A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Empire State Pride Agenda‘s “Hampton’s Tea Dance” in Bridgehampton, New York. Having never been out to any of The Hamptons, I was thrilled to find out that I would be in East Hampton for the duration of my stay.
I gladly boarded my train at Penn Station and found myself in East Hampton a couple of hours later. Though I’ve been in (and out of) New York for the past four years, I must be honest- I’ve never carried much interest in visiting The Hamptons. This was primarily to a misinformed idea that it was boring.
Well, I must say that I was terribly misinformed and now whole-heartedly believe that a little piece of heaven exists in the paradise that is Two Mile Hollow Beach. Within a couple hours of sunbathing and taking a swim in the Atlantic Ocean, I slowly began to meet my fellow beach goers who were all amazingly friendly. A while later at Almond Bridgehampton, I found myself in the middle of the friendliest restaurant and bar I have ever experienced.
Within seconds of walking in the door of Almond, I spotted about five people I had met earlier on the beach and was quickly ushered into a seat to join them at the bar. It is safe to say that never in my life have I had so many people come and introduce themselves to me, and yes, I know what you’re thinking “they probably thought you had a trust fund”- I honestly made some great connections that night and just didn’t want the evening to end. Not to mention, one of my beach friends ended up treating me to a delicious meal of a hamburger, ratatouille and sauteed Amagansett greens along with more gin than I usually care to stomach. Between the friendly atmosphere, a celebrity sighting (Nate Berkus was also dining on that particular Friday), and the drunken antics of a Bridgehampton brat named Samantha, I quite honestly had one of the best nights… ever!
The next day went somewhat similar. After a late morning and early afternoon on the beach I managed to see all the same people from my various weekend adventures at the ESPA Hamptons Tea Dance at the Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark . The event is held annually to raise money for the Empire State Pride Agenda- New York’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy group. The ESPA has worked tirelessly at negotiating New York City’s comprehensive domestic partnership law, passing a statewide hate crimes law, and enacting local non-discrimination laws and policies in Buffalo, Ithaca, Nassau County, and Westchester County. To view their complete mission and public policy agenda, click here. Guests of the event enjoyed dancing to beats spun by DJ Lady Bunny as well as an open bar in a breathtaking surrounding.
The next day, I left East Hampton both sad to leave, yet eager to return in the near future.
A special thank you to R. Chitel and Bob Norell for a fantastic weekend.
“Come to Montreal with me!” Suzanne Vinnik suddenly possessed the effervescence of the Champagne we were drinking.
“What!? I can’t, I mean… what?” I had barely gotten back to NYC after months away in New Mexico, I couldn’t go to Canada- or could I?
“Jacob, I have to sing for a conductor early Monday morning. I’m driving up tonight, the hotel is already taken care of…”
“Well…” I looked at Sakura who gave me her best “don’t ask me” face.
“Come on, I haven’t seen you in like 9 months, road trip with me and Julie!”
Before I knew it, Suzanne Vinnik and photographer Julie DeMarre had whisked me away on I-87 to yet another adventure. “Perfect” I thought to myself, I had only been back in NYC for 3 days and my first weekend back was going to be out of the country.
We arrived at the Hyatt in downtown Montreal late in the evening and decided to explore the next day.
After a nearly thirty minute failed attempt at finding a place to eat directly on Rue Sainte Catherine, Suzanne, Julie and I took a detour on Rue De La Montagne and found Ye Olde Orchard. Finally! A Place everyone could agree on (and poutine for me). I would like to say for the record that I am not a very picky eater, and while I do have palatable preferences, as long as I’m fed, I’m a happy camper. What I loved most about this little gem of a quebecois pub chain, wasn’t necessarily my poutine (Smoke’s Poutinerie still takes the cake, or should I say the curd… , the agreeable menu, or the ambience, but rather the restrooms.
After some more wandering up and down Rue Sainte Catherine, we decided to take a trek on down to Old Montreal and happened upon Canadian Maple Delights , where Suzanne was able to purchase some of her favorite maple cookies, Julie tasted an assortment of Maple syrups and I had a Maple taffy macaron and a surprisingly wonderful Maple latte.
Upon stuffing our faces with the multi-facets of maple, we signed up for a tour at Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours. This little architectural jewel is 350 years old and dubbed “The Sailor’s Church” because of wooden ship models that hang from it’s ceiling. Even more interesting was that the church was originally designed my Marguerite Bougeoys. If you aren’t sure who that is, don’t worry, until this tour and even later research, neither was I.
Marguerite Bougeoys was not only one of Montreal’s first teachers, but along with Jeanne Mance, introduced “Les Filles du Roi” (The King’s Daughters) to New France. Les Filles du Roi were approximately 800 or so young women recruited by the French government to move to New France to help boost marriage and population in Canada. WOW! Apparently Canada’s history is mighty interesting!
After exploring the church’s archeological site, Suzanne began talking about a “gloriously messy store” she had previously been to with “a giant mess.” Though Julie and I were obviously no help in finding such a mess, it didn’t take long until natives seemed to know exactly what she was talking about.
Eva B. is a unique cafe-boutique. Located on 2013 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, this wonderful store is a mix of, well… everything. From vintage clothes to Suzanne’s mess (a giant $1 clothing pit which has grown to become an attraction all it’s own) to some of the best samosas and lemonade I’ve ever had (they sell the latter by the gallon!), Eva B. was like a grown-up fun house of clothes and food.
While Suzanne and Julie braved the clothing pit, I stayed and met a man named Charles who apparently did computer programming for Dragon speech recognition software and was terribly excited to be producing his first Fringe Festival play “The Little Prince: As Told By Machiavelli.” When I finished my second samosa and third lemonade (they were really small cups), I set out to find the girls. After about thirty minutes of searching the endless labyrinth of clothing, roller skates and fair trade food items, I gave up and headed back to see if the girls had in fact gone back to the hotel room.
When I returned to our room at the Hyatt I found no one. I made the firm decision not to worry and started to write a note when Suzanne and Julie came in the door.
“Where were you?” asked Julie.
“I just left the mess place!”
“We just left the mess place! We were looking for you” laughed Suzanne.
