The Crush Letter No. 65: DEVOUR

. 16 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about friendship, love and sex in midlife.  Because frankly, we're a lot cooler than anyone expected us to be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Happy Pride Month.

Love is love.

We just shipped another box of toys to our PrimeCrush Toy Testers. Here's what they've said:

"Awesome!"

"Box of treasures!"

"woo-hoo"

The PrimeCrush Toy Testers will be testing some of the most touted lubes, toys and books for us, so look forward to reading a new series of reviews over the Summer months. Our PrimeCrush Toy Tester reviews are exclusively for subscribers of The Crush Letter so – whew! – be glad you're here. I know I am. If you know someone who would want these reviews, please (please, please) forward the Letter to them. Thank you!

Another thing to be excited about? You got through mercury in retrograde. Whew.

This week we've got what amounts to a thrill in my life--our monthly DEVOUR Letter with things to read, watch, listen to and know about, co-edited by regular contributor and cultural sponge Lisa Ellex, and me.

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.   +Hot Thots. By Dish Stanley Their biological sex or gender identity does not factor in for me.   +More Follows That Will Convince You How Fire It Is To Be Over 45. By Dish Stanley & Contributing Editor Lisa Ellex Actor, Activist, and Choreographer, they have done it all.   +Things to Let Go of. By Dish Stanley Things To Let Go Of To Be Your Best Self Now   +A Short Morning Yoga Sequence for Stretching. (From Dish’s BFF) Walk it out, and move into   +Our Song of the Week. “I’d make a deal with God”


DEVOUR {things to do, read, see & have}

Do. Stretching — It’s the New Yoga! Developing a stretching habit is the second best thing I’ve done for myself over the last six months. (The first? A sleep ritual.) Here is how I became stretched (as it were).

My friend kt sent me a very rough video showing me how she moved through her yoga-based sequence. (I'd share it but she would kill me, so I have outlined it for you below). Frankly, I am not limber and it felt intimidating, but I slowly worked through it. Really hard. At first, it was just forcing myself to do it, but eventually, it felt good to feel looser. I was still having some issues with tightness in my left hip when I noticed a Stretch Zone next to my grocery store– it's one of these new stretch franchises that are popping up everywhere. I found assisted stretching to be incredible at getting a deeper stretch in certain hard-to-get places. My hip issues disappeared, my shoulders loosened and on top of relieving pain and sleeping better, I was getting a better turn on my backswing (in golf) and longer distances.

At the Stretch Zone, I started by going 2-3 times a week for the first couple of weeks, focusing on my hips, I then went down to once a week for all-over maintenance. I tried a number of different people (all of whom were well-trained) until I settled on the one I liked the best and booked him out for a weekly session over the next two months. You are getting stretched on a table in what is essentially an open room, so it’s not a private experience like a massage. You wear long sweats (or leggings) and socks, and they use a strap system. It has completely replaced massages for me, which I used to do regularly for tightness. Stretching has had so much more impact, in a shorter time, than massages.

Home - Stretch Studio | Assisted Stretching | Stretch Zone
Get busy living today by joining us at Stretch Zone. We apply a proprietary stretch methodology to improve your range of motion.

Watch. Tehran: The Most Thrilling Spy Show Since Homeland. (Apple TV) Critics are calling it a cross between '24' and 'Homeland' (or 'The Americans'). I think of it as the show filling the void that 'Fauda' left. 'Tehran' follows a young Israelli Mossad agent, alone and undercover in Israel’s deadliest enemy country, Iran, as she tries to hack into electronic systems that will allow Israel to bomb a nuclear plant. She is in constant peril as she darts from an obsessive, wily investigator for the Revolution Guards. Glenn Close adds some fabulous menace starting in Season 2, but start at the beginning in Season 1 if you are new to it.

