Ten Small Words

Several years ago, I posted about one of my favorite sites: http://www.headbutler.com. At Head Butler, you can find reviews of books, music, movies and products. Head Butler is Jesse Kornbluth, a magazine journalist who loves all things cultural – he sees himself as sort of a cultural concierge. He’s my cultural idol.

He always seems to find something new and fresh to share. My intention as well; but I am not as good these days at putting myself into the thick of things.

That’s why, every week, I devour his email.

A few weeks ago, I was struck by the column below. What stood out for me, in addition to the story he tells, are the 10 words he hears in a song- Am I a Blessing to Everyone I Meet?

Straight to the heart.

Check out his post (recopied here for your ease) and then click through to his site. Sign up. Perhaps there will be something you see that will enable you to answer, Yes.


It-s embarrassing. No, really, it-s humiliating to admit this, but somebody wronged me in 1989 and I still haven-t dealt with it. I-ve tiptoed right up to the door of a conversation I need to have with this person, a close friend who very nearly cost me the best job I’d ever had, but I-ve never taken the final step and told her that I know what she did and asked why she did it. I have my reasons — I mean: I have my rationalizations — and first among them is that I have, from day one, known why she did it: She was desperate, there was something she had to have, and it made no difference what lie she had to tell about a close friend to get it.

One could have compassion for someone so over her head that it didn-t matter who she had to burn to survive. But for more than two decades, I haven-t been able to forgive this person. When I think of her — and it-s not often — I-m suddenly sitting on a powder keg of fury, with no way to locate compassion or forgiveness.

In a moment like that — a moment of loathing for her and self-loathing for myself — I heard a song from Brandi Carlile-s new CD, –Bear Creek. That Wasn-t Me.- It-s about addiction — not hers — and dealing with it, and that person changing, and friends wanting to believe in that change. It-s about love and compassion and hope, emotions that Brandi Carlile can access with astonishing speed. [To watch/hear the video, click here ( http://headbutler.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=WZxhdQGhAAEAAA2iAAZIhw ) .] Of course I bawled when I first heard it — the way I know something is Art is that it makes me cry — and I got teary all over again the next dozen times I heard it. So I stopped playing the CD. For a never-before reason: It was too good. [To buy -Bear Creek- from Amazon, click here ( http://headbutler.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=WZxhdQGhAAEAAA8qAAZIhw ) . For the MP3 download, click here ( http://headbutler.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=WZxhdQGhAAEAAA_8AAZIhw ) .]

But now there-s been an event — you don-t need the details — that has reminded me of this long-distant betrayal. And the wrong done to me has been gnawing at me. Often. So, seeking solace in somebody else-s drama, I put on -Bear Creek- again. And, in -That Wasn-t Me,- I heard the words fresh: -Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?-

And you know what? I don-t. It-s not obvious that I don-t, because I can fake it as well as anyone in this city, but it became very clear to me that as long as I-m holding onto this bile, I-m treating everybody I deal with just a bit more defensively than I ought to. That-s got to stop. And I-m gonna stop it.

Why tell this story?

I-m not minimizing the importance of entertainment — life is hard, a good night out is to be cherished — but some entertainers are healers as well as performers. And over three CDs, I find qualities in Brandi Carlile that are worthy of admiration. Healing qualities. And not, I’d bet, just for me.

 How do you MindFULLY decide to change a behavior? Let us know!

The Cultural Concierge

Bored with what you’re reading, listening to or seeing at the movies?  No time to research, no one to ask and plum sick of looking to Oprah for the answers? Well, look no further…Head Butler is the site for you! Think of Head Butler as your own “Cultural Concierge”!


I discovered Head Butler awhile back, quickly subscribed and now eagerly await new recommendations every week. Why wait? Well, as many of you  know, I love a good coincidence. As such, one summer, when we had  just returned from Aspen where we were delighted to hear Josh Ritter, my favorite musician, perform with Grammy-award winning violinist, Hilary Hahn, I was lamenting on how no one knew of Josh.  The following week, Head Butler wrote about him — they loved him as much as I did — and I have trusted HB recommendations ever since.  I was so excited and found more to learn of as I dug deeper and deeper into the site.

Head Butler was created by Jesse Kornbluth. So beyond a coincidence, why trust Jesse’s recommendations? Because…he’s  been tracking down and writing about quality culture for decades. He’s been a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, New York, Architectural Digest, Reader’s Digest, The Los Angeles Times Magazine and Departures, and a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times, etc. He’s written several books and co-founded Bookreporter.com, now the hub of the Internet’s most successful non-commercial book network.

And btw my friends,  Josh Ritter is also amazing. In 2006, he was named one of the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” by Paste magazine. He has been compared to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Leonard Cohen. He has a new album out this week, So Runs The World Away. You can take a listen at http://www.joshritter.com/ and link through to NPR. They’ll be streamlining the album for a few days. You can also read Jesse’s interview with Josh on Monday at www.headbutler.com.

Summer is a great time to  stock up on good books, new music and culturally cool stuff. I encourage you to toss Josh’s CD in the car (my personal favorite is Animal Years), try one of Head Butler’s book/movie recommendations and kick back and enjoy the long days of summer. Believe me, there is so much to discover, you’ll wish they never ended.

Let us know which Head Butler recommendations you choose for a MindFULLY creative summer!