We finally realized that while I had been searching downstairs with one of the employees, the girls had gone upstairs, and we had completely separate TEAMS of employees helping us look for each other. Now, Eva B. is not a big store, but it is very much like an M. C. Escher lithograph realized in the form of a hippie consignment shop.
The only thing I’m going to say about our third and final day in Montreal is that for some reason, I really, really love Canadian chain restaurants. In the two times I’ve been to Canada, I’ve been to an assortment of awesome places that totally Trump Chili’s and the like. With that being said, Eggspectation Montreal is kind of awesome, and provided me with a most wonderful crepe to remember, complete with surprisingly light textured, yet full-flavored Hollandaise sauce. Oh and if you’re in Virginia or Maryland, I am completely and totally jealous of you, because there are several locations in your neck of the woods.
What I loved most about exploring Italy when I was 17, was the ability and freedom I had to walk around aimlessly and explore the historic sites. What I didn’t count on, was how easy it is to lose your sense of time in a place like Rome.
Now, unlike New York, which runs on a ruthlessly tight schedule, Rome lives up to it’s Eternal City glory, and gives you the impression that you can just keep going forever. Someday I’d like to move to a place like this, where time seems to stand still and each breath you take is filled with powerful stillness. That is, you are constantly reminded of past promises, successes, and are filled with the certainty that everything will be alright.
“Alright!” Our tour guide Elvira Ferrari stood tall in her black leather boots and painted on jeans as we listened. “Meet me at the obelisk at Piazza San Pietro in THREE HOURS. We’re having dinner near the Palazzaccio and leaving promptly after to go back to the hotel, so don’t be late!
The “Palazzaccio”, or Palazzo di Giustizia (Supreme Court House) is called “the ugly palace” in it’s Italian colloquial due to the gaudy facade.
Now an important thing to remember about the timing of my Roman holiday, was that we arrived the week after Pope John Paul II passed away, so The Vatican was buzzing with foreigners waiting for conclave to start, the Sistine Chapel was closed, and Anderson Cooper seemed to be everywhere within the vicinity of St. Peter’s Square. I decided the timing was more than enough to attend mass, so I headed to church… without a watch.
The whole experience was quite astounding. In ushered all the cardinals who were being considered for Pope, and the choir seemed to resonate straight to the heavens. When it was time to say “peace be with you,” a little Italian lady who was sitting next to me turned and asked “Americano?”
“Si,” I replied.
“Ah!” The woman kissed me on either cheek and clapped her hands.
When I finally got out of mass, I headed to the obelisk and waited, and waited… until I finally asked someone for the time.
“I’m an hour late?” I asked out loud. “Shit!”
Elvira hadn’t told us the exact location of our lunch except that it was near the ugly palace. Even then, I didn’t speak the language and didn’t quite know how to get where everyone else was. Luckily, I found an American family who helped me flag down a taxi.
I did my best, “Umm… Palazzaccio?” My driver then took of at the speed of light and led me through Rome like I was his stowaway passenger in the Indy 500. When he got me to the ugly palace, I found myself no better off than I was at The Vatican. No one.
After an hour of looking at maps in different cafes and alternating between buying a shot of espresso and gelato to maintain my calm and collected appearance, I saw our bus pull up.
“LUIGI!” I yelled and ran after the giant tour bus like a thirsty traveler who has seen an oasis in the middle of a desert. He stopped abruptly and let me on. The poor man didn’t speak a word of English, and in true Jacob fashion, I proceeded to tell him all about my adventure. He simply nodded with a polite, yet confused smile.
After about thirty minutes alone with Luigi in silence, I saw my group members appear from a side street. “Where WERE YOU!?” yelled Aubre.
“Mass was… LONG!” I said.
“Well, you missed out, we had the best pasta, and oh my God, the espresso here is sooo good!”
“So I learned.”
Okay, so I know that I’m only 24 and have the rest of my life to discover new interests, learn, and explore, but I figured I’d make a public display of some cool places I’d like to keep in mind for my travels for the rest of my life. You know, a bucket list vision board. Here are some pictures of places I’d like to see in person some day.
While the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik is definitely at the top of my list of places to visit, the Skaftafeli National Park is filled with hidden treasures like the picture above.
Okay, you’ve got to admit… this looks kind of awesome!
After reading Malcom Gladwell‘s “Outliers”, I have a whole new appreciation for the people who make rice possible.
I’d just like to breathe the air here.
I think Nirvana may actually exist here.
Because there’s more to the world than what you see on TV.
Because I can’t imagine being terrified of heights in such breathtaking surroundings.
I’ve wanted to see India since the second grade when my teacher, Mrs. Bagri dedicated one of our month long themes to the country. While the Taj Mahal is definitely a list topper of places to see, its places like the Chittorgarh Fort that make me want to explore more of India.
Because there is more to Italy than Venice, Florence and Rome.
Come on… you’ve always wanted to do this too.
Because eating a meal here looks just as ambitious as crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
I think Indiana Jones inspired a “someday” trip in us all.
Because scenery like is almost be enough to get me to move away from New York City… almost.
Simply another place whose air I’d like to breathe.
This is the type of place I’d imagine mermaids could live.
Because this is what you want a Monet to look like when you get closer.
Because there is more to France than Paris.
Sometimes, life presents it’s simple, but often hard to reach dreams. Such is my wish to take that trip to Paris on a whim, still in my 20′s without a plan, and a desire to do, well, nothing. In my mind, Paris seems like the perfect place to do nothing at all, but beautifully.
Knowing my love for all things amazing, my good friend Vanessa Angeles called me immediately upon her arrival from Paris to let me know she had a very perishable treat for me to try, and that I just HAD to get myself to her Wall Street apartment the next day for brunch.
To my surprise, I found Vanessa in her apartment grinding a batch of espresso from the famed Caffè Sant’Eustachio in Rome. “Oh my goodness, I hope I get this right!” exclaimed Vanessa excitedly. “I’ve been dying for you to try this!”
Though modest in her barista skills, I do credit Vanessa’s kitchen as being one of my favorite cafes in New York City. “Oh, and I have something else, but you have to wait until everyone gets here!” Sitting on the kitchen counter was the famous Pierre Herme Initiation Chat box filled with 20 macarons made by the man French Vogue dubbed “The Picasso of Pastry.”
