Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Educating Joe

Air travel is really getting on my nerves and all these new rules and regulations just make no sense to me. So, there I was at London Heathrow to catch my flight to Brussels and I had one of those e-tickets so I could avoid the check-in lines and just help myself. I am all for DIY customer service as I tend to get better service just doing it myself. So, after a gruelling 15 minute journey on the Heathrow Express from Paddington, I found myself in front of one of those check-in machines and without being asked my preference, I was issued a boarding pass for seat 15F. I may be old fashioned, but I prefer single digit seating. Do you think they care? No. Then, as though I had nothing better to do during my 3 hour wait for my flight, such as shop for all sorts of duty free goodies, I had to stand in a non-moving line to drop off what a few short weeks ago would have been my carry-on.

That line took 45 minutes, twice as long as the old check-in process where a real human used to offer mediocre service with a forced smile. At least you got to say if you preferred a window, aisle or single digit seating. Standing in line, I did notice a large number of rather plump, lesbian looking lasses, which made me feel suddenly safe. I figured if anything mechanical should happen to the plane, who better than a lesbian to get it sorted. Power tool Barbie who comes with her own beer belly, greasy fingernails and 24-piece socket set. I finally managed to check my cabin approved suitcase and then, as though I were at Disneyland, had to stand in yet another line, this time for security. I don't even know why I bother getting dressed. Take off the belt, shoes, ring and wristwatch, and toss out all grooming products. Asking a gay man to toss out his grooming products is unforgivable. What is a gay man if not properly producted? Productus ergo sum.

And then come the pieces that make no sense… A man is only allowed to take on one piece of carry-on. A woman can take two, provided one of them is her oversized handbag, or worse, infant child. I am sure my luggage is far less annoying on the flight than that 6 month old the mother refuses to check in. And then, as soon as one gets through the security check, there is a full Boot's Pharmacy just on the other side where one can purchase all the things they have just tossed out. I don't understand and am hoping someone can explain all of this nonsense to me. If we can't take toiletries, fine, but don't make me toss them and then allow me to purchase them in the departure lounge.

So the clock ticked and sands went through the hourglass and soon I was on my way to Brussels for the rest of the weekend. Joe picked me up and whisked me into the city where we were almost immediately summoned by Nik to have some pre-dinner cocktails, but Joe and I had to bring the basil and mint. Normally that's not a problem, but it was a bit late and the shops were closed. We knew that to fail could mean no cocktails, so we had to be inventive. Joe used his very best Egyptian at the local Egyptian place and they promptly gave him enough mint for 2 days worth of Mojitos. We went to a few night shops before we found one where we were able to purchase a wilting basil plant. We were now armed and ready to get dangerous. Once again Nik proved his mastery with a blender and we were soon clinking glasses and filling Joe in on our London excursion while passing time before our dinner reservation.

Dinner meant champagne and grappa, followed by Mojitos at Guru. I didn't like that place at all and made sure to be annoying enough as to get my way and soon we were just off Grand Place, having drinks in the street, running into friends from Amsterdam who were also unexpectedly in town for the weekend. This went on until the very wee hours and Joe and I took a taxi back to his place only to realize he had left his keys in the car which we had stowed outside the restaurant. That meant walking and complaining. I am very good at doing both at the same time, just ask anyone. After 3 hours of sleep, I was wide awake and ready for brunch.

We all met at Tea and Eat where we had eggs any style, coffee or tea and assorted fresh juices. I was in brunch heaven. We ate and ate and the hours ticked by so slowly and relaxed and before we knew it, it was time for post brunch cocktails so Joe, Graham, Robert, Kris and I found a terrace in the drizzle and promptly ordered Mojitos Barramundo (topped off with champagne) and made fun of people. I try not to be judgmental, I really do but I was told by Graham that one should always play to one's strengths. Wise words from a wise man.

Unfortunately, there was furniture that needed moving and so we cut the cocktails short and sped off to assist in relocating one rather large sofa. I don’t carry but I expertly laid the blanket down on the ground and made sure the automatic lights stayed on. I left the lifting to Joe and Nik and gave them oohs and aahs of approval. Actually, I made up cheers for encouragement… “One, two, three, four, get the sofa out the door…” I was actually convinced that they would get the sofa lodged in the stairwell, so on the first trip I made sure to go down in advance so as not to be stuck in a house with no tapas or lemon stuffed olives. Soon, the drama of moving that blasted sofa was behind us and we all converged on Nik’s place for Cosmos and Mojitos, gourmet pizza, Absolutely Fabulous and season 2 of Desperate Housewives. None of could believe that Joe had not ever seen one single episode of AbFab - He had never heard the names Edwina Monsoon or Patsy Stone. Who knows what other dark skeletons he has in his closet and I am convinced we have our work cut out for us.

All good things ultimately come to an end and soon it was tearful goodbyes all around with promises to do this all again real soon.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Friends... Who Needs 'Em?

I was in London to see “Wicked.” I had been waiting so long and finally, the day had arrived. I check out of super posh hotel and checked into semi-posh hotel and sent a message to Paul who was meeting me in London to join me for the play that night. Well, not only was it raining outside, it seemed to be raining on Paul’s life and he had to back-out at the last minute, leaving me all alone in a big city where I had no friends. The violins were cued, the piano played steadily and I sulked and sulked. I would have done something productive to take my mind off of the situation, but I was concerned that 9am cocktails might give the wrong impression. I could have opted for some champagne with my eggs, but my inner Betty Ford told me to hold on for a few hours. I usually try to ignore her, but for some reason I caved in. I know, I’m weak. I have no willpower.

I frantically tried to find someone else to join me. I messaged Nik who was still in London for business, but he turned me down cold. That’s what friends are for. Joe, Ulco, Ann, Mark, I tried them all and all I got back was the cold stab of rejection. The excuses were unimaginative… “I’m in Barcelona”, “I’m in Tel Aviv”, “I’m in full body traction.” I saw right their feeble attempts to mislead me but decided I would be the one to act with dignity. There was one thing to do. I would go to the play and have an empty seat beside me. I would turn every now and again, holding an animated conversation with someone only I could see. We would laugh and gossip and I would forget the empty friend shaped hole in my heart.

