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New York City

Crane Collapse in Midtown Manhattan


Well this is just insane, apparently the crane on the new residential building on 57th Street has collapsed and is literally hanging on by a wire. You can watch the live footage HERE. 

Waiting for Sandy

So Hurricane Sandy is on her way, and for the first time in about two months, I’m spending the day in. I guess its times like this that provide a perfect opportunity to update one’s blog- especially when I haven’t REALLY done so in about two months (save my midnight musing on time last week). I’ll start by telling you that yes, I’m safe, prepared and comfortable. All of these things are the direct result of supplying myself with plenty of merlot, bagels, water , and literature.

I’m currently alone in my friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side with her cat Kilo as we await more rain and wind. I can see the neighbor’s rooftop garden from the window and already pots have started to fall over. I’d feel bad for her, but there is a reason she’s been dubbed Buddha Bitch by many.


Somehow, this is all too fitting. I’m supposed to move into my new apartment out in Astoria, Queens with my best friend Rachel this week, but of course, there’s a hurricane on it’s way.  This will mark my first NY residence off the island of Manhattan, and I feel like in many ways, it marks my acceptance of adulthood. New York City makes it so easy for many of us to ignore the advancement of time and the responsibilities attached. There is always yet another Club Kid art show, a friend’s drag performance, and a million and one Groupons to entertain the inner dysfunctional child in you. I don’t know anywhere in the world where so many adults have turned cupcakes into a weekly necessity. My mother would shake her head if she knew the myriad of sweets I encounter on a daily basis… and by encounter, I mean devour.



So while I await the coming of the pseudo-apocolyptic Frankenstorm, I invite you to check back here for more narratives. That is.. until the power shuts off.







My New York City Gym Review: 24 Hour Fitness, Midtown

THOUGHTS: I was initially afraid this location would be too crowded for me to have a satisfying workout, but I was pleasantly surprised. While the gym itself is very busy, it more than makes up with a varied selection of equipment and several personal training areas to allow you to do what you need to do.

Equipment (* * * * * Five Stars) Not only does the gym offer TRX Suspension Training, but it gets a five star rating simply because it offers three brands of circuit training equipment as well. The only place I’ve seen with a comparable offering is the Santa Fe Spa out in New Mexico.

Staff (* * * * Four Stars) My membership advisor was nice enough, but didn’t seem entirely enthused about the gym.

Cleanliness ( * * * * Four Stars) My only complaint here is the locker room- could always be cleaner.

Amenities ( * * * *  Four Stars) This 24 Hour Fitness location has a steam room, whirlpool and a juice bar. Its actually a pretty great gym, but loses a point when measuring up to some of the competition in the areas of bathing supplies. I know, I know, but you gotta admit how impressive the whole Kiehl’s thing at Equinox is, or Complete Body and Spa’s surprising spa-like experience in it’s showers.

OVERALL RATING (* * * * 1/4 ) 

Who is 24 Hour Fitness Midtown for? I’d actually recommend 24 Hour Fitness to anyone who either lives in the area or doesn’t mind the trek.

My New York City Gym Review: The Athletic & Swim Club at Equitable Center

THOUGHTS: You know, its actually really cool getting to underground at the Equitable Center to, of all things- work out. Something very interesting about the Athletic & Swim Club is that its designed for the busy person who doesn’t have time to carry around a gym bag- so they provide you with a full uniform sans shoes, and men, be prepared with your own compression shorts because they also have available for use, used jock straps.

Equipment (* * * * Four Stars) This is definitely a five star facility, but as always, there is definitely some competition to be had in this field.

Staff (* * *  Three Stars) Everyone I encountered was nice enough, but I really love it when a gym staff interacts with you. I had one trainer tell me I was awesome for putting away my own equipment, and then went on to belittle the club members- personally, I don’t want to hear this, simply because it gives me the idea that if I were to join, I might be subject to his shady and oppressed attitude.

Cleanliness (* * * * Four Stars) This just goes with my disdain for carpeted locker rooms, the rest of the facility is spit spot and splendid.

Amenities (* * * * * Five Stars) It kind of pains me to give this place a five star rating based on the added “bonus” of an adult PE Uniform, but I did kind of like it, and yes- I wore my OWN skivvies. Aside from clothing, the facility boasts an amazing Olympic- size swimming pool, whirlpools, steam room and sauna, plus a shoe shine  and clothing steamer service.

OVERALL RATING ( * * * * Four Stars)

Who is The Athletic & Swim Club for? Like I said earlier- the busy person who is just too busy for a gym bag and doesn’t mind wearing underwear other people’s genitals have sweat in. I must say though- it was a very nice pool.

My New York City Gym Review: BALLY Total Fitness, Midtown East

THOUGHTS: Woah, woah, woah was this gym crowded! This is definitely one of those “shower at home” gyms, but like a lot of people who have such memberships in midtown, its a commuter convenience. This facility seemed to be in dire need of a renovation. I’m not so sure I would have gone to this location if I knew of the lack of towel service. Mind you I had to run to the theatre district to pick up tickets and then back to the Upper West Side to shower. Since this facility has a sauna, I can’t necessarily imagine running around Manhattan with two towels in my bag, let alone one covered in sweat.

