Gayle King said it best on "The Insider", after attending the Qatar Airways launch party in New York City last week: "... Everything [on TV] is in re-runs. So, I thought 'I'd much rather go see Collin [Cowie] and Diana Ross..."
This summer, I'd LOVE to get out of the house more - especially to see Miss Ross. But when I can't (or when the outings don't carry the sheen the Qatar function did), I will find something to keep me entertained. Now, with Anthony and me under the same roof, we are finding some passing fancies on the airwaves to keep us entertained (perhaps twiddling our thumbs awaiting an invitation from Miss Ross...?):
* I never watched "My Name is Earl" (www.nbc.com/My_Name_Is_Earl/), though I know it's a big hit for NBC. But Anthony and I channel surfed by it the other night and had to re-cue our TIVO to see it from the beginning as we watched actress Tamala Jones (http://video.aol.com/video/tv-my-name-is-earl-blow/1848482) in a guest star role that I'd love to see receive an EMMY next year. She was GENIUS as the half sister that Joy (Jaime Pressly) discovers she has in preparation for a trial that her advisers say could work in her favor, if she has family there to support her. It turns out Tamala's character "Liberty" - a wrestler-in-training - is her lifelong mortal enemy. And the chemistry between the two "sisters" made Anthony and me laugh from beginning to end. "My Name Is Earl" may have another fan.
* From the scripted zany to something you couldn't script any better than the reality: "Hey Paula", Paula Abdul's train-wreck of a reality show on BRAVO (www.bravotv.com/Hey_Paula). I hear not as many people are watching her as "Being Bobby Brown", the original king of "celeb-reality". But Anthony and I are amongst the few who can't quite figure out what is going on with Paula Abdul, but at the same time, can't take our eyes off of her as she navigates through her sur-reality.
* Another shout out to Bravo's "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List" (www.bravotv.com/Kathy_Griffin). She's steadily upgrading on my guest list as her reality show's new season continues to entertain and - with the recent passing of her father - conjure emotions that I never knew Kathy Griffin could inspire.
And when Anthony and I aren't watching TV, we have been out a bit in the last week. July 4th fell on Wednesday which inspired book-ends of cookouts, parties, etc. Last Saturday, we went back to New Rochelle to be hosted by another of my Nichole's "desperate housewife" friends Michelle. She and her husband Nelson welcomed many of us into their new home, which Michelle is personally decorating and turning into an "oasis". Michelle's friend Cynthia, an artist-on-the-rise, did two colossal, mixed-media paintings for the living room that create such a wonderful, museum-like focus for the space. A few weeks ago, our previous New Rochelle hosts, Monica and Brian, threw the last set at which Anthony and I bonded with their son Miles (see pic to the left). They too were in attendance at Michelle and Nelson's cookout and Miles was so excited to see me that he stayed in my arms for much of the cookout (never letting his chicken drop). I'm not the most kid-friendly, yet they LOVE me. And what I love is when they are as smart and cute as Miles.
On Sunday, a friend Craig invited Anthony and me to a new dance ritual called "SUNDAYS AT SHRINE" (www.shrinenyc.com). It's a weekly DANCE party in Harlem and it features a menu of soulful house music, classic R&B, Caribbean Beats, and Afro Brazilian Rhythms along with LIVE Percussionists accompanying the sound system!! SHRINE is located on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd between 133rd Adam 134th Streets. And there's NO COVER. We saw lots of old friends, but also some new associates like Donna Dove (www.donnadove.com), a designer who I met a few months ago through friend and fashion guru Walter Greene. Donna always has a smile on her face and we made sure to capture it this time.
