It was the best seat in the house.
From where you were, you could see it all: every footstep, gesture, movement and every player there. Looks of joy, grimaces and effort, you saw them all. You didn’t miss anything from where you were sitting.
Yep, you had the best seat in the house, which is good because you paid dearly for it.
Paul Jennings paid dearly for his seat in history, too, as you’ll see in the new book “A Slave in the White House” by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor (Palgrave Macmillan/$28). Paul, in fact, paid for his vantage point with most of his life.
When Paul Jennings was born in late 1799, it might’ve seemed that his future was already set: At a time when slavery was matrilineal, Jennings, the son of a mixed-race enslaved mother and a white father, automatically inherited his mother’s status.
Because she was a house slave on the plantation owned by Virginia legislator (and later President) James Madison, tradition held that little Paul would work in the house, too. For curious, quick-to-learn, young Jennings, that meant opportunity to learn to read and write, and to observe. Perhaps, because of that, when James Madison became president and moved to Washington, he took 10-year-old Jennings along.
Madison was an “exceptional” statesman but a “garden-variety” slaveholder. Though he paid a certain amount of lip-service to anti-slavery movements, he followed established practices for slave’s living conditions and family situations. That meant that, when Jennings was of marrying age and took a wife, his bondage kept him from his family — sometimes, for months at a time.
One can almost imagine Paul Jennings “gnawing on the possibility of escape,” but he stayed with the Madisons, traveling between Washington and the plantation in Virginia. He embraced a leadership role in the household, made valuable contacts in Washington, and managed to father five children.
James Madison had indicated in his will that Paul Jennings was to be freed upon Madison’s death, a wish about which Jennings knew. So, as documents show, did Dolley Madison, but she had other ideas…
Did you ever finish a book with a dozen questions still swirling through your head? As I read “A Slave in the White House,” I often wondered what, for instance, Paul Jennings might have thought about a Black president?
Like most of us, author-historian Elizabeth Dowling Taylor can only speculate, since slaves like Jennings had to keep such notions to themselves. Still, Taylor gives her readers a general idea of the character of the man, enough for us to make inferences. To do that, she unearthed documents, oral histories and photographs that make Paul Jennings’ story one that’s both lively and bitter. She also includes the full text of the book that Jennings wrote about his White House days, so we can see history for ourselves.
You might think you know our nation’s past, but this book may surprise you. If you’re up for a great historical biography, “A Slave in the White House” will surely keep you in your seat.
The recently concluded Philadelphia Collection 2011 events showcased the region’s fashion-forward focus with a series of thought-provoking, fashion-themed events featuring experts from across the country. Evoluer Image Consultants culminated the City of Philadelphia’s second annual Philadelphia Collection festivities with a cocktail and fashion event to raise funds that will help Evoluer House continue to address issues that affect the self-esteem of today’s girls and their ability to succeed in life. Exclusive guests witnessed the Philadelphia preview of “The Tents,” a documentary chronicling the evolution of New York Fashion Week, inside the posh Sofitel Philadelphia Paris Ballroom. In this flashy, sexy documentary, guests had a behind-the-scenes look at all the hard work that goes into making New York Fashion Week a hit every year. From the designers, the models, the journalists, the fashion royalty, “The Tents” offered the inside scoop on New York’s fashion event of the year, featuring interviews with Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen, Isaac Mizrahi, Hal Rubenstein, Nina Garcia, Betsey Johnson and other industry luminaries. The preview screening of the documentary drew dozens of special guests including internationally renowned fashion designer Loris Diran, Sarah Dash of the famed group LaBelle, and the Premier of Bermuda, The Hon. Paula A. Cox JP, MP.
“This event is taking young women who need to see the genie in the bottle to help them be who they are,” said Cox. “And that’s also what fashion and style does — and we shouldn’t trivialize it, because it really helps to revolutionize how we think and also reflects our social condition.”
The Philadelphia Collection 2011 is an annual series of fashion and style events that will take place throughout the city and is designed to promote the city and all aspects of its fashion economy, including its impressive “collection” of retailers, boutiques, stylists, designers, modeling agencies, design schools and fashion/design students. The non-profit organization Evoluer House empowers at-risk girls by nurturing positive self-expression and personal development. Since 2004, Evoluer House has served over 600 girls from the city of Philadelphia and Delaware Valley region in its programs. Girls participate in a series of structured workshops, designed to challenge them to develop qualities that will serve them all their lives, such as leadership, being goal-oriented, having strong values, social consciousness, and having conviction about their own potential and self-worth.
