The busy part of my work year is wrapping up. Summer is finally knocking on my door. And though there are no promised revenue sources coming my way in the summer, I am claiming only abundance for the months that I'm on pause from my most lucrative work which goes on a summer hiatus. And in the meantime, I'm refusing to sit my butt home and save what is in the bank account. Anthony has been good for me to curtail some of these not-so-effective bookkeeping techniques (READ: HAND TO MOUTH), and we're both working on ways that will keep our ability to go out worry-free, but also make this house that is slowly-but-surely turning into a home something that will invite us to stay inside more often. ONE DAY AT A TIME. We're getting there...
Last Thursday, however, I was on the beat. It had been a minute since I'd been out on Thursday - what some deem pre-cocktail night. And for the African American gays, it's "The Ritz" after work on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. From there, "Luke & Leroy" was the spot from which I'd cooled my face over these last few months. It was good to be back and to see all of the old familiar faces. I even stumbled into Gordon Chambers, whose latest CD project "Love Stories" is about to be released (even featuring duets with Ledisi and Melonie Daniels). It's a wonderful album and you can see Gordon LIVE up and down the Eastern Seaboard (including New York City) over this summer. Go to www.gordonchambers.com for more information.
Saturday was a big day. It started as Anthony and I bummed a ride from Ern who was escorting Tina to a wedding in Harlem. This gave Anthony and I a chance to hang out a bit before he would have to head down to Brooklyn to spend time with his Denver-based family who were here to bury his grandmother. We enjoyed a soul food brunch at Amy Ruth (amyruthsharlem.com/). I got the smothered chicken livers with grits and collard greens coupled with iced sweet tea. It was more than I thought I wanted for early Saturday afternoon, but I ate every morsel (and the cornbread too). Restaurateur Michael Vann (also of "Soul Cafe" and "Shark Bar" fame) came out to say HI and even sat with us for a while as we caught up. From there, I got my haircut at Brenda Braxton's BBRAXTON (www.BBRAXTON.com) - "exceptional grooming for exceptional men". (thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/11/15/tired-of-me-talking-about-dreamgirls.html).
Then, I was ready to get downtown to SOHO and see my ITIKA (from Chicago) who was in town for the weekend. And I felt the pressure to show my TI-TI as good a time in New York City as she always delivers to me when I'm in Chicago. It started with a little post-lunch cocktail at Boom Restaurant (www.BOOMNY.com). I met up with TI-TI and her west coast buddy Norell, who carries a kindred distinction as an "entertainment journalist" (for magazines, including UPTOWN Magazine - www.uptown-magazine.com/). The pop culture we have in common made for cool sharing - including her mom's once-obsession with Diana Ross. To that, Norell admires the DIVA. That made our brunch at Latin bistro "Ideya" (www.IDEYA.net) perfection. From the margaritas to the mojitos to the espresso to the great brunch dishes, we set our evening off splendidly.
From there, we joined Ti-Ti's friend Tiffany, who I've written about before. You recall, The Garment Room (www.garmentroom.com) is Chicago-based and a repository of vintage couture from the turn of the century to the '80s. When I first wrote about it, I said (back in January of this year): "I'm certain fashionista Tracee Ellis Ross and her mom would eat this collection of drag up!!!!!". (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/1/15/-but-i-need-a-friend.html) Well, I'm happy to report that not only did Heidi Klum (Mrs. Seal) come in and buy a bunch of vintage belts, but MISS TRACEE ELLIS ROSS was reportedly pulled from the streets of SOHO into The Garment Room's temporary location and proceeded to buy a number of pieces. I knew she'd love it! And I'm glad the universe led her there. I missed her by the hair of my skinny chin-chin. Tiffany and gang rushed up to tell me that I missed her by seconds. Check out THE GARMENT ROOM when it comes to your town (or if you're in Chicago, make sure you go by). See http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/1/15/-but-i-need-a-friend.html for my most recent reference to THE GARMENT ROOM (www.garmentroom.com).
