So Wild

I've fallen victim to the oxblood cult persuasion, and there's no denying it. The free love, uninhibited sex, wild romances... it's irresistible to me and if I could, I might even run to Oregon myself. Wouldn't you think about joining?

I'm speaking of the land of the Wild Wild Country. And though Rajneesh himself isn't the most appealing of gentlemen, I applaud so much of what he teaches. And I find his liberal fantasy antidotal to our current political climate. It's an escape, and I simply cannot get enough of it. 

Wild, Wild Country is now streaming on Netflix. 

UPDATE: Shit got crazy real fast after said free love fantasy. But for a moment, it was glorious.

Deuces

In a storybook Luhrmann-esque camera style, I have been totally and completely sucked (pun intended) into the intensely naked world of HBO's new New-York-City-70s-prostitution-drama, "The Deuce." Hard to watch, even cringeworthy at times, this show is all of the oomph and gritty glamour I didn't even realize I was missing on my screen.

Featuring a double James Franco (yes, he plays brothers), endlessly alluring Zoe Kazan, and perfectly cast Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Deuce" has all the right bait: sex, nostalgia, drugs, New York City, intrigue. And that's just the pilot. Yes, it's vulgar, it's objectifying, it's raw. But it's memorable and real. In the realm of Pretty Woman, this show portrays sex work matter of factly—gives strong women a voice, at a price. Leaves much to be desired, but so much to hold onto—which is why it will be easy to continue going back for more. 

"The Deuce" pilot is streaming now on HBO. 

An Anniversary Worth Celebrating

Nineteen years ago, a curly blonde New Yorker in a pink tutu twirled into our lives and a show hit Home Box Office that would forever change the dialogue and portrayal of smart women on television. Smart, sexy, successful American women. A show that would romanticize New York City and, in a way it had never publicly been before, celebrate casual sex. An ode to female friendship, feminism, and being single. That show is Sex And The City, but I'm guessing you knew that after I said tutu. 

"Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with." Fuck yes! These pearls of wisdom, delivered every episode from Carrie and her troop of empowering feminists, have literally seeped into our female identities—haven't they? Because Carrie Bradshaw was the foremost editorial influencer—her relatable, revealing sexscapades detailed elegantly in her New York Star sex column, and again with the ladies the next morning at brunch (us included, learning from each lesson of bad sex and broken hearts). Any woman discovering themselves in a big city would be disadvantaged not to soak in the advice of Carrie, the caution of Charlotte, the spunk of Samantha, and the charming cynicism of Miranda from 1998 to today. 

We all—male, female, anyone in between—know too well the break ups, disastrous dates and search for love depicted by this quartet. That's why nearly two decades later, the woman of Sex And The City are still on our minds and on the speed dial equivalent on our HBO Go accounts. They're so us, or the most fabulous versions of ourselves. 

So, let us say cheers. Because nothing before or since 1998 has quite come close to the stamp Sex And The City has made on female driven television. To give celebration where celebration is due, let's mark this milestone of National Sex And The City day and, on her 19th birthday, rejoice that there ever was such a wonderful celebration of women on premium cable. 

 

The Boys

I'm just going to just call it like it is: single male musicians are having a moment. Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Donald Glover, Frank Ocean, Harry Styles, and Kendrick all said so.  

The Mayer Anomaly

In 2001, Room For Squares was huge for me, way up on my 6 CD-changing stereo rotation. John Mayer was often chosen above the other hits that summer—over Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees, Blink 182 and Mandy Moore. There was something so rustic about the Connecticut born newcomer, his voice a little edgy but his guitar strums romantic as hell. "Neon," "3 x 5"... I was smitten; my mom was a big fan too. 

Over the next decade and a half, John slowly fell out of my heart. I paid attention, but lost my lust. Yes, there were stand out tracks on his next 5 studio albums ("Vultures" from 2006's Continuum is still one of my favorites), but I didn't care for the twangy, cheesy sounds that became consistent in his music. And, Mayer's developing reputation for douchery, his womanizing, and the many slips of tongue did not help his case. "There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed," he told Playboy in 2012 of his pornography habit. Really, dude? 

