Notes-ish: Louisville, Kentucky

The worst part about traveling for an extended period of time — at least in terms of physical discomfort — is not not getting to sleep in your own bed. Anything is a bed if you’re tired enough.

It’s not eating fast food 24/7. You can life hack your way to some fresh veggies from Subway and sprinkle some extra onions on your Wendy’s chili.

No, the worst part is the shower.

Every shower is different. Think of your own shower and imagine trying to tell someone how to turn it on. Here’s how my written note to a guest would go:

“OK, so the tub is really long so that’s why there are two shower curtains here. You could just open them from the middle where the shower curtains meet, but it’s better to open the curtain from the end closest to the water knobs. Because from that angle you can reach the water knobs in a way where you won’t get shot with water when you turn the shower on. OK, then, start with the hot water knob. It’s the one on the left. Turn it just a centimeter. The water pressure is low but that’s good because it’ll be crazy, like burn your arm, hot in about five seconds, which is why you need to then quickly go to the cold water knob, the knob on the right. Turn it hard and fast to the left but not all the way to the left or there’s no turning back. Why not turn on the cold water first? Well then the hot water never seems to have a chance to catch up and you’re screwed taking a cold shower. Again, no turning back. If you want to adjust the water pressure during the shower do not touch the hot water knob. I repeat, DO NOT TOUCH THE HOT WATER KNOB. Just kind of jiggle the cold water knob a little and you’ll get there. OK, so when you’re done, just turn them both to the right again and then take the dry washcloth on the sink and use it to turn them even harder to the right so they turn completely off… ENJOY! THANKS FOR STAYING!”


How many times have you prayed that you don’t have to ask the home owner to turn on your shower for you like a big baby?

Further adding to the awkward panic is the fact that you’re also naked at this point. You hadn’t thought about how you would turn on the water, just that you needed to get under its running stream.

Luckily my Airbnb shower in Louisville, our first stop on a 3-state Lo-Class tour, was one of those ones that required just a turn of the knob and an adjustment or two for perfectly kosher water temps.

But if my time in Louisville was any indication (and maybe it wasn’t; I was only there for a night) it wouldn’t have been a problem if the shower was temperamental. Because everyone was so nice.

They’d probably help no matter what. Even if you were half naked in their strange home sheepishly nodding toward the shower like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Gallery K & Coffeehouse
Gallery K & Coffeehouse in Louisville’s Germantown neighborhood.
My coffeehouse work companion.
My coffeehouse work companion.
Gallery K's DJ delivering the hits.
Gallery K’s DJ delivering nothing but the hits… and hits of nostalgia.
Cool art and couch.
Cool art. Cool couch. Hot coffee.
I liked the back of the sign better than the front.
I liked the back of the sign better than the front.
My heart may still be in Old Louisville.
My heart may still be in Old Louisville.
They're serious about their nostalgia here. The first show on the tour was at this awesome little '80-themed sandwich place called Slice. Lots of reading materials for visitors, like the VHS jacket for Valley Girls that beckoned proudly, "Introducing Nicolas Cage."
They’re serious about their nostalgia here. The first show on the tour was at this awesome little ’80-themed sandwich place called Slice. Lots of reading materials for visitors, like the VHS jacket for Valley Girl that beckoned shamelessly, “Introducing Nicolas Cage.”
The Eggy Pop. (Did I mention it's '80s themed.) Deviled egg salad, tomato and spring greens.
The Eggy Pop. (Did I mention it’s ’80s themed.) Deviled egg salad, tomato and spring greens on wheatberry.
Hey, boys.
Heeeeeey, boys.
Gotta put this on my "to Google search" list.
Gotta put this on my “to Google search” list.
Are we not men?!
Are we not men?!
My girl made the cut.
My girl made the cut.
"My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met." That's all for now, folks.
“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.”
That’s all for now, folks.

List-ish: Five Awesome Moments in Pop Cultural Coffee

Happy National Coffee Day!

Everyone claims that non-holiday holidays like this were started by the correlating industry and card companies in order to get you to buy more of your stuff; however, I think these holidays were started by social media managers needed content and hashtags in order to make their brand, product, company seem Just Like You TM. This site says it’s also World Heart Day and National Biscotti Day.

