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

March 2006

March 2006: Post-South-by, Good Reading, Better Eating   A Miracle Milagro for Good Austin



Cheese courses


There. At the end of the meal. Firm or oozing. Goat or sheep or cow. Pungent, smooth, sweet, creamy. Orange or veins of near cobalt blue. A cheese course is a way of finishing off a meal that’s not sugar-packed, but savory, and it works well with port or various kinds of wines.
   As a sophisticated way to end a dinner, especially, with sophistication and style, this is it.



Maria’s Taco Express  South Lamar, Austin


The meat charred. The counter way too crowded. The beat-up wooden tables are scratched and dented from use. But—oooooooh—the taste of the crispy, juicy fajita steak or chicken when you bite through the tortilla and get that first mouthful of taco. And the salsa is quick to perk up your tongue, make it tingle rather than burn; for those authenticos out there, this is your kind of place, and they have an outdoor stage and a liquor license, so it’s suited for whatever kind of moment you’re looking for.


Hayes Carl


Low-slung and lanky, this is the kind of corner-of-the-mouth drawler who don’t much care what you think, so he stands and delivers quick shufflers that evoke Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” with the same whatever-and-back conviction that he sinks into a weeper like “Rivertown” that drowns its sorrow in pools of shimmering steel guitar. A poet’s hand—that falls somewhere between Guy Clark’s most elegant and Steve Earle’s most ragged-edged work—that’s backed with a muscular rhythm section and a pair of Telecasters that rock hard without losing the earthy grounding of Texas.
   In a world of longnecks and long legs, Carl’s reaching for something a little more profound, even when his plain spoke workingman’s blues is about being robbed (“Little Rock”) or wringing yard fowl’s necks for dinner (“Chickens”). Ironic, iconic, anchored in sultry, but reaching for the sky, it’s been a long time since there’s been a Lone Star synthesis this smart, real and willing to stand his ground rather than seek the star dollar. A must see.


Multiple Journals


Different books for different things. Reasons to define your stream(s) of consciousness might open up different veins of reasoning, varied depths of insight. I have them for all sorts of things—what happened, pretty things I’ve seen, hurt feelings, records and books that strike me. Whatever it is you value or wish to resolve, explore; put a tag on it, and get writing.


Sleeping with the radio on


Like having a slumber party back when you’re a kid, never quite knowing what’s gonna happen next—but it’s the warm, thrilling intimacy of good friends in lost hours, whispering and giggling about old secrets, things discovered and moments that you share right now that seem SO important. Lying in the dark with the radio pumping out songs that take you back, take you away, point you in where you’re headed, it’s the second best night-time companion that can be conjured.



Velvet for day


Decadent, yet soft. A way of feeling pretty or highwayman that you don and forget. Velvet during the day is luxe and bohemian and yummy and elegant—and exactly like wearing the same garment made out of wool or twill or whatever, only it’s velvet. Try it and watch your state of mind. It’s amazing how a little bit of fabric, especially paired with something completely common like denim, can make such a difference in how you feel.


“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”
      —-Kurt Vonnegut


Sometimes the less obvious route is a way of seeing, learning, experiencing something you wouldn’t otherwise—but something that will make you richer, more compassionate, happier, wiser. It’s a reason to be open, to seek, to find, to be.


Detox Tea Yogi Brand



Tasting of licorice and ginger and sasparilla, it is a brisk drink, refreshing even. It tastes like anything but what it is: a tonic designed to purge all the ickiness we put into our bodies from our blood. You brew it up. You let it steep. You drink it down. You can feel a lot less guilty about those guilty pleasures—knowing now that it erases the damage, but at least an effort’s made to counter the trouble, because anything that’s got burdock root and dandelion root in the mix is powerful stuff.



Milagros


Icons from several Latin American countries to signify or invite miracles; in their true cultural form, they’re often pinned to religious statues: Blessed Virgins, Sacred Hearts as well as the various saints to signify for the intercessor of their request or say thank you for a prayer honored. Folk art in its most sacred form, often rendered in copper, embroidery, wood block prints on heavy paper, it is a physical manifestation of faith held deeply.
In more common use, they are talisman’s of desire, primitive symbols that evoke deeper truths and mystery. They are the sort of accent that speaks volumes, while potentially saying nothing—and it gives the wearer (or area being decorated) a sense of nuance that is both old and ethereal, authentic and global. And it is a match to almost any imagination waiting to be enflamed at first sight.