In Mayer's defense, it would be unfair to say he didn't forewarn us of his knack for dumb-ass comments (there were plenty more, here's another example of blabbery in Rolling Stone) from the beginning: track 3 on the Room For Squares is entitled "My Stupid Mouth." 

Refreshingly, in the first two waves of his upcoming album, The Search For Everything, there's an obvious rewind to the tender sounds that I fell so hard for as a 12 year old. "Still Feel Like Your Man" is a charming, sharp and upbeat harmony—not to mention the vulnerability of a song clearly written for an ex (ahem, Katy Perry). And "You're Going To Live Forever In Me"  has that feel good James Taylor-esque quality that sticks. The lyrics allude to a certain 'I know I fucked up' ("If I'm helpless, tell me now, and I'll stop trying to figure it out," he sings in "Helpless"), but I truly believe the man wants to turn a new leaf. 

So, I think I'm ready to give him another chance, open up my heart for John once again. For as perverted as he very well may be, his music is so at odds with the man in the interview. Why would such a vile casanova sing such sensitive, wooing sounds (as opposed to, say, someone like The Weeknd, who shamelessly admits "I only fuck you when it's half past 5")? Music speaks louder than words, my friends. "I may be old and I may be young, but I am not done changing," he croons on Wave One of his new album, plainly seeking our forgiveness. I accept. 

The full The Search For Everything is out April 14th from Columbia Records. 

In Defense of "Do Overs"

We've all been asked the question—be it at a summer camp overnight or, infinitely less appealing, with new colleagues: If you could have one superpower, what would it be? My typical answer used to be the ability to fly, but I think the beginning of 2017 has given light to an entirely new response: the ability to rewind life and fix something that went horribly wrong. I'll call it: Adele Potion. Warren Beatty (or more so Brian Cullinan of PwC who handed Beatty the wrong envelope) would have certainly benefited from a shot of it at the Oscars... 

And if you watched this year's Grammys, you understand why Adele deserves the potion's namesake. The Record-Of-The-Year winner, already superhuman in many ways, delivered a feat that brought her to a new level of inspiring in my book: She started her tribute to the late George Michael, wasn't happy with her performance, requested a restart, and subsequently nailed it. She pressed rewind on herself, because, why the fuck not? Who's to say that's not allowed? We're all flawed and mistake prone, we just rarely have the courage to admit to our faults and correct ourselves. Yes, what's done is done and some things can never be changed—but compassion is what makes humans human, so why not flex that evolved muscle of ours and show it to others when they need a second chance? I applaud any effort to break free of comfort zones, to take great leaps without the suggested footwear. With no risk comes no reward. 

In my 28 years, I'm fortunate enough to never have had the need to sip the potion in a big way—I've had it pretty good. But, I'm in the midst of doing something a bit crazy: leaving the beautiful, full and happy life I built for myself in New York behind in search of beachier, more liberated and unknown pastures. It's about the most unedited thing I've ever attempted to do, without a magic 8-ball to offer advice. And I'd be insane not to be a bit nervous. But hey, if the juice really isn't worth the squeeze, then I will be very ready to call my own bullshit. To reverse the wheels and replay the tape without fear of retribution. So, why discredit the attempt? If at first you don't succeed... 

Maybe it's not a magic potion we need after all, maybe it's just the ability to acknowledge when we do screw up and do our best to take a step back without feeling any shame. Because hey, if it works for Adele... 

Crisis In A TV Show?

Despite the less than stellar reviews of Woody Allen's new show (if you could even call it a show, more a chopped up movie rife with full length Allen-isms—from the piano interludes to the credit fonts) on Amazon, there wasn't even a small chance I wasn't going to give it my full attention. Binge watch the entire series in one sitting I did, and I am happy to have done it.

I understand the critics—there's nothing extraordinary about the plot, the casting was eh (I am not very into Miley as revolution-hippie), and it was a bit lazy. "I don't feel like turning the alarm system on tonight," Allen complains within the first 10 minutes. Cue the break in. And so on with the dramatic hints.

