Sunday Life: June 2016

Sydney has officially entered its winter. We already had some snow up in the mountains, and a few colder nights in Sydney but, setting aside this weekend’s severe weather, #StormAgeddon, overall the weather has remained unseasonably gorgeous for this time of the year.

Given the colder nights, I am sticking with whisky-based cocktails, and moving on to the Manhattan. This cocktail is another one listed in ‘The Unforgettables’ category of the Official Cocktails of the International Bartenders Association.


60ml rye whisky*
15ml sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Method: Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes, stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Most often this cocktail is garnished with maraschino cherry, but I like it clean …

* As with last month’s Old Fashioned, use a good rye whisky and you will be rewarded. Some of the best options are Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, Bulleit Rye, Angel’s Envy Finished Rye, WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey, or, if none of those are available in your location, use Wild Turkey 101 Rye.

While you are enjoying your Manhattan, here are a few of my favourite tunes I am currently listening to … It has been a big musical month with new releases from Beyoncé to Justine Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and the Pet Shop Boys.

‘Twenty-something’ by Pet Shop Boys

This is a haunting, highly political and socially critical music video from an unlikely source – the Pet Shop Boys. The gay, British electropop legends take on America’s social inequality, and its failing system of justice.

Find an issue
get ahead
Got it sorted
like you said
You’re twenty-something
and so to bed

That’s how you are
or have to be
in a decadent city
at a time of greed
You can make believe
that it’s all you need
Sometimes it’s hard
day to day
to pay your way

The dark music video, shot in black and white, was directed by Gavin Filipiak, and tells the story of a young criminal released from prison who tries hard to set himself straight after his release, but is dragged back down into crime by an unjust and uncaring world around him.

‘Ain’t Your Mama’ by Jennifer Lopez

J-Lo is back with a power song for the ladies:

I ain’t gon’ be cooking all day, I ain’t your mama
I ain’t gon’ do your laundry, I ain’t your mama
I ain’t your mama, boy, I ain’t your mama
When you’re gon’ get your act together?
I ain’t your mama
No, I ain’t your mama
No, I ain’t your mama, no

And boys, you better watch out because the ladies had enough and they won’t take it anymore! The song is the lead single from J.Lo’s ninth studio album. While it’s a fun and upbeat song and video, the message to men is very-very clear …

The one highly unfortunate angle that works against the song is that it was reportedly co-written and originally produced by Dr. Luke, who recently made some less than flattering headlines in respect of his behaviour vis-à-vis women, in light of singer Kesha’s recent lawsuit against him.

However, it has been noted that J.Lo had no interactions with Dr. Luke, as his involvement with the song ended about two years ago.

‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake

I will end on a fun high-note with a song which is destined to be the huge hit of the Northern summer, Justin Timberlake’s infectious ‘Cant stop the feeling’. Whether you like it or not, this song will make you smile and boogey down the moment you hear it. Just think of it as “Happy” for 2016 …

He also made big splash performing the song, as a guest performer, at the grand final of the 2016 Stockholm Eurovision Song Contest. Many thought this was odd, but I can assure you there was a sufficiently reasonable connection, as the song was co-written and produced by Swedish songwriters Max Martin and Shellback.

‘Giovanni’s Room’ by James Baldwin

Giovanni's RoomIf you would prefer a literary journey with your Manhattan, my choice this month is ‘Giovanni’s Room‘ by James Baldwin.

This is a groundbreaking gay novel written in 1956 by pioneering African-American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social activist James Baldwin.

James Baldwin, born in 1924, grew up in the Harlem, in New York City, where he experienced racist police abuse from a young age. His adoptive father also treated him harshly.

At age 24, disillusioned by American racial and homophobic prejudice, he moved to Paris. He spent most of the rest of his life in France.

James Baldwin‘Giovanni’s Room’ was his second novel and it caused great controversy when it was first published, due to its explicit homoerotic content.

The book tells the story of a young American man who is engaged to marry. David lives in Paris, and while his fiancée takes a trip, he finds himself coming to terms with his attraction to men. He engages in gay sexual relationships, including with the beautiful, but troubled, Italian bartender Giovanni.

When his girlfriend returns David leaves Giovanni, without telling him anything. In his desperation, the abandoned Giovanni murders the owner of the gay bar he used to work at. Giovanni is executed for his crime.

David’s fiancé eventually finds out about his secret life and leaves him. There is no happy ending here – the book ends with a guilt-ridden David contemplating his life, and the tragic consequences of his actions.

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