City Pulse

By Gillian Weeks

Going down as a “What were they thinking” moment: Jeffrey wins Project Runway? Were the judges watching the same shows we were? Was this a sympathy vote after Laura’s random assertions that Jeffrey didn’t sew his own collection? Yeah, Jeffrey is cool (in that tortured artist/rock n’ roll hipster kind of way) but we’re going to bet designs by Uli and Laura will be making editorial pages, as well as bank, above & beyond anything the temperamental tattooed artist has up his Goth sleeves. Still, it was touching to see the tough guy cry.

And now, a little CP Jam Session…

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Try to imagine a movie without a soundtrack. Better yet, try to imagine a movie with the wrong soundtrack. For instance, think of Scarface with Sarah McLachlin, or Pride and Prejudice with some Snoop Dog. It’s sort of like finding peanut butter in your cheeseburger. The same thing can happen when we’ve got the wrong soundtrack to our lives.

I find that when I take my iPod for a walk, life seems a little more profound. But should I go into a business meeting with Ashlee Simpson squawking in my ears, I’ll wish I’d stuck to street noise.

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So, mes amies, I’ve put together a few short mixes that I believe you’ll enjoy as a sort of “soundtrack to life”. Whether you’re headed out for a Sunday stroll in the park, high-stepping to your way to a night on the town, or desperately in need some extra juice on the way to the office…this isn’t just background music. These are songs that will make your life a little, well, cinematic.

Click on the subheadings to listen to playlist samples and buy songs from iTunes Music Store:

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Central Park
 
Teach Me Tonight Dinah Washington
Good Nyooz Soweto Kinch
The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders Sufjan Stevens
Love Me or Leave Me Nina Simone
Keep Livin Jean Grae

Woody Allen has taught us that nothing goes better with Manhattan scenes than some good old-fashioned crooning. And it’s true – there’s something about the New York City skyline as viewed from the Central Park reservoir that begs for a brass section. Two of the songs on our list (“Teach Me Tonight” by Dinah Washington and “Love Me or Leave Me” by Nina Simone) give you just what the neurotic movie icon ordered. Washington’s singular voice can elevate any melody, and the improvised jazz fugue in “Love Me or Leave Me” will have you playing air piano.

The other tunes on the list offer a fresh take on the jazz tradition. “The Tallest Men…” by Sufjan Stevens uses instruments with a playful purpose, while young alto saxophonist Soweto Kinch mixes in some hiphop beats with jazz chords. Finally, Jean Grae raps about city life over a bouncy piano. It may not be old New York, but Woody doesn’t have to know.

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Night Out  
Bold Soul Sister  Ike & Tina Turner
Music Will Not Last Jamie Lidell
Ooh La La Goldfrapp
Scarlet Begonias Sublime
Once Again Shu

Think of this as Jock Jams for the girl about town. Get this in your head before you enter the ring (or, say, the bar) and you’ll be an unstoppable chatting, toasting, and scene-making force. Let’s get ready to rumble, indeed.

As you’re strutting down the avenue in your Saturday best, pop in the ear buds for Tina Turner’s “Bold Soul Sister.” Even though the title says it all, her line “it’s my thing – gonna do what I wanna do” gives the night out a nice feminist kick. The other songs range from pure sexy (“Ooh La La”) to SoCal cool (“Scarlet Begonias”). All have got a beat you can powerwalk to – just in case you’re running fashionably late.

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Daily Grind
 
Better Regina Spektor
Another Sunny Day Belle & Sebastian
How Am I Different Bettye LaVette
Baby Britain Elliott Smith
Tired of My Tears Susan Tedeschi

Most of my mornings begin with staring resentfully into a cup of low fat yogurt. I spend the next forty-five minutes in the various stages of beautification (febreezing, powdering, detangling) and then lurch out the door no less than five minutes after my target time. About the only thing that stops me from karate chopping the subway attendant is the sweet sound of Belle and Sebastian being piped through my iPod.