KT Tunstall


If you’ve turned on VH-1, she is omnipresent—and there is something engaging about the rhythmic complexity of her video/single “Black Horse & A Cherry Tree.” But Tunstell, of the smoky voice and whippet looks, is a far more resolute songwriter, guitarist, singer; she is canny, witty, able to reach inside people and draw out their own whimsy, anger, desire without seeming intentional.
   Already a huge star in Britain, the dark-headed lass with the salty sparkle to her voice isn’t lost in her own success. Believing that friendly doesn’t get in the way of the songs’ veracity, she draws listeners in, tells it as she’s seen—or dreamed, or felt—it. Propulsive, yet acoustic. Organic, yet full-sounding, these are oxymoron’s that work.



There All Along


The momentum gets the best of you. The centrifugal force of life in the name-your-lane pins you against obligations, expectations and duty. You lose touch, lose track, lose your way. But that doesn’t change the truth or the nature of the friendship. They are always there, always ready to pick back up, to be there to laugh and cry and open their soul. Whether it’s a phone call from a dear friend back from Australia—just hearing the news about the Garage of Joe—or an award-winning songstress/songwriter rebuilding her own life on a foundation of dreams, the love and the joy beam through,
   Look around. Who are you “there all along” for? Why are you waiting to call?



L’Oreal Colorjuice Sheer Juice Lip Gloss


Candy Apple was the color. An incredibly sheer, but powerfully shiny lip gloss that didn’t go on like rubber cement with a glisten. It tasted good, and shone with the promise of the original apple—Eden-style, snake to be (hopefully) named later. In a world of high end cosmetics, here’s one more drugstore pilgrimage that can give shudders to your friends at Lancome, because while it doesn’t have the Juicy Tubes staying power, it more than gets the job done—and how long do you want a coat of lip gloss to stay on really?

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/demotivators/viewall.html

   Brought to you by Despair, Inc, all you need to do is see that top line that reads “View All Demotivators,” and you know the mindless, empowering up-with-people hyperbole is about to be taken to the next dimension. With a hat pin and a wry smile, the failings, delusions and grandiosities that make life in the workforce so annoying are celebrating with the same nature-grabbing images, farflung verbiage and cosmic pronouncements. To laugh - especially when you’d much rather reach for a gun and shoot the mindless person in front of you. Happy browsing.


The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 



Within two days, five people mentioned this beautifully written novel to me. A love story across time, place and context—with prescience, foresight and deja vu as fenceposts of the literary device. But sown throughout are bits of life wisdom, jewels of truth and insight that can sustain you beyond and independently of the story.
   Written beyond the rules, with language that beguiles and thrills, this is an escape and a luxury and a few moments to ponder all that we have in the moments that we have it. As a gift to oneself, and as a reason to believe in type on paper, it is time well-spent.



“More Miles Ahead for Alejandro Escovedo,” Geoff Heims Paste



Alejandro Escovedo is one of those authentic artists who’ve been spoken about in hushed tones since his band the True Believers emerged from the flank of cowpunk progenitors Rank & File. Along the way, Escovedo has led a life that’s touched on major illness, dissolution, vice, suicide, a deep heritage—being Mexican American and also part of the Latino rock realm that includes E. Angelenos Los Lobos, children, wives, miles and music.
   With a new album emerging from his near-death reality of not long ago, many articles are being written. Here DC-based journalist Geoff Heims starts with a flourish, exhumes the depths of his story and anchors it with the songs that came from it. Well-written, comprehensively researched, impossibly turned quotes, this is the place to begin reading the fan fare; because it is definitive and negates the need to read further.