I turned to Vanessa “You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Oh come on, I know how much you appreciate things like this and… why can’t I bring Paris back to you?” Vanessa sipped her espresso “This will have to do, but I attest, no one can can make these like the Romans.” She may have that part right. Its rumored that part of the reason espresso in Rome is unmatched is due the purity of the city’s water .
After Sakura Myers and Vanessa’s friend Elena arrived with guests, we shared a small brunch of crepes and Speculoos spread accompanied by our espresso from Caffè Sant’Eustachio, the time came for us to try our ration of the famed dessert.
Amazingly, the salted caramel confections were everything I had hoped for… and more. I simply can’t recall the last time I ate only a few grams of something so delicious, yet was compelled to complete satisfaction. My two salted caramel Pierre Herme macarons were surprisingly more than enough to not only finish off a wonderful brunch, but also forced me to abstain from eating anything else for the rest of day. This wasn’t because I was trying to keep the wonderful taste of an imported Parisian treasure in my mouth, but I was simply full with delight.
- Candy-Colored Confections – The Pierre Hermé Pastries Will Leave You Hungry for More (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Paris Patisseries (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
- Paris Sweets: A Photo Catch-Up (doriegreenspan.com)
- A short, sweet revelation (theage.com.au)
With a new album out produced by Grammy Award winning drummer Ulysses Owens, jazz trumpet player and Juilliard graduate Mike Cottone’s star is rising higher than the interpolated riffs he plays. I caught up with the busy musician to discuss his music, mentors, meeting Anne Hathaway, and of course… food.
Jacob Paul: First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on “Just Remember”
Mike Cottone: Thank you sir!
JP: The album was produced by Grammy Award winning drummer Ulysses Owens… how did that come about?
MC: I went to Smalls Jazz Club one night last fall to check out one of his performances and we had the chance to catch up. He asked what I was up to and the ball started rolling from there.He is starting his producing career to supplement his playing so it was a win-win situation for the two of us… it was exactly what I needed. I’ve known and seen him play since I was in high school, and I always looked up to him!
JP: You mention that Ulysses encouraged you to write one more song for the album,which ended up as the title track “Just Remember”. How does this song represent your journey?
MC: After our first or second meeting (with Ulysses), we realized there would definitely be a need for more tunes on the album to supplement what I already had prepared, so I decided to channel the inspiration for the whole project in the title track. I’m very thankful to be a professional trumpet player/performing artist and it would not have happened if I didn’t have some key people in my life. Mr. McMurray being a huge influence ( Daniel McMurray was Mike’s high school band directer who passed away during his senior year in High School).
JP: What was the most important lesson you learned from Mr McMurray?
MC: Having an ego may be good for trumpet players, but always keep it in check. Modesty never goes unnoticed. People won’t call you to perform with/for them if you are full of yourself. As artists, we perform FOR the people. Sometimes it’s easy to slip into performing only for yourself. Basically, be humble!
JP: Kyle O’Brien recently praised you for putting out good, accessible jazz in Jazz Scene Magazine…can you tell me why its important for youto be an “accessible” musician?
MC: I recently saw an interview with guitarist Russell Malone where he spoke perfectly about this. If your music isn’t accessible, many times it is only enjoyed by other musicians. The trick is to make the music fun for the performers, but not so crazy that it is over the head of the audience. The music can’t be so dense the listener checks out. However, it doesn’t mean the music is “dumbed down.” It can still be challenging for the musicians.When it comes off right, the energy of the music reaches the performers and listeners.
JP:As a New York City musican, you’ve had an array of gigs which span Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Four Seasons Restaurant to the Broadway Productions of “HAIR”. Can you tell me what the most memorable gig you’ve played was?
MC:The craziest gig I ever played was the 2009 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall. It’s funny as we didn’t actually play. We pre-recorded the music at Clinton Studios the week before. On stage, we were playing, but the audience was hearing the studio recording. Even better than the performance was winning the Tony for best revival musical and being taken up to the Rainbow Room across the street. I’ve never seen so many camera flashes in my life. Meeting Anne Hathaway was a nice cherry on top of the whole experience. I have to thank Chris Jaudes for calling me to sub for him!
JP: Who do you look up to most in the music world?
MC: I greatly admire the success of Christian McBride. He has the ability to play EVERY style of music to the fullest and is the nicest guy you will ever meet. Jazz, Pop, Funk, R & B, etc. He can do it all. When you asked about music being accessible, he’s the go to guy. I had a blast rehearsing with Ulysses and Christian a couple weeks back for a project Ulysses is working on. He makes you feel like family from the first note.
JP: What are your favorite NYC hotspots?
MC: I love Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. It was the first club I went to right before moving to NYC and I always wanted to perform there. The staff, the vibe, the music, and the VIEW make it my favorite place. Smalls is another favorite. It is the complete opposite of Dizzy’s though. No view and only one bar tender, but the music is always happening.
JP: What are some of your favorite foods?
MC: I love my Dad’s spaghetti. It always hits the spot, and for dessert… Rochesterused to have a place called Louie’s Sweet Shop. Best peanut butter ice cream you will ever eat!
JP: What is your favorite place that you’ve visited?
MC: I Worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in 2006. Every week I’d free dive at Warwick Long Bay in Bermuda. Part of the beach was under construction for the summer so my bud from South Africa and I would sneak down and have a mile worth of beach to chill, jump of a massive rock into the water, and swim. The fish were ridiculous!
JP: Where would you like to visit that you haven’t already seen?
MC: I’d love to go to Italy… Southern Italy. Somewhere near the beach!
As always, Mike Cottone wishes to thank the incredible band. Jeremy, Kris, Paul, Jared, and Ulysses. “They made the music pop!”
For more information on where to catch this elusive musician, and to hear him play CLICK HERE! You can also order a signed copy of “Just Remember” by visiting www.mikecottone.com. If you’d like a cool Blue-Print t-shirt like the one Mike wore for Fashion’s Night Out, simply visit dianawarnerstudio.com .