Listen.  Summer Sounds Bossa Nova and Samba Playlist. School’s out, kids (well, almost), and yes, the season gets a whole lot sexier when you're listening to the sounds of Brazil. If you can’t get to Ipanema, just close your eyes and let this gorgeous Spotify playlist get your summer off to a sizzlin’ start. Listen here

Read. Lightning Striking by Lenny Kaye IS the heart of rock and roll. In addition to his half-century-long gig as guitarist and founding member of the revolutionary Patti Smith Group (and his talent as a Grammy-nominated producer and music columnist), Lenny Kaye has published his third book, Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll. A delicious account of one of the most exciting eras in music culture recounted through a musician's lens, “Kaye explores ten crossroads of time and place that define rock and roll” including 1950s Memphis, 1960s Liverpool, 1970s New York and London, 1980s Los Angeles, 1990s Seattle and everything in between. As an added bonus, Lenny narrates the audiobook!  You can catch Lenny on the regular as he shares his music historian talents every Monday and Tuesday night at 8 pm (EST) when he hosts The Lenny Kaye Show on SiriusXM’s UNDERGROUND GARAGE. Read here

Watch / Read / Recommend. The NBA Finals; Steph Curry’s Book Club on Literati. Some of us are really excited about the match-up of Boston Celtics vs the Golden State Warriors that started Thursday night. You’ve got the generational defense of the Celtics against the Golden State Warriors’ transition offense and three-point shooting; the rightfully recognized superstar Steph Curry against the emerging Jayson Tatum. The timing for these two particular teams taking center stage seems oddly right, what with the Warriors Steve Kerr’s using his coach’s platform to denounce gun violence, and the recent depiction of the ruthlessness of the Celtics’ franchise, Red Auerbach and Larry Bird as depicted in the recent HBO Max Series Winning Time. There’s the potential for a lot of explosive moments.

And here's an unexpected reason I love seeing the Warriors in the finals: the opportunity it presents to highlight the virtual book club Steph Curry started on Literati. It’s called Underrated, and I’m really into him doing it. Curry has said he got the theme because he “was overlooked as an undersized high school basketball player.” He has become a basketball legend who now focuses on getting us to read books about characters who defy the odds and change the game, written by underrepresented authors and overlooked voices. Read here

Watch. Couples Therapy. A Riveting Look at the Relationship Arc. (Showtime) I find this series that films real therapy, on camera, of actual couples in crisis mind-blowingly fascinating. As in, I clear a weekend in advance to watch these immediately when they drop, that’s how much I’m into them. Dr. Orna Guralnik, the therapist who thoughtfully works through all the knotty, sensitive couple dramas, is the recurring character in this series, but the couples over time (and the issues they face) have been incredibly distinct.

Guralnik is a very cool cat, and that is undoubtedly a large part of the series' appeal. But the other part is that somehow watching these couples as they examine themselves, each other, and the structure of their respective relationships, you get a very concrete understanding of how childhood family structures and dramas take root and play out in all of our lives in our most intimate relationships. To see it in such a uniquely powerful and moving way across so many couples can’t help but accelerate your own introspection, as well as encourage you to offer yourself and others a great deal more compassion.

Play. Bingo and slots online, win prizes and do good (all at once): Golden Hearts Games. Like playing bingo, slots, or blackjack? Golden Hearts Games is a digital gaming company founded by Steve Kane, a PrimeCrush Reader in Boston. Think of playing bingo at a local hall where the cost of your entry ticket goes to a charity (or the church hosting the game, in a lot of cases). Golden Hearts is a digital version of this. To start playing you first choose your favorite charity from a list of all 501c3 charities and your donation amount. When I played recently I donated my "entry fee" of $19/month to Flying Kites, a school that educates and feeds children in Kenya, and then passed the time playing bingo while waiting for a flight. Golden Hearts has processed $7.5M for charities through the “everyday heroes” who play games on its site. And watch out, they’re adding blackjack, so I'll be winning cash soon.

Play Golden Hearts Games here.

Read. This Amusing and Low-key Inspiring Piece About a “Dad Bod” Calendar That’s Gone Viral in the UK. Not much to say here, except it's kinda fun and we can relate.

The people making a difference: the man who made blokes strip off and feel good about themselves
Paul Goddard wanted to help ‘pretty average’ men realise they can be sexy, so put together a ‘dad bod’ calendar. Now it’s his turn for a treat

Read. New York Times Love Letter: “What was your Teenage Anthem?” Because we all have that one song that takes us back and brings us to our knees.  In the New York Times May 13, 2022 “Love Letter” column, Modern Love podcast host, Anna Martins, writes about the overwhelming response to her season two opener in which she asked her listeners, “What’s the song that taught you about love when you were a teen?” Read it and weep. Love Letter: What Was Your Teenage Anthem? - The New York Times

The story doesn’t end there. The overwhelming response to Ms. Martins' query inspired her to compile a Spotify playlist called, First Love Mixtape, Side B. Give a listen.