Thus, I’m feeding into the hype. Here’s to coffee. Without which, I’d be the soggy, soul-crushed, non-productive animal I truly am. Now where can I get some biscotti to dip into you?

Most Ridiculous Outfits Worn While Serving It

Winner: Roseanne in Roseanne

Runner up:  SNL Coffee Talk


The Americana housewife apron, girly colors and sexy ruffles looked so wrong on Roseanne it was so right. Especially for a show about the changing structure of families, women and work.

Most Wonderful Repeat References to It

Winner: Twin Peaks

Runner up: Gilmore Girls

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. And a slice of cherry pie. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

The mundanity and simplicity and homeyness of “coffee and pie” is an intentional contrast to the topsy-turvy, mysterious world of Twin Peaks — where home is anything but “Home.” The contrast is meant to confuse your deepest subconscious even further. That’s if the most unsettling scene in TV history didn’t already do it for you.

(I almost don’t want to publish this video on my blog. It is so quietly discomforting. Hands down the most disturbing thing I’ve ever Netflixed. And I have watched some weird stuff. Shiver.)

Best Oldies Song About It

Winner: “Cigarettes and Coffee” by Otis Redding

Runner up: “No Sugar” by The Guess Who

This song’s about nothing and everything all at once — smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and talking about anything your souls connect on at 3 am with your lover. Otis Redding seemed to know the overlooked moments in life were the ones most worth singing about.

Most Random Correlation Between It and Chick Flicks that Defined My Adolescence

Winner: That Cruel Intentions Scene With the Escalator

Runner up: The She’s All That coffee shop reunion that happened in September

“I am colorblind. Coffee black and egg white.”

The escalator scene is memorable because of the escalator, sure, but I was always obsessed with the Counting Crows song that played with it. What an odd, perfect choice. The dissonance of the lyrics, the dissonance of losing your virginity. Imperfect. Beautiful. Strange.

Best Glamorization

Tie: Sex And The City

coffee-satc-2 coffee-satc-3 coffee-satc

Ladiiiies! Talking ‘bout flicking the bean while sippin’ on it. This show (and the proliferation of Starbucks on every corner in real life) was essential in making to-go coffee an everyday (sometimes hourly) experience in the early 2000s.

Tie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s


I mean, damn. Look at that: Of course this scene’s iconic. Holly Golightly made drinking coffee out of a crappy throwaway look impeccable — worth every 14-carat paper cut.

Inspo: Secrets in the pavement, Miley and Odetta, talking about poverty respectfully, and Tide by Tide

Walked-all-over love notes

I walk about two miles at least each day. To get around this town, you have to rely on your two feet and a well–curated podcast roll. While I walk, I see so many notes in the pavement. Every 15th square in the sidewalk has something wonderful written in it. I like to imagine how good the cold wet goosh must feel on your finger as you write your forever note.

But, oh, what to write? I agonize over what I would choose. I like this one:


Sometimes pigeons get in on the act. I hope their little bird feet are OK after walking through wet cement. Was this the grisly scene of a pigeon on pigeon murder? Was he forced to walk through this for botching a bird seed robbery and his pigeon body is telling no tales at the bottom of the river?


But mostly the notes are things like this:


I imagine a coupling announcement is popular because it’s the first thing that comes to mind. You probably don’t have a lot of time, after all, to cement your statement, lest it dry or a construction guy spot you before you get in your partner’s full name.

I definitely have a favorite gray graffiti message. It’s brilliant. But of course, as soon as I started taking photos of these to track my favorites, I couldn’t remember where it was.

For weeks, I sought this note as if I were Ahab and it my infuriating white whale. I was determined to find it again. I grew increasingly discomforted by how looking at sidewalk squares over and over again is a lot like writing a word over and over again — the reality of that thing even being a thing becomes completely fuzzy and suddenly you’re questioning if this word, this path, YOU! are even real.

And then one morning, the sky split open, and there she was, letting her brilliance rip and her blow hole spout gloriously on my morning commute.



