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

November 2011

When Black Friday Comes Edition

Ali Berlow, The Singing Postman Delivers, Forgiveness, Mile Marker Zero

21-C Museum Hotel Louisville, Kentucky

There are iconic red penguins everywhere, as well as modern art that makes you pause, makes you think, makes you appreciate other ways of seeing what you think you know. Urban aesthetics, it is lean and gracious – with Malin+Goetz products, good sheets and the nicest, most helpful/staff at any hotel I’ve encountered.

Current exhibition – they change every 6 months—is Cuba Now, which embodies the passion, the prisoners of the state oppression and beauty of their island. Plus, chandeliers hung with tiny scissors along with crystals, a walrus head made from beetle wings, installations along the hallways, in the elevators. A cultural experience as welcoming as it is stimulating in the heart of Louisville’s Main Street district, with a 5 star progressive American restaurant and innovative bar that both lean local, 21-C dismantles the notion “there’s no place like home.”

“We Bought A Zoo”

Matt Damon stars as a man on the brink, who buys a home, attached to a faltering zoo to save his sanity and family. A bit of a heartwarmer, it marks Cameron Crowe – of the candy heart stripe and original Baby Rock Critic – returning to directing, and finds redemption in the broken places through magical thinking, being facedown in how hard and allowing things that truly matter to rise to the top of consciousness.

Scarlett Johansson as an earthy love interest. Cute kids. Quirky animals. The kind of music only Crowe seems able to assemble. It’s all there, and then some. In a world turned hard, enraged, greedy and brutal, this is a reminder of our better selves – and you can take the whole family. Remember why sweetness wasn’t the mark of chumps and losers, feel warm and good and alive.

Bonus: The Hollywood Reporter’s feature & Crowe’s Matt Damon Mix Tape
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/we-bought-a-zoo-matt-damon-cameron-crowe-264435

Historic Conversations on Life w John F Kennedy Jacqueline Kennedy

History comes to life… as the taped interviews Jackie Kennedy gave historian/Kennedy insider Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. shortly after her husband’s assassination have been unsealed to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s Presidency. Beyond a well-edited book, there are 8 CDs that hold the actual conversations – moving from family life to international politics, real assessments of various figures on the world stage and even a sense of how ill the President had been – that show both a humanity and an effervescence to the First Lady who has captured the world’s imagination for generations.

Gracious, yet rapier clear, she finds truth in her recollections, explaining dynamics unknowable to the average American, offering the private side of who they were and demonstrating a wicked sense of humor. While some of the realities have changed (indeed, Kennedy Onassis who decries feminism would appear on the cover of Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine), the navigational aspect of political realities is fascinating.

Mid-Calf Lace-Up Duck Boots LL Bean

Rubber on the botton, leather half way up the calf. Lace’em tight for support, loose for thick socks and tucking your pants in. Not glam. Not sexy. But they can withstand any kind of weather, hose off and last, last, last.

Mark Twain: Words & Music Various

Gather together bluegrass, country and mainstreamers gone to seed to sing songs about the Mississippi that informed Mark Twain’s writing; enlist Garrison Keillor as the narratory, Clint Eastwood as Twain and Jimmy Buffett as Tom Sawyer for the spoken word. What you get is a two-CD set – to benefit the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, MO. – that matches 14 story chunks with 13 songs.

Whether it’s Emmylou Harris caressing Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Haley Came To Jackson,” Vince Gill’s lovely “I Know You By Heart,” Rhonda Vincent’s “Run Mississippi” or the gospelgrass of Doyle Lawson’s “Better Times A’Comin’,” Grammy-winning producer Carl Jackson matches the musician to the task and exhumes the earthy vibrance of Samuel Clements on this set. Brad Paisley’s “Huck Finn Blues” a true treat, as much a gem as the 40-page booklet that accompanies the project/

“Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive.” Marianne Faithful

When you stop thinking and go along, your rote reality is waking sleepwalking. There is no reason to be in that, just punching the clock, hitting the marks and zombie-ing one’s way though life. Rebel – a little, in small ways. Even if it’s just red panties that no one sees, driving too fast on the highway when no one’s around.
Do something outrageous. Feel the thrill. Revel in the racing of your pulse.

