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Food

NOº 5372

30 Things I Love Right Now: [11.18.13]


(1) Sirens. (Please see above.) | (2) Avatars. (Ibid.) | (3) Which is to say: this. | (4) Cooking and teaching. | (5) Cooking and teaching as ways to learn. | (6) Rest! | (7) This. (Which is to say: Ezra. Which is to say: inspirational strangers.) | (8) And this. | (9) Hoaxes. | (10) Goofing on Elvis (hey, baby…) | (11) Having fun. | (12) Yellow pants. | (13) The Thousand Yard Stare. | (14) The Five o’ clock Shadow. | (15) Which is to say: Andy Kaufman. | (16) The Letterman morning show. Back in the day. | (17) Letterman, whenever. | (18) Zatir. | (19) Slow-cooked pork and apples. | (20) Mist in the valley behind my house. | (21) Every piece of clothing I own, washed and folded and put away. | (22) Dirges. | (23) Singalongs. | (24) Green olives. | (25) Getting ready to teach Life of Pi. | (26) Knife skills. | (27) The Improvisational Cook by… (28) Sally Schneider. | (29) “Improvisational cooking demands that you shift your thinking, or at least temporarily put rigid notions and fears aside. This is true learning: gaining information and, more often than not, success from being willing to make mistakes and a mess or two.” –S. Schneider | (30) Making a mess. Or two. (Or ten or twenty. Etc…)  

NOº 5289

30 Things I Love Right Now: [09.29.13]


(1) Open-window weather. | (2) Hemingway burgers. | (3) Slaw. | (4) Fried potatoes. | (5) Baked beans. | (5) Mac-and-cheese. | (6) Which is to say: semi-impromptu potluck. | (7) As envisioned and executed under the influence of the Y-chromosome. (Or something.) | (8) Joni Mitchell. | (8) Specifically: Court and Spark. | (9) The Arcade Fires. | (10) Long-sleeve evenings. | (11) Rejection notices laced with hope (We hope you’ll try us again…). | (12) Trying again. | (13) This particular gray-smudged sky I am watching out my window right now. It’s not a summer sky. | (14) October, the promise. | (15) The slender, almost translucent green grasshopper on the window screen. | (16) The prospect of reading a book through the late, gray afternoon. | (16) Big mixing bowls. | (17) Lentils. | (18) Rye bread. | (19) Not knowing what to do and reminding myself that I don’t have to know what to do right now. | (20) Capers. | (21) Lester, the spry old guy in my neighborhood, who takes multiple walks per day, twirling his cane like it’s a mace and he’s a drum major. As if he is mocking the whole entire concept of canes. | (22) The chatter of a few kids playing in the middle distance. | (23) Soon: soup-weather. | (24) How, for kids, having a favorite color is a non-negotiable. You can’t abstain. You’re not allowed. | (25) The Tillie section in Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin. | (26) All the recurring wire-walker sections in Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin. | (27) Leitmotifs. | (28) Early Sunday morning grocery shopping. | (29) Simple staples. | (30) The peculiar, particular nesting strategies of my spry old dog.

NOº 5215

30 Things I Love Right Now: [09.08.13]


(1) Sports. Watching them. | (2) Specifically: tennis. | (3) Specifically: Rafael Nadal. | (4) Also: John McEnroe, the tennis commetator. | (5) And Martina Navratilova, the tennis commentator. | (6) Sports. Memories of playing them. | (7) Specifically: getting my ass whupped at tennis by my friend John at the Saratoga tennis courts way back in the day. (Time heals all wounds.) | (8) Pizza Deliverance by the Drive-by Truckers. | (9) Specifically: “Uncle Frank.” | (10) Also: “One of These Days.” | (11) Cream sauces. | (12) Pork loin. Cilantro. Lime juice. Garlic. Together. | (13) Roasted garlic. As a staple. | (14) Sunday morning. | (15) Sunday afternoon. | (16) Sunday night. | (17) The Redskins on Monday night. | (18) “Poetry as Empowerment” @ ASFA on Monday night. | (19) DVR. | (20) Rhythm and Repose by Glen Hansard. (Again.) It’s very good. | (21) Project: Mersh by the Minutemen. | (22) A big glass of cold, clear water after cutting the grass. | (23) Football highlights. | (24) Fruit compote. | (25) Blackberry jam. | (26) A simple cheese sandwich. With mustard. And cheese. On a nice, crusty roll. And that’s it. | (27) Ireland. (Again. Still.) | (28) Recurring characters. | (29) A novel-in-stories. | (30) Confluences. Creative ones.

