Leave it to a man from Glasgow, Kentucky to pin the tail on the heartbreak. At a time when I couldn’t swallow, only be swallowed by a grief that tore every bit of my being, made my nerves throb and my skin burn, there was no understanding, only tears and pain and agony. Not even words, just a grief that knows no master, isn’t fair or relenting.
In that jagged blade - one that feels like its tearing me apart - there is the knowledge that this is real. The bad, yes, but the good. To know that kind of good can be, indeed last, there is much promise to be had - and much solace in 17 years of love with boundaries, smiles as a matter of course, realities tempered by a soft touch and a gentle rising and falling of breath. To love so big is more than worth the incredible, but transitory pain of the loss.
The decorator who believed in bold pastels and jewel tones - who gave the Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, Virginia and the Carlisel Hotel in NYC their signature high elegance, high gloss, high comfort style - also believed in bringing that euphoric intense sense to living. Never one to need large budgets (though they helped) or intricate googaws to bring her looks to fruition, Draper takes the same approach to entertaining, believing seizing the now is more important than waiting for the perfect moment - and offering a philosophy of graciousness that makes basic meals seem like magical dinners and themed parties something to talk about for weeks.
Written in her high social je ne sais croix tone, this is a pleasure to read for how she puts her thoughts together. Factoring in her actual thoughts, this is a playbook for communing, engaging and entertaining others that could make having parties a way of being rather than a major exertion. And the more you reach out, share, create a circle of friends that is about the moments, the richer you become.
Bonus: In The Pink - Carlton Varney
Varney is a modern day designer of clothing and interiors. With a mad eye for color, he could be considered an acolyte of Draper’s luxe comfort and high intensity tones. A strong sense of whimsy allows Varney to capture Draper’s greatest work on all levels - and not just one of clinical assessment - in this book that is as much social archeology as catalogue of fabulous hotels, homes of the privileged and Draper’s own favorites. To see a more elevated time when style was the rule, Dorothy Draper made stunning environments seem effortless - and this is an informed eye’s look into the why, what and how.
Cyan Scarpati was a beautiful wild flower, free spirit of a girl - with the jet black hair, the kohl-lined eyes and the wildest, kindest of hearts. Her parents - John and Rafe are equally amazing open-armed members of the world - are the kind of people who inspire folks to reach for their dreams, even when there are over-riding conditions that make futility inevitable.
For what is futility if you shine bright in the moments? If your sparkle inflames others, sets imaginations on stun and makes you consider the reasons why you wouldn’t in a way that might well make you try. In the end, Cyan’s heart wasn’t meant for this world - and at 16, she beams moonlight and star dust, but somehow she still shines. She is ours, even as she’s gone, a glorious pinwheel example of hope in full-bloom even as the flower begins to die; that glory in complete blaze, that will to glow that can’t be extinguished no matter what.
With Jeff Tweedt on the cover, considering the realm and range of WIlco, American Songwriter is the place to consider the timelessness of great songs and the inevitable evolution of the process. But as perhaps the most visceral emotional currency that we have in this faster, harder, more specific world which we insist on hurling ourselves through, the songs remain the same, change, return, expand - and its all thoughtfully considered in this little magazine that could.
Alt-troubadour Todd Snider, post-pop songsmith Evan Dando, progressive visionary Moby and the 25 songs the staff thinks are the ones from the last quarter century that really matter. Diversified, leaving plenty of room for identification or debate, but certainly miles of process and meaning.
Enzo is a dog who might as well be human… or superhuman, in the insight he has is true and pure as most people’s best reasoning. Bought as a puppy, one man’s best friend moves from bachelorhood to dating to marriage to family to family struggles as a constant companion and true clarity broker - and also the receptacle for the truths about high-level car racing, something man and dog not only love, man is trying aggressively to pursue.
In watching the races, simulating the courses and - for Enzo - one trip around a track to know what it means to fly, the metaphors for life emerge. And in Enzo’s loyalty and cheering on his human, the reality of love’s unconditional potential is revealed. Just as importantly, it is an insight - optimistic, yet somehow feeling true - of what the big transitions mean, especially to the dogs who love us no matter what.