Blue Nights Joan Didion

Velvety, evocative writing from one of America’s best essentialists and excavators of modern life. After her wrenching The Year of Magical Thinking – which became a Broadway play with Vanessa Redgrave – pondered the states of grief and mourning that followed the suddent death of her husband/inspiration/life mate John Gregory Dunn, the woman who wrote Slouching To Bethlehem, The White Album and Salvador returns with an equally tragic book end.

Blue Nights picks up the sorrow and self-reflection that resulted from losing her daughter Quintana Roo after a protracted set of medical crises shortly after Dunne’s passing. At the height of her vitality, Roo suddenly got sick, got better, got worse – and through it all, Didion was steadfast. Now she examines her life, the loss of a child, the courage to go on and the images that rise to the surface. Graceful, inspiring, breath-taking.

L’Albatros Bellflower Rd, Cleveland, Ohio

Slightly progressive French comfort food, all local, and a progressive cocktail menu make this – once the legendary That Place on Bellflower – genteel and hip all at once. Saturday night’s Boeuf Bourgignon is the stuff obsession is made of, while the roast chicken will make you see pyramids, as well as the Steak Frites, mussels and (yes) hamburger with bernaisse.

The cheese platter will confound you. The aperitifs tickle your palette. Save room for dessert – especially the chocolate napolean with fresh raspberries. Charming servers, they managerment seeks to unobtrusively create a peak dining experience, both with flavors and ambiance. Minimalist with warm light in the dining rooms, pastoral on the Tudor patio when it’s warm, this is the best of Cleveland’s mélange of realities in a wonderful restaurant.

Parnassus Books 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN

Leave to the amazing novelist Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, State of Wonder, The Magician’s Assistant) to come to Nashville rescue when the last true bookstore closed. Joining with business partner Karen Hayes, the pair are opening a real bookstore with clerks who can help and recommend, perfect bindings to touch, opportunities to commune with like-minded readers and authors.  It is not about rebellion, but communion – and gently shepherded, Parnassus Books opens as the holidays descend.

Buy local. Buy plenty. Inspire people to read. Enjoy the escape of words!

Bonus:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/opinion/sunday/ann-patchetts-book-tour.html?_r=2

SpringsteenSays Twitter

Pieces of lyrics from the patron saint of working people and Freehold, NJ. In 140 characters, chunks of truth are torn from Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics – and inspire, inflame, clarify and offer consolation. Just wait for the next one to hit your Twitterfeed and see.

The Roundhouse Bald Mountain, Sun Valley, Idaho

Literally round, halfway up Bald Mountain, the Roundhouse is the oldest ski lodge in America – and it not only serves continental breakfast, gourmet lunches and post-ski wine and beer, it provides a breathtaking view of the world below. To sink chunks of bread into a proper fondue, have a knife and fork croque monsieur, authentic weiner schnitzel or bratwurst with kraut is to understand what drew Ernest Hemingway to the winter sports life.

Bracing in the chill on the lift up or ski down, this is a respite of comfort in a place of deep winter cold. Refined, but cozy, a true splurge – even if you don’t ski.

Juicing

Green drinks make me gag. Wheat juice is instant projectile-age. Yet the health benefits are soooo worth it. Start slow if the notion of kale/chard/parsley/ginger/celery and maybe lemon seems too… well… green. Use apples as a base, they sweeten things up. Soon the apple will become cucumber. Next thing you know, you’ll be hardcore.