Miley + Odetta = <3

I’ve always been on Team Miley. She reminds me of me as a wee young lad-y wearing sequins and ruining all the decent pictures with an indecent tongue thrust and generally just doing things that make most people uncomfortable.

Buried in the silly celebrity junk piled on top of Miley is the root of her story: She’s a really, really good singer. I love her smoky, badass voice. She’s country twang turned soulful pang. That voice is as drrrrrrty as dish water and I hope she never, ever cleans it up. Her recent cover of cover of Odetta’s “Baby, I’m in the Mood for You” with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon’s show knocked my sequin socks off.

Sidebar: Favorite lyric in this song:: “And sometimes I’m in the mood, I wanna live in a pony stall!”

Oh oh oh oh oh oh… Don’t miss the Odetta version either.

The importance of telling our own stories

Family Story is an incredible program started by activist Mia Birdsong that shares stories of people living in poverty, as told by the people living in poverty. The point is to show that the story we think we know about the lower class has countless more chapters that are rich with love, hard work and promise. The big takeaway though is that it’s most empowering to let people–of any circumstance–tell their own story. Her Ted Talk is just the inspiration you need on a Tuesday.

Word choice matters

Move along if the phrase “word selection” doesn’t get the bespectacled little worm inside your head to turn on his lamp light and sit up straighter in his velvet armchair.

OK, for those of you still here, I bought this pack of Tide pods on the right a few months ago.

Having done enough laundry to need new pods (hooray, adult choices!) I picked up what I assumed was the same product.


Well, it is, but there’s one very important difference on the packaging.

Older version = Brightener


Newer version = Color Protector


Ah-ha! I don’t know if one version is newer or older, but I think “Color Protector” is such a subtle but smarter word choice for this aspect of the product. “Brightener” makes me think it will brighten my clothes, which is not good for certain colors. “Color Protector” makes it seem powerful but neutral—instilling a sense of need for this piece of the formula that “Brightener” just doesn’t evoke.

With a “Color Protector” I feel like my skivvies are free to be whatever color they want/ were born to be – and, really, that’s all this modern girl wants.

Inspo: Gene Wilder on creativity, words in a Bronx hotel, and new audio goodness

Gene Wilder shares why he is creative

Gene Wilder creeped me out as a kid. Willy Wonka as a man is pretty strange, even to adult me. But the movie sparked particular fears of abandonment and guilt over seemingly innocent but reckless behavior. Like, was that little cowboy kid and his mom stuck in the alternative universe forever?! What kind of kid’s movie is this?? No follow-up. No nice little bow wrapped around its candy-coated package. Oh, we are not in Disney movie land anymore are we? Literally no happy ending here. Just a sort of OK one. Also, you couldn’t get that golden ticket without luck and relying on luck, even as a child, seemed wasteful.

That’s what made Gene Wilder so special though. He was thrilling more than anything else. The way her performed archetypes you thought you knew could make you feel a new way about them or about a situation. Even things you were pretty sure you had a firm grasp on, he could shift your vision of them a degree or two: Frankenstein, Hitler, candy.

After he died, this clip made the rounds on my social media pages. Tick, tick — shifting how you think about what makes you creative. It’s pretty perfect.

A Bronx hotel

I’m in NYC for a commercial shoot and my team is staying at a hotel with some gem-y copywriting moments.

Like this line on the room key card. “It’s not a room. It’s a Residence.” Technically, yes, this is a Residence Inn, but it’s also indicative of how the rooms feel. Good line. Subtle but effective.


If you’ve stayed in a hotel in the past five years, you’ve seen signs asking you to reuse your towels so you can save water, power and, presumably, the environment. So, it’s not really necessary to say why anymore, but hotels should still give direction on what to do with your towels if you don’t want to have them washed each day. I like that this copy gets that message across in a new, clever way.


I saw this poster in the hotel elevator. The 4, 5, and 6 are names of trains/subway lines and the hotel bar made drink specials based off this for $4, $5, and $6. In a place as overdone as NYC, sense of place can still be fresh and unexpected.


Audio goodness

My new favorite podcast: The Author’s Voice / New Fiction from The New Yorker.

