Memorial Day

Memorial Day is more than cookouts and the beginning of summer. The day honors those who died defending our freedom and encourages us to reflect upon what, exactly, freedom means.

Poem for the War Dead

In the Spring Term of my senior year at Washington and Lee University, I took a poetry course from a professor visiting from Virginia Tech, Wyatt Prunty, who went on to found the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. A fine man, a good friend, and an extraordinary poet, Wyatt mines the deepest veins of radical meaning from ordinary events, people, and objects. He read his poem about fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, “The Returning Dead,” for Memorial Day on NPR’s NewsHour in 2006. It remains as powerful as the day I first heard it:


Vermouth and Summer

I am not much on “summer drinks,” but vermouth is different. This article from ImbibeVermouth Taste Test—is a good guide. In particular, this note about Dolin Blanc:

A bottleful of Alpine breezes, this crisp, clear vermouth from Savoie, France, dates to 1821. Made with more than 30 plants and botanicals, its herbaceous nose is offset by white flowers and lemon peel, while the beautifully round palate tastes like stone fruit, wormwood, juniper, and vanilla. Sip on its own, or pour into a pitcher with chopped melon or muddled berries plus ice for a springtime party punch. 

Drinks I Have Been Drinking

These two are from The Bellwood in Tokyo. Wonderful traditional cocktails with a riff: the Bamboo and the Sazerac.

The Bellwood (Tokyo)
Bamboo at The Bellwood (Tokyo)
Genmai Banana Sazerac at The Bellwood (Tokyo)


From the Wall Street Journal‘s “Off Duty” section and Charles Hix:

“What I remember most about my phone conversation with Cary Grant is how it began,” writes Charles Hix. “This was the early 1970s, before cellphones and Caller ID. A publicity agent had arranged our interview—conducted for GQ magazine, where I was a columnist. There was difficulty pinpointing a date and time, but I was assured that Grant, then approaching 70, would call me at some point in the near future.⁠ I was puttering around in my Manhattan kitchen when the phone rang. ‘Hello, this is Cary Grant,’ he said. My knees literally went weak. I said, “I recognize the voice.” He chuckled. He was entirely unpretentious. Knees still shaking, I recollected that he started out life as Archie Leach before becoming Cary Grant the legend. I calmed down and regained my equilibrium. ⁠

Then 31, I was interviewing Mr. Debonair for GQ’s winter 1973/1974 issue, one devoted to the theme of elegance. I can no longer quote the film star and menswear idol verbatim, but I distinctly remember his thesis: To dress stylishly is to dress appropriately. There is an elegance for every age, what looks great on the young can look ridiculous on the aged, and tailoring your attire to the occasion is essential.”⁠


To get your cookout groove on, play Tavares on repeat on multiple screens: