Coasting Through Michigan Summers

There's a reason so many songs are written about Michigan summers. It's every bit as beautiful as Tim Allen's lullaby-esque voice recants over scenic video reel. Rogue Wave, Bob Seger and Simon and Garfunkel have all immortalized Michigan's June-through-August allure in their lyrics. Sufjan Stevens dedicated an entire album to the Mitten State. With more than 11,000 lakes, clear, cool waters stretch across miles of coastlands intermittently dotting the landscape  -  its vastness alone makes it a readily available musical muse.

Full disclosure, I'm a little bit biased having spent every summer that I can remember visiting my family's lakehouse in Michigan, tucked away inside the Irish Hills (more full disclosure, this is not a paid advertisement by the Michigan Bureau of Tourism, although it reads like one). This past weekend I was fortunate enough to celebrate the Fourth of July at the lake with a little bit of bubbly propped atop these American-made coasters, literally drinking in the scenery that aptly makes Michigan so undeniably song-worthy.

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Hypothetical Oscar dresses from NYFW

Zac Posen for Reese Witherspoon.

Zac Posen for Reese Witherspoon.

Rachel Zoe taught us a lot. In between - or maybe as a result of - denouncing velour and obsessing over vintage haute couture, she invented an entirely new subset of fashion vernacular. She introduced us to "bananas," "I die," "kills it." She also taught us that some accessories are worth going to the grave for, "Just throw me in my coffin now with those earrings on." But most importantly, she taught us that the struggle for securing an awards show dress is real. Shut.it.down. real.

In four days, miniature golden statuesque men will be handed out, and if rewatching clips of the Rachel Zoe Project has given me any insight into prepping for an awards show, it's this: no one knows for sure what they'll be wearing on the red carpet until their soles hit the pavement outside the Kodak Theater. Translation, the dresses above and below from NYFW may be in the running for Sunday's show. Zoe was always one to poach dresses immediately following their runway debut, and I'm confident her predecessors follow suit.

After scanning this week's ready-to-wear collections, I played Zoe and picked out the gowns I would present to my hypothetical oscar-nominated clients. The winner, by far, is the Zac Posen ruby number above on Naomi Campbell, which looks a lot like a dress the Barbie topper on a birthday cake would wear. It's also made in the U.S. As were, you guessed it, all of the other dresses included in my pseudo-styling. And for even more faux styling fun, I've assigned them to the leading actress nominees. I'm betting Marion Cotillard takes home the win, but I'm putting all of my money on crimson being a major contender on the red carpet this year.

Oscar de la Renta for Rosamund pike.

Oscar de la Renta for Rosamund pike.

Oscar de la renta for marion cotillard.

Oscar de la renta for marion cotillard.

Oscar de la renta for felicity jones.

Oscar de la renta for felicity jones.

Carolina herrera for Julianne Moore.

Carolina herrera for Julianne Moore.

The (Other) Best Supporter in Whiplash

Overworked, stress-ridden, sweat-drenched and blood-stained, Miles Teller's character Andrew Neyman in Whiplash is all of these things (usually simultaneously), but I'm referring to his drumsticks. The drumsticks Teller had to relearn to hold in order to master a convincing jazz grip (he's a self taught rock drummer); the drumsticks whose absence result in one of the film's most adrenaline-inducing scenes; the drumsticks that rub Neyman's fingers and hands so raw during relentless practice sessions that his drum kit is coated in blood; the drumsticks that also happen to be made in the U.S. and have been since 1963.

Located in Newport, Maine, Vic Firth has manufactured drumsticks for everyone from Buddy Rich, arguably the greatest jazz drummer of all time and a constant reference point in Whiplash, to Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. His factory produces 85,000 sticks per day from Tenessee's Appalachian hickory. 

More than anything, Whiplash is a story of limits and how far you're willing to push yourself to succeed. Like Teller, Firth understands drive

The key word for me is persistence. Whatever you set out to do, you have to have a magnum passion for it, and you’ve got to work beyond what you ever dreamed you’re gonna work to succeed at the level that you want to succeed at.
— Firth said in an interview with Sunday Morning.

Vic's sticks undoubtedly serve as Whiplash's unspoken third lead, and given the performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, his drumsticks are among this year's most elite performers, according to the academy.

I make it a habit to watch every best picture nominee prior to the oscars each year, and having seen all eight, I can decisively say that Whiplash was hands down my favorite. It's intense, gripping, and a serious roller coaster of emotions. As one reviewer put it, "In an era when so many films feel more refined by focus groups or marketing managers, it is a deeply personal and vibrantly alive drama. Damien Chazelle has taken a relatively staid subject like the relationship between a music student and his teacher and turned it into a thriller built on a brilliant undercurrent of social commentary about what it takes to make it in an increasingly competitive and cutthroat world." Do yourself a favor and check out Whiplash if you haven't already, and while you're at it, Vic Firth's drumsticks.

It's the Weekend

Quite possibly, no, definitively, my favorite music video of all time. At least at this moment in time. Makes me nostalgic for skating rinks, in the summer, in the '80's. Even though in the '80's I was a toddler and would have never been at a skating rink in the summer. But if I were, I would want it to be exactly this. It's like if The Way, Way Back, Roller Girl from Boogie Nights and Adventureland merged for 5 condensed minutes. Plus, this video stars Sid from The Descendants: the dopey love interest of a pre-the-fault-in-our-stars Shailene Woodley and the unintentional sidekick of a pre-Amal George Clooney. I can't stop watching. And it's Friday, so it is, in fact, the weekend. Enjoy, and have a good one!

Alexa Chung for AG Jeans

DJ. Journalist. Model. Designer. Influencer. Cool Girl. Alexa Chung is everything, so it makes sense that her latest collaboration with AG Jeans is also everything. Her inaugural capsule collection includes 21 pieces ranging from overalls and jeans to miniskirts and dresses, all made in Los Angeles. The collab marks the beginning of an ongoing partnership with AG, and according to Chung, her follow-up collection will feature much more than denim. I just wish the "I don't have a boyfriend jean" would have made it in this time around.

This collection was made with care in Los Angeles especially for you by a team of extraordinary, magical miracle workers. The design is imbued with our passion for denim - get it dirty, roll around, climb things, dance all night, sleep in it, be happy.
— with love, Alexa Chung and all at AG