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

January 2005

January 2005: sea of green, johnny carson, mardi gras balls & valentines

Johnny Carson

The man who made the night smart and sardonic. So cute, so much like the pluckiest one of us. A devilish Puck, poised to tease the irony of a moment out of the biggest stars, Carson kept the chasm between bold-faced and the rest of us from deepening by humanizing stars without degrading or making fun of them. Never a suck-up, he could elevate his guest, make them funnier than they were and give them the ball without ever being the joke. His characters were priceless. His wit quicksilver. The sparkle in his eyes better than diamonds, the smile on his lips distilled exuberance. America had no better friend, no better bridge between small towns and glitter, no greater equalizer who found it all fascinating—or left that illusion. He will be missed.



Grocery store Roses

Tightly rolled in plastic, they usually come 25 for $10 or $15, a dozen for half that—implying that the lifespan may not be as long as fancy flower shop blossoms. But for a little bit of money, you can scatter them all over your house, tiny bursts of natural beauty to remind you of the glory of gardens. A meaningful—and reachable—luxury indeed.


“Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.” 
Samuel Johnson


Be open. Be aware. Be ready. No truer words have ever been uttered.


Irresistible Nail Polish Chanel

Not as murky, thick and impenetrable as the must have Vamp of a few years ago. There’s something brighter, lighter about this turn on the burgundy nail trip. Sophisticated without being too flat, grown-up without being opaque. Polished, but bon vivant. The best of both worlds.


Arrowhead Instant Oatmeal with Raisins & Almonds

A bit less mooshy and a bit more grain-centric than some instant oatmeals one can find. All the heart-disease-easing properties, though, and enough raisins and almonds to make the whole experience feel like it’s an almost granola experience. As someone who could live without oatmeal, but knows it’s “good for me,” I can’t live without this stuff. At a Whole Foods near you.


Body Rich Cream Leah’s Naturals

Imagine a cloud whipped out of the densest possible cream, but feathery light, super emollient feeling without being greasy. Smelling of a confectionary—vanilla and cocoa without the other sticky stuff—without being cloying. And all-natural in the strictest sense of the word. Billed as “Super Protective for the Driest Skin,” it goes on, sinks in, quenches alligator dermis without any of the oily ooky coating that many serious creams pack. Rose hip seed oil, borage oil and antioxidants—it’s a wonder from teeny sunbaked Sarasota, Florida.
www.leahnatural.com or (941)-587-1106


Chocolate Pirate Coins

Pieces of 8, made of butter and cocoa and cream; oh, my! An express trip straight back to childhood—where pirates with plywood crosses plundered oreos and faux businessmen with cottony beards traded money in “deals” designed to conquer the world. Wide-eyed fantasy currency that takes you back.

Hypocrite In a Pouffy White Dress—Susan Jane Gilman

Real life confessions from the woman who wrote Kiss My Tiara about the transitions from the child of socially conscious neo-hippie parents to embracing aspects of being the kind of girl she was raised to loathe. Hilarious sense of self-awareness drives Gilman’s effervescent prose—and for any girl who wasn’t born with a will to twirl, Tri-Delt (that’s NOT a gym for some of you) or wear pearls, the conflicts, spills and thrills experienced may have reflective properties. My beloved Kathie Orrico—of the “how BAD can it be? We can still eat cake!” life plan—never reads. She devoured this and called me laughing and crying and laughing at once.

Rubber Bracelets

Mine is lime green (of course) and says Harmony & Balance, and was sent to me by my dearest friend to get me through the rapids that’re my life right now. But whether it’s Lance Armstrong’s bright yellow Live Strong, the pink Breast Cancer or some other reminder/cause, the rubber bracelet is the egalitarian jewelry that adds character to one’s life, is socially conscious without speaking and cheerfully reminds of things that matter more than the traffic jam, the long line at the grocery or the fact that they’re out of whatever we came for.