Authors read their short stories that have recently been published in The New Yorker magazine. Of course the caliber of short fiction is top notch, but it’s interesting to hear the author emphasize certain words or read dialogue quickly that you might have read slowly. It adds a whole new level of character and, thus, intrigue.

This one’s great: “My Purple Scented Novel” by Ian McEwan

And so is this one: “The Bog Girl” by Karen Russell

It’s like having a stockpile of audio books without having to wait to be in your car to listen to them. One CTA ride with silvery voiced Ian McEwan in your ear, and you won’t even notice the talking hot dog riding next to you. (Yes, I’ve been in Chicago six months and have already ridden the train with a talking hot dog. I love it here.)

New favorite album: “And the anonymous nobody” by De La Soul

Yes, De La Soul is back thanks to huge financial backing pulled in by a Kickstarter campaign. That makes it interesting enough (they got $600k from fans to make this ablum). But damn the music makes me feel like smoke rings puffed from jade-hugged dope.

Love it. Spotify it. They still got it.

Inspo: Coffee shop branding, an Olympian you’ve never heard of, and “Dick Cheney”

Two Hearted Queen

Funny story. One time when I was about, eh, 14 maybe?, I got a brand new writing desk! It was so exciting and I couldn’t wait to sit down and make a magazine. (Kids these days will never know the incomparable joy of getting to spend study hall flipping through an issue of Cosmopolitan or Vogue, pilfered from someone’s mom’s coffee table. Magazines represented all the possibilities of life after high school. A few years later it would be SATC that we all obsessed over, imagining all our fabulous lives could become if we could just get out of this town.)

I outlined the sections and wrote fake articles and even a precocious little Q&A with a teenage business owner who had “Made It and You Can Too!” I designed the front cover and had little cover lines to go with each of my stories.

THEN. I had to come up with a name for my little book of womanly dreams! I called it “Queen.” Because, you know, every woman should know they are a queen or something.

My mom, happy to see me enjoying my new writing desk, came in all Miranda Priestly. “Queen,” she informed me quietly, was a term applied to men who dressed like women and I should maybe just forget the whole thing.

THE SHAME! I tore up my magazine and threw it in the trash. Not because I was weirded out by men dressing as women. Whatever. They could probably be a target demo for Queen magazine and we could share clothes. But I was so bummed I disappointed my mom by not knowing what this word meant!

Alas, old wounds, old wounds.

But that dumb story makes me love Two Hearted Queen for sentimental reasons. All queens welcome!

The Chicago coffee shop’s branding makes me love them for creative reasons.

Every time you order, you get to make a royal draw. You pick a card from a deck and if you get the queen of hearts, your order is half off. Here's the loyalty card. <3
Every time you order, you get to make a royal draw. You pick a card from a deck beside the register and if you draw the queen of hearts, your order is half off. Here’s the loyalty card. <3

th email list th homepage th tale of two hearts

And their iced chai latte with whole milk makes me love them for taste bud reasons.

Looks like I made it to the Queen magazine dream after all.

Located suspiciously close to a cleaners. Cinderella is that you? #queen
Located suspiciously close to a cleaners. Cinderella is that you? #queen

Wrestling wisdom

Helen Maroulis is the first American to win gold in women’s freestyle wrestling at the Olympics. A lofty accomplishment in and of itself, but the best part of her story is that to get it, she defeated Japan’s Saori Yoshida, a fully packed powerhouse who has only lost twice in her 14 years of stepping to the mat.

Maroulis seems like such a rad chick. There’s wisdom behind that takedown. Look no further than her answer to a question of if she was upset about the media focus on Ryan Locthe’s bro ass instead of her accomplishment (which is why you probably didn’t hear about her big win).

“I didn’t come here to win a gold medal for the media attention. I didn’t come here to win a gold medal in order to find something within myself or some peace within myself. I found that self-worth before I stepped in the mat. I think that’s why I won the gold medal.

Like the old saying goes, one has to love oneself before one can topple a Japanese wrestling legend.

“Dick Cheney” writing for This Recording

This oldie but so-fucking-goodie about the TV show “The Americans” starring Felicity Keri Russell popped up in some social media sphere of mine the other day. I can’t for the life of me remember who posted it, so I must just assume it was a gift from the writing gods. A reminder of what is possible despite the repetitive drudge of pop culture writing in an era of clickbait and masturbatory bylines.

