Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Springtime is for Pink Wine

Back in the 80s, I remember seeing berry wine coolers and bottles of white zinfandel at parties (don't get me wrong, I was a wee babe, and just remember the bottles, I wasn't drinking). But the mood changed, and for the longest time, "ros-ay" and "blush" wines were the height of tacky. Gauche, if you will. Anyone that brought you a bottle of pink wine was a hopeless philistine, destined for the trailer park. In college, you'd be more likely to drink straight from a bottle of Boones than to buy a bottle of White Zinfindel (most likely from California and under $8).

Now, thanks to the scenester's insatiable need to make everything old new again, pink wine has experienced a resurgance that's landed it not only on the picnic tables of Brooklyn, but at some of Manhattan's trendiest night spots. Last year, even the New York Times, often the last to know in matters of haute everything, wrote a piece on how pink is the new Pinot Grigio.

Domaines Ott, a French rose that sells for about $30, was the shining star of the Times article, but just about everything that comes in red can be found in a pink - White Pinot Noir, White Zin (of course), White Rioja, White Cab Sauv. Insanity!

Writers Julia Chapin and Sia Marshall (it apparently takes two to write about pink) went on:

"Still, its old reputation was hard to shake. Jay McInerney, the wine columnist of House & Garden, compared rosé to Jackie Collins novels and Jerry Bruckheimer movies in his August column. ''There was a sense that pink wine couldn't be serious,'' said Mr. McInerney, a rosé fan, who has been trying to lead a revival for years. ''People were afraid of looking unsophisticated by drinking rosé. It wasn't red. It wasn't white. They didn't know what to do with it.''

But now, among a certain group of global style setters ordering rosé is a sign of being in the know. Dropping the name of a Provençal rosé like Domaine Tempier can be code for having recently frolicked in St.-Tropez or Cap d'Antibes, where rosé accompanies leisurely seaside lunches. Even Pamela Anderson, in the days before she wed Kid Rock in St.-Tropez, was snapped by paparazzi on a yacht, a glass of rosé in hand. ''The South of France holds a place in people's hearts and psyche as this cool jet-set place,'' said Jennifer Rubell, the author of ''Real Life Entertaining.'' ''Ordering a bottle of rosé back in the U.S. is a subtle sign of belonging to that world.'' "

St Tropez! You don't say! If the Times says it, then it must be true (unless Judith Miller is involved).

So, in honor of the first warm spell of 2007 (that isn't in January) and of trying to be as culturally saavy and jet-setter as Pamela and Kid Rock, I'll be sitting on a Roosevelt Island roofdeck this evening, sipping some pink wine and counting the days until the wine cooler is cool again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More on the Pulitzers, Our Seas in Crisis

Having grown up on the ocean, the series winning this year's Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting is especially chilling, and something I think everyone should have to read and be aware of. We're slowly killing our oceans, and this cannot be good for us.

Read the five-part series here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And the winner is... Pulitzer time!

Earlier this afternoon the Pulitzer committee announced the winners for 2007, and like any good journalist I was quick on the uptake to find out who was the best of the best of my "peers" for the year. (Sometimes I do regret the move into trade publications...)

This year's winner for feature photography took my breath away.

Renee C. Byer of The Sacramento Bee spent several months documenting the slow decline of an 11-year-old boy with cancer, culminating in his eventual death. Having slowly lost my best friend to cancer two years ago (next month), I was unable to keep from sobbing at my desk as I watched the progression into sickness of this little boy, and the steely resolve of his mother to take care of him as best she could as she lost her business, her hope, and eventually, her baby.

The opening photograph is the most bittersweet of things with the boy holding his arms up in a V, smiling, as his mother pushes his wheelchair down a hospital corridor... What comes next is a testament to the beautiful, tragic, overwhelming love that human beings can have for each other - the kind of thing everyone deserves, and some of us are lucky enough to have gotten, even if it's taken away.

That's what I want out of life, I've come to realize - a partner who will stand by me for better or for worse, even when the worse is worse than you could have imagined, because then the better is aweing in its beauty and there is nothing more precious than that love that blows your mind, whether its for your lover, your child, your parent or your friend.

But don't take my word for it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Opening Night!

QUEENS - Shea Stadium. Mets v. Phillies. 40 degrees. Mist. Misery.