“This was the ultimate merger of fashion and philanthropy,” said Evoluer Image Consultants founder, Cheryl Ann Wadlington. “And the same momentum of educating the future generation of hopefuls was in full effect. For instance, Loris Doran offered one of the Evolour girls an internship or a day to shadow him for a day in New York. This event will enlighten audiences about how the real fashion world navigates, and it has the ability to inspire the future generation of fashion leaders while at the same time giving back to desperately at-risk girls.”
NEW YORK — Now that Beyonce is pregnant, there are certain smells that turn her stomach.
"My nose, I smell everything from a mile away," Beyonce said while wearing a long, flowing purple dress, her baby bump showing. "Usually it is food, it is onions or something that I just can't tolerate."
Her new fragrance is not one of them. On Wednesday, Beyonce was busy promoting Pulse, her third scent. For the creator of girl-power anthems like "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and "Run the World (Girls)," Pulse represents another extension of that theme.
"I always meet strong, powerful women and they always have a signature scent," the 30-year-old said. "That is one of the first things I was so proud of. I thought about Diamonds and Elizabeth Taylor and all these icons, so I am so proud of this."
AP: How is this fragrance different from your others?
Beyonce: This is very fresh. This is all about citrus, but it also has vanilla in the back. It is important for me for a fragrance not to just smell like one thing. I think women are interesting and I don't like for you to be like, "Ok, this smells like this." I like for it to be something signature and something that brings out your inner beauty and your confidence and makes you feel like you leave a long-lasting impression on someone.
AP: Your recent fashion show in London (with mother Tina Knowles for House of Dereon) was about empowerment. This scent is about empowerment. Why is that important to you?
Beyonce: I just enjoy being a woman and especially right now, I just feel so empowered. I think that is sort of my place in the world, for people to see that you can be an entrepreneur. You can have goals and dreams and you can grow and be strong and have your strong opinions, and all of these things bring that out in you.
AP: Does pregnancy make you feel more empowered?
Beyonce: Absolutely. It is the most powerful creation for you to be able to have life growing inside of you. There is no bigger gift, nothing more empowering.
AP: You have the fragrance, the clothing line, a husband, career and a baby on the way. What is next on your bucket list?
Beyonce: Balance. I am still working on balance and still growing. I am starting my company, my label. I want to create a boy band. I want to continue to produce and do documentaries and music videos. I eventually want to start directing for other artists. Once I know that I have my stuff together and I trust that, I can do it for other artists. I see so many male artists building these empires and passing their knowledge on to other artists and development. I see myself doing the same thing and hopefully other younger artists when they grow up and they have been around for 15, 20 years, they can do the same thing.
AP: What advice have you gotten from your mother and sister on motherhood?
Beyonce: I have the best examples around me because my sister is the most incredible mother. My mother, I am so proud of her. I see her and I could cry every time I think about her because she is such an incredible woman, so I just pray that I have the same bond with my children, child.
AP: Will the baby go everywhere with you?
Beyonce: Yes, I will probably be that way. I am sure I will. I think that it shouldn't stop you. I think of course my life is going to change, and I definitely will make sacrifices, but you know, I think I will be able to bring hopefully my little rider with me.
AP: You are doing an appearance for the perfume where you will be with your fans. What does it mean to you to be able to interact with them like that?
Beyonce: I have the best fans. They are so passionate and so loyal. I want to give them everything. I always get excited when I do the meet-and-greets because I get to really shake hands and look people in the eye and really see the impact that I have been able to have in people's lives, because sometimes you don't really get to see it. When I get to meet people and they tell me their stories and I feel their spirits, it makes me feel like my job and all of the hard work is worth it.
AP: You are pregnant but work nonstop. How do you keep your energy up?
Beyonce: I think it is just passion. When you are excited about something, you don't have to think about your energy. It is natural and comes from adrenaline. It is important that I don't look at this as like an illness. I am not sick. I am the same woman and I have the same passions.
