Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ondine: Tribeca Film Festival

Last night I had the pleasure of being at the premier of "Ondine," a film written and directed by Irish film maker Neil Jordan — starring Collin Farrell, Stephen Rea, Alicja Bachleda and Alison Barry. As part of Tribeca Film Festival, this low budget ($12-$15 million) modern-day fairytale is well worth a watch.

The plot revolves around an down-on-his-luck Irish fisherman, Syracuse (Farrell) who catches a mysterious girl (Bachleda) in his net. His daughter (Barry) comes to believe she is a mythical sea creature and it's not long before you too are swept away in this fantasy tale before being brought back down to earth with a thud. If you're familiar with Jordan's previous work you will be happy to know that "Ondine" has a happy ending. Full of witty one-liners, gorgeous cinematography and authentic characters it's a must-see at this year's festivities..

Sitting in the audience with fashion extraodinaire, John David Robbins — Jordan, Farrell and Bachleda — were all in attendance, in fact sitting directly behind us. For a sneak peek check out the trailor below.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free MP3: SIA

Since first hearing SIA's latest offering We Are Born (the joys of being a music editor), I have been driving everyone crazy with my incessant replay button action particularly of track "You've Changed." Produced by Greg Kursten, the album is Kylie Minogue meets Gwen Stefani on a girl’s night out with Lily Allen.

Check out the "Clap Your Hands" Diplo remix MP3 at Stereogum.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wes Moore: Don't miss him on Oprah

Writing can be a scary business. Writing a book and releasing it into the big bad world can be damn near terrifying. Years, months, days, even decades of planning, writing and re-writing all lead to this one moment—the moment of truth, when you finally surrender your book to readers. As another book finds its way onto bookshelves (and hopefully into our hearts), I wanted to give a big shout out to the amazing Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore, released into the world tomorrow.

Moore is living every author's dream of going from edit to Oprah with his autobiographical tale of two men, both with the same name whose lives, not so different, are governed by very different decisions. One is a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and investment banker the other, a convicted murderer serving life.

Growing up in similar neighbourhoods, hanging out on similar corners with similar crews, this story is a real life Sliding Doors that is as gripping as it is moving.

Knowing the "Rhodes Scholar" Wes Moore, I can vouch for the fact that he has bared his soul in this novel. He has worked tirelessly to give the other Wes Moore a voice from behind bars and has never stopped working to make this story a cautionary yet inspiring tale.

An overachiever in every sense, Moore has been named everything from "the next president" to Crain’s New York Busi­ness’ “40 Under 40 Ris­ing Stars” yet he is as humble as he is talented. Don't miss The Other Wes Moore on Oprah tomorrow, Tuesday 27th, April 2010.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Having a bad day? It's all about perspective

READ Shadow Princess: Indu Sundaresan

The latest addition to author Indu Sundaresan's unique brand of historical fiction, Shadow Princess provides the perfect escape. For those who enjoyed The Feast of Roses, The Splendor of Silence and The Twentieth Wife, you will find this book to have all the magic of a Sundaresan novel — suspense and intrigue, affection and betrayal, sibling rivalry and enduring love.

Returning to 17th Century India, the novel revolves around the lives of two princesses, Jahangir and Roshanara, daughters of the emperor Shah Jahan. After the sudden death of their mother, empress Mumtaz Mahal (yes, that Mahal), Jahangir finds herself thrust into the role her mother once occupied. However, power comes at a price and not wanting to see his daughters go, the emperor forbids both to marry. In the inevitable squabble for power — from both ambitious heirs and jealous siblings — a series of events are put into place that continue to have a long lasting effect on the world we know today.

With the creation of the Luminous Tomb (otherwise known as the Taj Mahal) providing a captivating backdrop, Shadow Princess is at times bittersweet, others, undoubtably moving.

Indu Sundaresan writes with such clear vision as to create an uniterupted movie in your mind. From the smallest detail to the grandest scheme, this story will remain in your memory long after you close the book.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Panama City: The nation's first green airport

I have been fortunate to experience a lot of things in my life: drink cobra venom in a dingy back alley in Taipei, blend my own red at Dave Matthew's vineyard, watch as tanks roll down the Champs Elysee on the anniversary of the liberation of Paris. But standing in an international airport control tower overlooking the vast expanse of runway was something I had yet to experience... until now.

Before you go blowing the whistle (or fearing for your life) you'll be glad to know this watch tower was still under construction, as is most of the new International airport soon to service, among other areas, Panama City, Florida. The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is the first, to be built since 9/11. With construction gear on, myself and a lucky few were able to tour the new site.

Inside, reminders of the "lure of the sea" abound with intricate details on panelling at various check in areas, restaurants and service desks. In-laid shells and aquatic blue highlights add just enough flavor without becoming kitch. With roughly one month until it opens, workers are digging deep to ensure passengers can experience the ease of non-stop flights to Washington among many other destinations.

