Sometimes I imagine a parallel universe where Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham never met cute while singing “California Dreaming” together at a youth church function in 1966. Without that moment, there would be no Buckingham Nicks album, no chiffon-twirling witchiness, no Rumours, and a lot less pain spread out over the lives of the five members of Fleetwood Mac who took the stage on Sunday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. That isn’t to say that the music that poured out from the decades of fighting, jealousy, drugs, and break-ups wasn’t sublime — it has always been that and more. But, while Fleetwood Mac’s tortured path through the pain has always been fascinating and tuneful, it has not always been easy to watch.
Another related question: why do the best lyrics end up in a song featuring Kenny G? I blame the late 80s for that one. For a better sounding take on the same theme, check out “Not Make Believe,” a Nicks composition from the early 2000s that eventually appeared as a bonus track on Fleetwood Mac’s sometimes fussy, but still underappreciated 2003 album, Say You Will.↵
Sometime in 2013, Tomas Berdych apparently decided to enjoy the ride, instead of lamenting his fate as one of the have-nots in the Big Four era. While Stan Wawrinka got his famous tattoo to make peace with his role as a foil for the historic achievements of the Big Four, Berdych did something more low key – he joined Twitter. But, for Berdych, a player known for his short fuse on court and his tendency to pull back in key moments, letting the world in on his goofy sense of humor was a way of acknowledging that he had better start having fun with the career he had, instead of mourning the one that had been denied to him by the Big Four’s dominance.
With JetBlue’s recent addition of a direct flight from JFK Airport to Willemstad, Curacao, the “C” of the ABC islands just got that much closer to those New Yorkers seeking to escape another chilly winter. While less popular among American tourists than its neighbor, Aruba, Curacao has its share of pristine beaches and rugged coastline ready for exploring. Even though you won’t see many Americans in Curacao (yet), the secret’s already out with Europeans, particularly Dutch tourists who have long known that Curacao is a cheaper, less crowded alternative to Aruba with a charm all its own. Here’s how to make the most of a long weekend in Curacao.
Invariably, every guidebook or brochure covering Curacao boasts of the stunning and colorful colonial architecture of Curacao’s capital. Willemstad is definitely worth a visit, though a day is plenty to experience its charms. Start early in the day, and stop in Willemstad to see the multicolored houses. Don’t miss the quirky charm of the Queen Emma bridge. Separating the Punda and Otrabanda districts of the old town of Willemstad, the Queen Emma Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that turns 90 degrees to let boats pass through. If you happen to “miss” the bridge when it separates from the shores, don’t worry, there are ferry boats ready to take you across the harbor while the bridge resets. Punda is the more bustling part of sleepy Willemsted, featuring the requisite duty free and souvenir shops. Punda is also the home of the floating market, a motley group of stands manned by vendors who sail the 40 miles from Venezuela with tropical fruits and vegetables. It’s definitely an interesting spectacle, but, as is the case on many Caribbean islands, the produce is less exciting than you would expect. Also in Punda is the Mikve Israel-Emmanuel, the oldest synagogue in North America. The synagogue, founded by Spanish and Portuguese immigrants to Curacao in the 1650s, has a unique sand floor, which was meant to remind congregants of their ancestors’ need to hide their places of worship.
With more twists and turns than an episode of Scandal, the WTA tour’s 2014 season was nothing less than fascinating. From the resurgence of faded champions to the emergence of new stars, this year’s WTA tour had something for everyone. Here are my favorite stories of 2014.
1. Fierce Caroline
After spending the past three years as a part of Wozzilroy and contemplating family life and early retirement, Caroline Wozniacki found herself on the end of a public and abrupt breakup with Rory McIlroy on the eve of the French Open. Yet, seven months later, McIlroy’s name hardly comes up when discussing Wozniacki’s year, which is a testament to the savvy way the Dane has rebuilt her game and her life. Though often considered too “nice” to win the big titles, Wozniacki’s upbeat disposition served her well in 2014. To refocus herself, and, perhaps, the press from the cancelled nuptials, Wozniacki committed to run the 2014 New York City Marathon in support of Team for Kids, and ran it in an impressive 3:26:33, despite having never run more than 13 miles in training. She also turned a corner on the court, playing tough matches against “bestie” Serena Williams, and out-gritting Maria Sharapova, of all people, at the US Open during her run to the final. And, she even managed to become part of a more high profile sports couple along the way.
Outside my window in Times Square, a tuxedo-clad Roger Federer waves from the Moet advertisement from New Year’s Eve 2013. Perfectly coiffed, perfectly cool, and perfectly in control, it’s the Roger Federer who seems to have sailed through a record-breaking career without breaking a sweat. That Roger Federer is the perfect embodiment of Swiss precision, restraint, and neutrality.
A lone voice called out during a small pause between songs at Damien Rice’s sold out performance at the Apollo Theater Saturday night. The Irish singer-songwriter paused, and smiled ruefully, and finally responded, “thank you for coming back.” Rice was right to be grateful for the loyalty of his fans, who have endured an eight year hiatus between Rice’s 2006 album, 9, and My Favourite Faded Fantasy, released this October. Aside from a few tracks on charity albums, a bizarre appearance at a Haiti benefit in 2012, and an unusually revealing interview concerning the disintegration of his band and his relationship with girlfriend and collaborator Lisa Hannigan, Rice seemed to be destined to become another one’s of rock’s famous recluses. When asked how he spent the intervening years, Rice admits to doing a bit of sailing off the coast of Ireland, but mostly gives opaque answers about “cleansing” his mind, which might just mean therapy. From the lyrics of My Favourite Faded Fantasy, it certainly seems that Rice has managed to seek and find forgiveness from those around him, and, perhaps most importantly, from himself.
Well, for those of us who have been watching the round robin portion of the singles tournament, there have been a lot more bagels and breadsticks than we anticipated or, in all honesty, wanted. But, after a topsy-turvy year, the four semifinalists advancing to Saturday’s semifinals are excellent ambassadors for the year that’s been. Needless to say, we’re hoping the matches prove to be much more competitive than the thrashings that took place in the round robin portion of the tournament. We’ve had enough breadsticks and bagels to last us a while.
A barely curated list of things that have distracted me from doing more important things this month:
1. Lindsey Buckingham Meets Soul Train
Not unlike that first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial (see below), the combination of Beach Boys’ acolyte Lindsey Buckingham’s layered California pop and the grooviest studio audience of all time is a strange pairing that kind of works, yet feels so wrong.
If you blinked, you may have missed the first round matches in the ATP’s World Tour Finals in London. While the run-up to London had an exciting race to find out who would qualify, the first two days have reflected the general tale of the ATP these days: predictable wins for the top players. While not competitive, per se, the matches certainly were illustrative of the ATP’s 2014 storylines.
It’s hard to imagine that the band that has spent the better part of the last three decades as the “world’s greatest band,” would have trouble getting attention. Yet, after their critically acclaimed, but relatively modestly selling 2009 release No Line on the Horizon failed to capture the public’s imagination, U2 spent much of the intervening five years trying to figure out how to remain relevant to today’s music audience. The end result was the fresh-faced collection of musings on their own personal and musical roots in Songs of Innocence, which they boldly gave away for free to nearly 500 million iTunes subscribers.
The question remains, nearly two months later, was it enough?