On this Sunday morning, Anthony and I are basking a bit in the glow of a wonderful dinner we had last night with new friends celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson ( www.tedgibsonsalon.com/ ), his partner Jason, and a mutual friend (between those two and Ant and me) Dr. Shirley Madhere ( www.thenewaesthete.com ) or ( www.drshirleymadhere.com ). You’ll recall, Ant and I met Dr. Shirley at an Amy Dubois Barnett party last fall at the SOHO Grand ( www.sohogrand.com/ ). We hit it off with her immediately. Ant invited her to my birthday party in November and she came. Around that time, my fellow Scorpio Ted, Jason, and I met in Chicago. I knew that they would be BFFs for Ant and me. Up until last night, we only had the chance to hang out at his salon one evening. But finally, we “Big Willies” got in our dinner (with the synergy of an awesome “Amazing Grace” to boot. Jason just knew we’d hit it off with Dr. Shirley. When all the names were put on the table, we amusingly uncovered that we already knew her and had already hit it off). Now, in my zone of unpredictable assignments that can show up at a moment’s notice, I was originally scheduled to be in DC for a shoot. Since it took a minute for us all to get a date and time that worked, I wanted to make sure I could get to DC and back to NYC in time for dinner. Fortunately (and conveniently so), the shoot was cancelled. Unfortunately (for revenue), the shoot was cancelled. But most importantly, what reigned supreme was the opportunity to call joy forth inside of great friends and good people (at a time when Ant and I could use a boost). And latest addition to the Meatpacking District “Bagatelle” (www.bistrotbagatelle.com) was an optimum backdrop. It’s an upscale French bistro with an intimate candlelit interior that shines on top of a white canvas that is the trim throughout the dining room. The people bring the color and we watched as the room of white turned into a kaleidoscope of many faces - including our dining neighbor, film director Oliver Stone. From roasted chicken to cote de boeuf (made with grass-fed beef), we all found ourselves ‘comforted’ by this cuisine. Specialty cocktails like “Le Blues de Manhattan” (made with Makers Mark, muddled blueberries and blackberries, Chambord and sweet vermouth) gave me a tasty excuse to graduate from my standard ‘kir royale’ as I sipped on Jason's drink of the night. But I regressed to the 'kir royale'. A friend of Jason who is a critic for “Wine Spectator” magazine (www.winespectator.com/) recommended “Bagatelle” and recommended he drop her name to get a reservation at this new hot spot. It worked and now this recommendation will keep on giving as I spread the word. We too got a character of a waiter named Aaron. He not only shot a picture of himself, but joined us for one of our group pictures. Dr. Shirley and I got to practice our French with him (mine - of course - the more literate, elementary version. Dr. Shirley is quite fluent... and chockful of French and English inspiration and wisdom that has left us all motivated for 2008. Thanks Ted, Jason, and Dr. Shirley for providing us with a wonderful evening.
As it is fashion week, surely Ant and I are in the mix. We’ll be attending our favorite “American Chang” (www. americanchang.com/) and “R. Scott French” (www.rscottfrench.com/) tomorrow. And Tommy Hilfiger is on Thursday (www.tommy.com/). But the most popular MODEL in my world right now – no SURPRISE! – is my Anthony. YES! MY ANTHONY! He booked – as a MODEL – a photo shoot with Erykah Badu (www.erykahbadu.com/) for ESSENCE Magazine (www.essence.com/). Her new album “New Amerykah” is coming out soon and this layout in which he stands right next to Erykah as her bodyguard will be on newsstands by the end of this month. (This means Erykah has touched my DIANA when she honored her last June for the BET Awards - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L98RMa3fqnM .