Also this week, my friend Camille came to town and says she's going to plant some roots in New York City. I've known Camille since the mid-'90s during my days in Atlanta. She's always been a free, bohemian spirit. She's worn many hats inside of that energy, too. People often say "What does Camille do?" Basically, they ask that because she always seems to be in the right place at the right time. When I first met her, she was doing marketing in the entertainment business, but then segued into fashion - styling many of the music videos and artists out of Atlanta. From Atlanta booming roster of LA FACE artists in the '90s to the stars of the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL during that time, she's inspired looks and style for the industry. At a point, she began to teach Atlanta youth about art. And as the hustler she is, she always has another job or two to keep things afloat. She's bringing her swagger to the Big Apple for more than a visit this time. So, we're excited and encouraged to see what she will create while she's here. By the way, Camille is responsible for my wearing MOSHOOD (www.afrikanspirit.com/), the Nigerian coutourier whose African-inspired gear has been like a second skin to me for over a decade now. She even supervised plans for MOSHOOD's Atlanta store opening. I wrote about Moshood and Camille in a story that was originally published in the African magazine (www.africanmag.com/) which my friend Frankie founded. The text is as follows:
My friend Camille is a stylist out of Atlanta. She introduced me to Nigerian designer Moshood in 1995 when she was here in New York City on a job. Before we walked into the Fulton Street entrance of his Brooklyn boutique, my eyes were seduced by the intense glare of an African mask, embroidered on a huge flag that was suspended high above the store's threshold. I would learn very soon that the face on that still-hanging fabric adorns all of Moshood's gear, usually atop a small, black piece of cloth sewn on the pants leg or at the center of the chest on a shirt. It's a symbol of African pride and it supports one of Moshood's mantras: WEAR MOSHOOD, WEAR YOURSELF. It took me 25 years to receive such profound words with open eyes, arms, and heart.
Growing up down south in Georgia, I inherited my mom's sense of style and the whole Bible Belt's allegiance to keeping up appearances. During those years, we spent lots of time in the mall and amidst the Spanish moss of Downtown Savannah's Broughton Street, shaping my look of preppy oxford shirts, penny loafers, and matching socks. It was a look every mother would deem appropriate for her scholarly, yet artistic, son. A stint at Morehouse College in Atlanta would further endorse this brand of dressing with Madison Avenue, magazines, the media, the masses, and mom in mind. And I was more than happy to oblige as everybody else was doing it.
And yet, when I laid my eyes on Moshood's timeless pieces for the first time, I realized instantly that I had been living my life through someone else's eyes. By simply bringing together the traditional beauty of African tailoring with a taste of western flavor, Moshood's fashions gave me a blueprint for how I can highlight the unique African in me and embrace "the little black boy who just wants to be accepted" --- and not feel conflicted about it.
And ever since, I've been wearing his fluid and elegant designs for all occasions - feeling quite convinced that beating to my own drum is the way that counts for me. And if they like it, cool. And if they don't, that's fine too. Like the birth of Jazz and Hip Hop, the critics didn't get it at first. And still both genres rise and transcend all cynicism with each year. That's how I see Moshood: Transcending.
You're bound to catch me wearing some piece of Moshood on any given day. It hangs well on my slim frame. And the ensembles make me feel regal - from the creative designs to the favorable and sometimes- perplexed stares those creations evoke. My bright drawstring patchwork pants of many colors are a favorite. Also, my long, black duster, which I usually wear over a long, white and sheer dashiki, has gotten a lot of wear. Whether singing on a stage or shopping at the supermarket or conducting an interview at The White House with President Bill Clinton, I always feel like Moshood is most appropriate. It's gotten to the point where people on the street think I am Moshood. As one lady put it, "You wear that like you designed it". I retorted, "Actually, it designed me".
And with my mom no longer alive to stamp my chosen look with her approval, I do have a slew of church ladies from home, who give my vibrant wardrobe their thumbs up. Still, they've pulled my coattail a couple of times to remove the tag that they just figured was left on my pants by accident. Of course, the tag with the Moshood logo is supposed to be there. Like I said before, they'll catch up. And if they don't, that's fine too.
Moshood is limitless. And in his two stores (including his latest Atlanta shop), I've found a home away from home, a place that celebrates my African spirit. In Moshood, I found me. And since I've jumped on board, I've been pleasantly surprised to find that this unexpected treasure chest of fashion and pride has caught on. One need look no further than the closets of old-school icons like Isaac Hayes and Chaka Khan to know that Moshood's truth is marching on. Some new jacks and Jill Scott, for example, have also embraced the brand. And the humbled roster of fashion patrons continues to grow - from cult to corporate to cutting edge. They'll catch up, indeed.
By the way, Anthony and I went to Dallas BBQ in Washington Heights the other day (www.bbqnyc.com). We were seated next to two African American men, one of whom said to me: "You're Patrick Riley. I was just reading your BLOG today!". Taken aback, I realized that more people read "A Day in the Life of Riley" than my inner-circle. But WOW! - being recognized in the street by a stranger for it. The young man's name was Scott and he shared the degree to which he - like me - is a huge Diana Ross fan. He says he reads the BLOG religiously for all the tid-bits and told me "Keep up the great blog and letting me live through you and your great friends." Thank you, SCOTT... for reading. And THANK YOU all for reading.
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