Asti Austin

The pumpkin risotto alone—with soft deep-flavored from slow roasting chunks of pumpkin and hint of nutmeg—almost induces Uri Geller-like fork-bending (though from pleasure, not psychic power). Owners Lisa and Emmet Fox KNOW how to do it. Their panzanella salad is light and fresh—hints of vinegar and high quality olive oil dress bite size morsels of good bread, bits of tomato and fresh mozzarella tossed with baby greens, while the amitriciana sauce is spicy without biting back and the pizzas are thin-crusted and cooked until crisp, yet will still melt in your mouth. But the chocolate cannoli—chocolate casing like a Florentine cookie, lighter than light mousse piped into the tube and the darkest richest most reduced sauce you can imagine—is the pulse-stopper.

the return of the Return of the Oxford American

One of the truly great reads—of both literary and sociological natures—returns! Editor and publishing crusader Mark Smirnoff has again found a way to reanimate his uber-worthy sextimely publication with its focus on things that’re profoundly Southern—be it thinking, an aspect of living, a person, a book, dish, record, performance, athletic pursuit or natural reality. To read the Oxford American was a life-enriching gift; to be able to have it back on the newsstands is cause for joy.


Sofia Coppola Mini Champagne

Pink little cans, each with their own straw. Single serving celebrations at one’s finger tips.

Rapprochement

There are those difficult people one loves beyond measure. The balance becomes how to not allow the difficulty to drown you—and sometimes the only resolution is to walk away. To dearly miss the difficult is inevitable; to bring them back into your life can be a miracle, an invitation to trouble or the beginning of a whole new order. Love can conquer all. With wide and open eyes, one can find the compassion and understanding, though, to build a bridge to something precious. It just takes willingness, faith, courage and kindness—because often the difficult is in their own kind of pain, and healing and gentleness heals some amazing wounds.


Oscar Debate

Now that there are nominations, there’s something to talk about. Did the players in “Sideways” deserve more nominations? Is it a Clint Eastwood v. Martin Scorsese face-off? How did the girl from “Maria Full of Grace” squeak in? (Her name is Catalina Sandino Moreno, by the way, and she was brilliant as the humble, strong innocent drug mule trapped by life, then by circumstances) The possibilities are endless—and the conversations guaranteed to be spirited.


Furry Scarves

Like wrapping the Grinch around one’s neck. They are warm and whimsical, utterly huggable, deeply soft. While the temperatures drop, protect your neck—and if you’re lucky enough to have a couple elves in your life with a sense of cartoon fun, you won’t have to buy your own. But even if you do, it’s all folly; and what a treat in itself that is.


Sea of Green Treatment Lake Austin Spa

300 jets in an oversized spa tub. A couple ounces of high grade algae powder to pull out toxins. A high pressure hose designed to work under water—allowing the massage to move the lymphatic system that lays beneath the tissue and muscles. If you want to lose toxins, this is a good way to flush your system and be turned into a limp noodle in the process.


Relix

Not just for fans of hippy jam bands anymore. There’s lifestyle—high impact sports, surfing, snowboarding. There’s bands that fall through the cracks that people truly care for—Nickel Creek, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Todd Snider. There’s regionalism, that celebrates what’s happening beyond LA, NY, DC and Boston. There are writers who just seem to know how to hit the creative and emotional bulls-eye of the artists they profile every time—Jaan Uhelszki’s Government Mule cover, Mark Kemp’s overview of the state of today’s Southern rock. And there’s a sense of connection to the music that’s inside out, not merely shilling for advertising at a specific demo segment—though the classifieds for people looking for rides to the various festivals strewn across the country are as endearing as anything I’ve read in a long, long time.


Live TV

The pressure on those providing it can be great. But like athletes in the chute, the adrenaline rush is incredible—and the focus much sharper. Pay attention, and it’s the best way to experience the ride of what modern broadcasting is all about. And with the threat of what can go wrong always looming, all the more reason to stay focused.

The Steeplechase Bread & Co., Nashville, TN

Pulled white meat turkey, granny smith apples, blue cheese, honey mustard—all on cranberry nut bread. Tastes that you’d think have nothing to do with each other, proving sandwiches ARE the great equalizer.

“Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.”

“Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.”
—Unknown
An old platitude that is probably one of the best life lessons 
there is. A little more practical application than even the Golden Rule, it’s a road map to making the world a kinder gentler place.


Positively Palm Beach The Palm Beach Daily News

Totems of Palm Beach. Every Wednesday in “The Shiny Sheet.” The beginning of an iconic series—and you must just recognize the author.


Lotte Berk Method Exercise Videos

30 minutes—and so basic there can be no excuses. Crawl out of bed, pop it in, let your blood start pumping, feel your mind come alive. Get in the shower—wash away whatever strain you may’ve gained. It’s a whole new way to start the day. Plus, it’s utterly do-able.