I ended up selling my ticket for half price to a dodgy looking man in a trench coat and fedora standing just outside the theatre and he, in turn, sold it to this little Australian woman named Christine. She was, in a word, fantastic. We hit it off like a pair of Tiffany diamond earrings. She was almost as sparkly as I and I even gave her my restaurant tip and told her to just skip it all and go directly to the mash. The musical itself was amazing. I had all sorts of expectations and it blew them right out of the water. I have to say, Idina Menzel looks so good green, it isn’t even funny. I have never seen someone carry it off with her level of confidence. I won’t say too much about it, as I don’t wish to give anything away and spoil it – I know, I am feeling a bit charitable today – but I highly recommend it. Well, not to Joachim since he is strictly anti-musical.

After the play, I had a glass of bubbles and then tucked myself into bed as I had to be up early for my morning flight to Brussels… My weekend was just beginning and already it had been too fabulous.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pass The Potatoes

Timing, like proper lighting is everything. I stepped off the airplane and right into the frenzy of London Fashion Week. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by celebrities, designers and supermodels. Not that I actually saw any, mind you, but that isn’t the point. The point is, while I have never been one to name drop, all the names worth dropping were there.

No sooner had I arrived at our luxury hotel, when Nik and I decided that a mad dash to Harvey Nichols was in order. We embraced the idea of fashion week and had soon turned the men's department into a cyclone of designer clothes... Galliano, McQueen and Lacroix. I came very close to buying a black Lacroix sweater if for no other reason than to be able to casually quote the often imitated yet never duplicated Edwina Monsoon. I too wanted to be able to say "it's Lacroix, sweetie" and actually mean it.

Nik is great to go shopping with as he gets soooo excited that his whole speech pattern changes. He suddenly exaggerates and emphasizes one word in the sentence... “Thaaaaats nice” or “Those are faaaaabulous” or even “that sweater is the quiiiiintessential must have item for the season.” I was informed in practically one sentence that cardigans and waist coats are in and that my current state of dress was most decidedly out. He never really came out and said such a thing, but I detected it in the undertones of his educational advice. Of course I tossed his advice out window the moment he bought those ugly beige cashmere gloves. I tried to tell him that gloves are only ever to be in black, midnight blue, dark grey or black. Beige is just soooo, well, it may be fashionable but that doesn´t make it right.

Then it was off to shoes... Prada, MiuMiu and the rest of the gang were all there just begging us to give them homes and a chance at a better life. I was scouting for a pair of casual Gucci winter boots I had seen, but they were nowhere to be found. I wasn´t planning on buying them, I just wanted to give them a bit of a cuddle. Before long the stress of labels, prints and cashmere got to us and we had no choice but to take the elevator to the 5th floor for a relaxing drink at the Fifth Floor Café. The Café had wisely teamed up with Vogue for fashion week to bring us all the "most eagerly awaited spring and summer 07 collections" which were aired minutes after they were presented at the shows themselves.

"Join us," the card read, "in the Café for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or just a leisurely latte, and be one of the privileged few who get to see the new season's trends first." That all sounded well and good, but we skipped the leisurely latte and headed straight to the more necessary and well deserved cocktails. A few glasses of champagne later and we were ready to tackle the grocery section. I hate grocery shopping, but the food department at Harvey Nichs is one of the most amazing places I have ever been and I found myself suddenly driven by a mad desire to buy spices... Chinese 5 spice, chopped lemon grass and even some cracked black pepper. And as if that wasn't enough, I also picked up fig infused balsamic, Singapore sweet hot chilli sauce and, saving the best for last, lemon stuffed olives which will be put to full employment during the next round of lemon martinis. Exhausted but ecstatic, we made a mad dash back to the hotel to change into something a little more black for dinner.

At last, black is the new black so off we went properly attired to the hottest place in all of London, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. We waited outside the hotel for 15 minutes before managing to flag down a taxi only to realize we were right around the corner, but then one should never arrive on foot. Our shoes were made for looking at, not for walking. For some inexplicable reason, we ended up arriving early and were promptly shown the door. The door to the elegantly appointed elevator that is... The very same elevator delivered us to the third floor bar where we were immediately deposited on a blush black sofa. The bar itself was done in a Gone with the Wind brothel circa 1980’s look and feel. You know, the kind of place where you would expect to run into Lola, still in that dress she used to wear, that faded feather in her hair. Thick, lush red velvet curtains, black crocodile skin tables, a golden carved bar dark red walls and the necessary lighting that reduced the obviousness of facial wrinkles while at the same time creating just the right atmosphere for a chat over one of their many original cocktails.

And what cocktails they were… We decided to embark on our epicurean adventure with pomegranate martinis accompanied by champagne granite (pronounced gran-i-tay) and blackberry and basil caipirinhas which in a very Dickensian moment, we raised and clinked to the ghosts of supermodels past and future, taking a moment to briefly reflect on how truly fashionable we truly were. See, L’Atelier is so new and so hip and so incredibly faaaabulous that it is not in any guide or even on the radar screens of the wannabe fashionistas that littler London like the yesterday morning’s coffee grounds. Getting back to that caipirinha, I want it known here officially that it has become my new signature drink. Or at least it should be, but I have no idea where else I will ever be able to find one. Nik says he can make it, I say he better get cracking as there’s a friendship at stake here. Two cocktails later and we were taken to the 2nd floor for dinner. Where the bar was all red velvet and black lacquer, the restaurant was black and white tiled and contained the largest collection of Rosemary plants I have ever seen in my life.

No sooner were we seated than the champagne was thrust upon us and not wanting to be rude or offensive on our first visit, we accepted using that nonchalant tone that says “we are so bored with champagne, but ok” while at the same time saying “bring it on and keep it coming, baby.” The menu was amazing and our first nibble was a tiny glass, at the bottom of which was foie gras crème, followed by a rice-paper thin layer of berry compote, topped off with a cloud of parmesan mousse. I didn’t even know one could mouse parmesan. I do try to learn something every day and suddenly and quite elegantly the mission was accomplished.

Next came one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten and the best part of the meal was the mashed potatoes. They weren’t so much a dish as they were a sexual experience which teased and taunted all the senses. A sort of heroin for the tastebuds for lack of a better analogy. One taste and you will forever be wanting more. They had an enoooormous amount of crème and butter with just a touch of truffle. These ingredients were lovingly whipped into oblivion so that their whole consistency was like thick butter. In other words, a heart attack in a dish and Nik and I almost got into a fist fight for the right to lick the bowl clean.

