Thursday, June 30, 2005

JCPenney, Valley View Mall, Roanoke, Virginia. Lower level entrance. Photographed with camera phone 6/30/05.

June 30 article

Every season starts at Dick’s…this is my June 30 article for the paper.


The widow of OL' DIRTY BASTARD is threatening to sue entrepreneur DAMON DASH, unless he drops plans to launch a range of sports shoes with the late rapper's initials on them.

The legal team representing ICELENE JONES, who was married to ODB - real name RUSSELL JONES - for 19 years until his death from a drug overdose last November (04), insist rap and clothing mogul Dash has no authority to use ODB's name.

Attorney STEVEN J MANDEL tells the New York Daily News, "Damon Dash Music Group does not have the authority to distribute an ODB sneaker without the expressed consent of the estate of Russell Jones.

"The only person who has the power is Icelene Jones. We'll look into the possibility of getting an injunction."

First look inside Charlotte's new mall


The Charlotte area already has SouthPark, Carolina Place and Concord Mills for shopping, but now Northlake Mall is moving in determined to carve a niche of its own among shoppers

The mall includes brick walls representing old Carolina mills. It will also feature a kid zone, a coffee stop area, and three flat screen televisions with stadium bleacher seating for those taking a break from shopping.

Northlake Mall is set to open in September.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

40 most awesomely bad dirrty songs ever

from VH1

We listened to all the grunting, the groaning and sexual references to pick the most awesomely "dirrtiest" song...ever. Click on song title to listen to clip. Click on artist name for bio, CDs & more

40. Sugar Walls - Sheena Easton
39. Oops (Oh My) - Tweet
38. Lick It Up - Kiss
37. Knockin' Da Boots - H-Town
36. Downtown - SWV
35. My Love Is Like...Wo - Mya
34. Sex Bomb - Tom Jones
33. C'mon N' Ride It (The Train) - Quad City DJ's
32. Freek'n You - Jodeci
31. Tease Me Please Me - Scorpions

30. Tag Team - Whoomp! (There It Is) [House Mix]
29. Bump, Bump, Bump - B2K
28. I Want Action - Poison
27. Dip It Low - Christina Milian
26. Cradle of Love - Billy Idol
25. Come Baby Come [Radio Edit] - K7
24. Let's Ride - Montell Jordan
23. Figured You Out - Nickelback
22. I Touch Myself - The Divinyls
21. Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? - Rod Stewart

20. She Blew My Mind (69 Times) - Rick James
19. Splash Waterfalls - Ludacris
18. The Stroke - Billy Squier
17. Tonight - Da Band
16. F*cK Me for Free - Akinyele
15. Let's Put the X in Sex - Kiss
14. Peaches & Cream - 112
13. Pretty Mess - Vanity
12. She Bangs - Ricky Martin
11. My Neck, My Back (Lick It) - Khia

10. Honey Love - R. Kelly
9. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) - Samantha Fox
8. Pony - Ginuwine
7. Naughty Naughty - John Parr
6. Do Me! - Bell Biv Devoe
5. How Many Licks? - Lil' Kim
4. Can I Touch You...There? [Album Version] - Michael Bolton
3. Get Naked [Featuring Lil Kim/George Clinton/Mix Master Mike/Fred Durst] - Methods of Mayhem
2. I Wanna Sex You Up - Color Me Badd
1. Physical - Olivia Newton-John

raul midon

My friend ken herd this guy on NPR, and I thought his music was pretty good as well. Check out Raul Midon's website.

Home Depot latest big-box chain to experiment with convenience stores

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Home Depot customers one day will be able to pick up a six-pack of soda and fill up their gas tank in the parking lot if the chain's convenience store test proves a success.

The home improvement giant will begin testing convenience stores in the parking lots of four Nashville Home Depots this December.

Stores will sell gasoline, milk, chips, beer and other convenience items. Two stores will have carwashes.

"Our research continues to show us that consumers are time-starved," said company spokeswoman Paula Smith. "So we know that anything we can do to make the process of shopping easier ... is a good idea."

Other big-box chains, including Costco, Wal-Mart and Kroger, already have gas stations outside some stores.

Analyst Bill Sims, of Smith Barney, said retailers use gasoline as a loss leader and a way to drive traffic to stores.

"If Costco's doing it, and Wal-Mart's doing it, why not Home Depot?" Sims said. "I would think it would be a great traffic driver and more of a one-stop shop."

In recent years, Home Depot has tested small-scale McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts inside a handful of stores. Home Depot isn't saying which store sites could get convenience stores if the program spreads.

"We have to look at congestion and whether there are other [convenience store] offerings on-site," Smith said. "Until we evaluate the results and make some decisions about moving forward, it's too early to speculate."

Deal signed despite lack of incentives

By Matt Williams, Staff Writer
Greensboro News & Record

GREENSBORO -- Earlier this month, the developers of the former Carolina Circle Mall insisted that unless taxpayers gave them $300,000, northeast Greensboro's first Wal-Mart Supercenter would not be built.

Two weeks later -- without that help -- the deal was completed anyway.

Wal-Mart's real estate holding arm bought the land along U.S. 29 near East Cone Boulevard from the development company of local anesthesiologist and entrepreneur Don Linder. The price: $3.3 million according to property records. The sale was signed June 21 and recorded by the Register of Deeds on Tuesday.

Linder and a representative for Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment on the sale.

In May, Linder, Wal-Mart and Councilman Robbie Perkins began lobbying the City Council for the incentives, saying that the deal was "dead" unless the city could help the developer overcome unexpected problems. The council agreed to hold a public hearing on the proposal, but when details became public, council members started to sour on the deal.

With support eroding, Linder withdrew his request June 7 but said he might return later for assistance.

At the time, Perkins insisted that Wal-Mart would not locate at the abandoned mall site unless the city provided the money. He raised the specter that without the incentives, the land could sit abandoned for decades. The mall's last major tenant, Montgomery Ward, shut its doors in 2001

"Either the city comes to the table or this deal falls apart," Perkins said June 2.

The plan was also pitched as a way to bring Wal-Mart to an area of the city that many feel is underserved by retailers.

Others council members said they were told by Wal-Mart officials that the deal wouldn't go through without incentives. Don Vaughan, who opposed the incentives, said he grilled two company representatives about their plans and was assured that city aid was a requirement.

"They told me unequivocally that it wouldn't happen without incentives," he said. "I assume they re-evaluated their decision after they talked with me."

Vaughan said cities are often left with the promises of incentive-seekers and little more.

"I don't know whether to believe them or not," Vaughan said. "I have to assume they're telling the truth."

Another incentive opponent on the council, Tom Phillips, said Wal-Mart's move illustrates that the city is often asked to pay for a project that would have located here without any help.

"They make their decision about what they want to do and they see what they can get from us," Phillips said.

Perkins said he is glad that Linder could make the deal work even without the $300,000 aid package. He said the request wasn't a bargaining position and that the deal wouldn't have gone through if not for the attention city staffers gave to the project.

"I'm pleased that the deal went through," he said.

Under Linder's plans, the abandoned mall would be demolished and replaced with a Wal-Mart, a home improvement center and other smaller shops.

The passion for the shoes

By Scoop Jackson
ESPN Page 2

Editor's Note: Scoop Jackson knows enough about shoes to fill a book. And before he joined Page 2, he did -- authoring "Sole Provider: 30 Years of Nike Basketball." He also has worked on commercial campaigns for Nike.

As kids, we never thought of them as really more than what they were: shoes.

True, some of us made them our hobby, some of us collected, some made sure we were the first on our block to obtain the freshness the minute they hit the corner sports store, some allowed our kicks to define who we really were. But for most of us – sneak freaks, shoe heads, ekins, sole collectors, kicksologists – the shoe game is one that is built on nothing else but passion.

Passion for design. Passion for style. Passion for performance, product, originality and rareness. Passion for Airness. Over the last 25 years, there has existed an international subculture unlike any other in the world. One that has connected different races, different religions, different lifestyles, different ways of life. All differences pushed to the side, accepted and ignored, all for the passion.

And when someone doesn't understand the power – understand how grown men can spend days talking about the intricacies of the lacing system of original Air Darwins, or the line design of the Puma Romas or the color ways of k1x, or the 35-year history of the Adidas Superstar – that the sole has on our soul, we never look at these people the same. "How can you not get it?" we say to them, while we create an us-against-them mentality. "Two hundred bucks for a pair of gym shoes?" is the response most heard. Yeah, but "they're Italian leather 1's or retro Jordan IV's in black suede," is what we say to self, knowing that expressing these rationalities out loud will only complicate the matter more. So we internalize our passion.