300,000-350,000 records sold without “a single”


When a powerhouse artist decides he wants to make an album that’s nothing like what he’s known for. When the reigning Country Music Association Entertainer and Album of the Year winner—not to mention fan-voted American Music Award’s Favorite Artist over Usher, Outkast, Norah Jones and Evanescence—decides to follow his heart. When the guy who outsold every act on the road last year except Prince wants to put out a quietly introspective album about coming into his own as a man in the islands and the people and places who shaped this transition—especially with a full-on triple platinum album STILL selling—it’s lunacy.
   Thank heavens Kenny Chesney’s crazy. Because by trusting his heart, believing in his fans and offering up an album that captures his soul, he defied every sense of conventional wisdom. Selling 120,000 copies in its first day alone, Be As You Are: Songs From An Old Blue Chair shows crazy dreams with a lot of unconventional thinking, serious commitment and hard work CAN come true.

The Next Passage

There comes an age when we are the adults. Our parents need help—and can’t often accept it, might even be angry if we try to hold firm. One very dear friend spent the holidays putting her parents in assisted living almost against their wishes; another buried his father with a lot of dignity and love; a third just closed up her mother’s condo—and folded up all those memories as part of her legacy. What we learn—beyond the ultimate truth that life is finite—is we do the best that we can. We love the gifts we were given, we let go of the pain that was part of whatever we had with our families. Because with the clock ticking, it’s just not worth it. Accept those limitations you can’t change, embrace the joy—and know that life will continue no matter what, so make what you do mean something precious to you, the only person living the life you’ve been given.


All In The Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine—Terry Teachout


Teachout, who’s embraced and critiqued various aspects of the arts for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Republic, brings his vivid pen to a short enough volume on the New York City Ballet raison d’etre that anyone can understand choreographer, life force, dancer Balanchine’s hungers, his life and his gift for unshackling the dance from opulently Disney fairy tale pageantry to the more direct expression of the compulsion of emotion, motion and flesh covered planes merging and converging. A defected Russian who counted Serge Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky among his mentors, Suzanne Farrell, Jerome Robbins, Edward Villella, Maria Tallchief and Mikhail Baryshnikov among his dancers, these are snapshots from a time when ballet was something the populace was aware of—and the openings and dancers were de rigeur if one wanted to be someone. Though that glow has dimmed, Teachout celebrates the man and his impact in a book that easily accessible and a wonderful read.


LL Bean Heart Book Bags

Super-durable, utterly utilitarian. The heavy boat canvas comes with red or pink straps and a bottoms—with an optional monogram and a solid red heart or pink outlined around lighter pink heart on the pocket. The “mini” can serve as a non-prissy handbag, the “medium” can serve as a book bag, tote for whatever one needs to carry or low-impact over-night case.
www.llbean.com

Mixing Ylang Ylang and Orange Essential Oils

The ylang ylang bring a floral sweetness, the orange a perky bit of snap. To put them on is to feel joyous, awake, well. To wear them is to be catnip to men, women and children. Not overtly sensual, but absolutely inviting in the most innocent joyful way.


Vosges Chocolate Bars

Pornographically rich chocolate—exactly the vat one would want to submerge in, feeling it seep into one’s pores, into one’s being, consuming us as we consume it. With something this luxuriously smooth, the people at Vosges understand the impact of contrast. So they punctuate their dark chocolate Red Fire Bar with Mexican chipotle and ancho chili pepper and Ceylon cinnamon and add sweet Indian curry powder and coconut to their Naga bar. Both are the things the dreams that one wants never to wake from are made of

Communion Bread—Magdalene Messengers

Take a ragtag bunch of adult women—not necessarily four you’d put together out of a crowd of 100—and let them raise their voices in an Appalachian worship style that is an angelic as it is earthy. With a sassy rattle-and-snap soprano Sherri Phillips tempers salvation and strength with the euphoria of the spirit over a triple-autoharp attack and clouds of four-part female harmony. Southern-based worship music that embraces “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “The Farside Banks of Jordon” and “Sweet Beulah Land” with the same ease they offer up the contemplative “The Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi,” Allen Reynolds’ “Some Day My Ship Will Sail” and the Messengers’ own Francy Durrett & Marie Slate’s celebratory instrumental “Twistin’ The Vine”
www.MagdaleneMessengers.com


Cindy Crawford Meaningful Beauty

Whoever thought it would come to this? Ordering beauty products off a tv ad? Though the line—which eschews fancy packaging and glossy advertising—was developed by a French doctor, keying on antioxidants and natural ingredients (melon enzymes for one) to create something more than affordable. Four days in, and with hyper-sensitive skin, it’s too soon to swear victory, but my face feels clean, smooth and soft.