We spent an hour or so basking in the afterglow of our shared potato experience, ranting and raving about them over Cointreau and Sambucca, feeling the waves of pleasure washing over our bodies. Totally spent, we left the hotel and hobbled back to our hotel where we decided to jump into a life of crime. We were like a gay Bonnie and Clyde, only better dressed and without any weapons. But I will say that we were the victims in all of this, and I am sure after catching up on all the details, you will agree with me.

See, we became obsessed with the “do not disturb” door hangers at the hotel. What made them so special? Well, instead of the usual boring text, these read “getting ready for a fashion show, please come back later.” So our dilemma and alternative lifestyle began when we realized that we not only had just one of them between the two of us and there was no way we could share, but to make matter worse, there was a bend at one corner. It was blemished and this being fashion week and all, there is simply no room for anything less than perfection. So, we did what anyone in our designer shoes would do, we started at the top floor and worked our way down to our floor, taking each and every one of the signs we could find hanging on the doors. The hotel is built around a courtyard, which facilitated our daring activity. Of course, we were always moments from possible detection and had to be extremely careful not to be seen by some unsuspecting guest or staff coming around the corner, but also we had to make sure we didn’t make any noise at the door. It was a hair-raising ordeal and suddenly I felt alive like I hadn’t for days. All in all, we managed to collect 24, which considering the size of the hotel, wasn’t very many, and we figured that 24 upset people wasn’t really a lot of extra work for reception.

After the excitement of the evening and the late hour (it was now about 2:30) we exfoliated our faces of all guilt and debris of crimes past and settled in for a short sleep before starting our Friday. Nik was leaving early for work while I was planning on acting out my own version of Pretty Woman, taking a bubble bath followed by a healthy dose of high street shopping. I was not about to pass on an opportunity to possibly run into Kate, Elle, Giselle or Naomi and I can imagine they were in bed thinking the same of me. Who am I do deprive my potential public?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Just Another Day

My four favorite words in the English language? “Previously on Desperate Housewives…” That means 40 minutes of pure indulgence have just begun, affording me the opportunity to swim in a pool of decadence, debauchery and dysfunctionality, yet all the while maintaining a Bree like code of picture-perfect morality while wearing enough designer labels to make Gabrielle Solis blush. I spent the evening yesterday toasting the diva’s with a nice glass of wine and stuffing my face full of Carpaccio pizza from Mano Mano in Brussels. I was there for the evening to hang out with Joe, who graciously and perhaps out of a deep feeling of guilt, decided not to toss the details of Barcelona in my face or show off his new and improved tan line. Oh, the occasional indulgent detail did pop out every now and again and I would let out a weary sigh while a little tear would well up in my eye giving me that puppy expression that has been known to break hearts around the globe and then I would hang my head as though in shame and adopt the posture of the weary and downtrodden.

But I am not bitter, no sir… I feel perky, upbeat and full of new reason to live. I am off to London tomorrow for an evening of drinking and dining with Nik. Hmmm… It just occurred to me that he is perhaps the most mentioned person in my blog. In case you have noticed this too, let me assure you and put your troubled minds immediately to rest by stating emphatically that there is nothing Freudian about it, I just feel he needs a lot of publicity and I am trying to get into heaven by doing a bunch of good deeds. My good deed for tomorrow? Letting Nik take me out to dinner to apologize for his recent transgressions which are still too painful to elucidate on at this moment in time. I know, it is quite selfless of me, but I pride myself on my spontaneous acts of random and senseless kindness. On Friday, Paul and I have tickets to see ‘Wicked’, a musical that I have wanted to see for 2 ½ years. Finally the London engagement has begun and I have been listening to the soundtrack so I can sing along to all my favorites. I sincerely believe that the cast will be overjoyed to have a real fan like me n the audience?

And how could I mention Paul without bringing up his stage performance last Monday evening? It was a kabuki-esque interpretation of ‘Basic Instinct’. Let me begin by saying I did not agree wit the foul language or the sexual innuendo. I thought they were irrelevant to the story in general which is about a young, virginal woman and her fondness for ice picks and bondage. They could merely have taken turns tying each other up but instead they went for the gratuitous crotch shot that Miss Stone herself had been horribly tricked into. Seriously, I thought it was amazing and it was also very exciting to see such a great and wonderful friend on stage for the first and I hope not for the last time.

And going back to my earlier topic of musicals, I have been having a few ‘My Fair Lady’ moments recently. My friend Joe lives in Brussels on a quaint little street. Not just any street, but the very one where on May 4, 1929, a little girl named Audrey was born. I had often walked down that street before, but the pavement never sang beneath my feet before and in one moment I was several stories high, just to be on the street where she lived.

There was one point this morning where I imagined I had been on the street here she lived for the very last time. In a mad dash to the train station, Joe almost got in a fight with a truck driver whose vehicle was rudely blocking the tiny street, after which he almost ran over 2 dogs that an unsuspecting old man was walking, only to seconds later slam on the brakes as the Mercedes came barreling down on us causing my very short yet action-packed life to flash before my very eyes in muted and rather bland tones of beige which I did not find at all amusing or impressive. Finally, after 5 hair-raising minutes I was deposited at the central station and violently shoved onto my train where I settled in for the long journey to Amsterdam, ready for another day at the office.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Meaning of Life

Madonna made it through the wilderness. Barry made it through the rain. I barely made it through my weekend. When I realized I wasn't going to Barcelona, I suddenly found myself looking for the meaning of life, searching for a reason to continue on until Monday. I aimlessly wandered the windy little streets of Amsterdam. I looked in the canals. I looked in the windows decorated with red lights. I looked in the sex shops, coffee shops and Gucci but all to no avail. I was just about to give up hope, throw in the towel and resign myself to bed with a bottle of bad tequila when I stumbled into the American bookstore and there she was. That hair. Those eyes. That hair. I knew at once it had to be her. And it was. Suri Cruise was looking at me, well staring really from the cover of the new Vanity Fair. I gasped. I blinked. Could this be true or was it just my imagination running away with me? I was totally high off of caffeine and sugar thanks to my extended brunch with Paul, so anything was possible. Trembling, I reached out my hand in disbelief, picked up that magazine and desperately searched through the pages looking for her.