A wise friend who loves writing suggested I read this. On the brink of losing my very best friend, it may be the greatest kindness I’ve been rendered - in a lifetime of amazing kindnesses. And not only is it about freedom, grace, wonder and transcendence, this is a book about possibilities, hope and the way the moments come when they’re supposed to. Pleasepleaseplease, if you read one book, this is it.
It looks like grand luxe elegance cast as someone’s very fashionable den. Overstuffed leather, deep colored walls, impossibly contrasted black & white famous of game, celebrities, flowers, fashion. And the menu: elevated American. Impossibly goat cheese tarts, stuffed pork tenderloins that balances spinach, mushrooms and cherries against a porcini cream, Steak Diane, Dover sole in light lemon butter, an impossibly classic Caesar salad and creamed corn that will make you see pyramids.
Once upon a time, classic American cuisine was its own standard. RL Grille reminds us of that, as it creates an atmosphere to linger, to celebrate, to relax. When chic is about comfort, but with an accessible opulence and welcoming sense of place, this is just what the clothing has always embodied.
Steve Earle may well have been tortured singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt’s leading acolyte - and with his just released Townes, he offers an insight into the Houston-born artist that makes the inscrutability of his spare lyrical style a direct hit on most people’s emotional cores. Noted critic Anthony DeCurtis gets inside Earle through both the Grammy-winning activist’s insight into his mentor, his analysis of why songs work and his reasons for doing this album.
Just as importantly, DeCurtis captures the passion of an artist’s passion and reveals the ferocious intellectualism that drives the “well-read high school drop-out.” In recognizing who Earle is as Earle reveals Van Zandt’s gifts to a broader audience, the reasons creatives are so essential becomes mandate.
Well-written, beautiful-turned and willing to scrape away the obvious, this is what journalism should be.
If there was a modern day counter-culture, Memphis-discovered, East Nashville-residing Todd Snider would be the beat hipster troubapoet. Little bit Dylan, little bit Prine, little bit Jerry Jeff, a pinch of Hunter S. and a dahs of Bukowski, he’s got that low slung “yeah, whatever” that’s honed on hypocrisy, boorishness and bullying. He’s got a cotton candy heart, rapier clarity, a sweet temper til you mess with it, a Bohemian disdain for the conveyor belt of fame and salty tang to his twang that’s more old burlap than blazing neon.
Lie on your back. Breathe deep, exhale. Slowly raise your legs from the hip and bring them to perpendicular. Raise your hips and let the toes continue falling backwards, let gravity pull them over your head until they touch the floor - or go as far as you can go without ripping something.
Put your hands straight out if you need steadying. But once you’re over, bring them behind your back - palms turned out - and lace your fingers. The stre-e-e-e-tech feels delicious - and it stimulates your thyroid in ways modern perscriptives can’t. Hold it 30 seconds, a minute, 5. Breath and experience the entirety of your body, uncrumpled, unfolded, unburdened. Pretty wow!
They are organic. They are creamy - and smooth. They are… profound. The tiniest nibble is an ocean of everything that cocoa and butter and cream can muster. When you add in truffles made with goat cheese, green tea, cranberries, ginger, wasabi, fresh cranberries and myriad quixotic variations, not to mention not to chewy salt caramels and the traditional varieties of almonds, peanuts, cashews, raisins and coconut, it is worth the small ransom they will charge you. Ecstaty in a pretty blue box. Promise.
Every now and then, someone falls out of the sky - and they startle you. Crystal vision, quick thinking, multi-tiered analysis, love of laughter and the will to get it done with as little drama as possible. When you add in aesthetics that’re highly refined - be it books, restaurants, music or the cut of a certain kind of skirt, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Margaret Thresher is a painter worthy of her canvas and her view.
Bringing in the press by the truckload, she’s about translating cultural relevance, lived in history and a passion that transcends words rather than merely cataloging artifacts to wow the journos. To find a woman so generous of her spirit and so good at her job may explain her success… never mind her dogged hours and attention to detail… this is a woman who is cellularly inclined to tell her story and make friends doing it.
