Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meet the filmmaker’s series at Apple Store SOHO

Meet the filmmaker’s series - Apple store in SOHO hosts a bevy of filmmakers, actors, directors, musicians and artists alike. Oh yeah, they hold great classes too!

       Since 2011 began, I’ve been attending events I’d never even thought I’d ever be invited to like NBA draft parties and red carpet premieres. I’ve rubbed elbows with celebs and artists alike, especially at one particular reoccurring event at the Apple store in SOHO, NYC. Most Apple store’s in New York City give daily classes on how to best use their computer programs and equipment. You can learn to use such programs as Garageband (which I love a lot) and Final Cut Pro.

     The Apple store holds classes everyday from 10am to 8pm and each class runs about 1 – 1 ½ hours long. The classes are hosted by Apple employees who really know their stuff. If you reserve a spot for your class and miss it, you can easily go to the class at another time. The classes rotate between employees but when I went to three different Garageband classes, I learned something totally different each time, so it’s worth it to attend more than once. While looking for more classes to attend, I noticed Apple was hosting a ‘Meet the Filmmakers’ series’ event with Jason Statham for his then new film, ‘The Mechanic’.

     Meet the Filmmakers’ is a video podcast you can find on I-tunes where different directors, filmmakers, artist, musicians, and actors come for a 1 to 1 ½ hour block in which they discuss and promote their current film, album, or works of art. It’s a very intimate setting that anyone can attend but you should arrive early as seats fill up fast. The best part is after the session is over, most of the guests, time and publicists willing, are more than happy to come and sign autographs or take pictures with fans.

    When I met Jason Statham, there wasn’t a huge crowd and he had time to kill so I was fortunate enough to talk with him for a good 15 minutes! We took pictures together (I’m not a big fan of autographs, pictures tell a far better story than someone’s name on a piece of paper) and talked about pubs here in NYC versus Europe. A friend later told me that he noticed I was the only person Jason took pictures with and spoke with for that amount of time. I was absolutely flattered! This was a great experience for my first Meet the Filmmakers’ event.

     In the six months since then I’ve met actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrel, Eric Bana, Eva Mendez, Aaron Eckhart and several musicians, producers, directors and more. On a side note, if you ever meet Aaron Eckhart, he’s thee absolute nicest guy I’ve ever met and he tells the best stories! 

     If Aaron’s met you more than once, chances are he’ll remember you. When I met him, he spent 20 minutes talking to an older African American woman who was an extra in one of his previous films and he kept telling her “Yes I remember you” and asked how she’s been doing. He must have then given her some inspirational advice as they both started crying and hugging like they were old friends. He’s an absolutely amazing man for being so sweet to her and the rest of us and I thank him greatly for being so kind.

    My favorite quote that came from one of these events was when Eric Bana was discussing his latest role in the movie ‘Hanna’ and he told us that “last year (2010) was a bad year for actors”. What he meant was that 2010 was filled with so many sequels, there wasn’t much room for actors to stretch their acting abilities beyond what was already there. I was really interested in hearing more about this but he had to leave. Out of everyone I met I must say my favorite guest was Jake Gyllenhaal. After he was finished promoting “The Source Code”, for whatever reason, he came over and stood by me while I wasn’t paying attention. 

      He wasn’t really doing anything, just standing next to me as there weren’t many people around us until someone noticed him and ran to get his autograph. Once I looked up, he looked at me and smiled and I asked him for a picture (hey I was single and hopeful so why not). Jake grabbed me and after we took the picture he turned to my friend and asked her “is it (the picture) alright? I want to make sure it’s alright for her”. We talked for a bit before he left and as he was leaving, he continued to make me laugh by popping his head from behind a wall and waving like a madman at me, all the while he was laughing too.

    I’m grateful to Apple for creating all their classes and Meet the Filmmakers’ series as I learned so much and get to meet a lot of great people with interesting stories. If you’re into networking, Apple’s events are definitely not to be missed! 

   As of today, June 29th 2011, I wrote this article on my way to the Apple store for their latest ‘Meet the Filmmakers’’ series with the very talented and highly respected thespian, Tom Hanks. Can’t wait to meet him!


Author’s Note: To find out about Apple’s events or classes, please go to www.apple.com/soho


















Friday, June 24, 2011

NBC New York Lives’ swinging shindig

     On Tuesday may 24th 2011 I got off of work around 4pm and promptly headed home to do some extra work. I turned on my TV which is automatically set for NBC (ch.4) and New York Live (formally LX NY) was on. New York live is a show that airs every weekday from 5 – 6pm. Their anchors interview celebrity guests, report on the latest events in and round the city, review different city sights and on air product reviews.

