Start with the book: Hemingway. Add the stars: Bogey and Bacall in their first pairing. Consider, even more vexingly, the screenwriter: Faulkner. There are those things that are so subtly and consistently excellent that you can’t begin to fathom the combo of the chemicals - and when you watch the first time, you may not even register the intensity of the frisson.
Back when dialogue was kinetic. Back when sexual attraction was the spark and smolder instead of anatomical plumbing. This is the story of a man who knows no trouble, even moored in a Caribbean port where the French resistance is in full-rut in a 2nd World War, where the freedom fighters seek so much more than principles, but literally escaping inevitable death. Against the tableau of right and wrong, there is attraction and denial, diamond drill-bit dialogue, cocktail piano punctuation, soignée evenings and the true weight of morality - as well zingers like “What? Are you trying to guess her weight?” tossed from a swallow-her-jealous Bacall to Bogart as he removes a fainted woman from a bedside bullet removal.
This is the one where the whistling, “You know to whistle, don’t ya? Just put your lips together and blow” comes from. A forgotten treasure that gives the illusion of depth and the deepest
They are “the one” you write to, for… the one you want to impress. Whatever it is you create, it is wholly solely intended for the broadest possible audience, the most potential souls to touch; but as you’re creating, there is that one face you see, that single voice you hear - the true center that keeps you on track, maintains your course. They are the one who will know - and they are the one you are constantly mentally checking against.
It is loud… and cold… and hard… Throbbing. Throttling. Pumping. Right there. In your face. Spot on - and digging in. AC/DC - of Back In Black, Highway To Hell, For Those About to Rock - is unrelenting in how relentlessly they attack blues forms with a vicious beat and the loudest guitars they can find. It is pre-troglodyte on a lot of levels, and that primitive thrust is what makes the kick such a thrill.
Bruce Johnston’s voice is a razor wheel, buzzing across Angus Young’s raging downstroke. Cliches? Oh, yeah… this is all sex and booze and guitars and sex. Delicious raunchy, aggressively swaggering, completely consumed with the decibels and debauchery that define raucous blues’n'roll, this is everything a guilty pleasure oughta be.
He recognized Pauline Kael long before she was the voice at The New Yorker, championed Nobel laureates Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison and was one of the most riveting pop culture voices of the latter 20th and 21st century. What would you expect from a man scooped up by William Buckley - along with John Didion, Renata Adler and Gary Wills - at The National Review?
Passion. Dizzying brilliance. An unfettered sense of enthusiasm and personal commitment to the things he wrote about. Bad reviews were a bane, yet the result of a sense of betrayal of the creator’s gift and audience. More importantly, though, was his will to celebrate the emotional resonance and undiscovered voices. His was a singular way to write about literature (The New York Times Sunday Book Review), television (New York magazine), societal reality (his “Private Lives” New York Times column) and the media in general (CBS’ “Sunday Morning”) showed what was possible in the realm of analysis and connection with culture, creation and its reflection of the world around us - and in his exuberance was a sense of investment from him to us to whatever he championed. One of kind, there is now a void.
Their chinoserie desk, which comes in more shades than a color wheel, is only the beginning of the fun at this bespoke and distinctly American shaped furniture site. Spend hours combining frame color with upholstery patterns and possible pillows. Consider what kind of vibe you’re going for, then cast and recast the options. Order at will - and while some of the pieces are ridiculously expensive - others are within reach, based on the notion that getting just what you want is always worth it.
The Denver Bronco broke the heart of my hometown when he took the Browns down 34-30 in the final minutes of their match-up, but if you look at the stats, Buckeyes can almost forgive him. 447 yards in a single game: the only other - and last—person to achieve that was in 1966! That’s how unremittingly excellent that performance was… and the former Vanderbilt quarterback is as easy on the eye as he is in the offensive drive.
Figure he logged 3 touchdown air attacks in the final quarter alone… and like John Elway did that close from behind rally that makes a team unbeatable. With 204 yards in the final quarter, he wound up the game 24 completions out of 42 thrown, one resulting in a 93 yard touchdown. Heartbreaking for Cleveland, debuting equally quite Brady Quinn and losing their 8th straight game to Denver. But with a rally like that, it’s a reason to keep your eyes on Jay Cutler for a long time to come.
It is a name that comes with a lot of… well… implication. And every bottle I’d ever had tasted like old leaves returning to nature, not particularly compelling and absolutely swollen by hype. Until the 2004, with its big slow opening taste and a nose that will make you dizzy. Chocolate, fruit - was it figs? - and that deliciously fat sense of fecund earth. Not that it tastes like earth… no, NO… but that it tastes of all the richness in the soul, the nutrients and minerals that make these grapes so luscious.
