuckle-dragging vintage Marshall amps set to 11 fun. Thematically, we’re talking caveman testosterone, cheap beer, turn it up. Louder! Harder! MORE!!! Musically, it’s everything great about lean rock & roll—and it totally maximizes the glory of the downstroke, the rubber-bottom of a melody-climbing bassline and the gift of a sqwauled vocal in full-rut. “Gettin’ Drunk” is a frat boy manifesto, while “Where’s Your Boyfriend At” is howling hormones with an undulative beat. The jump-roping beats of “Everything/Anything” is almost old school hip-hop/“American Bandstand” line dance proportions replete with each musician introducing/defining/braggodocio-do-doing about their unique skills, while “Would It Kill You” is a rejoinder to that girlfriend who’s had it that’s equal points hilarity and over it.

   Their recastings of Gamble/Huff’s solidarity dance mix “Love Train” puts equality in a redneck context of “embrace all” that is absolute euphoria, while the B-52s “Roam” becomes an almost tender paean to physical exploration of the most romantically-grounded. “Over The Top” is a shakingly rendered tribute to potency of one’s love—written by Yayhoos’ bassist Keith Christopher with Heads Hands & Feet’s Tony Coulton—that had found quarter with no less than Ray Charles. As a roots supergroup that merges Southern rock/punk in Georgia Satellite Dan Baird, stripped back rocker former Del-Lord and current Steve Earle guitarman Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and basic rock/rootser Terry Anderson, this is powerful stuff, indeed.


The ocean on stormy days

   Grey. Turbulent. Low pressure zones. In all of what could be considered bleak or depressing, there Mother Ocean is in all her churning, tossing glory. Waves rising up, crashing down. Hitting the beach with a majesty and fury that says these are the elements unfurled, unburdened wild and yet glorious.

   You know it is not something to be trifled with, yet you can’t stop marveling at the power, the surging and breaking of something so essential to our world. These are the moments that thrill, inspire, take one’s breath away for the being, the seeing, the knowing just how grounded this all is.


Perfumes that take you back

   There are scents that put you places. One whiff, and there you are. Coco being the first time I wore truly grown-up perfume, and a scent not purloined from my mother’s mirrored tray on her dresser. Hermes L’orange Verte as the notion of Florida’s coast after the rain, drifting up from the wrists and necks of it seemed every well-heeled man who went sockless and whose ankle bones protruded in an oddly inviting way. Warm laundry. Real gardenias. Moss in the woods. Grandma’s pies. Riding tack polished to its leathery, soapy, buttery headiness. The musk and patchouli oozing from my glamorous hippie baby-sitters.

   Like a song, a smell can put you there. Without thinking. Without blinking. Without anything, not even surrender, as the highway to what was then—and if not now, at least burning bright as the matches Hans Christen Anderson used to keep the little girl’s vision alive.

Local Bands keeping the faith

There is no elephant cash, no limo, no backstage, no clamor, no glamour. These are people playing for the way the notes lash and curl, the way a melody can entwine a truth or a feeling, the notion that somebody—maybe even only one person—sees themselves in this music. It is a release, a recognition, a shared small truth that is so much greater than the performance itself.
   In an acquisitive world, this isn’t about big Bigger BIGGEST. It’s about the way music transforms people on the smallest levels, the gigging—or writing—as much for the way doing feels as it is for the reaction and reward. It is where the smallest details get stitched up—and reminds us of that essence for our own walk through the world.

Passionfruit Almond Joy   Special Edition

Totally upside down, oddly tropical, drugstore decadent. A slightly island fruitiness is infused into the too sweet coconut that clings together for dear life - juxtaposed to the creamy richness of the chocolate and the subtle depth of the chewy almonds. A cheap getaway trigger that is as common in its reality as it is unexpected in its execution.

Foxes in the Henhouse - Steve Jarding and Dave “Mudcat” Saunders


   Yes, they are two grass roots Democratic political consultants who work the backwater and the bubba as their own personal acreage—and in that, it would be easy to marginalize Foxes as a treatise of legitimizing a personal philosophy. Well aside from my view of standing up for your own theory as an absolute to get me to even consider it as seriously worth even considering, this book strips the intellectual elitism of the “working class” party to the cuticle—exposing the biases that have cost the party far more committed to helping people, empowering our nation and protecting the principles our country was founded upon in the truest sense.

