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

January 2005

nutella, very long engagements & michael jackson

Nutella

Chocolate hazelnut spread. I first encountered Nutella over a basket of breakfast pastries in Paris. The waiter, who was darling, was quite insistent I should try the smooth mud colored spread; I wasn’t so sure. He won out. I spread it on whole wheat toast, and it was the pivot point of chocolatey goodness. Comfort, mind-opening, yummy.


Raindrop Technique

First an essential oil applied to shoulders and feet opens your pores. Then rolled over onto your stomach, your spinal column is feathered with 10 more Young Living Essential Oils—going straight to the heart of your spinal fluid, purging what ails you from the core of your being. You will feel the rush of chill, the tingle of expurgation, the relaxation of truly released and even the swell of well-being. It may well bring on symptoms of what you’re trying to fight; or give you a little rash. But it’s about the toxins leaving your body, NOT setting up camp. And once that passes, your body is clear and ready to conquer the day. Blissful in a non-surging way.

“Bukowski at Bellevue” DVD

The ragingly blue collar workingman poet at his most full-chargingly engaged. Poetry spewing from his bulbous lips like hot lava, bubbling, thick, occasionally lumpy. Still the source—albeit awkward, lurching, choked with passion. To understand why his seemingly simplistic work holds up, one need only watch this.


Gingerspice Almondina Cookies

Just the right crispness and snap, it’s the crunchy, slightly ginger sweetness that satisfies without overwhelming or loading you down. The almonds add some extra texture, but it’s the flavor and the delightful crunching that’ll make you crave them.. 


Chipped Christmas Trees 


To take something that’s the object of such joy and so much emotional connection—and find a new way to spread the grace and happiness is the best possible kind of recycling.


Mas Donis Montsant

The card said “Merry Christmas to Penny Lane from a Spanish Rioja Lover,” and that was intriguing enough for me. What was inside was earthy, heady, a little shocking, ultimately, the kind of wine that reminds you of the gusto that being alive should embody.

“And there came a time when the risk of remaining closed tight in a bud far outweighed the risk…”

“And there came a time when the risk of remaining closed tight in a bud far outweighed the risk it took to bloom.”—Anais Nin

Indeed, staying in a tight little ball removes the ability of life’s tenderest, deepest truths to reach inside. Whatever risk there is involved, it can dissolve in true connection—and heal with passage of time. Why not reach out? You have nothing to lose but isolation, everything to lose and whatever should be weathered will ultimately offer lessons and emotional bruises that will fade.

Buddhas

What could be more peaceful? More promising? More jolly, even as he embodies enlightenment? And Buddhas come in many forms, many poses. Pick the one you feel most attuned to, find your own kind of inner revelation. 


Santa Maria Novella Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Melrose Place, 
LA

Their perfumes are dizzying with their purity and intensity. Essential oils of a single note—or various combinations guaranteed to bewitch. But there’s also face creams, body products (the tired leg rub is reanimating with its cool comfort, their Baby Protectif Créme is a wonder of deep moisture and soothing), pomegranate candle pillars, incense, and sundry other personal items. Elegantly, but simply packaged, the limited production of Santa Maria Novella’s formulas are still created in a monastery in Italy—guaranteeing quality in a way that supercedes today’s mass-produced high tech world allows.


“A Very Long Engagement”

Audrey Tattou—last seen in the tres charmant French bit of cineme “Amelie”—is heartbreakingly beautiful as the porcelain-skinned girl lamed by polio who refuses to relinquish the fire of faith that her beloved has been killed in the war. Her tenacious search casts her through diverse worlds, criss-crossing assassin prostitutes, carpenters and private detectives with ironic names, gravel-scattering mailmen, wooden handed bartenders and even Jodie Foster as a vegetable-seller war widow aground on the same shipwrecked dream.
With a childhood friendship and a lighthouse as a metaphoric anchor, this gorgeously shot, better written tale is a tribute to the power of faith, the wings of deep gentle love and a restorative to innocence in a real world clotted with cynicism and doubt. Even the subtitles are anything but clumsy—as they cast the story in truly poetic terms.


Don Gehman’s Polenta

Simple, simpler, simplest. The ultimate comfort food, turned out as an almost foolproof recipe! 4 cups water, 1 cup polenta, 1 teaspoon chicken broth powder, 1 tablespoon salt. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Stir once as it bubbles—about 15 minutes in. Remove and stir in parmesan to taste. Let set for a few minutes and serve.