Bourbon & Wild Oats Nest Candles

A caramelicious, creamy scent that’s grounded in the basic grainy scent of oats. Comforting, a bit sweet, a little flat, Bourbon & Wild Oats is a relaxing, welcoming proposition when lit in the evening hours, something that says “stay a while, enjoy the moment.”

Calming during the day, it doesn’t dull one’s clarity, just makes things a little more even… The very notion of engaged without being over the top, frolicsome while being focused. One of the easiest candles to light and know it will be just what you need.

St Michael

Michael the Arc Angel is viewed as many the Michael, the Protector. The leader of God’s Armies in the Battle against Satan, he is most certainly someone who can keep us safe from harm. Often pictures with a sword drawn, slaying a dragon, he’s recognized by even Orthodox Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

When you feel the need for protection, this is the saint to invoke.

Hottie Pink Let’s Go Bananas Ritchie Dress Lilly Pulitzer

The essence of Palm Beach – or Springs – this hot pink and emerald green giant banana leaf print slinky dress is as wearable as it is High Muffy. Twenty inch sleeves leave loads of room for bangles; the boatneck says sporty as the draping suggests sexy.

Worn on a recent red carpet, everyone wanted to know: “Where’d it come from?”
Mine? C.Orrico.com.

Tiger Balm Extra Strength

The cinnamon balm that sinks in, warms and eases the muscles now comes in even higher octane. On those nights when you can’t get the seizing to stop, circular motions and deep breathing activate some kind of spicy magic. No drugs, no staining, just relief!

500 Words for Snow   Kate Bush

Mystical torch Mitchell – Joni, that is, but ultimately, utterly Kate Bush. After entirely too long, the bewitching songstress returns with another gorgeously shimmering collection anchored by piano, set to sparkle with her ethereal, but sultry soprano.

Seven songs, just over an hour, almost an exploration of musical themes within the melodies she’s conjured. The realm of whiteness, cold, winter sets the stage for her to express, quest, tumble and occasionally welcome guests like Elton John and the Brit writer/iconoclast Stephen Fry. A whisper of Bill Evans, a touch of the quiestest Jackson Browne, she coaxes and whispers and leaves your soul wide open.

North Star Columbus, Ohio

Locally grown, prepared onsite, North Star is elevated fast food designed for people who know better. Organic, hormone free, humanely slaughtered and the freshest of the fresh, their breakfasts are gigantic, their lunches light but filling and dinner is something to linger over, savoring every bite.  Oh, and they have wine, micro-brews & cocktails.

The ricotta pancakes with real maple syrup, sweet potato & turkey hash or mushroom frittatas make the obvious special, while there are a range of more typical egg starters. Lunch finds Thai, southwestern and oriental notes informing a menu filled with salads, wraps, bowls and burritos. The cookies are huge, the muffins giant and the housemade ginger ale worth ransoming a small nation for.

Three locations: two on High Street, one at Easton.

The Curse of the Good Girl Rachel Simmons

Little girls are conditioned to be nice from an early age, thereby crippling most natural responses, creating patterns that set-up insurmountable realities and inserting behaviors that will prove to make their road harder. Studying girls at leadership conferences for more than a decade, Simmons has come to recognize the realities of modern socialization – and offers tips to create resilience, embody geneuine honesty and uproot the nastiness that runs through so many girls interactions.

Starting with the parents and their responses, Simmons helps grown-ups undo their own messaging and shows how to be more transparent without sacrificing self or kindess. To recognize conditioning for what it is, honor reality instead of projection and find the way to strong connections, The Curse of the Good Girl is a revolution in more ways than one could ever imagine.

Lipstick Tom Ford

It may well be the most expensive lipstick that’s not custom made in the world. You will gasp when you hand the money over, but you will also marvel at the smoothness on your lips, the amount of pigment imparted and the depth of color. The reds are deep enough to fall into, the pink would make Lily Pulitzer thrill and the browny bronzes are lustrous without being muddy. As a once in a rare while splurge, it’s an excess that’s won’t break you, just make you feel glamourous every time you sweep it on.

