Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wisdom from the great Madeleine Albright + other memories from the Women's Conference.

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of attending the Women's Conference. Now these things can go a few ways. You get 25,000 women together and you can have a large trade show floor full of knitting circles and estrogen pills and female finance tools (because, of course, we need our own finance tools--we are simply so inept, are we not?). Or you can get 2 days of intelligent conversations between thoughtful, smart people [who happen to be women].

The 2009 Women's Conference was a little bit of both. But I will skip talk about the expo hall--where I passed more booths selling scarves and handbags than I care to wax on about and sampled more energy bars than one should consume in a 24 hour period--and jump straight to the heart of the Conference, founded and hosted by Cali's First Lady, Maria Shriver: Madeleine Albright at the Luncheon Panel.

Madame Secretary--as the panel moderator, David Gregory, kept calling her--or Madeleine, as she insisted on being called--is perhaps the sharpest tool in the proverbial shed of females living today. And I was honored to hear the 72 year-old firecracker speak.

A couple of memorable quips from her lunchtime banter with co-panelists Valerie B. Jarrett (Senior Advisor to President Obama), Amy Holmes and Claire Shipman...

'I think every woman's middle name is guilt.'

'I think there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.'

'Women don't have to hate men to get ahead.'

And it is the last quote that stood out as especially poignant at a conference like this one. It is so unfortunately commonplace for women, when they get together to 'empower' themselves, to form coups against the so-called 'majority' of men. Well, ladies, the 'majority' is not such a majority--they're half the population. We're half the population. What our fate becomes, and the burden we may carry from prior years of oppression, is no longer the sole fault of the opposite [and less gentle] sex. Our fate is ours to define and it is not healthy nor helpful to define it in juxtaposition to those with differing genetalia.

I hope that soon we won't find it necessary to hold conferences dedicated to women's issues. Issues are issues and they're shared amongst all of us--those who happen to be pretty and thoughtful and sensitive and those who happen to be, well, men. [Insert smiley face here. I promise kid.]

Friday, October 30, 2009

The horrors of Halloween.

Someone in the elevator just commented to me that 'everyone's getting into the halloween spirit.' I wonder if he mistook my all black outfit for Halloween spirit. I don't have Halloween spirit. I don't do costumes. I'm just a New Yorker. And even in LA, a New Yorker still needs to don an all black outfit once in a while. To remind herself of her obligatory cynicism and express her mourning for LA's lack of changing seasons.

To all those who are celebrating Halloween tomorrow (oh hell, you've all been trying to push your candy on me all month--you can't even contain your celebrating to a single day any more), enjoy! I hope that a fully grown adult in bear costume frightens you to your heart's content. And then gives you candy. Cause we all need more candy in our lives.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Diane von Furstenberg gives great bag.

This afternoon I stopped by C Magazine and Rashida Jones' lunchtime shopping event at the Diane von Furstenberg store in West Hollywood which my lovely friend was producing. And though I'm usually not crazy for gift bags--who needs another gift certifcate off some pricey item I still can't afford. and I have enough sample size perfumes to last me a smelly lifetime, thank you very much--I am totally smitten with DvF's canvas tote bag which they handed out upon departure. I am indeed 'proud to be woman.' And I am totally proud to wear this awesome bag.

LA Times does weddings. Cause anything NY can do, we can do [too].

Everyone who knows me knows I love the NY Times' Weddings &  Celebrations section. Well, the LA Times is now entering my the arena of love and nuptials as well. Because 'Asking is hard. Letting everyone know is easy.'

For a limited time, place a free wedding, engagement or commitment announcement in the new Together section.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The RSVP Line: Kia brings good music to LA next weekend. For free.

I thought auto dollars were gone with the crash and burn of the industry earlier this year. Apparently not completely. KIA, of all brands, is clearly spending big in order to align itself with the cool, musically minded young city-dwellers of America with a [quite frankly] awesome event. Behold the KIA Soul Collective Tour. With music, art and design peppered throughout the weekend, the climax of the event is a Silversun Pickups concert on Sunday night. The way to score the golden tickets to an otherwise free and open-to-the-public weekend? A KIA test drive of course. *

Be sure to reap the musical benefits of KIA's marketing dollars while they last...

