Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the decade...

OK... So - most of these kinds of forwards go straight to the circular.

I found this apolitical one from my parents interesting and reassuring. Just a good note to end the first decade of the 21st century.

HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them - that's why you pay them.

2. Keep only cheerful, positive friends. 'Nuff said.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about technology, the arts, gardening, cooking, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive. This is right in line with my "Don't Postpone Joy" philosophy.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's pets, keepsakes, friends, family, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the park, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love, that you love them, at every opportunity.

AND REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away - seek and savor them.

A little schmaltzy - I know.

My decade in review follows soon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Form - check. Function - check. Fabulous - check.

WOW!

Bugatti's 16C Galibier concept.

Of course with a likely tag of well over a million dollars, this striking sedan should have some uncommon bells and whistles...and watches.

With design cues that include a notable center "spine" that recall classic Bugattis such as the Type 35 and classically stunning Type 57, this new sedan is long on both style and substance.

One thing that particularly caught my eye was the clever, personal touch found on the dash...



Keeping time both in and out of the driver's seat - a branded timepiece that does double duty as both in-dash timekeeper and stylish watch. What a smart way to extend the brand and personalize such a sizable purchase!

Simply neat. That's all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

MET HOME 1974-2009 Another fave goes by the wayside...






















I have copies of Metropolitan Home from the early 80s... I have LONG been a fan of this, the least pretentious and most national, shelter pub.

Starting life as Apartment Life in 1974, Met Home was accessible not just aspirational. With city and regional editors - design, events, food from around the nation made its way to me - not just news from LA and NYC.

Originally a Meredith publication - I believe - it was ultimately Hachette Filapacchi that killed my long-time friend in favor of sister/competitor Elle Decor.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Not as red as Myrtle...Not as uptight as Seaside... Tybee's JUST RIGHT

oh...my...

what a weekend!

This is where I stayed.










Tybee
ROCKS!

Stayed tuned for much more to come...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why I Love Continental Airlines by Michael Duffield

AND - I do!



The only airline that's never left me stranded anywhere. The only airline that still serves food [at no cost].

When I resided in New York and in Austin Continental was my airline of choice. Subsequent moves have made it costly to choose Continental. Now - I have had the chance, once again, to be welcomed onboard by my favorite airline on a trip from Greenville to Los Angeles.

There's something about the company - it's elegant, classic name, the timeless globe logo on the tail of the aircraft, the service... It all adds up to something I appreciate.

Continental was the first airline I flew from New York - one month after 9/11 - and there was something emotional about that particular flight that also informs my feelings toward the company.

The fact that they still service real food in coach during mealtime flights [they never stopped after 9/11 - when most airlines did] is nothing short of amazing. Cocktails remain $5. They are $7 on Delta. AND - if you purchase "Continental Currency" at the airport - you'll save even a little more. My flight from Greenville to Houston yielded a snack basket that included sliced sausage, a peppercorn/Parmesan cheese spread and flatbread crackers, cranberry fruit/nut mix and a little Hershey bar. It was nice for a 2 hr. 10 min. flight. On the return flight during the lunch leg we were treated to a BBQ turkey pocket and fresh green salad with a mini Twix. Not Jean-Georges, I realize - but nice and, again, a nice surprise.

Robbie - the air hostess with the mostest on our flight to Houston on the first leg of the trip - was a hoot, telling us that she was dimming the cabin lights because Continental has found that we look better that way. Before we disembarked at our destination - she quipped: "If you've enjoyed the service today, my name is Robbie. If you haven't, my name is Anita."

Connecting through Houston - while somewhat of an ordeal [not the easiest major airport] went smoothly.

With so many problems traveling and so many issues making me want to write more "Service with a Shrug©" entries - I thought I'd share a little good news.








Happy 75th Birthday Continental!
Dig the vintage paint job!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodbye old [delicious] friend...

Another sad sign of the times...

Condé Nast announced today that legendary food book Gourmet would cease publication [along with several other, less personal mags] after nearly 70 years.

In food PR you pitch all the books all the time and hopefully, over time, develop relationships with different writers at different magazines [except Saveur]. I remember some fondly.

