Blueberry pie, Christmas, etc
My love, my love, my love.
Writing to you from Amsterdam. I just made Petee’s pie crust for a blueberry pie. It’s sitting in the fridge to rest because as we’ve discussed that recipe is a butter filled diva city. Tonight José and I will enjoy said pie, and tomorrow I will deliver the rest of it to my fronds at the local fruit and vegetable shop.
(I know that blueberry pie is their favorite pie, other than Dutch apple.)
(I know because we discussed this, at length, while a long line of humans stood behind me.)
(The line was not angry about this and neither was I, since I now understand that *part* of going to this fruit and vegetable shop is making space for long discussions in between the grocers bagging string beans.)
(Conversations include but are not limited to everyone’s favorite pie flavor.)
(Nobody grumbles, even on the momentous day I was there [which was! christmas! eve!])
Oh, this perfect little city. Its cobblestones and its stories. My deliciously quaint view right now.
It’s good to be back.
Amsterdam’s quiet and peace immediately puts my soul at rest.
I’m feeling so clear and ready to get to work.
And I’m also feeling deep heartstring tugs for my other home.
That perfect, enormous city. Its clamor, its personality, its glorious humans. A beautifully worn and woven tapestry of my culture and those I love the most. Enjoy, for example, this melange of my favorite humans mid laugh.
I had a rough day yesterday, because I don’t currently know how to reconcile these two realities. It’s difficult to have so much success in one space and so much family and love in the other. A mindfuck if ever there was one - I’m leaving it to higher powers for now, letting the pie crust rest and hoping that the answer will come with time.
The good news is that while I let the higher powers do their magic, I have been here for Christmas this year.
To start with there’s my own pride: I’m stunned and a little intoxicated by the success that José’s Christmas album is garnering. Our little original Christmas song just hit 2.3 MILLION (!) (!) (!) streams on Spotify alone. The album has been written up in the New York Times, NPR… it was featured on Jamie Cullum’s BBC show with Michael Buble this week.
Kvell City / the greatest Christmas gift this New York Jewess in Amsterdam could have gotten. I’m so grateful for our independent record label, which allowed for the freedom to say, in June, “Should we do a Christmas album, recorded all live to tape, with our best friends, and release it in five months?”
(Yes, my love.)
(Yes, we should.)
We went up to a studio in Woodstock called Dreamland, a decommissioned church/ paradise that lives well up to its name.
We stayed for two days and finished the whole album.
Most of what you hear is first takes, all played together in one room.
Here is one of the only photos I took of José in that time, looking like a real badass Christmas Elvis type.
Family, family, family.
I drove my stepdaughter Anais up to Woodstock and back down to Brooklyn on the first day. I coached her in singing during the ride and she made her recording debut like an absolute superstar on Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” We don’t do photos of her, so you’ll just have to imagine her in all of her 8 year old perfection.
We lowered the mic about four feet so she could reach it.
Bender mixed her voice next to mine and Ben Williams’.
Family, family, family.
Our friends Brett and China came up for the second day of recording, and that is how we ended up with the world’s greatest family portrait.
It’s easy to forget in all this chaos. But Chanukah and Thanksgiving and Christmas and really the whole year of 2021 have come and gone and this album has solidified it all for me. Made me take stock of the things I love and the people I love. I’m so grateful to José and the epic musicians, artists and team on it for putting in the work to make this modern day classic.
Family, family, family.
On my last two days in New York four things happened:
(1) Before I drove to drop off my brother Avram in Brooklyn, my dad left a handwritten note saying that on the way I needed to go to a specific address in Yonkers. He did not divulge why / that it was a spectacularly Amurrican Christmas yard. And let me tell you, in line with true Michael magnificence, it DID NOT DISAPPOINT.
(2) I got in one last hang with my Becca sister and her soon to be in the world baby nyuni
(3) We stopped by family / RB house photographer Janette Beckman’s house for a studio visit slash pick up of her epic new book
and (4) my mother and I had dream come true street pizza on the way to the Holland tunnel.
I don’t know how to reconcile it all.
I’m exploding with love and confusion.
In the time since I started this ttalk I have fully baked the pie. It’s sitting on the edge of the kitchen counter to cool for a few hours now. José is making racks of lamb because he is determined as ever to win husband of the year.
Next time I sit down to type this it’ll be 2022. I don’t know that I have the presence of mind to detail what this year really was for me, maybe next week I’ll do a cutie recap.
Maybe not. For now I’m letting it all exist together, exactly as it needs to be. One minute at a time. And feeling a lot of love for you, my family, wherever you’re reading today.
More next week.