There is innocence here - and just the husk of songs that would bewitch and captivate generations. Stevie Nicks was the ultimate gypsy ballerina sensitive girl poet - Bohemian, mysterious, magical, sexy, but somehow sweet. And she conjured towers of images held together with ribbons and feelings, and it was always “just what I wanted to say.”
To understand how fragile - and frighteningly accessible - Nicks’ songs are, the appearance of Nicks’ demos on YouTube further demonstrates she is one more strong, but broken heart beating just down the block. A few chords, her smoky voice scratchy in places, the emotions so big even in a quick sketch of what the song was. To know that you don’t need big production to be knocked over by an emotion, a story, a revelation, but better something undistilled and uncluttered, this is the proof. Go see.
Classic. Basic. Deep. Refined. Sporty. Dark, but not black. Navy blue is an American classic. Chic without being overly formal, yet impossibly formal when rendered in chiffon and draped or sliced to silhouette the figure. But mostly, it is the most wearable, throw it on and go color! To blend in without disappearing; to have regality without fromp or pomp.
Navy blue is a one color fits all proposition: the beach, the cocktail lounge, the office, beyond.
She is not as well as she once was. She can’t hunt munk, nor scowl at rabbits in the backyard through the windows. She likes the slow stroll at Radnor, the scents and the delicious atmosphere. But at this point, her aesthetic heaven is to be curled up inside my thighs and my tummy, feeling the closeness and knowing she’s loved.
And even more than the petting and the gentle scratching, there is Pooh. Yes, Pooh - A.A. Milne’s “silly old bear.” When Zelda’s brother died - she’s certain she killed him - we read the story of Piglet and Christopher Robin and Eeyore and what went on in the 100 Acre Woods, and she liked it. Found the rising and falling of sentences reassuring, and no doubt loved the focused attention. Now Winnie The Pooh is the ultimate communion of Mommy and Spaniel, there on the floor, under the window, time reduced molasses, moving sweet and slow all around her.
It is an overgrown Victorian, lovingly restored - and the hippest granite lap pool with a sign at one end that blazes “Soul” in red neon. Each room is its own jewel, its own design, its own reality. Bungalows, suites, studios: all with high end amenities and turntables and a well-turned vinyl library.
The appointments are strictly bohemian luxe. Heavily polished black lacquer dragon legs supporting equally polished black leather cushioned sofas, red velvet benches built into the walls, serious dark wood tables showing the wear beyond the oil and everywhere you look there are the low live oaks, holding time and life and weather somehow softer from above.
And the lounge with its cobalt walls and a white peacock stuffed and standing just above the bar, watching it all go down. Sophisticated wine. Beer golden in good glasses. Platters of charcuterie and goat cheeses served with slices of baguette and the sense that in this place only this place exists. Not quite Alice In Wonderland nor Cote d’Azur less than a block off South Congress, just shy of the Contential Club - and yet, it is a miracle of hushed imagination and Technicolor dreams.
One of those temples of local color where the politicos, stars, jocks, truckers and neighborhood warehouse workers tuck themselves into nicked Formica tables to have breakfast and lunch, but no dinner. It is huevos, burritos, sides of fajita meat and even chicken fried steak, myriad taco options and salsa and hot sauce they make themselves. All quickly turned and the sort of soul comfort food that makes spicy nurturing rather than flame-throwing…
But it is the picadilo appetizer that is most intriguing. A less than demi-loaf of airy, yeasty bread is sliced down the middle and toasted, then loaded up with ground beef dotted with bits of onion and who knows. It is served with a special hot sauce to be spooned liberally upon it. It is warm and sustaining, giving you the protein rush, the carb tranquility and enough pungent tang to make your taste buds engage and exult. Be warned: it really is a meal, but well
They’d be so great if… I think it could work if… I know they keep doing, but…
A long time ago, a dear friend encouraging me to end it with a beau who had to go said it like this. “It ain’t you, baby… You’re cool. That’s as plain as the nose on his face. He can’t see, ain’t gonna see it - and you’re wasting time waiting around on the blind to get sight.” So true.