And now, she's touched my Ant. I'm also reminded that she too pays homage to Diana in the video for her latest single release "Honey" in which she sports Diana-esque hair and does a mock take on Diana's "Blue" album cover by recreating its likeness (among other iconic albums from Grace Jones, Nas, De-La-Soul, Ohio Players, EPMD, Minnie Ripperton, LaBelle, Olivia Newton-John, etc. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNJt5ADHzIY). So the iconographic synergy between Erykah, Diana, and ANT is just kismet to me! I’ve always LOVED Erykah Badu… and still). I’m so proud of Ant as he navigates – in forward motion – to establish himself in this new place called New York City (He’s only been here since March but has attracted some great opportunities including a small part in Terrence Howard film “Fighter” [out this summer]; lots of production work; art projects-in-progress; credited and paid fashion stylist [including his favorite “Ken Doll” (his words): ME, and still maintaining a grasp on the temp market which he does when things are quiet on the media/art tip). With ALL OF THAT, both he and I know (from our respective experiences as freelancers who are truly about using our GIFTS inside of our PASSION), the numbers don’t always add up (more "accounts receivable" in waiting than "accounts payable" right now). And it can be frustrating as we battle the challenges and – in tandem – unapologetically choose to live these ABUNDANT and JOYFUL lives. As the LAW OF ATTRACTION goes, I know we are destined to have each and every one of our dreams come true – even when it may seem too dire to show up that way. And the evidence is not just in our knowing that we can survive the struggle, but as Anthony puts it, it’s in knowing that it is a “Beautiful Struggle” – a line lifted from rapper Talib Kweli’s 2nd solo album from 2004 (www.talibkweli.com). And for what we are experiencing of the good, the bad, and the ugly in this real life, it’s truly ALL GOOD and building our character to BE POWERFUL and UNSTOPPABLE in our pursuits… and COMPASSIONATE and VULNERABLE in how we show up in the world. Of course, both Ant and I learned this in our course MOMENTUM EDUCATION (www.momentumeducation.com) but LIFE keeps on teaching us new lessons around these very insights.
With that, our good girlfriend Adrienne Stewart who is National Sales Manager for all things Kimora Lee Simmons – Baby Phat and KLS Collection ( www.kimoraleesimmons.com/ ) invited us out to witness the unveiling of the Fall 2008 collection from Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons and KLS Collection. The Roseland Ballroom ( www.roselandballroom.com/ ) provided the backdrop. And of course, there could be no Kimora Lee Simmons party without a slew of A-to-Z-listers in the house. And Ant and I were excited to see them all. On the day her Tru TV show was cancelled ( www.trutv.com/ ), Star Jones Reynolds wore a brave and confident face amidst the clamoring media to support Kimora. She (and her friend Lisa Raye [ www.lisaraye.com ] – actress and the first lady of Turks and Caicos [ www.turksandcaicostourism.com/ ]) graciously posed with me on the runway before the show began. And the fashions - by the way - were awesome. The KLS couture - in particular - was beautiful. There were some romantic, classic silhouettes on the gowns that reminded me of old-school Hollywood icons like Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Joan Crawford. And of course, Kimora and the girls came out for their bow. I also got to ki-ki and cut the fool with Miss J ( www.cwtv.com/shows/americas-next-top-model/cast/jalexander ). He was seated a stone’s throw from Miss Tyra Banks ( www.tyrabanks.com/ ) with whom I didn’t get the chance to photo op. But we did get a moment with Miss Amerie ( www.amerie.net/ ) who was sporting a lighter color of hair which I complimented. She says her mother likes it better. Also, my National Association of Black Journalists’ (www.nabj.org) buddy who we met in Las Vegas, Jacqueline Williams, came from Milwaukee to be in the mix. It was good to see her. Afterwards, we all went to the after-party at Suzie Wong ( www.suziewong.com.cn/ ) in Chelsea which is party central. Many were in the house. Though I’d heard about the Brooklyn shop “Pieces” (www.piecesofbklyn.com), I had not met its owner Latisha Daring. Adrienne introduced me to her, pointing out that Latisha was the first boutique in New York City to embrace Kimora’s KLS Collection. Additionally, Andre Harrell was in the house. Some exotic dancers provided