Once Upon a Time…

ac perch tea room Long ago and far away, in the ancient city of Copenhagen – the land of fairy tales as imagined by Hans Christian Anderson – lived a man named Niels Brock Perch who opened a tiny little tea shop in the very old part of the city called “Christianshavn”, where ships from exotic places like China, Ceylon, India, Japan and Africa would arrive with goods to be traded and sold.

A man with great vision for opportunities that sailed into port, Mr. Perch couldn’t have known when he opened A.C. Perch’s in 1835 at Kronprinsensgade 5 that it would still be a purveyor of tea – from some of the finest plantations and gardens around the world – 180 years later. Read more

Adele: More Than Words

Please note: this piece was also published in On Being.

Adele news articlesWhen it comes to Adele, it’s difficult to find something new to say. She has broken nearly every music record imaginable, received close to 100 music awards and has proven with her latest album, 25, that she is not just a one-hit wonder – that her talent runs exceedingly deep, touching something poignant in the hearts and souls of a fan base that increasingly defies categorization.

Yet, for all the interviews and articles on her music, approach, style and personality, capturing the essence of Adele and her music is surprisingly difficult. To string together a list of adjectives, to make comparisons and analogies, to use memes, gifs, videos or quotes somehow seems inadequate.

Her music is soulful, heartfelt, rare and real – and is undoubtedly “once in a generation” material – but it is also so much more, forcing us to reckon with an unattainable, mysterious quality that only adds to its allure. Read more

Please note: ATG is “traveling” along a rosy “ridge” in a distant “realm” of sparkling light. We’ll be back at the “table” December 7th.

“A meal doesn’t have to be like a painting by Raphael, but it should be a serious and beautiful thing, no matter how simple…[w]hat nicer way for a family to get together and communicate? Which is what life is all about, really.” – Julia Child, as found in “Thanksgiving, The Julia Child Way“, New York Times, 2015

Julia Child Quotes

Ghosts, Goblins and Great Decorations in The Big Apple

“They call it the ‘Big Apple’ because that’s how big our apartments are!”
–Billboard on the Hudson River Parkway, NYC (2012)

Halloween in NYCAnyone familiar with New York City knows that tight, close quarters and a small amount of personal space is a sacrifice that must be made for living in what has been deemed, somewhat ironically, “The Big Apple.” Indeed, on a 13.4-mile island populated by 1.6 million people, space is a luxury that many – though not all – can’t afford, which is why New Yorkers are often compelled to get a bit creative.

Such creativity is witnessed firsthand while strolling through the neighborhoods of Manhattan in the weeks leading up to Halloween. With a truly limited and “tricky” amount of space to work with, the elaborate displays, spooky props and ghastly décor that line the stoops, gates, stairs, windows and doors of many apartment buildings is rather impressive – and a pleasant “treat” that lifts your spirits to the festive fun of the season. Read more

Mistress America: So Much To Be, So Little Time

Mistress America Movie ReviewNoah Baumbach’s latest film, Mistress America, is an unexpected delight first and foremost for the abundance of laugh-out-loud moments and the many quotable lines delivered in Woody Allan-esque, rapid-fire sequences.

A classic “coming of age” story set in New York City, it follows Tracy (Lola Kirke), a freshman and social outcast at New York City’s Barnard College who finds herself captivated by the seemingly glamorous life of her soon-to-be 30-year-old stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig), only to become disillusioned by the fact that Brooke’s life isn’t as “together” as it appears.

What makes this film particularly brilliant, however, is its ability to capture – with a rare, authentic awareness – both the exhilaration and lamentation of the endless career possibilities available in today’s world of entrepreneurial pioneers. Read more

#Kindness4Colleen, Kindness For All

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

Colleen Ritzer legacyThe above quote, attributed to the Lebanese-American author Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) most well known for his book The Prophet, has always been one of my favorites. Serving as a counterpoint to a prevailing cultural ethos that too readily equates strength with acts of self-empowerment and self-aggrandizement, it is a reminder of a “quieter” strength, one that doesn’t seek the world’s attention and approval, but instead manifests itself in acts of humility, sacrifice and loving kindness when no one is looking.

While I did not know her, and was made aware of her only recently through a friend, I get the sense that Colleen Ritzer – a Massachusetts native and high school math teacher whose life was tragically and mercilessly stolen from her at the age of 24 – was one of these people. Read more

The Perfect Homemade Cookie for Any Occasion

“Sometimes me think, ‘What is friend?’ and then me say, ‘Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.” –Cookie Monster

Homemade chocolate chip cookie recipeOne of my favorite childhood memories is baking homemade cookies with my mother. Standing on a wooden stool next to her in the kitchen, she would measure the ingredients and allow me to pour them into the bowl before mixing. The best part, of course, was sneaking tastes of dough along the way and licking the bowl clean at the end.

Thanks to her loving guidance, it wasn’t long until I was baking them on my own. From chocolate chip to oatmeal raisin, sugar and molasses, lemon butterscotch and more, I have baked over hundreds of dozens of cookies for dozens of people and events throughout my junior high, high school, college and, now, early adulthood years. Read more

Shining A Hopeful Light on Usher Syndrome

Usher syndrome symptomsWhen I think of Emma, my 1-year-old niece and goddaughter, I think of her big, bright blue, angelic eyes. They are staring up at me, at seven months old, trusting, innocent eyes that eventually succumb to the spellbinding power of sleep in the arms of someone she had not yet come to know.

I remember thinking how miraculous it was that, at such a young age, babies could not only convey a feeling, thought or emotion with one simple look, but could gaze so deeply, so intently, as if, for a moment, they were imparting years of life wisdom that we typically only acquire with age.

It was her eyes in this moment that flashed through my mind as I learned three months later that her hearing loss would not be the only challenge that she would come to face. That what had once seemed like an unlikely possibility had revealed itself as a new reality when the test results diagnosed her with Usher Syndrome – the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness that affects about four babies in every 100,000 births. An inherited disease, it is thought to be responsible for about three to six percent of all childhood deafness and about 50 percent of deaf-blindness in adults. Read more

James Harrison: Wise Words From A Man of Steel

James Harrison Participation trophiesI imagine that one of the most empowering aspects of being famous is the ability to have your voice heard: to fearlessly and boldly share your thoughts and opinions knowing that people are listening and responding on a national or international level.

While their qualifications to speak on certain topics and issues can at times be questionable, the influence public officials have is truly immeasurable, stirring a debate or movement with a simple act, speech or – in the case of James Harrison, the NLF linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers* – a post on social media.

This past Saturday, the notoriously aggressive professional football player used social media to lambast “participation trophies,” writing a paragraph-long post explaining that trophies should be awarded based solely on merit, not for simply trying. Read more