RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

afterlight

I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

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The Things She Carries

phone

For me, one of the marks of a great interview is when I think about it long afterward. The most recent one to do it for me was a Vogue video Q&A with New York’s ultimate sweetheart: Sarah Jessica Parker. The interviewer fired off 73 questions while SJP gave a mini-tour of her West Village brownstone. The decorating voyeur in me loved every bit of it; from the footage, SJP’s home felt homey and eclectic. It got me thinking: Our homes can tell our stories even more than our outfits–and sometimes, even ourselves. If someone stopped by my apartment with a video camera, how would I want them to feel? I’d hope bright and cozy, surrounded by books and bits from my travels.

My favorite question was when the interviewer asked SJP what the coolest thing was in her living room. She said her (agreeably, very cool) light-up globes. Of course, that inspired me to look around to decide what the coolest thing is in my living room. It was a hard decision—after all (most likely to the dismay of my clutter-free mother…sorry, Mom!) I don’t think of keepsakes as kitsch; instead, I see them as relics, reminders of the moments in our lives that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. In my living room, I’ve got everything from a Beyonce concert photo book (“Heeyyy, Ms. Carter!”) to a flag from my first adult trip to Puerto Rico—not to mention shelves and tables full of books. But in the end, I realized my answer to the “coolest thing” question would be the vintage rotary phone I found at an antique shop in Hoboken. It sits atop a stack of books on my desk, and I often look at it while I’m writing and wonder who might’ve used it almost a century ago. It reminds me that beautiful things are timeless, and will last long after we’re gone.

It might be time for spring-cleaning, but I, for one, am holding on to all my mementos. If someone wandered into your apartment or house, how would you want them to feel? What would you tell them is the coolest thing?

 

 

Secret Single Behavior

pinkclouds

Another view: From my apartment, where I live by my lonesome.

After years of the roommate life, I’ve been living solo in a 1 bedroom for about eight months now. All of the benefits I used to dream about have come true, the best part being that I get to indulge in my Secret Single Behavior, as Carrie Bradshaw called it. For Carrie, it was eating stacks of saltines with grape jelly while reading fashion magazines; for me, it’s also magazines, except with a bowl of Lucky Charms. And sometimes, a Love & Hip-Hop marathon in sweatpants. (Hey, writers need to let their brains rot, too!)

But for all of the pros, there are some cons that no one really talks about. For all you ladies and gents looking to break out on your own, I feel it’s my duty as a New Yorker to help you prepare for the challenges of living by yourself. (By the way, the hashtag for this post will be #firstworldproblems)

Some examples:

  • You’ll gain an irrational fear of intruders. Suddenly, you start envisioning every Psycho scenario possible. Despite a doorman, I often wake up in the middle of the night panicked that I forgot to lock every lock, so I go running to the door. The up side? This sometimes happens naked because…well, remember: I live alone.
  • There will be unexpected visitors. They pop up all the time. At my place, it was recently someone I never expected to see on the Upper East Side: Pablo the Cockroach. When we first met during a midnight bathroom run, I screamed. Repeatedly. Then I told myself You are a grown woman. You got dis. Next thing I knew, I was under the covers with the bedroom door locked and a towel stuffed in the crack so Pablo couldn’t get in. It took three days and a few dozen ounces of bug spray before I finally got rid of him.
  • No one’s there to comfort you in sickness. It’s just you, the tissues, and the couch. Thank the heavens for social media, otherwise, the world would never know just how sick you really are.
  • You’re on your own in the morning. That adorable dress you just bought? Doesn’t seem like such a good idea when you can’t zip up the back. When flexibility has failed, I’ve been known to wear a cardigan to cover up zippers until I get to work and ask a kindly co-worker for help.
  • …you’re literally, physically, alone. I love Ming, my turtle, but let’s face it: She can’t talk, nor can she save me in desperate times of need. Here’s hoping that if something tragic happens, Siri will be nearby.

So yes, there are a few downsides. That being said, they are all sacrifices I’m willing to make in exchange for not being judged while I sing Ellie Goulding loudly in the shower, practice Beyonce moves in the mirror, and cook breakfast naked at 1 PM on a Sunday. And when my Secret Single Behavior gets a little, well, lonely? That’s when great girlfriends, fun food, and delicious drinks come in handy—at least, until I’m ready for some more Lucky Charms.

HUH? Cathie Black Chosen As NYC School Chancellor

Yesterday I was at work when one of the editors walked over and announced “Cathie Black was just named Chancellor of New York City schools.”

My immediate reaction was HUH? Apparently, I was not alone in this reaction, as the Daily News seemed to feel the same way with its headline the following morning:


I was particularly confounded because her book, Basic Black, was like my Bible when I was a magazine intern trying to move my way up the ranks. I feel like I knew so much about her history and career — she’s a media titan who has moved her way through major newspapers and magazines, earning the prominent position of Publisher at publications like New York Magazine and USA Today before going on to become the President of Hearst Magazines. And a woman at that. Not too shabby, and the experiences and words of wisdom she shared in her book will always stick with me as I create my own path through the world of media.