I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. I would have thought that after all that hype, all the speculation and CNN news coverage that she would have at least have had the decency to be purple or have an extra arm. But no, she looked like a normal little baby albeit one with more hair than I have. But still, the tears welled up in my eyes and dropped quietly to the floor. I had hope again. I would make it through.

Only a few days of work this week and then on Thursday it is off to London where Nik is going to make up for his Barcelona blunder by treating me to dinner at Asia de Cuba and, I assume appeal to the material side of my personality with some sort of expensive gift so I will be his friend again. Nik, are you reading this? Think Tiffany. There is one on Bond Street, I suggest you pay it a visit before our dinner or I may just have to cause some drama! In fact, I am drafting up a script right now, complete with make-up and lighting cues just in case the need arises.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hedgehogs (Part 2)

And just when I thought I had seen or heard it all, I came across a story so odd and amazing that the responsible journalist in me just had to cash in with his own commentary. I am sure you all recall my near Pulitzer Prize-winning article with the unassuming yet all-encompassing title "Hedgehogs." I honestly thought the drama was over for those loveable little guys, yet I am once again be forced to take up their plight and use my media following to raise awareness for those otherwise speechless little critters.

The setting:

Our cast of characters:
Mr. Zoran Nikolovic, aged 35
A local with doctor whose credentials I have not been able to verify
1 cute, cuddly and I dare to say unsuspecting hedgehog.

It is a tale so sordid, that you might find yourself covering your eyes as you read...

Unidentified sources have confirmed that Mr. Nikolovic of Belgrade was suffering from that annoying little problem of premature ejaculation that, well using my wild imagination, I can imagine is somewhat inconvenient. Zoran (and I have taken the liberty here to use his first name just to make the whole incident a little less formal) had decided to wisely eschew traditional treatment and instead seek out the ever popular neighborhood witch doctor.

The witch doctor, being wise beyons years told Zoran that his problem was easily solved. He needed to do nothing more than have full penetrative sex with the little hedgehog. I can imagine the look of glee on Zoran's face as he left, believing that all his ejaculatory issues were soon to be a thing of the past, something for the old history books. Aaah, how right he was.

So, there he was, armed and dangerous, pants around the ankles, hedgehog in hand. It seems the hedgehog was a bit of a prude because he promptly, in an obvious display of anger toward McDonalds and their hedgehog eating products, proceeded to make a McFlurry of Mr. Happy who was suddenly anything but. After the usual and necessary surgical procedures following such alternative medical treatments, the doctors of the non-with variety were delighted to declare "We have managed to repair the damage to his penis."

I guess this is why they have that old Serbian saying: "never look a gift hedgehog in the privates."

I Dreamed a Dream...

You may want to put on some Carpenters music, grab a box of soft, nose-friendly tissues, your favorite teddy bear and a box of chocolates from Fabrice Collignon which you can use as comfort food before you venture any further into my heartwrenching yet painfully true memoires. Yes indeed, fate has once again turned her lipstick-less frown my direction and suddenly I find myself identifying with John Travolta in "Grease" as he so convincingly sang "Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool, what will they say, Monday at school?" I can already feel your tears of compassion welling up in those cute little peepers, but that is just the beginning of the tragic saga which is still unfolding...

It's finally time for the weekend and while I should be celebrating, I find myself falling down a bottomless pit of despair. I am all on my own, not unlike Eponine in the second act of Les Miserables, only without a full orchestra to back me up. My only hope is that I don't accidently pull a Fantine and die of consumption or boredom before the weekend has passed bringing with it the promise of a new day. Marco is crunched up in economy class travelling to Canada where, I presume, he will go moose hunting, coming back with a brand new pair of antlers he will turn then into a coat rack which the neighbors will be talking about for weeks.

Joe and Nik are sipping drinks at 36,000 feet en route to Barcelona where they will lounge on the beach, shop, go to parties and basically embrace the joie de vivre that seems to have evaporated from my own little life. I am here in Amsterdam with nothing to do but laundry... There aint nothing going on but the rent and I find myelf contemplating cleaning my refrigerato just for something to do. I too was supposed to go to Boston's sister city. Now, you may have already picked up on the fact that I am not one to easily take ownership of any of my own woes, preferring instead to point the finger of judgement and blame at some unsuspecting yet well deserving culprit, and fo now, all fingers point to Nik. See, I was initially invited to go to Barcelona and partake in the frivolities that are sure to run rampant all along the coast over a month ago. I was initially hesitant, but after getting over my many misguided and unfounded misgivings, I threw caution to the wind and said "OK."

Immediately I heard Agnetha asking me "can you hear the drums" and although she kept calling me Fernando, I took it as my very own weekend theme song. After so many long and empty years on the sidelines, I was elated to be included in such a jet-set and glamorous team adventure. It is with great pain that I divulge the following: I was always the last one chosen for any team sport except dodgeball, and that was only because my evil classmates wanted to slam me with the ball leaving one of those painful rug-burn like marks on my fragile yet enviously acne-free skin. Nik's invitation made me feel like I was finally the first runner up, instead of the lonesome loser in a beauty pageant. Few brief moments in time, the tiny hand-dipped candle of hope flickered it's little candle-like light into my grey and dull existance bathing me in shades of van Gogh. I was tempted to cut off one ear, but being a fan of semetry, I voted against it.

Sorry, I strayed for a minute... Please forgive me my senseless, disappointment-fueled ramblings. I am sure you now how trauma tends to make us all a bit more susceptable to overwhelming surges of grief and introspection. Or perhaps you don't, and if not, you are lucky, but anyway, that is neither here nor there, not unlike where I find myself at the moment. I am just on one emotional trauma chopper ride, strapped into my seat, not knowing when and where it will all end.