Last night I went to the Mets "opening night" game - opening day had apparently happened on Monday, and as a result, I remember why many years ago I tried to ban myself from attending baseball games in April (Go Sox!) after many wet, cold nights at Fenway Park. But, each spring, April rolls around, someone offers me a ticket, and I say "hell yes."

So, I made my way to Shea last night with some dear friends who had come slightly better prepared than I, but not much. Last year I went to opening day and it was so cold and wet that I bought myself a $50 Mets sweatshirt, and for the second time last night, I got to wear it. That brings it to $25 a wear. A few more games and it will be just like buying a really expensive martini at a Times Square hotel bar...

After weaving our way up the ramps, we stoped by the Sam Adams dispenser kiosk where two lovely teenage girls who had never operated a tap before tried to figure out why the cups were full of foam. $7 later I got my foamy beer, pulled my sweatshirt on, and found my seat.

Our seats were in the mezzanine section, and happily shielded from rain. What we were not shielded from was the bitter cold wind which grew sharper with each passing inning.

Meanwhile, on the field, the Mets gave up 3 runs in a row on walks. Six batters in a row were walked by the Mets pitcher, who my friend had assured me "had a really good spring". Nice. It was a completely unmemorable game. I have no idea what else happened, except that a small part of me was happy that the Phillies were winning as deep down, a Philly girl can never abandon her teams. And from what I've read, going into last night's game 1-6, the Phillies can only seem to win if they are walked across the plate one at a time.

On the plus side, I did get a foot-long hot dog, the rite of passage of every baseball goer, and a Budweiser in a freezing-cold metal bottle with a Mets logo on its side. Neat-o! After that, however, until the unceremonious top of the 8th, after which the pain of the cold greatly outweighted the fun of the baseball... We left.

Had it been just 20 degrees warmer, I'd have been able to tough it out, but I was losing sensation in my toes, and that's not awesome.

Back in Philadelphia, where Phillies fans were watching from the comfort of anywhere else, my sister texted me that Haley had been booted from American Idol. There is a God.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Success and Achievement

On the NYTimes.com today, columnist Judith Warner, who I often think does a whole lot of complaining for a woman with such a comfortable life, wrote a piece in response to an earlier Times article about "amazing girls." Warner makes several points with which I disagree, but the most interesting is that by setting up such high benchmarks for success early on in life, girls are destined to crash when "achievement" isn't "rewarded."

Warner writes: "Many, I think, never figure out how to handle the emptiness that comes when the rush of achievement fades away, or the loneliness — the sense of invisibility — when no one is there to hand out yet another "A." The fact is: when you are narrowly programmed to achieve, you are like a windup toy with only one movement in its repertoire. You're fine when you're wound up; but wind you down, and you grind to a halt."

My first reaction to her is "that's not true!" but is it?

I spent my high school years being as busy as I could possibly be because I wanted to go to Harvard. Later on my heart became set on Princeton, but the goal was basically the same. Five AP classes, captain of the tennis team, lead in the school play, Mock Trial, academic team, science club, Governor's School of the Sciences (back when I thought I wanted to be a Physicist...). You name it, I did it. And I probably ran it at some point too.

What was my reward? Well, Dartmouth. Our wee college on the hill with it's frat parties, beer bongs and ridiculous set of course requirements that tried to make us as well-rounded as humanly possible. And we had to pass a swim test.

Don't think I'm knocking Dartmouth. It was a wonderful school where I received a top knotch education and I wouldn't trade a day of what came before or after.

But when I got out of the Ivy League bubble and moved to Boston to find a job, the crash was swift, and I fell hard. In interview after interview people assumed I was a certain way because of what my resume read. As I got rejected from jobs, I became meeker in my interviews. Quiet. Terrified.

One day, a recruiter I'd been working with called me up and asked what kept going wrong. I said the woman who had interviewed me sat me down and said "I know you think you're too good for filing and copying, but that's a lot of what this job entails."

First sentence out of her mouth.

After being rejected from five jobs, how was I supposed to respond to that? I was afraid of losing yet another prospect, and I tried to be pleasant, but she interpreted my fear of saying the wrong thing as aloofness.

I finally wound up in a temp job at that company that lead to a year as the assistant to the director of marketing. Yes, it was miserable. Yes, I mailed, filed and photocopied. I hated every single day of it.

