Are these the dog days of summer? I’m pretty sure they are. Beware of cranky writers and yoga teachers.
SOMETHING I’M LISTENING TO: BULLY
Never underestimate the power of having young adult spawn to keep you current on all the latest and greatest. Case in point: Bully. It was about two years ago when my (then college-aged) kid told me about this four-piece, alt-rock, grunge-tinged, in-your-face band out of Nashville. He had caught one of their shows at the iconic Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and gave me the clear directive to “not miss them” if they came to Seattle. Lo and behold, a few months later I was near the front of the room at the 200-capacity Barboza in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. I walked out after Bully’s hour-long set, ears a-blaze and a newly-minted fan. Lucky for us–two years later–last week it happened again. Freshly signed to Seattle’s Sub Pop records, Bully came to town to play a one-off show at Ballard’s teeny-tiny Sunset Tavern. First, let me tell you about The Sunset: it’s like in high school where that one house had the basement where all the really cool kids who were musicians and misfits would hang out and have legendary parties that you were never really invited to but inevitably always heard about afterwards. That’s The Sunset. Complete with a mirrored disco ball and a tiki bar tucked in the back of the low-ceilinged intimate space, it is one of the best places to see live music in Seattle. Every time I’m at The Sunset, I feel like I’m at a secret show that no one else knows about (well, besides the hundred or so other lucky folks) and I swear Eddie Vedder brushed by me at a La Luz show there.
Okay, but Bully. Fantastic. Led by lead singer/guitarist/chief songwriter, Alicia Bognanno, Bully is exactly what we need right now. They’re loud and raw with a bit of smirk and sneer without being dour. In today’s pop-culture climate oversaturated with the preening likes of Ariana Grandes and Katy Perrys, Bognanno is a breath of fresh air. Beautifully unselfconscious with a voice that careens from sweetly melodic to a hair-raising growl of a scream that would make Dave Grohl envious, she leads Bully like a boss. And she’s brilliant, too. Holding a bachelor of science degree in audio engineering, Bognanno went on to intern at Steve Albini’s Chicago recording studio, Electrical Audio, and managed to make a helluva impression on Albini. Bully was born shortly thereafter and the rest is history. Upon hearing the news of their Sub Pop signing, I got really excited. The bands on Sub Pop’s label come from all over the world, but once they’re a Sub Pop band, I immediately grant them honorary Seattle band status. I hope this means we’ll be seeing a lot more of Bully around here. They mentioned that they’ll be returning in February to promote their new release and my fingers are crossed that they’ll play at an all-ages venue. Your young daughter needs to see Bully. Your young son, too. You need to see Bully. We all need to see Bully. Come out to see Bully in February and I’ll buy you a drink. Promise.
SOMETHING I’M COOKING: FRANGIPANE
I’m a writer. I love words and they way they sound and roll off my tongue. Some words I say over and over and over again because it’s so much fun to do. Just ask my family. Frangipane is one of those words. Frangipane, frangipane, frangipane.
Frangipane is basically a fancy way to describe anything (usually a dessert) made or flavored with almonds. Most summers, when I find myself with an embarrassment of fresh raspberries and I’ve made enough freezer jam to withstand a zombie apocalypse, Raspberry Frangipane Cake is one of my go-to desserts. I’ve often thought if I were to open my bakery one day, Raspberry Frangipane Cake would be a star attraction. Simple to make, it is a moist, dense single-layer cake made with fresh raspberries and almond paste. Don’t let the almond paste scare you off. You’ll find it tucked away on a lower shelf in the aisle sporting flour, sugar and spices. Look for the cans of ready-made pie filling. DON’T EVER BUY READY-MADE PIE FILLING. But look around there, and you’ll likely find a little can or box of almond paste. Once you’ve recovered from the sticker shock, buy it anyway and go home and make Raspberry Frangipane Cake. You’ll find the recipe here. Use a cheese grater to grate the almond paste before mixing it into the butter. Then, write me and tell me how your life will never be the same again after your frangipane experience. You’re welcome.
SOMETHING I’M DOING: TRANSITIONS
Ugh. Transitions. People arriving, people leaving, births, deaths, graduations, moving from here to there, there to here and back again. Life is one big transition. And transitions can be a bitch.
This is where my yoga really comes in handy. In the style of yoga I predominately teach and practice–vinyasa–we move smoothly from one position to another. Well, at least that’s the plan. It takes practice (show up) and awareness (pay attention) but the payoff is huge. At the end of the day (or month, or year or longer) we develop a practice that is less herky-jerky and more fluid and breath-focused. We pay attention to the space between the poses, the transitions, and we notice our reactions, our habits, our impulses. And yeah, most of us want to get from here to there just as fast as possible. It’s like we believe the holy grail of happiness lies in that next pose, that next phase, that next rung on the ladder, that job, that house–anywhere but in the space between. So we rush and stumble and get sloppy and careless in our attempt to grasp the next thing. SLOW DOWN, I often implore my classes, especially those classes filled with yogis who know just enough to get a little mindless. Watch where you’re going, I remind them, but be here now. Like, right here, in between the poses, muscles shaking, sweat dripping. I know it’s uncomfortable, but do it anyway.
Me, I have a daughter headed off to college. I have an empty nest waiting for me. I have a son who came home, moved to the east coast, quit a job, got his old job back, came home for a hot minute and flew the coop again. The Mister flew off to Puerto Rico for a movie, flew back home and left again. He came home this past Friday, six weeks later. I feel like I’m at a crossroads, a place between here and there. A place rife with potential for learning and growth, if I can just pay attention. “What are you going to do now?” friends like to ask me. I’m not sure, I tell them. My yoga practice has taught me to be okay with this discomfort. I’m strong enough to tolerate a little squirming in that place between, in that land of not-knowing. But one thing I do know: I’ll pay attention and when that next rung of the ladder comes, I’ll be ready.
Seriously, though. I’ll buy you a drink at the Bully show.