The right morning mix can turn you into one of those mildly irritating carpe diem types. You want something gentle at first – start out with Regina Spector’s lovely head voice – then something a little sunny and cheerful – like a track off of B&S’s latest album. Then turn up the volume with a smidge of rock and roll. Nothing too crazy; you don’t want to head-bang your way into the boardroom. Then again, a little morning-appropriate rocking might prove refreshing, and definitely won’t give you coffee breath.

If music can tame the savage beast, just think of what well chosen melodies can do to get you in the right groove.

If you are looking for musical accompaniment for other situations, shoot me an email with questions, or if you have a great compilation you’d like to share with me and the other girls of Gotham, shoot me a playlist. Gillian.M.Weeks@gmail.com

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Music to tame, or unleash, your inner beast
By Alisa Leonard

Ladies…ladies! While I’m sure you’re all atwitter over Marie Antoinette opening this Friday (I’m tres excited myself), let’s not forget the uber-cool music gigs coming our way this month. That’s right, get ready to channel your inner Patti Smith and don your chic rocker duds downtown in the coming weeks. Afterall, this is Gotham, and we’re privy to some of the most amazing musical talents in the world.

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First up is old school indie fav Mojave 3 at the Bowery Ballroom featuring soft-spoken frontman Neil Halstead on Saturday, October 21st. Next in the line up is must-see Swedish import Love Is All at The Knitting Factory down on Leonard Street, let your inner hipster rock out to the cacophony of happy indie pop on October 27th. And for all you rock aficionados, don’t miss the hotties from San Francisco, The Rapture, on October 30th at Webster Hall.

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Ok, so maybe smoke-filled rooms in the East Village aren’t your thang. Well, for you highbrow types it’s time to mark the calendar for Madame Butterfly. Performance dates include Saturday the 21st and Tuesday the 24th. Also at the Met this month: Rigoletto and Tosca. If you’re curious about what it’s like behind the scenes, there is a backstage tour on October 29th, as well as pre-performance studies of operas that are performed on Saturdays. This season, the folks at the met have put forth a concerted effort to engage new patrons, so make sure to check out their website for weekly events. www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/season/. Also at Lincoln Center is “World Beats Unite“. Spend an evening with Grammy-winning jazzman Joe Zawinui at the Rose Theater October 27 & 28th.

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Finally, a heads up for the soon-to-be-sold-out November event, “The Music of Bob Dylan.” A host of celeb singers including Ryan Adams, Sandra Bernhard, Cat Power, and Natalie Merchant (to name but a few) are gathering at Avery Fisher Hall to pay homage to The Poet himself, Bob Dylan. This stellar concert event will benefit the Music for Youth organization. For more information: www.musicforyouth.org/bobdylan.

Whatever your musical genre of choice, the city is teeming with amazing, can’t miss performances this time of year. Get out there and get your groove on!

Music to tame, or unleash, your inner beast

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Disco and Diamonds
By Devorah Rose

I wake up on Wednesday morning with a monster headache – I’m just not one of those New Yorkers who can survive on three to five hours of sleep. The good thing about being a girl about town in Manhattan is you can attend two, sometimes three events a night. The bad thing about being a girl about town in Manhattan is you can attend two, sometimes three events a night…and 7 am tends to rear its ugly head a little too fast on the mornings after.

I roll out of bed and scale the mounds of clothing between me and the bathroom. I check the mirror – my hair looks like I’ve been hanging out in some cave in Afghanistan (move over Osama). I take a good look at my reflection and I’m half way through my sentence when I realize that I just asked myself, aloud “Are you really going to be able to pull it together for this evening?” Missing the Disco and Diamonds Gala (hosted by Denise Rich) is just not an option…so I proudly and spiritedly answer aloud: Without A Doubt!

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As usual, I’ve overbooked my day, leaving too little time to even collect my Lucia Rodriguez custom creation of a dress. Mon dieu! Before you know it, it’s already five o’clock! Thankfully, Lucia had the foresight to have the frock messengered to my apartment. Reality sets in: this event begins at seven, so I have about twenty minutes to find shoes. Anything over that and I’ll be late to the event. OK Whatever, let’s be honest: I will definitely be late to the event. Thankfully, random shoe stores populate almost every corner of midtown Manhattan, and though I’m tempted to hop a cab up to Christian Louboutin, I know that will catapult me from fashionably late to “who does she think she is”.