On this show they were advertising a party for viewers of the show called the LX live fan appreciation night. We RSVP for this event and were on our way to the party. I arrived on May 25th 2011 with three friends at the Sky Room lounge located on the 33rd floor of 330 W 40th street. The entire cats and crew of both New York Live and NBC nightly news was present. 

There was also a camera crew on hand to film the entire event. There were fans of the show and executive producers of NBC on hand mingling with each other. Jessii Every one had name tags on to better identify each other; making it easier for introductions and such. There were appetizers which consisted of mini empanadas, Mac and cheese balls, tapas, and mini pizzas. We were privileged enough to enjoy a view of the city from the 33rd floor. 

   The sky room is essentially a two floor, very upscale, rooftop lounge. You first take the elevator to the 33rd floor where you exit at the main bar area. This part of the bar is huge and has a 180 degree view of lower Manhattan. There’s no outdoor area here but you are completely surrounded by windows in which you can see the view from, and there’s even windows all along the bar, behind where the liquor is kept, making a great backdrop for the bartenders.

    The New York Live party was held on the second floor of the lounge. Once past another bouncer, we headed up two flights of stairs to the real rooftop bar which has a 360 degree view of lower Manhattan. Here there are three bars all of which are completely outdoors. The roof is very pretty (as you can see from the accompanying photos) and well designed. 

    I thought the actual views here were interesting as on one side you had a view of Manhattan with tall buildings all lit up with lights like Times Square and on the other side you had sky scrapers the resembled old New York’s buildings with no lights or glass frames, most of these buildings are brown in color and you can see a water tower on each building. These buildings looked like something straight out of an old King Kong movie.

    The atmosphere clashed a bit as new New York was on one side and old New York was on the other. You weren’t able to get a clear view of the Hudson River either as there was too many other buildings blocking our view. I though it was interesting how you can truly see New York’s transformation from “old school” to “upscale skyscrapers”. 

All in all, the Sky Room rooftop and atmosphere as a while were pleasant, peaceful and serene. It was a very fun night filled with NBC celebs, fans and New Yorkers all networking and getting to know each other. I can’t wait for their next fan appreciation party on September 25th 2011! To find out more about it, just stayed tuned to their show or check out NBC’s website on how to RSVP for this next party.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Loving Day Lower East Side NYC Event 2011


         I’m usually “in the know” about events going on in and around the world as I tend to get my name on several invite lists. However, sometimes I don’t hear about an event until its annual anniversary gets advertised. This was the case with “Loving Day BBQ” held at Solar One on 22nd street and East River Drive and also simultaneously at various venues around the world. The organizers of Loving Day are trying to make this a world wide holiday that would be celebrated on the day the Loving’s won their court case.

         Solar one is a solar powered giant white tent which housed the guests of the eighth annual Loving Day BBQ on June 12th 2011. “Loving Day” is the annual celebration of the Supreme Court case Loving V. State of Virginia. This was the infamous 1958 case where Loving protested the state’s law that interracial couples could not get married meaning his upcoming wedding would be illegal. 

       The judge ruled against him and he and his wife were given the choice of either spending up to three years in jail or being banished to another state for 25 years. They choose to move to Washington, DC but still couldn’t get married and were only allowed to live together.

        The Loving's faced the hardships of racism everywhere they went. No one wanted to rent an apartment to them, they were away from their family and were taunted everywhere they went. Finally Loving’s fiancĂ©e, Mildred, wrote a letter asking for help from then Attorney General, Robert Kennedy. The letter was then forwarded to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in New York who helped them to find a lawyer that would represent them. 

        After years of judges denying their case, a judge finally allowed them to legally be able to marry and return to live in Virginia and it only took them nine years to win their case. The judge’s decision affected everyone as he overturned the law that kept the Loving’s from getting married. Now anyone from any race can marry another from any race they choose.

           And now every year, for the past eight years several interracial and non-interracial couples and families come to the Solar One tent to celebrate the court’s ruling. The loving Day org has partnered up with several other organizations to organize this event every year. They feature two to three DJs spinning live beats for the crowd to dance to. They have a staff of about 100 volunteers to help sell t-shirts, distribute food and drinks, and check people in. This event gave out free hot dogs, burgers (regular, turkey and veggie) and every condiment you could think of.

            Asahi beer was also represented as beer of choice for this event. Asahi was nice enough to offer a one hour block of free beer. Once the hour was up you had to pay $4 per beer which wasn’t bad except the line for the free beer was about two hours long. Once off the beer line, you pretty much ended up on the food line, not like you had much of a choice as it was so crowded you were herded along with the rest of the group.