NOº 5140

30 Things I Love Right Now: [07.28.13]


(1) D. Boon. | (2) Mike Watt. | (3) George Hurley. | (4) Double Nickels on the Dime. | (5) We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen. | (6) Jamming econo. (“We’re trying to show people we’re alive and that’s about it. I wish that was enough.” — M. Watt, c. 1985) | (7)History Lesson — Part II.” | (8) Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground by Michael Azerrad. | (9) Stuart-Jason-Don. Also: (10) Stuart. | (11) Jason. | (12) Don. | (13) Also: The Lodge. Its equidistance. Its much-needed sanctuary for the likes of me. | (14) Beets. Lord almighty. They bleed, yo. | (15) Television. (As in the scourge of society, not the influential American proto-punk band of the Nineteen-Seventies. Surely its own sort of lovable scourge. I’ve heard good things. Haven’t got to them yet though.) | (16) This crazy show Chopped. Can’t stop watching that shit. Love it. Almost as much as beets. | (17) Cut grass. | (18) Peaches. | (19) Skirt steak. | (20) Coffee. | (21) Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, The Indie Label that Got Big and Stayed Small by John Cook with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance. | (22) Terrence Malick. Good lord. Which is to say: (23) Days of Heaven. | (24) The Tree of Life. | (25) Libraries. | (26) Reading what I want to read, all day. | (27) Sleeping late. | (28) Try 101. | (29) Gratitude lists. Which I didn’t know was a thing. Which shows you how much I know. | (30) Praying, actually. Like, on my knees. With my hands together and my eyes closed. Like I mean it. Which I do. Turns out “thank you” is a prayer. Maybe the prayer. It doesn’t eliminate shortcomings or failures. It does help put them into perspective. FYI.  

NOº 4052

30 Things I Love Right Now: [c. 07.14.12]


(1) A crowded cafe. (This crowded cafe.) | (2) Rudimentary recording devices. | (3)The Weight” by The Band. | (4)Little Bird” (still) by L. Hannigan. The words. (Which are) “…dug from the rubble, cut from the kill.” | (5) Rush! (Still. But/and rediscovered.) | (6)Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats. | (7) Seasons within seasons. | (8) This bit of wisdom: keep your heart where your feet are. | (9) Grape leaves. | (10) I’ve said this before but: walking. Everywhere. (“Keep your heart where your feet are.”) | (11) Complicated and somewhat misleading thing to say but: being unattached. More unattached. Less attached? Something. | (12) Gray skies, cool temps. | (13) Reintegrating. | (14) I’ve said this before but: my dog. | (15) Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. (From this crowded cafe.) | (16) The next 30 Things I write will be from/in Alabama. | (17) Surfaces. Textures. Distressed ones, especially. | (18) Repetition. | (19) Time. | (20) A good bucket. | (21) A good mop. | (22) The Lures. | (23) Sign(al)s. Physical. Metaphysical. “The heart is built for both, it seems.” (Thank heavens.) | (24) Ambient sound. | (25) Making choices: what I will carry with me and what I won’t. | (26) Moving pictures. | (27) Matinees. | (28) Influences that you (I) didn’t remember but that are undeniable, indelible. | (29) Sailing into destiny… | (30) Closer to the heart.

NOº 2035

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: “30 Things I Love Right Now” Brought to You By the One-and-Only Jason Slatton


