Saturday, December 16, 2017

WHAT'S OLD IS NEW


Beach blanket Babylon
The other afternoon Frank and I arrived in
Miami. Soon we were whisked across the bay
to that glorious stretch of sand better known
as Miami Beach. The sun was shining, the sky
was blue, the temperature was hovering in the
low seventies, and all was right in the world.
Upon checking into our hotel we were kindly
upgraded to a spacious suite. Yet quickly we
dumped our bags and walked out the beach.
Then down to Lincoln Road with it's shops
 cafes, grit, and glam. And suddenly it was
as if time had stood still. We were in old yet
quite familiar territory. And it felt GREAT!
Past imperfect
I first hit Miami Beach for a fashion shoot in
the early nineties. I stayed at the Ritz Plaza
which sat in deco isolation far up Collins
Avenue at Seventeenth. From my window
I watched pigeons fly in out out of the empty
rooms of a hotel across the street. Where far
above stood the name "Delano" in tattered
relief. Who knew that a few years later Ian
Schrager and Philippe Starck would transform
it into the hippest hotel ever?! Or that block
after block of forlorn buildings filled with
aged snow birds would be redeveloped into
an art deco fashion and lifestyle mecca?!
Familiar territory
The good news is that while said evolution had
continued during our decade long absence - in
truth nothing changed. The Raleigh Hotel is in
the midst of yet another renovation. This time
by Tommy Hilfiger. The De Lido - which when
we last visited was becoming a Ritz Carlton now
sits closed post damage from Hurricane Irma.
Still crowds stand and  wait for a table nightly
at tried and true Joes Stone Crab. Pacific Time
continues to dish it out - and Ocean Drive is
packed every night with an international mix
of tourists. However that doesn't mean that two
jaded re-visitors can't discover something new.
Hide & seek
As always our first night challenge was finding
a place to eat. Post trolling Trip Advisor, Yelp,
Zaggat, and Open Table we decided to try some
place just around the corner called Casa Tua.
Reviews indicated it was lovely but honestly,
we had no idea just how fabulous it would be.
The evening was chilly so rather than dine on
it's lush patio, we opted to be seated at a lovely
table inside. What followed can only be deemed
exceptionally elegant. The place simply oozed
low key chic. Everything was perfection. The
food, staff, and decor. Yet oddly it seemed very
familiar.  As if we'd been there, done that prior.
From the terrace
I must admit that both of us were rather taken
by surprise. Based on our experience - Miami
Beach inevitably goes over the top. In essence
this strip of sand is New York with palm trees.
Therefore it's mix of natural beauty and urban
grit is not for everyone. While we've always
appreciated said bravado, extended exposure
to it's hyper sensuality and boom boom beat
can make one weary. Possibly because in my
opinion everybody tries just a bit too hard to
be hip in this overt, pushup bra kind of a place.
All of which made our evening at Casa Tua
all the more extraordinary. Heaven on 17th.
Deja vu
Frankly we had no idea what we had stumbled
on. Little did we know that hidden behind it's
hedges Casa Tua is a restaurant, 5 star hotel,
celebrity enclave and members only club. But
that isn't what makes it special. Elegance sets
Casa Tua apart from the rest..In fact the only
other place where we'd experienced a similar
level of elan was at the JK Hotel in Florence.
Both evenings were among the few we deem
beyond fabulous. Upon awakening the next
morning I hit the web and did my homework.
And as it turns out - both were designed by
Italian architect and decorator Michele Bonan.
Elegant restraint
To be honest - I couldn'it recall having heard
of Mr. Bonan. While I'm addicted to anything
home related, he had not been on my radar.
Even if we'd both admired his work for years.
Not only does Michele create environments
that ooze with the elan of a world traveler -
they are also comfortable in the chicest, low
key manner possible. His work demonstrates
that the difference between fuss and finesse is
in the details. So once again we re-connected
with a new yet old acquaintance on Miami
Beach. Following are highlights of his work.
Please enjoy and have a lovely Saturday!

Friday, December 15, 2017

KNOT I...