Being real versus being nice


It is easy to façade, to front, to create a sense that all is perfectly fine. Or one can just be real rather than effusive. It is so much simpler to honor one’s truth—without being mean or acting out—than to stuff what is really going on. In the end, what else is there. REALLY?
   And if anything is going to bring about some sense of resolution, it is best to start from the truth. Not everyone fires the same way. Not every action is appropriate.



Silly Boys, Trucks Are For Girls bumperstickers


Pretty much says it all. You get yourself a good engine under that hood. A bed liner that’ll protect your back end. A turning ratio that matters. You’re gone. Nothing moves quite like it—or makes you feel so alive.

Tesoros Congress Ave,  Austin,Texas


The best of South America, Mexico, Japan, vintage and beyond. Small things, furniture, art, art books, wall coverings, cards, t-shirt, china, candles and beyond. In bursts of color that are marigolds and gerber daisies and every kind of roses tossed amongst the noir intensity of black and white, real wood and resin and unbleached fibers. Whatever you wish—as long as you wish it to be unique—you can find here. For the most part, utterly affordable, and when it’s not, it’s completely take-your-breath away one-of-a-kind, Tesoros is truly the global something for everyone.


“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”

Sometimes when it’s hard to love someone else, that is exactly the time, exactly the reason we need to love them more. Those difficult people, perhaps even people we can’t be around for long periods of time, probably need love the most of all—and if being loved is uncomfortable for them to accept (how many are unable to accept the love they’re so sure they don’t deserve? Who become afraid of losing something that might hurt them down the line? Or who think it’s some great cosmic joke), then you know how badly they need it.
   Maybe you can’t save the world, but loving people who hurt you, who reject you—even in the face of that—well, you know you’re giving them the thing they don’t even know the need, or else fear. Maybe they’ll never reciprocate; or maybe they’ll soften in ways almost unseen—but your heart will know something precious was given. That is the greatest gift we can offer… and it’s given to the one who needs it most. 



Popovers


The air inside and the moistness of the batter turned almost to fully cooked muffin. There is a sense of promise to popovers, and also the notion that density isn’t what matters. They are rich without making you feel that overly sated sense of whatever - and they also deliver on the promise of grown-up dining that those of us exiled to the children’s table always stole furtive glances across the room, wondering about. A treat of the highest order.

Guitar Cases


What could be more romantic? Suggest songs to be song, moments to be captured, stories to be embraced in melody? Walking the streets with a guitar case is almost as good as having one’s heart on their sleeve—and the promise of what might be. Adventures to be had, lost and new loves to be found. Just seeing one propped up in a club or a restaurant begins spinning the mind in all kinds of whirly curly flourishes of how sweet life is, how tragic sorrow, how deep our discoveries. It is a blank canvas and a spark for those of us who dream in rhythms and chords and scattered phrases.

www.soundstrue.com

   They have an amazing roster of books on CD tackling philosophy, spirituality, yoga and personal empowerment. Carolyn Myss—the woman who’s evolved into the leading source on charkas and sacred contracts—has many titles here, as does Jon Kabat Zin and Marshall Rosenberg. In this nutty, harried world, a one-stop where we can fill up on thoughts that feed our soul, inspire our journey, give us tools to resolve our conflicts isn’t a bad place to go—and what’s discovered could open a gate to whole new gardens of happiness and peace.


Honest Tune


A modest magazine designed to celebrate roots music, this quarterly—devoted to “home grown music’—sees the value in those Jam Band, Adult Alternative, Blues and Americana artists who probably don’t have a shot at any kind of broader play. For them, cover stories on Susan Tedeschi and Offbeat editor Alex Rawls coverage of how local musicians responded—and fled—New Orleans post-Katrina, as well as a look at the year’s best albums that would give anyone a CD collection that would be the tastiest, yummiest soundtrack to a life of much grounded satisfaction—are all about the heart of the music, making this quarterly a publication devoted to giving people who think a view into where this music that moves them is coming from.
   With a high passion factor and a deep sense of respect for the music that’s more than the sizzle should be so important on newsstands, Honest Tune forges a whole other kind of dialogue with its readers.


