June 8, 2013
Words can’t describe how well our boat party with Greg Wilson and Billy Caldwell turned out. I arrived at 3 p.m. to check in 200+ guests and was a bit concerned about the weather—it was wet, gray and humid out. By 5:30 p.m., however, everyone was on board and the skies were clearing just in time as we set sail at 6. The crowd was eating up Billy’s set (Inspector Norse was obviously a crowd favorite) before Greg took over and delivered a beautiful, flawless set from beginning to end. I’m the first to admit I can be quite picky and, dare I say, elitist about DJ sets, but these two left me with no complaints.
After the sun had set and we were returning back to the island’s glimmering skyline, I had to sit down for a moment and absorb the moment—I never want to forget that night. If you’re in NYC, don’t miss our next one on July 3 with dOP, DJ Tennis andHolosound co-hosted by the reSolute crew.
When we reached land, Adam, Zach and I were the first to get off the boat and we hopped into a cab to Brooklyn with one of the owners from TBA. Adam was playing the official after party and we couldn’t be late. As the night went on, more friends and fellow boat party guests started popping up and it soon turned into one of my most memorable nights in recent memory. The subway ride home, however….now there’s something I don’t quite recall.
June 5, 2013
It was a particularly beautiful day in Alphabet City—afternoon sunshine, 60 degrees, passersby leisurely roaming. I couldn’t help but stop at Ninth Street Espresso for some outdoor reading and hibiscus iced tea. When Renee J got off work, we met up at The Wayland for happy hour drinks before heading to Esperanto across the street for a quick bite. A few hours later, we made our way down to Brooklyn—she was going home and I was headed to a show. Once there, I met up with Barbara at Public Assembly to see Wolves perform. She’s known one of the band members for years and has recently become closer with the rest of the group. I’d always heard good things about them from her, but had never seen them live before. As expected, they put on quite the show. Handsome, talented and genuinely friendly guys—it’s surprising more people don’t already know about them. After the show, B & I joined the band and a few others at Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern before calling it a night.
If you’re not already familiar, check them here.
June 3, 2013
After releasing “Play” six months ago, Adam (Air Zaire) came back with a bang. Sampling Avant’s eponymous 2000 R&B gem, “Reaction” is a contemporary take on the original, lifting it to new heights with a smooth bassline complemented by polished synths, congas, timbales, and claps sprinkled throughout.
In its first 10 days, it reached 10,000 listens—a proud moment for Team AZ.
The track also made its debut in an exclusive mix curated for Full Moon, the highly anticipated summer party taking place June 22. Following the event, Air Zaïre will be DJing the official after party held at Le Bain, a personal favorite.
May 28 - June 2, 2013
Following a busy Memorial Day weekend, I kept to myself for much of that following Tuesday. I tended to a few errands early in the day and later stopped by West Side Books & Records, my favorite hole-in-the-wall bookstore in my neighborhood. Gray skies and summer rain served as the perfect background for an afternoon spent indoors browsing through paperbacks and used records. After an hour or so, I picked up Claire Marvel by John Burnham Schwartz. Just a few pages in, I felt a connection to the protagonist—his weaknesses seemed to resonate with mine—and decided to purchase it.
Feeling a bit hungry and cold from the rain, I ventured to PeaceFood a few blocks away for warm vegan chili. As I waited to be seated, a familiar face walked in behind me. I’d seen him before, but I convinced myself it couldn’t possibly be who I thought it was. When the waitress asked for his name, my suspicions were confirmed—it was Hank Azaria, the actor. If you watch The Simpsons, you know he’s a regular on the show, lending a voice for many integral characters throughout the years. Beyond that, he’s had a successful on-screen career. My favorite film of his is The Birdcage in which he plays a dim-witted yet incredibly endearing housekeeper to a gay power couple in Miami.
Before I could bring myself to say anything, the waitress walked me over to my table. In between bites, I’d peer over every once in a while just to make sure I remembered this moment. There have been a few celebrities I’ve run into and/or met at certain functions as expected, but this was my first random sighting in the city. It feels so silly to glamorize another human being, but in the moment it’s both exciting and surprising to see someone up close whose work you’ve admired from a distance.
I didn’t want to interrupt his meal so I took to Twitter instead. Much to my surprise, he responded to my silly tweet the next day.