The Kia Soul Collective
November 6 – 8

Siren Studios
1050 N. Orange Drive
Hollywood, CA 90038

* Test drives start on Friday, November 6 at Noon and run from Noon to 8 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so come on down and check out how we roll.  Tickets are given away on a first come, first serve basis.

Art in LA: The Ultravelvet Collection

What's better than two beautiful people? Two beautiful people who make beautiful art, that's what. This week, my great friends Meredith Rose and Eric Aston, the artistic duo behind The Ultravelvet Collection, are celebrating their new relationship with the Guy Hepner Gallery with a very special opening reception. I will sadly miss this special occasion for work (what's new?!), but couldn't go the week without sharing the news with all of you!

The Ultravelvet Collection Opening Reception

Thursday, October 29th
7 - 9 p

Guy Hepner
300 North Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048

For more information on the soiree, click here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Obsessions: Barbie + Christian Louboutin create a new modern classic.

Barbie is classic. Christian Louboutin is classic. Together, they are a force beyond reckoning with.

Next month, the world's most celebrated shoe designer and famed bobblehead beauty will release a collaborative doll that trades out Barbie's usual blond tresses and good girl looks with a red do and a leather ensemble on the verge of X-Rated.

For more info on this Barbie doll you'd be best to keep away from your children, visit Barbie Collector.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Food Find: Yogurtland (with a splash of Japanese design culture)

For those of you who aren't yet familiar with Yogurtland, it's like a Pinkberry 2.0 for Americans who prefer a shot of sugar with their tart frozen yogurt. Amongst the celebrated Angelenos who heart the fro yo chain include Lauren Conrad, Lindsay Lohan, and now, well, me. I didn't get it before. You make your own dessert. You put on your own toppings. Great. There's a frozen yogurt machine in the cafeteria. I can deal without Yogurtland...I thought.

Turns out that Yogurtland takes making your own dessert to new levels of awesome with yogurt flavors like Peanut Butter, Pumpkin Pie, NY Cheesecake, and Double Cookies & Cream. Toppings range from the healthy (I opted for fruit on today's adventure) to the decadent (cookie dough, Heath bar, and the list goes on).

And as an added bonus, tokidoki, the colorful Japanese design house [brought to the US via an Italian] is in stores right now to brighten up the already cheery yogurt experience. Cause everyone likes colorfully creepy bears, cats and kids with their non-fat frozen yogurt.

The busiest location I've passed by is on La Brea. For a quicker, quieter Yogurtland experience, try the Downtown spot.

Yogurtland - Little Tokyo
1670 South Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The RSVP Line: Hello Kitty's 35 and doesn't look a day over 5.

This Saturday, Hello Kitty will be celebrating her 35th anniversary all day and all night long with her coolest LA friends at Royal/T. And what better venue to celebrate a love of all things cute and Japanese?

The party starts at 10 am with a brunch with DJ Valida, continues throughout the morning and afternoon with a meet and greet with the Hello Kitty design team, workshops and more. And come evening time, Hello Kitty will be throwing down with our friends from Lovemade.

Don't miss the cutesy fun. Maybe Hello Kitty will even share her secrets for keeping her youthful look well into her 30s...

Hello Kitty 35th Anniversary & Fan Party

Three Apples Exhibition
Celebrating all things Hello Kitty

Saturday, October 24th
5 - 7 p
= ( ^ . ^ ) =

8910 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Food Find: Coolhaus, my favorite new food truck.

With all the brick and mortar places to get grub in LA, the allure of chasing down a truck to get a snack has dumbfounded me since the fad began.

Well, I'm a changed woman now. Last night Coolhaus made an appearance at the event I was working. And I'm in serious like with the mobile store. Coolhaus' specialty? Customizable ice cream sandwiches!

Cookie choices included chocolate, sugar, and chocolate chip. And ice cream flavors ranged from the simpler (just don't say plain) to the whimsical (Earl Gray) to the awesome (Blue Honey &Pine Nut) to the intoxicating (White Russian).

The truck itself--a boxy, little vehicle, somewhere between a Smart Car and a Taco Truck--is the creation of two young architects and is as cool as the desserts inside.