The Approval Matrix New York

Between despicable and brilliant, highbrow and lowbrow lies the various defining points on New York’s magazine’s what’s in, out, lame and hip. If you wanna take the cultural sweepstakes temperature of the Big Apple, this is one stop—often ironic, but also reverential when appropriate—reading.


Cross-Dresser Bingo Key West

What a signature way to raise money for AIDS charities? Especially in the heart of retirement Valhalla, South Florida? For those vacationing in the Southern most tip of the Sunshine State, pack up your whimsy and your make-up kit—and laugh, laugh, laugh. Oh, and don’t tell the Catholics, they’ll feel both encroached upon and confused, which is a cruel joke on the people who raised the shriek of “BINGO!” to high art.


Pink Rubber Gloves William Sonoma

If you’re gonna go scullery maid, why not be turbo-Muffy when you do it? What could be more ironic (or cheerful) than bubblegum pink rubber gloves? Even rainbow multi-striped rubber Wellie Boots (by Paul Smith, I believe) can’t top these.


Floral Essence Remedies Bach

Each essence—suspended in something like brandy to supercede that bitter medicinal taste associated with plant extracts—targets and combats a particular behaviour or anxiety. Olive for exhaustion, holly for jealousy, impatiens for comfort in anticipation and the like. Four drops on your tongue a few times a day when facing bouts of whatever the floral or plant essence is meant to neutralize whatever free-floating emotional issue is occupying too much space. Holistic. Simple. Specific. In a world of drugs for everything, this is a far cleaner alternative to modify what doctors are so quick to hand you 
a script for.


Rex Goliath Free Range Cabernet

A full earthy red, Rex Goliath is named for the rooster who gave the vintage its soul. Utterly affordable, it oozes the valleys, the soil, the foliage that makes vines such sources of grown-up pleasure. I know bartenders who buy this by the case—sulfites and all—because for the money, it’s a big taste for a small buck.

Cold Muddy Water

Churned up, utterly uninviting. If you look at what it really is, you can realize the promise that lies beneath that cold muddy water—life, clarity, a respite on hot days. All you have to do is wait, let time do its natural thing. A reminder about how simple allowing the course of nature to do its thing really can be.


RollerCoaster—Randy Rogers Band

Steve Earle without the anger. A voice rubbed raw from barbed wire, whiskey and too many late nights. Yet a definite sense of the romance that permeates the Lone Star state of virile independence. Destined for major label glory (no doubt), this is the one where Rogers shows everything he’s made of—and gives listeners the sense that real life won’t kill you, but it just might make you strong.


The Threat of Valentine’s Day

Rather than cringe and recoil, embrace the possibilities. How many 
of your dear friends (male and female) deserve to know how much you love them? Why not use the biggest Hallmark co-opted holiday as something other than the rocky shores of L-U-V to break apart on, and turn into a celebration of everyone who makes your life wonderful? Check the self-mocking/loathing at the door. Send out some pink & red valentines—and make everyone’s world a brighter, more appreciative place!


Renee Zellweger’s Cover Story W

With her rich dark brown hair, styling a photo shoot as an homage du Bettie Paige seems like an obvious choice. Yet when you’re casting the young mother from “Jerry McGuire,” the heroine of “Nurse Betty,” the girl who ran away with Britain’s heart as “Bridget Jones,” it’s a pretty strong recasting. Yet the ultimate ambitious moll from “Chicago” fills out the fishnets with aplomb. Yet for all the recasting, what’s most yummy is the way the Texas-born and -raised Oscar winner strips away the pomp and artifice of stardom to get real. Her interview illuminates the surreality of fame, her wish to have balance and the price of the work that endows movie stardom with grace, perspective and clarity. As much as you love her on the silver screen, you’ll be charmed by the refreshing sense of self amongst the often indulged and bloated.


Velvet Sale Ghost Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles

No one does luxe fabrics with an everyday wearability quite like British designer Ghost. Flowing, yet body conscious, this is the kind of stuff any hippie/gypsy/princess girl would embrace with squeals of delight—and right now the deep fuchsia, the teal, the ink blue, the black, the white, the mink and even the lipstick red are all 50% off. Run!

“Wings of Desire” DVD

The ultimate meditation on the theme of angels among us, Wim Wenders shoots postcards from the edge of fragile life, the no-human-zone of spirits not yet embodied, the sorrowful emptiness of human frailty and loneliness—and integrates the metaphoric circus girl angel with a gruff movie star played to perfection by the eternally rumpled Peter Falk, 9-to-5ers and a couple angels making sense of their place in the worlds-between. One of the most beautiful films ever shot—in textured black & white which gives way to deep saturated color. Subtitled yes, yet the mood will carry you away even without reading along.

