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Re-Joyce in the New Year

Re-Joyce in the New Year.

Poodle Moth?


Poodle Moth

I just had to share this interesting little creature from Venezuela. As one of my friends commented “It looks like something out of The NeverEnding Story!”

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.

Spell Check NYC

I found this lovely gem on Lexington Avenue in NYC

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…

I’m Back!

Alright, so I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but this is partly due to the fact I’ve been in New Mexico for the past few months. I am, however back in NYC and promise to be the wildly prolific blogger I once was. Glad to be back.



Goodbye Food Parc and Bar Basque- Reflections On Employment and Coming Home

patrons at Beer Parc

Earlier today, I called up my former coworker Hayley to catch up. When sales started to decline at Beer Parc, Hayley and I were let go from our midtown bartender positions, and subsequently both moved back to our respective states for the spring to try and save up for a bit before returning to the Big Apple. Oh life…

Last week, Hayley sent me an article stating that both Food Parc and Bar Basque were leaving the Eventi Hotel to make way for Jimmy Harber’s ESquared Hospitality group. You know- they’re the guys whose BLT Steak boasts the 99% and 1% Burgers. Interestingly enough, when she sent the article to our former managers and the few people still working at Food Parc, it was the first time they were hearing of their impending unemployment. Way to go China Grill. And I thought I had it bad when I had to train the delivery girl to do my job before I left. I mean, I guess I didn’t have to make her think she had a speech impediment before making her recite various lines from Pygmalion to unsuspecting customers… oops.

Hayley and I talked for nearly hour about our various experiences being home and our plans for returning to NYC. Fortunately, I do have foreseeable employment options when I return, and boy do I plan on doing things a lot differently.

I guess here is the part where I tell you that I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past year. I have, for the most part, enjoyed being home. I was able to attend my dear friend Samantha’s wedding a few weeks ago and catch up with some old friends who I had, until a few gin and tonics at the wedding bar, thought had all but forgotten me. I learned that sometimes, people really do grow up, and that its really empowering when that kid who was a jerk to you in the high school cafeteria now thinks you’re awesome for some reason- I attribute this to current differences in height and muscle mass.

After a recent conversation with my very first (and current) employer Loretta, I realized that even when you don’t want it to, the world keeps on going, and you just have to figure out a way to keep moving with it. There is no other option. I learned something else about myself after she told me this, and that is, without my own goals and the desire to keep pushing forward to the great unknown, I am drastically cheapened. This is my inherent truth because for some reason, it is my nature to endure frequent serendipity, and I feel it absolutely necessary to patch all those fantastic little pieces together until I have something truly wonderful to show for it.

With all that being said, I hope you can forgive yet another hiatus and check back for more random thoughts, interviews and video clips of songs from failed eighties musicals.







No Fear Shakespeare! Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

Hamlet’s famous soliloquy with modern translation. This is for “A-List Ashly.”




To be, or not to be? That is the question—


Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer


The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,


Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,


And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—


No more—and by a sleep to say we end


The heartache and the thousand natural shocks


That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation


Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.


To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,


For in that sleep of death what dreams may come


When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,


Must give us pause. There’s the respect


That makes calamity of so long life




The question is: is it better to be alive or dead? Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way, or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all? Dying, sleeping—that’s all dying is—a sleep that ends all the heartache and shocks that life on earth gives us—that’s an achievement to wish for. To die, to sleep—to sleep, maybe to dream. Ah, but there’s the catch: in death’s sleep who knows what kind of dreams might come, after we’ve put the noise and commotion of life behind us. That’s certainly something to worry about. That’s the consideration that makes us stretch out our sufferings so long.



Howard Stern On Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Gay Rights

I’m not usually a huge Howard Stern fan, but I really appreciate what the man had to say regarding the recent One Million Moms debacle over Ellen‘s JC Penney deal.

CLARE MAGUIRE- The Shield And The Sword

Love this girl!

A SMASHing Pilot!