What I remember most is my first BIG national hit. A FULL PAGE in Gourmet celebrating the opening of Oliviers+CO's first U.S. store at Grand Central. For those who don't know - Oliviers is a sister of L'Occitane that features artisanal and sommelier-selected olive oils [though now they call themselves a "Mediterranean Food Merchant," hmmm...]. Beautiful, TINY stores full of lovely olive-inspired goods. Imagine the tight media tasting with 35+ people crammed into a 500 sf shop on a summer evening. Hilarious. Great fun. My first big, national hit.

You will be missed Gourmet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clever is...

I used to write for a neat newsprint arts magazine in the 90s called hyphen. It joined together the arts and general interest topics. We worked hard to do different things with page design and the covers - not unlike the original Details in the 80s when it was newsprint, black and white and really "downtown."

Imagine my joy when I discovered that that thought is still out there - and not just featured in insanely expensive luxe pubs like Visionaire.

Designy-wonder Wallpaper* has worked with architect/designer Phillippe Starck and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld to create two distinct, interactive covers for their magazine.




Loves it.


Just an uncommon bit of clever creativity that you could file away in your brains for future use.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Midnight...all the kitties are horny...

Loved helping the Greenville Humane Society with this...


To the tune of Stray Cat Strut...

What a fun, guerilla event...

The site is great too: www.spaysnotstrays.org

Spread it around. I think people will get a kick out of this.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Roar no more...






A truly American voice has been silenced.


A voice the spoke for those that had no voice.


RIP Senator Edward Kennedy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Intriguing new concept from the big, green mermaid...

Nation's Restaurant News



Sounds like a place I'd visit and an interesting brand extension.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OK. I have a problem.

Happy Birthday to me!




On the heels of an amazing visit with my folks my team surprised me at work...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DELINQUENT!

I O U!

I have been remiss sharing my skewed take on the world. For that - I apologize.

Upcoming posts include:
Caffeinating Greenville, The Spiffy Summer Spritzer and Bring Me Bahn Mi!

Stay tuned...

AND - thanks for your continued support (kinda miss the Bartels + Jaymes commercials).

Michael

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Death of a true journalist...

Integrity...

Decency...

Humanity...





















Not only was his rich baritone a comfort during uncertain and tumultuous times, but so to was his commitment to quality and to unbiased, untainted reporting.

I know that the world of Twitter and TMZ and Facebook are here to stay - but I must admit a wistful remembrance for a time when journalism held a different place in our world.

It isn't simply generational, it's the loss of a fundamental relationship with the truth and taking the time to dig an inch below the surface to find it.


RIP Walter Cronkite

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 233rd!


















Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

groovy little tidbit

At five minutes and six seconds after 4 AM on the 8th of July this year, the time and date will be...

04:05:06 07/08/09

This will not happen again for a thousand years.

Kinda neat!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Really? The new GOP darling?

Sanford falls...and another Southern governor rises? Seriously? Was Bob Schieffer serious?

Mississippi's Haley Barbour on:
Governor Sanford?
-shouldn't resign...
-personal issue... "I don't talk about people's personal problems: I don't think it's polite." Yeah, right. I call bullshit on this quote!!!

Energy?
-Drill in Alaska
-Drill offshore
No mention of new technologies? A proud announcement of a new coal plan in Mississippi?

Barbour poo-pooed it - but, didn't say no. What a scary thought. Another fat, white, white-haired Southern, pudding-mouthed blowhard coming to the national fore. If, in fact, he becomes the darling - it just shows the fundamental (tee hee) lack of forward thinking in the GOP.

Left or right - I'm just sick of partisan politics and the true lack of honest concern for the nation. If Sanford were a lefty - the right would decry his lack of moral turpitude ...he's a churchy, right-winger - so the left is quick to point out his [truly] heroic hypocrisy... ACK! Of course - the real issue is his dereliction of duty to the people of South Carolina.

Exhausting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

what a day...icons...


brilliant

RIP Michael
RIP Farrah

An unsettled melancholy fell over me as I thought about these losses and the era they represent, the memories that awaken....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Service with a shrug© SHAME ON THE GEORGIAN TERRACE

WRONG WRONG WRONG














[photo by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Sure the lobby, destination restaurant and groovy lounge have been renovated. The rooms have not. All in good time, that's not the issue.

What is truly outrageous. Completely unacceptable and worth this rant is the parking situation at this mid-scale hotel.