Knowing that the power will never find those that wear Skechers.

* * * * *

When does a trend turn into a culture? When does the supply really meet the demand? When does having 300 pairs of Air Force 1's become too much?

The game is not a game anymore. It's become a business, our business. Kicks, the end all to our be all. Show 'em our motto: SHOES ARE LIMOS FOR YOUR FEET. We obey this like thirst. We thirst for more shoes every day. From Eastbay to eBay, the globe gets spanned for that one-of- a-kind pair or that one-of 500 pair that won't cross the water for six months. It's all the same. And the shoe companies know it; that's why they continuously supply the demand. Millions spent on athletes to rep, more millions spent on marketing and advertising. Billions are recouped.

It's a phenom like no other. One that can't be explained or studied, rational'd or logic'd. It can only be understood. Understood by those of us who've stood in line all night to cop the Jordan XI midnight release. For those of us who have had a hard time making a decision about "my girl or my kicks." For those of us who went to prom in 'em or got married in 'em. For those of us who still walk around with toothbrushes and new shoestrings in our pockets – just in case , you know, just in case. For those of us who refuse to say the words Manolo Blahnik because we know a woman's shoe game can't compete with what we got in our closets.

Only we understand.

And the difference between us and them is simple: At least we admit that we have issues.

Plus, there's no way in hell we drop a couple of G's on a pair of shoes.

Unless MJ actually wore them.

Great moments in shoe history

Courtesy ESPN

a nice find in greensboro

I was out shopping for shoes for Kevin's eBay listings with him at Summit Shopping Center in Greensboro and found this old inlaid terrazzo Rose's sign in front of Maxway (which occupies the old Rose's space). I love stuff like this.

Kevin's eBay autions

This is what Kevin has for sale on eBay so far. If you're a size 10 or 11 and need some sneakers, you may be in luck.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Just Like a Rolling Scone

Starbucks to have exclusive rights to sell new/old Bob Dylan album

SEATTLE ( -- Starbucks Corp. has announced plans to exclusively sell “Bob Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962,” a recording that has been prized by fans as a bootleg for decades.

The Dylan release will not initially be available anywhere else for 18 months.

It’s the latest example of the coffee retailer encroaching on the business of traditional music retailers. Over the last year, the chain has sold more than 750,000 copies of the Grammy-winning Ray Charles album, “Genius Loves Company,” and recently put on its counters an acoustic version of the Alanis Morissette album “Jagged Little Pill.” which Starbucks began selling several weeks ago.

Such deals have been known to alienate other stores. A few of them stopped selling other albums by Morissette for several weeks, to make their point.

“We’re focused on providing our customers unique opportunities,” said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. “We want the music customer to think of Starbucks as a destination.”

Monday, June 27, 2005

learn ya some new words

Who says Pigeon Forge isn't educational. Here's an English lesson from a placemat from the restaurant where I ate dinner Saturday.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

bush river mall is dying. someone get a camera.

Abandoned South Carolina did a dramtic photo series on the fading Bush River Mall in Columbia. It's very interesting for you 'dead mall types' out there.

Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, TN

My friend Kevin and I got on the ol' Abbott Trailways bus again and took a trip to Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, Tennessee, this past Saturday. We had a lot of fun and I took a lot of pictures, a handful of which are posted here. The rest are at Yahoo! Photos, which you can click on the title above to access. Enjoy.

The Old Mill. I wish I brought my real camera instead of the camera phone on this one. This is the prettiest spot in Pigeon Forge.

The Little Pigeon River divides Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. It's a nice stream in the middle of the sprawl.

Scenes like this (and Dollywood) are what people think of when they hear 'Pigeon Forge.' I saw plenty of places like this, but Dollywood was too crowded and expensive for this go round.

Some of the newer buildings are heavy into themes, like this Wild-West style attraction

Apparently, this part of Tennessee is also popular for weddings. This was one of the half dozen wedding chapels along the road through the area.

No shortage of anmusement parks...

The sign for the Louise Mandrell Theater. This picture came out dark because I shot it through the tinted window of the bus, er, trolley, but rest assured, Ms. Mandrell is settling into middle age quite nicely. Whatever happened to Barbara and Irlene?

One of the numerous 'trolleys' in the Pigeon Forge transit system. I couldn't get the 'Trolley" music from Mr. Rogers out of my head after I saw one of these.

Fuzzy's Snowballs. Note the rainbow windcatcher. Something about this place seems a little, you know...Not that there's anything wrong with that... ;-)

Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Center in Sevierville. So big it has its own trolley system.

I've never seen a coupon vending machine before.

This was at the Virginia Welcome Center on the way back. Gives honor to our veterans and stops itching there anything better than Blue Star?

Shivering for Luxury


MACY'S is colder than Old Navy, but Bloomingdale's is colder than Macy's, and Bergdorf Goodman is colder than all of them.

It is the frigid season in New York City. Not outside, where temperatures have hovered in the upper 80's and 90's for much of June, but inside: in shops, offices, restaurants and museums, where air-conditioning makes temperatures feel more like November.

"I don't like that super-cold air-conditioning," said Madeleine Marchese, who was stepping out of the chilly and dry 68.3-degree air of Bergdorf Goodman into the humid 79-degree air of Fifth Avenue on a June Thursday. She does what many New Yorkers do in the summer: she carries a sweater, the better to cope with what Henry Miller titled his 1945 critique of American culture, "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare."

"Nowhere else in the world," Miller wrote of the United States, "is the divorce between man and nature so complete."

Fifty years later that divorce seems more popular than ever, especially among businesses selling luxury goods. A recent experiment in which a reporter visited various commercial corners of Manhattan with a high-grade thermometer found that almost without fail, the more ritzy the establishment is trying to be, the colder the air-conditioning is kept. In other words, the higher the prices, the lower the temperatures. Consider the clothing stores: Bergdorf Goodman, 68.3 degrees; Bloomingdale's, 70.8; Macy's 73.1; Club Monaco, 74.0; the Original Levi's Store, 76.8; Old Navy 80.3.

For the experiment a pair of professional-grade Mannix HDT303K digital thermometers were used. The temperature was measured as close to the center of each establishment as possible, away from any vents, moving air or doors. When the thermometers' readings differed (never by more than 0.4 degrees), the two were averaged. The reporter did not announce his presence as one but entered each place of business as a normal customer would. While a few degrees' difference might not sound like much, the feeling on bare skin can be surprising. Tiffany & Company (70.3), where a sterling silver baby rattle sells for $200, lacked the meat-locker-like sting of Hermès (68.6), which sells a stainless steel thermos for $1,200.

"There is still a status symbol in almost over-the-top air-conditioning," said Craig Childress, the director of prototype design for Envirosell, a New York-based consulting firm that studies retail stores' designs to help them maximize sales.

High-end retailers argue that cool air is a positive part of their image. "It's part of the whole environment package that we try to offer to our customers," said Tony Nicola, vice president for operations at Bergdorf Goodman. "We're offering the best of service in New York City, and what comes with that is how the store looks, how it's lit, the cleanliness and the temperature."

Last year Bergdorf's installed a new air-conditioning and heating system that features an array of software and sensors designed to keep the air near the target of 68 degrees. "I don't think it's too cold," Mr. Nicola said.

At least one shopper agreed. Sylvia Pastor, who lives on the Upper East Side, said she found the cool temperature invigorating, adding that it kept her shopping longer than a warmer temperature might have. "It's good for the store," she said. "But not for my pocketbook."

At some luxury stores, where heavily dressed customers have arrived in air-conditioned cars straight from their air-conditioned homes, 68 might be right, Mr. Childress said. But many businesses make the mistake of setting the thermostat more for the comfort of employees than for customers.

"You may have a high-end jewelry store where the staff is wearing shirts and ties," he said. "But the shoppers are wearing T-shirts and shorts, and that makes shoppers uncomfortable and decreases the time they stay in the store."

In one case Envirosell studied three locations of a high-end apparel client with stores in New York City and found that customers were spending less time in the coldest one. Studies have shown that the longer shoppers stay in a store, the more money they are likely to spend.

Lower-end stores tend to be more frugal. The 88-cent shoelaces at National Wholesale Liquidators on Broadway near Houston Street were curled up in 76.6-degree air, while half a block away, an $11.95 frosted soap pump at Crate & Barrel sat in a comparatively frosty climate of 70.9. The Energy Department says that each degree setting on a thermostat below 78 degrees increases energy consumption by 8 percent.