As we celebrate Earth Day today, you'll be glad to know The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is designed to be the nation’s first green airport, including a LEED certified terminal building, state-of-the-art stormwater management system, and a plan for carbon neutral operation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Panama City: Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville

If 145th street was deserted, 125th was plain dangerous. Thankfully the universe sent me my own private bodyguards in the form of a waiting security patrol and an off duty policeman (on his way to visit family in Alabama). After arriving at the airport and playing some 6am Sudoku with Jane — a 65 year old grandmother on route to Jacksonville — I finally arrived at my destination, Panama City, Florida. First on the itinerary, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.

For those not familiar with James "Jimmy" Buffet, let me give you a little run down. Born in December 25th, 1946, he spent most of his childhood in Alabama and released his first country album in 1970. It's his beachy vibe however, (think Hawaiian shirts and flocks of parrots) that caught on with songs such as "Margaritaville" (No. 234 on RIAA's list of "Songs of the Century") and "Cheeseburger in Paradise" topping the charts.

Some things you may not know about Jimmy Buffet:

* He has written three No. 1 best sellers. Tales from Margaritaville and Where Is Joe Merchant? both spent over seven months on the The New York Times Best Seller fiction list.
* He was part-owner of two minor league teams: the Fort Myers Miracle and the Madison Black Wolf.
* Between his restaurants, album sales, and tours, he earns an estimated $100 million a year.

Seated on the deck, with a margarita in hand, is perhaps the best way to begin any mini vacation to Panama City, Florida. So Jimmy, we salute you and your millions, your take-home souvenier margarita glass and your giant sized nachos.

Next stop, the new International airport...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Panama City: The Adventures Begin

Early morning is the most dangerous hour to travel in Manhattan. Simply because it's deserted. Safety comes in numbers in the Big Apple, so it was with some trepidation and an extra don't-screw-with-me stride that I set off for the subway, to catch the bus, to board the plane, en route to Panama City, Florida. Waking at 3am, dressed and ready to go at 4am.

Why fly cross country at such an early hour, during Spring Break? Well, in a moment of overworked delirium I once again forgot to read the fine print and thought Panama City had something to do with Panama. Turns out, I'm not that far off. The city was officially named in May 2, 1936 due to it being the closest American port to the newly opened Panama Canal. Not swimming distance though, as I was soon to find out.

The best thing about traveling, is that you discover things about other cities, neighborhoods and even a bit about your own. I had no idea for example, that the duty bound Indian brothers who man the fruit and vege stand on Sugar Hill set up shop at 4am. Who would have thought I could pick up a banana pre dawn? Good to know.

It seems another local also favors the early morning hours. Standing on the deserted platform, that familiar rustling sound caught my attention. It was with some dread that I looked towards the moving plastic bag. Yes, it seems the local subway rats come above ground pre-dawn. I prayed the A train would arrive first. Should the D come, I would have to step within inches of this charming rodent.

As you can guess, it was the D train that arrived and much to my horror, as I ran past the rat it ran with me. The bloody thing escorted me down the stairs, step by step, obviously anxious to be on time as well. This is when desertion works in your favor. As you run down the stairs waving your arm hysterically, silently screaming, small rodent by your side, no one can laugh at you aside from yourself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

KEVA by Keva J: Starting the Summer countdown

Yesterday I had the chance to sit down with designer, Keva Johnson of KEVA by Keva J. A Caribbean native, now based in New York, her intricate designs of stylish swimwear are guaranteed to keep you in style during the long summer months. Which is a good thing because I got slightly confused a few weeks ago and said yes to a press trip to Panama City, which I thought had something to do with the canal. Turns out I'm going to Spring Break! Which in turn got me thinking about Summer wardrobes. It's been a while since I've sported cut off denim but with these innovative designs, there's hope for us all.

KEVA's Serengeti 2010 Collection features an African safari vibe with striking animal prints, jungle hues and detailed cut outs which are sure to impress. Past offerings include bold color combinations of yellows and blue, rich metallics and black and white classics.

Destined to become hot property, if you haven't already checked out the designs of this talented 27 year-old, then I suggest you start. It's time to get that summer wardrobe in shape. And yes, will keep you updated on my first Spring Break. Ha ha!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Marilyn Monroe Auction: Owning a piece of the legend

"I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I'm out of control and at times I'm hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

This is by far one of my favorite quotes from Marilyn Monroe, the icon that proved that blondes really do have more fun. As yet another batch of Monroe memorabilia goes under the hammer, I thought it would be nice for us all to own a little piece of Monroe magic even if it was only in the form of this great quote.

Come June 26-27, those itching for a more tangible piece of the legend will be able to buy everything from bank statements to a chest x-ray courtesy of Legends auction at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Don't want to wait until their dead? A soiled tissue from Scarlett Johanson recently sold
for $3,500. Justin Timberlake's breakfast leftovers? $3,154 for some half-eaten french toast. Ah, good times.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vacheron Constantin: Watching style

When it comes to watches price is no object, at least for some. Sure, as a child I may have searched Pat Pong Street for questionable Gucci's and yes, in my teens I may have sported a "sensible" Swatch, but as we grow older and come into our own style, a statement watch can be an investment that will last a lifetime. The latest to catch my eye, is Vacheron Constantin's Collection Excellence Platine Patrimony Contemporaine pocket watch. Yes, it's a mouthful but a timepiece such as this deserves a title.