People are as they are. If you ask nicely, explain evenly, even demonstrate the why and the how - and the behavior/situation/reality doesn’t change, it’s the reality’s reality. People are as they are. Work dynamics rarely change without a major motivation. It is what it is. You can wait around for something character-shifting to happen - or you can accept how it is, then lead your life according to what you need. It’s that simple, and if you think you’re cheating yourself out of what you want, what you want isn’t waiting around for someone to act better, treat you right, realize how good you are.
Knowing and accepting sets you free… to find the very thing you are looking for.
Cut in two, blanche. Spread in a single layer in a baking dish - and pour the tiniest bit of quality olive oil, shake some good sea salt and then drizzle with the best Balsamic vinegar you can find. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes. Broil for 30 seconds to crisp the caramel. Serve hot - or cold. Great the next day or two, as the flavors settle and the tiny little cabbages become satisfyingly crisp yet somehow surrendering to the bite. They are wondrous as a side, tossed into a salad or omlette - or tossed into the air like a little snack you can snap for.
There are 255 icons from the songs of Tom Waits - slowly unlocked the more you send them to your fellow Facebookers. A Fashionable Cross Dresser, the Piano Has Been Drinking, Carnival Lights, Swordfishtrombone, The Girl of Your Dreams, The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me, even an Ole 55. To the true fan, it’s the ultimate talisman of a friend or moment - and one click drops an odd little imagine into their box.
For the hipster, the curious, the willing to try, these postage stamp images - A Fairy Tale Gone Very Wrong is lush, an Advocate is pure kitsch and Too Many Nights in the Bar is a postcard that captures the essence - this is cooler way to jiggle the memory, suggest the next move or cap a conversation. Plucky, funny, at times soul opening, Tom Waits is the grifter raconteur of the past three decades for good reasons. If you’re on Facebook and you’re NOT foraging through Tom Waits’ Musical Trunk, you’re missing most of the fun - and perhaps missing out on the songs it could lead you to!
Otis Redding working for him core. A classic album that requires no real explanation - except to remind people that the gruff in Reddings’ voice was tear your resolve to shreddedness, and the raw was the evidence of the real. When he sings “Respect,” it’s something he damn well knows he’s earned… and isn’t gonna fight you for, and when he leans into the Stones’ “Satisfaction,” the frustration is palpable. This is a real live, throw you down man - and baby, his very voice is a witness to the way he’s gonna make you moan.
A very dangerous, naughty naughty web site that captures the ultimate quarry: the ni plus ultra French high heel with the lipstick soles at a price that will prevent nosebleeds. Reasonable may not be the word - although for this level of construction and design (never mind sexiness), it might be more appropriate to deem them fair. With a large selection, enough stock to make this something other than the two pair bait’n'switch, addicts, junkies and shoeaholics have a place to light… at a price that will give them room to kill again.
So clean, so easy. Grab a pen and styart scratching and hacking away… Say all the things that need saying… Put it up on a bulletin board and let your push pins do the talking. Simple, easy, peel and start carving, spiking and inflicting whatever kind of malevolence suits your crime.
And then, when your done, either put it on the refrigerator as a reminder of the havoc inflicted… or burn it up and throw the ashes to the wind. Quick, dirty, done. The sense of relief is exponential - and there’s another page ready to go whenever the next person requires voodoo.
It is what we all want, covet, desire - and it is perhaps the greatest lie told to oneself. Cool, that ever elusive commodity that deigns desirability on whatever possesses it can not be conjured, crafted, constructed or manufactured; the more you try, the further you drift from the desired end. And yet, like Moby Dick, the chase is eternal, damning, futile.
Noah Kerner’s book captures - as much as humanly possible - lightning in a bottle. Distilling both the ways that things emerge as cool and considering the evolution of the perception of same. Just as importantly, Chasing Cool deconstructs this most elusive quality is undermined, compromised and sludged up with the notion of cool rather than the genuine reality.
Authenticity is the key. But there’s so much more to cool than that, and this is a book for anyone who’s ever wondered how or why or what. A exhilarating read about a most quixotic state.
A large crepe poured onto a crepe maker. Then as it turns golden, it’s covered with a whole Hershey bar, marshmallow fluff and graham cracker dust. Folded once, then flipped and allowed to finish cooking. It is a matter of seconds, and yet, in those few passing moments, the insides become a delicious gooey mess that won’t - unless you’re just not good with basic cutlery - end up all over you.