Equipment (* * * Three Stars) This place could definitely use an upgrade, but my major complaint was the heavy crowd downstairs.

Staff (* * * Three Stars) The club manager was nice enough, but tried to sell me a membership without even giving me a tour, that is definitely a red flag for me.

Cleanliness (O Stars) Harsh? Here’s why, sure NYSC had cockroaches running around it’s sauna, but at least you could sanitize your equipment after each use. Not only was the weight room completely out of sanitizing spray for the equipment, no one seemed to mind. Not to mention there were literally puddles of urine surrounding the toilet and urinal in the men’s locker room. I don’t just blame the maintenance staff for that one- I blame the people who go here.

Amenities (* * Two Stars) While there is no towel service, at least the gym HAS showers and a sauna… use at your own discretion.

OVERALL RATING ( * * Two Stars)

Who is Bally Total Fitness, Midtown East for? Honestly, people who are able to shower at home, don’t mind waiting for free weights and would rather use cardio equipment.

My New York City Gym Review: The Sports Club/ LA, Upper East Side



THOUGHTS: I was very excited to try this particular location out, and had some great assistance from membership consultant Kevin Cullen in exploring the vastness that is The Sports Club/ LA, Upper East Side. I think its possible to say that although this gym has everything you could possibly need, it might be a little too big for me. I mean this location has a legitimate full bar for goodness sakes. I must say however that this gym offers so much that if I were to, say, actually join, I might actually take up rock climbing.



Equipment (* * * * * Five Stars) This gym has pretty much anything you could possibly need in abundance.


Staff (* * Two Stars) This is simply another case where I had an amazing membership consultant give me a great impression of the club before I  encountered some of the other employees. One such case was when I went to swim laps in the pool. The sign clearly states you only have to wear a swim cap if you have shoulder length hair. I walked to the pool and the “life guard” shouted “hey you need a cap,” I said “alright, but the sign says you only need to wear one if you have shoulder length hair” he shrugged his shoulders, pointed at some swim caps and said “you need a cap.” He then fell asleep for the entirety of my hour long swim.


Cleanliness (* * * Three Stars) I’m never a fan of carpeted locker rooms where wet bodies drip various fluids on the floor. I don’t believe any amount of vacuuming or sanitizing can rid a carpet of the daily abuses of a men’s locker room. Also- waaay too many towels on the ground in the steam room.



Amenities (* * * * Four Stars) The roof deck makes up for the outdated sauna and steam room towel mess.


OVERALL RATING ( * * * 1/4  stars) 

Who is  The Sports Club/ LA for? Anyone who thinks a gin and tonic is a great pre-workout drink.









My New York City Gym Review: Complete Body, East 57th Street.

Thoughts: This place was a lot of fun for me. One of the unique offerings of Complete Body on East 57th Street is it’s rooftop saltwater lap pool. Thats right- they have a saltwater lap pool, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed having the pool all to myself after the sun set. A truly cool experience. The members were also quite interesting, I observed one older woman throwing a tantrum during the day when the young lifeguard told her that there a waiting list to swim. It was like watching Veruca Salt scream “I want it now!”

Equipment (* * * * Four Stars) This gym is great and could totally benefit from the incorporation of some of the equipment out there e.g. Power Plate, Jacob’s Ladder and the like. Otherwise this place is top notch.

Staff (* * * * * Five Stars) This place has truly awesome people working there and will gladly engage you in conversation.

Cleanliness ( * * * * Four Stars) I’d give this place five stars, but I did notice some questionable gunk in the shower tiles. Otherwise, this place is VERY clean.

Amenities (* * * * * Five Stars) Like I said- rooftop saltwater lap pool! Complete also has a sauna and is the only place I’ve ever been to that offers body scrub in the showers- truly luxurious.

OVERALL RATING (* * * * 1/2   stars)

Who is Complete Body for? Complete actually offers a month by month membership which, is somewhat unique for a luxury gym. You can go on a month by month basis for $119. This gym is perfect for anyone who lives in the city and wants to maintain good form for the beach… salt water and all.

My New York City Gym Review: New York Sports Club, West 80th Street



THOUGHTS: This location is conveniently close for me, a couple likable qualities hear and there, but beyond that, I can’t say that I recommend this location. With annoying array of adult men trying to openly engage in “adult activity” in the locker rooms and a general absence of etiquette among the maintenance employees and multiple members- my month at NYSC West 80th Street was something of an experience.



Equipment (* * * Three Stars) This desperately needs to be updated. While it is very cool that the facility offers TRX Suspension Training,  the amount of rust on some of the gym’s equipment isn’t.


Staff ( * * Two Stars) While Desi, one of the gym’s membership consultants is a rock star employee- I didn’t appreciate the locker room attendant rapping explicative words loudly along with his head phones.



Cleanliness (* One Star) Besides the foul smell of molding body odor and urine, there was a cockroach in the sauna- need I say more?