1. This gentleman, and the junkstore attic that is his mind. New music from him is a thing of rusty glory. Old music from him is, in fact, the same thing…
2. Arugula: Peppery, bitter, sort of tough, and sheer freaking bliss in a straight up salad mix…even better in an omelette, tempered with asiago, white onion and some pepper. The pissed-off little brother of greens, if I may…
3. ELO’s Eldorado: I was obsessed with it when I was 10. Recently found a copy on vinyl, and am spinning it while I compile this list. With the windows open, and the soft September air filtering through the room, I realize that very little of my collective sensibility regarding music has changed. This, by the way, is a good thing. You know what this sounds like, right? It’s ELO, fer chrissakes. A little grandiose, kinda claustrophobic and dense, hooky, and Bev Bevan’s drums sound like heaven. Or the way heaven might sound were it a drum track. Uh…yeah…
4. The Catcher In The Rye: What this really means is that I love navigating this book with my students — I’m now on my second year of this. They laugh, shudder, grow contemplative, nod, affirm, re-read sections, maybe grow a little angry or disturbed, i.e. what you should do when a good piece of writing knocks you around a little…
5. Alternate guitar tunings, particularly those found here. I’m sort of hung up on BEBEBE right now, which accounts for a bit of Nick Drake’s catalog. Meditative, restorative, and some kind of path, I think, meaning a path toward a greater truth. Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy  also traffic in these circles. Which leads me to…
6. Nick Drake: We (being my gal and I), spin a lot of Nick Drake ‘round our house, near constantly, but most certainly this time of year. His entire recorded output won’t even take up your whole morning (depending on what time you get up, I guess), but he’s more or less created the whole of a universe in his songs. The less hyperbole regarding Nick, the better. So…
7. Five Leaves Left (1969)
8. Bryter Later (1970)
9. Pink Moon (1972)
10. Jorge Luis Borges: I’m working my way through his collected short stories right now (some first reads, some re-reads), and am finding that I have to suspend (or perhaps throw out entirely) all the things I assume a short story (or, in totale, fiction) is supposed to be. I can thank Tim O’Brien, who read an excerpt of “The Aleph” to an audience of nerdy writer types I was a part of at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference a few years ago, for steering me toward this guy. I guess this leads me to…
11. Tim O’Brien: I don’t love him, er… “right now.” I sort of, well, continually love him, and the places that his writing directs me. A few writers have left me pretty wrung out of late when I finished one of their books: Kazuo Ishiguro, Virginia Woolf, and Mr. O’Brien. I’m re-reading “The Lives Of The Dead” tonight, so really this entry should be tweaked a little…
12. Antiseptic yet oddly wonderful Muzak versions of pretty okay Freedy Johnston songs from 1994 when heard transmitted through drug store sound systems in the mid- to late-afternoon, circa 2011. There are other artists that fall under this classification, but Mr. Johnston is the most recent, inadvertent offender. A good melody can shine through the most saccharine arrangement…
13. Fitful sleep: The dreams I had after taking Melatonin just last night for the first time. I rarely sleep fitfully, and can only gauge how well I slept by the width and breadth of my REM activity — upon digesting one chalky little pill, I soared across treetops, and lit midnight candles in cavern-like belfries that listed without foundation on top of dark oceans. Also, I swam with Scout, our recently deceased cat of well-deserved legend, in a nighttime lake. We would dive to the silty bottom together and chase fish. K. was there, too, wielding a flashlight to help us in our endeavors. She (K.) can corroborate this story…
14. Pepper. Lots of it. Freshly ground. Always. On every thing. And crushed red pepper. On pasta. Any kind of pasta. And this stuff
15. An odd documentary I just saw about one Winston Watson, onetime drummer for Bob Dylan, helmed by Mr. Watson, revealing loads of ephemera regarding rehearsals, touring life, and random, odd Bob-isms. All that to say: history is often found in the footnotes, and not in the headlines. So, a link. Really, it’s pretty great, and I’ve seen this guy play live. He’s a ferocious drummer…
16. Bass lines, any and all: McCartney, Jameson, Hood, Weymouth, Wilson, Squire, Stinson, Jones, and more. I always go in this direction when I’m driving and listening. Always. Can’t help it.
17. Battlestar Galactica: I don’t want to embarrass K. on this one, but we began streaming the new version of this show on Netflix Labor Day weekend, and we’re sort of hooked. We’re not nerds, really. It’s the requisite 2000’s dystopian vision of the future, but one that is nuanced in such a way that it also becomes a resolutely dark, troubled, disturbing vision of post-9/11 America. This is the kind of thing that Harlan Ellison would probably get behind, if only because he probably came up with most of these ideas LONG before 9/11, and maybe even the seed of the idea that is Battlestar Galactica (my evidence: The Starlost). Amazing writing, photography and character development in this one, though. So…
18. Harlan Ellison: …and, really, an early collection of his called Stalking The Nightmare. Oh, dear God, this book rearranges my DNA still. My mom bought me this when I was 15. I in turn become 15 again whenever I crack in to it…
19. Oof. This. I agree. Then I don’t. Also, Robert Smith is way older than you are, so respect is due…
20. Something I’m absolutely (1) waiting, and (2) socking away cash for...
21. The Guardian UK and all attendant editorial tangents therein, like this one. And Mr. Lydon’s book Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs. To my way of thinking, he’s sort of punk rock Alan Sillitoe. Or John Osborne
22. François Couperin: Discovered via Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life, Couperin is responsible for the rolling, tumbling piano piece that shows up, if memory serves, twice in the film. Though this was music composed for the harpsichord, I think the piano version we hear in the film is from this, so thank you to Angela Hewitt if it is indeed you. All the pieces on this album are like odd, miniature pop songs, almost, or as some folks have suggested, “tone poems.” They have some of those flowery, trill-y, Baroque conventions, but tend to push off in another direction entirely. He was also pre-disposed to give his compositions strange, evocative titles like “The Mysterious Barricades.” Dig it. Special thanks to D. Gilliland for the “oh, I think that might be Couperin, maybe…” moment…
23. Harry Nilsson, in particular, his 1971 album Nilsson Schmilsson: Part of this is born of a recent screening of the documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? Producer Richard Perry relates in the aforementioned doc that he and Harry were trying to make an album that would be as good as any Beatles record. It’s no secret that they (John, Paul, etc.) were rabid fans of Nilsson’s work — his songwriting, his uncanny harmonic sensibilities, his almost schizophrenic ability to shift voices, sometimes within the same song. One thing to note here: Nilsson was fluent in Tin Pan Alley, power pop, soaring balladry, dark, paranoid R&B…and I mean to say that he knew few limits when it came to song composition. He was also a bastard, a misanthrope, a drunk, a genius, and a tornado of love, tempered with a lot of madness. Who aspires to this man’s catalog and talents these days?
24. Urban bike rides: By this, I mean bike rides that have me out for several hours, winding through the city. Weekend roadbiking in Birmingham is a thing to be cherished; there’s often very little traffic, and I’ve found as we move toward fall, more people are just out there, living, walking, riding, breathing. It actually feels like a real city, as opposed to a decaying semi-city left empty from a late-70’s spate of “white flight.” Today found me circling Legion Field, touring Norwood, hitting all major downtown avenues, and winding back through Five Points for a stop at Camp Taco. Birmingham drivers are still in-part resistant to something as simple as a two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicle, but they’re slowly coming around. I’ve ridden in a couple of major American cities, and every year we get a bit more navigable, hospitable, livable. Good on ya, Birmingham. If you want to really see a city, see it from two wheels. So, then, this:
25. Camp Taco
26. Most anything this guy does. However, if you want just one to start with, I recommend a book he edited with Greil Marcus called The Rose & The Briar. Or Bob Dylan In America
27. The lyric: “I know what I know / I’ll sing what I said / We come and we go / That’s the thing that I keep in the back of my head.” Look it up…
28. Blue Diamond Almonds: Every variation available (Wasabi, Sea Salt, etc.).  Unmitigated beauty, sublime, resilient.
29. Mbaqanga. Re-issued in anthology form. Thank you Strut Records
30. The odd feeling of “completion” I have upon wrapping up this list. Oh, and mid-Sunday afternoon naps while listening to Jonas Starker’s cello ring through the house.