On Wednesday, Celeste and I met up at Lenny’s for a quick bite before heading over to Grounded, my favorite cafe in the Village, to work on a few things for Succes de Scandale. On our way, we spotted the Jefferson Market Garden. I’d passed by this place a dozen times, but never bothered walking through.
While there, the sun began to set as I took this photo, casting beautiful shadows on the lush lawn encompassed by blooming flowers, benches, and a tiny greenhouse. It’s sights like this that remind me there’s beauty in the simplest things, however big or small. It’s also reinforcing to know smaller havens like this exist aside from the larger parks that offer a temporary escape from the hustle & bustle of the city.
Back at Grounded, we met a local artist, Steven, who was intrigued by Celeste’s black attire set off by her jet black hair. Her look reminded him of his paintings, he told us. As we got to know Steven more, we learned he’d been a storyboard designer for years, having worked on everything from big films to popular shows like Law & Order. Now he was focusing more on his own art, trying to make a name for himself in the gallery world. Coincidentally, we’d been busy talking about and planning our first gallery event before meeting Steven. Despite being a regular occurrence in a city like this, these serendipitous run-ins never cease to amaze me.
On Friday, Celeste and I met up in Brooklyn to check out Nifty Thrify’s pop-up shop in a somewhat secluded warehouse. We enjoyed sorting through vintage Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani while also poking fun at outdated graphic tees and used mechanic uniforms, but left with nothing in hand.
Eventually we made our way to another thrift shop before stopping at the Meatball Shop for some ‘naked’ veggie meatballs. One word—delicious.
After rushing back to the UWS to change outfits for the night, I ventured down to SoHo to meet up with Celeste and Mike at Bloomingdale’s before we hopped in a cab to a gallery for a new exhibit we’d heard about. Once there, we were, hate to say it, but less than impressed with the work and the crowd. Less than 10 minutes in, we decided to leave and find entertainment elsewhere. Next, we headed to Lobster Joint in the Lower East Side. Since I’m not meat/dairy-free for ethical reasons, I’ve given myself 1-2 days per week to enjoy one or the other if I’m absolutely craving it. While everything looked and smelled amazing, I stuck with a salad and saved my cheat day(s) for another time.
After dinner, Celeste, whose oysters never came out for some reason, decided she wanted to substitute her meal with a nutella crepe before concluding our night at The Whiskey Ward.
On Saturday afternoon, I made my way back to Williamsburg to meet up with Adam at Toby’s Estate to discuss a few things regarding the direction of his music career and the new role I’d be playing strictly as his booking agent versus my current position as his manager.
Following our meeting, I came home for some dinner and a disco nap before heading to the East Village to dance the night away at Pyramid Club for 80s night. Set in a legendary venue in an iconic neighborhood with music by Wham!, New Order, Techtronic and more playing all night, it felt like we’d entered a time machine to the NYC scene of decades past.
When we were finally tired from dancing, we hopped on a bus to Union Square, walked by the beautifully illuminated Empire State Building (above), and ended up at a late night diner. There I succumbed to inebriated cravings and ordered the club sandwich—no regrets.
Sunday was hardly short of an adventure. I made my third consecutive trip to Brooklyn that morning to meet up again at Toby’s with Adam and the new manager we agreed would take over my current position. By 2 p.m., we made our way to Cameo Gallery for his disco brunch set.
There, a table full of friends and I enjoyed brunch and drinks galore. There was no way I was going to play the vegan card that day and I happily enjoyed classic pancakes accompanied by 3 delicious mimosas. By 5 or 6 p.m., seven of us headed to Le Bain for a rooftop soiree, my second event of the day with Autobrennt. I don’t even have to go into detail about my trips to Le Bain—I go back almost every week for a reason. The thing I love most about it, aside from the obvious, is that a ton of my friends are always there. Though I’d shown up with 6 others, our group eventually snowballed into one big reunion throughout the night. Eventually, I sort of lost count of how many drinks I had, but never felt out of control. I know my limits and I was nowhere near them. Having spent the day in the sun—eating, drinking, and dancing—my friends and I were all exhausted by 11 p.m. As the party continued with Autobrennt until 3 a.m., we headed out early for a late night diner run nearby. As we ate, a torrential downpour came down outside. If it weren’t for the extreme lightning, I might have enjoyed walking through the rain, but instead we all hopped into different cabs heading to our respective hoods—Upper West, Chelsea, Park Slope, Williamsburg, etc.