You can, of course, follow the truck's journeys [and try your own ice cream creation] on Twitter.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Do Good: Blogger Beach Cleanup on Saturday

I'm giving you a pretty big heads up on this event as it's one you won't want to miss. So mark your calendars early (in pen, not pencil).

A bunch of LA's coolest bloggers are getting together on Saturday afternoon for a 20 minute beach cleanup, followed by an indefinitely long and fun cocktail meets mingling session.

There are multiple reasons why it would be a good idea for you to go. Here are just a couple...

1. It's good for the environment. That was obvious, now wasn't it?

2. You can meet some pretty rad bloggers including my buddies Sarah of Pink Cloud and Lauren and Tracy of Your Daily Thread, as well as Caroline of Caroline on Crack, Zach Behrens of LAist, and more.
Publish Post

3. The first 70 volunteers to show up get giveaways. Who doens't like free stuff? (That's not retorical. I'd really like to know.)

4. Some cool partners are offering prizes for drawings. And everyone likes to get lucky. Or feel that there's the potential to get lucky. And some people, of course, like to fix drawings, but I hear those people aren't invited.

5. It's only 20 minutes of cleaning. And I know you've got 20 minutes to spare. Cause, let's face it, you're just not that important.

When: October 24, 2009. Meet at 4 pm; cleanup begins 4:20 pm; more fun ensues 4:40 until ?

Where: Santa Monica Beach at Ocean Park, between lifeguard stations 26 and 27. (map and green travel directions)

For more information, visit green LA girl.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Seattle - Day 3: Fremont hippies + Wyeth at SAM + Psychic Readings

It poured again this morning. It poured so hard that for several minutes I thought, 'this is it. I am done with Seattle. I could end this vacation now--with my wet pants sticking to my cold legs, I could leave and never look back.' But then I went into yoga, back at the Seattle Athletic Club--stretched, strengthened, and perhaps took a doze during meditation--and emerged out into clear skies. Because things work out that way. They absolutely have to when you're on vacation.

Revived by the nice[r] weather, I ventured, via public transportation, to Fremont--a neighborhood that an acquaintance had described as 'artsy,' and some girls at the nail salon yesterday described as a 'hippy area.' Just goes to show you...I'm not sure what exactly...something about perspective.

(It should be noted that Seattle's bus system is terrific--strange, yes--but terrific. There's a 'ride free' zone throughout part of downtown and after that it's just $1.75. The busdrivers are nice. They are helpful. They are totally different from NYC busdrivers.)

First on the Fremont agenda was the Fremont Troll. The troll was a community art project designed in 1990. And just like the '90s, it is ugly, self-indulgent and big. After taking a couple of pictures and watching parents send their young children up the troll for photo opps, I waited. I thought perhaps the troll might spout lava or at least spit up a chewed up villager. It didn't. So I left.

The town of Fremont is everything everyone had said. Artsy and hippy-ish. And sort of awesome. Not to mention, strewn with fantastic foliage.


Fremont claims the Center of the Universe. Which is curious as I had always thought that I was the center of the universe.

On Saturday afternoons, the young locals of Fremont apparently come out to square dance.

I asked a store clerk for a lunch recommdation. She told me about a vegetarian restaurant, Silent Heart Nest. She wasn't sure 'what nationality the food was' because its 'like religious or something.' Turns out, according to the restaurant's webpage, that they are followers of a certain Sri Chinmoy. Which isn't actually a religion. But rather a spiritual group (which clearly implements the white woman in sari look). Bordering on a cult (I'm not saying...I'm just saying.)

Because no trip to a metropolis is complete without a visit to the local art museum, I had to head back downtown to the Seattle Art Museum, more familiarly known (check this out, I'm just like a local now) as SAM.

Here were some of the my faves from SAM...

George Segal - Woman on a Bed

Do-Ho Smith - Someone (Made with 40,000 dog tags. Count 'em if you don't believe me.)

I sat down to watch a video on making beads. But secretly I just sat down so that I could stop walking.

Jeff Koons - St. John the Baptist

A man. Viewing a Wyeth.

I also came across a psychic in a last walk through the Pike Place Market. And as I had had a premonition about seeing a psychic while I was here, I took this as a sign.