The consistency of the luxury-equals-cold pattern in the experiment was striking. The book-strewn NoHo offices of Workman Publishing - which had a recent best seller with the lowbrow "Bad Cat," a collection of amateur photos of strange-looking cats - were 76.0 degrees. The sleek, impeccable SoHo lobby of Scholastic, which publishes the best-selling Harry Potter books, was a chillier 73.0.

While there are tales of executives making their offices cold in order to keep visitors off balance, some financial firms say they have good reason to keep temperatures low. A trader at a prestigious Wall Street firm said the air-conditioning there was kept icy "because we get stirred up during big trades, and we'll complain if it's too hot." But the trader, who would speak only anonymously because of the firm's rules against employees' talking to the press, admitted that most traders keep extra clothes handy for slower times. "We all have fleeces we wear."

Even the most finely calibrated central air system can never arrive at an ideal temperature for all people in all circumstances, said Robert Helt, technical director of the Home Comfort Institute, a research arm of Trane, the air-conditioner maker.

"Air temperature, humidity levels, heat radiation effects, air quality, air circulation or movement, and sound levels from comfort systems or even lighting all factor into our perception of comfort," Mr. Helt said. "Everyone has different needs."

Gail Cooper, the author of "Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960" (Johns Hopkins, 1998), said the music, lighting, traffic flow and hygiene of modern retail stores would be impossible without air-conditioning. "You don't get outside air, you don't get dirt," Ms. Cooper said. Without air-conditioning, many stores would not be able to use the brightest lights because of the heat they give off, she said.

The first modern air-conditioner, installed in 1902 in Brooklyn by Willis Carrier, was designed to control humidity in a printing plant so that ink would stick to paper. Now air-conditioning is so common, it is used to make eating peas more pleasant. At Café Boulud, on the Upper East Side, where a dish of spring pea ravioli is $29, the temperature was 68.8.

Restaurants were slight exceptions to the luxury-is-always-colder rule. In Greenwich Village, EJ's Luncheonette, at 68.7, was almost exactly the same temperature as Café Boulud, but both were much colder than a McDonald's in Chelsea (72.0).

The idea of enticing customers with air-conditioning dates to early-20th-century movie houses. The managers would often keep the front doors open to allow cool "advertising air" to spill out onto the sidewalk to attract sweltering passers-by.

For some, cold air is not about luxury but about what's natural and necessary. Thus the coldest place tested was the penguin observing room at the Central Park Zoo: 67.2. But for a lesson in coping with whatever Mother Nature deals out, a short jaunt from the penguin exhibit proved enlightening. There, in its open-air habitat (78.8 that day), was the arctic fox. A placard outside its pen explained that the fox is protected by the warmest coat of any mammal and that it "can remain comfortable at negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit." The fox appeared totally comfortable in the New York summer.

Sometimes the summer's heat can instill a dreaminess that is the opposite of Henry Miller's air-conditioned nightmare. That was the case at the Stiles Farmers Market on Ninth Avenue near 41st Street, where there was no air-conditioning at all.

A workman in a tank top had a healthy sweat going as he pushed honeydew on a handcart. Nearby, shoppers moved lazily among wooden bins containing eggplant, apricots and other fresh produce. "I'm in a good moment," said one Hell's Kitchen resident, Jeffrey Eiche, 50. "I'm shopping for a picnic."

Staying cool wasn't as easy as flipping a switch, but the exertion of enduring the afternoon's heat had its rewards. The cold and refreshing watermelon, 59 cents a pound, melted luxuriously on the tongue.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

song of the day | june 25, 2005

Deja Vu - Sapphron Obois Listen

Steve Jobs as fashion model

Dave Caolo
Filed under: Cult of Mac, Steve Jobs

There's nothing new about celebrities creating fashion trends. Ashton Kutcher and his trucker hats. Madonna in the 80's. But how does this happen with a guy who wears the same outfit every time he appears in public?Well, the folks at Uncrate have noticed that Steve Jobs seems to like New Balance 991 sneakers, as he was wearing them at the D: All Things Digital conference this year.

Uncrate advertises the sneakers by saying, "Some people buy shoes because their favorite sports star (i.e. Michael Jordan) wears them. We here at Uncrate are a little more geeky than that. We buy our sneakers, the New Balance 991 ($99), because our favorite chief executive officer wears them — Apple and Pixar boss Steve Jobs. If they're good enough for a billionaire, then they're surely good enough for us losers."

I think The Gap is really missing out on a turtleneck marketing campaign.[via Cult of Mac weblog]


Name: Steven Swain
Birthday: August 30
Birthplace: Rocky Mount, Virginia
Current Location: Rocky Mount, Virginia
Eye Color: Hazel.
Hair Color: Dark brown.
Height: 6'-3"
Right Handed or Left Handed: Right handed.
Your Heritage: African-American.

The Shoes You Wore Today: adidas Stan Smith's.
Your Weakness: Over-analysis.
Your Fears: Poverty, never having a "real" life
Your Perfect Pizza: Pepperoni and sausage, green peppers, black olives, extra cheese
Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year: Get a new job.
Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger: ROFL.
Thoughts First Waking Up: "Damn! It's noon."
Your Best Physical Feature: My height.
Your Bedtime: Usually 5 or 6 AM if I'm not on a schedule; otherwise about 2 AM
Your Most Missed Memory: The network of close, live friends I had in college.

Pepsi or Coke: Coke.
MacDonalds or Burger King: McDonald's.
Single or Group Dates: Depends on who I'm dating.
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Tea? Ack!
Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate!
Cappuccino or Coffee: Cappuccino.

Do you...
Smoke: No.
Swear: Fuck yeah!
Sing: Not well.
Shower Daily: Yes.

Have you Been in Love: Only once or twice.

Are you a Health Freak: Not really.

Do you...
Want to go to College: Already been.
Want to get Married: Absolutely. Unfortunately. there aren't a lot of takers.
Belive in yourself: Overall.
Get Motion Sickness: Not much.
Think you are Attractive: I'm not ugly, but I'm not really that nice looking either
Get along with your Parents: Mom usually, but Dad's a bit of a challenge.
Like Thunderstorms: Sometimes.
Play an Instrument: Tried to play bass and piano, but I lost interst in practicing.

In the past month have you...
Drank Alcohol: Yeah.
Smoked: No.
Been on Drugs: No.
Gone on a Date: No.
Gone to a Mall: Fuck yeah!
Eaten a box of Oreos: Not a whole box, but I've eaten several.
Eaten Sushi: No.
Been on Stage: No.
Been Dumped: Ignored, passed over, but not dumped.
Gone Skinny Dipping: No.
Stolen Anything: No.
Ever been Drunk: Yeah.
Ever been called a Tease: Yeah. Not often enough though
Ever been Beaten up: No.
Ever Shoplifted: No.

How do you want to Die: In my sleep
What do you want to be when you Grow Up: An architect.
What country would you most like to Visit: United Kingdom.
Best Clothing Style: Traditional with a modern twist.

Number of...
Drugs I have taken: None.
CDs I own: 450-500Number of Piercings: None.
Tattoos: None.
Things in my Past I Regret: None.

In a Boy/Girl..
Favourite Eye Color:
Favourite Hair Color: Brown
Short or Long Hair: Long
Height: Tall
Weight: I'm not picky, but it's got to be in porportion to body shape.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Direct From The Bladensburg Space Needle

This is the unofficial tribute site of the Enormous 95 & the Equally Awesome 1580, Washington's legendary WPGC - AM & FM. These pages focus on the station's glory years as a TOP 40 blowtorch, covering the period from the late '50's through the early '80's. Four years in the making, this site is an on-going project and is not finished yet!, but is updated every weekend.

they're gone

One (actually two) of the literal beacons of my early childhood have been removed. The Hudson Belk store at Crabtree Valley Mall has removed the chandeliers from their exterior entrance.

I already miss those things. They were there when I was 4 or 5 and were the most interesting things to see when traveling down US 70, helped along somewhat by being attached to a mall. They were there throughout the growing-up years, formally rocking 1972 for what seemed like forever.

They added life to a façade that now seems lifeless. Suddenly unfamiliar, like a fuzzy memory you think you had but maybe didn't. The reality is the crude holes in the portico ceiling, the concrete forms for the new entrance bridge that will take the place of the old lighting.