Relevant

A lifestyle magazine aimed at progressive Christian young people, you almost won’t know that is a publication aimed at people seeking a higher plane from the cover. Keanu Reeves is on the current cover for a think piece about about his film “Constantine”—and they address those artists of stealth message who don’t bludgeon with their spirituality, be it authors, actors of musicians. Kings of Leon find their way into this same issue as does Talib Kweli and Relient K, U2 and think pieces about a Christ-based place in the world, which isn’t always as secessionist as one might think. A perspective to consider, maybe even embrace—but certainly to provide a broader understanding of people with something to offer beyond the most dismissive stereotyping.

Feng Shui Mugs Starbucks

Red ribbons. Three feng shui coins. Words on gently curving out mugs, like “love” and “fortune.” At $12.95, they’re a little pricey, but as a splurge for a friend, they’re kind of cool—and a desktop reminder that someone wishes them good fortune.

Manuel: Star Spangled Couture Frist Center, Nashville

The man who made Elvis’ solid gold suit, created Gram Parsons contraband flamenco bolero and hip-huggers (naked girls, pills and pot leaves), sewed Dwight Yoakam into the jeans and jackets and threw a rhinestoned lariat embroidered with roses around everyone from Keith Richards to REM’s Mike Mills to Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris’ Trio to Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Johnny Cash gets his own exhibition at Nashville’s to-be-reckoned-with Frist Center. Greedily, you’ll want more “star wear,” but the room filled with the rhinestone-encrusted jackets of the States is a blinding tribute to our country that’ll bring a smile. And Trey Fanjoy’s film about the man, the myth and his process is an illuminating tribute to a kind of couture that many don’t recognize or realize even exists. The country’n'cowboy Coco Chanel.


Citrine Beverly Boulevard, LA

An almost Sino-looking room, where the light is close to amber and the ceiling high enough to seem limitless, yet close enough to make one feel grounded. An impeccably executed menu—that eventually gives way to a dark chocolate soufflé, served with heavy whipped créme, melting in the center. Utterly adult, impossibly elegant, yet easy in the sense of the grand society ladies of yore.


Mardi Gras Balls


With a father who went to Tulane, tales of the Mardi Gras balls were both social measure and laughing walk-up to the 40 days of denial that marks Lent. The balls! The Balls! Opulent affairs, not quite worthy of Marie Antoinette, but certainly formal and fancy and yelpingly fun-filled as only these sorts of grand events can be in the Big Easy! They love their pomp, their circumstance, their formidable formality. In New Orleans, where form is often pleasure and social grace is executed with the ease of breathing, Mardi Gras balls are the ni plu ultra of a world that knows how revelry, celebration and laissez les bon temps roulez.


The World Through John Chiasson’s Lense

Known for his deep saturation color, John Chiasson has shot AME Minisiters for TIME, Patty Loveless for Newsweek, Nickel Creek for The New York Times Sunday Magazine and a series of old blues guys like Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and alt.country queen Gillian Welch. His portraits capture people’s essence, but where the world truly opens wide is through the Louisiana-bred shooter’s ability to melt into the moment. When he turns his camera on the indigenous people of Africa, Morocco’s culture blooms, the tribespeople’s humanity overwhelms, the worn walls and mosques become incandescent. And his series of images of children—as soldiers, laborers in India, forgotten in mental institutions in Romania - will haunt you for days. Everything great pictures are supposed to do.

Humidifiers

Quietly hissing mist into the bone-dry air, humidifiers give your skin a fighting chance when the heat is on—and the air is devoid of all moisture. They make breathing easier, strained sinuses feel soothed. It is a way to make one’s world a little more haven-like without too much capital—and the return on how you look and feel will make this thing you’ve done without forever indispensable. 