Chantiqo Starbucks

A teeny little cup of pure chocolat in the Frenchest sense. Too rich to chug-a-lug, but the kind of hot drink that paints on chocolate from the inside out. And for 55 cents more, they’ll hit you with a shot of espresso that takes kiddy to full-on adult launching pad.

Blue Walls

Oh, the tranquility. It’s like capturing the sky in your room. Pale blue walls, wrapping you up in a quiet moment that settles you down after even the most insane day. Hushedly pastoral, it lets the mind float without tether to gentle places where the mind can create whatever it wishes.


8th Grade Basketball

Coltish 13 year old boys, all thin limbs and elbows, just coming into their true athleticism. The focus so intent, the will so without bounds. Looking to make plays, to get better, to throw everything they have at a game of speed, precision and ultimately thinking. Watching both the skills and the sense of the play develop is to see adulthood descend in a tangible way and to watch courage and self-mastery unfurl in an environment both healthy and challenging.


John Prine’s Candy Heart

As a deeply romantic every day guy, John Prine’s irony has always been ornamented with tender songs that revealed an embrace of the heart that most people never ever notice. With a new album coming this spring—his first of largely original material in nine years—it is comforting to know that the candy heart which has transfixed spottily over the many albums is now front and center. With a wink and a dear smile, a fistful of posies, maybe even a blush, John Prine presents the possibilities of one’s heart surrendering to the comfort of another in a way that enfolds you like a down sleeping bag on a chilly night.


Wild Noodles Edamame Cool Springs Blvd, Franklin, TN

Moroccan spices amp up the steamed soy snack in an utterly addicting way. You have one, you think “okay;” you have the next, you go, “hmmmm, these are pretty good;” the third is the point of no return. In a world of empty-caloried, artery-clogging fast food, this is a way to have your soy and fulfill your craving for the kind of taste-bud tingle that only the best savory junk can (normally) supply.

Grace: 30 Years of Vogue

It comes in its very own box—the kind of coffee table book that’s as much event as temple to some aspect of culture captured with over-sized perfect binding. As a culmination of Vogue’s brilliant sittings editor Grace Coddington, it captures the best work if every high end shooter to appear in women’s wear bibles (Scavullo, Newton, Irving Penn, Rolston, et al)—and merges beauty shots of the world’s most stunning women with the utter whimsy that Coddington was so quick to create.

Being Able To Say You’re Not Okay

Can’t think of anything scarier. Or more vulnerable. Or braver.
Yet when you do this, you’d be surprised the gifts the universe gives you. Help appears when you least expect it from, expectations drop, concern rises—and in all of that, the solutions to whatever’s throw you reveal themselves. Very freeing.


Pink, Green & White Striped Wood Heeled Pumps Gucci

The fabric is a thick weave, almost burlap looking material—that’s both earthy and refined. The leather kick guard in back and straps that hold down the large ringed bit of bamboo is the lightest shade of saddle. The stacked wooden heel isn’t too high, but is tall enough to mean serious business. Exuberantly Muffy or almost African/South American re-worked preppy. It’s all in how you wear those wide-stripe—in bubblegum fuchsia, snow and deep moss—kicks.


Sam’s Grave

An old friend who loves the comic Sam Kinison very much—and who knows that he was a terribly dear friend of mine—always almost makes me cry when he talks of my long lost buddy. But the passage of time is a healer: My crazy friend actually made the pilgrimage to the Tulsa cemetery where Sam’s buried less than 300’ feet from Western swing king Bob Wills, then sent me a J-Peg of the tombstone. On it, perhaps the ultimate elegy for a man who challenged every convention polite society clung to: “In another time and place, he would have been called Prophet.”


Harris Teeter Cakes

Light, but sweet. The moist thickness giving way to your fork with enough body to let you know this is going to be a treat. Harris Teeter’s bakery knows how to create high end cakes at populace prices. And their white icing is the very best of wedding cake finger-licking satisfaction. Surprised with one on my birthday, I was touched by the gesture. Cutting into the almost dark coffee colored layers, it became obvious this wasn’t just any chocolate cake. And when the fork hit the mouth, the cocoa came alive and melted away just right.