AP: What is your pregnancy style?
Beyonce: I think I have been trying to find things that of course are flattering to the silhouette. I think a woman's curves when she is pregnant are so beautiful. I don't want to get matronly, and I still find things that are sensual and feminine and funky. I have been mixing different textures and suit jackets and blazers. I don't want to be in the same dress every day. -- (AP)
The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator (PFI) at Macy’s Center City, a new fashion design initiative devoted to supporting and promoting emerging fashion designers and encouraging local designers to keep their businesses in Philadelphia, was announced by city officials this week.
A collaboration between The City of Philadelphia, Center City District, Macy’s Center City, and several educational institutions devoted to fashion design in Philadelphia, PFI will provide four aspiring designers the workspace and essential business resources needed to run successful and sustainable fashion companies. This initiative comes on the heels of the second successful “Philadelphia Collection 2011,” an umbrella event that showcased the city’s fall fashion happenings. The PFI is the first of its kind in Philadelphia, the home to nationally recognized fashion design schools, including Moore College of Art, Drexel University and Philadelphia University. The purpose of PFI is to support and promote emerging fashion designers from these design schools and the fashion community of Philadelphia.
“We’re not just a city between New York and Washington — we have a lot to offer, and that’s what we’re doing here,” said city representative Melanie Johnson. “The Philadelphia fashion retail profile is certainly on the rise, and with exciting new programs like the PFI, our stake in the future of Philadelphia’s fashion and design community becomes even more important in branding the city as a innovative fashion destination and a location for smart business investment.”
Modeled after a similar and successful program in Chicago between Macy’s State Street and The City of Chicago, the year-long residency program, which launches in Philadelphia in March 2012, will provide the selected Designer-In-Residence (DIR) with office space, a production room and shared showroom space/conference room. The DIR will receive mentoring from industry and business professionals along with a significant schedule of monthly workshops focused on the business of fashion. Workshops will include topics on creating a business plan, marketing strategy, and identifying legal needs and funding. The tailored curriculum will be offered by community leaders, industry experts and fashion insiders.
“Philly is fashion in the United States of America,” declared Mayor Nutter. “Philadelphia is a fertile breeding ground for the creative class. We are fortunate to have some of the best educational institutions in the country, and the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator will cultivate and nurture these talented fashion designers that have emerged from these institutions,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator is the first of its kind in Philadelphia, and the initiative represents the City’s commitment to a thriving, innovative, creative economy.”
The 600+-square foot “Project Runway”-inspired production room, showroom and office space will be located at Macy’s Center City in the historic Wanamaker Building. The space will allow DIRs to produce samples, gain valuable retail insight and showcase their collections to merchants from local and national retailers. In addition to workspace and monthly business workshops, DIRs will also participate in various fashion events throughout the year, including pop-up shops, trunk shows and a fashion show during The Philadelphia Collection.
“Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City is going to go a long way in finding the next generation of local fashion design talent” says Martine Reardon, executive vice president of Marketing & Advertising of Macy’s. “The fashion and retail industries thrive when new creative talent emerges and energizes the marketplace. By introducing aspiring designers to the inner workings of the fashion and retail business, and providing them a workshop filled with the resources that will get their businesses off the ground, Philadelphia will become a key city in the American fashion industry.”
DIR will be selected by PFI’s Selection Committee which consists of six professionals from Philadelphia’s fashion and business sectors. “We are extremely excited to launch this initiative in Philadelphia,” said Michelle Shannon, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Center City District. “To have the ability to support local fashion design talent and nurture new wholesale and retail business in our city sends a strong message that Philadelphia is indeed an emerging fashion design center.”
Each of the three design schools will have one alumnus participate as a designer-in-residence. The fourth designer-in-residence spot is an open call to any apparel designer living in the Philadelphia region. If you are interested in becoming one of the designers chosen to be part of the 2012 Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, apply at philadelphiafashionincubator.com. Applications are due by January 20, 2012.
The most distinguished African-American artist of the 19th century, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937), was also the first artist of his race to achieve international acclaim. Tanner was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) from 1879 to 1885, and is the subject of a stunning career retrospective exhibition that bring his greatest works together for the first time in a generation.