It's almost gone now: all the things I used to love about Hudson Belk Crabtree. The Capitol Room is a distant memory; paved over for Kate Spade handbags because "no one wants to eat in a cafeteria anymore." The furniture and rugs are gone too. Too bulky, not enough inventory turns. The fancy Nixon-era streetlamps along the exterior. There's one lonely one left; how the hell did that happen? The friendly lady from New Zealand who always wanted to talk, even though we barely knew each other save for Big and Tall transactions. She may still be there, but I never see her anymore.

Retail is a continuum. Nothing lasts forever and I'm not going to whine about this for long. But I'll have my moment to reminice over the old chandeliers and what they stood for in my life.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

random thoughts for today | june 24, 2005

-- The marketing gurus from NPD's SnackTrack have determined that the No. 1 snack for both men and women is a piece of gum. Gum is a snack? Since when?

-- Kevin wants to start an eBay store selling deadstock and gently used sneakers and needed some stock, so yesterday we went a store called Fashion Avenue in Durham that has a pile of them. All the clearance ones are buy one, get one free every day. I don't need any sneakers (notice I neglected to say "want" [LOL]) so I just watched him clean up on the deals. They had another location in town, but we couldn't find it today. I'm gonna check the website to see if I can Google map it.

-- I had a Tropicana Twister Strawberry soda today. It wasn't bad, but it's nothing to write home about. It's like Fanta but less sugary.

-- Carnie Wilson is almost more famous for the gastric bypass than she was for singing. What a weird celebrity culture we have.

-- Here's a funny story: you know how I like to pick up old funky LPs from the thrift store? Well, I have Carly Simon's "Boys in the Trees" that I bought at the Goodwill for, like, 8 cents. Anyway, the album cover has Carly not exactly naked (it's form 1978) but she's, er, a bit provocative. I certainly don't mind that at all, but I actually bought the LP for this song "Tranquillo," which is the most disco-fied Carly Simon song ever.

Yeah, I'm a dork. Who's asking?

Anyway, My Aunt Christine invites herself into my room, as always, when she vists one time and sees the album on the floor and starts asking 20 questions, also as usual. So I'm trying to explain why a 29-year-old man would have a sexy album-cover picture of a '70s pop singer lying around on the floor. Then I'm thinking, why should I have to explain this?

Don't I have a right to ogle a MILF in my own room and enjoy a little Carter-administration soft rock while doing it? I just don't know what's going on sometimes.


The New York Post

Retailers are coming around to an idea that department stores discovered decades ago, but then abandoned: If you feed shoppers, they will buy more.

Plans are currently under way, and still under wraps, for several new big-budget eateries at major stores, including one to be unveiled tonight at Bergdorf Goodman and two others that are part of a full-scale overhaul of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York.

"I used to beg retailers to incorporate food in their stores, and, as recently as five years ago, they had no interest," said Kevin Kelley, a partner in the design firm Shook Kelley. "Now stores are looking at restaurants as a way to attract consumers."

Facing increased competition and sluggish sales, retailers, especially the beleaguered department stores, are looking for ways to reinvent themselves. In turning to food, they are taking a cue from European counterparts, stores like Selfridges and Harrods in London and Printemps in Paris that have long served up all sorts of goodies to weary shoppers.

It was a notion that department stores discovered long ago, during their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, when women gladly took a break from shopping to lunch at the Garden Room in Abraham & Strauss or sip tea at the Walnut Room in Marshall Field's.

Like so much else that once made department stores special, many of those restaurants soon went the way of free gift wrapping and home delivery.

"In the last decade, the restaurants that still existed were either run down or not a strategic focus for retailers," said Craig Johnson of Customer Growth Partners.

Department stores aren't the only retailers rediscovering food. Consumer electronics chain Best Buy is testing a café in a store in Lincoln Park, Chicago, and specialty retailer Tommy Bahama has added restaurants to seven of its 43 stores. Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, has for years relied on cafés to give its stores a coffee-shop type atmosphere, where people linger for hours.

But department stores are under the most pressure to reinvent themselves, and several large stores are rediscovering that food can fatten the bottom line.

People who eat at in-store restaurants tend to spend double the amount of time in the store and buy 30 percent more than they would have had they not eaten, said Craig Childress, director of prototype design research for Envirosell.

At Tommy Bahama, for instance, stores that have adjoining restaurants see double the retail sales per square foot compared with standalone stores, said George Santacroce, the company's president of retail.

Kelley, of Shook Kelley, said he started to notice the trend in Los Angeles several years ago when celebrities such as Paris Hilton began lunching at Mauro's Café at Fred Segal. Across the country, Fred's at Barneys New York, became a draw for the fashion crowd when it was elevated from the store's basement to its top floor.

At least two new restaurants are planned for the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship: one on the second floor, designed by Gabellini Associates, that will feature a wrap-around bar and décor that changes with the seasons, and another on the fifth floor designed by IIBYIV Design Associates, sources said. Saks declined to comment on its renovation plans.

Interior designer Kelly Wearstler is creating a new restaurant for Bergdorf Goodman on the seventh floor overlooking Central Park. Scheduled to open in October, BG, as the new restaurant is to be called, is seeking to rival Fred's as a draw for the rich and beautiful.

"We are hoping this will be a coveted lunch and cocktail ticket," said Bergdorf's Linda Fargo.

It’s still gotta be da shoes

Tim Nudd,

Mid-1980s. Junior high school in Mokena, Ill. Kid (not me) walks out of the locker room wearing the original $100-plus red-and-black-and-white Air Jordans. A brief pause—has time stopped? Then a sudden giant sucking sound, as any vestiges of non-materialistic attitudes are vacuumed, Exorcist-like, from our little 11-year-old brains. Few of us would ever end up with a pair of Air Jordans, but there wasn’t a single one of us who didn’t want them.

From that day a couple decades ago, it’s a fairly straight shot to this year’s Wimbledon, where Nike has given Maria Sharapova 10 pairs of absurd, gold-encrusted tennis shoes worth $600 a pair.

These shoes are ridiculous. Even Sharapova seems a bit baffled by their existence.

“They shine unbelievably,” she said this week. “Hopefully, that will distract my opponents a little bit.”

If Air Jordans ushered in the age of modern consumer culture, the Sharapova fashion show might be the perfect expression of it. And it’s not just shoes. The Russian teenager is also set to debut a “sort of cloak with gold details and a gold zipper” and a “summer dress with orange details on it.”

If she doesn’t win this tournament, won’t she end up looking a bit foolish?

Grown-Up Boys' Wear for Bar or Barricades

Nom de Guerre, an outfitter of unregimented men at Broadway and Bleecker Street, is underground and proud of it. (John Lei for The New York Times)


FOR a revolutionary, a nom de guerre is both an image maker and a practical tool. He or she can employ one to burnish or fashion an image, adding mystery to the mundane - as Patty Hearst did when she was reborn as Tania - while neatly covering his or her tracks.

The owners of a men's store called Nom de Guerre, which is set like a bunker or an after-hours club in concrete chambers underneath the sidewalk at Broadway and Bleecker Street, are clearly enamored of revolutionaries and their advertising techniques.

Here is a store without a storefront. Heck, it doesn't even have a sign, though if you're looking down at just the right spot, you might see the words "Nom de Guerre" stenciled on the sidewalk in a swirly Gothic, old-style surfer typeface. To reach it, you walk gingerly down an iron staircase that ends in a wide and dimly lighted concrete hall, empty except for the gigantic black Nom de Guerre stencil on one wall; a row of red utility lights beckons from a smaller hall just beyond. There's a copy shop to your left and an unmarked door to your right. Follow the guy gliding in on the skateboard, as I did early one weekday afternoon.

It's a bit grim to be sure, but the young men working here are affable and kindly despite the greenish light and dour themes. In the spring, images of men in ski masks glowered from bright-pink T-shirts on a wall. On another wall rows of revolutionary tracts were laid out like jewelry, with titles that included "10 Days That Shook Iraq," "I Ask That One Piece of Your Heart Be Zapatista" and "500 Years of Indigenous Revolutions."

This month the tracts have been replaced by bios of 80's bands like the Cure and the Clash and the Smiths, as well as old music videos of Depeche Mode and Spandau Ballet.

