The Crush Letter No 117: DEVOUR

. 11 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 40+.  Because midlife and beyond is so much cooler than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

DEVOUR Contributing Editor Lisa Ellex and I (but this week, mostly Lisa) bring you another Letter of things to eat up. Enjoy!

If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

In This Letter. +DEVOUR.  What to do, read, watch, listen to & know about this week.    Culture / Comments. Stray comments & loose thoughts on what's going around.   +Social Media I Loved This Week. By Dish Stanley   +Our Song of the Week  Give us the greens of the summer

DEVOUR {things to watch, read & listen to}

In our monthly DEVOUR column we share all the things we think you should eat up.

Read.  An midlife memoir to encourage you to write your own story.   You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith is an uplifting midlife memoir that chronicles her emotional recovery following the dissolution of her marriage, and examines “contemporary womanhood and traditional gender roles.” An important journey of unexpectedly discovering how we can find the strength and flexibility to live the biggest life possible, and create beauty from the ugliness of adversity.

You might recall that Maggie Smith is the poet who wrote the poem Good Bones, which originally went viral in 2016 (and has more than a few times since after subsequent catastrophes). Its first few lines are the perfect openers for what follows, at once wrenching and sly:

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.


Creating beauty, if not meaning, from ugliness is something Smith excels at. For an introduction to Smith and a touching and honest conversation on the midlife change of course that resulted in her memoir, listen to her conversation with Kara Swisher Making Relationships Work (of Not) with Maggie Smith from Swisher's podcast On.

‎On with Kara Swisher: Making Relationships Work (or Not) with Maggie Smith on Apple Podcasts
‎Show On with Kara Swisher, Ep Making Relationships Work (or Not) with Maggie Smith - May 8, 2023

Read. Something to help you find the work you should be doing. The Search by Bruce Feiler is Feiler's 15th book. He's the seven-time NY Times best-selling author that has most recently created a multigenerational guide to work, purpose, and managing life’s transitions. With 70% of Americans unhappy in the workplace, Feiler explains how we will go through 20 “workquakes” in the course of our lives, asking ourselves, “Am I doing what I want to be doing?”  After spending years collecting the life stories of hundreds of Americans from all walks of life who are happy with what they do, Feiler formulated 21 questions to help us find the work we can love right now.

Watch. Lidia Celebrates America: The Flavors That Define Us   Celebrity chef, restaurateur, food emporium tycoon, and long-time television host, Lidia Bastianich, shares the story of how she and her family fled the Italian homeland that became Yugoslavian territory and came to America in her new PBS special, Lidia Celebrates America:  The Flavors That Define Us.  

In this engaging and informative hour, Bastianich celebrates the journeys of immigrants to the United States through their traditional recipes and shares the dishes of their country. Says Bastianich,  “Whether coming for safety, opportunity, or a better quality of life, immigrants like me have added to America’s rich and diverse tapestry of culture, religion, and food. I feel lucky that my family was welcomed in the United States, and I am excited to share these stories of more recent immigrants, and those born to immigrants.”  Premiered May 30, 2023 on PBS.

You can read the CPB article here.

In addition to the hour long special, Bastianich hosts a digital companion series of three short cooking videos, starting with Making Eggs Jeannette with Jacques Pepin, a French immigrant.

Watch.  A sneaky powerhouse. Being Mary Tyler Moore (MAX) is a candid documentary that chronicles Mary Tyler Moore's Brooklyn beginnings, her family’s move to California, her quick rise to a ground-breaking career, her personal loves and losses, her recovery from alcohol abuse, and the opportunities that she afforded to a new generation of women.

She often quoted American feminist writer and activist, Betty Friedan, saying, “Women should be human beings first, women second, wives and mothers, third,” and like Friedan, she was a trailblazer.  Actress and activist Mary Tyler Moore was a powerhouse of television, film, and stage.   Moving, enlightening, thought-provoking, entertaining, and sometimes heart-breaking, this documentary is sure to run the gamut of your emotions.  Premiered May 26th.

Listen. Bossa Nova Queen. Verve Jazz Masters 9: Astrud Gilberto

The woman who introduced Bossa Nova to the U.S. in that 1962 landmark concert at Carnegie Hall has left us but The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto – lives on in this perfect 1973 Verve compilation of her most beloved recordings. Obrigado, Ms. Gilberto.

Listen. To these new-ish releases. It’s summer, and for me that means cranking the playlist for those lazy, Sunday afternoon drives. Here’s some new-ish releases that should keep you going ‘till Fall.

Your Mother Should Know Brad Mehldau

Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau plays 11 solo Beatles tunes. I couldn’t resist skipping right to “Here, There And Everywhere.”

Meet Me At Birdland Champian Fulton

Recorded live at Birdland in December 2022, Fulton and her trio dazzles as always.

Quietude Eliane Elias

Queen of the keys, Brazilian pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias delivers her usual bossa brilliance.

Lendas Fabiano do Nascimento

Though released in the winter of 2023, Brazilian guitarist and composer, Fabiano do Nascimento, delivers the perfect instrumental summer sound. Beautiful.