I was first introduced to the idea of NBC’s new musical drama months ago when I overheard someone at a New York piano bar say “So I’m screen-testing for this new show SMASH.” My curiosity caught the best of me, and I found myself Googling the show that night and finally ended replaying the show’s trailer almost daily.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “ugh not another Glee.” Well playwright and TV writer  Theresa Rebeck has made sure SMASH has several things that set the show apart. The first being a cohesive storyline that draws clear, definitive lines in the social structure of the Broadway world. The show has been compared to Upstairs Downstairs (though I’m a diehard fan of Downton Abbey) for its abrasive separation between the echelons of those involved in the making of a Broadway Musical. Who would have thought that even under the footlights, someone could still be cast aside?

The truth is, for some, opportunities can be few and far between even the biggest successes. My mind automatically goes to Coleen Sexton who famously debuted on Broadway at the age of 20 in 2000 as Lucy in “Jekyll and Hyde”. Her performance was even seen on HBO, but for some reason, she’s only managed to be seen in the touring companies of Wicked, Legally Blonde: The Musical, and Chicago since her “big break.”

This is the world that SMASH dares to show, even by casting real Broadway actors like Christian Borle (Legally Blonde: The Musical), Megan Hilty (9 to 5, and Wicked), and Savannah Wise (Ragtime), who all, though incredibly successful in the eyes of many, can easily relate where many of these characters come from.

Megan Hilty’s character Ivy Lynn is a veteran Broadway chorus girl who dreams of getting her own big break, and when songwriter/ lyricist duo Julia Houston and Tom Levitt (Debra Messing and Christian Borle respectively) approach her to workshop a number for their new (hopefully smash hit) musical “Marilyn,” it seems as if her star is about to rise. That is, until waitress Karen Cartwright (American Idol’s Katharine McPhee) impresses the audition panel with her clear voice and refreshing innocence.

Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty as the original material girl, Marilyn Monroe

Anjelica Huston plays the musical’s strong willed producer, Eileen Rand who’s current production of “My Fair Lady” is in escrow due to a messy divorce. It seems there is so much at stake for everyone on the would-be playbill.

Jack Davenport  is Derek Wills, a brilliant and womanizing director who uses the apparent promise of stardom as a ploy to sleep with young, hopeful actresses.

The creative team for SMASH also stresses that the singing and musical numbers follow a basic rule, there has to be a reason for it. Let’s remember that the original musical numbers performed in this series are usually performed in the rehearsal room, and thanks to the magic of television we get to see, in many cases what the actors imagine what the finished product will look like. There will even be performances from the other Houston-Levitt show “Heaven On Earth.” Theater-goers will also be pleased to know (or in my case RIDICULOUSLY  EXCITED ) that Norbert Leo Butz and Bernadette Peters will guest star, and sing, in the show’s freshman season.

SMASH’s music is by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman (the force behind Hairspray),  and you can be sure we’ll all be humming the tunes to this show for great, long while.

So hopefully you’ll all be tuning in to NBC on February 6, 2012 to watch SMASH. And by the way, this show is good enough to make you forget this is Debra Messing’s second time on NBC with a gay best friend.

Be sure to watch the show’s pilot episode by clicking HERE

Grace Note: Lindsay Russell

Coloratura Soprano, Lindsay Russell

With a whirlwind schedule taking her from Seattle to Hong Kong to NYC and back again, Lindsay Russell is heading full steam ahead toward a bright career in opera. I caught up with the effervescent coloratura soprano this week in New York City to catch up on life, music, and of course… food.

I found the petite, blonde soprano sitting amongst a sea of people at Columbus Circle’s Bouchon Bakery. “I think we might be better somewhere else?” hinted Lindsay politely before we headed to the Le Pain Qoutidien on 7th Ave “this is so much better!”

When talking about music Lindsay’s face immediately lights up; when it comes to other singers, the soprano admires the skilled pyrotechnics of those whose repertoire she is currently tackling. “I go through singer phases, where I can’t listen to enough of them, but there are a few who have stood the test of time. I’ll pretty much always pick a Joan Sutherland recording over the others.  I’m a big fan of Diana Damrau, and also love watching Natalie Dessay’s videos on youtube.  Hmmm, I also love Edita Gruberova, Barbara Bonney, and Renata Scotto… I could go on but I won’t.”