With public spaces worthy of a W hotel or other groovy lodging option, one would imagine the Georgian Terrace would excel in service. One would be wrong - at least when it comes to parking. A recent stay at the venerable Atlanta landmark proved frustrating.

I pulled in...left my vehicle and went to check in... All's well thus far. When I inquired about valet parking costs I was informed that it would be $25 with in/out privileges. Even for a larger city - that's pretty pricey. Here's the part that got my blood boiling. When I was checking out in the morning - I called down for my call and was told that "They don't like to do that. You'll need to come down with the ticket." Who are THEY?! AND - REALLY?!?!?! REALLY?!?! So - I paid $25 for valet parking and STILL had to wait for my car. NOPE. Never again. Here's why. Self-park at the nearby Hotel Midtown (formerly Wyndham Midtown) is $15. Self-park at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center is $10. Neither - though- have in/out privileges. However - I wasn't going anywhere when I checked in anyway. I am not sure of the cost for the newly-opened Palomar Hotel is an even more EXORBITANT $30. This is Midtown Atlanta - not Midtown Manhattan! Couple these ridiculous charges with Midtown's growing and aggressive homeless problem and it becomes much less appealing. Incidentally - valet at the RITZ CARLTON in Buckhead is only $30...and they offer self-park for $15 (with in/out privileges). If you stay a the W at Perimeter - there's NO charge for parking. AND - at the close-by Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown - valet parking is a REALLY reasonable $18 with in/out privileges. The Four Seasons is often forgotten in Atlanta. Great bar. Exquisite restaurant. Lovely, attentive service - and - who knew?? - reasonably priced parking!!!

ANYWAY - back to the bad experience at hand...

SO - I came down. Gave my ticket and waited. Meanwhile - I was discussing it with the front desk representative and this is where I get peeved. The young man, rather than acknowledging my concern and apologizing for the inconvenience, chose to argue with me. Nothing raises my already high BP like service staff that argues with customers. Simply unacceptable.

I could live with the, as yet, unrenovated rooms. They're huge and comfy. But - the parking situation sucks and the service surrounding it was maddening.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brilliant... True...

sigh... Exhausting.


Thanks Chris Plaskett!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

remembrance... just a moment


I remember trying out for Up with People. I know. I know. There was a dreadful song we had to sing entitled "Freedom isn't Free..." It was a hackneyed anthem - as loathsome as if it were penned by a greedy military contractor. I am, however, reminded of some of the sentiment as I think about tomorrow and wanted to encourage you to take a moment tomorrow and think about those who have sacrificed so much for this country.

So - tomorrow - at 3 PM, your local time [Monday, May 25, 2009], I encourage you to join me and millions of your fellow Americans in a moment of silence to remember those who've fallen to war and those who still struggle to overcome the effects of it.

Just a moment. Just a thought.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Service with a shrug©

Really Delta? Really?

Quelle drag... I've wearily grown accustomed to far-away call centers with heavily accented "service" agents named Howard or Tammy [Howard? Tammy?].

I don't mind the lack of pillows and hot food.

I can handle mergers and acquisitions.

But - when I'm trying to be brand loyal and am purchasing a ticket for a friend and want to add my Skymiles number only to be told [Tracy times because I couldn't understand him] that I don't get credit for my purchase - but that the passenger could put in their Skymiles number and then for $30 and a penny or nickel or ten cents per mile [I quit listening at this point] could transfer the miles to me - I had had it.

I really want the mainline legacy airlines to succeed - but - archaic, convoluted processes and practices that are unflinchingly unfriendly discourage me.

We love to fly and it shows?! Really?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'...

I'm not prone to gushing. Well - Ok I am.

However - I don't throw the "holy craps" around willy-nilly.

HOLY CRAP!

GLEE is amazing.

WATCH and love!

The big tease is that it launches this fall... SO - stay tuned. I hesitate to be so effusive since every show I seem to like gets canceled [Pushing Daisies, Samantha Who? Eli Stone...] - but, this and Better Off Ted are the best things to happen since - well - the parenthetically mentioned programs!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Land of the free and the home of tacky family portraits...

Did we invent this horrendous genre?

It is simply hilarious -

LOOK!


