Cannon & Sparrow Emily Braden

With her powerhouse voice, outstanding arrangements, and brilliant interpretations, Braden is always a stand-out. Listen to this right now and be sure to keep your eye (and your ear) on this phenomenally talented vocalist.

Follow. Artist/Therapist, C.J. Shapiro

Their Instagram intro reads, “Queer, feminist artist and psychotherapist dedicated to challenging racism, misogyny, sexism, and fascism.”  Focusing on the injustices and atrocities of modern-day society, C.J. Shapiro’s work is impressive. You might be uncomfortable with the subject matter or the startling images, but Shapiro’s oversized canvases are undeniably thought-provoking conversation starters, putting societal issues right in your face.  

If you’re a collector or lover of art, you can check out more of their art here

Follow. @caseydressler

If you’ve ever sat in a stylist's chair at a 1980s hair salon then you already know “Hot Looks Donna,” the tell-it-like-it-is hairstylist who was, no doubt, feared by her clients. She’s just one of the many characters of Casey Dressler, the comedian on-the-rise who’s developed a treasure trove of characters bombarding the socials. Can big hair be making a comeback? Ask Donna.  If you dare.

Playlist Hot Looks Donna created by @Casey Dressler
Enjoy a curated video list and find more videos on TikTok!

Culture / Comments By Dish Stanley

A place where I share loose thoughts & stray ramblings on what's happening. I'm not necessarily recommending you devour these things, just commenting on what's around.

A WSJ poll on what is sexy in men's style yields really dull (read: unsexy) responses. The results won't surprise you. The only thing that will is the WSJ's take that the results are, in fact, surprising. The article, titled Men's Style: What's Sexy, What's Not? Our Poll Results May Surprise You, just dropped yesterday and its reporting is based on a "nationally representative sample" of more than 2,000 adults taken earlier this month. Let me save you the trouble of reading it. Most of the results are predictable: what's not sexy on men? Short shorts, ankles, baggy clothing, red clothing, jewelry and Birkenstocks. Leaving one to two buttons undone on a dress shirt (three not so much). What is deemed sexy? "Biceps" are the sexiest body part. "A James Dean style t-shirt with well-fitting jeans" is the sexiest outfit (with a suit being runner-up). Black clothes are sexy, as are glasses.

I would quibble with Birkenstocks, because I do think some men can pull the off with the right outfit (relaxed comfort) and in the right context (like a summer music festival). But one thing the respondents got entirely wrong IMHO is that only 22% of the respondents think men over 50 look sexy in sneakers. WTF? Those respondents are living in the way back, and their responses on this one question make it clear why their thinking is generally so bland. They are boxing men in, sadly, when men already have narrower sartorial options for self-expression than women. Men over 50 look super hot in a pair of sneakers, people. Especially if they're cool in some way (to play it safe (but still on the cool side) minimal, clean and dark work well, like a pair of Oliver Cabell's, as do a pair with a simple Nike swoosh, or some Stan Smith's). But statement sneakers are so confident (read: hot) for men, and let's be honest, as a way to show abundant personal style they're easy and fun. I mean, the instagram account of @jaadiee, where photographer Jannik takes shots of his sneakerhead grandfather are all the proof we need.

Speaking of bland, so far Season 2 of And Just Like That is just like Season 1. I mean, it might be a little better, but there's no magic. I'm two episodes in, so this is an early take. Each of the main characters has her own "diverse friend," which is so cringe, but the new characters seem to be (mostly) woven into the plot a little better in this season. The new AJLT characters played by Nicole Ari Parker and Sarita Choudhury fold in particularly well, and Chris Jackson is a scene stealer as a devoted husband. But now it feels like there are too many characters to follow and too much jumping around. I will watch the whole thing because (as you know) the subject matter - friendships among fifty-somethings - is so important to me and I want to see how they get depicted in popular culture. And I love New York. But I can't help but feel that there is a missed opportunity here because the show is not compelling. And the subject matter really is. Stay tuned.

The Bear Season 2 is streaming on hulu and I can't wait to check it out. I haven't yet because I want to do it when I have some real time. But I am already seeing in early reviews that is a strong, star-studded cast, Jamie Lee Curtis's performance as Carny's grief-stricken Mother stands out. You get the feeling, from this photo alone, right?

Love & Death, the new Max series, might be worth checking out. The critics are respectful but not fanning over this true crime series. But the few friends who have watched it say that this story about "ordinary" Texas neighbors in the 1980's who have an affair – and then a spouse turns up dead – is a great binge.

Social Media I Loved This Week






Song Of The Week

Kodachrome by Paul Simon

2012 Live Performance at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in Hyde Park (London) 

Some Past Stories You Don't Want To Miss:

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Who made YOU Quiver? PrimeCrush columnist Lisa Ellex wants to know. Just whisper it in her ear and your “first-time” story could be the inspiration for her next Quiver column. Anonymity a concern? She’ll change your name, location, and any other piece of identifying info, just like they do in
Hook Ups: Founders We Think You Should Know
“Hook Ups” is an ongoing feature introducing our readers to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and small business owners.
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For one PrimeCrush writer, making new friends provides insight into how far she’s come. “That’s when, and I feel bad saying this, I did my best to wean her out of my life.” Like it or not, within every friend group, we all play our roles. We all

Dish Stanley XO,

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The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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