Where was I? Oh yes, I had my big, handle-with-care, this-side-up heart set on going to Barcelona. Well, try as I might, and I did give it a lot of effort, I was unable to find a room for the whole weekend. Every place worth sleeping in, and even those that were not, was sold out for Saturday night. I even took a biblical cue and phoned a stable, but was told there was no room. I quickly and responsibly relayed this information to Nik who told me quite confidently, if not a touch arrogantly not to worry because he would sort something out. I also told him I would wait on him before arranging my ticket because I did not want to find myself sleeping in Parc Guell with an old edition of 'El Pais' as a blanket, my delicate blond capped head resting on cold Gaudi tiles. Again and again I pleaded for Nik's intervention and every time I was told "I'll do that tonight and get back to everyone." Week after week I heard this and week after week I stressed my stress regarding accomodation. I lost sleep. I lost weight. I almost lost my very soul, which I was just about to sell to some shady character in a white hat in exchange for a room with a view.

Quite suddenly and at the very last minute an apartment large enough to sleep us all was found and reservations were made. For me it was too late. The window of opportunity had slammed shut and I learned it was made of bullet-proof glass. I could not get a decent flight. In an ironic parallel to my Broadway career, my weekend was over before it began. I should have seen it coming. I should have expected it and yet I was knocked senseless by the red dodgeball of reality. Game over. And to make matters worse, I am sure Joe and Nik will come back with all sorts of juicy, tantalising, blog worthy tidbits from the Spanish coast which they will endlessly and continuously dangle before me like candy in front of a baby, rubbing salt in an already painful and festering wound. Is it too late to have my feelings amputated?

Perhaps some emotional liposuction is in order.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Star Light, Star Bright

It has recently come to my attention that the latest gift giving craze is to give someone their own star. I guess if you can’t be one, you can always buy one. Is there nothing sacred anymore? It seems cute and quaint and like quite a novel idea. Imagine your own little star looking down on you, giving you the occasional twinkle, twinkle winks from the heavens. Not only that, but you can direct all those absurd little wishes you actually think may come true to your very own star.

You don’t need to be an Idols finalist or a Jerry Springer guest for fame. You too can be immortalized for the price of a large pizza with a side of chicken wings and a big bottle of Diet Coke. I at first thought it would be sweet, touching even and I was beginning to get sentimental twangs when I thought of having my own star hanging out up there with other stars with names like X645-4-HJ. It really is the stuff that Jiminy Cricket dreams are made of. Or is it?

As I pondered having my own piece of space I realized that there are so many unanswered questions. If I have a dog and that dog runs out and bites someone, I am responsible. If I incorrectly park my car on a hill in San Francisco and it rolls and hits another car, I am responsible. What if my star accidentally bumps into the Space Shuttle? Am I required to pay for the body work and a new paint job? And does having my own piece of the universe bring with it any rights and privileges? Can I make my own rules? Design my own passport? Print my own money? Become my own star’s next top model? And if my star should plummet to the earth taking out a small yet insignificant town or village currently acting as the backdrop for a reality show, does that make me a terrorist?

So before you go out and buy that star for a loved one or for yourself, you may want to pause for a moment and consider whether you are not simply opening Pandora’s Box.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Peas on Earth

The more I learn about people, the more I become aware of just how many wierdos are running around there without any sort of supervision or permits. Where do people come up with these wierd phobias and quirks? I can imagine being scared of spiders (I happen to be, actually) snakes (nope) bumps in the night and the boogey man. But what about people that get freaked out because one food on their plate is interacting with a different food on the same plate? That, of course is not to be confused with my own obsessive compulsive disorder when younger of having to eat each type of food until it was gone and then move around my plate in a clockwise direction until all food had been systematically consumed. Or my need to eat corn on the cob in neat rows, making sure not to mar or otherwise damage the kernals either above or below my current chewing path until it was their proper turn.

Those are merely the folly of youth, the play of kids to annoy their parents. What I am talking about are the people that get freaked out that their peas are touching the mashed potatos. Of course let me state it here I for one don't believe a pea should ever be on a plate to begin with. In fact, I am not even sure I believe in peas, but that is not what I am here to talk about. This was brought to my attention in Brussels. When we got to la Cantina last Saturday night and settled into our chairs for a Brazilian feast, Karim turned a whiter shade of pale when he saw that the tables had been set with the knives resting between two tines of the forks. At first I thought he was joking, but no. It is not the fact that the knife and fork were touching each other, it was the way they were touching. As if there was some sort of cutlery porn we were all very unaware of. Just the sight of it sent shivers down his spine. I did go out of my way a few times to put my knife between the tines of my fork just for entertainment purposes. It was a huge success.

And then there is Marco's brother. He gets freaked out by kleenex. Kleenex. He can use a paper towel to blow the old nose, but a kleenex has him running for the hills screaming for mercy. Imagine the fun his parents used to have. My parents would threaten us with grounding, bodily harm and the big one - no television. All his parents had to do was threaten to throw a tissue at him. Of course, If I had been his brother, I would have kleenexed his bed every night just to watch him wake up screaming. Nik, being the loveable cocktail mixing, Martha Stewart reading whack-job that he is can't take someone touching his fingers under the fingernails, which is an open invitation for Marco to try and do that as much as possible.

Where do you people come up with these things?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Robb's Big Adventure

Find yourself a glass, smash some limes and mint together, add some rum, a bit of Sprite and top off with a splash champagne, kick off the shoes and relax. I have a feeling this is going to be one long story which all got kicked off in Paris. I was there to attend the party celebrating my friend Laura's 30th birthday...

I first met Laura at a work event in Madrid in April and immediately thought "this chick is cool." We kept in good contact and in June we saw each other again in Paris for work which ultimately culminated in having post work cocktails during which Laura spoke the line that for me will forever be etched in my memory... We were talking about life, love, work and all the things people discuss over drinks when she started talking about wanting to start her own business. I told her that was great and that it wasn't about money, it was about freedom and doing something you truly enjoy. She gazed at me through her crystallized Versace sunglasses and said these exact words to me: "Look at me Robb, I love money". I have often tried to use that line and make it my very own, and while Laura was merely stating fact, I can never carry it off without sounding like a pretentious prick.

So back to current day Paris... I fell in love the moment I stepped into Laura and Sebastian’s flat. They have a little puppy named Shouby and he stole my heart immediately, showering me with little puppy kisses and then sleeping on my lap, completely ignoring the calls of his owners. This seems to be a trend and I feel like I am becoming something of a dog whisperer. But our love was doomed from the start as little Shouby is moving to Mexico City and taking Laura and Sebastian with him, leaving me here all alone to find yet another little puppy to fill the Shouby shaped hole that will be left in my heart.