a sexy backdrop for the party. Miss USA 2007 Rachel Smith who I’ve met before struck a pose with me. Our current “America’s Next Top Model” Victor/Victoria Jaslene ( www.cwtv.com/shows/americas-next-top-model ) also gave us some shine. Also at the party: TV personality and style expert Robert Verdi alongside whom I’ve had the chance to audition for some spot TV projects; Also, Piper, the ‘sistah’ from Tyra-Banks-ANTM-spin-off “The Shot” ( www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/the_shot/series.jhtml ). My buddy from BET’s Black Carpet Miss Beverly Smith ( www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/blackcarpet/ ) was in the house. And Miss Vivica A. Fox was there too. As Kimora’s folks B.J. and James held down the fort, Kimora actually called me to walk even further into her velvet-rope zone to visit for a minute. I've had a chance to interview her before (as well as Russell). So, she knows me (though I must admit I'm always impressed with how present she is with people - including little ol' me). Seated atop the lounge headboard that aligned the wall, Kimora posed with her man Djimon Hounsou, Jaslene, and others. Then, she and I did a run for the camera. As Ant took the pictures, he said he got it (just so we could ease on out of what was becoming a mad- house). But Kimora knew he didn’t get it and generously said “Have him give us the camera and someone in here will take it.” He handed it over and we got our pic. But he too got a couple of good ones from his angle as well. Also, NYC party photog Johnny Nunez captures us as well. Kimora wanted to be sure. I love it!
From there, we went to support my new MY SPACE friend Dominick San Juan ( http://www.myspace.com/dominicsanjuan). He was selected to perform in this national competition sponsored by SHURE Microphones and Sam Ash Music. It took place at “Blaggard’s Pub” ( www.blaggards.net/ ) in Manhattan. Of course, we ran into many of our usual suspects – like Diaz (who alerted us that he was sporting Latino Royalty again - www.latinoroyalty.com), Toyce, et al. And we posed accordingly. But the night belonged to Dominick who blessed us with his talent – great voice and original songs.
Speaking of supporting the arts and expression, Ant’s friend Marcos, who hosts OPEN MIC MONDAYS ( http://www.myspace.com/onemicnite ), allowed us to use his event, which he holds at East Village’s Hacienda, as a backdrop for interviews I was commissioned to conduct for Remy Martin ( www.remy.com/ ), which is celebrating the launch of its LIMITED EDITION bottle of cognac designed by celebrity photgrapher David LaChappelle ( www.davidlachapelle.com/ ). We talked to folks all over New York City (Harlem, SOHO, and Lower Eastside) on their thoughts of this uniquely designed bottle and LaChappelle’s work and the synergy of art, spirits, and fellowship. The interviews went very well and the artistic folks that flowed out of Marcos’ set made for great soundbites as well. Oh! And Anthony was so inspired by the organic evening (for which my Tata and her fiance joined us), he graced us all with an awesome poem that was totally well-received. The folks were truly snapping for “the kid”. Now, Ant is pushing me to go up one night and sing. Someday. Oh! And my Morehouse brother Khalid came by to support as well. Thanks Khalid! This was a fun project on which to work and reflects some other lucrative, thinking-out-side-of-the-box directions I can go in as far as attracting creative work. Though I’ve always attracted new and exciting fare for my work plate, I can also identify those points in which I can play it safe. Now, I’ll reconnect to those pieces of me that – at the beginning of my career – would produce morning TV news by day and act in a friend’s student film by night. In fact, a reminder of that time came to me via a former Air Force roommate of my Savannah buddy and film/commercial director Maurice Marable who I’ve written about before (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/3/4/-weve-come-a-long-way-baby.html). Well, this guy Les G finds me via the BLOG as he was searching to find his old Air Force buddy Maurice. Les G writes to me: “ Hello Patrick,
I stumbled across your blog as I was searching for some information on Maurice Marable. Upon seeing your picture I realized that you and I had actually met years ago. Before I go further let me introduce myself. My name is Leslie Graham or Les for short. Maurice and myself were friends and roommates while we were in the Air force stationed in Oklahoma. We also hung out a little in Atlanta upon leaving the service. You and I met during Maurice’s filming of one of his student projects. Realizing that I was in the company of some soon to be great talent I took a few still shots that I still have to this day…”