- From Juilliard to Blue Note: Mike Cottone to Debut Album August 3rd (byronfernandez.wordpress.com)
- Cottone Album Release Party Approaching Sell-Out (byronfernandez.wordpress.com)
- Fashion’s Night Out @ Diana Warner New York (jacoboheme.com)
See – One of my favorite pastimes is going to the Museums. Living in NYC, you are surrounded by great Museums. With the suggested entrance fees being raised every year it can get to be a bit expensive, so I have found it helpful to know when each Museum has “free” days. I enjoy going to Museums to do research for roles I am learning, the restored historical rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are very inspiring. I also have certain paintings I just must visit, such as Madame X. Brooklyn Museum of Art has free Saturdays, which include curator talks and live music. I would also suggest checking out the wine bar on the roof at the Met. Museum of Art. It has one of the most beautiful views on Central Park. http://gonyc.about.com/cs/museums/a/museumdeals.htm
Break the fast – Food in NYC can be expensive. Brunch is one of my favorite activities to do with friends. It can easily run you $30 if you to places like Alice’s Teacup (a favorite). For those weekends you want to splurge that is perfect, but if you are worried about your wallet (who isn’t these days) Whole foods is a great alternative. Last time I had breakfast there I had oatmeal from the bar which has tons of add-in options for free and hot tea for $3.00! I love to get breakfast (or any meal really) at the Wholefoods at Columbus Circle and then take it to Central Park.
Spa – Spa days are some of the best days! NYC has a lot of options when it comes to pampering. One of NYC best features if that you can be in any neighborhood and find a $20 mani/pedi place! If you are looking for more the internet is your bestfriend. Groupon tends to offer a lot of discounts, but one of the best sites is http://www.spaweek.com/deals/#Manhattan. You can always find great deals on this site. There are also twice annual (on in the fall and on in the spring) spa weeks where you can get just about anything for $50.
Shop – Macy’s… how I love thee! I always find what I need here. A lot of the time you can find the same clothes Saks, or some of the other more expensive dept. stores, carry for less here. Macy’s has crazy sales often. Last time I went to Macy’s I needed a lot of clothes because I was leaving for the summer and needed a lot of new things. I bought $975 worth of clothes for $400. I have found that Calvin Klein looks good on everyone. Also if you have a out of state drivers liscense you can go to the customer service desk and receive a 15% discount coupon for your entire purchase.
Tourist – When friends come to town it is fun to see the city, but friends are always coming to NYC and to go out and pay for tourist locations becomes too expensive. One of my favorite things to do with friends from out of town is pack a snack and take the Staten Island Ferry at sunset. The ferry is FREE and your friends can get great photos of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Enjoy – The Metropolitan Opera has a free outdoor festival of HD broadcasts. Enjoy the past Hd videos free from Lincoln Center! This is made possible by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/hd_events_template.aspx?id=16260&hpgraphic
If you prefer live opera the Met offers $20 rush tickets to some shows.
The very best and cheapest thing in New York are the friendships you make. Those are truly priceless!
- Do You Have A Friend That Embarrasses You? (fresh1027.radio.com)
- New York City: Metropolitan Museum of Art (alainsojourner.com)
- New York City Mothers Day City Guide (proflowers.com)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art renames Islamic exhibit, returns Mohammed images (creepingsharia.wordpress.com)
- ‘Heroic Africans’ at Metropolitan Museum of Art (africaunchained.blogspot.com)
Alright, it happened. I finally gave in and bought my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the season at Starbucks. It seems to me that the purchase of a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Peppermint Mocha or Frappuccino can immediately spark a person’s willingness to accept the arrival of a new season.
I left my Upper West Side Apartment with a couple of hours to spare and walked through the cool, surprisingly present, autumn air. Fall seems to have done just that, fallen out of nowhere and forced us to let go of our summer city habits. No more tanning in Sheep Meadow for another nine months— that’s enough time for you to have a baby, or not…
As I walked in and out of the various book stores picking out the next self-help book yet another person has told me I JUST HAD TO READ, I caught glimpses of pumpkins in shop windows, and the advertisements of “new fall colors” while the mannequins seemed to add layers right before my eyes. I sipped my warm, sugary drink with delight as I heard a jazz singer through the windows of Cleopatra’s Needle crooning to the accompaniment of piano and Double Bass. Each season in NYC has it’s own unique spirit, and those which Autumn and Spring possess are spirits of change. They gently erase the old and give way to the new— whether you’re ready or not.
“I can’t believe its been ten years already” said my bar regular Rob. I looked up to see one of CNN’s 9/11 specials playing on the TV.
“Were you in New York when it happened?” I asked.
Rob looked away from the television and with a somber expression, he told me “I was on the 73rd floor of the South Tower when the second plane hit.” My heart sank immediately for the kind man who always ordered two Modelo Especials on his way home from work and tipped me way more than necessary. “Go ahead” he said “I know you probably have a list of questions you want to ask me.”
“I wouldn’t know what to ask” I replied. Of course I was curious. More than anything, I just wanted to know that he was alright with all the media attention the 9/11 decade had been getting lately.
“I was in a meeting” he said. “On the 73rd floor when we felt it….” he trailed off and looked outside for a bit. “A buddy of mine and I carried an old man down the entire way. People were pushing us so hard, jumping the railings trying to get by.” He looked at me and said “There were so many guys that day I knew… what are you like 24?” I nodded. “Interns younger than you that didn’t make it out. They had their whole lives ahead of them.”
I grabbed his second beer while he continued. “We were stuck downtown for over two weeks… a bunch of us, just hanging out at this guy’s apartment. We couldn’t walk down the street without getting turned around by the military. That was the thing” he said ” there were army tanks everywhere, it was surreal, but what had happened was, well…” he took a pause for a drink “We literally only had Grey Goose and crackers for that entire time, it was disgusting and boy I’ve never been that drunk in my life.”
When Rob told me he no longer worked for Morgan Stanley, I asked him what he currently did. He replied “I still manage money, a little differently… but now I work a few blocks that way.” He pointed toward the Empire State Building. “You know, I’m more in charge of my time these days.” He guzzled the last of his second beer, said thank you and left down 29th Street.