Massage

Just lay there, let them do everything. Knead, dig, press, coax, release the toxins and tensions from those muscles that say nothing and do all – including holding in the stress, holding up bad posture and pretending that the compensating we do doesn’t take a toll. There are few things more healing. And it takes only your willingness to do nothing.

Mad Dog Radio Sirius/XM Channel 86, 2-7 pm

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was the full-tilt, off-the-hook sports talk guy who made NYC’s WFAN’s “Mike & Mad Dog” Manhattan’s must listen to sports radio. As with all things, the duo parted, with Russo opting to work a more national platform at SiriusXM. In your face and unapologetic, Russo is in many ways the Howard Stern of sports: opinionated, provocative, willing to push and call “bull—-t.” Riveting in the way he machine guns his stats, his insight, his words – and his interviews are on the money.

The End of Overeating David Kessler, MD

Subtitled Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, this book is horrifying in the way it exposes the calculated chemistry that goes into snack foods, chain restaurants and many pre-packaged staples. Nutrition be damned, much of big food’s gambit is about triggering overwhelming cravings that send you back to the bag, the box or the restaurant to eat more calorie-ladden, nutrient bankrupt “food.”

Think of this as “Scared Straight” for the American eater. To realize how the deck is stacked is to take control of what you put into your body – and that does not mean a macrobiotic, all kelp diet; just better decision about basic things.

Betty Wright: The Movie Betty Wright * The Roots

In the 70s when soul, funk and disco melted into one glorious rhythm ride, Betty Wright infused that cocktail with a bluesy no mess attitude for “The Clean-Up Woman,” and a soul icon for those who know was born. All these years later, her mojo is as vital as ever – attracting Snoop Dogg for a little freestyle on throwdown “Real Woman,” Joss Stone on the gossip foreshadowment of “Whisper on the Wind” and the stark cautionary darkness of a girl turned out “Hollywould” and a woman who should run “Go.”

Evoking Gil Scott-Heron and a more ebullient Chaka Khan, ?uestlove and the Roots turn up the music to meet Wright. In the end, there’s old school, feel good r&b (“The Old Songs”), slow jammage on the grown-up carnality tip (“Tonight Again,” “Surender”) and jazz-steeped (“The One”).

through a child’s eyes

Innocence. Looking with love. Seeing the best. Believing what can or might. Coating it all with wonder. In Buddhism, they speak of “beginner’s mind.” Seeing with a child’s mind is even moreso: they look from a place of grace. If we can not know, embrace the possibility and bask in the amazement of being, what a wonderful world this could be.

The Whore of Akron Scott Raab

Esquire writer Scott Raab is an accomplished writer, a Cleveland homeboy – even if he lives somewhere else, a passionate humanist with a strong streak of right and wrong and a belief in the power of iconics to capture the down-trodden’s heart. Writing with a straight razor and editing with barbed wire, Raab’s prose has always been relentlessly intense, utterly on the edge and perhaps the closest thing to Hunter S Thompson our generation may get.

When James was just a local hero of national import on a team that couldn’t win, no major publisher wanted to buy Raab’s hero’s tale; then came the Decision, and there were all kinds of offers. But in LeBron’s betrayal of the city he’d emerged from, a freakishly gifted baller still so young, Raab saw so many other paradigms that represented the truth of a city passed over. Suddenly, this book was about dignity and respect, but it was also a personal examination of Raab and the psyche of the city he came from.

Fast. Intense. Furious. Emerging from this hate-strewn relationship, Raab – who was banned by the Miami Heat’s organization – spoke to anyone with skin in the game. The owner, the fans, Akronites, teachers, players… What emerges is a fascinating sociological consideration written like a white water raft trip.

Peppermint Oil

Just a couple small drops. Rubbed into the temples, the earlobes, the inside of the wrists or the fontanelle… and an instant alert alert! A quick pick me up that bursts with a cold, fresh “whew” – with none of the jagged aftermath of too much caffeine. And the scent will settle your yummy!