   And the saddest thing is: it’s all easy stuff. It’s about getting real about where the votes are—and getting to those people. It’s about knowing not what plays with the rich or highly educated liberals, but the mass of people voting (the rural areas, the South, the Midwest, the West) and not allowing the other party to re-define the basics (Christianity, nationalism, patriotism) in ways that play to the sound bites, then betray every fundamental of these principles.

   To wake up and see through the talk points, to recognize single issue manipulation for all its worth, to start asking the real questions rather then accepting that which hits our “hot buttons” is the path back to a kinder, more compassionate, more balanced America. The seeds for this awakening are here—whichever party you belong to—and all you have to do is consider the veneer that’s often taken as gospel and start looking at what really fills out the terms being hurled like Mardi Gras beads. That, and getting clear about NASCAR nation being part of the fiber of this country, what health care, education and environmental standards we really want—among the other issues.

Fields of Daisies

   Overgrown. Laconically tall and wispy, blowing loose in the wind. White faces dotted with their own personal sun, petals rounded moments of happiness and joy—attached to that egg yolk center. This is the definition of bucolic: driving by and seeing the vastness of a field that is wild daises, choking on its snowy blooms, thing dusty pine stalks, reaching for the sky without a thought—thicker than good Persian carpet and warmer than the best spring day.


Knowing When To Stop


   There is a moment when it is finished. Done. Complete. No more needs to be said, written, acted upon. The law of diminishing returns turns upon recognition. Know when the work is over—release one’s compulsion to keep hurling oneself at it, to tweak and revise and hone and grind and whet. In discernment lies the spark of passionate perfection if in doubt, pause, inhale, close your eyes, then open then quickly, freshly, without exhaustion: the truth will be there.


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Soufflé  Echo, Palm Beach


   A chocolate cloud, lighter than air—just a puff of cocoa waiting to hit your tongue and evaporate in its essence of the delectable essence of all things chocolate. Only then, as it feels as if this ephemeral treasure is a whiff and puff and gone, your teeth hit the meltingly rich goodness of almost molten chips—a warm, tactile reminder of how the physicality of rendered nibs and butter, cream and sugar can manifest in a third dimension. To think, indeed to describe is to negate the wonder of a dessert that is surrender to the senses. Make the trip—and see why.


Waxing

   For one blinding second, it’s as if your soul is ripped open—the flash of white, the burst of pain from the tearing. Then, it is over. You can look clean and neat and groomed for weeks. It is a brutal rendering of vanity, and yet—it is complete in moments, executed with (if you’re lucky) a brutality that turns unruly into manicured, eyes into wide open planes, bikinis into smooth fields of flesh.

Blueberry Ale   Offshore Ale, Oaks Bluffs, MA

   Aside from the Veruca Salt marketing peg, There’s a mellowing that comes from the antioxidant that takes the latest greatest brew from the Offshorians and renders laidback even more tacitly easy. The flavor is clean, with the tinge of the blueberries aftertaste—and the head is more light foam than a mouthful of suds. Garnished with a few perfect berries, it is regionalism writ authentically creative.

Birthdays remembered


   No matter the protestations of “please don’t,” the begging of “I just want to forget about it” There is no greater joy than hearing the joy in another’s voice that someone did care enough to remember: to do some little thing so singular to who they were, to find a shiny stolen moment. It is luminous the right way - lit from the inside out, glowing with the euphoria of someone else celebrating the specialness that the birthday person didn’t even think mattered any more.

   It only takes a moment. Perhaps a bottle of champagne. A cupcake with a single candle, a book that only you would know they’d like. A CD they should hear right now. A hair toy that’s frivolous. Or even just a surprise card or flowers delivered somewhere so everyone in they’re special. A few seconds to take one’s breath away.


Innocent When You Dream: A Tom Waits Reader Thunder’s Mouth Press

   If old school winos’n'down-on-their-luckers were poured out of Cole Porter melodies, cataclysmic rhythms and reasons to weep, they’d be distilled into the body of Tom Waits - a man who both romanticizes and exposes the cockroaches of the human realm with dignity and honesty, set to a piano’s falling and rising notes. Having migrated deeper into the rocky chasms of the twisted profanity of humanity over the years, albums ranging from the early Closing Time and Heart of Saturday Night through the existentially experimental Mule Variations and Blood Money show an artistic journey akin to Monk or Coltrane—perhaps inscrutable, but always riveting.