The first thing she asked me was if I had a problem with my right eardrum. Um, yeah--yeah I do. I have had trouble in my right ear since I was a child and have a hole in my right eardrum from a botched procedure. Wow, I hearted you from the word eardrum, psychic lady.

The rest of her reading lasted an hour. This had something, I'm sure, to do with the fact that she was charging me in 15 minute increments.

Though I can't reveal the rest of our reading which will remain between her, I, and her computerized astro charts, I can tell you that for more pics from Day 3, you can visit the online album. It will make you say 'ooh,' 'ah,' 'fantastico.'

And now, with the hoots and hollers of drunk Belltown residents outside my window...goodnight.

xx * Jessie B. R.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seattle - Day 2: Space Needle's a bust + views from Queen Anne + Capitol Hill rainshowers

There was no rain on Day One in Seattle. Apparently Day One was a fluke. A bad, bad, misleading fluke.

From the moment I awoke this morning, Seattle was dark and rainy. I would persevere--the solo traveler--despite this, but with slightly more reservation than the day before.

Here are the highlights from my adventures on Day Two...

I headed down to the complimentary breakfast at the Ace to grab some light grub before heading out. The Ace Hotel NYC serves croissants for breakfast. The Ace Hotel Seattle has a make-your-own waffle station. We have a clear winner.

LA and Seattle sensibilities collided as I braved the morning rain for a yoga class at the Seattle Athletic Club.

A friend told me that I had to stop by a Macrina Bakery while in town. I believe the claim was that you could smell butter out the door. I stopped by Macrina this am, asked the counter girl what the best breakfast item on the menu was, and she suggested the cinnamon bun. The bun happens to be called a 'Roly-Poly.' Um, I'll pass. I went with her second favorite, the Budapest Coffee Cake, instead.

I headed toward the Space Needle, the giant building erected in 1962 for the World's Fair. It's known for its height and its 360 views of the city. I drank the Needle Kool Aid. I paid $16.50 for a ticket up and got 10 minutes worth of hoards of other tourists--most of them unattractive families wearing drab colors and toting around drab children.

This picture is of the view to the West and my favorite.

Next up was Queen Anne, a quaint, mostly residential neighborhood where everything is old school and adorable.

Including the interior of Dick's. I had been advised to get a cheeseburger here. Instead I took this picture.


I came across Athina Grill for lunch when I didn't think my bladder would last another block in the rain. While I wasn't hopeful for good Greek food in Seattle, the gentleman at the front was Greek so I figured it couldn't be that bad. It was actually bad-ass. My Greek Salad with falafel and hummus was totally killer.

The restaurant owner's daughter, as it turns out, used to live in LA. He whipped out the business card of a breakfast joint I've got to try in Manhattan Beach, The Local Yolk. What are the chances that a Greek immigrant to Seattle would know better restaurants on LA's beaches than me? God, I love strangers.

The reason folks trek to Queen Anne and then trek even further to its peak is for the view from Kerry Park. I hustled up the steep hills to the top, passing by beautiful 19th century residences on the way.

The flagship Nordstrom store is here in the shopping district of Downtown Seattle. Let me save you the time if you're visiting the city. Nordstrom does not need to go on your itinerary.

I did, however, stop by Sway and Cake--the only small boutique in the shopping district. When I told the clerk I was visiting from LA, the clerk told me that the store was like, totally like LA. Um, yeah. Okay. I did manage to buy some cute items which, yeah, I totally could have scored in LA. Like this House of Harlow ring which I [am sort embarrassed to wear as its Nicole Richie's line, but] sort of adore.

Next up--off to Capitol Hill, a neighborhood know for its eclectic style, its bar scene, and its gays.

Stumptown Coffee is all over Capitol Hill. From its 'I'm too angry and cool-for-school to heed your order' baristas to its free trade mumbo jumbo, it reminded me of a cross between Itelligentsia and Groundwork.

After walking by loads of semi-chi chi restaurants that my wet and ruined bangs were embarrassed to enter into, I settled on Chao Bistro. The food was okay--nothing I couldn't get better of in some other city. But the bartender--bless his heart--introduced me to apple sake. And sake will never be the same.