Off The Wall—Michael Jackson

Return to the days of satin baseball jackets, feathered hair, thick rolling wheels of rubber that were two to a side. To that kingdom, the national anthem had to be the thumping bumping throbbing beats of Michael Jackson’s personal declaration of independence Off The Wall. A solo record punctuated by whoops, the utter danceability of the day and Jackson’s always athletic vocal contortions, it was a naive witness to hedonism without the nihilistic trappings that would follow.


Grace Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles

The room is dignified grace. The service young and competent. But what really takes the breath is the way the food works from essentials—and avoids the flourishes and fillips that so often mar great cooking. Formerly MUSE, Grace offers an exquisite almost zen palate—where the dimension of the flavors melt into each other (even the filet is meltingly tender and utterly tasty). Get the housemade donut with the cider ice cream, and you’ll never look at Krispy Kreme the same.

Old New Friends

They’re out there—people you’ve known forever, but never really known. Then one day your paths cross, maybe your circumstances change or your fortunes merge. Suddenly, this person you’ve respected is in your daily flow—and you’ve been given a gift of a jewel that’d always been there. The ultimate riches: the real value of someone you never quite saw in their whole sense, suddenly opened up to you. All you have to do is pay attention.

“Learning to love yourself is the definition of change.”
—Hugh Prather


In a world where the inner critic howls, the compare and contrast messages of inadequacy are everywhere, what could be more revolutionary that recognizing one’s inner perfection? Rather than looking at the 5 extra pounds, the missing trip to the gym, the fact that you’re not reading enough books or can’t catch up on your chores, try looking at every wonderful thing about you—guaranteed the personal yummy evaluation list is far longer than that of the lack! It’ll set you free, change your vibe and make you grateful for the many gifts you’ve been given.

Coffee Cake Encrusted French Toast Toast on 3rd, West 
Hollywood

Two breakfast classics merged into one. The innovative high quality bakery/café Toast ups the ante on the signature dish that imbued the sidewalk café (and ample dining room) with its name by taking high quality bread, coating it with egg batter, then smooshing crumbles from coffee cake into its outside. Toss that on the griddle, serve with real maple syrup—become the breakfast brat you didn’t think was possible.

“Stanley & Iris”

With Robert DeNiro and Jane Fonda, this late ‘80s movie would seem to be a can’t-miss. Yet the story of a widow scraping by, her teenage daughter having trouble finding herself and the man who can’t read but has myriad skills who reaches into a world from both his own need and love got lost in heaven knows what. Occasionally airing on cable movie channels, more than likely languishing in cut-out video bins and rental places, this is a powerful movie that will deserves to be seen. Look for it.


Rose Colored Glasses

Kenny Chesney bought me a psychotically expensive pair that I was afraid to wear. Then one day, I just decided, life is short, put ‘em on—and I can confess: the whole world looks exponentially more joyful, brighter, warmer. Rose-colored glasses give a tinge of love and happiness to anything that one’s eyes fall upon. Try it and see.


Monster Cable @ Radio Shack


The ads are atrocious—with a bad cliché reductionist “roadie.” But the fact of the matter remains: Monster Cable carries sound better than anything (it’s why the biggest acts insist on it on the road), and now it’s available to civilians everywhere. 


Coming To Our Senses—Jon Kabat-Zinn

For the man who brought you the gentle tomb of mindfulness Wherever You Go, There You Are, this is a more comprehensive examination of the impact of being fully present in our daily living. How much we take for granted in the blur of rushing through life is just a beginning, Kabat-Zinn offers insight into becoming more aware of everything around us, elevating our appreciation and gratitude—and perhaps even our capacity to experience life. For anyone who wants to get the most of the ride, this is required reading.


Kirby Lane Austin, Texas

Imagine a hip, funky coffee shop or diner, where the wait staff is college aged, the macrobiotics share space with fajitas, salads and pancakes mutually co-exist. 24/7. It’s whatever you’re hankering for—though I’d say definitely dig into the Southwestern leaning Samosas packed with potatoes, drizzled with chipotle aoli (my girlfriend and I had no compunction about 
plowing through two orders before the entrees arrived—that’s HOW good they were).


Shop, Etc

A multi-tiered consumer magazine that offers insight and options at several price points, Shop, Etc. eradicates the lines of consumer and demographic distinctions which usually define magazines and their readerships. And while the elitist allure of the high fashion magazines will survive with their glossy celebrity reads and luxurious photography, this magazine elevates the less expensive items and places the truly luxe in a less daunting context. As competition for Lucky, it is broader-based, a bit less hip, but also 
more workable—and offering more suggestions that fit in real live—in a way that translates with ease into any number of lifestyles.