In addition to falling in love, I was also there to help set up and no sooner had I stepped of the metro at Pont de Neuilly than I was navigating the aisles of the Monoprix supermarket looking for scrumptious little things to nibble on. That place was amazing. In the Netherlands it is hard enough to find a decent mustard and in France, the shelves were crammed full of all sorts of exotic jams, foie gras, Nesquik, Fauchon chocolates, and it just went on and one. I was in heaven! Laura's superb attention to detail meant that everything was just perfect. The table in the main room was piled high with food and all the major dietary groups were represented; Sushi, blinis, foie gras and champagne. Every new guest meant another bouquet of flowers, each larger and more lavish than the last and soon all the vases were full and there was nowhere left to put them except the bidet. Aah, the ingenuity of the French. The party went on and on and occasionally a break was taken from the bubbles to join in group activities like shots of white tequila. I was happy to learn I could still suck a lime like a pro.

As the evening went on and the alcohol loosened people up, the inevitable relationship discussion come up. You know what I mean. There's always the one person (and you know who you are darling, but you looked fabulous showing just the right amount of cleavage and that's really all that counts) who asks your advice, tells you they totally agree with you, but just aren’t ready to take it at this time due to some reasonable sounding excuse (I don’t want to hurt him, the sex is too good, I’ll do that after the holidays) and then spend 2 hours justifying something that you really didn't care about in the first place which has nothing to do with your own life, forcing you to just nod and say “uh-huh” while all you can really think is get me another drink. Sorry, keep the line moving.

I was also staying with Laura and Sebastian and that meant I was at the party for the long haul, which is often times a horrific prospect. The laggards that never know when to leave, the people that have had one too many and are now fighting for bathroom space and then the occasional sordid display of unrequited lust. But I had such a good time at the party which did not have any of those last events that I could have kept going and going and reluctantly, like a three year old that keeps claiming they aren't tired, I was tucked into bed with my blankey, betrayed and deserted by Shouby who went to sleep with those that feed and walk him.

Normally I don't sleep in very late so imagine my surprise when I awoke and saw that it was after 1pm and I had a train to Brussels just before 4, with a ton of grocery shopping to do. Well, let me clarify that just a bit before anyone should get the wrong idea about me. I am not a fan of grocery shopping and not sure why it was invented in the first place. Someone had obviously had a very boring day when they invented that concept. I mean if God had wanted us to go grocery shopping, we would have all been born with pushcarts. The reason for the treason? I needed to make sure I was stocked up on the white chocolate covered Oreos which I didn't even know existed until about 24 hours before. I did a quick dash, gathering all kinds of jams and chocolates from Fauchon as well as enough Oreos to help me through a few DVDs from the second season of Desperate Housewives. Stocked up on all sorts of tasty treats, I made a mad dash to Gare du Nord, jumped on my train and settled in for the short journey to Brussels. Little did I know, my weekend was just getting started.

Another country, another set of fantastic adventures. The plan was to stay in Brussels for Saturday night, have some dinner with Nik and Marco, maybe a small brunch the next day and then get my little self and Marco on a train back home... The best laid plans of mice and men most often go awry, and these went awry in the best way. I had barely crossed the threshold to Nik's flat when he announced it was cocktail hour... A few limes, mint, cranberry, Bacardi Razz, a bit of soda and a splash of champagne later and we were on our way to weekend merriment. After having a few more invented cocktails, including one with mango and eating an entire tin of Mr. Wasabi nuts, it was time to go out and leave the mixing to the professionals.

Fast-forward to Fontaines and there we were, sitting in the window drinking the Fontaines cocktail, without having any clue what was in it except for the fact it contained a double shot of yum. We were soon joined by Karim and Alba and the party was just getting started. As man cannot unfortunately live on cocktails alone, it was soon time for dinner and we made our way to La Cantina, a fantasic Brazilian restaurants and immediately changed our drink order to Mojitos. La Cantina was a tastefully decorated place whose walls had been sponged into oblivion and upon which hung a gigantic paper maiche sun covered in glitter which overlooked our table and smiled across the retaurant to the paper maiche seahorse that was dangling from a hook in the ceiling. It was very Finding Nemo meets the high-school art project, but somehow it all seemed to work. Our waiter Caracas (not his real name, but he was from Venezuela and not knowing what else to call him and finding "hey you" to be a bit rude I dubbed him Caracas) was very funny. Why is it that when people go to a restaurant and they order, someone invariably asks the waiter "is that any good?" I mean what are they supposed to say? "You got some lousy ass taste in food, man?" So Nik, being who he is, was our designated stupid question person of the evening. I just ground my teeth, ordered and hoped for the best.

Feijoada was described a national dish... sausages, sauce, rice, etc. What came out of the kitchen was the Brazilian equivalent of beans and franks. This was the first time I was going to be staying with this particular friend, and I had ordered a pan full of black beans and sausages. I was not amused by the thought of flatulating all about the city, but had no choice other than to eat up.

After dinner it was off to the jazz bar L’Archiduc for Cosmos. The place was amazing… Very tiny and dominated by the covered grand piano inconveniently placed right smack in the center of the club. It reminded me a bit of an old bar in Balboa California named Bubbles. Nik, of course was doing his very best Julie McCoy impersonation making sure we were constantly on schedule and each new location brought new and exciting characters to our little group. At this stop we picked up Joe and Andreas and then headed immediately to la Belgica for Submarines where Alba decided to leave us stating that a street full of men looking for men wasn’t really the best use of her Dolce and Gabanna like looks.

Submarines are beer with a shot of Jenever in them... They are actually less tasty than they sound. No sooner had we put plastic cup to lip when we were approached by a Texan and a Canadian whose names we chose not to get. Texas was supposedly a casting assistant for reality TV shows which won her all sorts of respect and Canada just stood around looking stupid. Texas went on and on telling us how much she didn’t like Bush and we just kept look at her, begging her to leave with our eyes. Obviously I need to work on that look to make it more effective.

After a quick stop by Chez Mama where we left Joe to his own devices, Nik dragged us to Kafka for one last drink with some friends of his. Kafka is a dodgy bar in the middle of Brussels whose interior has been painted in a really horrible shade of beige, made worse by the layers of cigar and cigarette smoke that have been consistently applied over the years. In the men’s room there is a poster for the band ‘The Pine Box Boys’ which apparently play ‘uncut southern horrorbilly and American murder ballads.’ Fun stuff! Thi was the kind of place where a man could fall asleep on the toilet with his pants around his ankles and stay there for hours. We know this because there was a man doing just that.

