Just Add Cello

Posted: 13th March 2014 by Tammy in Sounds
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Discovering new music to love is my most-loved passion, and any number of things can fuel the fire… A punk rock anthem that woos my inner riot grrrl. Lyrics that capture a moment more perfectly than has ever been expressed before. The four right chords that make me cry. A super-swank, ass-shaking bass line. A heartbreakingly beautiful symphonic addition to an otherwise rocked out arrangement (Remember my sort-of love letter to Smashing Pumpkins?). For me, it’s more about the something fabulous in that song rather than categorical love of a genre or artist. My latest find is 2Cellos, comprised of two Croatian cellists who break lots of boundaries. I’ll let some of their crossover work speak for itself, with their take on a few of my favorites:

Even Elton John loves these guys – he said, “I’ve never seen cello players play like this; I’ve got to have them in my band!” Elton John on 2Cellos.

Enjoy! I know I will.

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“Yes, Chef”

Posted: 2nd January 2014 by Tammy in Grub, Travel
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Long ago I was married to a man who embraced a life of chaos, incredible food, comaraderie that rivaled that of combat veterans, and a continual quest for excellence – and by that I mean the restaurant world. Rising from lowly grunt in a tourist town eatery to apprenticeships at four star hotels and the kitchen of what we’d now call a “celebrity chef”, he eventually achieved the status of Executive Chef…and then continued to sweat blood for his craft. His stories about that world were often riotous, gut-wrenchingly funny, or bawdy, but above all else they were rooted in awe of the bounty found in nature. Incidentally, “Kitchen Confidential”? It’s very, very real.

Because of this world that surrounded me, in the early 2000s I knew enough about food to be excited about an opportunity to experience the work of Marcus Samuelsson while on a trip to Minneapolis. Under the leadership of Samuelsson, a Swedith chef of Ethiopian heritage, Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant, had added to its original New York City location with restaurants in Tokyo, London (I think) and Minneapolis, the most Scandinavian of American cities. By this time I had experienced a lot of amazing food, and I was looking forward to Samuelsson’s unique melding of flavors from dramatically different cultures. To this day I can’t think of a single culinary experience quite as dramatic and unexpected as that one. My palate was actually shocked!

About two months ago I stumbled across “Yes, Chef”, a memoir by Samuelsson published in 2012. I snagged it, remembering what a great experience Aquavit had been, but put off reading the book, thinking it would be yet another braggadocious account from yet another celebrity chef. How wrong I was! From a simply human perspective, this book was a very interesting read, starting with Samuelsson being orphaned in Ethiopia then being adopted into a middle class Swedish family, to chasing an international dream and changing the way people (chefs, critics, and otherwise) think about flavors. He’s passionate, reserved, all too human, and almost single-mindedly committed to his craft. If you have a chance and are at all interested in food, exploring your roots, or embracing a culture and making it your own, check out this book. And if you’re in New York before I am and can visit Red Rooster (his latest venture), let me know how it is!

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Nanoseconds

Posted: 8th September 2013 by Tammy in Sounds, Thoughts
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Do you ever have a flash when ordinary life goes on pause and the disheveled, magnificent, screwed-up beauty of life is distilled into a slow-motion, love-letter-to-humanity moment?

I love those nanoseconds.

What’s even more amazing is that they can occur even in the midst of some of the not-so-great things that happen in life, like the end of a friend’s relationship, frustration with a loved one, or the anxiety of waiting for medical results. The fact that we’re united in our shared experience, and there’s hope and opportunity for renewal at every junction – that’s beautiful to me. Of course, I prefer the moments that come out of happy experiences, but regardless of their genesis, they’re all pretty damned near close to heart-stopping in their purity, clarity, and strength.

I was lucky enough to have several of those moments this weekend. Perfectly encapsulating those moments, tonight I heard two songs from Smashing Pumpkins, both of which have, for pretty much since the day they were released 20 years ago, always made me feel like I’m floating in space or the deep sea…which is (coincidentally) how I feel when those nanosecond love letter moments are happening. Serendipity.

Click to play “Luna.”

Click to play “Mayonaise.”

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“Driveway Moments” happen when you’re listening to NPR while driving, get to your destination before the story is over, and you stay in the car just to hear the end. I’ve had a LOT of driveway moments over the years, and I really love NPR for that, but this week I had one that will stay with me for a long time.

Run DMC was the first rap group to go gold, the first to go platinum, and the first to appear on MTV, Saturday Night Live, and the cover of Rolling Stone. Their work was fresh, exciting, and it broke down the boundaries between rock and rap.

Their music was an integral part of my youth, so when I slipped into the driver’s seat and heard Darryl “DMC” McDaniels on NPR, I turned the radio up, expecting an interesting interview about the music industry or an unknown facet of life with Run DMC.

Run-DMC At Montreux

What I heard instead was the deeply personal account of his struggle with suicidal thoughts, a multi-year saga of Sarah McLachlan’s music saving his life, and how everything happens for a reason. His story was poignant, improbably funny, and utterly inspiring. I stayed in the driveway for six minutes just to hear the end, ensuring the neighbors think I’m strange. Take 15 minutes and listen for yourself.

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You’ll be glad you did, I promise.

 

Essentials

Posted: 26th March 2013 by Tammy in Health, Thoughts

These things are essential even in the best of times…but even more so when things aren’t so peachy.

– Lots of music
– Physical labor
– Quiet time
– Endless puppy snuggles
– Wine
– A little quality time with good friends
– Work
– Sleep, sleep, and more sleep
– Time

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