Amenities (* One Star) What good is a sauna if it has cockroaches?


OVERALL RATING (1.75 Stars) 

Who is NYSC at West 80th for? Anyone who has the time to go home to shower.








My New York City Gym Review: Boom Fitness, Upper East Side

THOUGHTS: Well, let me start off by telling you that this is the gym that made me want to start posting this project TODAY, and not in a good way. Also- a little reminder that for two blissful years I belonged to the Upper West Side Equinox at 92nd Street and Broadway. During that time I lived at 122nd Street and Broadway, 162nd Street and Broadway, and 102nd Street and Amsterdam, and I still went all the way to that gym. BOOM offers a free 3 day trial on it’s main page, and to be honest, this club definitely sits in my current price range. After Ford Model James Collins suggested I try this location out, I thought “why not?” Well, when I went in for my free trial, the general manager Antonio Del Giudice flat out told me that he didn’t want to give me a 3 day pass because I didn’t live in the 10028 zip code, but would gladly register me for a membership and refund my money if I was dissatisfied in three days. Okay… WHAT? Currently I live clear across the park at a 10024 zip code, and since I’m newly in this residence I gave them my old 102nd street address. The lovely Antonio Del Giudice also made the assumption out loud “there’s no way you’re going to come all the way here for a gym.” Excuse me? Did I mention I went to a 92nd Street gym while living at 162nd Street? Not to mention, I’m ALWAYS in that neighborhood. Between Brandy’s Piano Bar and Trinity Pub on East 84th Street… well I’ve practically made a second residence on the Upper East Side. He then went on to say “isn’t there another gym closer to you that you can go to instead? I just have to be thoughtful of the people who actually live in this area.”  He eventually gave me the trial anyway after huffing and puffing about the “annoying people from The Bronx” who come in for a trial session. To top it all off, I wouldn’t have included all this if, when I was getting dressed at the end of my workout, I hadn’t heard him tell an employee in the locker room “… and then I had this fucking guy from the West Side come in for a free trial.” Oh…  I’m sorry, but save your customer service woes for the bar, you know- when you aren’t working. So thank you Antonio Del Giudice for the delicious content, I actually appreciate it. And yes, I’m still going to rate this location

Equipment (* * * * Four Stars) The equipment at BOOM was actually pretty good, save the leg press that wouldn’t lock in properly without some severe effort… not the safest experience. I did appreciate the kettle bells.

Staff (* One Star) The only person who gets a star is the girl who sold me my energy drink- you all know why.

Amenities (* * * Three Stars) Sure there’s towel service and the basic steam/ sauna combo I usually seek out, but I don’t like that you have to get your towels at the gym’s entrance- this makes it difficult if you decide use the steam room or sauna while you’re taking a shower. Then what? Get dressed, grab another towel, undress, go in the steam room and shower again? Too much work- unless there is actually space in the locker room that wasn’t being kept up properly with the necessity… then that’s a staffing fail.

Cleanliness (* * * * Four Stars) The gym was pretty clean save the towels all over the floor in the men’s locker room… dislike!

OVERALL RATING  (* * * Three Stars)

Who BOOM is for? Not me… and if you don’t live inside the 10028 zip code, they don’t want you either.

My New York City Gym Review: CLAY

THOUGHTS: This is the gym that initially gave me the inspiration to write this string of reviews and comparisons. I received a 2 week pass to CLAY inside an event gift bag and managed to score another for my friend Madeleine Phillips. Let me just say that my trial was utter paradise. With the club’s membership cap, it was never crowded which meant one very important thing to me- I could try out new activities without feeling like I was being watched with judgement by some douche bag jock. In other words- places like this are why I can actually squat 250+ lbs now.

Equipment (* * * * * Five Stars) Besides various Equinox locations, this is one of the only gyms I’ve been to that has a  Power Plate , and the only place that I’ve experienced a Jacob’s Ladder. This place also has awesome cardio and strength training equipment.

Staff (* * * * * Five Stars) Not only are the front desk and membership reps at this location rock stars, but so are the cafe workers. I looked forward to see every employee of this gym.

Cleanliness (***** Five Stars) This place is so incredibly immaculate you might be afraid to sweat on the equipment, but don’t let that stop you from giving 100%.

Amenities (* * * * * Five Stars) I would have given this place 4 stars for the lack of a steam room, but Clay more than makes up for it with an array of personal (yes you heard me PERSONAL) saunas for you to relax all by yourself or with a friend. The gym also has several conspicuously placed refrigerators filled with refreshing eucalyptus towels and a relaxation room with iced water for you to enjoy.

OVERALL RATING (* * * * * Five Stars)

Who CLAY is for? Anyone with a $200 monthly budget (I know) and within a short distance of 25 West 14th Street. If you live in the area, and have the dough- this place could literally be your second home and zen getaway.