A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids Margot Datz

Margot Datz is a well-known artist, whose illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Newsweek and a muralist who painted the inside of the Vineyard Haven steamship station. But as a long-time Martha’s Vineyarder, she has an affinity for the sea – and the unbridled nature of women by the water.

A Survival Guide works on several levels. It is a sweet book of wisdom for young girls finding their way. It is a feminist allegory of how to live. It is a hilarious book that gently pokes fun at the silly things women do. The illustrations are delightful; the advice about crows feet, beaus who’re worth it and your own salt water refuge solid.

Cuba Now! 21-C, Louisville

The artwork is special enough to warrant its own entry. So vibrant, so alive, so wow! Multi-discipline, there are installations utilizing film, found objects create a sculpture that almost defies gravity. Photographs of various faces, handkerchiefs with prisoners, boxes that suggest birdhouses or the homes of the masses and paper mache trees for the seasons. It is provocative, representative of the bold spirit and deep joy as well as the stark nature of life – all rendered with striking images, high caliber workmanship and a make-do notion of materials that says “art can be anything if you get creative.”

The rest of the art is equally worth checking out. But from the moment you see the old car on the bronze sculptured feet, you know this is a place where the exhibits will challenge everything most believe about art and also open the possibilities for te world around us.

Ali Berlow

With her protest, “I am just a housewife,” Ali Berlow has pioneered the Island Grown Initiative, raising awareness of local farms and connecting the dots with consumers, be it grocery stores, local CSIs or tourists of varying durations, as well as bringing a mobile poultry slaughtering unit to Martha’s Vineyard to provide local slaughter for farmer’s raising chickens to sell their birds. She is the founding editor of Edible Vineyard, a former NPR essayist with her Cooks Notebook, which merge the humanity and connection of food with the sensual pleasures of flavor, preparing and ceremony.

Beyond raising two amazing sons – one just finished a semester at sea, the other is working with the cows at Mermaid Farms before globally exploring dairy farming in the UK and South America – she has now signed a book deal to show other communities how to bring that level of transparency and immediacy into fowl production where they live. Temple Grandin adores her; Michael Pollan is a major fan. We should all be inspired by what can be done with patience, vision and small steps taken daily!

“Young Adult”

Charlize Theron returns to her hometown, intent on reuniting with her high school sweetheart who is now married with a child. The girl who left seeking more is sleeker, more worldly and working on a YA book – and written by Diablo Cody (“Juno”), Theron’s character is truculent in the extreme and a trainwreck of self-will that will make you laugh out loud. Bratty, bitchy, ultimately redeeming; smart chick flick date fodder.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar_-v7dEEoo

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  Ghandi

We are all over-scheduled and missing too much of how our lives feel, mean, touch others. Rush rush, lose much – and realize: you can’t get it back. Faster may mean more, but more what? And in the flying by of moments, did you really taste that cupcake? See that sunset? Enjoy that kiss?
Before you find yourself hurling into the abyss, ask yourself what do you want to experience and remember? For when it’s over, it’s the memories that will matter.

Keith’s Angels Cover Town & Country, Dec 2011

Yes, he is the ultimate rock star who married a great beauty and fathered gorgeous daughters. But rather than playing to expectations, Town & Country looks at life of fairly normal, classic aesthetics and rock & roll infusing it all without undermining either. Think cozy, homey and edgy without destructive excess, danger that’s contained and creativity sparking an appreciation for all things. Unexpected; wonderful.

Hell on Heels Pistol Annies

High white trash, this is the siren’s song from Ralph Lauren’s trailer park as girl’s eschew uptown wants for living the musician’s life, popping pills, dumping no good men and being honest about how raw life in the low/middle class can be. Emerging country firebrand force to be reckoned with Miranda Lambert teams with Ashley Monroe (co-writer of Jason Aldean’s “The Truth”) who’s more hippie and Angaleena Presley who’s more Kentucky holler girl for a too real girl fest that runs men ragged, admits to getting randy and offers clear-eyed takes on family squabbles.