Later that day, I went home and saw Spike Lee’s State Farm Commercial featuring a children’s chorus singing “Empire State of Mind” and cried uncontrollably for about ten minutes. I suddenly came to the realization that there is literally an entire generation of people– they’re children now but will be managing our bank accounts tomorrow– who were born after 9/11, who have never known a world without heightened security and the pitiful religious stigma we now carry in this country. I thought of my own nephew who was born two and a half years after the terror attacks and how, to him, this event will be remembered by pictures in his history book and by the video references television specials he’ll see will make.
When I was feeling a range of emotions for the victims- both living and gone- of 9/11, I got a phone call from my friend Christina inviting me over for food and drink at her place, which is only about three blocks from the old World Trade Center Site. When I got out of the subway, I walked through a mass of tourists with cameras and American flags walking about the area as dozens of NYPD officers patrolled the area.
As usual, Christina was her charming, bubbly self and poured me a stiff vodka drink with a splash of soda and orange juice. “Just let the ice melt!” She said cheerfully. Her usually curly brunette locks were straightened to my surprise. Not that this is irregular for her, I just find that her curls are as much a part of her personality as her constant excitement. We decided to leave her apartment to visit a few places in the West Village for “research” as part of a project Christina is conducting (details will follow eventually… you may have to wait a year for this one, but it’s good;-).
When we got out of the cab on 7th Avenue near Grove Street, Christina pointed downtown “look at the lights.” I turned to see the new One World Trade, still far from finished, but fully lit, and already redefining the NYC skyline. We both stopped in our tracks.
“Its beautiful” I said. “I can’t believe that standing here 10 years ago you could see…”
“I know” said Christina.
- Jay-Z – “Empire State Of Mind” (Alternate Supermodel Video) (stereogum.com)
- Empire State Of Mind (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Jay-Z’s ‘Empire State of Mind’ Sung by Selita Ebanks, Models (theboombox.com)
- Jay-Z – Empire State Of Mind (Life + Times Version) (bayareayonsei.wordpress.com)
- Video :: Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” x Supermodels | via @lifeandtimes (theoriginalwinger.com)
City View: Leipzig is a really pretty, safe, and VERY affordable city to live in. There are lots of cute restaurants, a farmer’s market every Monday and Thursday in the center of town that has amazing stuff, lots of music, museums and an amazing public transportation system.
Cuisine: The best thing I’ve eaten while I’ve been here is probably this amazing pasta with seasonal mushrooms and pork at this great place called Penguin. It was so good!
Office Space: The actual opera house in Leipzig is VERY cool and art deco. It was rebuilt after World War II because the original house was bombed and burnt down. The acoustics are amazing because the walls in the theater are all gorgeous wood. It’s a really special house. The company itself is very cool too with a lot of talented American singers in the ensemble- I’m so excited for our upcoming performances of Die Zauberflote, Cunning Little Vixen and Weill’s Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny.
Follow Me: Keep up with Mr. Anchel by checking his upcoming performances at www.matthewanchel.com.
- As if we never said goodbye to… Carrie? (jacoboheme.com)
So it finally happened. I found the best bagels in NYC! OKAY, I’m sure there are probably a few dozen or so places out there I haven’t tried, but I can assure you this place takes the cake… or rather, a deliciously schmeared everything bagel. I had my first Hot Jumbo Bagel the other evening when a bartender at a local establishment came back from a break with a dozen bagels. He tossed me a garlic bagel, and I was hooked. Hot Jumbo Bagels knocks the socks off H&H, Broadway Bagel and Zabars by far, and is located at 1070 East 2nd Street between 56th and 57th.
I woke up at 4 in the morning and stepped out on the ancient streets of Florence, Italy to beat the Uffizi Gallery‘s famously long line. After drinking an espresso for only the second time in my life, and innocently overwhelmed by it’s influence, I was surprised to find two girls from my tour group, Erin and Kelly, already waiting for the musem to open. I quickly joined them and waited eagerly to view the masterpieces I had, until then, only seen in pictures.
We were quickly joined by the girls’ AP Latin instructor and some other students from the tour. What I appreciated about tagging along with this class, was their teacher’s impressive historical and linguistic knowledge. When the doors opened, I listened to every word he said as he began deciphering the texts painted on an array of paintings depicting the Annunciation, which included Leonardo da Vinci‘s famous masterpiece.
When the group decided they wanted to hurry along to see as much as possible in other areas of the city, I opted to stay in the museum and take in as much I could. I must have sat in front of Botticelli‘s Birth of Venus for nearly an hour before I continued on. This wasn’t necessarily because I was so in awe of the beautiful painting. Although arresting and captivating in person, I sat and listened to about seven different tour guides give varied stories about the painting. One pointed out that while Venus is in a classic contrapposto stance, the weight she held on her left foot would cause her to tip over along with the shell she travelled on. I found this observation, while true, to be humorous. Here are all these people speaking so seriously about how this anatomically incorrect woman is about to fall over, yet, she was just born out of sea foam created by the castrated testicle of the mythical deity Zephyr after it splashed into the ocean. I mean, maybe superior balance was just one of Venus’s many supernatural talents.
Another guide pointed out that in classical antiquity, the sea shell represented a vulva, while the next guide pointed out that it was very likely that Sandro Boticelli’s students aided in the creation of the Birth of Venus, suggesting we check out the poorly painted waves. For an hour, my eyes were drawn to every imperfection these docents, teachers and tour guides pointed out. From the “poorly positioned flowers” to yet another comment on Venus’s elongated neck and torso, I still couldn’t deny the majesty and beauty of this work of art. Not that any single person suggested that I or the other museum guests do so, but you would think that after someone pointed out dozens of flaws on something or someone you were previously interested in, you would change your mind. I finally pulled myself away from the disproportionate goddess and the vulval vestibule from which she came and continued through the Uffizi Gallery.
After four hours of perusing and studying some of the world’s greatest treasures, I realized that sometimes true beauty lies in the imperfections- in the blatant and obvious flaws that we are stricken with. I felt enlightened and energized as I walked down toward the Piazza della Repubblica where I found my friends Danielle and Aubre riding the carousel, both with gelato in hand.
