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

July 2005

July 2005: Redneck Heaven, Swahili Benedictions, Naps & Naturally Occurring Stars

Carlos V Chocolate Bars


Right there in the Mexican food section of your run of the mill grocery if it has even a remotely authentic ethnic aisle. Between the tomatillo sauce that’s not some far flung gourmet recreation and the 99 cent holy candles to sacred hearts, virgin mothers and the patron saint of hopeless causes, the Carlos V mini-bar offers a creamier, milkier, smoother take on drugstore chocolate. And at 29 cents, this mini-bar also sinks you into just enough cocoa/buttery sweetness to keep you on this side of diminishing returns.



Inter-being



The notion of interconnectedness of all things isn’t revolutionary, so much as obvious. To look at a sheet of paper and see the clouds that poured the rain that nourished the tree that grew up, was cut down and became pulp, Then there’s the men who logged, carted, prepped, the food that nourished them, the fabric that clothed them, the mills that made the steel for the implements that… you get the notion. When you see the world like this, compassion becomes the only way.



Bruce Springsteen on Bruce Springsteen  Esquire  August 2005



Into the process of being rock’s high messiah 30 years after the release of the watershed Born To Run, a bravura fistful of polaroids celebrating the jagged way of have-nots and small victories of common moments that deliver. For Springsteen, delivery and deliverance come still from the songs and the connection. Here’s the man whose music served as crescendoing soundscapes for hearts seizing and soaring opens up his heart so we all can take that ride.


Pucci Prints


Whimsical in an Italian, almost harlequin way. If lava lamps had architectural leanings, an art deco palette and a joy that oozes sophistication, it would be these geometric, bubbling fabrics cut into scarves and slim pants, dresses and the ilk.



Cherries 


Red. Redder than the deepest crimson. Chilled, the flesh gives beneath one’s teeth like the lower lip of a lover at the end of a long, deep, sweet kiss. The juice runs almost black—and the tart snap of the aftertaste tingles with the brisk thrill of being alive. In season now—indulge.

K-Roger


A very well-placed exec brings his coffee to work in a truck stop cup. The cup coming from K-Roger, an almost pirate take or good buddy truck stop spin on one of America’s major grocery chains. K-Roger makes marketing a little more manly, and what could be better than that?


Hard Truth, Big Freedom



Sometimes it hurts to look it in the eye. But once you know, you can’t not know—and in that knowledge, you’re free to move on. Seeing a situation or person as they are—rather than they could be in a best case, most hopeful scenario—you can create a workable reality that is grounded in reality rather than ether. That terre firme lets you shift, because that which is solid supports change, growth and strength. Try it—awful though it is—and see.


“Ain’t Living Long Like This” On The Radio


Recorded by everyone from Foghat to Emmylou Harris, pummeled in concert by everyone from Nicolette Larson to Brooks & Dunn, the low-flying, seek-and-destroy insurrecto manifesto about white trash abandon was a hit for Waylon Jennings, the original whupass outlaw. To hear that rumbling bass thumping against those too bright squad car light guitar chords is to feel one’s pulse surge, one’s nostrils flare and one’s rump swing with abandon. Nothing is so full-tilt, full-on high intensity honky tonk as this slamming out of one’s car speakers with that wad of FM compression—even now, 30 years later.

Balance (literally)


Strength is grand and flexibility lovely, but the real deal fitness bottomline appears to be balance. Every exercise that challenges it is exponentially harder and it’s so elusive that developing it is trickier than building to more weight of extending one’s stretch. Yet think of how many elderly people get hurt from falling. Get on one foot right now—or walk the curb—and literally regain your balance.



“Hitch” on DVD



People have called Will Smith the Gene Kelly or Cary Grant for his likable romantic leading men over the past few years—and I never got it. Here, as the ultimate advisor for men smitten but unable to get the girl’s attention, the master gets treed by the quarry and the entire process of coupling, courtship and connection is given some sweet insight that transcends mere B-movie romance escapist fare. Charming and darling, “Hitch” is entertaining in the most non-threatening of ways.