A grown-up rendering of an ultimate childhood yummy, sans the campfire. S’More crepes are as smile-inducing on a dreary day as new puppies, but they won’t chew your shoes or wet your carpet. Sit inside the almost Zen-like coffee shop and savor the meltingly rich, impossibly delicious culture clash as summer camp goes Francophile. Sneak away, feed your inner child, nourish the innocence within.
The logs, but especially limbs, break that brown/black water and reach parallel to the surface. They are sodden, but the exposed bark is thirsty for the sun’s drying warmth. And dotting the wrinkled gray/black fallen branch are turtles of varying sizes, necks stretched as far as they can go - still in the sun the movement they’re committed to.
And sharing these floating nature barges are geese. Canadian geese holding moons beneath their wings, so the sun and penetrate their feathers and rejuevnate them as they migrate back. The geese will from time-to-time unfurl their wings and reach up, turtles turning slightly jealous - and the geese settle down, like some kind of aviary bodyguard. It is lazy… and melting back into life… and remembering who your friends are as everyone comes back to life.
So snarky. So up the games, the lies, the hubris… and that’s just the wanna-bes miles for the fringe of what is almost kind of happening. As citric as it is mocking, this webisodic short-film series gives you plenty of reasons to laugh and remember the toxic bent of self-importance writ large across the famous in their own mind yearning to be bold-faced to their rest of us
With Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick and Isla Fisher, this is another moment of needle to the balloon from the lovely folks at My Damn Channel, who’re always quick to skewer a totem or deflate the bloated! How the machinations turn, scams fall apart, the homage and grunting of never quite happening, but always having some kind of come to bet on. Anyone who loved “The Player” will howl at the hubris writ tiny. New episodes every Monday.
We know who we are: the ones who lives between the cracks, who can make do anywhere somehow. It is the ability to kill 6 hours waiting on the plane, to find the free wireless in a strange city, to know how to change in a convenience store and still be put together. Not quite rules of the road nor the drifters’ playbook, this is a functionality that allows for a life where there are gaps between the orchestrated and the optimal conditions…
A suspended elixir of sweet chestnut essence designed to draw our and temper grief, sadness and loss. It is not a magic cure with its long thin glass dropper, and yet, somehow two-to-three drafts of the slightly brandy-esque liquid grounds you in the tides and swells of something so vast. For those who cope by shutting down, by turning away, but denying the magnitude of the emotion, this is a safe way to let it come… at a pace that isn’t crushing, with a clarity that lets the tides rise and set you afloat to a more settled place. Highly recommended
Not the mean ones, of course. But the people who’ve had too much fun, starting to run out of gas. They are not your problem, and hopefully they have friends who’re taking care of them. But as the glitter of the over-festivity fades, you can have a moment to see people’s souls at their most exposed. There is no editing when the intoxication begins to exhaust the party animal, and that which they hide emerges in a softer form: their sadness, their pain, their anger even.
It is what it is. And in it, there is what we are, too. The things we deny. The truths we think make us weak or not enough. But really, those are the places where our honesty seeps through and we can understand each other at such a deeper place. Especially on the faces, the responses, the words of people we’ll never know and most likely will never see again.
In spite of the Jane Birkin looking photo on the cover, Holly Williams - grand-daughter of yes…—is a woman in phase with the hearts and souls of the distaff side. With an arcing taste of what it means to be female, she taps Tammy with her angst and her rawest desire… whether it’s the languidly sultry “Three Days in Bed,” the appropriately worldly stridence of “He’s Making a Fool Out of You” or maintaining her strength in the storm “Without Jesus Here With Me.”
This is a smart, sexy woman who’s not only not afraid to know, she’s not afraid to tell the truth. And rather than indulging in clever wordplay, she leans into the emotions, lines things out straight and offers up her heart and her grit against a new kind of modern country music. Her spare piano-grounded take on Neil Young’s post-romantic malaise “Birds” throbs with the ache of what’s gone, even as it looks to the other’s future with hope. A majestic album that gives a strong, sturdy alto the dignity and real country foundation it was born to grow strong and bold in.