“Where have you been?” yelled Aubre with a chuckle, “we’ve been looking for you!”
- Tarot at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence (marygreer.wordpress.com)
- We buy paintings; the Medici bought painters. – Florence, Italy (travelpod.com)
- Fat Tabby Cats Inserted Into World Renowned Masterpieces [Art] (jezebel.com)
- Artistic Globe! (ladashia.com)
- Enjoy Two Italian Gems — Tuscany and Venice — and Viva la Viator (prweb.com)
When my good friend Vanessa realized that her apartment was in evacuation zone A in lower Manhattan for a rare hurricane, she quickly procured a weekend rental in Woodstock along with gallery owner James Hendershot. The two were kind enough to invite me along to escape the storm and I was quick to accept. So with my trusty duffle, my computer bag and yoga mat, I hailed a taxi at 6 in the morning and made my way to Grand Central so I could catch one of the last trains to Poughkeepsie.
When James, Vanessa and London (Vanessa’s schnauzer) picked me up, we quickly drove up to Woodstock to stock up. The streets of the famously liberal town were flooded with paranoid New Yorkers who all decided to make a weekend vacation out of the storm. Like every other misplaced short-term refugee, we stuck out like sore thumbs. If the obvious misplacement wasn’t enough, the locals started laughing at our various purchases of firewood, organic local meats and cheeses, marshmallows, graham crackers, and of course- Hershey’s chocolate.
After garnering more stares and laughs from locals we tried to locate our weekend home with little success and varied directions. Upon arriving at our destination, I was surprised to see so much glass in our supposed “shelter” from the looming storm.
“Aren’t there an awful lot of windows here for a hurricane shelter?” asked Vanessa out loud. “I guess we’ll huddle in the doorways if something happens… isn’t that the type of thing you do in these situations?”
“Unclear” I replied.
In anticipation of the natural disaster, we did what any self-respecting adult would do and hopped in the hot tub with a bottle of Prosecco. With James napping, I caught up with Vanessa in the house’s sun room.
“I just want to make my mark on the world in a meaningful way” said the young financier. “I want to do something really special.”
“You will” I replied, “and you are.” Vanessa is currently working on an amazing project with artists and charity organizations that will come fruition in the coming months.
Already warm and verging on over heating from the alcohol and oversized bubble bath combo, we both looked out at the calm, steady shower, and- as if we were fighting for the last drop of water in a desert oasis- ran outside onto a grassy hill and let the water cool our bodies and overstimulated minds.
Hours later, we lit a fire for the purpose of a cozy winter reminder and of course, to make smores (indoors;-).
“SMORES INDOORS!” exclaimed James as he observed me and Vanessa trying to make the perfect toasted marshmallows. “I can’t believe we’re doing this!” We listened to some music a while before dosing off to the sound of rain gently tapping at the window.
The next morning I woke up to the gentle tapping of Vanessa’s hand. “The power’s out and I have no reception.” I could tell this unsettled her. With several major deals about to close, and all of her main contacts in other cities, this was not the time for a disconnect.
Although calming down and forgetting about work isn’t necessarily Vanessa’s forte, James was able to convince her that a makeshift brunch was not only possible, but would definitely cheer her up. So with the aid of a naturally ventilated sunroom, and a grill, we were able to produce a meal worthy of Sarabeth’s Sunday menu… that is, if Sarabeth’s served cowboy coffee.
The rain settled down for a while and we made our way to a local gas station to see if anyone had heard of anything from Manhattan. It was in the middle of the checkout line that Vanessa discovered phone service and decided to orchestrate a deal between LA, New York, and London.
With the confused locals making their way around the stressed out-of-towner, James checked in with his gallery manager and discovered that the storm didn’t hit Manhattan with half the severity anticipated. “What!?” yelled Vanessa “we need to get back then!” We packed the powerless home up quicker than Barbara Eden could blink horny astronauts in and out of compromising situations.
As we made our way through town, we witnessed the damage caused by flooding and even had to move a tree out of the road to get by. By the time we made it to the highway, we were met by a crazed toll worker who could only scream “GO BAAAACK!” loudly without explanation. Hungry, we were forced to stop at “Johnny G’s Diner” connected to a Howard Johnson.
“Excuse me” said Vanessa to the waitress “we have these steaks in our car that will go bad if we don’t cook them do you think you could…” with a hefty tip in hand, our server quickly rushed to the kitchen and okayed Vanessa’s culinary request. While waiting for our food, we discovered that the Howard Johnson was not pet friendly. With James securing our table in a restaurant that was quickly spiking in volume due to the highway closure, Vanessa and I took our belongings (and the Zip Car) to check in at the Comfort Inn down the street.
“Why isn’t this STARTING!? ” yelled Vanessa when we hopped in the car to go back to James and our quickly cooling steaks. The car refused to start and left us with only the option of walking through a deceptively even field. As our feet sank in the muddy grass, we quickly regretted not walking a few more meters towards the PAVED road.
We walked back into a packed and smoky restaurant staffed by two waitresses who had probably only known a flow of customers as slow and regular as Jamie Lee Curtis’s bowel movements. After waiting about 45 minutes for a banana split, we effectively worked out a way to use the Howard Johnson swimming pool since our motel came unequipped with one.
Although it took over seven hours to get home the next day, we were thankful for the interesting (and blog-worthy) experience. When I returned to my neighborhood, I was bombarded with stories of the amazing Manhattan Hurricane parties that lasted all weekend long and a “you should have been here” from nearly every familiar face that I encountered, but I knew that I had a weekend that, although filled with folly, was much more exciting than I could have hoped for.
- Hello Irene! (ecollage.wordpress.com)
- Come on Irene! (kikiandlalaland.wordpress.com)
- Recent heavy rainfall adds insult to injury to towns ravaged by Hurricane Irene (nj.com)
Located at 307 East 53rd Street in Manhattan, Copia serves up a deliciously wide range of food, drink and entertainment. Why go out to dinner before hitting the club when you can enjoy your favorite foods right at your favorite hot spot?