And it’s the kind of Cab that doesn’t drown you in its fullness, but merely lingers on the tongue with a satisfying whisper of all those notes so beautifully realized. It was… one of those times where the reputation that had been impaled was more than restored, it was justified. A very special vintage, indeed.
Stock - usually chicken, sometimes reinforced with bullion cubes - simmers. In a cast iron skillet, sizzle some good olive oil and cook down two or three onions, until soft and gently brown. Throw some thyme into the mix and let them grow even limper, absorbing the herb and mellowing into a pungent flavor blast that will be scraped into the soup, then deglazed with a bit of wine or the warmed broth.
Take those bags of quick-frozen vegetables and pour a cup of this, a cup of that out. Consider the cooking time and pour them accordingly into the bubbling liquid - longer for snow peas and baby carrots, not as much for corn or lima beans. For pluck sake, some country style Dijon mustard, a dash of Lea & Perrins, maybe a bit of fresh ginger or basil for added flavor, a squeeze of lemon for tang.
It is as easy as “what have you got?” It is as soul-sticking as the best home cooked meal. And nutritious? Add as many vegetables as you have on hand - I even stir in loose leaf spinach or arugula - for a bit of contrast. The kind of thing that can be pulled together in spite of itself, this is a Godsend when you just need something basic, warm and ready in no time.
Leave it to Sean and Sara Watkins, the other two-thirds of kindergrass phenoms Nicklecreek, to create one of the most musical amalgams, one that is as much about jamming and stretching out as it is the delicious mélange of standards, Dylan and bluegrass. With Heartbreaker Benmont Tench and anything-stringed ace-in-one’s-sleeve Greg Leisz in the band, it is infinite potential and relentless expansion of what’s possible on a bandstand.
But beyond that, there’s also the camaraderie, the joy and the genuine warmth that is conjured between them. Given who they are and who they know, drop-ins border on the unbelievable, but then isn’t music at its most molten all about dissolving expectations to create something more? Indeed. And so, anyone anywhere near the City of Angels on a Wednesday oughta put this on their calendar: it is well worth the evening you shall spend.
It has that same well-culled sensibility as Colette in Paris’ 1st arrondisement. But where Colette is the ni plus ultra of fashion. Groove is about CDs and - especially - vinyl. In a space that is spacious, clean and well-laid out, this is a temple of music, a place that encourages the shopper to browse, look, consider the recordings that they stock. And it is an ever-shifting banquet of offerings, running the gamut from obscure jazz to heavy metal.
Couches and a coffee table with a few well-chosen periodicals gives atmosphere that notion of consideration and invites shoppers to savor the experience. Bring your coffee from Bongo Java next door, bask in the well lit room with album covers dotting the walls like fine art and indie bands celebrated like the opals and rubies and emeralds the people making music for art more than commerce are.
They are there, whether we see them or not. Probably not. Things so reflexively ingrained, they’re done and gone before we even realize - if we ever realize - they happened. Reactions. Responses. Even the ones of not responding, not taking action, not engaging in our own lives. It is tricky: not just to recognize them, but to see how they got shaped and grooved, to recognize they’re not who we are, they are behaviors we picked up without - often - knowing.
To find a pattern, realize it’s a response… something picked up to cope in a given situation… and even to consider how the person we’re responding to came to embody that… is the first step to being free. Because once you know, you might backslide, but you can’t not know. And if you know, why would you?
Leonard Chess was the man. Chicago was the place. Making singles happen was the deal. For a time, Chess - known as Cadillac Records for the owner’s largesseful gifts of luxe Detroit steel that often supplanted royalty payments - owned pop radio. Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Little Walter and Etta James are among the faces being celebrated by a cast that includes Adrien Brody, Beyonce Knowles, Cedric the Entertainer, Jeffrey Wright and more. It was an era of juicy hit singles that were want and sex and love and something somehow more innocent, even as awareness came seeping in.
The chocolate itself is so dense and rich and complex, it is enough alone. But somewhere “up island,” there was the vision to incorporate bits of nuts and dried fruit into rough cut one inch blocks of shiny black bittersweet chocolate. Just looking at the nondescript chunks in their plain brown wrapper, you know you’re being gamed… Sink your front teeth into a corner and your knees almost buckle from the righteous cocoa-induced meltability and intoxicating sweetness that transcends cloying.
These are people who understand the way high holy of chocolate. This is their sucker punch.
There are those bold brave voices… The ones that when they speak, people stop and listen. Part of what makes them work is that they only talk when there’s something truly important to say. When they are silent, the run-on, the blah blah and the churning nothing into white noise makes it truly a jabberwocky of brain-numbing potential. It is those times when knowing the difference is salvation; because when to tune out is easily as important as knowing when to turn on.