You all know I am not one to name drop, but this is when and where we met Sinéad O’Connor. Not the bald one that you are thinking of, but a voluptuous one with long hair that moved which sat atop a very pretty face upon which a mouth was attached that never stopped moving. We heard all about her past, her childhood, her drugs, her sexual escapades and all the other assorted details of her life, yet asked how she got engaged, we were informed she found that too personal to share. Go figure. I once asked her if she came with an ‘off’ switch and she stared at me icily without saying a word. It was chilly, but it worked for a few minutes. At precisely 3:30 am we were kicked out of the bar Belgian style. Turn up all the lights and put on execution-march music. A fitting end to the hour and a half Marco and I had just spent wishing to die.

In spite of being in bed very late, I was wide awake and ready to go at 8am. I decided to snoop a bit around Nik’s place and it was then that I found his dark skeleton. He had a full stack of ‘Marta Stewart Living’ magazines. I did a double take thinking this couldn’t be true, but as Nik started to make brunch of us, I realised he had been giving them a thorough reading. From brunch, it was onto the more important issues of the day… Cocktails… Marco, Nik, Joe and I wandered the streets of Brussels in search of the perfect Mojito which we finally found and after a bit more wandering discovered the missing piece from all of our lives… Raspberry Margaritas at L’ultime Atome Brasserie. They were amazing. Better than the milkshake which brings all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they’re better than yours.

Looking forward to doing it all again very soon!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back from wherever it has been hanging out, but I am putting it into a small suitcase and taking it to Paris today. Or as most Americans call it, Paris, France... That of course is to eliminate any thoughts that it might be Paris, Texas or Paris, Illinois or Paris, Kentucky or Paris Hilton, etc... Yes indeed, if I have my way, sexy is not only back, it is on tour and I am going along for the ride!

For the record, I am going to the one with the tower, the museum, the arch and the foie gras. Going to Paris is always one of my favorite journeys yet it also instills a panic as I decide what to wear. In Amsterdam, any old thing will do, but when going to Paris I know I am going to be smashed on the slide and placed under the fashion microscope. Things get chosen and then discarded, chosen again, mixed, matched, discarded, reconsidered and then carefully placed in the small but practical Samsonite(and all this for one night). That reminds me of a little song I used to sing along to in the 70s... Do a little dance, make a little love, buy Samsonite.

My own prep is equally nerve-racking. There's the DIY microdermabrasion treatment (A little lactic acid never hurt anyone), full body exfoliation and moisture masking as I don't want to be accidentally littering my DNA all over Rue des Archives and then there is the emergency whitening to make sure the boys are at their pearly best, but I must admit it is about time to send them back under the laser.

And all of this on almost no sleep as the thoughtful crews working on the tramlines have decided it is OK to jackhammer and use other heavy machinery all through the night. Planning is everything. Combine that that I had a nervous dog spending the night who also could not sleep and passed the time placed mass quantities of her hair all over my flat and you can imagine the mental and emotional state I am in at the moment. But soon, I will be speeding toward Paris where I will spend the evening at a birthday party for my friend Laura sponging up all sorts of juicy stories and private details to share with all of you...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Who knew that a McFlurry could be deadly and who knew that there was such a thing as the British Hedgehog Preservation Society? I most certainly did not, but thanks to McDonalds, CNN and the near extinction of those furry yet often misunderstood creatures, I am now have a new charitable cause on my radar screen. I seems that that hedgehog, while being lactose intolerant (yes, I did do a bit of research for this piece of responsible journalism) has a weak spot for McFlurries. It also seems that McFlurries have a weak spot for hedgehogs as well. Sort of a dog-eat-dog situation.

McDonalds irresponsibly and I do believe quite deliberately made the opening for the McFlurry large enough for the little guys and gals to get their tiny heads into, unaware that it was a one way door leaving them unable to exit resulting in a number of furry bottomed McFlurry cups blindly wandering the streets and aimlessly bumping into walls to the excitement of children of all ages who immediately said "I want one of those". Little did they know that the poor creatures were doomed to die. I firmly believe, and I have for some time now, that is the fault of the hedgehog and not the ill planned design of the cup. It would appear that the little rodent regularly commits one of the 7 deadly sins... Gluttony. I say let them that's gluttonous put their heads in a cup and let the gods decide.

Of course, McDonalds not wanting to be known all over the world as the grim reaper of small rodents has conducted "significant research and design testing" and new hedgehog-safe packaging has been developed. We can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that when that cup is tossed out the window, dropped on the street or littered in any number of ways, the hedgehog will be safe and sound, here to see another tomorrow.

Until they get hit by a lawnmower.


I get complaint emails when I write anything serious on my blog but I just need to vent a bit here...

One thing that really gets on my nerves is when things get blown out of proportion by the media and the public feeds right into it. Case in point: the death of Steve Irwin, aka the Crocodile Hunter. I feel for his wife and having lost a parent, I feel for his children, and I find it all just a touch overdone. Everyday, people that have selflessly devoted their lives to helping others die without so much as leaving a blip on the radar screens of the press. Everyday, innocent people are killed because a president lied, a government altered facts and sent troops to invade a country to find those non-existent WMD. Approximately every 3 seconds a faceless and nameless child dies of hunger. Is even the tiniest bit of perspective when it comes to prioritising what matters too much to ask for? Why does the fact that we know someone's name make it so much more tragic when they die? It just drives me crazy.


My tip of the day? Don't wear new and untested underwear when you will be standing for hours and hours. That is the life lesson I learned on Sunday. What a day Sunday was. Adam and I got to the stadium at about 2 and took our place in the already long line and settle in for the long wait for the stadium to open. I have to say, and I have already discussed this at length with Adam, that I was quite let down by his lack of preparation. The Adam I know and love (with a little 'l') would have had a picnic basket full of all sorts of yummy goodies all done in a Madonna theme such as 'express yourself macaroni and cheese', 'Justify my deviled eggs' and 'Hung-up on coleslaw', which would have been thoughtfully served on a nice Laura Ashley blanket in a subtle print so we could pass the time in comfort and enviable luxury. No such luck. We ended up stuffing ourselves full of luke-warm hot dogs from the vendors while waiting for the rest of our group to arrive.