I didn't make it to a bar tonight and I'd be disappointed in myself if I didn't feel like I was going to keel over.

Here's to a fun and active last full day in Seattle starting tomorrow morning. And hopefully the energy [and courage] to venture into Seattle's nightlife in the evening.

Passing out now,
Jessie B. R.

P.S. - For more pics from Day Two, visit my Picasa album where you'll find shots of naughty stores, the 'other' Melrose Ave and more fun neighborhood adventures.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seattle - Day 1: Kind Strangers + Pike Place Market + Tourist Traps

Five and a half years ago I decided I wanted to move to Seattle. I think I'd seen an article in a magazine. I'm sure I didn't read the article all the way through. But it all seemed ideal. Artsy, down-to-earth people in a mini-metropolis. What could be quainter and lovelier and more perfect.

We all know how that story ends. I gave up on that fleeting whim and pursued the next one instead when I moved to Los Angeles in 2005. But when something enters my head, it generally doesn't exit easily. And several weeks ago when Virgin America emailed with news of discounted fares to--where else but Seattle--I took it as a sign and booked a ticket.

With the excited recommendations of some friends, a few emailed lists of suggestions, and a handful of post-it notes scribbled with bars and restaurants and people to call on in Seattle, I readied myself for the trip to this city where I don't know anything or anyone or how to get from point a to point b. Cause that's how I roll.

Here's a glimpse at Day One...

ZapCassettes is the project of the super cool guy I met on the bus coming from the airport into Downtown. Cool guy Alex and his friend Sarah had just arrived from Atlanta, GA to go to the Scion Garage Fest in Portland. Alex not only gave me a cassette. But he also wrote down the names of lots of cool bands and artists for me to check out since I'm music ignorant (amongst them - Wanda Jackson, Ty Segall, Yussuf Jerusalem, and Gino Washington. And he also gave me a napkin from his pocket, full of written notes of more spots to check out in Seattle. Lesson learned here: we heart strangers on public transportation.

Ed, the lovely front desk dude at the Ace Hotel, hooked me up with one of the biggest 'Standard' rooms. You can take the girl out of LA. But apparently LA artists will follow the girl everywhere. Wheat-pasted on an entire wall of my room are Shepard Fairey's Andre the Giant images (also featured throughout the NYC Ace where I stayed last time I was back East).

Pike Place Market is a huge, incredible outdoor/indoor farmers market cum food court cum fish outlet.

I cannot identify the long sea creatures with the odd tentacles here. I fear that they may be octopus arms.

My lunch at Matt's in the Market. Roasted Peppers: toasted macrina bakery potato bread, piquillo peppers, sweet peppers, olive tapenade, chevre.

When in Rome...get a Starbuck's Pumpkin Latte. (I did spot the very first Starbuck's at the Market. But authenticity = a tourist trap = a long ass line. This latte came from one of the many other Starbucks that line every street in Seattle.)

At Pioneer Square, an imposing bust of Chief Seattle himself.

I took the Undergroud Tour in Pioneer Square, recommended to me by a lovely lady on my flight. Old Seattle is buried beneath new Seattle. The story involves a glue gun, a fire, and poor city planning. Our tour guide may have suffered an identity crisis between high-level nerd and aspiring stand-up comic. I dug her.

The Seattle Waterfront is beautiful. I believe I was overlooking the Puget Sound. Please don't ask me to verify this.

Seafood joints rule the roost by the Waterfront.

Dr. Martens became a national symbol of grunge here in Seattle. And the boots are still very much alive and kicking (no pun intended).

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you feel like a nut taking a picture of yourself with your cell phone, while trying desperately to hide this act from passersby.

My day just ended with dinner at Black Bottle, a chic tapas and wine spot down the street from the Ace. While I don't recommend going alone, it was a nice (translation: they had a seat and they had wine) end to a great day in Seattle, Washington.

I'm off to bed and looking forward to what tomorrow in this new city brings...

For more pics of Seattle - Day 1, visit my Picasa album. Believe me--it will be better than your average vacation slide show. *

* This statement is not a guarantee, nor a promise. The album could, in fact, suck.