Sep 24 2012

Music Monday: Nirvana

21ccd83b5593ecaed7b7b09b5bcfa2aed935b208Apparently Nevermind was released 21 years ago today. I remember when Dash, Dolly and some other friends road tripped to Boston for fall break, they came back with this CD. It had blown their minds in the car and I distinctly remember Dolly loading it into the six CD changer in our living room, pressing play and letting us listen for a minute before saying listen to that bass! It made me giggle – partially because Dolly was talking like a boy, partially because the music sounded new and weird compared to all the classic rock we had been loading up on during those years and partially because she was totally right.

We were 21 – young enough to claim this album and this band as our own, but barely. For people who were teenagers and preteens in 1991, this is it. All of it. Hearing any song off this album out in the wild (and by that I mean out in the world) never fails to give me shivers. This is music by youth, for youth, of youth.

And just listen to that bass. Lithium.

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Sep 22 2012


The Heidleberg Project

I’m a Detroit girl. Well, not actually Detroit, per se – I just like saying that – but a suburb to the north. Still, Detroit was my sun as far as cities go. I orbited around, obliviously taking care of the business of growing up, with increasing plunges into the city itself as I started high school. Our brother school was a Jesuit high school called University of Detroit – U of D – and surprisingly, there was little effort to keep us Academy of the Sacred Heart girls away from the boys on Seven Mile Road. Not that it would have worked anyway.

Avalon International Breads, Detroit

Detroit is a fascinating city and in August when I went to visit my family with the kids, I got to bushwhack a little and experience it as a curious grown-up as opposed to a silly, clueless girl. Normally when I go home I sort of regress to my adolescent state – overcome by inertia, I feel like coccooning at my parents’ house, grazing my way through the pantry, watching tv and twirling my hair – maybe letting out a long dramatic sigh every once in a while.

santimeatI’m only partially joking. The truth is that now that the kids are older, I was able to see our visit home through a different lens. Detroit, in parts hopeless and beautiful, is no longer just a place to be ignored, the backdrop for youthful (and dangerous) shenanigans – it’s a place to explore. Just like any other city we would visit. And in this city, we’ve got contacts.

HeidleburgMy siblings live in town and as young adults figured out the city – the hidden gems, the rhythms, the fingerprints. My fairy godmother, Gretchen, is a veritable historian. Curious, intrepid and knowledgable – if there’s an interesting nook or a cranny with a story, she has found it, explored it and can tell you all about it. Sweet Juniper, a blog that’s been in my blogroll from the beginning, has been a lyrical yet honest peek into what it’s like to raise kids in the city; he describes a burgeoning arts and food scene, feral homes being engulfed by nature, mom and pop businesses thriving because of corporate America’s aversion to a high risk markets, empty lots being turned into bountiful and nutritious gardens.

She may be a broken down beauty, but she’s got plans.

emSo this time, in addition to long wine-soaked meals with my family, boat rides and swims in Pine Lake, celebrating two birthdays and squeezing my delicious niece, Manzanita, we did a little exploring. My top three highlights:

brickEastern Market: The mac daddy, grand poobah, god father of all farmers markets, this is the oldest market in the country. It’s colorful and urban and cool  - I liked it so much I went twice. Also Supino’s. Best pizza ever. Worth the wait.

dollheidlebergThe Heidleberg Project. Detroit was literally burning and out of the ashes rose the Heidleberg Project. Artist Tyree Guyton started to fight back with art and created an indescribable polka-dotted neighborhood. Watch this short movie about it – SO FASCINATING! I can’t believe I never went there before. This on my permanent and forever lists of places to visit when I go home.

saltwallFairway Packing Company. My favorite thing of all. Thanks to Fairy Godmother’s hubby, Cabezon, we got to go inside this temple of meaty beauty and see how it’s done. We wore white butcher’s coats and toured the dry age room with all the best cuts hanging out for the area’s best restaurants and clients. The Himalayan salt wall is stunning – a glowing work of art in and of itself. We bought gorgeous steaks, pork shoulder and brisket for the week’s dinners and parties and watched as they were broken down for us. Saint James was all eyes and quiet appreciation. Boy knows his good meat.

All of this was a round about way of getting to this recently released documentary. Detropia explores Detroit’s complicated and painful history, its rise and fall, mingled with the exciting, grass roots, outsider art fringey changes that are happening right now. I can’t wait to see it. I don’t think this sugarcoats anything, which is good – Detroit is better salty anyway.

Sep 19 2012


YouTube Preview ImageI’m a sucker for a good documentary and this one looks great. Musings, meditations and analysis of the most basic thing we all want: happiness.

The question of what makes you happy is a good one to ask and answer for yourself. The question itself kind of makes me happy because it’s a reminder that yes, we have some control over this. And frankly, half the battle is simply reminding yourself to look and then knowing where to look. It’s all around us – begging to be noticed so it can work its magic on our souls.