Miss Russell in a 2008 Master Class with New York City Opera star, Lauren Flanigan

Lindsay describes a recent trip to China for a concert with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra as one filled with pleasant surprises. “I am definitely not used to that kind of treatment!” laughs Lindsay. “Everything about it was so amazing, I just can’t believe how well they took care of me, from the work visa to transportation, they were just incredible.” Miss Russell was the only soloist invited for an 11-11-11 concert themed “2011- A Space Odyssey” with the HKPO. “The funny thing is, they already had the program selected for the concert, but wanted to include an aria from Haydn’s Il Mondo Della Luna and the Queen Of The Night arias from The Magic Flute…”  The current Chief Executive Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is none other than Michael MacLeod, the former General and Artistic Director of Glimmerglass Opera, where Lindsay made her debut as Laurie in Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land”,  which garnered her praise by Opera News and The New York Times. It was Michael MacLeod who suggested the talented singer make her debut in front of a crowd no less than 20,000 people.

About that.  “The actual concert was such a great experience and what a production! They managed to  actually sync fireworks to go off while the Orchestra played Johan Strauss II’s The Blue Danube. I’ve never experienced anything like that! Also, its such a different culture… I was really surprised how many YOUNG people were there. Whole groups of teenagers just hanging out at the classical music concert like it was the cool thing to do. They were even asking for my autograph after, again, not something I’m used to!” 

Lindsay with Mezzo-Soprano J'nai Bridges at Glimmerglass Opera

Miss Russell, a foodie in the making, also has no qualms over trying new and unusual things. “Oh, I’ll try anything once!”  she exclaims. When discussing her favorite place to eat in New York City, Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, Lindsay loves to explain her initial thoughts and eventual love affair with the local eatery. “I really wanted to hate it there, because it’s just always so busy, but I can’t stay away!  The food is so so good, I’m actually meeting my roommates there tonight for dinner.  And FYI – the one in Chinatown is clearly superior to the one in midtown, and it’s also significantly cheaper.  Plus, only in Chinatown do you get the experience of sharing your table with six other strangers. ”  The Chinatown favorite features one of the soprano’s favorite eats. Soup Dumplings. The tasty treats almost always require a tutorial for newcomers, that is, unless you WANT to spill out all of the delicious filling.

A feisty Susanna, Lindsay Russell pictured with Bass Baritone, Robert Mellon in Manhattan School of Music's 2010 production of Le Nozze di Figaro

When it comes to what composers the soprano loves singing, and those she wishes she could just get more of, the response is immediate and almost obvious. “Strauss! Once I conquer a Strauss piece, it is incredibly rewarding to sing.  I just sang Zerbinetta for the first time in public this week, for an audition, and it was so much fun. I never tire of Mozart, which is good, because hopefully I’ll be singing that repertoire for the rest of my life.  I also am completely obsessed with singing Bach.  I wish someone would hire me to sing Bach all day long.”

 Of her summers at Glimmerglass, Lindsay definitely has an abundance of great things to say about her time with the company. “My last two summers there were a lot of fun.  I love sitting on the back porch of the Otesaga Hotel, sipping a cocktail and eating snack mix in a wooden rocking chair.  I love “wrong rep night,” where everyone in the program sings and performs the most inappropriate things we can imagine.   

A candid Glimmerglass moment: Lindsay chatting with mezzo-soprano J'nai Bridges and colleagues

“Some of my truly favorite moments happened backstage” she continues.  “My first year there, I sang Laurie in the Tender Land, and at the end of every performance, Andrew Stenson, Mark Diamond and I had a big group hug right before we went on for bows.”

You may call her sentimental, but don’t underestimate Lindsay’s preparedness on keeping a box of Kleenex nearby. “One of my favorite moments from last summer was during the first orchestra rehearsal for Annie Get Your Gun.” (The Francesca Zambello directed production starred operatic superstar Debbie Voigt.) “Most broadway orchestras are small – no more than twenty or so people – so hearing wonderful Glimmerglass Orchestra performing the overture brought me to tears.”