Copia’s food menuserves up a familiar array of all your favorite standards… and the scene? Copia boasts some of the best people watching I’ve ever experienced in the city.
Besides serving up some great food, cocktails (be sure to try the club’s specialty cocktail Love Lychee), the service was impeccable. Upon discovering we were celebrating my dear friend Rachel Hall’s last evening in New York City before leaving to Shreveport Opera, the club’s owner, Junior Santiago graciously ushered us to a private VIP section and treated us to a round of Patron and cocktails- truly a gracious host.
So the next time you’re looking for a place where you can eat, drink, dance, play beer pong, or even guest bar tend… check out East 53rd St’s Copia, you’ll be glad you did.
“And then she introduced me to the butcher as her driver!” exclaimed Sakura.
“Oh no she didn’t!” I was shocked. My close friend, pianist Sakura Myers had been looking forward to a summer stay in the Berkshires. She would act as a “travel companion” to a seemingly nice elderly couple from The Upper West Side of Manhattan, and had instead been reduced to a role as a live-in servant.
“I mean the deal was, I would ‘help’ with the occasional household chore, drive them to the store, accompany them to classical music events and practice piano all day… those were literally the terms of our agreement.” Sakura, while wonderfully giving, is also a no nonsense, no holds barred woman who will let you know when you are treating her wrong.
“I don’t know what to say Sakura, I mean… you were so excited about all this, but in a selfish way, I’m really glad you’re back in the city for the summer.” I tried to reassure my utterly overwhelmed friend that she had made the right decision. After driving down from The Berkshires, my apartment was literally the first stop she made after dropping the elderly couple off at their penthouse palace.
“I know, in a way I’m glad about that, I’m just sad at how this situation turned out.” She went on to tell me about how the couple began commanding her to change and wash their sheets, drive them around and cook full gourmet meals for them. Sakura’s cooking is delightfully comparable to the cuisine found at Caravaggio and Cipriani… REALLY. “And then they began giving me orders ‘go fetch me the paper’… like I was a dog! I mean, I’m not usually one to play the race card, but I just felt like their servant! The funny thing is, they TOLD me that the young pianist who helped them out last year didn’t last… I should have known.”
“I can’t believe you drove them all the way back.” I was amused by the prospect of telling my employers that they’re treating me like a servant, quitting my job, and then having to drive Miss Daisy and her husband 155 miles. “You have a lot of chutzpah girl!”
“I just had to get out!” She cried. “Never, NEVER in my life have I been treated like that, and all I could think of was that story you told me about the wealthy Upper East Side couple dining with their nurse. I felt like that, I wasn’t their companion, I was their servant. Their servant who was allowed the luxury to be seen with them in public.”
Sakura was referencing an incident I experienced when an Upper East Side couple took me to dinner at an exclusive restaurant where our bill literally tripled what I pay in monthly rent. Before dinner the couple actually had me dress in a dinner coat and a French cuff shirt so I might “blend in”. After snickering with the maitre d’ about an ongoing incident one of my dinner hosts was experiencing with Barbara Walters, the conversation quickly turned to a young black woman who was dining with a wheelchair-bound elderly couple. “It’s a shame that SHE gets to eat this food” my dinner host scoffed. “I mean, it isn’t like she can actually enjoy it in the we all can.” This was probably one of the more uncomfortable moments in my life, and after three hours of pretentious snickering, I felt physically ill. I can assure you I am no longer in contact with this couple.
“But you’re not that Sakura, you’re a beautiful and talented person who deserves to be treated with respect” I reassured.
“Thank you, but I’m just really shaken” she said sadly. “Oh and the bathrooms! Their bathtub was leaking into my bathroom, and after a week of being told ‘the handyman is coming tomorrow’ they finally told me the truth that they didn’t want to fix anything in the house because they were trying to sell it.”
“Why are they so cheap?”
“Who knows! All I can say is that when I dropped them off, the doorman told me that he sees the same thing happen every summer and that he was proud of me for cutting the trip short.”
“So this happens a lot?”
“Apparently! And when I asked him why he didn’t tell me sooner he simply replied that it wasn’t his place because he was just the help.”
Since her March 2010 appearance as a Gen Art “Fresh Faces in Fashion” designer in Miami Florida, as well as being featured on MTV’s hit reality show The City, Smith Sinrod’s line by SMITH has flown to new heights. Now available in about 75 stores in the US, as well as Canada, Japan and Indonesia, this fresh face in fashion draws inspiration from her surroundings, style icons of the past, and not to forget… family.
Jacob Paul: You’re spring and fall 2011 collections are inspired by streets, areas and landmarks in New York City, can you tell me what inspired you to go in this direction with your line?
Smith Sinrod: Well, I just moved to New York, so I thought that it would kind of be parallel with the changes in my life and I wanted to portray that inspiration. I always like to pick different cities to draw new ideas from.
JP: You took your fall 2010 London collection (which I loved) to the Gen Art “Miami Fresh Faces in Fashion” show last March which garnered you critical praise from the press, as well as national exposure on MTV’s “The City”. Can you tell me what it was like seeing your collection on television?
SS: It was surreal! I was so excited about the Gen Art show and being able to be involved in a real fashion week runway show, but to have MTV filming everything on top of that just made it even more crazy. It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve gone through so far.
JP: What I loved about watching that particular episode is that while there seemed to be a ton of drama going on the side with other designers… (Smith laughs and agrees) you managed to not only stay out of the negative drama that was portrayed, but you really just let your collection speak for itself on the show.
SS: Well, it isn’t really like me to get involved in that type of situation, so it was actually a very real portrayal of me.
JP: How did you get invited to be a part of the Gen Art show?
SS: Well I was actually nominated by someone, so from there I was allowed to apply. To this day, I don’t even know who submitted my name. It could have been a professor, a buyer from the store… I don’t know, but somehow my name was thrown into the mix. After the whole application process, I was notified about two weeks prior that I had been selected for the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion show.
JP: What did they tell you?
SS: They asked me if if I could get to Miami with enough shoes for models and put together a run of show in two weeks and… I had never done any that before! It was definitely exciting even with the pressure. It was awesome! And then we got the waver from MTV after we accepted.
JP: No! So you didn’t even know going into this you would be filmed?