The Wizard once referred to the Tin Man as "a clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk" (if you don't know what caliginous means, look it up. Wow your friends and impress your colleagues by making it your very own word of the day, casually yet correctly dropping it discreetly into otherwise caliginous compound sentences such as this one) and that basically sums up the line that we were in and nobody lived up to that description more than Judith. Judith was just one illegitimate child and a pole dance away from having her own chair on the Jerry Springer podium. She was like a stripe and star covered purple planet with badly bleached hair in need of a good shampoo, way too much purple eyeshadow, upper lip piercing and the obligatory ugly breast tattoo. Yes, there she was, all wrapped up in a too-small fake rabbit jacket that was in desperate need of retirement. Of course Judith thought she was the epitome of cool and made sure she was loud enough for everyone to see and hear her. Of course I knew I wanted to write about her and so Adam and I kept looking at her to make jokes, but we are pretty sure she thought we were looking at her because we were envious... At one point she and the rest of her trailer-park entourage broke out into a badly sung medley of Madonna classics which almost had our hot dogs coming back to the surface.

After 4 hours of Judith, her posse and the guy next to us who kept humming "Like a Virgin" and dancing while bumping into Adam, the gates opened and in we all ran to secure our place as close to the stage as possible. We did very well and ended up about 10 meters away from the end, close enough to see the fly away strands on Maddy's hair and the sweat fly off the dancers. It was a far cry from my usual seat that lets me lean against the back wall all the way in the highest row, far enough away that even binoculars are useless. For once, it was nice to see people behind me and know that those sitting in my usual seat were wishing they were me. The show was great, however the performance of "Like a Virgin" on the merry-go-round styled motorcycle seat didn't quite live up to when she performed the same song while refusing to compromise her artistic integrity, choosing to simulate masturbation and orgasm on a red velvet bed. Those were the days.

I have often heard it said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and I paid for Sunday's festivities all day Monday with something resembling a stomach flu which was so bad, I was forced to do the unthinkable. I sold my ticket for the Monday night show. And not even for a profit.

But the day did have a bright spot... Tom Cruise gave Brooke Shields a heart-felt apology that has mended their friendship. It makes me so happy, I want to jump up and down on Oprah's sofa.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Someone recently asked me if I was real, and after lots of self examination, introspection and soul searching, the only answer I could honestly give was “I’m not sure.” But then I thought perhaps, just perhaps, blogus ergo sum. I know, I am also amazed at how comfortable I am using Latin phraseology. But don’t be confused by the blog that I’ve got, I’m still Robb from the block.

Anaїs Nin once said “things are not as they are, but as we are.” Does that mean then that things are not as others are, but as I am therefore making it ultimately all about me? Definitely a point for me to ponder on this gloomy Sunday. Things were definitely all about me last night. Friends in from Milan, raspberry mojitos, oysters drowning in lemon, white tequila and loads of Tabasco… All the stuff that makes life worth living. And in a semi-alcohol induced moment of invincibility, I agreed to go with a friend to get a touch up on that Brazilian wax but woke up this morning and saw the error of my ways, especially given the fact I am going to be standing for hours and hours and don’t want to chafe. Especially not while wearing my brand new pair of Madonna underwear. One of my best friends in Italy shot her underwear campaign and when he came to visit a few weeks ago brought me a pair of underwear and a speedo. Until now, I had not found the right occasion to wear either, but decided to break out the pink silk briefs for the concert. It will be a sort of homecoming for them. A full circle moment in the life of men’s undergarments. Not unlike Calvin Klein wearing his own underwear. Does he? Another important point to ponder. What if Calvin actually prefers Ralph Lauren? No wonder I am having trouble sleeping these days…

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's a Miracle

Just when I had given up hope I see that God does indeed answer prayers. He does, and I should know. For years I have been asking for only 2 things... I have burned incense at temples in China, lit candles at the Duomo in Milan, bowed toward Mecca, worn rosaries and given money to charity and now at last all my hard earned efforts are paying off... My wildest dreams are about to come true... Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place are going to be released on DVD in November. Brandon, Brenda, Dylan, Kelly, Donna, David, Jake, Sydney, Alison, Billy, Matt, Kyle, Amanda and Dr. Kimberly Shaw... The people I would dream were my friends and the people I so desperately aspire to be will soon be living with me.

Who can forget how Donna so insistantly clung to her virginity despite many pressures from her also virginal boyfriend David? And the love triangles.. Did Dylan really love Brenda or did he prefer Kelly? I am still trying to sort that one out... And then there was the time when Jane killed Richard but she didn't do it good enough and so she had to kill him again and who can forget when Kimberly, that's Dr. Shaw to you, who we all presumed dead after the horrible car accident thanks to Michael drinking and driving, reappearing before a shocked Michael who immediately took her to dinner at some upscale restaurant where she ended up pulling off her hair in the ladies room to reveal the ugly scar which we all knew meant nothing but trouble for Michael and the rest of the Melrose Place gang...

Lies, adultery, murder, blackmail, prostitution and drugs... All of my favorite subjects and the very things that make life worth living...

And as if the DVD release of Melrose Place isn’t reason enough to celebrate, I have what I am sure is even bigger news… I have decided to continue in that current Hollywood trend of reviving Aaron Spelling shows for the big screen but I am going to take mine just one baby-step further… I intend to do for prime-time soaps what Oprah did for Miss Celie. I have decided that I am going to write, produce, direct and star in “Melrose Place the Musical.” I feel I owe it to my theatre going public. You have all been kept from my overwhelming talents for far too long. I am going to pull a Norma Desmond and step back into the spotlight that has been so lonely without me.

I am sure that with such musical numbers as “Richard is dead… no he’s not, let’s kill him again”, “I’m gay but can’t get no satisfaction”, “Who you calling an alcoholic?”, “A scar doesn’t make me psycho”, “50 ways to poison your wife” and of course the ones that are sure to become classics on all the Best of Broadway collections, “Whatever!” and “Let’s fake our own deaths” I will be the new toast of theatre world... And they thought Cats was now and forever...

Well, that's enough excitement for one day I think... Until next time...