           Loving day featured an area where you could register to donate bone marrow and an arts and crafts area for the kids. There was face painting, coloring, poster making and balloon animals. I think it was a great idea to make the event focus on the kids as it’s great to have them understand where they came from. I have a lot of multiracial friends that don’t know or fully understand who they are. 

           The world tends to think in terms of black and white but what do you say when you’re mixed. I think most of us who grew up in the 1980s grew up during a time of change. We were the first generation to not have experienced segregation first hand, we only heard about it through our parents’ stories and school history classes.

           And now there are so many interracial couples, their kids, like those who attended the Loving Day BBQ, will be the first generation born with out any previous parental experiences of what occurred in the past. My generation, and generations after us, are fortunate enough to not have experienced the madness of racial tension from the past; we are evolving into a bright rainbow colored future.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

X-factor, not just a pretty face


     On June 8th, 2011 myself and two close friends obtained tickets to the taped auditions for Simon Cowell’s X-Factor show. We attended the first day of New Jersey auditions which were held at the Prudential Center in Edison, NJ. We arrived around 4:30pm only to wait in line until about 6pm when they slowly started to let people in. we were in section 2 and were allowed to sit wherever we wanted in that section. So we sat towards the middle but directly centered to where the four judges were sitting.

     The host of the show was Steve Jones, who’s also the host of the X-Factor’s European counterpart. Then they judges were announced as they walked to their stations. We knew Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul were two of the judges as there was so much media hype how could you not know about their re-pairing. The other judges turned out to be LA Reed, a music producer, and Nicole Scherzinger, former lead singer of the pop group the Pussycat Dolls.

    This taping featured the first 20 people who somehow made it past the initial auditions to the next round. I say ‘somehow’ as some of them were so horrible they must’ve paid someone to let them slip into this round. But these ‘horrible’ singers that really think they can sing are what helps fuel the ratings at the shows beginning and we were highly entertained. An interesting contest was a group of fifteen years old consisting of two girls and one boy. Burning their initial audition at a previous show, all four judges told one of the girls, Katie, that either she goes solo or they add more people to her group since their sound wasn’t the greatest as a trio. Later, during the taping I attended, Katie returned w/ her two friends plus three more boys who happened to be cheering them on during their first audition.

     They were stopped by Simon within 30 seconds of their performance and he told them that as a group, they were horrible and that Katie needed to go solo as her voice was truly amazing. Simon went as far as to offer her an on the spot solo audition as Katie definitely had an amazing voice. We, the audience, cheered her on and even some of her group members prompted her to sing solo but her nerves gave way and she didn’t know how to respond. Sadly, she missed her chance but Simon invited her back again so long as she comes back as a solo act. To you, Katie, I give this advice: If Simon Cowell, on e of the world’s meanest and world renown music producers offers you not one but FOUR chances to join his show, solo act or not, you DO NOT turn this opportunity down!

     Some other notables were a 48 years old Latina mom from Brooklyn who always thought her “bigger frame” was what kept her from her dreams. Simon said” image is nothing if you don’t have the talent to back it up and you definitely have it!” She advanced along with these two 12 years’ old girls who were both solo acts with amazing Christina Aguilera like voices. They were humbled by the praise they received from the judges. Out of 20 auditions which lasted about four and a half hours, only about seven made it on to the next round. These seven are all one step closer to showing the world they truly have the ‘X-Factor’.

Museum Mile NYC, it’s where McQueen reigns supreme


    New York City is known for its culture and diversity which is what makes my city a huge tourist attraction. We’re one of the few cities world wide where you can eat, drink or party well past 4am! New York plays host to numerous events and today, June 14th 2011, marks the return of the museum mile festival. This happens once a year, usually around the second week of June, where all museums from 82nd street, up to 106th on fifth avenue only, stay open form 6 – 9pm and are totally free.

    Even the special/ limited time only exhibits are free but you’ll have to arrive early as lines tend to get extremely long. Keeping that factoid in mind, I had to carefully plan what I really wanted to see as I learned from previous years; I’d only have time to go to one museum. I knew I just had to see that new Alexander McQueen exhibit that’s being showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 83rd street and Fifth Avenue. I arrived at the museum around 5pm as NYC + FREEBIES = A LOT of early birds and I was right.

    The Met’s official closing time is 5:30pm and since so many people didn’t even know about the event, the MET started to empty out around 5:15pm. I asked the guard if they planned on “closing” the museum at 5:30pm and re-opening at 6pm and they said “No”. I noticed around 5:35pm a few people were still walking into the MET, which was now pretty empty, so I decided to just walk in and start before 6pm. I went to the guard to ask where the McQueen exhibit was but before I could open my mouth, she told me where McQueen’s exhibit was. I walked right in without waiting on any lines!