If You Were The World is an anomaly: grace and grown-up expressions of romantic longing, engaged discourse and the oft-hinted at notion of both intercourse (oh, my) and personal fallibility. It is a jazz-drenched collection, as much Gil Evans and Chet Baker as Southern California poetry; but for this night in the impossibly intimate intellectual boite, Souther will strip it all to its naked core. To see a man who has helped carve some of the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt’s most enduring bedrock this close is a gift, to hear some of these news songs should be beyond. Just cross your fingers for “Back at Closing Time,” “In My Arms Tonight” and the luxuriously haunted, shudder-inducing “The Border Guard.”
The Women’s Wear Daily website could be easily dismissed as the cybercenter for the rag-trade: fashion trends before they retail, gossipy news about business and designers and what have you. That isn’t just missing the point, it’s missing some serious cultural sociology. You wanna know about economic trends, the reality of retail, the illusions that aren’t holding their center, the fate of the media? Those things can all be found written about with a tight incisiveness that staggers.
Yes, people might mock the metrosexual in you - with content about shoes and hemlines and colors for spring. Right up until you invest rings around them in the coming bounceback, because we all know it’s what you do when times are lean that fatten your world up for when they get better. www.wwd.com: seriously.
Dana Bryant was a fierce hip-hop poetess, who was a street literati for an Erykah Badu nation. Like Brytant, Cofer recasts real life culture - taking the poetry slam intensity of hip-hop and submerging it in quick hit fiction that makes Up The Street, Around The Corner sizzle with the immediacy of streets where people truly live on the fringe. A veteran of HBO Def Poet & two-time LA Times Teacher of Year, this is serious business with a straight-up urban foundation.
Rapid fire treatments of Garlic Fried Chicken, ghetto hair a la Jerry Weaves Flat Shags and Cornrows, being one of a very few blacks in a school where your skin matches the lunch lady’s Off White Nova or the eviction shuffle and relief of the new “Apartments,” this is full-tilt, how-it-is given broken glass diamond sparkle, scraped knee veracity and the equalizing mundanity of life anywhere “Folded Underwear.” A small book from a smaller publisher (Dimlights), with Picasso on whimsy illustrations from Nicole Klaymoon, this is a blast of what is without flinching, posturing or pulling punches.
Tucked in the most nondescript of strip malls, this is French comfort food served by charming waiters who know how to fuss without being smothering. Fresh, slowly cooked and subtly flavored, Provence Bistro celebrates the healthy, homey cuisine of the South of France… Lunch is modestly, decadent: roasted gnocchi with goat cheese, blistered tomatoes and English pea coulis, pan roasted chicken with garlic glaze and frites also drenched in warmed garlic chunked olive oil or a brothy beef burgundy where the meat and the baby carrots are firm yet still slightly firm to the bite.
Golden-stained stucco, it has the warmth of the fading of the day… It is intimate, yet cozy. With all entrees around $20 and an equally reasonable wine list, this is fine dining for real people. The olive tomato risotto is beyond, and for people who respond to duck confit with parsnip puree or sea bass en papillote - white wine reduced sauce chock full of zucchini, peppers and mushrooms, this is heaven in a shopping center.
Country radio is having some trouble with the line “Another morning after, a crazy night before/ Searching for my jeans on some stranger’s bedroom floor,” but anyone who’s ever been a little too lost, a little too lonely or just let the moment get away from them’s been there… and Randy Houser is a scrappy newcomer who’s been banging around the Music Row publishing houses, writing songs and singing demos with every fiber of his 30-something soul for long enough, his abject desperation is palpable.
Like the legendary Keith Whitley, a hardcore country singer who drank himself to death, there is an unabashed will to throw himself completely into a song’s emotional current - drowning be damned. Not a speck of self-consciousness, just surrender to how big, how out of control the shameless disconnection from the one he loves is, the state of disarray and numbness he’s needs to shatter so he can crawl out from it. Gospel backgrounds, old school Hargus “Pig” Robbins piano flourishes and a vocal that is consumed in the moment… In a genre of lightning bolt singers (Patty Loveless, Ronnie Dunn, Lucinda Williams), this is a face to watch, a voice to seek out and a name to remember.
Bogey and Bacall’s first film, where the frisson sizzles to where it almost melts through the celluloid. Hemingway’s classic—moved from Havana to the French resistance as tableau—the clothes, especially Bacall’s, are glorious, the repartee dagger sharp, the tension fraught, yet full of the promise of happy endings. Old Hollywood in the best way, stretched over real life desire and two legends flexing in a way that makes the future of legacy and love a fait accompli even here, in their very first, very earliest work.