My New York City Gym Review



Hi all- So I was actually going to wait a while to post anything about this project, but after an interesting day on the Upper East Side of Manhattan- I figured. What the hell!? Here’s the deal. From Winter 2010- Winter 2012, I belonged to Equinox Fitness, and I loved every second of it. The gym gave me a unique drive to WANT to go to the gym, and in fact I’ll let you in on a little secret. When first came to NYC in 2008, I weighed 225 lbs- I now weigh a healthy 185 lbs at 6ft and have a whole new set of fitness goals before me. Since my new job doesn’t officially start until the beginning of September and since I’ve been back in Manhattan since June (following a 5 month hiatus), I decided to explore the various gyms in New York City and rate them based on various scales of excellence before I officially decide on a membership. Now- here we go, I hope you enjoy this little endeavor.





Paul Balmer in front of some of his work. Photo by Melissa Moehlman; taken from wikipedia.

This past Friday, I had the exquisite experience of attending Paul Balmer’s artist reception for his new collection Cityscape to Landscape at the Campton Gallery at 451 West Broadway in New York City. Mr. Balmer hails from South Africa and his since been somewhat of an international citizen; with exhibitions over the past two decades in London, Chicago, Sydney Australia, Boston, and New York to name a few.

Over a Red River, by Paul Balmer

Mr. Balmer’s Cityscapes capture a unique essence of both New York City and the country in that he manages to express (in cityscapes) a viable and controlled chaos that is natural in the habitat of our concrete jungle. For this reason, I would beg to argue the collection’s metamodernistic influence simply by the adventure Mr. Balmer’s pieces take you on.

Between Night and Day, by Paul Balmer

Then there are the Landscapes, a perfect juxtaposition to it’s Manhattan counterpart by way of serenity and the ability to transport you to any welcome and familiar place in the annals of your memory. I was both seventeen again in the Tuscan countryside and a child on a farm in central New Mexico. Paul Balmer possesses the gift of expressing to you, you’re own emotions through his art.

Quiet Country by Paul Balmer

A special thank you to Miss Allison Harrell for the invitation.

Max Irons and I.N.C. International Concepts at Thom Bar

Max Irons, Me




Last night, I had the pleasure of attending an event for Macy’s private brand I.N.C. International Concepts and it’s 2012 line featuring British Actor Max Irons. Mr. Irons is known for playing Henry in Red Riding Hood opposite Amanda Seyfried and was recently cast as Jared Howe in the widely anticipated screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyers’ novel, The Host.




The event was at Thom Bar at Sixty Thompson in New York City and boasted an array of canapes and a specialty citrus vodka mojito that I’ll admit was all too easy to drink. What I found interesting about the event was the eclectic mix of people- I was told that one disheveled looking guest sporting wrinkled shorts, an ill-fitting t-shirt and blue hair was a fashion blogger. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine taking advice from someone who looks like they got dressed in the dark in a room full of Play-Doh.



Since my host for the evening, Allison Harrell and I had to make our way down the street to another event, we had to leave Thom Bar early, but not before catching a glimpse of this fall’s collection, which, to be honest, I found quite appealing. As we left the front of the hotel lobby, we spotted Max Irons standing outside speaking to someone who I could only was a publicist for the event.


I told Max that was actually pretty eager to see him as Antonio Vivaldi in the upcoming film to which he replied “Oh no, I’m so sorry to disappoint you, but it isn’t any more.”


“Oh?” He seemed a little sad to admit this to me, but I quickly replied that I would just as gladly see his upcoming film The Host.




“Well I hope you enjoy it,” he said. I had also explained my particular affinity towards classical music during introduction “…I know you were probably looking forward to the other one.” In the meantime, I asked for a picture to which he kindly agreed while his publicist motioned impatiently at us at the front door that we were waisting his time. Max said “oh, don’t worry about it- I always find these things to be rather intimidating- the break is welcome.”

And with that we said goodbye as he disappeared back into the crowded room of models, flashing lights, and journalists while Allison and I made our way blissfully down the street.











Anne Hathaway: 2012′s Golden Girl

Alright, before you all collectively roll your eyes before continuing on, let me preface what I’m about to say with the admission of my previous stance on Anne Hathaway. To be honest, when I realized that the Hollywood actress had landed the iconic roles of both Catwoman and Fantine, I complained like a spoiled Upper East Side trust fund baby who couldn’t access his account for a last minute trip to France for Bastille Day.

My initial thought on the Batman movie was “why couldn’t they get Angelina Jolie, or at least someone with that kind of bad ass credibility?” And don’t get me started on the whole Les Miz thing…

After seeing The Dark Knight Rises, I gladly welcomed defeat. I walked in the theater a skeptic and left a raging fan. I mean, I always appreciated the actress in earlier roles that made her famous as a sort of dependable and likable Hollywood princess, and found her performances in other films like Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married to be indicative of something awesome to come. However, nothing prepared me for the amazing performance Anne Hathaway gave as Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in the finale to Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy.