   And so editor Mac Montandon lovingly culls the best writing over the arc of the threadworn troubadour’s career, wafting of stale cigarette smoke, cheap booze, cheaper women, buzzing neon, motor lodges, broken dreams, battered hearts and the doubleknit-thriftstore-losers-in-banged-up-old-man-hats that live them. Waits has always blurred the line between who he was and the characters in his songs—- inhabiting them seamlessly—and this brilliantly written collection shines the same light Waits turns on his characters on the man who creates them. Any fan will have a career’s trajectory spelled out.

Island Grown Initiative  Martha’s Vineyard

   Locally sown, grown, sold and consumed. It is the notion that if communities support their local agricultural base, not only do they strengthen their nutritional reality, they make the bonds of community broader and tighter. At a time when agribusiness reduces the nutrients hitting one’s table to columns of numbers and squeezed bits of profit margin, this is reversing the trend in a way that’s empowering.

   It’s also about taking care of one’s community internally, recognizing the contribution we make to each others’ reality and especially the notion of where food originates. To understand the chain of sustenance on a direct level offers a much deeper sense of the fuel we run on, the things that sustain us. And their t-shirts are darling.

www.islandgrown.org


Cereal Killer  Bongo Java, Nashville, TN

   Take bits and scraps of every demi-healthy cereal you can find. Whatever’s not a full bowl, but you don’t wanna waste—and you don’t wanna cover it with milk. Get some peanut butter, raisins, peanuts, chocolate chips. Mix it up. Press it down. Put it in the over for a few, so it holds together. Viola! The most practical, smart sweet thing to snack on. Simple, yet enough flavors to keep your tongue twitching, Mmmmmmmmm

Baby Geese

   Grey fuzzy waddlers, staggering along behind proud puffed up mothers. Scampering about like an overturned basket of puppies. Short little legs, moving like millwheels and windmills on speed, micro-honks that register like milkweed or dandelion silk on the breeze. Joy with webbed feet, laughter bumping into lookalike jesters—baby geese offer sweeteness, entertainment, unbridled joy and discovery.

Kind of Blue—Miles Davis

   Best of rainy nights with candles burning and the red wine warming. But any time, the scattered notes, the languid pouring out of melody, the beats that fall clear. It’s complicated the way incense is—and Davis’ musical meditation with Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans lures you away, pulls you away with its lulling, lapping waves of feeling—emotions that exist beyond words, definitions, clarity, yet permeate your very deepest places. “Blue In Green” is evocative, while “Flamenco Sketches” suggests the Sketches of Spain to come.

   Close your eyes, open your soul. Sink into the music and let everything inside you float away.

Mignon Chocolate Covered Hazelnut Filled Wafers


   Airy wafers cut into bite-sized squares. The crème filling hazelnut with hints of coffee and chocolate. This is long shelf-life stuff, imported from Europe, but somehow managing to maintain enough air to give this a lightness that suggests a cloud. Look for it in discerning epicurean shops.


Board Shorts   Island  Co


   Seriously good cotton that dries in an instant. Cut lean with enough length to the leg to make one seem somehow longer. Patterns—on the ones that aren’t solid or thin vertical—that are beyond time, rendered in tones that are neither pastel, tactically worn nor a dreaded sherbet palette. A key lime, a pale blue, a definite coral, a faded red on fields of pristine white. These are board shorts that can hit the beach, the streets, perhaps even certain dining rooms if worn with proper insouciance.

   Theoretically, this is men’s wear. But in a world where equality is sought, this is a wonderful reason why. With a t, a tank, an Izod or a buttondown, this is universal comfort, play clothes rendered sleek and chic, but especially given enough fluid body consciousness to maintain the sexual frisson that is healthy, sporty stylishness sans self-consciousness.

Baby Arugula   North Tabor Farms Tisbury, Mass.


   Tender leaves that have a peppery snap to their flavor. Tiny flags of deep emerald that suggest oak leaves, but stand up to dressings, goat cheese, pine nuts. Tucked into sandwiches, they offer a spicy counterpoint. Tossed into salads they offer a note that makes the tongue pucker happily. Eaten straight from the bag, they suggest the sun and rain that pours straight into the Earth, realized in a green that embodies everything good about salad.