Tyler Thompson, a soft-spoken salesman wearing a black knit cap with a slogan that read "Easy Money," unlocked a glass case so that I could try on a black sweatshirt lined in black rabbit fur. Its silk-lined sleeves were printed with dollar signs. Instead of drawstrings, gold-plated chains dangled, tipped with tiny daggers. It was $1,600, a limited-edition garment made one sweatshirt at a time by a hairstylist named Joey Curls. The store has sold just one. On my back it looked as comic as you would imagine.

"They're shooting a music video down the street if you'd like to wear it out," Mr. Thompson said helpfully. Now the case is filled with a collection of old Ray-Bans - Wayfarers, Drifters - but you can ask for the bunny fur, and they'll order one for you.

There are essentially four things for sale at Nom de Guerre: T-shirts, sweatshirts, blue jeans and sneakers. A boy's uniform. But what sort of boy? T-shirts made by Rogan, $60, are laundered into a suedelike nap, their slogans ("Keep New York City," "You Won't Belize Your Eyes") faded just to the brink of erasure. You want to nuzzle them, smell the Tide.

Paper-thin Rogan flip-flops nearby are even more archly casual, almost disposable, in a black-on-brown print over hemp soles, $110. Military jackets in navy and white pinstripes or a tigery black-and-gray camouflage pattern, carrying Nom de Guerre's own label, are $325. Lavender gingham button-down shirts, also by Nom de Guerre, classic and fitted, are $210 and $195.

Sneakers are the other story at Nom de Guerre. For some young men, maybe the only story. Limited edition and vintage sneakers are presented in a curatorial manner in a vaultlike cement room deeper within, along with more T-shirts in flat files and a trance-tribal soundtrack. The vintage sneakers live in a glass vitrine, single pairs on consignment, like a pair of sleek white hightops in men's size 12, with orange tongues and touches of a silvery reflective material for $1,000. (Called Maharishi Terminators, they are among 48 pairs made by Nike in 2004, Mr. Thompson said.)

Such artful casualness, my friend Dan mused, seems geared to a man intent on modeling himself after a Brad Pitt type who has been styled for a visit to Starbucks. "You know, the hair is wet and tousled, so he can be 'caught' by the paparazzi," Dan said. "Or maybe it's what you wear in the front row of a Lakers game."

Dan called these items "dog whistle" fashion, quoting from the late Geraldine Stutz, who in the 60's and 70's presided over the famous first-floor bazaar at Henri Bendel, where young designers were featured in an assemblage of chic pitched so high only a few discerning women could hear it.

DESPITE that bunny-fur sweatshirt, what's being sold here isn't flash. Instead, Nom de Guerre, which has been open for a year and a half, is offering indie fashion and springs from a tradition of the single vision, owner-in-the-store shops you used to find on Ludlow Street in the early 90's, then in NoLIta and finally in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Its parent is the three-year-old Isa, a clublike store in Williamsburg invented by Isa Saalabi and Holly Harnsongkram. Isa is now famous among young artists, musicians and fashion connoisseurs for its terse selection and its events. A book party for the graffiti artist Neck Face last winter, for example, drew hundreds of people.

Nom de Guerre's owners, Mr. Saalabi; Ms. Harnsongkram; Wil Whitney, a former manager at Stüssy; and Devon Ojas, a graffiti artist, prefer to describe themselves as a collective. "We like to have things that we feel are important culturally and socially," Ms. Harnsongkram said. "Not totally heavy but a little bit of thought there."

I asked Ms. Harnsongkram how you make a business at subway level with no billboard. (In my three visits a small but steady stream of customers arrived at the store.)

"We've always operated by word of mouth," she said. "It fits with the ideas we have. And we always carry something special to make sure it's worth the trip."

There is something pleasantly subversive about a store that is literally underground, just below the scads of shoppers logjammed at the Crate & Barrel corner at Broadway and Houston Street, funneling toward the dada shopping theater at the Prada store two blocks south. It's not too heavy, but there's a little bit of thought there.

Nom de Guerre
640 Broadway at Bleecker Street, Manhattan; directly underneath the Swatch store; use the copy shop sign as a navigational aid; (212) 253-289.

ATMOSPHERE A little menacing, like the former after-hours club Sound Factory, or perhaps a concrete bunker.

CLIENTELE Readers of Paper magazine, Vogue editors, skater boys and sneaker freaks.

SERVICE Gentle, kindly and knowledgeable.

NOTEWORTHY ITEMS A pair of 1994 Nike Air Max 2's, size 10½, white with royal-blue accents and a slice of suede around the heel that looks like faux cement, $350; gold and metallic turquoise leather basketball shoes by Y-3, the snazzy Adidas brand designed by Yohji Yamamoto, $325; and red or black plaid Jack Purcell's, the old-fashioned cloth sneakers that your grandfather (and Jack Purcell) used to wear, $50.

Sophia? Is That You Behind the Shades?


POOLSIDE at the Lincoln Tower apartments just outside Chicago last weekend: women in their 70's and 80's basked on plastic loungers, their faces half masked by sunglasses the size and shape of small television screens. Most were purchased 30 years ago and bear extinct labels like Anne Klein for Riviera. These days their style-obsessed daughters and granddaughters could be forgiven for wanting to snatch them away. But as it turns out, there is no need.

Contemporary variations of vintage movie-star shades are ubiquitous this season, as common as sugar cones and almost as easy to come by. The eyewear equivalent of bling, they compete for status with the fashionably oversize handbags toted by the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie and come in more styles than Baskin-Robbins has flavors. Already a West Coast badge of chic, they have emerged all across the country as summer's most sought-after fashion accessory.

An informal survey of stores in New York last week turned up wide-temple aviator frames by Stella McCartney, headlight-size wire rims by Giorgio Armani, scaled-up green wrap frames with matching lenses from Gucci and embossed tortoiseshell models from Bottega Veneta, to say nothing of a proliferation of wraparound visor styles that resemble the dark goggles offered as eye protection to laser surgery patients.

According to James Spina, the editor of 20/20, an eyewear trade monthly, oversize frames now account for 20 percent of all sunglasses sales. Mr. Spina added that those styles have most likely contributed to a surge in overall sales of sunglasses this year, which have increased by nearly 10 percent for the period through March.

Prices vary widely, from $7 for squarish tinted models sold at H&M to $3,500 for monster-size red, white and blue vintage spectacles available through Cutler & Gross. Twenty dollars will fetch dramatic black-rimmed eyewear by Isaac Mizrahi for Target; $160 will buy saucer-size versions from Dita, the Los Angeles company that makes Supa Dupas, the fashion insignia of tastemakers like Mary-Kate Olsen and style bait for postadolescents eager to emulate Ms. Olsen's affectless, just-out-of rehab look.

Curiously, a taste for shades that make the wearer look like an alien life-form required no push from marketers. Instead it derived its momentum from the apparently spontaneous endorsement of Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie, Jessica Simpson and of course the Olsen twins, all of whom routinely appear in magazines like In Style and Star flaunting frames that seem made to measure for Hollywood egos.

It is fitting, perhaps, that outlandish frames originated in the heyday of Sophia Loren and Anouk Aimée, whose Fellini-esque black shades became her fashion signature, and Jacqueline Onassis, who ducked the paparazzi in supersize glasses as she island-hopped along the Aegean. Then, too, celebrity culture drove their popularity.

"You can wear them and feel, 'I am fabulous,' " said Julie Gilhart, the fashion director of Barneys New York, which has experienced a run on diva-scale glasses by Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, Oliver Peoples and Prada. "It's 'I'm a celebrity and you're not going to see where I'm looking.' "

Typical is Pia Grisslich, a 24-year-old psychology student, who peered over her Prada glasses at Cafe Gitane on Mott Street in NoLIta last week just long enough to confide: "I had to have them. They make you feel all shiny and glamorous." Besides, as she knew, her black resin frames lent her already small features a gamine Audrey Hepburn look.

Others choose large frames to minimize prominent features. Manuel Santos, a 23-year-old fashion designer, dotes on his mock tortoiseshell Marc Jacobs shades. "I have a big face," he explained, "and I need to cover it up." Besides, "big frames are very old-school glam," he added. "People like Monica Vitti and even Bianca Jagger used to wear really big glasses."

So attached are some people to their larger-than-life spectacles that they style themselves around them. One, Nicole Gagne, a jewelry designer, strolled in NoLIta last week wearing crème brûlée-tinted glasses that were perfectly keyed to her caramel cardigan, blue and beige Marc Jacobs skirt and tobacco-colored Birkenstocks. "Every day I dress to match my frames," said Ms. Gagne, who owns pale ones for days when she is feeling subdued and an orange pair to wear as a Day-Glo counterpoint to black.