A Southern high school couple, perhaps?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

off to the Shady Pines in the sky...

Dorothy Zbornak Hollingsworth (nee Petrillo)... has departed.

Along with the definitive Vera Charles with her...

AND - NO - contrary to popular belief - were I to take the "Which Golden Girl Are You?" quiz - I wouldn't come up as Dorothy.

RIP Bea Arthur [Bernice Frankel]

"After being in the business for such a long time, I've done everything but rodeo and porno."


[last year as Carrie Bradshaw in a TVLand short featuring Bea, Sally Struthers, Katherine Helmond and Charlotte Rae as the Sex in the City gals]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iced for a cause...

Today is Iced Coffee Appreciation Day.

It's a sunny day here in Greenville. A good day for an iced coffee beverage.

Live near a Dunkin' Donuts? GO. A small Dunkin' Iced Coffee is only 50 cents today. For every small Iced Coffee purchased today - Dunkin' Donuts will donate 5 cents to Homes for Our Troops - a national organization that helps create specially-adapted homes for differently-abled veterans.

CHEERS!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The absurdity of the tea bag...

AND no...I don't believe the vast majority of the tri-corner hat crowd has ANY clue that when they say they're "teabagging" it has giggle inducing effects on many...

SO - "Taxed Enough Already!" Really? Rachel Maddow pointed an amazing irony out this evening. Many of these so-called protests today on Tax Day were held in public parks. Created with?!?! The safety of the protesters was insured by a police presence. Paid for by?!?! Hmmm...



AND the best thing she noted this evening is that the whole tea party phenomenon surrounding the stimulus package and business bailouts [IF I understood her correctly] was, in some way, shape or form, developed by the same DC PR firm that reps [repped?] bailout recipients AIG and others. Here in South Carolina - one protest was organized by the local head of one-note, anti-gay fringe group American Family Association. Nice to see they've diversified.

I could go for a nice unsweetened iced tea.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ONE, TWO, TROIS – a delicious tale of redemption

A while back I wrote about how I wanted to gush about Parish – a great spot in Atlanta – but couldn’t due to a self-imposed boycott resulting from a dreadful customer service experience at Trois – a restaurant from the same company.

Having worked in retail and having represented four-star fine dining restaurants – I am particularly sensitive to customer service issues. The original offense paled in comparison to the ensuing complete lack of response to it…

Enter gracious GM Mike Maxwell. He reached out and explained how a great many contacts went unanswered due to the actions of an incompetent FORMER employee. SIGH – feeling better…

I was pleased to hear from him and happily surprised by his grand gesture. My friend Dejie [previously gushed about cabaret diva and top-notch concierge] and I sipped and supped and laughed the evening away on a wintry Thursday at Trois.



The stunning room wasn’t particularly busy [a sign of the times?] so our well-informed, delightful server and his colleague Christopher Blackburn were able to chat with us a bit throughout the evening.

We began with delicious martinis and a sinful amuse of crisped chicken skin with sausage gravy. Um… yum! We shared tempura Georgia prawns and a crudo trio of pristine raw fluke, scallops and tuna – the beet “nipples” on the fluke were – while slightly disturbing – great

Dejie opted for salmon accompanied by veggies and a neat-sounding gruyere consommé – though I wish it were more than just a shot glass full, I opted for roasted suckling pig with tiny [cute] vegetables and cauliflower gratin. The meaty pig - accompanied by a slab of belly – was drizzled with rich reduction. The tiny vegetables were actually tasty little root vegetable balls [not what I envisioned - but good nonetheless], the cauliflower generous and delicious.

Earlier we skipped some intriguing salads to save room for dessert. In hindsight I wish we’d gone for something chocolate – the pistachio crème brûlée was more like a pot de crème and somehow ever-so-slightly gritty. The accompanying shortbreads rocked as did the taste of toasted oats ice cream I begged for [from another dessert]. Frankly, I could eat that ice cream every morning. I’d weigh 700 pounds and have to be carted around on a flatbed truck – but I’d do it and be happy doing so.

A final, lovely touch was the surprise of a crackly thin dark chocolate bar to take home. Just neat.

Redemption... from the confirmation call of the reservationist to the warm, informed service and great food.