“Bad Example” is a hard Dolly-esque celebration of not buying in, while the cheerful “Lemondrop” makes sweet from the sour of waiting on a dream and “Housewife’s Prayer” is a threadbare hope for something better as life fringe is coming apart. Great talent, tremendous musicianship, truths for the impending influx of “family” to keep you sane and smiling.

iPod Shuffle

Tinier than a business card. Clips on. Light enough to be forgotten. Except that suddenly all the songs you love are mobile. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you now have the freedom to do it with your personal soundtrack pumping straight into your ears. Whatever your fancy – contemporary Mexican folk, death metal, neo-soul, songwriters of merit – it’s now on your collar, strap or pocket.

Inverted Triangle

Feet shoulder width apart. Bend at waist, arms bent, hands parallel to the ground. Keep leaning, see how far you can go. Spread your feet farther if you dare. Let your arms dangle as deadweight. Don’t be surprised when suddenly the top of your head is grazing the floor. Put your hands down solid, spread your fingers for more balance.
Breath in slowly, deeply. Hold it, then slowly exhale. Stay there as long as the stretch feels good and you’re not dizzy. Let the blood come into your head, your scalp, move up and move freely. Vitalizing, energizing, making everything – blood, chi, bodily systems – move better. Ahhhhhhh…

Love Goes To Buildings On Fire   Will Hermes

Subtitled Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever, noted music critic Will Hermes looks at five years in Manhattan when punk and disco, salsa, hip hop, avante jazz and the Minimalist composers were all blazing trails and reshaping the possibilities of what music could be. From New Year’s Day 1973 to New Year’s Eve 1977, Hermes intertwines the fates and overlaps of Patti Smith and Talking Heads with Willie Colon & the Fania All-Stars (at Yankee Stadium, no less) and Grandmaster Flash + the Furious Five, not to mention Springsteen finding his way and the rest of the players/

To understand the intersections, the fates, the times, it is a foment of creativity in a place where musicians could still afford to live. Written from the heart, this connects the dots on a time when everything changed – and moved to new plateaus. If you loved any of this music, there is much here to heighten your understanding of what was.

Sunbeam Shop Fairmount Rd, Cleveland Hts, Ohio

A tradition for Moms who want their children to have “locally grown” clothes for over 70 years. Started as a way to employ people who were physically disabled, the Sunbeam Shop became a place for good dresses, school clothes, special things… and has maintained it’s quality through the years. Now outside manufacturers sell alongside the bespoke, but it’s still friendly, locally-driven and charming.

“Just Wright” DVD

Queen Latifah as a sports fiend physical therapist watches as her best girlfriend makes the move on a star player – knowing full well, she’s not the woman she pretends to be. When the basketball star cracks up his leg, she’s called in to fix it, grounding the player in life values truer to who he is; yet so convinced of his desire for the flossy one, he “just friends” the Queen – and finds the pretty one flies the coop when his career appears to be over.

Given Latifah’s street smart approach and unfailing commitment to healing, he gets better… the babe comes back… and Latifah’s world unravels. Not one to surrender, she secedes, but at what cost? And are men truly that shallow? As a cautionary tale for both genders, this is an obvious chick flick that flexes smart. A pleasing way to escape for a few hours.

Tobacco

Not the vexing nicotine delivery product, but the color. Perhaps the ultimate new neutral: not grey, brown or khaki, but rather a mixture of all. A bit mysterious, very rich, looks good with most deep and vibrant colors (maybe not orange or tangerine), quite chic!
When it is time to buy a piece of clothing meant to be timeless, think tobacco.