Of course, I couldn’t resist asking Les to send them to me. And here goes. I starred in a few of Maurice’s student films as he studied at Georgia State University ( www.gsu.edu/ ). Since that time, Maurice has gone on to do amazing work as a writer/producer/director at HBO (for many of its big shows). Currently, he is the director and producer of a high-profile campaign that Coca-Cola ( www.coca-cola.com/ ) has launched for Black History month (He’s featured in it too). The ad, entitled “What Do You See?”, is just one element in a comprehensive African-American plan for 2008 that focuses on connecting with African-American consumers. It features three African Americans – including Maurice –
who are writing modern African-American history through their accomplishments. The other two are professional skateboarder Kareem Campbell and businesswoman and founder of Carol’s Daughter skin care Lisa Price ( www.carolsdaughter.com/ ). They all appear in “my” Maurice’s commercial asking the question: "What do you see when you look at me?" The "What Do you See?" television commercial will be accompanied by radio advertisements that will air during Black History Month in six markets including Atlanta, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston and Memphis. (I’M SO PROUD OF MAURICE!!!!). The Company will continue its sponsorship of “African American Lives” with this year’s special, “African American Lives 2”, airing on PBS stations on February 6 and February 13 ( www.pbs.org/aalives ). The special profiles 11 notable African Americans by using genealogy, oral history, family stories, and DNA science to trace their roots. Tina Turner, Chris Rock, and a host of others are on the docket this go around.
Ant and I want our roots traced – “African American LIVES”-style (so we can find out where exactly we hail from in Africa). We recently got the chance to celebrate the LIFE of another friend, Jamar, who may want to use this technology to piece his interesting story (which I’ll share another day). You recall, Jamar is my buddy and personal shopper/stylist at “N” – my favorite boutique ( www.nharlemnewyork.com/ ). We always have a great time, but as we celebrated his birthday at “Harlem Lanes” ( www.harlemlanes.com/ ), it was a funky good time! Ern and Ant came ahead of me with their bowling averages... but I did master some impressive, spot strikes throughout my game, which just came in a few points under Ant (and Ern for that matter. He’s seen a better game). My buddy Ryan, who is always an enthusiastic spirit, came to support. And our loving Tasha and Q represented as always. Of course, all of Harlem and “N” was there. My Earth Angel/buddy Rafael, the French artist, came by to hang out for a bit (www.rafaeldezayas.com).
On this journey, there are so many who continue to inspire me with their words, but most importantly, with who they are.
- I met publicist/social activist/author Terrie Williams (www.terriewilliams.com) in the mid-‘90s as she was in Atlanta promoting her debut book "The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today's Fast-Paced Business World" ( www.terriewilliams.com/ptouch/about.html ). This book changed my life and informed – in large part – how I’ve come to network and navigate within this industry. She’s published a couple of inspiring books for adults and teens between that first book and her current tome "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting” (Scribner), a wake-up call to Black folks on depression. March 18 is a day to mark on your calendar as she will be hosting a “Day of Healing” at The Apollo ( www.apollotheater.com ). Actresses Mo’Nique and now-Oscar-nominee Ruby Dee are scheduled to participate along with “Good Times”-own John Amos. They will all join together and artfully read stories of people in the book. For more information, go to: www.thestaystrongfoundation.org. Terrie recently sent me a note: “…your blog is so live –one feels your energy.” What a compliment! Thanks Terrie! And keep me posted on all you are doing around this effort as my own emotional well-being is a piece to which I stay mindful because I am aware that mental health still carries a stigma in our community. And if I scar on my body, I get treatment for it. It should be the same for our insides. And for me, it is.