For the first time on screen, we witnessed the humanity behind Catwoman, and even sympathized with her basic human struggle to succeed- all the while trying to escape a troubled past. Yet Anne didn’t for one second let you think the character was weak, instead, she always gave you the sense that she had the upper hand, and would escape the movie’s events unscathed- at almost any cost. The unique sensuality she used with Christian Bale‘s Bruce Wayne was utterly delicious.Combine that with a sexy catsuit and a wardrobe that ranged from bohemian to an almost “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ensemble, she was as versatile in her appearance as she was in the role itself.

As one of my friends put it a couple of days ago “its like she went from Molly Ringwald to Julia Roberts.” And that may be, but I feel like Anne Hathaway has not only come into her own, but she stands alone. Besides, could you see Julia Roberts kicking serious ass in a skin tight suit? Both played “villains” this year, but we only sympathized and fell in love with one.

Hudson Sutler

The Mackinac Duffel: Spring 2012

A couple of weeks ago at Alton Lane‘s Harriman Cup event, Allison Harrell and I had a brief yet friendly encounter with Hudson Sutler founder, Grant Hewitt.

Hatteras: Spring 2012

Hudson Sutler is a purveyor of fine Made in America weekend and commuter bags- you know, those nifty little duffels that crowd the Long Island Railroad every Friday and Sunday. It seems that having the perfect weekend bag is something of a necessity in the East Coast (remember- I hale from the Southwest) and even Goldman Sachs has a line of such bags for their employees to display on their weekend vacations.

Catalina: Summer 2012

As Mr. Hewitt put it, a sutler is a civilian merchant who sold provisions to an army in the field, in camp, or in quarters.  Primarily in business during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, sutlers were a significant part of shaping the America we know today.

‘Sconset: Summer 2012


As I stated in my event post for the Harriman Cup’s Alton Lane event, this company’s products are definitely on my wish list for the coming year.

The above photo’s were taken from Hudson Sutler’s Facebook Fan Page. Click Here to become a fan. 



ALTON LANE- Dressing for The Harriman Cup

Here is Alton Lane‘s full collection of complete looks for this year’s Harriman Cup.

If you’re interested in shopping the collection- CLICK HERE.



All of the above images were taken from Facebook.com on Alton Lane’s Fan Page.

THE HARRIMAN CUP: 2012 Fashions by Alton Lane

This season’s looks for The Harriman Cup by Alton Lane. Taken from Facebook.com

A couple of weeks ago, I was given the kind invitation to attend not only The Harriman Cup, but a pre-fashion event for the polo match at Alton Lane NY. The Harriman Cup is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of polo and supporting the respective collegiate polo teams of Yale and the University of Virginia.

Alton Lane combines traditional bespoke techniques with modern technology in the form of a 3D body scanner to give a truly perfect fit with a truly classic look.

Me in Alton Lane’s 3D body scanner. Yes- that is a shoe horn in my mouth ;-)

Other sponsors represented at the event were JP Crickets  and Hudson Sutler. JP Crickets is a his and her’s shoe company that combines the craftsmanship of an Italian loafer with a classic velvet slipper, while Hudson Sutler produces fine American-made duffels and weekend bags with gingham lining. It is safe to say that all three companies at the Harriman Cup’s “dressing” will be heavy hitters on my 2012-2013 wish list.

The event itself was gloriously “prep-tastic” as one guest/ UVA alum put it, and was heavily supplied with cocktails as unique and colorful as the multi-colored lapels that adorned the room. It should should be noted that an appointment at Alton Lane means a glass of scotch while shopping in a comfortable and masculine environment.

As my friends Allison, Millen and I were chatting, a familiar figure seemed to pop out of nowhere like a glitter-bomb. I turned around to see Richie Rich; Club Kid and  co-founder of the now defunct fashion label, Heatherette. It was one of those interesting moments of juxtaposition that I absolutely live for, but entirely possible due to the mere influence of New York City. He introduced himself to each of us, looked at Allison and said “You’re fabulous! Are you a model?” The two became engrossed in conversation while she explained to Richie that she was actually a photographer, but was very flattered by his complement.

Millen Emmanuelle, Me, Richie Rich, Allison Harrell, Kimberly Babcock

The evening ended all too quickly, but not before a few words from Harriman Cup chair-member and MTV producer, Matt Paco. Mr. Paco thanked the various sponsors and people who make the yearly event possible. This year’s Harriman Cup will take place on September 8 at The Meadowbrook Polo Club in Old Westbury, Long Island, NY.

If you’re interested in buying a ticket for the event, CLICK HERE. 

A special thank you to MTV Producer Matt Paco for the evening’s festivities.

Urban Palate: Allison Harrell

Last week, I met up with photographer Allison Harrell at the cafe Little Brown on 85th and Madison Avenue in New York City. I’m a fairly recent fan of Miss Harrell’s work, and wanted to learn more about her and her inspiration behind the camera.

Allison Harrell in front her work at “The Art of Fashion Show.” Photography credit: Daniel Watson. The rest of the work featured in this article is the property of Allison Harrell Photography.

Allison seems to have experienced what one might call an artistic awakening during her time as a Pre-Med student in Tennessee; making the kind of swift life-changing decision that eventually landed her in the heart of New York City.