May 25, 2013
A toddler at the time, I barely remember 1993; however, it marked a significant change in my life. That year, my family uprooted from Honduras and moved to Florida. Though I was entirely too young to relate to things beyond my childhood realm in the early 90s, I was certainly a part of the times, nonetheless. Back then, my eldest sister was in her late teens/early 20s. Despite our age difference, she always spent time with Becky and I, almost acting as a second mom when either of my parents were busy. Some of my fondest memories with her from those years took place in her ‘96 Honda Civic DX. It was her pride and joy and she drove us everywhere in that car, always stopping at our favorite playground to let Becky and I run free.
During our car rides together, I distinctly remember singing along to her various tapes and CDs. Though I could hardly understand all the words (some of which were arguably inappropriate for my age), the melodies and beats helped fuel my undying love for music. As an adult, I continually go back to, explore, and fall in love with a lot of the songs and artists from that decade all over again—only this time with a greater appreciation in contrast to some of today’s “talent.”
By 1996, Bere was a sophomore in college while the rest of my family and I moved back to Honduras.
Though similar in some ways, the major contrast between both cultural experiences played an immense role in my development and significantly shaped who I am as a person. While I obviously love my native country, I’d already gotten a taste of America and yearned for more back in Honduras. Living vicariously through MTV/other American channels and summer visits to Florida, I was, for the most part, still able to experience the 90s like most American youth. I still clearly remember the day Biggie died, for example. I was home from school, avoiding homework and flipping through channels when I heard Kurt Loder reporting his death. I wasn’t well-versed with his music, but I knew who he was. Later in life, I would revisit and fall in love with the Ready to Die album.
Some difficult moments aside, I, like many others, am guilty of remembering my childhood with rose-colored glasses. With the Internet boom still in its early stages (dial-up, anyone?) and before iPods/iPhones/instagram took over, the Clinton-era seemed like a simpler, happier, more hedonistic decade. In many ways, it was, especially when you consider that, despite events like the ‘93 WTC incident and Oklahoma City bombings, 9/11 and the disastrous resulting war/economy had not yet occurred.
My family and I had moved back to the US for good in July 2001, just months before September 11, a day that obviously changed the course of history and subsequently robbed other children like myself the last few years of childhood naivete—we all saw the world differently on September 12.
As an adult, however, I realize it wasn’t all fun and games. While other wars and genocide plagued other nations, the social and political landscape of America was also changing drastically. The decade saw a prominent rise in the AIDS crisis, race wars, gay rights movement, third wave feminism, among other things.
"NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star," named after the Sonic Youth album, explores these social and political movements as they specifically relate to the year 1993, 20 years from the present, by NYC artists.
According to the curators, the exhibition:
is not a definitive history of the art in the 1990s, nor is it one that privileges a single group of artists united under a single thematic or conceptual banner. Instead, the exhibition takes the form of a kind of vertical cross section of artistic production in New York City—capturing both the familiar and the forgotten, and bringing together individuals who may have originally inhabited radically different positions. The critical debates and discussions of the early 1990s—on issues such as racial and gender politics, globalism, and institutional critique—have been taken up again in recent years by younger artists, writers, activists, and filmmakers, demonstrating how our current social and political moment grows out of the events and ideas […] that defined the 1990s and continues shape artistic expression today.
I took plenty of photos, but there was so much to absorb that I didn’t want to experience the entire exhibition through a lens. Among some of my favorite pieces not pictured were Lutz Bacher’s “My Penis” featuring a video snippet on loop of William Kennedy Smith testifying at his 1991 rape trial repeating “I did have my penis” followed by a wince/blink that, once heard a few dozen times, ends up humiliating and shaming the perpetrator and the haunting “The Scene of the Crime” by Pepon Osorio.
While older guests might have more to relate to, the exhibition helped younger folks like myself catch a glimpse into just one defining year of an entire important decade. I just wish I’d visited more than once!
Following the museum, Celeste, Mike and Laura (Mike’s friend from back home in London), wandered around Prince Street for a bit before dining at a tiny, underground delicious Mexican restaurant whose name I can’t remember at the moment. $5 tortilla soup? Yes, please.