Mile Marker Zero William McKeen

It was the spiritual spawn of Hemingway’s years at the end of America, a place where he went for an afternoon and ended up writing To Have & Have Not among others. In his wake, the 70s saw an onslaught of creatives who would grow up to be defining voices of their generation – emeshed through friendship, talent and utter virility.
Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, Hunter Thompson, Jimmy Buffett, Guy de la Valdean among others… writing impossibly virile books, trying their hands at making movies, being acclaimed, messing up their lives, rising again and savoring the spoils of their larger than life lives.

Jorma’s Rhythm Tonic tea Herbal Sage

Red Rooibus, rosemary leaf, anise, hibiscus flowers, cinnamon and stevia make for a brisk tea that perks you up without the edge. Earthy flavor, clarifying and sweet enough it needs nothing more. Great hot or iced.
Served at every performance at the Hot Tuna/Jefferson Airplane guitarist’s Fur Peace Ranch! This earthy, spicy tea not only benefits the music made there, but it provides an awareness that lets you see further into whatever you’re creating.
www.herbalsage.com

forgiveness

It’s not for them, it’s for you. Whatever wretched awful thing was done to you, it was most likely done from pain, greed, jealousy, gutlessness… and if that’s what the problem was sown in, why would you want to hang on to that? People are flawed, broken, damaged, pity them and move on.
Let it go. Bless them and send them on their way. Feel lighter. Amen.

The Lady Killer Cee Lo Green

It’s almost like if you don’t have it by now, why bother? But too many of my friends have not surrender to the gleaming soul confection that’s equal parts young Stevie Wonder, Teddy Riley at his most silken and a waft of a savvier Rick James. An almost operatic treatment of a man who loves the ladies, Cee Lo is so much more than “%*^@ You,” it’s not funny. Whether the jubiliant “Bright Lights, Bigger City,” the neosoulfolk of “Wild Flower,” the committed to pleasing “Satisfied” and “I Want You” or the vintage Philly soul feeling “Old Fashioned,” this is a survey of black pop that captures the essence without surrendering to pure nostalgia.

“Love Gun” is a churning affair of the flesh, while “Bodies” whirls technology into something multi-layered (is it literal? Or metaphoric?) The Phillip Bailey guesting “Fool For You” is pure confection – and on those days the grind is more than you can bear, this is a suite of desire, female empowerment and appreciation; slip it in and feel the drudge dissolve.

Feeding the fish @ Bethesda by the Sea’s Garden   S. Country Rd Palm Beach, FL

You put a quarter in what looks like gumball machine and food pellets pour out. The giant carp – supersized goldfish for those who view with wonder – know, and they gather, quiver, follow you along the thin stone pond. It runs the length of the church’s garden, serving as an almost oasis in the tedious heat of Florida in the late spring/summer/fall.

Like some kind of pied piper for the gilled and swimming, feeding the fish makes you feel popular, powerful and benevolent. But there’s also some kind of Zen push to it, some intangible realm of relaxation – whether you dole the food out piece by piece, small groups or the whole thing at once. Frenzy ensues once the bits hit the water, but there’s even a poetry in the fish swimming and snapping for the morsels.

Mini Blender Hamilton Beach

Tiny enough, you could tuck it in a carry on without any trouble. Capable of whipping a breakfast shake or smoothie into shape with enough body to make it satisfying and mix thoroughly enough there will be no powdery surprises. For anyone doing protein shakes, fruit smoothies or stealth parasol drinks, this is freedom for a huge blender and countertop convenience nonpareil.

Feu du Bois Diptyque

The scent of rare wood burning. It is smoky and rich, that masculine odor that doesn’t overwhelm but opens the senses. On a cold winter’s day, it suggests leather and hearth, a strength and a bundled up coziness that is anything but Grandma’s house.

For the man on your list, or the woman who wants something less girly. Mmmm.

