Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas/ Happy Holiday

And so it is tomorrow that I board the flying kangaroo and hope that it hops safely over the Atlantic to take me home to the "land girt by sea".

I can already smell the eucalyptus, hear the kookaburras laughing and feel that dry heat on my skin. Twelve months without being on aussie soil is too long. I love this concrete metropolis with the relentless horns and sirens and neon signs and ear piercing subway train brakes, the snow that turns to brown slush, the throngs of tourists along Fifth Avenue, Bergdorfs and Central Park...the list is endless. But for me my real home is where family and good friends are, old haunts and the wonderful uniqueness of the Australian bush. That is where I will be for the next 2 weeks.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday, depending on your religion. I hope to see you back here in Jan 2010. x

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Oh joy of joys! The first snow of the season! And right before I go home to a searing summer.

Yesterday and last night the East Coast was hit with a BIG storm. Washington D.C was the worst hit. We at least got 14 inches in the city. This is what I woke up to this morning.

And here is what the Village looked like.

It is so eerily quiet without traffic! But doesn't the red and green of Christmas make so much more sense now you see it with snow?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Festive Season Part II

This city never ceases to amaze me. My Christmas Top 10 "To Do's" was by no means exhaustive, so some further wonderful activities have now come to light that I must share:

1. When feeling grumpy, go and stand in Grand Central Station on the half hour and be mesmerized by their Holiday Light Show.

2.  Whilst at Grand Central, visit the Holiday Train Show (not quite sure why New York is so obsessed with train shows.....)

3. Don't just listen to Handel's Messiah this year, sing it! For the past 41 years, the National Chorale has provided 4 professional soloists and  17 conductors to lead nearly 3000 music-loving New Yorkers in this holiday favorite at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Centre.

4. If you like something more intimate, pretend you are in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and wander through Greenwich village with members of the West Village Chorale, singing christmas carols.

5. When in need of warmth, visit the butterfly exhibition at the National History Museum. 500 live tropical butterflies flit through a 1300 foot temporary conservatory in one of the museum galleries.

6. I tried to avoid this one because it is so touristy, but if you want to pretend you are stepping out of a film like "autumn in New York," skip Bryant Park and skate at Rockefeller centre.

Or if it snows, go to Central Park (where IS the snow this year?)

7. Pop into the New York Public Library to view Charles Dickens' personal copy of "A Christmas Carol" from which he gave his public readings, along with an original photo of Dickens' nephew who is said to be the model for Tiny Tim. There is also other christmas miscellany on display such as festive greetings from James Joyce, E.E. Cummings and Jack Kerouac.

There are so many things to see and do, I hardly know when there is time to finish the Christmas shopping!

Images: Manhattan about, maestro artist, telegraph, cool butterflies, fox travel & tours, ronsari, New York Public Library

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Single Man

When it comes to fashion, Tom Ford is a synonym for sexy, glamorous and hot. There are few fashion moments more defining than when Madonna wore his velvet pants and satin shirt to an awards event in 1995. This heralded his unforgettable reign at the house of Gucci and made Ford a household name overnight.

Other iconic moments from his time as "Gucci God" were the full velvet suit as seen on Gwyneth,

The white jersey gown with a cutout on the hip from his last collection in 2004

And of course the famous pubic "G" ad.

After Ford took his final bow at Gucci in 2004, he moved into the world of men's fashion with a flagship store in Madison Avenue, and beauty, creating a "sit up and take notice of me" range of deep, intense and beautifully packaged fragrances.

But perhaps his most defining moment is now, with his new film 'A single man'. Based on the book by Christopher Isherwood, it starts Colin Firth as a college literature professor who can't bear to continue living after the tragic loss of his lover. Julianne Moore plays his closest friend Charley and Nicholas Hoult - a far cry from the dorky boy in "About a boy" - is the love interest. I went and saw it last night and was captivated by every scene. The attention to detail is extraordinary and each shot so lush and beautiful. Firth deserves every accolade he is currently receiving and the oscar buzz around the film is absolutely warranted.