Currently, Miss Russell is spending the year as a young artist with Seattle Opera. And though the soprano admits that being away from loved ones can be difficult, its evident that living with two of her best friends, tenor Andrew Stenson and mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen definitely helps. “There is rarely a dull moment in our house!”  

Lindsay as Sophie in Massenet's Werther sings to the incredibly talented mezzo-soprano, Sarah Larsen at Seattle Opera: Photo Credit, Bill Mohn

And Seattle Opera itself? “I love the coaching staff!  I’m learning so much from them, I feel like I should be paying them, and not the other way around! I also adore my colleagues.  With a program this small (nine people), it could be a bad experience if we didn’t all get along.  Luckily, everyone there is not only ridiculously talented, but also kind and humble.” 

Miss Russell will be spending the 2012 summer season as an apprentice singer with the Santa Fe Opera covering the Fiakermilli in Strauss’s Arabella. You can watch Lindsay sing “I Could Have Danced All Night” from Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady by CLICKING HERE! 





Thou speak’st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither’d dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And ‘tailor’ cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.

(Act ii., Scene i.)

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Baby, Baby, Baby…. Oh Baby Daddy!

Justin Bieber (taken from People.com)

Aaand that’s all I really have to say about that (insert wicked cackle here).

Diva on a Dime: Courtney Mills

As Autumn slowly creeps upon us, powerhouse soprano, Courtney Mills, takes time to share some of her favorite things, and no they don’t include brown paper packages tied up with string.

Madame X by John Singer Sargent which is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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.

Courtney with a guest at the Metropolitan Opera courtesy of Facebook

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!

Jacob and Courtney at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Bathtub Gin: NYC’s newest speakeasy pays homage to the Prohibition-era.

Bathtub Gin's Logo

Last Monday, I was walking down 9th avenue towards Chelsea Market to visit Smith Sinrod and Stephanie Cercone at bySMITH Collection’s trunk show when I realized that my energy was in need of a boost. I was desperately looking for a coffee shop when I saw Stone Street Coffee Company between 18th and 19th Street. I stopped in for a quick espresso when, after about two minutes, a woman came in and pulled at the back wall to reveal a hidden door, and slipped in.

Exterior of Stone Street Coffee: aka Bathtub Gin- photo taken from Yelp.com

Bathtub Gin's logo visible in the coffee shop window- photo taken from Yelp.com

Confused, I looked at the barista when he giggled. “Oh we’re two different establishments here bud.” He explained that in the back was Bathtub Gin, a speakeasy style bar that featured a variety of cocktails prepared by the resident mixologist. Excited about the place, I promised to come.

interior of Bathtub Gin: taken from Facebook.com

Last night, I was finally able to pay Bathtub Gin a proper visit when I stopped by the 20′s themed establishment with my friend Ken. When we arrived, we pulled at the wall and walked into a lush setting that reminded me of Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris. We passed a huge copper bathtub before taking our seats in the joint’s plush furniture.


We were greeted by a friendly waitress who was able to effectively explain a variety of the mixologist’s creations. A gin fan myself, I ordered the Bathtub Gin Martini and was rewarded with the smoothest martini I have ever tasted. Aside from unmatched ambiance, Bathtub Gin also offers an array of wonderful, sharable treats. You can even make smores right at your table. The water closets in the back all share a common hand washing array where water spouts into miniature bathtubs.

Bathtub Gin's hand baths: photo taken from Facebook.com

You know you’ve found a great new hangout when you leave excited to come back again. Bathtub Gin is open from 5pm-2am Sunday thru Wednesday and closes at 4am from Thursday thru Sunday. For reservations cal 646-559-1671.

Taking Woodstock By Storm: A Hurricane Irene Adventure

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.

Vanessa is the kind of girl who, on the outside, represents the epitome of calm and collected, but is constantly plagued with the fear of failure. 

“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.