The first store I walk has paired passé shoe trends with ridiculous prices – four hundred for a pair of gem-studded mules? When were those ever in style? I can imagine some random fashion victim sporting metallic gold leggings, walking an Afghan Hound, and wearing this particularly atrocious choice of footwear. Wait, gold leggings are in this season…in fact, the display window at Norma Kamali has most of the mannequins in metallic gold leggings. Mental note: pop into NK this week. I flee the shop and walk another five blocks hoping to find a decent shoe store. You’re going to guess that, since there is more text to follow, I found an adorable pair (right you are) and hopped a cab for chez moi.

Manny, my doorman, greets me with a smile on his face and my dress hanging from his fingertip. It’s not like seeing me rush through the lobby is an anomaly for him. I’d say it’s more of a routine, actually. By the time I’ve opened the door to my apartment I already have my jeans undone and in one (what I’d like to call graceful) maneuver, I am out of my day clothes and sliding into this amazing creation. I suck in my breath and try to close the dress’ corset top. I can’t do it. I give it a good inhale, just like yoga class, and struggle to bring the tiny hooks on one side of the corset closer to the row of eyes on the opposite side. The dress is about three sizes too small. This just can’t be happening right now!?! OK, that was out loud again. Oopsie.

By this time it’s already six thirty five. I fall back onto the sofa. And I thought the shoes were going to be the big challenge. Ok, out loud again, but what the hell, I have bigger issues at hand right now.

Ring. Ring.

“Lucia…sorry to bother you but the dress doesn’t close. I don’t know what to do”
“What do you mean?” says the voice on the other end of the line.

“It just doesn’t fit and I don’t know what to do.”
“Okay, I’m in the middle of closing up the showroom. I’ll come over and open the corset.”

“Open the corset?”
“Do you have scissors?”
“Yes.” (I’m thinking Any girl who trims her own split ends has scissors)

How exactly does one open up a corset? Will it fit properly after the opening? Would a glass of wine to calm the nerves make the fitting more difficult for Lucia? These shoes really do look hot with this dress. Thoughts and questions roll around in my head like dice in a craps ring. It’s seven twenty and I’ve resigned myself to staying in. As I reach for my pajama pants I tell myself that by the time I get there, all the guests are going to be sitting down eating dinner anyhow…and I will feel like a party crasher – and not in a clever Vince Vaughn sorta way.

Just about that time, my fairy dress-mother (Lucia) arrives, armed with all kinds of sewing accoutrements.

“I’m happy you’re here but it’s too late,” is my hello.
“Nonsense. This will take two seconds.” She sure can be authoritative!

Like a Latina superwoman, Lucia fixes the dress in less than ten minutes. The fit is perfect!

“Fabulosity?” Lucia asks.
“Fabulosity,” I confirm.

Without missing a beat, Lucia says, “Let’s go. I’ll give you a ride.”

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By the time I get to the party it’s eight thirty but people are still arriving. So I thank my Lexus-driving fairy dress-mother and step out of the car. It’s 8:30 and I am ascending the grand steps of Capitale. I pause for a moment, as someone rushes past me onto the red carpet, and take in the entire scene -“Yep, fabulosity.” Ummm, I hope that nobody heard that. Another car pulls up to the curb and the a hundred flashes come zooming through the atmosphere from the row of cameras lining the entryway. I smile, thinking to myself, no, I’m not late at all…I’ve arrived exactly at the right time!

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Inside I join the crowd that has assembled to support Denise and the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research. The mistress of Ceremonies, Kimora Lee Simmons, looked absolutely stunning in a long white glittering dress and cascading curls. Among the many highlights of the night were Gloria Gaynor singing “I’ll survive” as well as Sister Sledge belting out “We are Family.”

I reflect on my day as I take in my surroundings. Lucia, Manny, the guy who sold me these amazing shoes; my own little event-preparation Family. I hear myself chime in with the Sisters, “We are Family”. And this time, I meant to say it out loud!

Devorah Rose is the Editor in Chief of Social Life Magazine. www.sociallifemagazine.com

Originally published October 2006
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