It’s the Jewish New Year and it’s also the new school year, so in celebration of new beginnings, here are some of mine in no particular order:

1. Loud music

2. Dancing

3. Feeding my family

4. Watching my dog romp with another dog

5. Soccer goals

6. My book club

7. A great pair of boots or jeans

8. Knowing that my siblings are finding their loves

9. When cousins get to hang out

10. Doctor Dash making pizza in a frilly apron

11. Two for one bloody marys and the ladies that go with them

12. The change of seasons

13. Children singing

14. Yoga

15. Tiny dancing

16. Cool graffiti/street art

17. Salty cured meats

18. When Saint James roams for hours on his bike with his buddies . .  and then comes home, winded and happy.

video via Cup of Jo

Sep 17 2012

St. Vincent + David Byrne = Brilliance

5050e120bea56.preview-620You know the saying about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts? What if each part is SO great that it’s hard to imagine what might happen if you sum it to anything at all? That’s how I felt going into this concert on Saturday night. I felt like anything could happen.

David Byrne and Annie Clark are a match made in heaven. Cerebral, off kilter, deeply musical, borderline geeky and profoundly cool – it is no wonder and also lucky happenstance that they ended up collaborating with each other. I think a lot of people thought that this was David Byrne’s way of launching a protégé, of holding up a worthy newbie and saying pay attention people – I am passing my baton of awesomeness to this woman! But I think their partnerships is more balanced than that.

He is the elder statesman (still smooth as silk despite a small paunch that was revealed when he took off his blazer) and she is young, but they seem like equals with a true creative relationship. Clark brings as much to the table as Byrne and that is an INSANE thing to say when you’re talking about DAVID FREAKING BYRNE! And not for nothing, there’s no baton passing happening. Byrne is not going anywhere.

Their album, Love this Giant, is heady and challenging. I gave it a few listens in advance of the show and there is nothing easy about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the concert. They had a giant brass band moving in carefully choreographed routines behind and around the two of them while we were blown away by giant sound, ethereal vocals and confounding lyrics. But the chaos started to take form and settle into these really cool songs that made sense to the ear. After that beautiful show, the album sounds way less obtuse. I’ve got it on repeat.

Personally, I think it’s flattering that they decided to kick off this tour in Minneapolis. From the moment they took the stage they were pretty much saying We’re doing this, people! Keep up! - also super flattering to an audience. And when I say flattering, I really mean lucky. We were lucky to be there, plain and simple.

I didn’t expect this to be a standing-up show and I’m so glad it was because we got to dance. How could you not in the presence of those two freaky dancers? I. Love. How. They. Move. Annie does this robotic shuffle that allows us to shelve her fashion model looks, for a moment, so that we can fully appreciate her art and her virtuosic guitar playing. David Byrne moves just like David Byrne. He simply dances – it’s a physical manifestation of his music, his body’s way of translating the songs. They are both without guile and clearly doing nothing to conform to anyone else’s idea of what something should sound like or look like.

They are both true originals. I’m so glad they found each other. Take a look at Who from their album and listen for those horns –  a simultaneously charming and bad-ass third voice on Saturday night. But you’ll see it’s Annie and David you can’t stop watching. I want more.

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Sep 14 2012


redshoesI love the beginning of the school year. Maybe it’s a residual feeling from my youth, but it always feels like a fresh start. New kicks, new box of crayons, new teacher, new tries for new things. I sense that my kids feel it too. Despite the protestations at the end of the summer, they seem game. They’re popping out of bed in the morning and bubbling over with stories in the evening (the girls are, anyway). Things are still settling into place – we’re all figuring out what to do, where to go and when, how to do it.

New this year is my drive to Saint James’ school at the crack o’. This is my view every morning. Sometimes those big red shoes slide off the dashboard and the sun visor goes down so he can check his hair, but mostly this is what I see. I drink my first cup of coffee, we listen to music, few words are exchanged.

Dash doesn’t understand why I didn’t pay for the bus to take him and I still might when the snow flies. For right now, though, I like this view a lot. This is found time with my kid. Last year, we were both asleep at this hour. Now we get fifteen minutes of hanging out blissfuly devoid of carpool boys, gnarly traffic and chatty younger sisters.

Saint James doesn’t realize it, but I’m gathering up these little blocks of time and I’m making a little pile and then I’m going to build something. And I think it’s going to be good.

Sep 10 2012

Music Monday: The XX

the_xx_blogSorry, friends of peevish – I know I’ve been missing in action lately. I’ll catch up soon, promise. For now, here’s this. A cool British band and  big fave of Dash and mine over the last year, this is chill out and maybe even make out music. It’s textured and rewards many listenings. Dig it.

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Sep 9 2012


Now that many of us are finding the time to actually have a thought . . .tumblr_m9znhg7D741rd9ln4o1_500

Via Lydia

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