Some greatest hits:

“In which we attempt a vision quest of the first order”

“In which Jared Leto’s existential crisis troubles us all”

“In which Felicity did it for her country”

This whole lede:

dick cheney this recording

And these amusingly astute first few sentences and then the heart-wrenching child psychology in the follow-up. Damn, Dick:dick cheney this recording 2

Inspo: Words in the fro-yo parlor, Kadenze, and the 1936 Olympics

Frozen Yogurt copywriting

frozen yogurt

Thirsty fro-yo is the tastiest fro-yo.


This online course provider has been around for a while, but I recently enrolled for a few courses as an auditor (meaning I don’t get any certificate or college credits but I can watch all the course videos and access any additional resources for free).

The classes are led by instructors or professors from elite arts colleges and universities. It’s an excellent resource for broadly exploring creative subjects or software. I love that there are options like this available to 1) continue to democratize education and 2) give prospective students an idea of whether or not to  pursue a field of study. Having a featured professor is a great non-traditional marketing tool for the educational institution as well.


My next class is “Comics: Art in Relationships.” I’m no illustrator, but I’m looking forward to hearing a professional break down how this powerful form of storytelling lives and breathes. Check out all the upcoming courses here.

The 1936 Olympics

When you need a break from watching the actual 2016 Olympics (*cough* biking *cough*), check out these two documentaries about the foreshadowing games from 80 years ago.

America’s nine-man rowing team beat the pruned-to-perfection Germans in the race for gold, but more interesting is their story of getting there. This ragtag group of hard laborers turned college boys defeated the East Coast’s upper crust crews and overcame a whole lot of personal struggle spawned by the Great Depression to become the team to represent that States in ’36. In an era when potential American Olympians are plucked early for glory grooming, it’s fascinating to hear a story of regular blue-collar boys working together to become bonafide athletes—athletes who gave, if even for a second, Hitler and his Nazis a sense of doubt of their disgusting illusions of superiority. (Watch the entire American Experience episode here.)

Jesse Owens did this to Hitler (and a very racist America) too. That’s the story most of us know from this Olympics. The documentary Hitler’s Olympics on Netflix gets into a few others, including the fact that the relay with the torch that we still do today was a Nazi Germany invention and not one of Ancient Greece. There are also, obviously, sad and scary stories of Jewish German athletes intimidated into telling the national press that they were being treated kindly and then, eventually, stripped of the chance to compete, even though some of them were breaking records in the trials. A few got redemption much, much later, but most didn’t, their lives taking violent turns soon after the games ended. The least we can do is remember their stories today.

Inspo: Hawaii, real talk, and Real Simple


To be fair, I’ve been having Hawaii-inspiration as experienced by a Midwestern white person (I recognize that my “Hawaii” isn’t a complete picture of this land and its people).

Maybe it’s because it’s summer but probably mostly my interest is because a new Poke restaurant opened up near my apartment. Poke is a Hawaiian dish that means “fish salad,” which sounds disgusting but is the opposite. The restaurant near me has awesome branding. It’s subtle. Laid back. Surfer cool.

808 = Hawaii's area code.
808 = Hawaii’s area code.

Monday through Funday.

aloha funday aloha instagram

Just read it... ;)
Just read it… 😉

I’ve watched this documentary with an incredible ending. It’s on Netflix now.

“Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau”

I’ve been running along Lake Shore to The Ventures.

And yowza I am wasting the crap out of my time clicking through photos of Hawaiian life post-statehood (1959).


It’s fascinating how the two cultures (native Hawaiian and white American) converged — and how they didn’t. It’s a rich time capsule of imagery, depicting a way of life that’s now lost at sea. How many stories there must be in aging upper class memories from a time when the idea of vacation and leisure travel were taking off … of supper clubs and shrimp cocktails and real cocktails and luaus and forbidden loves and changing social construction under a tiki torch glow.


