My New Year’s resolutions, like most people’s, are pretty much the same every year: Get more sleep. Get fit and thus be able to fit into all those very nice (and very expensive) clothes that hang, reproachfully, in my closet. Live in the moment. Clean out my voicemail/text mail/email inboxes and never let them pile up again. Let go of the newspapers even if I haven’t read them all. Learn to say no. And on and on and on.
I’ve made all those and more again, naturally, but I also saw a Huffington Post piece on the resolutions of celebrities and they were a lot more fun, if not utterly inane. Some person named Neon Hitch resolves to “stay positive and don’t doubt yourself”; sweet Abigail Breslin is going to stop saying “um.” Ashton Kutcher actually tweeted that he wanted everyone to “agree to a resolution to feel one another’s pain and joy and create the peace we desire through proactive generosity.” Just before I thought I might throw up, I came upon Olivia Wilde, who vows to “try to read more novels.”
In addition to being a beautiful and talented actress (late of “House,” among other things), Olivia is the daughter of my friends the talented and intrepid journalists Leslie and Andrew Cockburn. Her two uncles are exceptional journalists too and Christopher Hitchens was a regular childhood dinner guest – she knows plenty about reading. So do I. I know that I haven’t been doing nearly enough of it lately, especially for pleasure, so I decided to make like Olivia (and the late and much-missed Hitchens too, for that matter) and title my own resolution list, “Madder Music and Stronger Wine.”
The line, one that Hitchens and the Cockburns would be well familiar with, comes from a poem by Ernest Dowson, one of the major poets of late Victorian decadent period. For my purposes we will lump books in with the music, and my not-so-mad vow is to pick up a book every time I am tempted to punch the On Demand button on my TV clicker or play with my iPad on a plane. To that end, I have by my bedside, Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table, and I’ve already finished Laura Lippman’s deeply affecting The Most Dangerous Thing. Laura, who is married to Treme producer David Simon, is a part-time neighbor of mine in New Orleans and a much-lauded mystery writer who grew up in Baltimore. This book is set in her hometown too, but it transcends the mystery genre and is so good I may have to read it again.
As for the music, I have vowed to create a new playlist of tunes, madder and otherwise, at least once every week. Being deprived of music is as bad for the spirit as being deprived of great fiction. And there’s so much great stuff out there. Also on the celeb resolution list was Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, who said he resolved to start smoking, communicate, and kill his own food. That was a funny enough that I decided to download some Maroon 5, a band with whom I was only glancingly familiar, and now I can’t stop listening to “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Out of Goodbyes” with Lady Antebellum, another band I’m suddenly turned onto.
Next I’m going to buy an old fashioned receiver, hook up the turntable I bought five years ago and listen to all my treasured LPs. While I do that I’ll pay close attention of the always spot-on advice of my buddy Jay McInerney, whose wine column for the Wall Street Journal last weekend was full of his own resolutions for the Wall Street Journal. Among the wines I’ll be sipping as I spin my ancient vinyl will be a Chenin Blanc, which he calls Ã¢â‚¬Å“one of the world’s least appreciated wines. He adds that, “If I experience a personal financial crisis, I will change this resolution to: drink more Muscadet. Another Loire white, Muscadet is the best white wine value in the world.”
Jay and I will also be drinking more Reisling, especially those from Austria, not only because it’s “one of the food-friendliest wines in the world,” but “every wine merchant and sommelier you encounter will think you’re cool if you ask for it.” I like cool. I also like Champagne, a lot, so I’m on board with Jay’s resolution to drink more grower Champagne in 2012. Grower Champagne is made by farmers who used to sell their grapes to the giant Champagne houses and are now vinifying their own. Two of those growers are the brothers Pierre and Philippe Aubry, and Eli Hardof sells their product on Taigan’s A Wine for All. Tart, dry, and made of an unusual blend of grapes, it goes really well with a wide variety of foods. It is also an incredible wine at its price point, which underlines Jay’s contention that “a guy making his own wine with his own grapes is going to take better care of them than someone who sells them by the pound to a corporation.”
On that note, I say “Cheers!” to resolutions I will actually keep. And I’ll be sharing those playlists soon.