May December

Telegrams From Downton

all photos on this post are from "Telegrams From Downton"


This morning, as I was reading depressing Wikipedia articles on feral children (this started with a random Google Search on Rome… I know), I finally realized I had an unread message from my good friend at Netflix, Catie Anne Dubruille telling me to check out a new site concerning our favorite British TV series “Downton Abbey.” Telegrams From Downton  is a delightful site which pairs some of the best Texts From Last Night with some interestingly suggestive photo stills from the hit British TV show. Below are some of my favorites.


taken from "Telegrams From Downton"

taken from "Telegrams From Downton"


taken from "Telegrams From Downton"


"Telegrams From Downton"


"Telegrams From Downton"

"Telegrams From Downton"

Blogs of Note

About two months ago, I was walking down Amsterdam Avenue when I ran into up and coming soprano Emily Duncan-Brown. Emily enthusiastically described my blog to the person she was with as a “fashion/ opera blog.” I was amused at the term since my recent interviews and fashion posts all sort developed out of nowhere. Though I’d like to think myself as somewhat knowledgeable on the topic of opera and am continuously learning more about the wonderful people in fashion with each new post and event… I thought I might direct your attention to some of my favorite blogs featuring the two topics.

Fashion- Sweet Tea and Champagne!  sweetteaandchampagne.com  is a wonderful fashion blog by southern belle and Diana Warner intern Kathryn Cunningham. Read her blog for the hottest trends and enjoy her wonderfully random adventures!

Opera- It is no secret that I have been madly in love with Joyce Didonato since seeing the wonderful mezzo-soprano in Massenet’s Cendrillon in 2006. Read Yankee Diva  for a wonderfully in-depth view on life, love and opera. This diva has more full circle stories than you can believe, and leads you to trust that fairy tales really can come true.

Opera and all things Bill? William Madison is a native Texan with an affinity for anything classy. Mr. Madison has been a featured writer in the New York Times, Opera News, and is currently writing the authorized biography of legendary singing actress, Madeline Kahn. Read his blog HERE for a truly enlightened look at, well… everything!

Contributing Food and Wine Expert: Patrick Siegel

Patrick Siegel

It is no secret that I love food and wine, and it is perhaps the fault of my next guest for expanding my own palate exponentially. I asked Patrick Siegel to share in his own words, his favorite wine and food pairings and ways that you can create a substantial experience in your own kitchen- without spending an arm and a leg for a vintage bottle of Dom Perignon. You can find this lovable man at the Meatpacking District’s Gansevoort Hotel acting as rooftop manager for the popular NYC hotspot PLUNGE. 

Memorable wine and food pairings:
I have been very blessed to have had many stunning food and wine pairings in my life so far, mostly due to other people being generous enough to let me try them. Some highlights: A 1990 Chateau Latour with baby lamb chops, various vintages of Chateau d’Yquem with foie gras in various preparations, but the most recent one that stands out, was at Fux Bar + Restaurant + Kultur in Lech, Austria, a place I worked at as Sommelier  for 2 winter seasons. I had a 1996 Dom Perignon with a selection of Maki & Nigiri Sushi. The delicate sweetness in the champagne and the delicate, slightly oily texture of the fish were a heavenly combination. The acidity in this very fresh and youthful champagne was the ultimate pairing with the raw fish.

In general I must say, I think that people over think when pairing food & wine at home. My opinion: whatever you like works. If you love cabernet, and you love trout, drink cabernet with your trout! There are certainly better wines to complement your dinner, but at the end all that matters is that YOU enjoy it. So don’t let anybody tell you any different. Some things you can hardly ever go wrong with are chianti with hearty pasta dishes (think meat sauce) or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with light salad dishes. my favorite wine pairing in the summer is a bottle of German riesling, paired with a glass and an afternoon off on some porch outside.

When shopping for those wines, stay away from anything under $6 and over $15. in that range you will find surprising deals (especially at Trader Joes, best cheap wine selection I have encountered). If you go under $6 just remember: this wine is cheap for a reason. No need to save 2 dollars on wine and then spend an extra 10 on aspirin the next day.

As if we never said goodbye to… Carrie?

Veronica Garland in "As If We Never Said Goodbye"


A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a musical review “As If We Never Said Goodbye” starring drag queen sensation Veronica Garland. The brainchild of operatic bass Matthew Anchel, Veronica Garland is described as a “full figured Julianne Moore”, but boasting the temperament of Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond and Joan Crawford (onscreen and off) with a beautifully versatile, and at times, ear shattering voice.