The Paris Wife Paula McLain

You are 28, your mother has just died and you’re sure life has passed you by. It could be any number of young woman realizing that the inherent promise of life worth living might have been over-stated, but for Hadley Richardson – visiting friends in Chicago on a cheer-herself-up trip after the the First World War – it was a matter of reality. Only Richardson was about to meet a brash 21 year old writer named Ernest, who would sweep the Midwestern woman devoid of pretense not just off her feet, but out of the country to be part of the much storied ex-patriot movement.

There as the woman behind the man, Hadley Richardson represented stability to a restless writer and raconteur who was madly seeking his place as a writer.  It is the story of the thrill of a place and time (Paris, the 20s, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound) and also the coming of awareness for a been nowhere woman in the shadow of the man quickly outgrowing her. Romantic to the core, this is historical fiction of merit – beautifully written and absolutely nutritious escape.

Wingless Angels, Vol 1 and 2

Ska spirituals, this is soul music of rastas and Nyabinghi grounation drum circles – anchored by rocksteady anchor Justin Hinds, of the sweet warm voice and almost celestial feel. During the walk-up to recording Goats Head Soup, Richards fell in with a group of locals and was swept away by the truly religious nature of the way these men (and a few women) made music. From those jam sessions, rudimentary recordings happened – with the pirate Stone serving as an almost Alan Lomax curator – and were culled; later a friend with a mobile truck would record three days of jamming, singing and exploring what the grooves might hold.

Hinds, who’d just left the Dominoes, was the corner-store, but each player is essential in the whole. Anyone who fancies themselves a reggae fan, a tropical denizen or just roots music loyalist, this is for you. Named for their not of this world presence, yet utter Earthiness the Wingless Angels will transform.

Eye Cream LaMer

Consider yourself warned: Prepare to gasp at the price. It is ridiculous. But there are few things that soothe, that tighten, that hydrate the thin skin around the eyes like La Mer’s Eye Cream, made with the same “sea broth” that enriches their thick, nutritious skin cream. Amazing stuff… once you get past the sticker shock!

Full moon

So full. So round. So man-in-the- present. They are the epitome of what could be, and they inspire craziness. Too much mojo – or else booster packs for those who know how to harness the potency of that giant white/yellow orb in the midnight sky.
Dream on it. Manifest. Commit. Realize. Or just enjoy…

Needlepoint Flask Smathers & Branson, special order C. Orrico

The people who make the crazy needlepoint belts also do flasks, which is a fun and wonderful spin on what is traditionally metal and optionally monogrammed. Instead, you can pick your look: sports motif, school logo, skull & crossbones.

By special order, it takes a little time, but is oh-so-worth-it!

Lavender Martini Soap Simply Eden

It relaxes and brisks you! Unbelievable how something so unwinding can make you feel kinda exhilarated at the same time. But this unbelievabley smooth, melt on your skin, then wash away bar of goats milk soap is completely organic, hand-turned and intoxicating smelling. Small batches, so order early… & tell them the Yummy List sent you, just cause they’re the friendliest people’n’we like’em!
www.simply-eden.com

The Singing Postman Delivers John Prine

Before he was “discovered” by Kris Kristofferson, the self-titled debut that made him the first new Dylan, John Prine was a postman with an eye for what no one else saw – or at least acknowledged in conversation. His songs – about old people, vets broken and addicted, kids without fathers, wives whose husbands were withdrawn, coal mines strip-mining heaven on Earth (or at least Kentucky) – touched a vein in people who hadn’t forgotten the difference, just missed it in the getting by.

This two cd set (for the price of one!) captures Prine’s first real recordings, done after an interview for Studs Terkel’s radio show, and a set at the 5th Peg, where the postman always sang twice (a night, actually!). It shows an innocence, a will to connect, a gawky kid with a poet’s heart and an eye lensed with deep empathy and compassion. Charming in an “aw shucks” way, this is the root of America’s greatest writer, startlingly developed, absolutely small town, hometown and at peace with it.