For the evening, Ern and Tina joined me in SOHO before we went back uptown for a series of sets. My good friend Terry Wynn II hosted a cocktail party at his place in Harlem. His party was filled with an eclectic group of "fun people" from all walks of life. My highlight was meeting Daniel Freeman, a friend of Terry and inspiring fine artist. We hit it off immediately and found ourselves on a similar path in our respective lives --- as he put it --- both understanding the importance of growth and change for the better. With that, there are exciting things ahead for this Harlem-based wonder, who just started painting about five years ago (after he went through a painful breakup). What that darkness created is nothing short of "light". His gallery is in Harlem and you can find out more about him and his work via: Myspace.com/DanielFreeman13. Also, signature drinks and tasty light bites were being passed around. And lots of good conversation held us all inside this good energy which Terry designed for us all as a pre-party for whatever our evenings entailed. A night of GOOD PEOPLE...
We went to my friend Brian's bistro "Native" to meet up with THE 'Amazing Grace' Nichole and our dear friend C.J. (They had just come from a baby shower in Brooklyn where they 'karaoke'd without me. SMILE!). After we said our good-byes from this spot, we hooked back up with Itika (Ti-Ti) and our good girlfriend Mara from last week's Chicago outing (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/one-summer-night-in-chitown.html). Remember? She's the one who is a multi-media journalist to be honored in August by the National Association of Black Journalists as its "Emerging Journalist of the Year". (www.marasonline.net). She and her husband (and their cat and dog) have a spacious and elegant Brownstone in Harlem. They were both so gracious as hosts, but also humbled by my mention of Mara in last week's "A Day in the Life of Riley". And to shout Mara out further, she will be teaching an encore presentation of the Media Bistro career seminar
"Becoming A Video Journalist", to be held Thurs June 14, 6:30p-9:30p. It covers the basics of shooting, editing, providing video for the web and more. Information can be found by clicking on the link below: http://www.mediabistro.com/courses/cache/crs2665.asp
From there, we went to a house party further in the 'hood of Harlem... and it gave us hot and sweaty. But Tiffany and her friend Jason joined us and as long as we were all together, it was all good. Once this phase of the night was over, I headed up to meet Anthony in Washington Heights at NO PARKING before our return home to Jersey.
Sunday was an emotional day as Anthony introduced me to his sister Chanel with whom he's very close... for the first time. Many nuances and heft are attached to this meeting (that I'll let Anthony detail in "A Day in the life of Anthony..." one day), but suffice to say, it was a GREAT DAY! Anthony and I met up with our friends Theo, Richard, and Kenny at COOKSHOP (www.cookshopny.com) in Chelsea. His sister Chanel joined us and from minute one, we hit it off. The menu at COOKSHOP was filled with tasty treats, but I simply wanted eggs, bacon (extra crispy), and white cheese grits. I had to create my meal, which is something Chanel often does. She smiled at my a-la-carte selection while Anthony rolled his eyes (at the building synergy). From there, we all went up to The Cort Theater to enjoy - Chanel and me for the first time: "Radio Golf". I FINALLY SAW IT... and TRULY ENJOYED IT! YOU MUST CHECK IT OUT!!!! (www.radiogolfonbroadway.com)) TI-TI joined us for this afternoon of theater as well as Anthony and Chanel's cousins, who filled in for the rest of Anthony's clan (parents and brothers) who opted out for a family picnic that had been postponed concurrent to our planned day at the theater. Still, it was perfection, including our pre-theater Margaritas from CHIPOTLE (www.chipotle.com/). We then did a round of post-theater cocktails in the lounge of 60 THOMPSON, a luxury boutique hotel in SOHO (www.60thompson.com/). There, we met two of TI-TI's good girlfriends Natalie and "Muffin" both of whom work in TV here in New York City ("The View" and HBO). They were sweet as pie. We also ran into Nikoa - co-owner of N, my favorite boutique [www.nharlemnewyork.com/] and her fiancee Garrett. At this point, Anthony thought we should share one of our favorite eateries with Chanel. So, we headed back to Harlem to close out the night at Ginger (www.gingerexpress.com/press.html), which is poised to host yet another N NIGHT on this Wednesday. Over dinner, we three bonded over this new meeting of Chanel and me... and we are all looking forward to the possibilities that are ahead for Anthony's world and my world to converge as one... a day at a time.
Oh! And TI-TI!!!!????? I hope you had a good time. LOVE YOU!