We ventured to McNally Jackson Books in Nolita to browse and enjoy some down-time before they succumbed to the temptation of Vive Le Crepe. Being meat/dairy is relatively easy…until your friend is devouring a mouth-watering Nutella crepe in front of you, but I’ll enjoy it one day. Later, we ventured to a nearby bar for nightcaps before heading to our respective homes.
May 23, 2013
Inspired by our collective need for something to call our own, a seed was planted in our minds and Barbara, Celeste, and I began toying with a concept for a new project. What began as a barely audible conversation over post-work happy hour drinks in a crowded Lower East Side bar eventually grew into a start-up company months later.
Though still in its developing stage, we’re the proud founders of Succes de Scandale, a creative studio for like-minded individuals to explore and express their talents.
The title itself came from Barbara, who’d previously experimented using it for other purposes, but decided it was appropriate for the project at hand. “Success from scandal” can mean a number of things. For us, it embodies our collective struggle as young creatives to find a place to express ourselves, something many 20-somethings in the city can relate to. As much as I’d like to think “art” is meant for everyone, it is still very much a bourgeois environment. There’s no denying the city provides various creative outlets for artists, but often times, it can feel a bit cold, unwelcoming, classist, high-brow, (dare I say) snobby, and overall inaccessible for some. While that’s expected and though we certainly appreciate and indulge in that world (hello, institutionalized museums), we also realize it doesn’t always to have to be that way.
Having experienced our share of backlash from the same creative world we (still) admire but have struggled to fit into, we decided to create a space where we could feel comfortable while exploring our own interests, and, in turn, provide an outlet for those seeking something similar.
As three 20-something Hispanic, female creatives living and working in New York City in 2013, we are members (and survivors) of the ongoing college degree-holding-now-working-full time-(illegal)-unpaid internships-struggle. We are, more importantly, also part of a major DIY generation with endless technology and plenty of inexpensive resources at our disposal which has provided people like us, now more than ever, a chance to create something from scratch without a major financial investment. In a city like this, that’s certainly not a groundbreaking concept; however, we also felt the need to present our own response to this with SDS. There’s plenty of room for growth and none of us are quitting our day jobs any time soon, but it’s empowering to know we can be in control of own creative visions.
That afternoon, we met up at Barbara’s apartment for a few hours to discuss and plan our first project(s) for SDS. I’ll save those details for later, but one thing we decided to do was share the spotlight with young artists of all kinds that we believe in and are inspired by on our site’s blog section. Lucky for us, a friend of mine was having a show later that night, which I wrote about and photographed (above) for our first post.
Below is an excerpt:
On Thursday, May 23, Nepenthes held an opening reception for their latest exhibit, “B.O.Y. Because of You” by revered contemporary artist Sofia Maldonado and the pop-up shop debut of menswear designer Thaddeus O’Neil with musical support from DJ Smoke and Johnny Knapp.At 28, Maldonado is already a major figure in the art world. After receiving her BFA in her native Puerto Rico, Maldonado went on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute. In 2010, The Times Square Alliance commissioned Maldonado to create a mural stretching 92 feet across the iconic West 42nd crosstown street. In recent years, her work has been featured in various galleries in NYC, across the U.S., and abroad.Featuring pieces both new and old, “B.O.Y” honors selections from Maldonado’s diverse body of work. Among the pieces on display were her series of paintings on broken skateboard decks, previously featured in her solo show, Tropical Storm, held at Manhattan’s Magnan Emrich gallery. Her “Chicas” paintings, ranked among some of her most acclaimed works, are also featured. Depicting emancipated and empowered urban women, the figurative pieces are brought to life with rich layers of color.Nepenthes’ narrow walls and ultra-high ceilings provide the perfect space to showcase Maldonado’s work. Hung above the racks of clothing, one can admire her unique pieces from any location in the store. The best spot to view her work, however, is from the stores’s mezzanine. Looking down below, one can fully absorb the explosions of color emanating from each piece.Downstairs, Maldonado was busy greeting fans and autographing fliers with individual mini-designs. Upstairs on the mezzanine, O’Neil warmly greeted friends and fans as they browsed his surfer chic collection. Still on the rise, a bit of mystery surrounds the designer. From what we do know, O’Neil obtained his MA in Philosophy and went on to work as a carpenter in various parts of the world to supplement his surfing travels. With support from Nepenthes, we doubt it will be much longer before the rest of the fashion world catches on.While absorbing the colorful, artistic vision surrounding us, it was easy to ignore the gray skies and damp streets that awaited outdoors.
