Archive for April, 2006

How much cooler would “Far Out” be

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(At the Hyde Park Corner station)

Pret-a-Portea for Two

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Yesterday, after a long and unsatisfying day in London, I took my honey out for tea at The Berkeley. As previously mentioned, the plan was part of my continuing drive to experience the fabulous life of London as described by American television. While The Berkeley offers a traditional afternoon tea service (scones, finger sandwiches, etc), we booked specifically to enjoy their Pret-a-Portea.

A few weeks ago, we’d enjoyed a more tradtional afternoon tea at The Savoy. Service was king there – I think every employee checked on us at one time or another. The Berkeley was a bit more, shall we say, hands-off. But never mind that: the treats were divine. Little cakes and cookies decorated to match runway designs from fasion’s cutting edge.

Okay, technically, the tea was SO last season (Fall/Winter, not Spring/Summer), but since I don’t get Vogue anyway, it was all pretty and fresh to me. The bottom level of our 3-tier treat tower was comprised of savory canapes that were also very nice. After our day spent dealing with the American Embassy, we opted for the Champagne service at a premium over the regular tea. We also tried to get cocktails, but par for my time in the UK, the bartender didn’t know (and had no net access to look up) how to make Brandy Manhattan, so it was more Champagne and eventually a nice pot of Darjeeling for us.

Click here to check out more pictures of the tea service and tasty fashionable bits. My favorite: the Yves Saint Laurant pink bow vanilla fancy bag. Rob like the Missoni striped eclair.

Hackney Life

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Ryan Frank takes a white board and puts in out on the mean streets of Hackney. Local yoods deface/decorate it, and Frank turns the result into a lovely shelving unit that you won’t find at Ikea.

Thank you, Ryan, for taking something that I hate (tagging) and turning it around into something beautiful. Or is it just me who can’t appreciate something until it’s commoditised?

Via Cool Hunting.

Virtual Office

A mate of mine has come up with an ingenious way to carry all of your online stuff around. Check out Protopage. I hop around on different computers, and I was having trouble keeping track of my bookmarks, newsfeeds, etc. I can’t be bothered with the personal space that Yahoo or Google offer. It’s too rigid. With Protopage, you can drag and drop stuff around, add your own backgrounds and pictures and have numerous pages. You can make pages private or public, so those who can’t be bothered to create their own websites can use it for that as wall. Creating the page takes seconds. Then you just add to it as you go about your daily online business. My mate Andre says it’s also taking off in Japan where kids use it to track their digital pets. That’s a bit over my head.

This Is Not A ‘V for Vendetta Post’

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The last time I saw Parliament was in ‘V for Vendetta.’ Great flick, but needless to say, I much prefer this, whole Parliament. But on to the story . . . .

The year was 2004. I was in Philadelphia working on the ill-fated John Kerry campaign when I met a man from Scotland in American to witness our election fun. He was an elected official himself – on his local council back home. Flash-forward to 2006 and here I am in the UK on my way to London to take a tour of the Houses of Parliament – courtesy of my friend’s MP, who arranged the day for me.

There was a notation on my pass that said my group (that’d be me) was being accommodated with another MP’s group. And so it was that I joined up with a tour organized by Andrew Turner, the Member of Parliament representing the Isle of Wight. The craziest part: the rest of the party was from the Isle of Wight in Virginia – one of the original American colonies. It was my American in London with Americans day.

Sadly, photography is not allowed inside the Houses of Parliament – which sucks because the place is Gorgeous, of course. And for a complete government nerd like me, it’s the nerdy bits that I most wanted to capture in pixels. One highlight: there is a chamber decorated with paintings of the members of the Houses of Tudor and Stuart. Our tour guide ran through them all – who married which kid to what country, who beheaded and divorced whom, who reigned when and why – in such a rapid fire manner I managed to retain roughly .2%

I get chills walking the halls of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Walking through the ornate halls of the Houses of Commons and Lords gave me a similar thrill. If you’ve never done it, call your MP today and check it out. For his part, Mr. Turner was a wonderful host, greeting our group and sitting down with us (okay, them, I was just a fortunate, hanger-on) after the tour over tea and biscuits discussion British government and politics, comparing and contrasting the UK and US’s institutions. I won’t pretend to be literate, let-alone an expert on British politics, but he was such an open, knowledgeable man – and he voted against the war – that were I ever to move to the Isle of Wight, I do believe he’d have my vote.