Tanner was born on June 21, 1859, in Pittsburgh, Pa., to Benjamin Tucker and Sarah Miller Tanner. Tanner’s father was a college-educated teacher and minister who later became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church. Sarah Tanner was a former slave whose mother had sent her north via the Underground Railroad. Tanner’s family moved frequently during his early years when his father was assigned to various churches and schools.
In 1864, Tanner’s family settled in Philadelphia where his early artistic interests were developed. At age 13, Tanner decided to become an artist when he saw a painter at work during a walk in Fairmount Park near his home. Throughout his teens, Tanner painted and drew constantly in his spare time and tried to look at art as much as possible in Philadelphia art galleries.
He also studied briefly with two of the city’s minor painters. In 1880, when Tanner was 21, he enrolled in the prestigious PAFA where he studied with a group of master professors, including Thomas Eakins. It was Eakins who exerted the greatest influence on Tanner’s early style. Tanner left the Pennsylvania Academy before graduating to pursue the idea of combining business with art. In 1888, he moved to Atlanta and established a modest photography gallery where he attempted to earn a semi-artistic living by selling drawings, making photographs and teaching art classes at Clark College. In spite of his combined efforts, Tanner’s Atlanta venture barely generated enough to provide living expenses.
In1891, the young artist traveled to Europe, and after brief stays in Liverpool and London, Tanner arrived in Paris. He was so impressed by this center of art and artists that he abandoned his plans to study in Rome. In Paris, Tanner enrolled in the Academie Julian where the painters Jean Paul Laurens and Jean Joseph Benjamin-Constant were among his teachers. It was not long before he painted two of his most important works depicting African-American subjects, “The Banjo Lesson” of 1893 and “The Thankful Poor” of 1894. During the summers of 1892 and 1893, Tanner left Paris and lived in isolated rural areas in Brittany. His best-known paintings from that period are “The Bagpipe Lesson” (1894) and “The Young Sabot Maker” of 1895. Both depict French peasants, and Tanner assimilated the inhabitants of his rural French environment into his works as he had done previously in the mountains of Highlands, North Carolina.
In 1895, Tanner painted “Daniel in the Lion’s Den,” which won an honorable mention in the Paris Salon the same year. Two years later he completed “Resurrection of Lazarus,” which so impressed Rodman Wanamaker (of Wanamaker Store’s fame), that he decided to finance the first of Tanner’s several trips to the Holy Land. Before leaving, Tanner sent his “Resurrection of Lazarus” to the Paris Salon where it was awarded a third class medal and was purchased by the French government for exhibition at the Luxembourg Gallery and eventually entered the collection of the Louvre.
For decades, Tanner received critical acclaim and won prizes in the French Salon for what contemporary critics called his “modern” and "religious” paintings. He was the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim. He was also a leader of the international artist community of Etlepes of Northern France, and received the patronage of the French government, gilded age millionaires, universities, the AME church and major American museums all during his lifetime.
Spurred by his newly found acclaim, Tanner visited Philadelphia for several months in 1893. The visit, however, convinced him that he could not fight racial prejudice. Tanner returned to Paris and focused on painting religious subjects and landscapes. In 1899, Tanner married Jessie Olssen, a white opera singer from San Francisco, who he had met in Paris. The couple’s only child, Jesse Ossawa, was born in New York in 1903. Their marriage may have influenced Tanner’s decision to settle permanently in France, where the family divided its time between Paris and a farm near Etaples in Normandy.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ (PAFA) current “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit” exhibition displays a prime example of Tanner's skill with the 1917 portrait Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), who was a longtime friend of the Tanner family. Washington once wrote of the artist: “Tanner is proud of his race. He feels deeply that as the representative of his people, he is on trail to establish their right to be taken seriously as in the world of art.” Washington also thought highly of Tanner's sister, Halle, in 1891 he hire her to teach at Tuskegee, and she became the first woman to pass the medical boards in the state of Alabama.
A member of the artist's family, Lewis Tanner Moore Jr., noted during the press preview that his ancestor's legacy highlights the complexity of racial prejudice. “It's wonderful to see this Tanner exhibition and to think about the arch of time and the changes that have occurred, but still some of the challenges are in place,” said Moore. “Tanner, like many African Americans in many fields, had to operate on a number of different levels—he had not only to compete esthetically, but he had to find a way to skirt the dominant cultures refusal to acknowledge the achievement of African Americans.”