May 22, 2013
Today marks a number of occasions.
Exactly one year ago, I moved to New York City. I can remember everything about that day—what I wore on the plane, what my cab driver looked like, struggling to carry all of my luggage into my building, even my first meal in the city. I hope the memory of that day never fades.
I dreamed about this place since I was 13 and still can’t believe I’m here at times. Every day is different—there are plenty of amazing days that reassure I made the right choice and then there are really difficult days that make me want to pack up, give up, and go home. The truth is, New York isn’t supposed to be easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be as competitive as it is. We’re all here for a reason and I’m doing my damn best to make sure I stick around these parts a bit longer.
Like the fabulous Jill Scott sings, “I’m living my life like it’s golden.”
On a sadder note, today marks 6 months since Mimi passed away. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t cross my mind. My biggest regret is not being able to see her one last time before she passed, but losing her has strengthened me in ways I could have never imagined. Ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum. From my personal interests to my personal choices, I’ve never chosen a traditional path. Mimi acknowledged that and embraced it. She was the same way. Sassy, opinionated, headstrong…she saw herself in me and never made me apologize for being the way I am.
Losing her on Thanksgiving and, coincidentally, my 6 month “anniversary” with the city was difficult in so many ways. Aside from losing her on her favorite holiday, I was stricken with major guilt. I felt guilty for living so far away that I couldn’t be by her side like the majority of my family was. I felt guilty because if I hadn’t felt so rushed to move to the city right away last May, I could have flown to Honduras and spent one last summer with her. I felt guilty for not calling her enough after I’d moved.
To this day, the pain and guilt have hardly subsided, but I know something now that I didn’t know then. I know how to live. If anyone knew how to do this, it was Mimi. She had a zest for life like no one I’ve ever known and it comforts me to know she enjoyed a healthy 86 years on this Earth, always seeking the positive from the negative.
When she passed, I decided to try to live my life the way she did. It’s as though a veil was lifted from me and, for the first time, I could really see what was in front of me. I can’t begin to describe the kind of doors that has opened for me thus far. Two weeks after she passed, I turned 22. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I can do anything. 22 has since become an important number for me.
It marks the day I made one of my many dreams come true; the day I lost the most glorious woman in my life; and the age when I began the process of truly accepting myself the way Mimi always did.
By doing so, I finally realized only I could be in charge of my happiness. This also involved making another change in my life—going vegan. It’s been one month exactly since I decided to challenge myself to cut out meat/dairy in an attempt to become healthier. In just a month, I’ve lost almost two dress sizes. More importantly, I feel lighter (mentally and spiritually), less lethargic and overall healthier. I still have a ways to go, but letting myself really live has made me so much happier. I just wish she was here to witness who I’ve become.
May 17 - 19, 2013
This post is going to be a bit lengthy. Consider yourself warned.
Where do I begin with this weekend? Being able to book Adam for another gig at Glasslands with an opening/closing set for Le Youth, a DJ/producer he’s looked up to for some time, was a rewarding moment for me as his friend and manager. The show turned out amazing—great crowd, great music, summer vibes all around.
On Saturday I joined Renee for drinks at Cafe Colette before we met up with Ashley at Mable’s and walked over to Kinfolk Studios for a set by Jolly Mare (who I’d recently heard play a fantastic set at Le Bain on the night of MAW/Roy Ayers) and Johnny Santos. Once inside, we met up with some other folks and stuck around until about 2 am before the girls went off with their respective beaus.
Though I’d come home relatively early (3 is early these days) and had only had two drinks, I slept in until 11, exhausted from my recent treks between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Once I was awake, Celeste and I agreed to meet up later in the afternoon to visit the punk exhibit going on at the Met and later the 1993 exhibit at the New Museum.