After dinner we ambled downstairs to the ultra swank bar to hear a musician Dejie had heard about – that was a sexy, luxe end to the evening and may even warrant its own post. FOR NOW – CALL and see when he’s playing and GO, have a drink and take HOT, HOT music of Ike Stubblefield.

UPDATE – subsequent visits have proven just as lovely – though, sadly, Mr. Blackburn will be [or has] departing Atlanta to work with the restaurant group to develop another groovy restaurant and bar at an upcoming boutique hotel in Chicago’s loop. I wish him the best and promised him I’d post this sooner rather than later. It’s later – but – many thanks for your hospitality and best of luck!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hmmm... GSP to DFW

Was I sitting next to smart, snarky, syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage on my flight from GSP to DFW [on my way to Sante Fe]?

Yes. Yes I did. Nice chat. He was in Gville to speak at Furman University. Neat.

OHHHHH... NOW I understand what Twitter's for.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2 4-story buildings full of warmth and wonder...

In a career that's seen great diversity and challenges...I feel like I'm home.

I have started my new gig in Greenville, South Carolina - a hip, pretty, savvy, little city close to the mountains and just about equidistant from Atlanta and Charlotte.



Have a couple of Atlanta stories to post...including a revisit to Trois... BUT - for now I'm working hard and fast and still trying to find my martini glasses and socks.


More to come... stay tuned!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cupcake Schmupcake...

With apologies to Ms. Hannah - who is still perfecting the "stuffed" cupcake... I'm afraid cupcakes are yesterday's pastry!


Growing up with both Mr. Donut (local) and Dunkin'...I'm all about donuts! Alastair and I recently ventured into Sublime Doughnuts near the Georgia Tech campus [good location!].

Now their coffee program seemed a little weak - though they did use French press pots! They had good cold milk, some comfortable chairs - even a sofa, and DOUGHNUTS [their preferred spelling].

With flavors including, Butter Toffee Crunch with caramel Chocolate Icing, Strawberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Banana Fritter (so good), Red Velvet Cake, and signature A-Town Cream
[pictured here with Dark Chocolate] among others - Sublime Doughnuts has shoved me forward from cutesy cupcake culture and into the groovy world of Homer Simpson. Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts is likely the most prominent of the "artisan" [eew] doughnut galleries - they've even caught the eye of the green mermaid who now carries their rings nationally. New York has the swanky pants Doughnut Plant... Portland has the funky, adventurous Voodoo Doughnuts...

BUT - here in the deep down dirty South - the Dulce de Leche and peanut butter-filled Reese's Peanut Butter Cup donuts at Sublime - OH MY GAH! I need to go back [yeah - right "need"] to try the cake donuts as I only gobbled the yeast thus far.

"MMMMMM... Forbidden Donut..."


Find your favorite donut hole and embrace the glaze baby!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Change is indeed in the air...

Stay tuned...



Its a new dawn... its a new day... its a new life for me...

AND I'M FEELING GOOD

Monday, January 19, 2009

Always inspirational...Always informative...Why I love Bill Moyers

You know...

Just when I think shrieking heads like Glenn Beck or his ilk are going to take over the airwaves, I stumble across an old broadcast friend... a steady, thoughtful voice. A program - not of soundbites or arguments - but substance and discussion, depth and detail.



This weekend prior to MLK Day and the inauguration - Moyers welcomed a fascinating writer/historian who gave intriguing perspective on our nation - its past and future.

Check out the interview:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01162009/watch2.html
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01162009/watch3.html

These are troubling times that are still somehow buoyed by the spirit of optimism that lies just below the surface of our American experience. As I conduct my own job search - as I seek the next opportunity to put my skills and energy to work - as I wade through these difficult economic conditions - I, too, embrace our shared [if sometimes dimmed] optimism...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

HOPEy New Year!

Sooooo...

Bright sunny day in the deep down dirty...

SO much to write about - the insanely amazing Holeman and Finch Public House, One Two Trois - a tale of redemption, The Pointer Sisters' show in Las Vegas, thoughts on McD's new McCafe coffee drinks... AND - yes - I will get to all that.

Here's just an uplifting tune to [belatedly] welcome the new year!


Forgive the camera-action - this is the best I could find - it's from the Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Meanwhile...
"There's Hope. It doesn't cost a thing to smile. You don't have to pay to laugh..."