The Tide of the Night

You do not have to drown in it, nor surrender to it. Just pay attention and move through it. Wherever you go, tales of people lives play out—often the ones that demonstrate humanity over divinity. As a survey course of how the table of life is set and choices made or discarded, the role and variety of desires, it is all there: beer joint, restaurant, emergency room, airport, hotel lobby, Waffle House. Open your eyes. Understand the conventions beyond conventions. Fascinating, indeed.

Yoga Tuffets

You don’t need a spider to sit down beside you to plop down on the raw silk pillows designed to cushion one’s breathing and meditation work. Plumped up and in succulent shades of wine (a medium plum), sienna (a deep saffron) and papaya (an earthy pink), they are available from ABC Home & Carpet in New York. A little luxe, for sure, but a way to bring pleasure to one’s practice.


Accepting What Doesn’t Work

Will and want to sometimes aren’t enough. Nor is the idea that no matter what someone requires it might not be reasonable of you to expect that of yourself. Know yourself. Know how you best function. Understand what you contribute. Create harmony and teamwork. Be clear about your style, your abilities (which often means accepting limitations). Then find places that fit well to maximize your output, outcome and joy.


The Grand Ole Opry

Where else can every fibre that is country music be twisted into one seamless thread? To hear Connie Smith level an old school merging of country & Southern gospel, newcomer Christy Sutherland offer a sultry take on a Chris Knight’s possession-by-memories, then-healed-by-time “Staying Up All Night Long,” then a reverentially traditional “Angel Band,” joined by Nitty Gritty Dirt child/artist in his own rite Jaime Hanna plus surprise guest Marty Stuart, Jim Ed Brown reuniting with Helen Cornelius, Sonny Osbourne take the skin right off the front row with a cutting tenor that kills from 15 inches from the mic as the Osbourne Brothers prove bluegrass legends don’t fade, they just get more dug in, Hal Ketchum offering a lovely rafter-brushing ballad “Stay Forever” that demonstrates his gifts as writer, singer and true romantic, Tony Newman bringing a Cajun shuffle and then Stuart returning for a freeform mandolin solo spot that eventually turns into a duet with an Opry Squaredancer—rhythm& sole, perhaps it could be deemed or solegrass—is to scratch the tip of the riches that are tradition and forward-thinking at th Mother Church of Country Music. To understand the vast well today’s high-powered country music draws from, it makes sense to go where all the springs run together. That’s the Grand Ole Opry, where old school is sweet in its formality, new school is endearing with its reverence and the music is always elevated by the spirit of the room.


Gucci Westman for Lancome

Natural make-up may be the ultimate oxymoron, yet in the hands of celebuspackler Gucci Westman, it’s du rigeur. So it’s both thrilling and funny to see a major cosmetic house reaching out to a make-up artist of note—and doubly ironic that the colors for Westman’s debut palette (with advertising that features no less a face than free spirit Drew Barrymore) are purely fairy tale. Pearly sheer glosses, turquoise, jade and babiest blue eye shadow and pencils, shimmer cheek colors. Bohemian or Stepford depending on how heavy the hand, but utterly, ultimately innocence at play.

Sneaking up on Valentines..

I overheard someone lamenting they had no Valentine, and it made me sad—for if you have someone to lament to, then you have someone to share the day with. Too many people with too little imagination accepting one brokered truth, missing the greatest reality of all: Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating the people who make your life wonderful. It’s so much more than convention, it’s about love—and happiness—especially giving it away rather than wondering where yours is. There’s still plenty of time, by the way. So start plotting! Because everyone needs a little love. What better excuse for indulging people you really care for?

Believer

Any magazine that comes with a DVD of short films inside is pretty sweet, but a DVD of short films embracing the farflung themes of punk rock, boredom, wrestling, drowning, squash, AA and cannibalism is major. For the Visual issue of Believer—a progressive essay collective that breaks all the rules in the name of expression—there are myriad pictures of art of every stripe, conversations with artists who’re of the moment, yet not instantly household names. Broad-based examinations and connections between various cultural touchstones define the content, which create the tapestry of a creative community which reflects much of the world beyond the obvious.
Believer is a provocative salon with perfect-binding. Next issue, they even create a column named “Conservative” to offer insight into another way of thinking that is about opening up the understanding and dialogue of the creative/progressive/liberal community with those they often seem at odds with. Seek it out. 
www.believer.com