Images: flickr, fashion spot, miss frou frou, slash film, entertainment weekly, Guardian, Harpers Bazaar

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah

The annual Jewish Festival of Lights, also know as Hanukkah or Chanukah, begins tonight. Being the "goy" that I am, this holiday bears no relevance whatsoever to my life. However, given I live in one of the most highly populated Jewish cities in the world and work for a Jewish company, I thought it was in my best interest to at least know a little bit about it. So here goes:

Around 200 BC, the Jewish people in Jerusalem were living under Egyptian rule but were free to worship as they pleased. In 175 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes took the Syrian throne, invaded Egypt and desecrated Jerusalem.

He outlawed Judaism and forced the Jews to worship Greek gods, banning all Jewish rituals upon threat of death. In 168 BC, he seized the holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the Greek God Zeus. Mattathias, a Jewish priest and his five sons led a revolt against the Syrian army. Lasting three years, they emerged victorious,  recaptured Jerusalem and liberated the holy temple.

Judah Maccabe

According to the Talmud, the high priests ordered the lighting of the menorah, the eternal flame, to re-dedicate the desecrated temple to the glory of God. However, they found the Syrians had defiled the olive oil required to keep the menorah burning. All they found was one small jar - enough to light the menorah for 1 day. Miraculously, the menorah burned on for eight nights, giving the priests enough time to find more oil. An eight day festival was declared by the Jewish priests to commemorate this miracle and today the menorah is a symbol of the indomitable faith of the Jewish people.

The current menorah holds nine candles, with the centre candle used to light the other eight over eight consecutive nights. However, typically it is a seven branched candelabra and has been the symbol of Judaism for over 3000 years and is the emblem of Israel. The Jewish Museum in New York has an amazing collection of menorahs throughout the centuries, ranging from a 16th century Italian lamp to Richard Meir's interpretation in 1935.

Italy, 16th Century

Germany 1706

Ukraine, 1787

Eastern Europe, 19th century

Bauhaus menorah, 1922

Richard Meir, 1935

The world's largest menorah is erected each year on Fifth Avenue opposite the Plaza. It is so large it is lit each night with cherry pickers.

Finally, Hanukkah would not be complete without dreidels or spinning tops. These wooden toys have a hebrew letter on each of the four sides which together form the acronym for "a great miracle happened here". It is thought the dreidel began during the reign of Antiochus, when the Jews gathered together in secret to study the torah. If soldiers arrived, the Jews could pretend to be gambling. Today it's a game played by the kids during the Hanukkah celebration.

I'm not sure I'm ready to give up Santa Claus and my Christmas tree yet,  but I am happy to now understand a little more about the eight-flame candelabra that sits on reception at work.

Images: liverputty,,, nycgov.parks, jewish museum, all things jewish

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hot and Sweaty

I was stopped by a journalist in SoHo the other day and asked what I thought of the Calvin Klein billboard across the street. You can't miss it. It's spans a block on the side of a building overlooking East Houston St. And it's hot. Or pornographic, depending on your point of view.

Apparently SoHo residents are up in arms over Calvin's latest billboard featuring a sweaty Eva Mendes in extremely sexy lingerie tugging at the white boxers of a very "fit" looking male model.  This is not the first time a Calvin Klein ad has caused controversy. Last June the brand had to pull another billboard from the same site featuring a threesome/orgy:

And who can forget the Kate Moss "heroin chic" ads from the early 90's or the provocative Obsession ads?

Then there are the Abercrombie and Fitch billboards/ store cladding which don't seem to cause contraversy, which is weird given they still feature larger than life nude male torsos and a lot of crotch:

I love them all. For me, this "street art" is all part of New York's urban fabric. You walk along a normal street and then you are suddenly hit with a giant ad. This one for Barney's is in my hood:

And this DKNY billboard was iconic in SoHo for nearly 2 decades:

Unfortunately, this has now been replaced by the drab and uncreative Hollister logo, as they are the new tenants of the building:

The Louis Vuitton building on Fifth Avenue has currently turned itself into a giant ad for its new collection of city guides.

So continue the contraversy I say. And keep New Yorkers on their toes.

Images: Flickr