I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Sponsorship Note: Canadian Club did not pay me to post this. I wish they had. I would even take payment in kind.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The composer becomes world famous for writing one love song, yet he is seemingly unable to communicate his feelings in person to the love of his life, singer Rita Valladares, who also provides the voice of his song. Over time, Levis meets many people, including at least one love, but Rita is never far from his mind. Mr. Hijuelos fully understands the nature of love. And of longing. That rarefied sort of longing that extends over the long-term. For example, who has not had the occasion to temporarily replace the aching desire for another person with food or wine? Levis poignantly describes a meal with George Gershwin at the [still extant and glorious Inglaterra Hotel] in Habana in 1930...
During his life in pre-war Cuba, Levis participates in anti-government activities directed at Cuban President Gerardo Machado.
It had been a night that ran counter to the notion that "life is short", the hours moving so slowly that I would remember it for the dense and weary prognostications that came over me, ever so sadly, from some distant place, deep and dark as the heavens at night, over which I had no control.
Levis moves to Paris, where he eventually meets his love's new love. Again, time seems to be deflected or warped in some way by the void created by sadness and intense longing. Who has not felt a wringing emotional void after meeting a love's new love?
Later, when they had left him, Levis remained in the cafe drinking wine until dusk, and then he reasoned it was a good time to switch to a fine grade of Napoleon brandy, for there was something about the drinking of such a liquor that created the false but reassuring impression of more time passing than actually had, a few hours in the waning day, shifting like a continent of moments, so grandly, that weeks or even months could have passed. His last memory of that evening was of devouring a roasted pheasant with fried potatoes in a bistro near the Bastille, then of sitting on a metal bench along the railings of the Pont des Arts and daydreaming as he watched the lamp-lit reflections on the river, quivering like his thoughts.
The progress of Levis' life, as so masterfully rendered by Mr. Hijuelos, makes a satisfying and memorable reading experience. I will close this review with one further passage, describing how Levis feels when he is in Valladares' company. Who has not felt this way? Who could have ever described the feeling in this fine a manner?
This is a very simple issue. If you love to read, read this book. If you love to live, read this book. If you love to love, read this book. Don't share my shame a moment longer for not having done so long ago.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
This time of year has its own special sound track. When my ears want a mix of Latin, Cowboy, and some R&B music to fit into the withering heat and cool it down a bit. In that vein, may I present The Epic Summer Sound Track:
1. Jazz Samba, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. Depicted above. Just looking at the album cover tells you all you need to know. It does not get any cooler than this. Not one but two cuts of Destifinado make this re-mastered CD a must have for any summer sound track.
2. Astrud Gilberto's Finest Hour. The silky "original" [meaning first heard by me] version of The Girl From Ipanema is worth the cost alone, but Corcorado [Quite Night Quiet Stars], So Nice and everything else on this compilation will smooth out any sort of summer day. Or night.
3. Buena Vista Social Club. Just because. When the heat is melting, sometimes the only thing to do is to make it hotter.
4. BWB, Groovin'. This fantastic modern jazz album by a talented trio led by Rick Braun adds some kick to any summer day. Like the lime in a Cuba Libre. The silky title track must be in every summer play list. Add "Ruby Ruby" and a smoking hot cover of "Lets Do It Again" with Dee Dee Bridgewater and you have one great album that will take you through any broiling day. Or week.
5. Cowboy Songs, Michael Murphy. When it gets hot and dusty outside, there is nothing better than some classic American cowboy music. Not country music, mind you. The Original. Cowboy music. Listening to "Spanish Is The Lovin Tongue", "Streets of Laredo" and other perfectly performed gems of this unique genre makes you thankful you don't earn a living on the range in summer and they conjure up just the right mood for being in the hammock at least.
6. Best of The West, Buck "The Big Man" Helton. Re-read what I wrote for Cowboy Songs. Then put it in the context of a fellow with a great voice that makes a living singing and reading poetry at cowboy festivals. His versions of "Cattle Call" and "El Paso" are spot on and put you right in the shade of a mesquite tree with a shot of Tequila. To the extent that a mesquite makes any shade, that is. This album isn't easy to find, but you'll be glad you got a copy when you do.
7. Dreamer, Eliane Elias. Talk about your perfect summer voices. Covers of "Call Me" [the Petula Clark hit, not the movie sound track cut from American Gigolo...for goodness sake trust me, will you?], as well as perfectly styled tunes like "So Nice" and "Dreamer" will move your mind from where ever you are to the coast of Brazil. Or, after listening to the album a dozen times in a row, you can listen to something else and just stare at the cover. It works for me.
8. Frances Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Because, even in summer, you can sometimes slip into the Wee Small Hours and need just the sort of songs to take care of you. They are all here. The Girl From Ipanema, Quiet Night Quiet Stars, Once I Loved. Just make sure you really need it before you open this bottle, pally.
9. Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Because sometimes the only answer to the summer heat is to take it to gonzo level. All the way. The clips of Johnny Depp from the movie embedded in this album are worth the price. Come to think of it, get the DVD of the movie too. It's summer, after all. Take a chance.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I think she is waiting for me to stroll down that sidewalk after a late lunch and a couple of tots of Calvados. So I can pass by, smile, and tip my hat. She may think I am overly friendly. But then again, I've been waiting fifty years to see her.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Come to think of it, better pack two bottles of the traditional motivational juice. I'll see you there. Someday.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
An airport bar par excellence. Great atmosphere. Great food. An amazing scotch and beer selection, including a new favorite...
Belhaven Twisted Thistle. Belhaven is a Scottish brewer and my favorite of all time. Their Twisted Thistle is similar to an India Pale Ale and was a very happy find inside a busy airport at the end of a rather long day.
Brewers' Subsidy Note: Neither The Pub nor the Belhaven brewing company paid me anything for this post. I wish they had.