The pair she had on that day were a near ringer for the Dita Supa Dupa, the reigning queen of big shades. The Supa Dupa is the brainchild of Jeff Solorio and John Juniper, two Los Angeles-based fashion photographers who designed the style and several others last year on a hunch that, on the West Coast at least, shades would become the new handbags, as pivotal a fashion statement as a Balenciaga lariat tote.

"For the past five or six months - since the Olsen girls picked them up - they've been the hottest frame we have," Mr. Juniper said. The privately owned company does not release sales figures, but its glasses are among the most coveted models at Barneys, Fred Segal in Los Angeles and DDC Lab in the meatpacking district of Manhattan. Since March, he said, "we have had trouble keeping them in stock."

Jaye Hersh, the owner of Intuition, a Los Angeles outpost of hip, reported a waiting list for Supa Dupas. "People are calling every day," she said. "They just have to have them."

Paradoxically the Olsens, who put supersize frames on the fashion map, may soon be moving on, rendering the glasses obsolete, at least in the minds of early fashion adopters. Retailers, though, are counting on their staying power.

Will big glasses be over? "Not anytime soon," snapped Belle Nguyen, a buyer for, an online vendor, which does a robust business selling brands like Dita and Dior. "People are loving theses shades because they make you look hoboish in a rich way," she said. "As trends go, this one is just getting started."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Has Iowa's Pork Queen Become Endangered?

The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The throne is under siege. Is the pork queen's reign in danger? In Iowa, of all places, where hogs outnumber people?

Iowa has crowned a pork queen since 1960, but some in the pork industry are starting to wonder if the title's time has passed.

Fewer young women are entering the competition, critics note. Last year, there were only 11 contestants. There's no more national queen contest because Ohio is the only other place with a state pork queen.

Another common criticism is that the contest excludes young men. Some suggest that the Iowa Pork Producers Association, which sponsors the queen, should pick a "pork ambassador" who could be male or female. Nebraska, Missouri and Illinois all have gone that route, said Jen Holtkamp, spokeswoman for the 4,000-member Iowa association.

Soo Greiman can't see it. Greiman was the 1973 Iowa pork queen and the 1974 national queen. Her daughter, Cassidy, is the current Iowa queen.

"My guess is a young man is not going to want to serve as a witness for the pork industry riding on the back of a car in a parade, wearing a sash and waving," Soo Greiman said.

A traditionalist view, to be sure. But pork queen supporters say the position is all about tradition - a bright, personable young woman who understands the ins and outs of raising hogs and can speak knowledgeably about one of the state's major industries.

Iowa markets 25 million hogs annually, one-fourth of the nation's total. At any one time there are 16 million hogs in the state, about five for every person.

"We're the major state in the country," said Tim Bierman, who raises hogs near Larrabee in northwest Iowa. "There's no reason why we shouldn't be doing it."

The issue of keeping the pork queen came up during this year's Iowa Pork Congress in January. After some discussion, delegates put off a vote and instead asked that a recommendation be prepared for next year's meeting.

When Soo Greiman was chosen pork queen, there were so many county queens entering that the association had to hold regional competition to narrow the field before it reached the state level.

But times have changed. There are fewer family farms and families are smaller now. There also are more activities for girls in rural areas, including athletics, drama, music and speech.

And there's something else at work, too.

"It's not as cool to be involved in agriculture as it was even 10 years ago," said Cassidy Greiman, who's an exception to that thinking. Farming has always been cool for her. So has the prospect of becoming the pork queen.

"Really, it's been a dream of mine since I was 7 years old," said Greiman, 19, who will be a sophomore in agriculture this fall at Iowa State University. "Watching the Iowa pork queens and going to the Pork Congress and watching the girls at the ceremony, I always wished I could do the same thing."

random thoughts for today | june 23, 2005

-- When a old mall remodels, JCPenney exterior retrofits are almost always horrible as a rule. The ones I've seen redone tend to look like ass. Coliseum Mall in Hampton, Virginia has one of the better looking contemporary ones I've seen from that era. Some of them they tried to make symmetrical, but most of the later ones tried to mix it up a little. Sometimes the results were good (Regency Square) sometimes bad (Cloverleaf Mall).

If you ask me, I kinda like Penney's being dated on the outside. The one at Tanglewood is one of my favorite stores because it's so 1973 and it brings back so many memories for me. All of those Penney's stores (built roughly from 1965-1976) were cool because even though they all had similar elements (escalator wells, basic layouts) none of them are exactly alike. I'd love to go all around the country and photograph the basic store type just to examine the variations from one mall to another.

-- Random photos can be fun sometimes.

-- There was this girl I really liked in high school that I could never get to go out with me, though we hung out all the time. We were in OM (Odyssey of the Mind) together. She asked me to sign her yearbook and I rambled on for at least a couple pages. It was odd, even for me, but I guess the thought that I would probably never see her again set off something in my head. I miss Brianna, but I don't know whatever happened to her. Brianna Ross, where are you? :-)

-- I don't know what I think of the metrosexual trend. I mean, I'm a pretty vain guy and I use stuff that could be considered beauty products (toner. body wash, cologne) but I'm not really fussy about moisturizing and exfoliating and tightly fitting clothes or anything. I'm more like a regular guy that knows his fashion and appearance products. I'm not sure if that's metro or not.

-- Other than some old school hip-hop that I hear on holidays on the radio stations I listen to or some selected smooth jazz, I've got no interest in going back to what was on the radio in the early '90s. Ask me tomorrrow and you may get a different answer.

-- There’s a whole wing of Tanglewood Mall that’s still empty and I don’t imagine that they’re going to leave it that way. I have suspicions that Value City, Kohl’s, Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear, Costco or Boscov’s may be looking at the area (possibly Tanglewood) but I have no proof to back my supicions up…yet.

-- Some girls seem to seem to have a thing for the skinny geeky guys in glasses. On behalf of all skinny geeky guys in glasses, we thank you. :-)

-- We used to go to Hamrick's in Winston-Salem when I was little, and there’s one in Greensboro now. It's mostly clothes in a T.J. Maxx meets Goody’s-type vein. Hopefully, they’ve changed to a little more modern merchandise by now (haven’t been in one since the ‘80s) but I remember that they used to sell the Levi’s Bend-Over polyester slacks and matching tops. A little grandma-ish, to my recollection. Like I said, hopefully they’re better by now, but the polyester is what I remember.

We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.

Jason Togyer
Tube City Almanac

It's the 25th anniversary of "The Blues Brothers ," and the Chicago Sun-Times is running a weeklong look back at the places in Chicago that were featured in the film. The church where James Brown was preaching has fallen on hard times, and the street where John Lee Hooker was singing in an open market was demolished to make way for the expansion of the University of Chicago.

And don't tell The Penguin , but the orphanage has been torn down anyway. (Of course, it was only a false-front movie set, built in an alley.)

It's good stuff, even if you're not on a mission from God.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

random thoughts for today | june 22, 2005

-- I need to go back to K&G and pick up a Phat Farm suit that I tried on. It was so nice on me and since I wear a 46 x-long, it's rare to find something that works. But its $210 and I'm broke right now so I'd have to charge it. Still might get it, though. It looked damn good on me!

-- K&G also had some funky Kenneth Cole watches that looked kind of like Nixon watches. That may need to be revisited as well. I like Nixon, but I don't wear any particular contemporary watch enough to get the value out of it. I usually buy Seikos in a traditional style if I'm spending more than $50.00 on a watch. The rest of the watches I have are junk by design, so Kenneth Cole would qualify (LOL)

-- I've been promoting my friend Brian's site on (where I post opinions sometimes) and this guy Chris Edwards, who also posts on UP, submitted a mall in Charlotte using some pictures one of the moderators (known as metroboi) took of the place. Well, Chris didn't ask metroboi's permission to use the photos so metroboi is pissed! He asked Chris to contact Brian and have the photos removed.

-- Yesterday was the longest day of the year. It's not like you really missed anything though if you didn't notice. The longest and shortest days (also known as summer and winter solstice) seem to go by pretty quickly and it's not like there's a parade or anything.

-- 41 percent of men enjoy grocery shopping according to a new survey conducted by Euro RSCG Worldwide. I'm one of those guys. A good grocery store is like heaven on earth for me. There's always something new, and most times you can eat or drink what you buy. What could be better?

Advertisers try new ways to always get their man

Theresa Howard
USA Today

CANNES, France -- Men. Who needs them?

