Category Archives: Thoughts

Opening Up

When Eilon from Dust & Grooves contacted me last winter about editing his book, I was at an all-time low. I was in the midst of a process that has been written about extensively throughout history—when your external world crumbles and everything you grab onto just turns to dust, leaving you with nowhere to turn but inside. Life’s circumstances had broken me open, and I had to look closely at all that was coming out and face it. The process was grueling, the worst I had ever endured, but there was just an ever-so-slight hint of a blessing in disguise, that in turning myself inside out and peeling away the layers I’d somehow get to the core of me, a place I’ve always strived to reach. I read a quote about Dante’s Inferno that I think nails the process: “Dante’s journey took him as low as a human being could sink, through his worst fears and most bitter truths, down to the very center of the earth. And then by continuing straight downward through the center and beyond, he suddenly headed up.” By the eighth month of this journey, I started … Read more

The Right To Be Lazy

I have experienced hell, and it is an oral surgeon hammering your jaw bone in order to “lift” your sinus cavity and make room for a dental implant. I arrived at my surgery appointment expecting a mildly pleasant laughing gas trip (my last laughing gas experience at the dentist was exceptionally awesome!), but instead received a 30-minute torture session that only worsened once the anaesthesia wore off. I ended up flat out for a week, attempting to dull the pain with documentaries, eBay, Dory Previn records, and reading Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing by Andrew Smart. It takes Tom Hodgkinson’s How to Be Idle / How to Be Free series (both eye-opening, life-changing books for me) into a more academic realm, offering scientific proof that doing nothing does wonders for the brain, and thus does wonders for creativity, happiness, and health. I then watched a documentary called Surviving Progress, which details the economic and climate abyss we currently face, and interviews a range of talking heads who offer their unconventional views on what can be done to reverse these ugly trends. The general consensus seems to be that rather than striving for further economic … Read more

Cruel Summer

This has been one grueling summer. I remember a similar summer when I was 22, having been struck by a series of panic attacks that forced me to call “time out” on my life, and go on a treacherous journey inwards. I dug into ghastly places, pulled out unsavory memories and met my most frightening fears. I’ve always been plagued by an inability to ignore my gut and plow ahead. When my subconscious calls, it will do everything in its power to paralyze me physically so that I have no choice but to listen. I listened when I was 22, trudged through the shit, and ushered in the autumn panic-attack free and a whole lot happier. The lesson learned was that no matter how much I wanted to look away, the only solution was to welcome in the very unwelcome fears, insecurities, and uncertainties, feel the pain, and dig deep to uncover the source. I’ve been trying very hard to remember that brutal process and its rather awesome outcome, but I’m currently in the “feel the pain” stage, and so it’s hard to envision a happy ending. I’ve also been … Read more


I’m slowly emerging from that sorrowful place where, after having lost something so dear to me, everything in life seems trivial and weirdly pointless. I’ve been incapable of doing anything that requires mental effort, so have cast all work obligations aside, and have passed the time either in front of a movie screen or book. I saw Fruitvale Station (devastating story, schmaltzy film), The Hunt (Scandinavians really know how to make movies), BlackFish (a glaring reminder as to why SeaWorld and dolphin/ killer whale parks need to GO AWAY), and Stories We Tell (the gushing reviews are wholly justified). I finally got through a stash of un-read books–Darlene Love and Carole King’s autobiographies, The Wrecking Crew book, and Simon Reynolds’ Retromania. I am a notorious highlighter, note-taker, page folder, and my copy of Retromania is one hot-pink mess. Pete suggested that instead of highlighting the whole book,  I should just read it again. But it’s not often you come across a book that speaks to your whole darn existence and attempts to very eloquently and enthusiastically get to the heart of every question stuck in your brain for the last five years. My experiment in … Read more


Hello friends. I’m mourning the loss of my sweet Pumpkin, who we put to sleep this past Sunday. It’s been an intense six months of shuttling her back and forth between vets, hospitals, and holistic healers, in hopes of her overcoming what one vet called the worse infection he’d ever seen in a cat. I even went so far as to make an appointment with an animal psychic. My friends thought it was a hilarious move, but you’ll do whatever you can when you’re desperate. But FYI, they were right. The best the psychic could offer was that Pumpkin was a very smart cat who loved me. Profound.  I’ve left my place in Brooklyn to get some peace and quiet. I know I have to go back soon, but I just can’t bear to be in my apartment without her. The emptiness terrifies me. I have little desire to do anything but sit outside and read. I loved her so much. It’s hard living without her. I’ll be back with an update as soon as I feel up to it. With love,xo-Sheila 


This past Friday, I went on a solo date to the Angelika Theatre in Soho to see 20 Feet From Stardom, Morgan Neville’s documentary about background singers. As a female music-fanatic I knew I’d thoroughly enjoy a film featuring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and the Ikettes, but I was completely unprepared for the emotional exorcism that took place as I watched the film. Years of emotion poured out of me. I was shaking like a leaf, sobbing uncontrollably. When the movie finished, I waited until the theatre emptied out so I could make a dash for the exit without being seen in such a state.  It was probably the first time I had heard music spoken about in a way that I could truly understand. The music conversation is almost always expressed intellectually, with little room for those seeking less analytical ways to explore and enjoy music. It’s hard not be disheartened when you witness first-hand just how far removed the music industry–record labels, music journalism, record collecting–is from the actual music. And perhaps that’s why the ladies of 20 Feet From Stardom, speaking with such feeling and passion, affected me so severely. Whether … Read more