That alone was going to cost close to $40 on top of the ridiculous cab fares I’d recently shelled out. In true nearly-broke-girl-in-NYC fashion, I dumped my entire change purse into a Coinstar machine for some extra cash. A measly $14 later, I was on my way to the Met. Instead of taking my usual route via the Downtown 1 to 59th, then walking across the park to 5th ave and walking north to E. 82, I decided to try the crosstown MTA bus for the very first time since I’d moved to the city. It was a particularly gloomy, rainy, and offensively humid afternoon and the bus seemed more logical. In retrospect, I don’t know why I waited this long to try it—quick, easy, and arguably cleaner than the subway.
Celeste and I met up on the Met steps and made our way inside. Due to an earlier incident, she didn’t have her wallet on her and asked if I could cover the admission ticket. Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate to help a friend, but considering I’ve been trying to really control my spending (especially after one too many cab rides), I was honest and said I couldn’t dish out $50 for a museum visit. She laughed out loud and told me admission was based on “suggested donation.” I felt like a complete idiot for not realizing the $25 “fee” wasn’t a rule set in stone. She suggested we donate $1 each. At first I felt a little guilty. On second thought, I’d given my money to the museum several times before in my appreciation for art and I figured, why not?
In somewhat of a rush, we decided to only view the punk exhibit. To save time, we asked an employee where exactly it was located. Instead of just saying “2nd floor,” the older gentleman pulled out a map, gave us long-winded directions and proceeded to tell us he’s surrounded by art every day, but that we (Celeste and I) were, without a doubt, “natural works of art—simply ravishing.”
After a few awkward laughs, we made our way to the second floor where we practically drooled at first glance of the exhibit.
I know a lot of people have come out and criticized the exhibit (and the Met gala especially) for glamorizing—hence, insulting—a movement that was so anti-establishment/mainstream. I understand their point. For whatever its worth, however, I see it somewhat differently.
Rather than strictly showcasing a major revolutionary social movement as part of history, the exhibit is looking at the movement in relation to how it went on to inform the vision of various designers throughout the years. That in itself is honoring the power of the movement—by being so bold, original punks not only ended up making political statements, but also went on to influence now-iconic fashion vets like Vivienne Westwood and later Martin Margiela as well as (relative) newcomers like Gareth Pugh and Rodarte.
If you know your history, you also know about Malcolm McLaren and his ties to punk. If you don’t, the story goes: Malcom, an art school dropout, had long been part of movements regarding social change, specifically the Situationist movement in the UK during the 60s. After a trip to NYC where he was influenced by Richard Hell’s DIY style complete with safety pins and spikey hair, he returned to London to open up the Seditionaries boutique with Vivienne Westwood, adapting Hell’s style to their garments. Also serving as manager for The Sex Pistols (arguably the fathers of British punk), it wasn’t long before McLaren’s new vision trickled down to the band and later British youth which sparked the same look that eventually trickled back upwards to high fashion designers.
Does the punk movement deserve a more educational exhibit that offers a political background, explanations regarding its ideologies, the music it influenced, etc to be honored as an important era in history? Absolutely.
But we would be fooling ourselves to say punk and fashion (personal or designer) were never synonymous and that’s what this exhibit is about, in my opinion at least.
Isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery anyway?
Among the magnificent clothes on display (i.e. Versace’s iconic safety pin dress!), I loved seeing the Ann Demeulemeester dress adorned with a line from Woolgathering by Patti Smith aka punk’s first lady:
"He did turn to wave as I ran and his open eyes caught mine"
Aside from the fashion, the exhibit itself was dark and moody, complete with black walls, distorted sounds, static videos of The Clash, Sex Pistols and more playing on loop across multiple stacked screens, several nods to Sid Vicious and even a modest recreation of the iconic CBGB men’s bathroom laden with graffiti.
After absorbing everything we could, we decided we wouldn’t have time to visit the New Museum and instead made our way to Tribeca to visit Mikey, Celeste’s boo, at his office. Every time I’m there, I feel like a kid with big, oogly eyes in a candy store. As a visual person by nature, I’m attracted to anything creative. Mikey is a colorist and has done amazing work for some of the best music videos, short films and commercials out there. People often credit directors for their talent, but certain works wouldn’t look half as nice as they do without a proper colorist. Only 24, his skill set and talent are incredibly impressive.
Barbara also decided to stop by after she got off work. After a few hours of (presumably) bugging Mikey at work, we ventured to the Lower East Side for a delectable Vietnamese dinner at An Choi, per Barbara’s recommendation. I’d been doing really well regarding my meat/dairy-free diet, but I couldn’t pass up on their Banh Mi pork belly sandwich—YUM. I am, by no means, citing ethical reasons as my choice to be meat-dairy free (90% of the time, at least) is a nutritional change on my path to become healthier, not based on animal rights.