Table, Trout for One

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Today I braved the rush-hour train and tube to head to London for a tour of Parliament (more on that later). After several hours on my feet – in the wrong shoes – I decided lunch was in order. When hunger hit, I was on Oxford Street. Not knowing the neighborhood and not being down with MickeyD’s, I hoped a train to Knightsbridge and treated myself to lunch at Harvey Nichols (as part of my quest to be a lame tourist, VH1’s-The-Fabulous-Life-of-London-style).

I knew I’d be spending a bit more than necessary for just a meal, but it’s about the experience, right?

Well, the menu was interesting if not overly-varied. I was headed for a ceasar salad with chicken when I looked over and saw a rainbow trout for 3 pounds less – that seemed like a good deal. I’m not an expert with fish preparation, but the Harvey Nichols people seemed bent on overpowering the trout with the bed of stir-fried veggies (heavily marinated and practically carmelized). It wasn’t that the flavors were bad – there just wasn’t much fresh fish to be tasted. I sprung for the roll (extra one-pound fifty) and a glass of wine because it seemed like a wine sort of afternoon.

So, in sum: at least I can say I went, but next time, I’d probably splurge at Harrods. (Which I did do later in the day at the Harrods Chocolate Bar. Yum.)

Polygamy Revisited

I don’t have a problem with polygamy…really. It’s not for me, but I have several friends who are living the “lifestyle,” and they seem perfectly happy, and they’re not hurting anyone, and I don’t have religious hang ups about it.

It is with this open mind that I went to see Marc Isaacs’ “Philip and his Seven Wives” at the Curzon on Sunday. After, there was a Q & A with Marc and his surprise guests: Philip and 3 of his wives plus the matriarch (who is not a wife but the mother of the youngest wife and who also runs the household, although she admitted that she wasn’t exactly sure what a matriarch was supposed to do). For background see the film’s website and also some stinging articles in The Mirror and The Telegraph, but suffice it to say that Philip, a former rabbi, had a vision in which God commanded him to go old school: get yourself some wives and start to build yourself a kingdom.

I like the film. I think Marc does a good job of navigating the subject matter without judging. It was the Q & A after that really got my blood boiling. The wives were asked if they felt they could know God without subjugating themselves to Philip. “No,” they said emphatically.

This insistence that women need an intermediary to have a chin wag with the All Mighty pisses me off. Even more so because it comes from the mouths of sisters.

Just so you know, I had a vision as well. In it, I was promised a kingdom where men waited upon my every desire. Hmmmm. Don’t think I could pull it off. Women! Get your heads out of your asses.

(above photo from www.philipandhissevenwives.com)

26.2 miles of pain….and rain

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The thousands who ran and the millions who cheered them on.. they endured it all…the rain, an early start on a Sunday and packed Tube stations. Worth it, I’d say…even for short people like myself who had to search endlessly for a empty spot by the railings to catch a glimpse of the passersby (runners) and to satisfy my camera’s needs.

The costumes, both athletes and spectators, and the bands tilted the balance in the earthlings’ favour after the drizzle had threatened an uneven contest.

Felt really nice just being there..amongst the fun-lovers. Been ages since we witnessed something like this…

Hats off to all runners. Remarkable job. And thanks to all spectators who made it a carnival event (myself including :D)

Hanami

Close%20up%20flower%208%2000494008.jpg“Hana” meaning “flower” and “mi” from the verb “miru” meaning to see, look or view. Hanami is cherry blossom viewing, and it’s happening in Hyde Park as I write. For the Japanese this involves sitting on tarps under the cherry blossoms and contemplating the ephemeral nature of life. The blossoms stay for just two weeks before the rain and wind blows them down in one hellova pink hurricane. Whole companies as well as individuals have Hanami parties. I remember them fondly from my time in Japan…that is, I remember them drunkenly, for Hanami usually involves large quantities of sake. Oh yes, and chicken on a stick and octopus pancakes. You can check out the pale pink business at Hyde Park, or you can just look at my picture.

Enough Already!!!

This guy has led a charmed life few of us could ever dream of.

Now what does he do just hours after escaping a near certain gaol sentence, he goes and gets caught again! Enough already in time, money and just effort has been wasted on a guy whose sole claim to fame for most of us is he dated Kate Moss.

Time to move on.
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