The Pleasure-Enhancing Music Experiment: The End

Friends! I apologize for the disruption in the “Pleasure-Enhancing Musical Experiment.” A few days into the experiment, I realized that my initial plan to re-discover the joy of unearthing new music via a very structured, limited musical diet did indeed reignite the thrill of discovery (success!), but on paper, I thought the experiment just turned into a rather dull list of record reviews (fail!). I’ve also learned that I’m quite terrible at sticking to a set schedule and structure with Cha Cha Charming (as I’ve clearly demonstrated with the very un-weekly “Record of the Week”). I’m still trying to feel my way, and perhaps am realizing that I get the most joy out of writing freely about whatever takes my fancy at the moment. So to hell with structure and consistency! There, I feel better already.  Thanks to all of you who have asked about my cat Pumpkin. She’s still in quite a precarious situation with an infection that seems to be immune to most anti-biotics. I’ve decided to try some fairly far-out treatments, as I think I’ve pretty much exhausted the traditional routes. Hopefully the “cat whisperer” that I’ll … Read more

The Pleasure-Enhancing Music Experiment: Day Five

Or “How I Plan to Discover New Songs on the Internet + Not Let it Kill My Love of Music”……Five new songs (no more, no less), five days a week, for 30 days. Thursday June 13th 1. From The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits…….Don Shirley Trio: Waterboy (Cadence, 1961)I’ve never heard anything quite like this, nor did I expect to be so taken by such bizarre, idiosyncratic arrangements. LOVE! 2. From Lost in the Grooves….Graham Gouldman: The Impossible Years (RCA, 1968)Despite my obsession with 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” and Graham Gouldman’s compositions for little-known Brit girls like Little Frankie (“Happy That’s Me” is some fine perky folk-pop), I’ve never given his solo material a proper listen. BIG mistake. If “The Impossible Years” is anything to go by, The Graham Gouldman Thing LP must surely be a masterpiece. LOVE! 3. My own curiosity….B.J. Thomas: Eyes of a New York Woman (Scepter, 1968)I think I’m more excited to have stumbled upon this site––than I am about the song I discovered on it. Any lover of lists will be mighty pleased by the selection of top 100 song lists, and their peculiar organization into food, cars, cities, … Read more

The Pleasure-Enhancing Music Experiment: Day Four

Or “How I Plan to Discover New Songs on the Internet + Not Let it Kill My Love of Music”……Five new songs (no more, no less), five days a week, for 30 days. Wednesday June 12th 1. From The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits…….Hot: Angel In Your Arms (Big Tree, 1977)A fairly unremarkable soul ballad from what Billboard describes as an “interracial female vocal trio from Los Angeles.”  2. From Lost in the Grooves….Sam Cooke: Lost and Lookin’ (RCA, 1963)Reviewer Kris Kendall recommends listening to Sam Cooke’s Night Beat album as a whole, rather than singling out one song. But upon hearing the achingly beautiful  “Lost and Lookin’,” I’m reminded that I’m seriously missing out on staggering male talents like Sam Cooke. I’m ashamed to admit that I own not one Sam Cooke record, but that’ll all be changing now that I’ve heard this. LOVE! 3. My own curiosity….Chvrches: Gun (Virgin, 2013)The latest single from Scottish trio Chvrches (pronounced “churches”) isn’t breaking new ground with its chiming synth pop and beats you’ve surely heard before. But what they lack in originality is made up with the sweetest pop melodies, a punchy chorus, and an ending … Read more

The Pleasure-Enhancing Music Experiment: Day Three

Or “How I Plan to Discover New Songs on the Internet + Not Let it Kill My Love of Music”……Five new songs (no more, no less), five days a week, for 30 days. Tuesday June 11th 1. From The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits…….Dave Edmunds: I Hear You Knockin’ (MAM, 1971)Yes! To discover such rawkin’ records is precisely why I’ve embarked on this musical journey. I know far too little about ’70s glam + power pop, but this makes me wanna discover more! more! more! And search out the Smiley Lewis and Gale Storm versions that came before.  2. From Lost in the Grooves….Sagittarius: Musty Dusty (Columbia, 1968)Reviewer Andrew Hultkrans suggested beginning with “My World Fell Down” off Sagittarius’ Present Tense LP, which I already know and adore. So I thought I’d try out “Musty Dusty,” which Hultkrans very aptly describes as “an unbearingly cloying lullaby to the singer’s childhood toys.” It’s unlikely I’ll find an occasion where I’ll want to hear this again, but I’m most intrigued to hear the rest of the album. 3. My own curiosity….Empire of the Sun: DNA (EMI, 2013)If I’d been asked to pick my favorite song of the 21st … Read more