With a new America dawning, the idea that there’s 2009 on the rise isn’t so flattening. An affordable piece of the future, you can walk into most book stores, any business supply or stationer and pick up your promise for tomorrow. Nothing feels quite so good as getting that paginated reality in hand.
It is, without a doubt, the vampiest red, the epicenter of the erotic bull’s eye. Cherry red, but deeper, moister, dare I say more intense?
British tastemonger Van Der Post knows the things most of us were too busy chasing around to bother picking up. Where to buy antique linens, how to keep your fresh flowers alive, the right way to wear black, what special touches make a room truly your own - and all manners of gentle living and fracious deportment.
Written in a tone that is both confidante-intimacy and authoritative-yet-welcoming, Things I Wish My Mother Told Me is an owner’s manual for a way of getting through the world that enriches your life and everyone’s you come in contact with. It’s also a gift for girls and young women of a certain age that will be kept and forever cherished.
It seems so geisha, but anyone who knows Zelda Fitzgerald Spaniel Gleason knows she is no one’s courtesan - more like the court of the gorgeous diva queen of grace and whatever. Still, she wants to know where you are, to feel connected, and so if that means curling up at one’s feet, dreaming on bunnies or rice cakes or steak diane, so be it. She is close; she is sleeping; she is happy.
Funky r&b from legendary Fame Studios, Hughes is one of those footnotes who can set fire to your Saturday morning routine, make running errands in the rain infinitely more fun and let you get your good-chill on with old school southern soul. A thick silky tenor, he’s got a voice that has enough presence to declare his presence, yet isn’t so gravelly that you lose the erotic implication. Not a falsetto man, by any means, this is the stuff that gets the groove going.
As an overview, you get some of that 60s dance party gusto (“A Shot of Rhythm & Blues” with sassy big haired girl group punctuations), hardcore blues (“Stormy Monday”), a redux of someone else’s hit (“High Heeled Sneakers”), a bit of the slinky stride (the supple neo-falsetto “Steal Away,” which was Fame’s first session), the undercurrent of social awakening (“I Want Justice”) and even slow-burn churchy (the erotically-charged “Why Not Tonight?”). A core band of pianist David Briggs, bass player Norbert Putnam, drummer Jerry Carrigan and electric guitarist Terry Thompson, this was greasy in all the right ways, funky in the pocket and ready to pop.
There is a Zen way of love, a notion of attachment that is non-attached, of being love without obsessing. It is kindness, gentleness, growing within and accepting what is. But there is more - and being Buddhist less - to the proposition than meets the eye. Bringing together four prominent teachers and psychologists to consider the various aspects and challenges of true intimacy, as well as Thich Nhat Hanh on relationships offering a place to truly cultivate buddhahood and the idea that intimacy offers a true crucible for spirituality, this is advanced thinking and also healing for the notion of oneness that so many “partnerships” are missing.
It’s also being in love with ourselves manifested in strangers, the way sitting with difficulty becomes more real in a prison - yet that reality applies to our world as well and a piece considering how to navigate conflicts and striving without creating more harm. In a world where there is never enough kindness or true love, this isn’t a bad playbook.
They have crossed the threshold: from progressive young designers to big-time couturiers. Target, mass retailer for the rest of us, has lured high fashion firebrand into their fold - for a limited time only - in March 2009. Suddenly, the unaffordable - and for many, unseeable - work of bad boy Brit fashionista will not only be consumable at our price-point, it will be accessible to the point of being on our own backs. And initial designs suggest that it will also be “fashion” in that sense of why McQueen and not Chicos, yet not require an equally elevated life to make sense wearing it in.
Basic Polish yumminess in a grocer’s freezer. Taking the mashed potato base feeling - normally supplemented with cheddar cheese or onion - and spiking it up with sauerkraut, there is a sour tang to these pierogies that juxtaposes the soothing starchiness with the bite of the pickled cabbage.
Mrs. T’s is invoked in myriad cookbooks, so this is a pre-packaged bit of ethnic cooking you can bank on. And with the sauerkraut and potato version now being readily available, it adds an intriguing variation to one of the more fascinating comfort foods out there. Toss it in soups, brown it with pork chops, serve with butter and herbs… the possibilities are endless.
He is one of those raconteur critics who knows everyone, understands how to bring out their truest self and celebrates the humanity of those who exist beyond the here-and-now. He was there for the San Francisco psychedelic romp, experienced the punk boom, made friends with local heroes from Joan Baez to Steve Miller to Bonnie Raitt and has forgotten as much about music as they have.