Sooner or later
A procrastinator, I'm not inclined
to finish my Christmas shopping by
late July. Nor have I ever run with
the bulls to grab 5 a.m. door busters
on Black Friday. Rather I approach
this season of giving in a much more
strategic manner. First I ponder, then
reflect, then finalize my gift strategy.
All of which means that I delay the
start of my holiday shopping until
December. However sales or deals
are not my last minute motivation.
I simply hate the gift giving process.
All for one, one for all
While I try to keep gifts personal,
the bulk of my buddies are of a
similar ilk. Therefore my strategy
is to gift en masse. After all few
reside in the same city let alone
the same state. Thus the odds that
one will discover that another has
received the same token of esteem
is slim at best. Therefore the santa
gives and gives alike. It's EASY.
Just tell me
I adore gift registries. As a adult it's
tough to keep up on the latest toys.
Given my loved ones live far away,
having my finger on the pulse can be
tough. Fortunately my daughter "E"
goes on-line and selects whatever my
grand daughter "M" wants. All I do is
log on, fill my basket, and pay. Soon
they're loaded onto Santa's sleigh and
under the tree by Christmas Eve!
Far and wide
In today's world we live hither and
yon. It's no longer about traveling
over the river nor through woods.
Gathering family is as challenging
as herding cats. While we love the
other, getting together is not easy..
Therefore we pick, wrap, and ship
our presents. While there's nothing
I would rather do than personally
hand over your gift, chances are
I'll be sending it a few days prior.
In the end what's most important
is that you know that you're loved!
Tie me up
I'll be honest, having someone
else wrap and ship is convenient.
But it is a little impersonal. What
is most pleasurable for me is the
joy of selecting the perfect paper,
ribbon, and gift card just for you.
While I love a pretty wrapped gift,
I don't like the cutting, folding, or
taping part of the process. I guess
that in order to tie it all up into a
tidy package, I have to do things
I normally don't like to do. So if
you need me, I'll be all in a knot.
Under cover
As the deadline draws near, so does
reality. Why wait at the post office
when trusted friends can ship gifts?
Rather than send a gift to someone
I love in wrapping I loathe, I keep it
simple with Barney's or Bergdorf's.
All they do is change their ribbon to
red for the holidays. Once I'm done
there is no greater gift than knowing
my gift list is ALL WRAPPED UP!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

NOW VOYAGER



Head start
We each start life in the same way.
Once born, what happens next is a
crap shoot. Whatever mix of the
DNA cocktail one is served defines
innate physical and psychological
characteristics. The circumstances
surrounding our banal beginnings
slowly morph and modify how we
leverage our genetic amalgam. As
we evolve external factors spiced
up with a bit of luck make us who
we are. One thing is certain, each
of us has a choice to sink or swim.
Child's play
Depending on kismet our childhoods
differ dramatically. While we're born
who we are, our formative years alter
our natural instincts to handle reality.
Yet in the end are we really all that
different? Everyone goes to school,
gets a first haircut, and falls in love.
Everyone suffers some sort of hurt.
Parents divorce. Bullies bully. And
some don't make the team. There is
not much difference to how we each
mature except how we individually
react and adapt to life's challenges.
Special delivery
Once we're adults, many assume
that they're prettier, smarter, and
much more unique than the rest
of the pack. The fallacy that our
lives are dramatically different
from others deludes most of us
for many years. Slowly youth's
invincibility fades after each of
life's bitch slaps. Then one day
we suddenly realize that almost
everyone has to learn the same
lessons. And that some struggle
with severe learning disabilities.

Lesson learned
Life is cyclical. We all life, love, work,
and then suddenly disappear. What most
can't seem to accept is that in the end
there is an end. Like it or not, we all get
old and then we die. While that might
scare some of you I'm comfortable with
that fact. At some point we all have to
face reality. Which is why we moved
Frank's folks into assisted living. Three
years later, his father is alone at ninety
nine and a half. Yet even if Dad calls it
"jail" we know said move was the best
for all involved. Older and wiser huh?!
Group fare
Dodging walkers down a hallway lined
with railings, one has to wonder about
the future. The odds are in our favor,
Boomer life expectancy will extend
into our mid eighties. Given we're all
traveling, shopping, building dream
homes, and doling out cash to progeny,
one worries that we may run out of cash
about the same time the government has
to stop issuing Social Security checks.
Only one thing is certain, most of us will
end up in some sort of a group home. My
only question is, will I know where I am?
Cruise control
Several of my friends have invested in
mega elder care insurance policies that
guarantee they'll be well cared for no
matter what. The question is, will most
be brave enough to decide when, where,
and how that happens? My Mother was
a strong woman. She battled against all
odds while caring for my Alzheimer's
stricken father. One day she realized
that she could not longer do so. Shortly
thereafter she moved them into Assisted
Living. After Dad died, Ethel welcomed
the reality of own mortality. It was time.
Now voyager
The older one gets - the more important
clarity becomes. Like it or not we're all
in control of our destinies. Some fight
the ravages of time while others simply
age gracefully. To each his own yet in
the end, each of our lives will end. Just
like everything else in life, it's up to us
to decide when, how, and where to fade
away. If you believe that one's journey
is but brief, why not book a First Class
stateroom, order too much champagne,
and enjoy the ride to the end of the line?
Getting there is half the fun!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