    Immediately I was awestruck by his first two pieces which greet you at the entrance , an all red dress and an all white dress; both complete w/ mesh and lace face masks (The first picture posted w/ this article shows the dresses I just mentioned). McQueen’s exhibit is grouped into sections which then breaks down into specific shows he did during certain years. This collection represented most of the designs from both before he died and from two designers who continued on with his dream.

     He seemed to have a running theme of nature vs. Gothic vs. futuristic design. In every piece, from shoes to head-wear, you can definitely see elements of nature in every piece either from the colors he uses to the materials, most of which were various bird feathers. The Gothic pieces were all black, naturally, but they featured a mixture of leather, vinyl and bird feathers. Most of the headpieces were ‘gimp’ styled, made out of leather and featured several bright gold colored zippers while the rest were lace/mesh mixed with black bird feathers.

   The futuristic designs were mostly off white, pale gold and lilac in color but no feathers or nature type features were incorporated. I wonder if this was McQueen’s’ way of saying ‘nature has no future’. These designs all had a very human theme as the actual costumes were either geisha girls, or sports related like a football players complete with helmet.

   My descriptions and pictures just don’t do McQueen’s work justice. I strongly suggest everyone go see it before it closes in September 2011.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vueve Clicquot, I assure you, it’s totally organic and good for you!



       Every year Governor’s Island opens its docks from May through September to hoards of locals and tourists. One event in particular that usually draws in the biggest crowds wearing thee fanciest hats is the Vueve Clicquot Polo championship match held every first Saturday in June. The Vueve Clicquot is a France based very expensive champagne and winery. The company hosts the Vueve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo matches in Europe and decided to bring the sport here to America. Now every year, in both New York City and Los Angeles you can watch some of the most famous polo players in the world ride it out on the AstroTurf all for free.

      The Veuve Clicquot usually brings out a large amount of celebrities. I remember last year my tent was right next to where Al Roker and his family were barbecuing and I had the honor of watching Prince Harry go head to head with well renowned polo captain, Nacho Figueras. This year was no different as we were honored to have the master of ceremonies be Hugh Jackman. Hugh not only kicked off the event but also awarded the trophy to the winning team. This year’s match was team Black Watch, lead by Nacho Figueras versus Rico Mansur's Veuve Clicquot team. Team Black watch ended up beating Team Veuve Clicquot by a close score of six to five.

    Every year the Veuve Clicquot uses the polo match as a huge fund raising machine. Last year, proceeds went to the benefit of Africa and this year, the beneficiary was the Hope Help and Rebuild Haiti fund. Haiti succumbed to a devastating earthquake in 2007 which they still never fully were able to recover from. The Hope Help and Rebuild Haiti fund was founded in January 2010 by Donna Karan, Andre Harrell, Mary J. Blige and Andre Balazs. Though when it began in 2010, it was known as the Hope Help and Relief Haiti fund, the name was changed just recently.

    The souvenirs were pricier than normal such as a $17 glass of Vueve Clicquot champagne to a $32 beach towel but they purposely increased gift shop prices as the proceeds were all going to help the Haiti fund. Donna Karen’s charity company, Urban Zen, was also a co-sponsor of the Vueve Clicquot and used the event to sell their Haitian made clothing and jewelry line. Urban Zen even sold various Haitian masks, blankets and other objects in which all proceed went to benefit the Haitian relief fund. It was a great day to fund raise for sure.

     We were hoping that Prince Harry and his newly wed bother and sister-in-law would show up like they normally did in the past, but they were unfortunately busy with other royal events. Though hopefully, they will be able to make it for next year’s match and we can see Harry versus Nacho again! The two highlights of the day for us in the non-VIP section, was after every time Nacho’s team Black Watch scored a goal, he would race over to us, and I do mean his horse did a full gallop over to us, and while riding his horse at a Canter pace along the side where we were cheering, slapped every one a high five as he rode by. 

     The second highlight was what’s known as the “stomping of the divots”. Traditionally, during half time or between matches in polo, fans are supposed to come onto the field and pretty much ‘stomp the divots’ or stomp on the grass beneath your feet that the players ride on. Truthfully, I’ve tried to look up how this tradition came about or why we do it, but I haven’t found any definitive answer only that we’re supposed to do it. Either way, it gives fans a chance to see just how massive the polo fields are. I can’t wait to stomp the divots again next year and I hope to see some of you there too!