- My girl Candi with whom I’ve been friends since our days as students in the National Association of Black Journalists (www.nabj.org) is doing some amazing things all around this industry, but one thing I can talk about: “It's Hip Hop, Baby!” - a children's DVD for ages 2 to 6 (which I’ve referenced before here in the BLOG). But as news goes, “… it was a big hit with many celebrities at the "Boom Boom Room” at The Golden Globes pre-awards show swag suite, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Celebrities like Angela Bassett, Tori Spelling, and other Hollywood Parents with their kids, babies and their families smiled when they received the new educational dance DVD. It’s Hip Hop, Baby! was one of the hottest products for little ones of celebrities thanks, to Erin Gutierrez President/Founder of http://cottonseedclothing.com/ who is also a big fan of “It’s Hip Hop, Baby!” This educational DVD that features child-friendly dance routines that help your child develop listening skills and the ability to follow simple directions. Your toddler will experience the joys of learning their ABC's, animals, body parts, and numbers through fun-filled musical performances and interviews with the hip hop kids. It's Hip Hop, Baby! the DVD and CD are available at http://www.itshiphopbaby.com/ or http://www.amazon.com/.”
- And Miss Yolanda Young – writer/columnist extraordinaire who I met through Candi (Years ago) came to town for business… but I’d say she came to inspire me. We broke bread at my favorite spot “ Houston ’s” ( www.hillstone.com/ ). She was such a breath of fresh air as she validated all that I am aiming to do with my career not because of what she’s doing (and she’s doing amazing things. Check out her video blog on www.yolandayoung.com ), but because of her uninhibited courage with moving forward and making things happen. On this day, I realized that I was “inside my story” and she continued to reinforce “possibilities” at a time when I needed to hear it. Yolanda, too, says that – despite my “blahs” that day – that I “convicted” her on several fronts and breakdowns in her own life. So, our chat that day meant more than networking. It was bonding and real connection. For that, Yolanda, I say THANKS!
- I have spoken about my Listening Experience group that my best friend from Morehouse Eddie put together some years ago. We’d annually gather and share our latest and favorite music finds. One of our members Nyasha reached out with the following that I want to share with all of you. Nyasha wrote:
LE Alums! :)
I hope that your 2008 has begun exceedingly well!! A dear friend of mine out of Philly has launched a virtual music community (somewhat like myspace, but specifically geared toward music lovers and progressive folk. I have been working on my page, posting to it my songs, videos, images, and things that bring me joy. I invite you each to take a look and join the community…The site is: www.soulgen.com . In love and music, Nyasha
In closing, on December 1, 2005 , Anthony and I met. You’ve all heard the story before. It was at the opening night of Broadway’s “The Color Purple”. He was covering it for STARZ, his Denver-based employer at the time. I was covering it as well. We were introduced at the after-party and the rest is history (or our present) as not one day has passed that we haven’t been in contact (whether I was out of the country on assignment or he was away on a family vacation in The Bahamas). Since we started out long-distance, we made monthly commitments to see each other and not one month passed without us honoring that. Then, last March, he moved here and we began the next, on-going chapter of our life and love (inside of huge adjustments, breakdowns, and challenges) – some of which has been chronicled here in the edited “A Day in the Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities”. Well, last week, the producers of THE COLOR PURPLE ( www.colorpurple.com/ ) announced that the show will play its final performance on Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 7:30pm , after playing 30 preview performances and 910 regular performances at the Broadway Theatre. Now in its third year on Broadway, THE COLOR PURPLE recouped its entire $11 million investment in its first year on Broadway, having grossed over $103,000,000. And after that opening night, Ant and I would hold "The Color Purple" close as our muse for love. Because Tony-award-winning LaChanze (who created "Celie") is a friend, I got the chance to share in the celebration on the night she won the prized Broadway nod. Ant and I even went to see “The Color Purple” again together with Fantasia (for his birthday in 2007). Additionally, we got to check it out on the eve of its closing announcement with new stars Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, and Lakisha Jones (of “American Idol” fame). And we’re still together. Though “The Color Purple” wraps later this month, Anthony’s and my show goes on…:
LIKE A BLADE OF CORN,
LIKE A HONEYBEE,
LIKE A WATERFALL,
ALL A PART OF ME.
LIKE THE COLOR PURPLE,
WHERE DO IT COME FROM?
OPEN UP YOUR EYES,
LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE!!!!
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