HOME Podcast’s “About Us” episode

I’ve been listening to Home Podcast for about six months. Holly and Laura are such a breath of fresh air to sobriety discussions. Their stories feel young and familiar (I am so very, very much a Holly), and they present sobriety as something that’s quite the opposite of deprivation. If you’re trying to get control of your life and want to open the door to possibility instead of Groundhog Day-ing through one of pain (regardless of what you want to be sober of), listen to every episode of Home. I can’t recommend the thing as a whole enough. However, this episode is one that was especially revelatory in terms of human emotion and relationships—beyond sobriety and modern spirituality. The girls talk about their friendship and what they struggle with personally in being the other’s friend. It’s such an honest and frank look at how real relationships are challenging and ever evolving but oh so absolutely worth it; I also love the nuances in here of having friendships that mostly happen via technology and how that influences the way we communicate as friends in the modern era. Any writers doing research for a book about female friendship set in 2016? This is full of wonderful, raw, brave material for you. I love these women for being so open. #friendcrushforreal

Real Simple’s article style

Any time a magazine finds a new way to present and idea or a story that’s been covered a million times before, I’m into it. Print journalists are particularly challenged because they can’t just have a book full of lazy listicles, which is what so many of The People presumably want nowadays. The Atlantic is one of my favorites for creative and innovative photo illustrations, and Real Simple is one of my favorites for presenting helpful but old information in new ways.

Recently, I was drawn to this article with a hook-and-heighten approach. Readers want to feel like you’re providing them with something useful. By highlighting what they already know and then delivering something they don’t know on that subject, the reader retains the information better and feels like they just learned something proactively (versus being talked at with information). This article’s impact wouldn’t be the same if it were just a list of the new facts.
real simple
This article inspired the format for a freelance piece I recently put together for a wedding magazine; I think the approach works particularly well in lifestyle categories, where readers or consumers already have a solid foundation of understanding about your content but want to learn more.
(An aside that this particular article conjures: I always say I must have missed the day in class where we learned about percentages because I’m 100% sure I do not understand how to use them. The same could be said about the lesson of why you take your shoes of in the house. There’s more than just mud or dirt on them—there’s probably poop and maybe e-coli and definitely other disgusting invisible things that you’re traipsing all over the floor that you’ll probably nap on in the next few days. WHOA?! I’m sure someone tried to teach me this basic element of sanitation but I wasn’t listening. I had other places to be in my brain; probably with an imaginary Hawaiian island loverboy… no one puts baby in a corner without her dancing shoes on.)

Inspo: Words on the Street, Chicago, and the poetry of Penny Dreadful


CLE Don't Stall CLE Going GOing Gone

Take me out to the bathroom, am I right? Coming at ya from Jacob’s Field Omar Vizquel’s Castle Progressive Field in CLE.

Progressive Field

There’s no jazz hands in baseball!

a league of their own no

This is the menu for one of five salons within three blocks of my apartment. Gotta stay competitive. Who knew waxing could be so fun?

Wax services


I’m obsessed with this city. Steady. Pulsing. Strong. Brass. Balls.

Penny Dreadful

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

  • (mindfulness circa William Blake)

For the love of all things unholy, have you watched this Showtime series? It’s on Netflix and I finished two seasons in a week. Sultry, smoldering, steamy, and spooky—it’s got everything *and* Josh Hartnett. Plus, the beaten down prostitute Brona Croft turned femme fatale man killer Lily Frankenstein story line is EVERYTHING.


I turned the subtitles on to watch Penny Dreadful (same with Peaky Blinders) because those damn accents, and the pleasure of viewing is amplified by reading the lines. The language has transformed into a character itself as I watch. It’s hard to imagine living in a time as terrible as Victorian London, but, silver lining here, at least they had the time and sadness to memorize Yeats and Blake and Shakespeare!

The show’s recurring use of the song “The Unquiet Grave” has haunted me for days. I know that tune from my days as a kid in the Catholic church. But these were definitely not the lyrics. Shudder.

My breast it is as cold as clay,

My breath is earthly strong;

And if you kiss my cold clay lips,

Your days they won’t be long.

How often on yonder grave, sweetheart.

Where we were want to walk,

The fairest flower that ever I saw

Has withered to a stalk,

When will we meet again, sweetheart?

When will we meet again?

When the autumn leaves that fall from trees

Are green and spring up, again.