But it did teach me that graduating from an Ivy League school wasn't a Golden Ticket. Adults weren't lining up to throw opportunities at my feet. I had worked to get to college, and after college had to work even harder to find my place in an even bigger pond - that "whole world" place they don't tell you about when you're a kid.

So maybe Warner is right, and falling on your face early might be the best thing that can happen to a girl.

Now, as I count the days to my 30th birthday, I look back over my marketing days. My time in graduate school "studying" journalism. My scrappy years as a cub reporter for a 16,000 circulation daily newspaper where I found myself writing about whether or not Steve LeBel could build a giant shed in his yard (the planning board said yes. his neighbor cried.) and wondering how, for having finally found a job in "my field" that I loved, I was so damned poor. I had made more money temping. But without that newspaper job, perhaps the real-world equivalent of taking AP classes to get ahead, I wouldn't be sitting here now - not writing an article about custom-made gaming computers for a magazine.

Along the way, there have been some bumps in the road (mountains maybe...). My best friend passed away almost two years ago. I've struggled with depression and self-doubt. I've had some doozies on the relationship front. But I made it through, and in doing so, I've had to redefine what it means for me to be successful.

I may not be the CEO of anything. I'm not interested right now in being Anything-in-Chief. I'm not breaking any glass ceilings. I'm not in charge of much.

But I have a lovely cat, amazing friends, stellar sisters and a sense of peace and confidence that I can get through just about anything that I hadn't imagined possible back when I was 21.

My definition of success in the world has morphed along the way - from needing to put myself in the best college the world had to offer, to a steady staff job at a magazine that lets me do what I do best - write sentences - and get paid for it. Not bad. And that's good enough.

Monday, April 02, 2007

On Opening Day

Opening Day

Now that spring is settling in here in New York City, the next right of passage on the way back to football season has commenced - Baseball season.

This will be my third season in New York City, and the only thing I'm certain of is that no matter what, I will always hate the Yankees. Hating on the Yankees is as much fun as making out in a movie theater. Watching the fallen face of Derek Jeter as his team takes it up the #$%$ just makes my Red Sox-loving heart sing.

See, here's my dilemma.

I spent six years living in the heart of Red Sox Nation, a mere stone's throw from Fenway Park. I danced down my street the night they won the World Series in 2004, taking the time to call my boss and tell him that I would be 1) late and 2) hungover if and when I made it to Newburyport the next day. Having been the reporter sent to every sports-fan event, to collect opinions on every play-off game and every twist and turn in the Sox's season, I figured I'd earned my hangover and my day off.

My friend Phatiwe and I found ourselves in the B-Side Lounge, where just weeks before we'd watched the Yankees give the boys a serious thrashing. I think they were up 19 to something when we gave up and went to play pool somewhere with no TVs. I think gin and tonics were consumed as we talked to everyone in the bar in what was the first hipster sports-induced love-in I'd ever witnessed. (It was also the last.)

I love my Sox.

But I fell out of love with Boston, and now find myself living in the belly of the beast. Not the Bronx or Queens, at least, but god damn. There's a Yankee game on television just about every single night and do you know how often we get to see a Sox game? They have to be playing the Yankees, playing the Mets, or on some nationally televised thing. In other words, never. I almost never get to see them play anymore.

And so, like with any relationship, we got busy and kind of stopped calling each other.

I don't even know who's in the bull pen this year.

But I can probably name a handful of Mets players, because with Fenway a distant, green memory, I have to get my fix somehow and that somehow seems to be in the form of Mets games.

Now, I'm a Philly girl deep down, and here is where the dilemma comes in. Being a Mets fan strikes some primeval chord deep in my Philly-born soul that tells me I am betraying my people. Living in Boston and being a Red Sox fan made sense to my father. Living a mere 100 miles from Philadelphia and being a Mets fan just might be sports-fan treason, and I can't afford to jeopardize that one Eagles game a year I wrangle my way into seeing live.

It's not the same as loving the Red Sox and deciding that maybe the Yankees aren't so bad, but it's definitely not kosher.

So, next week I'll be heading to Shea on the subway to see the Phillies and the Mets duke it out, and I'm really not sure who I'm going to be cheering for, but even if I find myself undecided, I will have myself a hot dog and smile that once again, baseball is back.