Attend.  Klimt. The Immersive Experience. Go for the Gustav. Truth be told, I was dragged kicking and screaming to the Van Gogh immersive.  Once inside, I was amazed, delighted, and deeply moved.  Next up: Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) whose Japanese influence celebrated the female form through his rich paintings and murals. Most cities are “waitlist only” but you can still reserve in London and Los Angeles.

Gustav Klimt: The Immersive Experience - Exhibit Locations
Thanks to the most recent virtual projection technology you will become a part of the spectacular, incomparable universe of Gustav Klimt.

Hot Thots.  Cheering on the Parade. By Dish Stanley

We are re-sharing this piece, which was originally published at the start of Pride Month 2021.

Hot Thots is a periodic column where Dish lets off.

I'll never forget the moment I got it. That love is love. It was the spring of 2009 and I was driving a close friend's daughter to a college tour. A meandering conversation about college fit led her to reveal that she was pansexual. (Something I was certain her mother, with whom she had a complicated relationship, was not aware of.) I didn't want to fuck this up by looking judgmental, unsupportive, quizzical or anything else that could be read as disapproval so I sort of immediately dove in with "That's great!" And then--after an awkward pause--I admitted: "Ummm, honey I don't actually know what you mean - what pansexual means. Would you tell me?" She explained it like this:

"I could love anyone, really. I fall in love with the person. Their biological sex or gender identity does not factor in for me."

"Wow," I said. "That's beautiful."

"Yeah," she said. "It really is."

It wasn't that simple for me, to be honest. It was 2009, and I and a lot of the world ("we") were so much less aware, so much more ignorant. My first thought at that time was how difficult that would be for her. That the world was not built for quite that much love. Why take the tougher path up the mountain of life, I worried, when she could just as well take a more groomed trail? I considered whether to say:  "If you could love anyone, why not just go the easy route? (eg, heteronormative.) Believe me, there are stumbles, scrapes, and switches enough as it is."

I didn't say it, thank god. How fearful and narrow a response that would have been to her exquisite, open-hearted expansiveness. Traveling down that bumpy New England road that day decades ago, the moment after I swallowed my thoughts I looked over at this lovely, loving, highly intelligent and empathetic young woman and thought I'm questioning her? "I could love anyone, really. I fall in love with the person." As between her and the world I knew, how could she be wrong?

She has gone on to love led by her heart. It has been tough sometimes, yes. But also quite beautiful to see her forging original, loving relationships from scratch without leaning on default systems.

At any rate, she wouldn't have it any other way.

Whether the default systems have worked for most of us, or for anyone other than a subset of our world, or what might replace the default systems, is obviously worthy of close examination and thoughtful debate.

But for younger generations debating is either beside the point or over. I hear it again and again from friends and family members. When it comes to gender/identity/love/boundaries, younger generations are moving forward like a tsunami. They are loving who they want to love. They are in charge of the conversation – literally, creating and appropriating the language. It is their parade. What we can learn from them about love is infinite, I believe. We need to step out of their way, listen and cheer them on. Maybe try to keep up.

Bring out the baton twirlers and let it roll, kids.

More Follows That Will Convince You How Fire It Is To Be Over 45:

Who: Mario Cantone @macantone

What: Actor, Stand-up Comedian, Vocalist

Why:  He never holds back.

Content: Production stills, production videos, conversations with co-stars, personal photos, and all things Mario.

I’ve been following Mario Cantone since his early days of NYC cabaret.  From opening for vocal legend Shirley Bassey at Carnegie Hall to his regular appearances at the legendary Cafe Carlyle, to his Tony-nominated body of work on Broadway, to his role of Anthony on Sex And The City, and now shooting season two of And Just Like That, Cantone is quintessential New York.  Catch him live if you can to witness his side-splitting yet poignant comedy, his talent as a vocalist and storyteller, and his brilliant impersonations of Judy Garland, Katherine Hepburn, and Liza Minelli (and more!).

Who: Rosie Perez @rosieperezbrooklyn

What: Actor, Activist, Author, Choreographer

Why:  She makes no excuses.

Content:  Career updates, production videos, fighting/boxing news, fashion photos, and so much more!

