For someone whose life equates to traveling, it feels suffocating to hole up on one spot, knowing that globetrotting could mean harm for millions of others. But we all do what’s best for each other. 

It’s hard to know what to write about when the world is all thinking the same thing. You can kind of feel it in the air, see it on everyone’s faces as you see them in the grocery store. Stress. Fear. Uncertainty. It’s almost like you can read minds and emotions everywhere you go—although…”everywhere you go” is a pretty short list nowadays…

So, do people want to read and hear about what’s going on in the world? Do they want information? Are they binging horror pandemic movies on Netflix to satisfy some morbid itch or irony (or to maybe learn a few survival tips from fiction)?

Or do people want an escape? A distraction from the news and chaos and dreariness of the world stage as it’s currently set. Sometimes an escape can feel like denial, a hope that—like the spider hanging above you—if you ignore it, it will go away.

As for me, I’m not a doctor, a healthcare professional, or virus expert, and I prefer to leave the information spreading to the professionals so as not to oversaturate the global consciousness with flawed knowledge and confusion. After all, words have value (ten cents, to be precise, if you were to hire me as your copywriter). Also, as someone who once used duct tape, tissue, and an old boot to fix a broken foot for six weeks, you really shouldn’t be taking medical advice from me…

So let me give you break from the crisis news reporting and give you some good ways to spend your time through books, music, and of course, booze.  

New Bookstore Adds:

Fiction: On Booze by F. Scott Fitzgerald

First thing, this book is not exactly fiction. It’s a collection of snippets written by Fitzgerald mostly about alcohol. Half finished notes, letters, journal entries, and short prose. I’m putting it in the fiction category because, firstly, his writing is so colorful that it almost reads like fiction anyways. Secondly, the actual fiction book I’ve been reading this month has been Isaac Asimov’s full collection of the Foundation Saga—and it is a massive, dense, campy, sci-fi undertaking. And I don’t know if I’m ready to recommend it to you all yet. So, instead, enjoy On Booze and catch a raw, honest glimpse into the life of the guy who wrote The Great Gatsby.

As one critic put it: “His writing is a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the kind of thing you get from good string quartets” —Raymond Chandler

Nonfiction: The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffman

Yes, another book about coffee. I think this is the second coffee book I’ve read. Here’s the thing, Everywhere we travel, coffeehouses nearly always top my wife’s and my list of things to do. From Lisbon to San Diego, New England to Kansas City, we tour coffeeshops, talk with roasters and owners, and have good drinks.

With all the shops currently closed, however, I have to satisfy that itch for coffee culture elsewhere. Also, I needed some tips for improving my espresso drinks at home. This book checks those boxes and more. As the 2007 world barista competition champion (yes, that’s a thing), Hoffman goes through the history of coffee dating back to the 1500s and follows it’s rise and production from the plant to your cup and everything in between. Filled with interesting pictures, he gives a comprehensive—yet nonpretentious—lesson in everything you could want to know about coffee. If you’re a coffee drinker stuck at home, trying to figure out how to make a better cup—now is the perfect time to practice. This book will help.

Cafe Vibes: Phoenix

I mentioned Flight Facilities last month, so let’s stick with the international trend and listen to some Phoenix. You may have heard their more popular songs on the radio on the…Spotify? How do people serendipitously discover new music nowadays? How do I find new bands…? I don’t even know, it just happens.

Anyways, you’ve probably heard their hit songs like “1901” or “Lisztomania”. Even if you don’t recognize the titles you’d probably recognize the beat as they’re pretty unique and fun. Phoenix is a French alternative pop rock band and have played venues all around the world from Glastonbury to Madison Square Garden.

Their music has a very enjoyable, upbeat vibe that blends high tempo pop notes, electronica, easy rolling lyrics, and fuzzy distortion guitars that can improve your mood and get your head bobbing, but still chill enough to not be considered bubble gum pop or any of the top 40 pop that you’d hear on the radio. I can speak from personal experience that “Lisztomania” is a great song to clean the house to while “North” with its more calm tones is perfect for reading.

(Also, the New York Symphony did a cover of Lisztomania and it’s the opening theme for the Amazon show Mozart in the Jungle, which is a must watch romantic comedy-ish series for anyone. It’s lighthearted, fun, and has scores of great classical music. Add it to your binge list). 

March Drink Menu: Gimlet

I’ve been experimenting with gin drinks this month. I’ve always been a fan of Aviations because it’s gin forward but much more flavorful and fun to drink than a martini. Plus it has a bright blue color that just stands out. But, knowing I’d be stuck at home, I decided to try a few new variations on my favorite liquor. 

The Gimlet is a pretty simple cocktail. Equal parts simple syrup and lime juice with 5 PARTS gin…this is my kind of drink. I won’t be driving anytime soon so…ganbei, everyone. Or, Kampai, salud, prost, skal, whatever gets your evening started. Wherever you’re holed up and whatever your native tongue, relax and be good to each other.

 Cheers,

-Liam Brodentel

(Image of the month: Dreaming of more pleasant times half the world away. This is the view from Zhyvago Coffee Works on the beautiful island of Okinawa, Japan)

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