Allison Harrell Photography

We sat for a while discussing the manic weather pattern of the day when I asked her about her semester abroad in Perugia, Italy. You can always tell the joy someone has taken from an experience when the mere mention sparks a light from within. The self-proclaimed coffee-fiend and cannoli lover quickly divulged  one of her favorite memories.

Allison Harrell Photography

“…it was on an excursion to Venice.” she said smiling. “My friend and I went to this wonderful vintage costume shop where one of the owners invited us to celebrate the Festa del Rendentore on his boat!” Allison informed me that the festival is an annual event held in July to celebrate the end of of the plague of 1576 that claimed the lives of 50,000 Venetians. “We were able to watch the firework display between St. Mark’s Square and Il Rendentore on the water… watching the sun come up on Lido in the morning- that was one of those truly amazing life moments!”

Allison Harrell Photography

Allison possesses the kind of positive energy that can change the mood of a room instantly. The bright-spirited photographer draws inspiration from life’s surprises, or as she put it- flavors that you wouldn’t have thought to taste on your own. “Some of the best things in life find me!” She exclaimed while taking a sip of her iced-coffee a la Nancy Botwin. “… hopefully its because I’m receptive to them.”

Allison Harrell Photography

She continued on as we played a game of musical chairs with other Little Brown patrons trying to avoid the rain. “I feel that there’s an incredibly human quality that happens through the camera. A lot of people see the lens as a filter. For me, its more like a bridge.”

Allison Harrell Photography

Allison also admits to being inspired by art history and favors the Fauvist movement for it’s colorful display of emotion. “I just love this era for art! I feel like every shape and stroke comes from an emotional place. It’s truly for everyone. Regardless of your educational level in art, the emotional quality behind Fauvism is so obvious anyone can be moved it.”

Allison Harrell Photography RAWR!

Perhaps it is her daily outlook on life that lends itself to her art. “Every day I wake up and hope to be inspired. That’s my MO! If I’m really lucky, I have the opportunity to influence a brightened, positive perception in the people with whom I work and those who see it.” And this is entirely true, because when we finished, the rain suddenly stopped and I stepped out onto the pavement of a suddenly sunny Madison Avenue.

Visit www.amhphoto.com to view more of Allison’s work.

“You Had Me @ Yellow” US Yellow Lounge Launch NYC

Raising the bar at Yellow Lounge US. Photo credit- Ashly Priest

This Tuesday, I had the fortune of attending Decca &  Deutsche Grammophon‘s first ever United States Yellow Lounge at 82 Mercer in SoHo.


If you’re wondering just what Yellow Lounge is… never fear, because I’m going to tell you all about it. Established seven years ago in Berlin, Yellow Lounge took the classic idea of classical music performances, and reinvented it for the modern audience amidst a popping urban club scene. The idea is that you take an urban setting, such as the 82 Mercer Street warehouse-turned SoHo event space, toss in formidable classical artists, and make their performances, of all things… accessible. The event has garnered success in Berlin, Paris, London, and Amsterdam before finally crossing the Pacific to New York City.

“Music Is Better Than Sax!” Photo Credit; Ashly Priest

The excitement builds like such- guests are invited to an undisclosed location for a DG event featuring unnamed performers, thus causing the sort of quick and quiet gossip found saturated in Act 2 of L’Elisir D’amore.

But it was the strings who ruled the night, as the evening’s performers were revealed to be Grammy Award nominated Mandolinist, Avi Avital, and rising starlet, Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Avi Avital, Nicola Benedetti, and Phillipe Quint share a candid moment backstage. Taken from Facebook.com/YellowLoungeUS

The chic setting and open bar allowed guests to mingle freely while enjoying Magic Hat beer and cocktails made with Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, my personal favorite being the smartly named “Mandolin Martini.”

While most guests seemed to ogle at Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo and violinist Joshua Bell, I was more keen to chill with my guest Ashly Priest and mingle amongst an array of familiar faces.

I quickly found Deutsche Grammophon’s Head of Marketing Intern Kendall Zini-Jones snapping photos while dressed in an appropriately themed yellow dress and coordinating nails just before bumping into my old school friend, soprano, Nikoleta Rallis.

Photo taken from Facebook.com/YellowLoungeUS

The music started around 8 pm with selections performed by Avi Avital. It seemed as if Avi fed off the unique energy of the space, and didn’t allow the excess noise of some of the event’s less-informed guests to bother him. Rather he engaged all who were in an immediate radius to share what he knew how to do best.

After about thirty minutes, violinist Nicola Benedetti came to the stage. The beautiful performer possesses movie star looks that belie her virtuosic talent. After her first piece, she shook her head and asked “can you even hear me?” and then seemed bewildered at the chatter and said “… I mean, people are talking!” This only made the immediate audience of classical die-hards love her more and shout in agreement. She took a second to think about her next move; like a general determined to defeat the enemy, she just had to overcome the talkers. After a quick discussion with the skilled theorboist, Thomas Dunford, Nicola surprised  the audience with a gorgeously lilting performance of the Gershwin classic, Summertime.