No regrets with that sandwich, y’all.
I don’t know why, but Mikey felt compelled to pay for everyone’s dinner. A generous act, no doubt, but now I feel guilty & owe him two dinners! Looking back, I only spent $2 the entire day, a miracle by NYC standards.
By 10 p.m., we realized we’d been at dinner for nearly two hours and decided to head to our respective ‘hoods. Greenpoint for Barbie, Bed-Stuy for Celeste and Mike and, of course, all the way back to the UWS for moi.
While waiting to transfer from the C to the Uptown 1 at Columbus Circle, a religious zealot disrupted the peace and began yelling to straphangers about the “sin” of being out on a Sunday as it was intended by God to be a day of rest. Somehow that turned into a heated soliloquy about the “sin” of homosexuality. With 15 minutes left until the next train arrived, it got so annoying to the point where I felt like slapping him for spewing such ignorant and unfounded hatred. My better judgement kicked in and I realized I’d never let my hands come in contact with such a foolish person. Just a day earlier, a man named Mark Carson was gunned down in the Village (arguably the most gay-friendly neighborhood in the city) by a homophobic man who simply couldn’t “tolerate” someone like Carson. Many of my closest friends are gay and while I can’t relate to the struggle some of them face, I certainly empathize with them. I understand not everyone out there fully accepts members of the LGBT community, but to commit random violence against someone whose lifestyle doesn’t coincide with yours is subhuman.
It’s a shame that idiot concluded my otherwise lovely weekend.
May 6 - 12, 2013
On a roll with all the RBMA events going on, I was on a full-blown music kick. On Monday, May 6, I accompanied Alexa to Le Baron to see Quadron perform. If you’ve never been to Le Baron, it’s a three-level club hidden in Chinatown and somewhat difficult to get into unless you’re a regular and/or know someone. Those who have been know how small the main stage is, but, in turn, it provides a nice, intimate setting for artists like Quadron, especially. While in line, we made a new friend, Jack, a male flight attendant who happened to love frequenting live shows on his days off. We stood right in front of the stage as Quadron captivated the audience throughout the night. Once their set was over, an after party was taking place on the lower level. Alexa and Jack stayed while I made my way back uptown.
The next day I met up with my mentor and friend Denise and former co-worker Erica at a nearby restaurant. The magazine we worked for was celebrating the new issue’s launch. When they asked if I was going to the party, I really had to think about it. After some initial hesitation to attend, I decided to put whatever happened behind me and show up to the party the next night.
On Wednesday, I made my way down to the Lower East Side to meet up with my friend Barbara at The Box. Once inside, we reunited with some of our old co-workers. Seeing everyone reminded me of why I enjoyed the magazine in the first place before things changed. The cover girl, Natalia Kills, performed live. I’d heard her music before and, to be honest, wasn’t the biggest fan, but she was different live. Her energy was palpable and it made us all dance along. That, or the free drinks helped.
Friday rolled around and I was juggling two events in Brooklyn that night. First up, Adam and his roommates were hosting a rooftop soiree. I constantly remind him that I’m completely jealous of him for this reason. The picture above hardly does the view from his rooftop justice. By midnight, I was off to Cameo Gallery for an Autobrennt event. We were co-hosting the NYC debut of UK duo PBR Streetgang along with the Cameo Gallery crew. There, i met up with some more friends and we decided to stop by Chloe 81 in LES at around 3 a.m.
I woke up rather late on Saturday morning. I’d only had one drink the night before, but I was physically exhausted from running around Brooklyn and downtown all night. It was disgustingly humid and rainy for most of the day which made me feel less guilty for not leaving my apartment before 5 p.m. I stopped by Peacefood Cafe, my new haven since recently becoming meat/dairy free, and picked up some yummy vegan chili. I was seriously contemplating staying in the rest of the night, but I was drawn to an event hosted by some colleagues, Jacques Renault and Justin Miller, at Bossa Nova Civic Club in Bushwick. Barbara was down to join and we met up at the L train stop on Bedford before hopping in a cab to Myrtle Ave.