Marketers with stuff to sell them, that's who.

But men are notoriously hard for advertisers to find -- at least the young, single ones coveted for their disposable income and trend setting.

Young men with no family responsibilities have money to burn for products such as video games, cars, fast food, beer, apparel, electronics, sports gear and personal-care items. And more are staying single longer. Half of U.S. men in their late 20s are single, vs. 20% in 1970, says Rose Cameron, director of planning at ad agency Leo Burnett.

"The worst word for these guys is responsibility," Cameron says. "They are going back to their primal selves and the little boy inside and enjoying themselves as much as they can. What that means is they are open season for discretionary income."

That has made marketing to men a hot area for advertisers these days -- and a hot topic this week at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the annual weeklong gathering of the world's leaders in the industry. On Wednesday, Leo Burnett executives will present "Metros vs. Retros: Are Marketers Missing Real Men?" The seminar explores masculinity across the globe and ways marketers might be better able to reach young males.

One thing marketers agree on about today's young Turks is that their world is increasingly digital. That means advertisers must not only tailor messages to young men's sensibilities, they also must creatively use digital media forms to reach them. But there's a bonus awaiting the marketer who strikes a chord online: The guys themselves will spread the news about the message on the Web -- known as viral marketing.

"Marketers can leverage their power through digital media," Cameron says.

How some marketers are trying to catch a man:

*Get them often. Axe marketers see these young men as multimedia consumers. So the top-selling deodorant brand in the world is mixing a website and ads with targeted TV commercials, such as on MTV, and even an Axe video game ( that launched online Monday. Players get points for using seduction tools to pick up women. "This consumer target ... may be watching TV, but he also has his computer on, he's chatting to friends, playing a video game. Multiple things are happening," says Esther Lem, head of brand development for Unilever Deodorant.

*Get them early. Volvo last year created the S40, its first entry-level premium car. It was the year's best seller for a brand whose typical buyer has been 35 and older. "We are trying to get people in their first real job and their first real car who want something to show for that success," says Tim Ellis, global advertising director. "It can rejuvenate your brand to have young people driving your car and talking about your car."

*Get them to wear your pants. Levi's, which had been focusing much of its marketing on women and low-rise pants, has homed in on men in the past year with TV ads and Web films.

A recent TV ad showed a young man returning to his ex-girlfriend's apartment with flowers -- not to make up, just to get his favorite jeans back. A Web film shows a young man overwhelmed by "metrosexual" trends in male grooming, fashion and even coffee choices. In the end, he simplifies his life by donning a pair of traditional Levi's.

my neighborhood | The Tube City Almanac

This is Jason Togyer's blog at Tube City Online. I wish I could write as well as he can.

Monday, June 20, 2005

random thoughts for today | june 21, 2005

-- Black cherry sodas tend to be pretty decent, regardless of brand, though I really get a kick out of Stewart's Black Cherry. It's one of my favorite sodas, especially chilled.

-- I need to go to Charlotte sometime this week. When I was there last, I passed up a dehydrator that was only $3.00 at Value Village thrift store. It's an Excalibur model and Mom has been looking for one for a while, but she didn't want to pay the $200 for it new. If it's still there and it works, it will be a great deal.

-- We have a cooler shaped like a can of Mello Yello that we use at Mom's club. It's intact so far, though it's outside when we have outdoor events. The eBay possibilities on that are tremendous.

-- I like my casual wear, but every once in a while I like to get dressed up. There's apicture of me on this site at age 22 in a suit. I got the date wrong on the posting page, BTW, because i forgot when I took the picture. That photo is one of my favorite pictures of myself, even though it's not really a great picture.

-- At Kroger, they had a small section of international sodas, including some from Jamaica. I need to go back and try them so I can tell you more about them. They were expensive (for singles), so I didn't get them when I saw them.

-- Something new is finally coming to Tanglewood Mall. A.C. Moore has signed a lease to open up in part of the vacant space on the front of the mall. That will keep it a little less dead in there. I cranked out a story to send to my editor. I'm hoping to get it to publish outside my regular rotation, but, if not, it'll be an upcoming Retail Therapy article.

-- The big box retailer World Market usually carries some obscure sodas like Afri-Cola, Orangina, Loco soda (with red pepper!), Bundaberg Ginger Beer, and Virgil's Root Beer.

A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts Joins Lineup at Tanglewood Mall

Tanglewood Mall announced today that a lease has been signed with A. C. Moore Arts & Crafts to open their first Southwest Virginia store location. Scheduled to open in early spring 2006, the 22,000-square-foot store will be located at the front of the mall near the Stein Mart mall entrance. The company currently operates over 95 stores in the eastern United States.

“A. C. Moore Arts & Crafts will offer Tanglewood Mall customers a selection of merchandise not currently offered in the southwest region of Roanoke County,” said Kelly Sandridge, marketing manager for the center. “As a rapidly growing operator of stores offering a vast assortment of traditional and contemporary arts, crafts, and floral merchandise, they provide the widest selection of high quality merchandise at everyday value prices in an inviting attractive store environment. With superior service and high inventory levels, we are excited to introduce this store to our shoppers.”

Happy Birthday, Anita!

My friend Anita with her birthday cake.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Meshell Ndegeocello Breaks Step With Pop

By Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post Staff Writer

NEW YORK She's known for that voice, husky and mellifluous, murmuring and waxing philosophic both onstage and on wax. The thing is, Meshell Ndegeocello doesn't like to talk (so she says). "What's there to say?" But she likes -- needs -- to walk. Such as now, in the middle of an interview at a Brooklyn cafe.

"I'd like to walk," she announces softly, grabbing her cigarettes, sliding out her seat and onto her feet, bounding out the door and into the street. Moving. Her walkinglust satisfied, she'll return, picking up where she left off. Sometimes she walks when things are not to her liking. Sometimes she walks 12 miles a day, sneaker to pavement, soothing her soul.

The nine-time Grammy nominee, who grew up in Washington, is frequently credited with paving the way for a tidal wave of neo-soulsters -- Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Maxwell, D'Angelo, Alicia Keys. Like Prince, whose Paisley Park record label once wooed her, she's an entity unto herself, equally at home with a pen as she is with any number of instruments. Pinning her to a musical genre is like chaining gravity.

She says she's a "simple" person, and yet, she traffics in complexity, both in her music and in her philosophical outlook. Each album is a segue into a new direction: Funk-rock with a spiritual bent, then acoustic folk, then politically conscious hip-hop, then moody dub and electronica, and now, with "Dance of the Infidel," her latest CD, she experiments with largely instrumental jazz that takes its cues from Miles back in the "Bitches Brew" days. (Ndegeocello will showcase her new sound Tuesday at the 9:30 club.)

Indeed, Ndegeocello, nee Michelle Johnson, 36, is a musical maelstrom, a fleet-fingered virtuoso who's performed with the likes of Prince, the Rolling Stones, John Mellencamp, Madonna, Alanis Morissette, Lenny Kravitz and the Black Rock Coalition. As a producer, she's worked with artists ranging from jazz saxophonist Ron Blake to D.C.'s alt hip-hop artist Citizen Cope, and scored the soundtracks for "Disappearing Acts," "A Time for Dancing" and "Lackawanna Blues." The Berlin-born singer-poet-bassist-keyboardist has flirted with pop life, with radio airplay and MTV appearances.

But she's had more critical appeal than commercial success, perhaps in part because she always veered in the other direction, more often than not thumbing her nose at the musical powers that be, as she did in her 2002 satirical video "Pocketbook (Rockwilder Remix)." In a mocking sendup of "In Da Club" rap images, a bevy of video honeys dance around her, sporting skivvies that read "Buy My Record."

She used to have a Range Rover and a house in California, but she gave that all up. She'd rather move around, city to city, from project to project (but she currently lives in Berkeley, where her son attends school).

She's trying to remain true to the Swahili meaning of her adopted name, Ndegeocello: free like a bird.

"It's about being able to grow, be different," she says softly. "Change."

Her latest change comes with a new project (on a new label for her, Shanachie) in which she puts aside the wring-out-the-sweat funkfests for which she is known, pounding on the bass with her trademark ferocity. Gone, too, are the throaty confessionals of longing and loss, of bargaining and betrayals. Instead, the musical auteur is taking a step away from the spotlight, silencing that voice, the better to shine a klieg light on her new musical collective, the Spirit Music Jamia.