Underneath the trees with chickens under foot, Blue Heaven is a little bit old Florida, a little bit Haiti - and the languidness and humidity that marks the Southern-most part of the Sunshine State only heightens the vibe at the demi-Nawlins restaurant where time drags and meals are bathed in laughter from friends, vacationers and families enjoying a meal where the stress seems to melt away. Because in the end, there is something about Blue Heaven that is narcotic in its tranquilizing.
They are back. After Gwen Stefani’s solo records and tour and kids. Never broken up, just letting the blond vixen walk her dance moves in a slicker, glossier form, No Doubt rolls for the music, not to pimp some new record they needed to “get out” - making their ska-grounded catalog undulate one more time. It is an opportunity to be street and pretty, roots and raucous, silly and over-the-top.
Though the little (Harajuku) girls may not remember, what’s not to like about the frenetic Orange County post-punkers? “Just A Girl” Cali-fornicates what the United Kingdom’s Madness and English Beat set to percolating, and even the sultry “Underneath My Clothes” captures that reggae-grounded earthy sensibility.
Subtitled One Family, The Beautiful People & the End of the Sixties, this book traces a star-crossed couple drowning in the luxe, lewd rock & roll excess of the Rolling Stones as they hit their Exile on Main Street apex/nadir. Rolling Stone’s Will Dana calls the book, “a rock & roll Tender Is The Night,” and he’s not wrong as a pair of very beautiful, very privileged, very in love young parents succumb to the decadence, debauchery, drugs, high wire sexual dynamics in some of the world’s most elegant and exclusive domains.
Tommy Weber and Susan “Puss” Coriat embodied what it meant to be British upper class beyond the rules people. They challenged every notion, rule and standard - and lost so much along the way. Never mind the two small children, the glamorous life of relative leisure, the drive for fame and the swirling cast of supporting players that included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Charlotte Rampling, Anita Pallenberg and a strong sense of innocence - and paradise - lost. The sort of real life that defies fiction, this is a blistering beach read for anyone who’s more taken by the late 60s social upheaval than the Gossip Girl/East Hampton entitlement and indulged behavior.
It has a note of good green tea, an almost woody amber sense, but a freshness that comes from the earth. On your pulse points, it opens your mind even as it lulls you into a place of being open, yet grounded. When I want to dream, but in a way that holds me to terra firma, this is a wonderful place to start. It opens the brain, offers a kite’s tail to grab onto and a warm breeze to fly on.
Few things are both bucolic and inspiring. This is one. Put it on and see how people soothe into their beings more fully than normal and offer up truths they never think about to you. A miraculous scent that opens doors, hearts, minds without overpowering.
They are traditionally German… these think little melt in your mouth wafers that’re layered with flavored creaminess. A whisper of cookies that dissolves into whatever flavor is spread between the wafer, adding texture and crunch and a take-it-with-you, not-quite-so-moist slice of torte for its tin-foil wrapped trouble.
But leave it Mexican/South American food producer Goya to figure out how to create a cream that is all the rich caramel goodness of Dulce de leche, that wondrous reduced evaporated milk magic that makes everything beyond. The reduced buttery richness of dairy, the dash of salt for contrast, the honeyed sweetness - all set off by the thin layers of vanilla crispness. With café con leche, ice cream or even a pate of fresh fruit, these are a sweet punctuation mark that makes everything somehow deliciously more.
It is hot, churning, the water surging at tired muscles, releasing the ache, the tension, the exhaustion with its series of turbo-jets. There is steam rising from the 100 degree plus water, and as it floats towards a truly black sky in clouds and twisted sheets, tiny shiny bits of white — stardust? — falls slowly, softly, turning in the moonlight in a pirouette of gravity and inevitability.
Above, in that inky softness, stars twinkle and pour out a whiter than white light — making it so many pin prick diamonds to punctuate the still night sky. It is all possibility and beckon: come into yourself, let go of yourself. Feel the sensations, be overwhelmed by the vastness of the woods, the snow, the sky and notice how exciting the tranquility can be. Breathe slowly, deeply, absolutely and smile into a moment that is as perfect as our imaginations can hold.