Weekly, he romps around with friends like Tom Waits, Ry Cooder, iconoclasts and originators - and a record collection of 25,000 albums, 15,000 singles and the occasional freefalling moment of creative combustion. Live from his - yes - basement, this is the ultimate DIY music lover/fan fest radio show. Obscurities, rarities and then they get to the tricky stuff… a must listen of tall tales, lost remembrances and music you won’t believe you’re hearing for anyone who’s awake at that hour.
It is the speed at which it all unravels. Be it the cares, the gridlock, the plagues or just the day, all you have to do is find some open road, hit the gas and settle in around 72 miles per hour. But settle into it, feel the rhythm of the pavement at that speed… and experience the way the earth seems to turn with you.
The trance will descend, then a state of hyper-awareness emerges. In that “zone,” so much becomes clear. You will know what to do, what not to worry about, what to invest in or strive for. All of the answers, solutions and realities that matter will present themselves. There are 72 m.p.h.
It is a traveling homage - theoretically - to the iconic quilted Chanel shoulder bag. But it is more a collective of the most progressive modern artists of our time, and it provides a context to bring them together from the Orient, the continent and even America. Leave it to Karl Lagerfeld to enlist noted architect Zaha Hadid to create a Plexiglas container that can be mobilized, thereby maintaining the geometric presentation of the works no matter where the spaceship looking structure lands.
Sophisticated, elevated even, yet accessible in its futuristic trappings. Though created as an homage to a calf skin-crafted piece of commerce, it explores artistic expression from Yoko Ono, Russian collective Blue Noses, South Korea’s Lee Bul and noted photographer David Lavinthal on its two year global tour - and narrated by Jeanne Moreau (to control how the Nautilus-shaped trove is experienced), it is sexually-charged, sexually-challenging and for some, perhaps too fomentous. Still to tackle a moment in high consumerism, the merge isn’t as sensational as it might seem.
With the haltingly tentative “Stop,” Adams - the king of dinged hearts and jagged romantic fall-out, as well as blind adoration - strings a few lines over Bill Evans-evocation piano drops like white lights in a garden and opens up every shaky moment that is getting clean. But this isn’t a junkie’s lament, so much as an album where his tattered garage rock finds peace with the sigh-inducing ballads that have made him a heart-throb of the alt-order. Confident, not cocky, Adams and the Cardinals create soundscapes to serve Adams very impressionistic writing, especially on the supple pop of “Evergreen” and the encouraging “Go Easy/”
Where to begin? This year’s Nobel Peace Prize? The Yale, MIT and Stanford professorships? His tenure at Princeton for Economics and International Affairs? Or his ongoing New York Times Op/Ed column, as well as his blog “The Conscience of Liberal”? Maybe it’s all of it; the cumulative breakdown of the push-pull that defines complicated financial systems - and the forces that act upon them.
All I know is: it’s basically common sense. Don’t spend more than you have; don’t leverage more than you can create. Work hard. Pay attention. Don’t over-reach. Re-invest. Be honest about what’s really going on. Oh, and know that global ripples have more than passing ramifications. To read Krugman is to feel so much clearer about all of it… and he makes it pretty direct and easy to follow.
With all of the great venues closing - most recently New York’s famed Bottomline and CBGB’s in the last year - the Ark is a grown-up room with nice carpet, intimate lighting, a bar that seems more uptown than rock dive. It fosters intimacy, even as it presents the artists on a stage that elevates them slightly. It is almost what café society might’ve offered back when going out at night was what people did.
A college down. A Midwestern showcase club. A place to be exposed to writers who stretch their stories over songs. The Ark has seen every critically acclaimed, wicked cool or just plain troubadour that you can think of: Alejandro Escovedo, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Peter Case, Allison Moorer and on and on and on. To drink melody, to foster thought, to know that these things can merge if properly invited is everything the Ark embraces without ever making a statement of same.
One must dream. Not about winning the lottery or losing the last 5 pounds or even being a movie star, but things that one can stretch and tippie-toe towards. It is writing one perfect sentence, perhaps - or looking someone in the eye who desperately needs to be seen; maybe offering a kind word because and making a difference more profound than you’d dream.
Because when you dream beyond the edge of reason, you invite hope. It is in the just past attainable that we become more… and the more we become, the more we can be… and the more we can be, well, the greater our hope.
Hope isn’t a substitute for hard work and paying attention. No, it’s the grease that gets us moving and making it happen. But without dreams, there is nothing to fuel the tank, to inspire us to be that thing we otherwise wouldn’t dare. So, dream to hope… and in hope, dreams become real.