List-ish: Five reasons Rocky IV is the best movie to watch on any holiday

So this movie doesn’t even belong in the line to register to take the Bechdel Test, but no matter. It’s a holiday and that means your brain and social responsibility can take a vacay.

It’s not just the Fourth of July on which this tale of Russia v. Rocky/USAUSAUSA is appropriate. Nay, this is a fun romp for all the biggies: Christmas, Easter, Halloween and New Year’s Day.

1) While it would seem to any mere mortal who hasn’t watched this movie at least 10 times that this is just a boxing movie about avenging a friend and healing two countries’ wounds and ending Communism in a one-two punch, they would be giving it too much credit but would also not be wrong. It’s also a movie about personal ethics, personal power and personal growth delivered on a gold platter crafted from Dolph Lundgren’s manically chiseled sweaty abs. God bless America.

2) There’s a robot! Not just any robot: a robot that appears to babysit the children while all the adults are away. And not just any children: the child of Rocky and Adrian AND his friends. Like… how did that happen? Did the parents just drop off their pre-teen sons to a robot in an apron and say, “I’ll pick him up after the child in your care’s father is beaten to a pulp half a world away, Robot. We’re going to Chi-Chi’s.” Isn’t that silly? Answer: It is. And it was put in the plot with no real explanation and approved by hundreds of people who make movies for a living. The robot is just a device for humor-kind-of and nothing about it beyond that was really thought out.

This. This is the world we live in and it is absurd. That is comforting confirmation of all of the ridiculousness you feel is taking place outside your living room and second bag of Doritos; comforting confirmation by way of a sassy robot with no real purpose. In the movie biz, we call that an easy pill to swallow on holiday.

3) Montages. So. Many. Montages. The best is the training juxtaposition of Rocky doing the old-school, hard-knocks method and Drago jamming and juicing in what looks like a soviet laser tag arena. The scene is set to a sweet little diddy called “Hearts on Fire” by John Cafferty. Literally the whole song. That’ll boot the holiday tunes that have been on repeat since fall right on out of your pretty little head. How many montages are too many? None because this is America but also Russia but also the world and that matters and that’s what we learn in the end. Confused? You’re not alone. NONE OF US ARE ALONE.

4) James Brown sings as Apollo dances in a top hat and sequin jacket. Then he dies. Spoiler.

5) “You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine. He’s a man!” I genuinely tear up every time Duke delivers this line in the final fight. Whatever is happening tomorrow, when it’s time to take your PJs off and act like a “real” person, you too can conquer the world. Or at least a 6-foot-five doped up Russian. Which, let’s be honest, is what the first day back to reality always feels like.

Inspo: Words on the street, Roberta Flack & The Coasters, OH at Belmont Harbor


I tattooed your dad.
I tattooed your dad.

Yas. Mr. Knuckles bringing the word power. I’ll remember his name because of that saying more than yet another sticker of a Sailor Jerry-style pin-up.

BP Sign

You know who didn’t hit empty? Whoever wrote this.

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I’ve been feeling the seventies lately. I recently watched the CNN series about the decade on Netflix, but I think a lot of my obsession can be attributed to how perfect music from the seventies is for summer weekends spent trying to not give a fuck. I love this Google Music playlist, “Boogie Nights Pool Party.” The description about as fun.

Also feeding my seventies obsession: Gravel Ghost Vintage on Instagram. #outfitgoals

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Cats and cassettes

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Down in Mexico

I heard this on a long car commute recently. It’s one of those songs that you forget about and then when you hear it again you think, “Why does this never make my mental Top Ten Most Favorite Songs of All Time/ Jackie’s Life list?” The lyrical cadence takes me to another place entirely. A memory maybe. The best kind of memory.

Here’s another obscure hit I adore for its lyrical ability to transport me somewhere sweaty. Happy summer, lovers.

Overheard at Belmont Harbor

Free to a good screenplay about a curmudgeonly octogenarian who walks with his wife by the water every Monday to feed bread crumbs to the seagulls.

“It’s terrorism. But it’s relatively far away. The average American doesn’t know about it. We’re the only people who read three newspapers every morning.”