When Nicola finished her set, she returned to the stage for a surprise duet with Russian- American violinist, Phillipe Quint. If you didn’t know already, Nicola plays the 1717 Gariel Stradivarius, while Phillipe plays the 1708 Ruby Strad. It seemed only fitting that three centuries after the birth of these respective treasures, they should meet again to tango to a delicious arrangement of Carlos Gardel‘s sumptuous “Por Una Cabeza.” You know- the piece that a blind Al Pacino teaches Gabrielle Anwar to tango to in The Scent of a Woman. It was one of those perfect moments in life that if you weren’t completely prepared and informed for, you might have missed completely. Here I was, in the heart of the greatest city in the world, front row at a concert while two internationally renowned violinists played music made famous from one of cinema’s greatest moments, all the while on instruments whose own inception inspired a new term for excellence.

Before the evening ended, Nicola returned once more to the stage with Avi Avital for an enthused encore performance of a Balkan folk song. As one of my friends put it “I think he’s REALLY into her!”

When the event ended, I took to the cobblestone streets of SoHo and walked through a still-busy Manhattan to relish in the evening’s gifts. I made it all the way to 85th Street and Broadway for a Cappuccino night cap at French Roast, just so I could allow the sounds of the evening to play just a little longer.

Diana Warner New York Anniversary & Mustache Party?

The lady of the cocktail hour, Diana Warner in her most handsome accessory to date

Last night, I went down to “the happiest little boutique in New York City” to celebrate Diana Warner New York‘s 1 year anniversary in it’s Gramercy location. As usual, Diana Warner and COO Gibson Purdom displayed copious amounts of sparkle, food, and lively libations for all.

I was thrilled to catch up with lawyer and food blogger extraordinaire Mary Ellen Stefanou. If you haven’t already teased your taste buds on Mary Ellen’s blog Pâte à Chewyou are in for a treat! I noshed with my friend as we acknowledged the woes of the New York City summer heat, all the while trying to tastefully congregate with strangers around the circulation fans. 

Guests enjoying snacks, libations by GRAVY NY, and 25% off the entire store!

I should probably mention that the DWNY event was a mustache party, and though I was keen to dawn the facial hair accessory, the humidity-induced sweat caused my ‘stache to fall off within five minutes of application, so I adorned my martini with a quaint handle bar look.

A Southern Gal definitely runs this joint!

Photographer Allison Harrell giving her best Bryce Dallas Howard

After some time, I was also joined by fellow classical music compadre and Assistant Project Manager at Iced Media, Kendall Zini-Jones before running into the wonderful photographer Allison Harrell. You can view some of Allison’s breathtaking photographs by clicking HERE.  

As I have previously stated before, Diana Warner’s store is both a place for amazing fashion and a wonderful charitable hub in the heart of Gramercy. Also in attendance at the event was Gossip Girl minion (you know her as Jessica) and Ford Model Alice Callahan. Alice’s current involvement with Kenya-based charity Many Hopes  is helping to shed light on extreme poverty in Kenya, and provide ways to raise a generation of children who will be given the education and ultimately the tools to eradicate the causes of this social injustice. If you’re into fashion, and also want to help, you can purchase the Many Hopes Bracelet at, where else, but at Diana Warner New York. For only $50, this bracelet helps to find, rescue, house, and educate orphaned and abandoned girls in Mtwapa, Kenya.

Diana’s adorable pooch Princess also gets in on the action

All in all it was a great night; I was able to catch up with some old friends, make some new ones, and make some accidentally priceless moments with Gibson Purdom… at least the girl is still laughing! By now, “Gibby” should be well aware why she is my favorite NYC bartender ;-).

Me with DWNY COO Gibson Purdom

Down and Derby Roller Disco

Photo Credit; Ashly Priest and The A-List Newsletter

Last Friday, I caught up with my dear friend Ashly Priest at the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn for “Down and Derby Roller Disco.” Seeing as how I hadn’t seen Ashly in a few months, she suggested the event as the perfect time, and way to reconnect. And why not?

“I Did It!” Ashly makes another successful turn around the rink.

This pic is mostly just Ashly and I not trying to fall. Far right is photographer Marc Hall enjoying our costumed folly

The event is held the third Friday of every month allowing guests to wear way outdated (yet totally fun) outfits and strut their stuff on the rink to late 70′s and early 80′s dance music. I have included some delightfully entertaining  pics of myself and Ashly at last Friday’s Down and Derby Roller Disco. A big special thank you to Dan Rosales for capturing these gems.

Ashly Priest in her eccentric 80′s outfit

Me doing my best plie en pointe… or rather en wheele!

Rainy River Run

The Little Red Lighthouse at the George Washington Bridge. Photo found at Lindsaytarynphoto.com

Last week I sat twiddling my thumbs with anxiety as my plans to run along the Hudson River were shattered by the timely arrival and accurately forecasted rainy day, which, I had all but ignored until it was time to go outside. I watched some Dr. Who with my gracious host until I started chatting with my friend David who I had originally planned on going running with.