But it was funny, it was timely (clearly demonstrating the comparisons between the radical 60s and today), it wrapped itself up in a charming way—bringing together the characters in the final episode for an awkward face off, and it was Woody Allen. His character, not J. D. Salinger but S. J. Munsinger's biggest problem in life is someone eating the chicken out of his fridge. What's not to love?

So, if you haven't begun just yet: don't have any expectations. If you like Woody, you'll appreciate the show. If you find him off putting, you won't. No big crisis. 

PS. If you have begun, did you recognize the voice of Allen's on screen wife, Kay Munsinger? She has an actress daughter who you may know from The Night Of... 

Banks Binge

There's something about Jillian Rose Banks—aka Banks—that just hits all the right notes for me. Maybe part of it is the Victoria's Secret commercial to the tune of her "Waiting Game"... but the California songstress herself is so undeniably sexy. 

If I were to use one word to describe her voice, it would be tantalizing. A little cryptic, a lot of soul. Dark. It is hard not to take this girl seriously. And I can't seem to take my eyes off of her. I started my binge with "Gemini Feed" and fell down a k-hole of video goodness from there. The way she grabs you with her presence. Man. 

So you can imagine the happiness I felt this weekend when I saw Banks featured in the October issue of Glamour. So well deserved, and what a delight. I'm also truly happy that the magazine hasn't lost its music edge in my absence. Wink. 

"I think I'm sexy, and I don't give a f--k if you think I'm sexy," she tells Glamour. For the record (and I'm sure by this point you can tell), I do. 

Her new album, The Altar, is out September 30. 

Down To Get Down

I'm not claiming to be anything close to an expert on hip hop, leaving me in no place to critique the accuracy of "The Get Down" in portraying its beginnings—but really, that's no matter here. What I do claim is a love of Baz Luhrman and an affection for the cinema that he creates. Because in truth, the pilot episode of his new Netflix adventure is just that--a real hour and forty minute cinematic experience. A story told through intense character depiction, emotion, and a dream-like camera lens. How wonderful life is when Baz is on our screens. (Pick up on that Moulin Rouge reference, kids?) 

"The Get Down" is an appreciation for beautiful on screen styling—perfectly tailored outfits and hairdos, fine-tuned acting, and cultural reference in dialogue and in tone. Reminders of Luhrman's other creations—religious centerpieces as large as "Romeo + Juliet's," tear your heart out love stories and over the top feelings a la Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby. And the music on top of it all. Plucking. Right. At. Those. Heart. Strings. 

So I guess where I'm going here is I'm excited about this show, excited to turn every episode into the full and all encompassing experience that I know it will be. 

And one more thing... #bazneedsanoscar

Delayed Gratification

For someone that taunts with false hope, at least the eventual delivery is worthwhile. Yes, I'm talking to you, Frank Ocean—your unexpected stream of weekend treats that came in the form of a visual album on Friday, a music video on Saturday, and a full-length album this morning—one after another. The return of the voice that makes my knees weak. I may have called you
Frank-oncé at first, but I would now argue that this surprise has a very different weight than others. Anticipation built up for years, only one big project before it, a lot to prove. So thank you for giving us enough to satiate our hungry appetites. Kind of you, really. 

While at first I found the releases and tracks themselves a bit random (black and white Frank doppelgängers in Endless, drug rants, a track inspired by a Facebook Story) the more I listen the more cohesive it sounds together, and the more I fall in love. There are the perfectly sung, upbeat tracks (Pink + White, Nights), the guitar-laden romantics (Ivy), and the deeper, more vulnerable Frank that we so adore. "Maybe I'm a fool, maybe I should move, and settle. I'm not brave. Been living in an idea, an idea from another man's mind," he sings in Seigfried. Introspective, the way we like him. 

You can hear Ocean's perfectionism in every verse, you can almost feel the patience this project took on his end. He wanted to get everything just right—a hefty delivery that I will argue is worth the long, long wait. Instant gratification has its perks, but why rush through something this elusive? Music so good it almost brings me to tears—truly. This is art to spend some time on, to absorb. So thank you for the delivery, Frank. A good lesson in patience, I'll admit.