During the final decades of Tanner’s career he enjoyed consistent acclaim. In his later years, Tanner was a symbol of hope and inspiration for African-American leaders and young Black artists, many of whom visited him in Paris. On May 25, 1937, Tanner died at his home in Paris.
“Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit” is on exhibition at Fisher Brooks Gallery, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 128 N. Broad Street, from Jan. 28 to April 15. The nationally touring exhibition, major catalog, and attendant educational programming, will offer free admission on Sundays and extended hours every Wednesday evening. For more information, visit www.pafa.org
They said that the sound of the screaming was the worst thing. For the 711 people who survived the horrific disaster of the sinking of the Titanic on the night of April 14, 1912, the awful noise of their fellow passengers calling out for help into the dark, cold night was the one thing many of them could not forget.
Yet, the silence that followed as the Titanic disappeared into the freezing water might have been even more chilling, as over 1,500 men, women and children had been thrust into the sea died shortly afterward of hypothermia. The sights and sounds of that night would haunt each of the vessel’s survivors for the rest of their days.
April 15, at 11:40 p.m., will mark the 100th anniversary of the swift sinking of the Titanic after striking an iceberg, taking 1,517 people across class and gender with her, along with the era’s blind faith in modern technology and shipbuilding. Though this is a familiar story, having inspired the telling and retelling of the Titanic’s grandeur and demise in history books, documentaries, novels, movies and plays, very little has been told about the post-Titanic lives of those who actually survived.
Acclaimed writer and biographer Andrew Wilson sheds light on these untold personal stories in “Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived” (Atria, $25). Using archival research combined with interviews from family members, Wilson has put together a riveting account of what happened to the survivors who lived through this terrible ordeal, and the lives they led afterward — the celebrity, the notoriety, the guilt, the struggle to move on or their failure to do so — in the aftermath of tragedy.
Although many think they know the story of Titanic — the famously luxurious and supposedly unsinkable ship that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Britain to America — very little has been written about what happened to the survivors after the tragedy. How did they cope in the aftermath of this horrific event? How did they come to remember that night, a disaster that has been likened to the destruction of a small town?
From Madeleine Astor (who became a bride, a widow, an heiress and a mother all within a year) to Bruce Ismay to Lady Duff Gordon, to lesser known survivors with equally fascinating stories like Jack Thayer and Dorothy Gibson, “Shadow of the Titanic” documents the impact this catastrophe had on the personal lives of the people who boarded Titanic with hope and pride, and who lived and died afterwards in the shadow of one the greatest sea disasters of our time.
Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished letters, memoirs, and diaries as well as interviews with survivors’ family members, Wilson reveals how some used their experience to propel themselves on to fame, while others were so racked with guilt they spent the rest of their lives under the Titanic’s shadow. Some reputations were destroyed, and some survivors were so psychologically damaged that they took their own lives in the years that followed.
Today, one hundred years after that fateful voyage, James Cameron’s blockbuster “Titanic” is currently re-released in theaters in 3D, and on April 14–15, ABC will be airing a four-hour miniseries, “Titanic”, written by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”) and gives more depth to what it was like to sail the Titanic whether wealthy or poor, first class or steerage. However, “Shadow of the Titanic” continues to add an important new dimension to the understanding of this enduring fascinating story.
Is worry wearing you out? Whether it’s losing sleep over a deadline, fretting about a relationship, or constantly thinking about what you “should have” done or said, anxiety makes life feel like a race from one overwhelming situation to the next. Philadelphia-area psychologist Tamar Chansky, Ph.D. (founder and director of the Children’s Center for OCD and Anxiety) is the author of the just-released “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: The 4-Step Plan to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want” (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $16). This self-help guide offers dozens of simple yet powerful strategies one can use at any time to transform anxious thoughts, conquer perfectionism and procrastination, and improve the way the brain reacts to stress, even without medication.