SS: Not at first. It was really exciting though, but the waiting had me anxious to see how they portrayed me and my clothes. We filmed the show in March and I had to wait three months to see the edited result. Luckily, they were very nice to me.
JP: Good, because they weren’t so nice to Romina (Smith laughs).
SS: I was surprised that they gave me so much airtime, because I wasn’t necessarily creating a lot of TV-worthy drama.
JP: You were definitely a media favorite though.
SS: It was a good response all around, and it definitely helped me get things rolling thanks to the press which helped me create brand awareness.
JP: What did the Gen Art show do for your career and your brand?
SS: Before Gen Art, I didn’t really have a lot of press and it definitely provided vital exposure. Being a part of the show also made me really feel like I’m a part of their community. I really hope to stay involved as an alumni of the organization. There are so many fantastic designers like Zac Posen and Michelle Smith of Milly who also started as Gen Art “Fresh Faces”, so it gives me hope that maybe I can make it to their level someday.
JP: When does your fourth collection come out in stores?
SS: This August.
JP: And where can curious shoppers find your line?
SS: In New York, Diana Warner New York on 21st and Park. The southeast remains to be my most saturated area carrying my line. (internationally bySMITH can be found at Moule in Vancouver and Winnipeg as well as Little NYC and Jun Co., Ltd in Tokyo, Japan).
JP: What’s it like when you turn on your TV and you’re watching say “Live with Regis and Kelly” and one of the winners of “The Amazing Race” is wearing your Tribeca dress. What goes through your mind?
SS: That was crazy because my sister’s friend was picked as one of the top teachers for top teacher week on Regis Kelly, and she wore my skirt on the show that Tuesday. As soon as I finished watching that, I received an e-mail from Amazing Race winner Jennifer Hoffman telling me she would also be wearing my design on the show the next day. So that was really exciting for me, and she looked amazing.
JP: When looking at some of the pieces you’ve designed such as the Chrysler or the Madison Ave dress, it’s easy to see that you draw inspiration from architecture as well. How is it that you draw inspiration so easily from your surroundings?
SS: I feel like that’s something that has always come really naturally for me. I love going through old pictures of places I’ve been to or even certain style icons like Jackie O. I always have pictures of her on my inspiration boards. Even my great-grandmother who was this great fashionista… I now have a lot of her clothing and costume jewelry from the 50‘s and 60‘s which also inspires me to create a combo of vintage while exploring something new with my shapes and designs.
JP: I really love the geometric designs you use.
SS: Thanks! For this collection I drew inspiration from certain places like the Brooklyn Bridge with it’s cables. I wanted something to reflect that and luckily I found this wonderful fabric (she shows shows me her Bryant Park and Madison Ave dresses) which was originally meant for upholstery but I felt it really captured the look I was going for in representing the city.
JP: Who in the fashion business do you currently look up to?
SS: I think Tory Burch is a dead giveaway. Not only is she a branding genius- you recognize her logo and line immediately, she’s managed to create something really classic that reaches out to a wide audience which is what I hope to do eventually. I feel that its important to make yourself accessible to different types of women- a mother and daughter could both definitely wear items from my line.
JP: When did you know that you wanted to do this as a career?
SS: Not to sound cliche, but when I was a little girl I had this journal that I created a clothing line in and in 6th grade I made all the costumes for my talent show group. It is really something that I have always wanted to do. I was also the tacky little hat girl! I had about 20 little hats that I would alternate wearing every day to school.
JP: What did your classmates think of this?
SS: Well I guess they were accepting! My mom would even just let me dress myself and explore my creativity through my clothing selections. I must say that really helped, being able to express my creativity in that way.
JP: Thank God for mom!
SS: Really! She embraced creativity from the start. From tacky hats to helping me pick out fabrics for my collections, she’s really been supportive the whole way (Smith giggles), she even helped me paint this studio.
Miss Sinrod is currently working on details for her Spring 2012 collection. Inspired by the Amalfi Coast, look for hints of style icon Jackie O in this future collection. You can check out Smith and her collections by visiting bysmithcollection.com.
Delivering a fierce “Tour de Nice”, Chef Andy D’amico offers to the Upper West Side of Manhattan a delicious culinary excursion to Nice, France as well as a full gluten-free menu for those patrons with celiac disease or general health concerns. While famous for their Croque Madames et Monsieurs, I prefer the Poached Eggs Provencal at brunch time. The dish features ratatouille in a crisp puff pastry with a delicious tomato cream sauce. For dinner, it is my humble opinion that no one does Grilled Salmon better, at least in this neighborhood. Add to your entree the best escargot in town for a truly French experience. Remember, salmon is quite possibly wine’s friendliest fish, so choose anything from a Champagne to cleanse the fat from your palate or a medium-wieght pinot that would pair just as well. Be sure to try this “tour de force” on your next “tour de France.”
- Make Nice at Nice Matin (jacoboheme.wordpress.com)
- Oh Rapture! Oh Holy 5 Napkin Burger! (jacoboheme.wordpress.com)
- The Pour: At Nice Matin, a Wine List That Hits All the Marks (nytimes.com)
- Matin Ssenoga : Uganda (kiva.org)
- French Riviera – Nice, France (travelpod.com)
The Food Network‘s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” recently featured the Chocolate Decadence French Toast at Norma‘s at Le Parker Meridian NYC, and it seriously made me regret ordering the best eggs benedict I’ve ever eaten. Layered with buttermilk pancakes, Norma’s Eggs Benedict is simply the best around. Located at 118 West 57th Street in Manhattan, Norma’s is open every day until 3:00pm, so be sure to book a table well in advance for the ultimate brunch experience. With quirky menu items such as Wagner’s Ring of Fresh Chunky Fruit, Waz-Za (a fruit-filled waffle brulee) and The Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata along with fresh squeezed OJ and heavenly French pressed coffee, you can be sure to experience a decadent meal you (and your waistline) won’t soon forget.
A macaron sampler at La Maison du Macaron on 23rd Street in Manhattan. My suggestion? At $2.50 each, why not try a gold dusted pink champagne macaron for a decadent, yet affordable petit plaisir.