Jamia, she explains, means a gathering, a meeting. "Dance of the Infidel" features a lengthy cast of jazz all-stars: Cassandra Wilson, Miles Davis alum Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Garrett, singer Lalah Hathaway, Oliver Lake, Don Byron, Sabina and Ron Blake. In it, she serves as a Quincy Jones figure, playing bass with the band but composing and nurturing talent, too.

"I'm like the shaman," she says. "I just make it nice. I make a nice environment for people to express themselves. That's it."

She plays at being the androgyne, makeup-free, skullcap pulled low over shaved head, baggy Doors T-shirt (she is a big fan) obscuring breasts, even baggier shorts threatening to slide past invisible hips. Tattoos give mute testimony to the trajectory of her life. Elaborate Chinese characters scroll up her right arm, spelling out "fire over lake," a reference to revolution, she says, while a tiny green star serves as a punctuation mark underneath her right eye. On the left side of her neck, curvy cursive spells out "Rebecca," an apparent reference to Rebecca Walker, the writer and activist (and daughter of Alice) who was until recently her long-term love.

When she walks, she bops.

Her public persona is that of the brash butch -- she's openly bisexual -- but, says jazz saxophonist Ron Blake, "she's nothing like that. That's the wild thing. But that's what folks use to sell records."

She is, surprisingly, shy. When asked a question, she dimples up, ducks her head into her shoulder, evoking images of a young child hiding behind her mother's skirts. She speaks ever so softly, dodging eye contact. Until, that is, she warms up, and then she holds forth on everything, the world according to Meshell.

She admires Alice Coltrane, widow to John and a serious musician in her own right. Coltrane now runs an ashram in Southern California, recording Sanskrit tunes and avoiding interviews. Ndegeocello would like very much to have it like that. Right now, she says, she's got to do the media thing.

"I just see it for what it is. We're all streetwalkers trying to get you to buy our goods. It's no deeper than that. . . .

"You make a choice to make music or be an actor," she says, "and people automatically think they can have access to your life."

When she's hanging out with her band, an all-male contingent ranging from barely twenty-something to over 60, her life is wide open. With them, at a rehearsal studio in her old Prospect Heights neighborhood, she's all hugs and how're-your-babies, leaning in close, cracking jokes. Her son, Solomon, a spectacled 16-year-old still growing into himself, hangs with them. He's with her wherever she goes. Asked if theirs is a close relationship she answers: "Cherish the hope. Cherish the hope."

I hail from a suburb

Outside Southeast

-- "Priorities 1-6"

"She lives in music," Blake says, adding that sometimes the vagaries of day-to-day details can be a "challenge" for Ndegeocello. But, he says, "put an instrument in her hand, give her a tape recorder. As long as there's some food and water, she's cool. She's a very peaceful person."

Her dad, Jacques Johnson, was an Army man who played the saxophone. The family moved to the Washington area when she was a little girl, and Ndegeocello attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School.

She says she started music late, at 14 or so. (Well, okay, she did play the clarinet in elementary school.) Her big brother played the guitar. She figured she'd play the bass. She picked it up, started noodling with it. It felt good. In high school, she joined up with a go-go band called Prophecy, and started gigging with them after the bass player didn't show up one day. She loved it, adored go-go, the rollicking beat of D.C.'s "indigenous music," the primal drum feel of it all. She also played with Little Bennie and the Masters and Rare Essence. There she was, pounding on her bass, a rare female presence in testosterone-soaked go-go, jamming at clubs, some of which have come and gone: Black Hole. Breeze's Metro Club. Cherry's Skating in Southeast.

She went to Howard University, mostly because her brother went there and, at 17, she wasn't ready to leave home. But Howard wasn't a good fit. She says she couldn't navigate the social terrain, couldn't make her way around the profs in the music department. She lasted less than a year.

Paint her academic defection against the backdrop of a lonely girl trying to come to terms with being bisexual. As she said in a 2000 concert at the 9:30 club, back then she was "giving it to every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jane and Sue, so . . . I could feel like I was really here." Hers is music as memoir, boasting about stepping out with other women's men and crowing about it, as she did in her first single, "If That Was Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night"), and then cataloguing the hurt of young love, crushing on girls who didn't return the favor.

She had the kind of kisses

That make you sad

She liked to flirt with me

Then act like she didn't know me

When her friends came around

But I didn't mind

-- "Berryfarms"

By 20 she was pregnant, a "life-altering" experience," she says. Her parents supported her. She gave birth to Solomon, and, itching for new experiences, grabbed her baby and headed to New York.

After she played a few showcases around Manhattan, the record companies came a-courtin'. She opted for Madonna's label, Maverick, becoming the first female artist it signed.

"God looks out for fools and babies," she says with a laugh.

Mention God and blessings pepper her speech. She grew up Baptist, with a lot of "fire-and-brimstone ideas going through the house." But all religions intrigued her, including Hinduism. As always, her personal explorations are played out in her music. She denounces religious hypocrisy in "The Way" and ponders what it would be like to "jump the broom"with Jesus's right-hand woman in "Mary Magdalene."

Today she's a practicing Muslim, praying five times a day. She carries ebony zirkr , or prayer beads from Senegal, draping them around her neck one moment, the next moment taking them off and wrapping them around her hands.

"It gives you a moment to stop," she says of her spiritual practice, "to think outside yourself, not wallow in your own dismay."

She turns to her manager, Dexter Story.

"Remember when we were having a bad day?" she asks, referring to a tiff from their past.

Story nods in assent.

You told me to stop the machine, he says.

"Stop the machine," she repeats. "Stop the machine. It stops you from lashing out."

She can tell you the exact point in her career when she finally realized that she might be, oh, good at what she does. May. As in this year, in concert, Paris.

That night, she explains, was like an out-of-body experience. "I had wings," she says, her arms swooping up to approximate an angel's wingspan.

"A torch came out and then I was like, I'm good. I can play the bass. I was just playing and looking at my hands, doing things that I didn't know I could do," she continues. "It was like an out-of-body experience. That was the first day I was like, oh, okay, I'm okay ."

But enough with the talking. It's time for rehearsal, and followed by her manager, publicist and a reporter, she's leading the charge through the subway.

Say, you headin' my way

Two lonely hearts on the subway

Singin' the blues on the subway train

-- "Two Lonely Hearts (On the Subway)"

Ndegeocello clambers up and down steep subway stairs, nimbly navigating her terrain, zipping into the L train and then the Q up to Union Station and then the 2 back down to Brooklyn's Prospect Park. She slows down a bit, passing a subterranean violinist riffing on Vivaldi. Her hands waft and wave in the air, acknowledging the music.

But she doesn't stop.

She's walking. And right now, everything's cool.

michael jackson revisited

Michael Jackson waves to fans as he arrives to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif., Monday, June 13, 2005. (AP Photo/Michael Mariant)

Apparently I've got visitors here that don't agree with my opinion on the Michael Jackson case. I had a 'troll' try to defame me on StyleForum about it today. He's as big a coward as Michael Jackson is apparently, because he'd rather try to make fun of me under the cover of avatars rather than to face off with me personally.

The troll in question's avatar is MANLY MAN and he's posting garbage about GQ magazine being a tool of the supposed 'gay agenda' on both AskAndy and StyleForum. AskAndy wisely closed the thread, and I'm suprised that StyleForum hasn't. This guy is a first class nut job.

For those that are interested, here's my full opinion on the Michael Jackson case I posted at UrbanPlanet.

We all know that Michael Jackson has mangled his face, we all know that his skin color has changed. We all know that he's generally a weird dude. None of this is up for debate.

But none of that has anything to do with the case as it pertains to whether he molested those kids, though everyone wants to make it that way because they're mad that the 5 year old black boy with an Afro was replaced by a 46 year old white woman with a plastic surgery fetish.

How a person looks doesn't make them a criminal. Criminal acts make people criminals. And the proof of crimnal acts beyond a reasonable doubt was not strong enough to convict in this case. There was almost no defense and the prosecution still could not come up with enough evidence to convict him.

That mother of the accuser is an oppurtunist and will probably trump up a civil suit just for the money.

If Michael Jackson bears blame for what may or may not have happend, then she's guilty, too. Why in the name of good sense and reason would anyone leave their kids with a man that looks and acts like that off in the woods of Neverland? Does the concept of foreshadowing not exist when it comes to situations like that?

I personally don't think Michel Jackson is a child molester. He may be a homosexual, and he is a wimp and a mark for paying the first kid instead of going to trial, but I can't see a man doing that to kids that cares so deeply for them. I just can't