One of ten children, Perez grew up in group homes and foster care.  She overcame adversity, attended Los Angeles City College, and landed a gig as a choreographer on television In Living Color. Her performance in Spike Lee’s 1989 classic Do The Right Thing brought her to national attention and just four years later, she received an Oscar nomination for best-supporting actress in Fearless, and in 2003 debuted on Broadway in the revival of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune. Her 2014 autobiography, Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling… examines the causes and effects of child abuse. In addition to her work for Puerto Rican rights, Perez is an AIDS activist, appointed by President Barack Obama to The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

Things to Let Go of.  By Dish Stanley

Sometimes in order to be the really good shit you are now you have to let go of some less good things first. Here are some things to let go of in order to be your best self now– and get the most out of Summer 2022.

Things To Let Go Of

To Be Your Best Self Now


Your reluctance to try a potential new turn-on (eg, sex toy / lube / position / erotic story …).

Those bikinis/trunks/shorts/muscle shirts that fit really well 10+ years ago but now? Not so much. Only making you feel bad about who you are today.

That friend who doesn't initiate contact or frequently cancels last minute — and all the excuses you have been making for them.

The idea that choosing a solo lifestyle is less fulfilling than partnering up.

Your refusal to reconsider the ingrained lifestyle habits that are going to slow you down if you don’t start adjusting them now (nutrition, exercise, sleep …)

The fear of rejection (or failure) that is keeping you from reaching out (or up)

Your insistence that you “don’t have time” to take care of yourself, cultivate friendships, take up a new hobby or sport

Your longstanding sense of obligation to commitments that are disproportionately burdensome vs their benefits

Your cell phone. Put it away more often, starting with when you’re out for dinner with your friend/partner/family member

Stetching: It's the New Yoga!

More on stretching from this Letter's DEVOUR

A Short Morning Yoga Sequence for Stretching (From Dish’s BFF)

Downward Dog Walk it out and move into
Three Legged Dog with even hips, Then open one hip, raise one leg and stretch it out (then do the other side)
Step forward into Runner’s Lunge(While doing this grasp your hands behind your back to stretch your arms and shoulders, then put one hand down and lift the other to the sky for a back twist)
Half Split (Rocking back and forth) (Lean forward to get an extra deep hip stretch)
Pyramid Pose
Standing Split (keep your upper leg perpendicular, working towards lifting your hands for balance — trying moving into a Half Moon)
Come down into Warrior 2(The Runner’s Lunge to Warrior 2 sequence she does all of on one side and then does the other side).

Song of the Week

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush

Jumping on the pop-culture bandwagon here. This moody (dare I say, creepy) hit from Kate Bush’s 1985 album 'Hounds of Love' just hit No. 1 on iTunes, thanks to Season 4 of the series Stranger Things.

This Kate Bush resurrection reminds me of the guy I dated seriously in NYC through the mid-90s, a devoted Bush fan. Devoted. Knew all the words to all her songs, even minor ones like 'Rubberband Girl'. And oh boy, I’ll just say I think that should have been the glaring red flag I heeded to get the f*ck out of that situation sooner. Alas, I was only in my 20’s. I never took to the darkly gothic, eclectic, intellectual artiste thing she had going on, yet I am still enjoying the nostalgia and inspiration of seeing her unexpected hype these many years later.

True to form though, some Kate Bush fans have spoken out and have been shaming the young Stranger Things fanbase for only discovering their Bush Queen now (like, how does that make sense?):

“Kate Bush did not go through withering heights, run all the way up that hill to make a deal with god & shout babooshka for y’all to be finding out about her in 2022!” @heyjaeee May 29, 2022

Here’s a live version that captures the doomed feeling of Running Up That Hill. Listen here

Running Up That Hill - Listen here

And here’s the song she is probably most famous for, perfectly on character if you don’t know Kate Bush. This 'official video' for Wuthering Heights says it all. Listen here

Hope you're stretching into the weekend like a purring cat on a sunny windowsill.

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

+DEVOUR {things to do, watch, see & have} In our monthly DEVOUR column we share all the things we think you should eat up.  Here are some snacks from the last few months, but to get all of us, subscribe.

+Sexual Healing. By Liza Lentini In this ongoing series, our resident Reiki Master Teacher shows us that it’s so easy to offer yourself much-needed comfort when you need it.

+The Comfort Face Mask You Can Try at Home. By Lauren D. Weinstein “Who knew that my self-care and sanity could be found in the form of a simple custom-blended face mask?”

+The Ritual of Comforts. By Lady Verity “Comfort is an expansive word. There is day comfort, night comfort, bed comfort, couch comfort and certainly kitchen comfort and it goes on.”

+Book Review: Norma Kamali: I Am Invincible. Reviewed by Lady Verity



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