She was in the middle of telling me a story about a fellow Argentinian when the driver interrupted and mumbled something like “Of course he was Argentinian.” To our surprise, especially Barbara’s, the driver was also from Argentina. They briefly swapped info about their hometowns and how long they’d been in the country. The driver, Humberto, eventually unraveled his entire life story in less than 15 minutes.
Before he was a cabbie, he’d graduated from a top university in the US, joined the military, was financially successful, and had been married four times. A mishap ensued when he went home to Argentina in the middle of a political crisis and he was imprisoned for a few months before being transferred to a military prison back in the States and later released. Now 62, he decided to make ends meet by taking shifts as a cab driver.
I know a lot of people in New York avoid small talk with the drivers, but sometimes it’s important to remember everyone has a story. It’s what connects us as human beings and most of us lose sight of that too often.
Once we arrived at the club, Barbara and I found some familiar faces inside before making our way to the back patio. By the time we made it back inside, the floor was completely packed. For the next few hours, we lost ourselves in the crowd, fog and music—dancing to Robin S’ “Show Me Love” felt like a beautiful religious experience. Eventually, we both decided to take respective bathroom breaks. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t believe my entire liquid eyeliner and mascara had smeared. That had never happened to me before at a club. Just goes to show you how much we were enjoying the music. Luckily, it was so dark on the dance floor that no one noticed before I did—or no one cared.
With the night coming to an end, I made my way outside to hail a cab. Finding a cab in Brooklyn is difficult enough, but don’t get me started on Bushwick. There are plenty of gypsy cabs that drive by, but I’ve learned to steer clear from those. Desperate, I called a number saved under “Taxi” in my phone.
"I’m at 1271 Myrtle Ave"
"M’am are you in Tallahassee, FL?"
"…I’m in Brooklyn"
"M’am you just called Tallahassee Yellow Cab…"
When I explained I used to live there, the operator joked that I obviously missed the town. Finally, I spotted a yellow cab in the distance and waved frantically to get his attention.
He asked what I was doing alone in Bushwick at that hour. I explained Bossa Nova is a slightly underground club and I wasn’t alone, just that my friends had stayed behind.
"Your boyfriend stayed too?
Here we go again, I thought. I told him I was single at the moment which led to him asking why, among other things, before I decided to turn the tables on him. Male cabbies have a habit of asking me this (and I presume every other female they encounter) and I wanted him to know what it feels like to be asked about your personal life by a stranger. I mentioned earlier that we all have stories to share. While that’s true, I’d rather explain my life story than constantly justify my dating habits to strangers.
His name was Adam and he was from Sudan. Before moving to New York six years ago, he was living and working in Kentucky selling African clothing. Why he ever thought Kentucky was a good idea is still a mystery, but he eventually realized it was a terrible marketing idea and moved to New York in search of more work.
I told him back in my days of covering hard news, I was very passionate about exposing the conflict in Sudan/Darfur before celebrities like George Clooney helped bring it to the forefront. He explained he was an engineer in Sudan before coming to America and was working here in order to save money for a business he had in mind. In six years, he’d saved more than half of what he needed for his investment by working long hours and living modestly in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath in Astoria with 3 other men. I asked how they shared the space and he explained they were all cab drivers, two who worked late nights and two who worked in the day. That way, only two people were home at the same time. I told him I admired the sacrifices he was making to improve his life back home. He said none of that was as hard as going without sex for 7 years.
OH, it’s like that? This came out of nowhere. Suddenly, he was revealing more about himself than I’d anticipated. He told me his last girlfriend left him because she couldn’t keep up with having sex 8 times a day. Since then, he’s had trouble meeting other women in the States, he said.
I don’t think meeting people is the problem. Perhaps it’s that he needs to realize females, at least most, can’t keep up with that kind of, erm, pressure, but I held my tongue and let him vent. He eventually stopped the meter because I’d been “so kind” for listening to his story.
That night left with me two crazy cab stories to add to my ongoing list…
Late April - early May, 2013
After leaving the magazine, I was back on the job hunt. I spent the better part of April going on various interviews, some of which are still going on—meaning, there’s a series of interviews/small projects involved to be considered—while also working with Autobrennt and contributing articles to different online publications. In the meantime, I’ve had some nice downtime to enjoy the city and the company of friends.