Hollyhocks

They stand almost as tall as I am. Deep fuchsia, bubblegum, crimson, palest pink and white. Almost petunias with extended cylindrical bodies, not quite emerald green leaves akimbo from the stalks—reaching to the sun without shame, floating on the breeze with ease. Hollyhocks are as fertile and engaging as any flower, common enough to not make one think twice about smiling, glorious dollops of color against walls, the trees, the fences or wherever else they bloom unselfconscious, utterly there in the world.



Fred Goldring’s editorial   Billboard, July 16, 2005


Intellectual property and big time music biz barrister Goldring takes on the pyrrhic victory of the recent Grokster decision with a far more sobering, measured reality-based essay on where the record business culture is now: downloading is a fact-of-life and it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle, no matter what the Supreme Court says. Rather than dragging our feet and fighting inevitability, the future for this business that’s rapidly shrinking lies in folding what’s going on in the world of file-sharing into what the music industry needs to do to survive. For anyone in the music business—or anyone who loves music and wants to see the resources remain to develop and support acts (especially those who aren’t “blockbusters”)—this is 800 words worthy seriously considering.



Salad In The Bag


No calorie snack food that’s good for you. Rip open a bag and graze all day. Satisfies hunger, doesn’t bloat or clog arteries or produce mood swings. As perfect a way to curb hunger between meals—and depending on what one chooses, adds nutrients in a naturally occurring, far healthier form—as there exists.



Crying Because You Need To



In a world of hold-it-all-in stoicism, the notion of the stiff upper lip is an ideal. But sometimes it’s easier, better, more healing to just wash away someone’s unthinking callousness, not quite there presence or even indifference with a few warm salty tears. Shed the pain with the tears and let it go—rather than hang onto what hurts, have the release and heal. 
   You’re not weak. You’re not a baby. Acknowledge that someone didn’t care enough to consider their actions—most likely without even considering how you’d feel—and embrace the pain, that way you can set it free. To relinquish from a place of caring about oneself is the highest truth of pain? Cry like a rainstorm if needed, then let it pass.



Kate Blanchett


An unconventional beauty and utterly striking woman. Proof that intellect, grace and dignity not only have stopping power, but can sustain the extended gaze. Ice blue eyes, strong nose, silk colored somewhere between wheat and butter for hair, her British Vogue and American Harpers Bazaar covers and spreads harken back to a day when mystery and strengthy reign. Her powerful gift to transform as an actress may well be superceded by the way she inhabits the world, a siren’s example of what deep beauty really is.


Redneck Heaven  Bethany Bultman


If “redneck” is the last culturally acceptable epithet—replacing a certain word that starts with “N” as the ultimate degradation based on societal comfort zones—Bethany Bultman’s book dives headfirst into the whys, what fors and how it is of the white unwashed’s lifestyle. Celebrating the roots and truth of their raising, the New Orleans? intellectual liberal examines customs (casseroles & funerals), mores (honky tonk libido and rules of cheating), faith (breaking down the various strands of Southern deep Christianity and their quirks), politics (guns, NASCAR) and the deeper kindness and grounding (the KKK boys who helped a black opera singer with car trouble on their way back from a rally).
   Rednecks may be the poor white relations in the tacky clothes who talk too loud and embarrass the hell out of their more sophisticated relations. But at their core, they have a pretty clear code to live by and a helluva lot more fun than the uptight ladder-climbers. Here is a celebration of same—with recipes that call for cake mix, velveeta, jello, Coke—that brings this culture into clear focus and serious understanding. 



Naps


Sometimes you just have to lie down. Sure, you can fight it. You can get sloggy and fuzzy-headed. Or you can surrender with gusto for 30, 40, 60 minutes and spring with the resilient exuberance of Tigger! A small investment in the energy field transfers the sorely lacking a much needed boost so quickly; in the relative economics of time versus output, this yields a major win.


Naturally Occurring Stars



To see people going about their life seeing someone famous is like children’s faces on Christmas morning. There in their every day world is someone shiny, someone glittery, someone mythic—or at least famous. In that moment, their world becomes a little more magic, too. 


Blueberry Lemontini The Mirror, Nashville, TN


Leave it to Colleen DeGregory to soak anti-oxidant blueberries in vodka, add a dash of lemon, then serve it straight up and chilled. It requires nothing else—the essence of summer with no cloying aftermath. Of course.