Zelda Drives


Well, not really. But when a car that looked just like mine pulled up at the bottom of the street I drive to get to Main Street, what else COULD I think? Imagine? Believe? She IS 14, after all. That’s that age—especially for Zeldas! And my girlfriend, drinking coffee and talking about life who’d driven from Nashville to Vineyard Haven with the spaniel, bought right into my pique as well.


“Sex & Gasoline” Rodney Crowell


Thrumming along, filleting the truth of what our world runs on. Grammy-winning songwirer Rodney Crowell has never sounded so focused, so insistent, so deadly serious pr painfully accurate. In a world gone lust crazy - for money, sex, power - this quick clipping song boils it down to the heart of the matter. No nonsense. No nothing. Just deep truth offered up without flinching, a clear-eye and a clearer picture painted. Live it. Learn it. Hopefully, reject it;or embrace it with knowledge.


no plan



Quit worrying. Start living. If you spend too much time planning it all out, that’s a lot less time you have to spend on the moments that matter, the people you love, your reasons for doing it. It also sets you up to run yourself crazy, to make yourself insane trying to keep up when you’re already behind—but behind what? And who’s to say? Just know that you know deep inside, and if you bother to listen, you don’t need a plan—just a sense of where you want to be and what your heart desires.



closing down the Driskill Hotel Bar


It’s an out of town conference. Too many people you want to see, too many conversations you need to have. But there in the final hours, over dark rum and the jagged buzz of being awake too long comes the story of how people get where they’re supposed to be. Unspooled like so much thread, the journeys and detours that’re part of the plan come into focus, meanings emerge, connections reveal.
   Sometimes it’s about being willing to stay awake, to trust that there are people who’re worth the exhaustion—and then staying with the moment. Because in grand hotel bars—and Austin’s Driskill is where Lyndon Johnson ensconced his mistress for trysting—there’s a sense of beyond the pale that exists nowhere else, that lowers on reserves and raises the bar of just who we might wish to be.



A Blessing, and A Curse—Drive-By Truckers (New West)


Having worked a musical tip that was decidedly “Southern”, the Drive-By Truckers were the no-nonsense white trash denizens of what might’ve happened had Skynyrd come out of a trailer park. On their brand new record, though, Patterson Hood continues painting breathtaking pictures of Southern living beyond the fringes with a ravaged truth that imbues beauty even as the band moves closer to a straight-up rock front more suited to Gainesville boys Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
   With bits of the Faces, the tautness of the Stones, the lean attack of Springsteen, this is real life music performed with passion and tenderness. They rock without being self-conscious, wail when its called for and offer a fistful of snapshots that’re moments, feelings, creeping insights. Beautifully turned.


“Here; Maybe a juice box would help.”
       —Jon Pareles


Faced with someone for whom petulance would be an understatement, one usually feels their stomache drawing up into an acidic ball; or their righteous indignation flaring with nowhere to flame. As a big believer that humor is the great equalizer—taking the sting out of the miscreant, putting the laughter back on our side—this may be the most ingenious phrase I’ve heard uttered in a long time.
   A by-product of a conversation about the waning of a friendship gone south, and uttered in response to a particularly egregious thing that had been said about me, it removed all the pain and infused a perspective that tilted the table to compassion amongst the snottiness. Since then, it seems to be a one-size-fits-all-transgressions transformers. Heartily recommended. The feel-good rejoinder of the summer!!!



Beer & Red Meat


Pretty much exclusively my diet in Austin. Barbeque. Tacos. Fajitas. There was one burst of chicken mole. But other than that, brisket and carnitas and carne asade, even a glorious filet. Bring your papaya enzymes, but you can wash ‘em down with Lone Stars, Tecates, Shinerbocks and more. If you want proof that the West is truly wild, you don’t need to hit the Yellow Rose or buy yourself some bullets, all you gotta do is get into the gustorial groove and you can find the flank all on your own. Lord knows, it brought out the hardcore Midwesterner in me


Lyle Lovett’s Eyes


His songs. His dignity. His utter musicality. Yeah, yeah. What’s so easy to forget is how blue his eyes are. Just pools of clear azure, taking an entire world in. Smart, alive, aware. To understand where that insight, where those details come from—one need only look into his eyes, and relax into another world. It is the details, where all the truths emerge