Inspired by the discovery of the first pocket watch made by Jean-Marc Vacheron and dated circa 1755, the Collection Excellence Platine Patrimony Contemporaine pocket watch is both stylish and practical. Enclosed in its own leather pocket this little gem is the first in Vacheron Constantin's Patrimony line. A limited edition of 50, individually numbered watches are available so you'll have to be fast to pocket this one. Priced at around $50 000 however, I may well be window shopping for a while yet...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Five reasons to love Spa Week

1) Green Phoenix Spa
29 West 46th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10036

Steals & Deals Treatment:
60 Min Hot Stone and Deep Tissue Combination Massage.
Special: $50; Originally: $75

2) Queen Jane Day Spa
37 East 28th Street, Suite B103
New York, NY 10016

Steals & Deals Treatment:
Choice of Signature Cucumber Spring Facial, 50 Min Swedish Massage, or 30 Min Signature Cucumber Polish.
Special: $50 Each

3) Serena Spa
1270 Broadway, Suite 503
New York, NY 10001

Steals & Deals Treatment:
Choice of 45 Min Microdermabrasion, 45 Min IPL Photo Facial, or Deep Cleansing Facial with 15 Min Neck and Shoulder Massage.
Special: $59 Each; Originally: $95 - $115

4) Vada Spa & Laser Center
387 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10014

Steals & Deals Treatment:
Choice of Microdermabrasion Treatment with Out-to-Lunch Facial, Teeth Whitening, or Full Body Wax with Manicure.
Special: $59 Each; Originally: $109 - $125

5) Deva Spa
425 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013

Steals & Deals Treatment:
Choice of Deva Express Facial for $50, normally $95, 60 Min Deva Micro with Deep Pore Cleansing for $145, normally $185, or any 60 Min Massage and 30 Min Scrub for $195, normally $225.

April 12-18, book now!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do we all secretly want to be a Real Housewife?

You may remember when I lived life without TV. It was a simpler time, one where I read three novels a week, where friends could bribe me with cable, where I devoured commercials like award-winning short films.

It wasn't long however, before the good folk on my block discovered I lived TV-less and delivered one straight to my door, such is the generosity of Harlem.

I have since upgraded to quite an impressive flat screen yet, on principal, I won't sign up for cable. The main reason: I come from a country that has four TV channels and I fear with seven hundred, I may never turn the damn thing off, particularly since I have yet to desensitize my entertainment senses.

And although having a TV has stopped me from considering mugging others in order to support my book habit, I have to admit it's giving me bad ideas, career wise... mainly from my new, sinful indulgence, The Real Housewives of New York City.

Introduced to this reality train wreck via it's other incarnations, I have found myself watching "Housewife" marathons in hotel rooms, completely dumb founded by the seemingly inane, verging on venomous, goings-on of these so-called grown ups.

How in the hell do they have the time to create all this drama? These people "do lunch" for a living! Which begs the question, if your most poignant, life-changing decision becomes whether to leave Ramona's long weekend BBQ in the Hampton's to drop into Lu Ann's Summer long weekend BBQ in the Hamptons, then how bad can life be?

I'd definitely ditch the "friends," but being a Real Housewife of New York City doesn't seem like a bad gig. It's certainly a more credible title than "Page Six Scandal Boy" or "Trust Fund Partier" as seen on IMG's latest reality show - not that I watch that sort of stuff!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Armani Easter Eggs: Fashion Eats

I'm not the only one who believes in the three fashion food groups—caffeine, champagne and chocolate. This year Armani Dolci has released it's own little Easter delight. Featuring a large letter "A" and packaged to impress, this exclusive range of chocolate Easter eggs are available from the Giorgio Armani flagship store on 5th Avenue.

Forget the Easter bonnet, take these to your long weekend soiree and you'll be the belle of the ball.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tanuki Tavern: The New Summer Haunt

Dining beside supermodel Hilary Rhoda in the glorious courtyard of Tanuki Tavern, it became all too clear that the time has come to decide upon where this season's good-weather hang out will be. My vote: Tanuki Tavern.

Located within the Gansevoort hotel, in the heart of the Meatpacking district, Tanuki Tavern has two floors of gorgeous decor in which to dine. Better yet, it features an amazing outdoor courtyard, the perfect setting for sun-filled brunches at this hip, Japanese gastro-pub.

Created by the good folks at China Grill Management you know the food will not disappoint. And the cocktail menu? Well, let's just say there is plenty of room for a Sunday afternoon of fun and frivolity. If you have some time mid-week, their $24 lunch pre-fix menu is great value. The service is attentive and the atmosphere is far from potentious. Tanuki Tavern is the perfect place to relax rain, hail or shine.

Favorite dishes: Crispy baby bok choy, Spicy Blue Crab Pizza and the Yellowtail Jalapeno sashimi style.