Blueberry Lemontini The Mirror, Nashville, TN


Leave it to Colleen DeGregory to soak anti-oxidant blueberries in vodka, add a dash of lemon, then serve it straight up and chilled. It requires nothing else—the essence of summer with no cloying aftermath. Of course.



Enthuisiasm is a kind of faith that has been set on fire.
—George Matthew Adams 


Passion. Feel it. Feed it. Don’t worry about looking cool, savor the elation that comes from the momentum of being excited about something you believe in. There is no kind of fire that is more contagious than faith in anything ignited.


Little Feat



A friend was almost produced by Lowell George, who sadly passed. Another did session work with the various members over too many years in LA. A couple more actually have Billy Payne on their current single. Little Feat is the secret handshake of people who want their grit funky, saucy, slippery, country-soul slow cooked. One of those bands you forget how much you love ‘til you dig the records back out and feel the way the beats catch just a touch, the melodies break your heart, the shuffles thrust your nether regions forward and the blues that inject the moaning vocals can celebrate things as mundane as the “Truck Stop Girl” or roll’n'stroll with a “Dixie Chicken” or freeglide in “Sailin’ Shoes.”
   The deal is they were players’ players, but they had a buncha heart. Ragged romantics who lived lives to be savored, they could canonize the truckers lot with “Willin’,” be gently vulnerable with “Roll Um Easy,” aching, yet yearning “Long Distance Love,” tautly desirous “Romance Dance” or downtrodden “Juliette,” yet philosophically celebratory “All That You Dream.” Whatever you want, they got it—in a way that’s gonna boil just enough to make you feel it from the inside out. Ahhhh, yeah.


Anticipation


There is something more fulfilling not only about the realization of something you’ve waited for, something you’ve wanted, but the process of delicious anticipation. The actual desire can feed for soul for days—and the daydreaming or researching prospects can be their own reward. Don’t forget to enjoy the anticipation for every bit that it’s worth.



“Wildwood Flower”  Acuff Theatre  Nashville, TN


Carlene Carter debuts in a musical dedicated to the legacy of the first family of roots music: the Carter family. But as much as a historic casting on a bluegrass-based folk/country axis, “Wildwood Flower” is about the blood and laughter that flowed through a family of strong-willed, deeply passionate woman. Playing her mother, comedienne/songwriter/great beauty June Carter Cash, Carter plugs the family legacy straight into the generator—and shows how the backwoods Carters defined everything that’s held sacred about rural-based music indigenous to the Smokey Mountain regions. 
   It’s a limited run. Get tickets while you/if you can.



Tangerine Candle


Not as bitter as lemon or as sweet as orange, tangerine candles perk you up, clear your head, raise your mood. Instant cheer with a wick, on the road, they are a heaven-send of attitude adjustment and reality-shifting scent. Next time you’re having a blue or blah day, try it: you’ll see how fast the funk flows away and the clarity and creativity blossom.


Feedback


Unless it’s complaining, it’s so easy to forget to do. Of late, I have received several amazing e-mails about different things making me feel like what I do is more than a matter of course, but that it matters and maybe makes a difference for someone else. To have an impact may not be the reason to do it, but knowing that you have sure makes you wanna reach higher, do more, offer your own yummy feedback. It takes a moment, it’s truly easy, and it might shift someone’s entire day.


Muriel Brandolino Indian/Caribbean summer clothes


There’s a primitive quality to the wrought-iron-looking patterns and oversized roses or palms, but working in muted pastels, there’s also a sense of authenticity to her stuff that pleads the heavy humidity and languid pace of the islands. For loose-fitting elegance, the hair clipped back, the sandals on, nothing beats these lighter than air silks and cottons—and anything that is chic, but as easy to wear as sweat clothes is a luxury of the highest order.



All Soft Addictive Hair Transformer Redken



Summer ravages hair: sun, salt, chlorine from swimming pools, the wind, driving with the windows open. And rather than lose your shininess and silky texture, all it takes is a few pumps of Hair Transformer from roots to tips—and the healing begins. Working a combo formula that includes avocado oil and wheat protein, it brings the good stuff and helps close the hair shafts, strengthen the strands and rev up the goodness of one’s tresses. 
   You can use it as a closer-than-skin shaving base for summer legs that’re just as silky smooth as your hair.