“As If We Never Said Goodbye” featured the exuberant, world-class talents of Miss Garland’s operatic and theatrical colleagues, Zachary Altman (the show’s director), Rachel Felstein, Daryl Freedman, Dan Kempson and Tom Magill.

Zach Altman and Daryl Freedman in a serious moment from the winter performance

Before I continue relaying my wonderful experience watching this performance, I should inform you that I have had the privilege of seeing each of the cast members in various operatic productions where they have each exquisitely demonstrated their prowess on the stage. For this added reason, the review was an even bigger treat to experience.

Some wonderfully memorable moments were soprano Rachel Felstein and mezzo-soprano Daryl Freedman belting out an erotic rendition of “As Long As You’re Mine” from Wicked as well as Dan Kempson and Zachary Altman’s surprisingly steamy take on “Lily’s Eyes” from The Secret Garden. I was also thrilled to see Miss Garland take the stage with Daryl and Zach, reprising their winter show stopping trio A Step Too Far” from Aida. Tom Magill often stole the show, acting as Veronica’s starry-eyed assistant who only wanted a chance to be on stage, sang Emcee’s “Wilkommen” from Cabaret with clear tone and zeal.

Soprano Rachel Felstein tries her hand at some impressive mixing and belting

Tom Magill being upstaged by Veronica Garland... again!

Apart from the lesbian-themed duet from Wicked, there were actually some bigger surprises. The cast sent me back a decade unexpectedly with their fantastically executed ensemble number Walk Through The Fire” from Once More With Feeling... you know, the musical episode from the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m not embarrassed an ounce to admit that I watched Buffy every week for the entirety of it’s run, and when the cast broke out into the song, I uncharacteristically shouted in excitement from my seat… yes I’m a nerd.

Of course, like any show, there was a crowning moment. When Miss Garland sang the famous ballad from Sunset Boulevard, a rush of energy filled the audience that slowly built and finally burst into joyous applause like a collective firework.

I am thrilled to announce that Veronica Garland’s next performance will take place at Shetler Studios next Sunday, July 17th, 2011 when she takes on the role of Margaret White in… wait for it, Carrie: The Musical.

The notorious Broadway flop only saw the light of the Great White Way for 5 performances after 16 previews in 1988. Hey now, I know what you’re thinking “of course it flopped… Carrie the musical!?” The show failed due losing it’s financial backers after receiving negative reviews, even though the show was selling out every seat. The music was actually written by Michael Gore, the Oscar-winning composer of the title theme from  FAME, and lyrics by Grammy, Tony and Oscar-Winning lyricist Lawrence D. Cohen. Soon to experience new life off-Broadway this winter with the incomparable Marin Mazzie as Mrs. White.

Though I was initially skeptical, Veronica Garland invited me to a musical rehearsal for the show to see for myself, and honestly? I kind of love it! So if you’re in New York City the weekend of the 17th, join me and an enthusiastic audience at Carrie: The Musical. You can RSVP on the show’s Facebook Page .  To watch videos from last month’s performance, just click the blue highlighted links above!

The show information is as follows

Carrie: The Musical 

Shetler Studios & Theatres

244 West 54th st

New York, NY

Margaret White: Veronica Garland

Carrie White: Morgan Anderson

Sue: Christiana Little

Chris: Rachel Felstein

Ms. Gardner: Whitney Hughes

Tommy: Tom Magill

Billy: Edmond Cody



If you like bySMITH and DEX New York Cosmetics…

Be sure to check back to read about the top to bottom Manhattan look we created when these two awesome New Yorkers got together!

And if you need a refresher course on all things bySMITH, you can visit her website bysmithcollection.com or read our Urban Palate interview.

Coming Up!

Look out for the following posts in the next week!

“Conspire to Inspire”

“Urban Palate: Dexter Phillip”

“Smith and DEX… an Urban Palate Collaboration”

“Urban Palate: Diana Warner”

“The Help: a classical pianist’s reduction from travel companion to live-in maid”


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