But when the announcement was made, the glaringly obvious item missing from her impressive resume was education experience. She hasn’t so much as taught a class, and both of her children attended boarding school in Connecticut. Ok, I thought, maybe I don’t have that great of an understanding of what exactly a school system chancellor does. So I Googled. And essentially, her responsibility will be to serve as the leader of the NYC Department of Education, home to the largest school system in the nation with 1.1 million students and more than a few problems.

Mayor Bloomberg has attributed his selection of Black to the fact that she is a “world-class manager.” And after weighing all of what I know, I feel a bit torn. A part of me is happy about the fact that one of my magazine idols is breaking barriers: not only is she the first woman in this position, but she is also showing the country that a resume doesn’t have to dictate what you can do in this world; some passion, a great skill set and some innovative ideas can bring something new and appealing to any position.

But then the other realistic part of me that left the theater crying after watching the documentary about the terrible state of the US school system “Waiting for Superman” chimed in. The fact of the matter is, our nation’s education system is in dire need of help. I strongly believe that a great education is necessary for success, but the numbers of children in our country, including New York, who will never see that success because of the lack of good teachers and schools is horrendous. So for this city’s Education Department, which is home to what have been called some of the worst public schools in the country, don’t we need a leader who knows the education system inside and out? Someone who understands both the good and the bad of the system thus far and can say she has the experience to back it up?

Whether it’s an unconventional approach or experience that matters most, only time will tell how Black will do in this position. All I can do is hope that Mayor Bloomberg’s experiment won’t be at the expense of the city’s children.

Floor 36 Book Review: Platinum

Image courtesy of AliyaSKing.com

Last night, I met Aliya S. King at the Columbus Circle Borders book signing of her new book “Platinum.” I’ve followed her career for a few years now–she’s a talented and experienced magazine journalist with a hilarious and entertaining blog, so when I got my hands on an advanced copy of “Platinum” a few months ago, I was eager to read it. A few weeks ago, I had sent Aliya a review of the book that I intended to post on my blog.

After she read it, I didn’t want to post it since I wanted it to just be for her, but when she told me last night that she truly appreciated it, I decided to share an abridged version on the blog.

“Platinum” by Aliya S King: 4/5 Stars

I started reading it on Friday of Memorial Day weekend and finished it Sunday night, and the only reason it even took that long was because I had the typical Memorial Day cookouts and trips to the pool in between. I’ll admit, at first, I was a little weary because of the title. The name “Platinum” sounded like street lit, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But from knowing King’s work (her Vibe story on the death of Al Green’s gf was seriously eye-opening–check it out HERE) I knew it would be a great read, and from the first chapter I was literally riveted and had to keep reading from chapter to chapter.

The book is a look into the lives of fictional wives and significant others of rappers and entertainers. There are not-so-thinly veiled references to real stars (if you read the book, I see Jake and Kipenzi as Beyonce and Jay-z, Clare and Zander as Rihanna and Chris Brown, etc. King revealed at the reading last night that Z and his wife are loosely based off DMX and his wife Tashera). The book is truly supported by King’s writing from each character’s perspective. She really created personalities and points of views for each persona that made it hard for me to pick a favorite–I even felt empathy for Cleo, the character that closely emulates Karinne aka Superhead. Also, the way King leaves the reader hanging at the end of each chapter makes you want to speed through to find out what happens next, and left me grateful to hear that King signed a book deal for the sequel.

The negative: it did feel like a more modern version of a book I had read before (it really, especially with the cover art, reminded me of Erica Kennedy’s “Bling”) but I think that comes along with the genre and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Books about the hip-hop/r&b industry with hidden references to real people are all kind of in the same realm. I think, however, that the audience that’s reading these kinds of books need something that isn’t just trashy and all about drugs and video girls but something that’s smart and funny, which King provided.

So overall, it wasn’t exactly a deep-life changing book, but it’s great for the lighthearted who are looking for a really entertaining and accurate portrayal of the world of hip-hop and the music industry. And as King said last night, when she used to think about writing a book, she thought of deep, African-American, Zora Neale Hurston style literature. But then she shared that she realized, at the end of the day, “writers just write.” And as an aspiring author myself, that’s a quote I’ll never forget.

Diaz + NYC Bazaar Shoot = Love

Two obvious statements: I adore magazines. I adore New York. Pair those adorations with a girl crush on Cameron Diaz, and you can see why Harper’s Bazaar’s August spread with Diaz = love.

She looks stunning, and the NYC backdrop is the icing on the cake. I literally hugged the issue to my chest in excitement when I saw this image on the cover (for Subscriber Copies):

Here are my other two favorites:

You can check out the rest here.