Taking The Time When You Don’t Have It



   Of late, there have been spontaneous moments of human connection—at times when I have too much already to do. But whether it’s the old man who eats at my Waffle House who had no one to talk to, the songwriter who writes so well yet doesn’t have a deal and doesn’t always get talked about the songs’ hearts and souls or the artist on the backend of the career, trying to make sense of the most of where they are now, the glow from the 20 minutes I didn’t have is a strong reminder that our connection is the most precious thing we can give. Will any of these encounters change the course of my professional life? Probably not. But the idea that nice people felt heard and seen in a way that says your essence is everything we’d all hope to be is its own higher calling.
   As someone who rush-rushes through everything, streaks through life meeting-to-airport-to-next-thing-that-must-be, juggling memos and mailers and deadlines and whatever else, these are the moments that turn human doings into human beings. Does it make my life a bit more insane? Probably, but it also makes me a lot more humane.


John Irving’s return


The man who’s given us Garp and Owen Meany returns with a novel of shocking enough thematics—though has everyone forgotten that The Cider House Rules was about an abortionist?—that a media tsunami has taken hold. Drawing on his own rootless childhood and sexual dalliances with seriously older women, this is a classic winding beyond hairpin turns Irving folly that traces a boy from the same sort of sexualization to young through an only-in-a-John-Irving-novel life to wind up in Hollywood celebrated and still seeking. A tattoo artist mother and her child set out on a quest to find the boy’s rootless father—and against the reality, the story unfolds. 


Hello, Deaf Dog


There is a dog, a deaf dog, in a brown house that once had a sign, so drivers down the dirt road would be aware to use caution as their pet was less able to recognize the danger of cars. The posted warning may’ve come down, but the dog still lives—seen occasionally soaking up sun on a porch or barking madly at what he can not hear. The idea that life goes on and can be full in spite of what’s lacking is as smile-inducing as the notion of my friends who yell “Hello, Deaf Dog” every time they pass because they want the dog to feel the love and recognition through the cosmos. 
Greeting deaf dogs? It’s a wonderful star to steer by, something nobler and ultimately happiness-inducing. 


Lala Salama Safari Njema—inshallah. Tutazumguza kesho. Ndege 
Yako. (Swahili Benediction)



It means “Sleep Well. Travel Safely—God Willing. We’ll speak tomorrow.” In a life of cast across the moments, no guard rails to hold onto, it is a gentle reminder of how the simplest truths can bind us to the things we love without any need to cling. The basics will deliver us. New friends will find us, nurture us, take us to places in their souls that will thrill, enthrall and sustain—and in the glorious passage of moments and experience, it all comes down to this beautiful truth—a truth sense by a new friend/soul sister/poet of the soul and the wind.


Old Books


You can find them at estate sales for a quarter or a dollar, charming books from another time. The prose is sometimes arcane, but often more carefully rendered—and in that groomed word choice, a certain piquance can shine through, a bit of sophisticated usage of words that-re often forgotten or misused. Whatever it is the people around you cherish, old books open new vistas to the themes and intrigues that makes life interesting, perspectives outmoded, but perhaps far more elucidating than what’s being presented today. And always that smell of dust and aging paper, the feel of the dryness and thickness between one’s fingers: utterly tactile, absolutely wonderful.


Driving Into The Daybreak


The black surrenders to streaks of inky blue and deep purple as clouds turn into chunks of gray and navy matter lightening into their eventual fluffy whiteness; the day slowly tearing away the curtain of the night. As you drive, you see the light begin to tentative reach up, reach out across the horizon—not quite yellow, not quite gold, just lighter—and as the fingers of the morning reach, stretch, a whole new day is born filled with promise and too much life to live. 
   With the windows down, the music loud, the morning comes. Gentle, yet quietly, but resolutely alive. 


There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
—Edi

It’s quite simple really. You don’t have to do great things, be someone famous, create something beyond imagination to make the world a brighter place. All you need to do is celebrate the things that do those things—traffic in kindness, the richness of the experience you live, the incredibly truth and beauty that’s witnessed in the way people lives their lives. The pressure of being more More MORE is too much—and it erodes the quality of living. To enhance that which is to enrich everyone—yourself, the people and things being celebrated, the people hearing it. 
   Light a candle, absolutely. But along the way, reflect the candles, too, that you come in contact with. It can exponentially make the realm you exist in so much more inviting.