“Where were you!?” David asked.


“Lame, it was awesome. You should have gone- it really was perfect running weather!”

I thought about my apparently fearless friend and then I thought about the pound or two of tortilla chips I was thinking about eating. I immediately dawned my Reebok Realflex running shoes, some running shorts and one of those moisture wicking shirts I’ve seemed to have acquired during my 40 lb weight loss. I walked nervously through the subtle sprinkle to the 181 Hudson Parkway entrance.

About two minutes in to my actual run, I noticed that my shirt was quickly becoming more and more damp, and therefore  a heavy nuisance that interfered with my current physical activity. I took my shirt off the second I passed the little red lighthouse at the base of the George Washington Bridge.

I instantly had one of those amazingly perfect Eckhart Tolle moments where I was so pleasantly overwhelmed by the state I was in; I almost couldn’t contain my happiness. There I was, running along the Hudson River with the rain softly beating against my bare skin while my heart was beating fast to get blood and oxygen throughout my body all the while maintaining a steady breathe. I felt alive.

There was almost an acknowledged shared arrogance about the others who had taken it upon themselves to engage in physical activity along the parkway. It was sort of like we knew we were rebels, and were so much cooler than the 70 degree Lululemon crowd. I took myself down to 145th street to the gate of the Riverbank State Park and turned around.

I realized that the only element missing from my journey was fire. I ran against the earth; brushing against the occasional tree along my path as the rain cooled the heat of my body. I realized then, in that instant that I took the place of the missing element because I was on fire. I was, in that moment, truly alive.

2012 VIMEO AWARDS (but mostly the after party)

Last weekend, I had the delightful chance of scoring passes to the 2012 Vimeo Awards Party. I was excited to find out that the event was going to be held in the Frank Gehry-designed IAC Building on West 18th Street. Mostly because I always wanted an excuse to go inside.

Below is a list (AND LINKS) of this year’s winners, and a couple pictures from the after party event.

Me with props artist Josh Hackett

2012 Vimeo Awards: category winners

  1. Action Sports: Dark Side of the Lens by Astray Films
  2. Advertising: K-Swiss Kenny Powers – MFCEO by Caviar
  3. Animation: Umbra by Malcolm Sutherland
  4. Captured: Sweatshoppe Video Painting Europe by Sweatshoppe
  5. Documentary: Amar (All Great Achievements Require Time) by Pilgrim Films
  6. Experimental: Prie Dieu by Cokau
  7. Fashion: Skirt by Academy Plus (A+)
  8. Lyrical: Symmetry by Everynone
  9. Motion Graphics: A History of the Title Sequence by Jurjen Versteeg
  10. Music Video: Manchester Orchestra: Simple Math by Daniels
  11. Narrative: BLINKY™ by Ruairi Robinson
  12. Series: Often Awesome The Series by All Aces Media
  13. Remix: Rear Window Timelapse by Jeff Desom

2012 Vimeo Honorary Awards

  1. The Honorary Award for New Creators went to directing duo Daniel Scheinhart and Daniel Kwan, collectively known as DANIELS, for their outstanding work over the last 18 months.
  2. The Honorary Award for Social Change was awarded to worldwide collaborative project One Day On Earth.
  3. The Honorary Award for Digital Maverick was awarded to openFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding.

With former fellow band geek, Lillian O’Connor. I’m really into the lighting in these photos for some reason…

An Engagement For Lunch

After leaving the bySMITH Collection photo shoot before it even happened, I hustled about twenty blocks north and three avenues east for the engagement lunch of one of my closest friends, Vanessa Angeles to her girlfriend and now fiance, Christina Colon. The event was held at La Petite Maison, the famed import from Nice, France housed in the lower level of the old Rockefeller Townhouse on West 54th Street.

I was initially nervous for the lunch because Vanessa asked me to give the toast for the event. I have a feeling this is partly because I’ve kept her up for hours asking for critiques on many of my posts here. Luckily the friendly staff and event planner, Ted Martinez  put me at ease with h’orderves and instructions before the festivities actually began.

As people slowly made their way in, I eventually made my way out and found my dear friend, operatic soprano, Suzanne Vinnik walking towards the restaurant. We quickly caught up after nearly 9 months of not seeing each other before being joined by pianist, Sakura Myers.

I had originally written a long, gushy toast about how I unknowingly met Vanessa years ago at Carnegie Hall when a bunch of us now close friends went to see Measha Brueggergosman sing, but after sharing my words with the diva and the critic, I shortened it to a much simpler toast so everyone could sip their Moet faster.

What I will say now, is that just when I think I’ve figured the people in my life out, they completely surprise and amaze me. That isn’t to say I had pegged Vanessa to be the perpetually single girl on Wall Street, but I didn’t foresee the recent and wonderful path she’s taken coming, at least not for quite some time.

So after a full lunch of fabulous French cuisine and catching up with some of the people I’m most thankful for in a juxtaposed “Old Meets New World” setting, I looked over to Suzanne inquisitively after hearing my name.

“Jacob- do you have your passport?”



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