NO REST FOR THE WEARY


Split decision
For the last year I've once again lived a life
straddled between rural Montana and urban
Manhattan. In theory such an existence is the
ultimate expression of yin and yang. But it's
not the best of both worlds. Managing the
constant transfers between here and there is
anything but a delicate balance. Not a day
goes by when I don't assume that something
is at hand in the kitchen cupboard or fridge.
When in reality it's over two thousand miles
away. A phenomena that causes me to double
down. And to question the benefits of living
in two places. Is it worth all of the hassles?
Half & half
In theory one's golden years should be spent
enjoying the fruits of one's labors. Yet many
of my fellow baby boomers continue to take
things to the extreme. Post retirement things
can get more complicated. In theory splitting
one's time between hot and cold makes sense.
However I question whether spending one's
winter searching for all you need is worth
avoiding snow. Either I'm in the early stages
of dementia or it's just too confusing. All that
I know is that rushing to and fro between two
extremes is exhausting. And so come January
we're coming home to stay! The end is near!
Over the edge
As Lisa said on Green Acres - I just adore
a penthouse view. However I don't enjoy
all of the responsibility that accompanies
maintaining our New York apartment. Like
any home - something is always breaking.
Recently our fridge starting making awful
noises. For a day I fretted over what to do
as the idea of coordinating a repair in this
city is daunting. So rather than pick up the
phone - I prayed for redemption. By the
next day all was silent. Yet I still worry
about what might go wrong next. Is my
dual existence causing me to breakdown?
Suddenly single
Nothing is ever easy. Yet inevitably I seem to
be adept at complicating almost any situation.
The resulting confusion has me resolved to
put an end to all of this fuss. There has to be
an easier answer. Thus my early new years
resolution is to stay in ONE place. In truth
nothing is more ridiculous that attempting to
be in two places at once. Burning one's candle
on both ends ultimately burns you out. Maybe
it's time that I put on my big boy pants. Should
I accentuate the positive by eliminating the
negative? All of which means that by the end
of January we'll be going home for GOOD.
Chapter closed
Enough is enough. Each of us have our
individual sweet spot. The error in many
of our ways is assuming that we require
more than one. At many points in life we
all escape reality. However there's a big
difference between taking a vacation and
maintaining a vacation home. So while
our plan is to stay in one place, I've no
doubt that we'll continue to be frequent
travelers. The difference being that in the
future somebody else must worry about
whether the toilets are scrubbed. Which
in my opinion is the ultimate get away...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WRITTEN ON THE WIND...



Seasons greetings
In blogs past I've lectured you on the merits
of sending merry missives. As said prior,
there's little as elegant as a hand inscribed
note. Especially if it's scrawled upon some
heavy stock that's aggressively engraved in
a most civilized manner. For all of my adult
life I've felt that such transmissions were so
much more than mere seasonal expressions.
Rather said communiques are expressions
of one's sense of style. In essence concrete
evidence of how one chooses to strut their
stuff. All of which works only if and when
you send them out to the world at large.
Post traumatic stress syndrome
Which is exactly what I didn't do last year.
Somehow my Christmas cards got lost in
a flurry of house guests, presents, cooking,
decorating, and drinking. It also didn't help
that I was secretly planning to re-enter the
workforce come the new year. Hence I was
all too busy transitioning between here and
there. Meaning that in the end, my postal
presents never made it to your house. A sad
fact that I find mortifying. Especially when
so many of you sent charming cards, photos,
letters, etc. Reinforcing my commitment to
deliver my mail this year come rain or snow.
Mail call
As you may know, this year we're escaping the
season on a tropical cruise far from mistletoe,
balsam, and Bergdorf's. We've decided to not
send out any gifts. Instead we're either writing
a check or checking you off our list. As less
is more hopefully you'll be equally happy to
not have to send us anything except your love.
Given we'll be far away from it all - we plan
to avoid any seasonal disorder. Thus my only
holiday task was to send our Christmas cards.
After all, it's the least I could do. So as we left
Montana after Thanksgiving I careful packed
them to insure they came along for the ride.
Address correction requested
Last weekend I finally carved out some time
to do my duty. However one thing seemed to
be missing - my address book. Somehow I'd
left it back at home. And while I maintain a
cyber contact list - those once a year folks
are archaically archived on paper not vapor.
Therefore good intentions aside, I'm unable
to complete the task at hand. A fact that I not
only consider highly irritating but extremely
embarrassing. Meaning that once again, Mr.
Etiquette is a complete and utter hypocrite.
Unable to execute this simplest of seasonal
tasks. All I can say is BAH HUMBUG!
You've got mail
Could it be that I've learned yet another lesson?
While I enjoy catching up with all of you on an
annual basis - this error in judgement calls into
question doing so via snail mail. Is that the best
use of our collective time? I still adore the pomp
and circumstance of my tried and true traditions.
However a quick e-mail, tweet, text, or Instagram
can be equally evocative. Now almost daily my
daughter "M" posts an update on grandson "H".
Hence while not there physically, we're instantly
connected via modern technology. Which has
me thinking that maybe it's time to finally put
down my cards in surrender? What about you?
Postcards from the edge
Change is good. This holiday we're off on a
cruise through the end of December. So why
was I even thinking of sending out Christmas
cards? This year all traditions will be broken.
Soon we'll be on deck. Not decking the halls.
Rather than donning gay apparel - we'll lay
half naked under the sun. Therefore the only
chilling we'll be doing is with a cocktail in
hand. Most important - this year somebody
else is cooking our goose on Christmas day.
Yet somethings never change. So while you
won't get a card from us, I'll continue to write
to you on a daily basis. Merry Montanaroue'!