NOº 1050

Sacred Text: “Eating Well for Optimum Health” by Andrew Weil


I have learned firsthand how the body can change drastically depending on what it’s given for fuel, and this book is the primary source of that knowledge/experience. One December more than a decade ago, after a twelve-hour drive from Virginia to Alabama, and a steady diet of French fries and cheeseburgers and sodas along the way, I pulled off the highway and into one of Tuscaloosa’s sundry strip malls to buy a book at a mega-bookstore. (Books are — I think I may have mentioned this — a salve for me.) I ended up buying two: the very first Harry Potter book and Eating Well for Optimum Health. I can’t remember precisely why I chose to pick the book up in the first place, but it must have had something to do with the queasy feeling in my stomach, the concomitant throbbing headache I had been nursing since northeast Georgia. I just didn’t feel right and I blamed it (not erroneously) on the food I’d eaten that day. (more…)

NOº 964

Sacred Text: “Saving Yourself from the Disease Care Crisis” by Walt Stoll


Okay, first a disclaimer of sorts: Walt Stoll can come across as a curmudgeon at times — even a crackpot — but his critique of modern medicine is difficult for me to simply push aside. If you or someone you care about has had any experience using the conventional medical system to figure out what ails you/him/her, particularly if there’s been some level of difficulty in finding a diagnosis, you’ve likely come to this conclusion: Western medicine is pretty good at diagnosing and treating some conditions (typically acute ones: broken legs, infectious diseases, etc.) and not so good at treating others (typically chronic ones, like autoimmune disorders, that tend to be extremely sensitive to diet and lifestyle choices). Nowadays — due in no small part to less curmudgeonly figures, such as ol’ Andy Weil — this is almost a mainstream view, and you can find a good number of conventional medical doctors who, for the most part, hold it to be true. So far so good. (more…)