An impromptu short list of soul-fillers, deeply appreciated in the absence of daily radio life.

  • The eventual, consistent smiles when strangers understand my t-shirt in the featured image above.  Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a s’more as it chases itself down?  I love how completely clueless the graham cracker is…just stupidly going along for the ride behind the maniacal chocolate.  The marshmallow doesn’t stand a chance.  Nor should he.
  • The outro from Frank Ocean’s “Self Control,” off the blond album…oh my god.  The emotions.  The lyrics are great (once understood and decoded a bit; the man has consistently surprising depth), but it’s the layered vocals, with that perfect reverb.  The detailed nuance of each sung syllable.  The phrase matching he does as tracks of himself are added.  5 Franks?  6?  It’s so inspired, feels so loose and raw, while being beautifully executed.  Clean.  Powerful.  This song owns me right now.
  • The Rainbow children’s soap/clay from Lush.  So fun for 6 year old Rubin to mold, squeeze, lather, crumble under running bath water, and wash himself with.  He learns to conserve a cool product so he doesn’t waste it, and I get to teach him the word disintegrate. And Lush gets a deserved plug for being the amazing company it appears to be.  Win-win-win.
  • The reprise of “Solo” from blond, featuring the incomparable Andre 3000.  It’s so fast and flowing, enunciated in efficient machine gun rhythm. But his content is king.  It’s funny, thoughtful, empathetic to women, and angry at some young whippersnapper rap pretenders who don’t write their own shit.  The track stops cold when you want a lot more.  He’s one of the best rappers alive, whether he’s offering product frequently or not.
  • This World Cup.  Holy hell, the speed and skills on display from the likes of France’s Kylian MBappe.  The malleability of Paul Pogba’s game, and how he has happily accepted a less flashy, but sorely needed, set of midfielder duties in the French team’s two-way game.  The statuesque grace of Belgian goalie Thibaut Courtois, who shouldn’t be as agile as he is for looking like an awkward 7 foot tall 11th grader. Every 4 years I fall in love with soccer all over again, but intermittently I never choose to engage in Premier League or anything else.  So I am the quadrennial target of innumerable think pieces; “IS THIS FINALLY THE TIME THAT SOCCER IS GIVEN ITS DUE AND GROWS IN AMERICA BLAH BLAH BLAH…”. Save it. I am very happy with my current soccer intake.  I genuinely, curiously give a shit twice a decade. And right now I can’t get enough of it.
  • Tracks 2 through 8 or so from Courtney Barnett’s “Tell Me How You Really Feel.”  Especially, “Nameless, Faceless” with kindred spirit Kim Deal on backing vox.  She’s sung it live at a festival with both twins from The Breeders.  Barnett is the best thing going in her timeless brand of minimalist, direct punk-infused rock songs. Plus she’s funny as hell, and has just the right level of disdain in that deadpan delivery.
  • The ingenious Fuego propane grill.  It has a 20” x 20” footprint that makes city balcony life much more comfortable.  And every inch of the cooking surface conducts heat equally.  It’s also gorgeous, designed by a guy who designed Beats By Dre. Been making lots of veggie burgers for me and my girl.  But last night while she was out of town I made a steak rubbed in one of the awesome spice concoctions via Stoner Rock BBQ. The “Not So Gentle Butcher’s Rub” was incredible on a bone in ribeye.
  • The wherewithal, schedule, and savings to enjoy an afternoon watching the World Cup with this view:
  • I watched France-Belgium while enjoyably bleeding chips at the 2-5 game at The Shoe. There was eventually more tv, and less of this guy.

  • In succession I have been consumed by the songs “Nikes,” “Ivy,” “Pink & White,” and “Solo” on the aforementioned blond by Frank Ocean. I hereby declare it the best album of 2016. Who cares if it took me until summer 2018 to know it.  Sue me.

Sometimes you don’t ask for a radical change of professional life, but you look up a few months later and realize how much you’ve had time to notice.

Gratitude.  Always.  Surround yourself with people and experiences that remind you to stay in touch with it.

Written by Matt Spiegel