“For nearly two decades I’ve been immersed in the world of anxiety — helping people name it, overcome it and move far beyond the limits it can impose,” noted Dr. Chansky. “What I’ve found working with patients from as young as three to as old as grandparents, is just how powerful all of us can be in making a difference in the quality of our lives when we have good information about what’s going on in our minds. Worry isn’t the way. It’s in the way. It’s an unreliable reporter on the activities of our life that evolution has guaranteed will always get there first and scoop the story from our voice of reason. It distracts us from our real life by getting us worked up unnecessarily, often focusing on the very things we don’t need to worry about.”
Once we start thinking anxious thoughts, it is tough to move from disaster to reality. Unlike most guides, Chansky’s book explains that the solution is not positive thinking, but possible thinking. “When you understand the tricks the mind can play, you can approach the ups and downs of life with competence and clear thinking rather than get detoured by the story worry tells you. Which version of your life story are you reading? Remember, you get to choose. It’s easier than you think, once you know what the choices really are. You can learn how to quiet the noise that worry creates in the mind, move out of catastrophe mode, and shift back to reality and the myriad possibilities it holds. If you’d like to learn more about how to read from the right script and be better prepared for the things that are actually happening in your life, you’ve come to the right place. No matter if worry is an occasional destination for you or it’s a daily, default setting, you can decide the significance the worry narrative has in your life. Starting now.”
Armed with her strategies, readers can achieve accurate perceptions of their lives that can liberate them from fear and perfectionism. For the 25 percent of Americans who have an anxiety problem, Dr. Chansky’s innovative program provides the step-by-step tools for living stress free and without medications. For anyone suffering with an anxiety disorder or depression, or who simply wants to handle everyday challenges more optimally and successfully, get ready to feel calm, confident, more like yourself again — and free to create the life you want.
“Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: The 4-Step Plan to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want” is available at major bookstores and online at Amazon.com.
While winter gets ready to rear its ugly head our way, summer is planning its sweet return to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
They call Rio de Janeiro “Cidade Maravilhosa,” which means ”The Marvelous City” in Portuguese, and once you see it for yourself, you can’t help but agree.
Rio was discovered in January (Janeiro) 1502 by Portuguese navigators who mistook the entrance of Guanabara Bay for the mouth of a river (Rio) in an area originally settled by Indians. Later, African Blacks, the French, Italian immigrants, Jews and others came, and out of the generosity of the land and the mixture of races rose a contented people who worked together side-by-side. Today, Rio has many historical and cultural treasures, thanks to the hard work of most of these groups, who left an indelible mark.
The city’s architecture tells the history of the country, and its many museums and art galleries hold coveted collections of rare and esteemed artifacts that can be seen only in Rio. Take, for example, the Royal Portuguese Reading Room that boasts, among many other magnificent volumes, a book from 1472, said to contain one of the oldest history of the Jews in the world. In fact, this book is so precious it is kept in a safe, and if you wish to see it don’t be in any rush. You need to be investigated and granted special permission to do so.
Other specialties of Rio are not as difficult to view. For instance, no visit to this beautiful city would be complete without seeing the famous 125-foot-high statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovada Mountain. We rode a jeep through the steep and beautiful Atlantic rainforest up to the foot of the statue, then climbed the rest of the way to stand in awe at what surely has become one of the world’s best-known and most-visited monuments in the world. At night, the statue is illuminated and, as always, blesses and welcomes visitors and residents alike from on high.
Another must-see location is Sugarloaf, reached by cable car in two stages: first to the top of Urea Hill, where visitors catch the second car to their final destination. From the top of Sugarloaf, the city can be seen in all its beauty, including Rio’s endless stretch of beaches.
And speaking of beaches, all of Rio takes pride in theirs, from Copcabana, Leblon and Ipanema, where Tom Jobin and Joao Gilberto wrote the first chords of the bossa nova, a song dedicated to that girl who was “tall and tan and young and lovely.” You can spend your time looking for her by simply walking along the tile-covered promenades that line the beaches, or joining the residents in running, jumping, bicycling, rollerblading or any number of the other activities that seem to set the tone for these health-conscious Cariocas — the name for someone born in Rio.
On Sundays, one side of the wide boulevard is closed to traffic and the public takes over as families enjoy their leisure time in true Carioca style. Families stroll arm in arm. Street musicians strum their guitars as men and women enjoy games of volleyball on the beaches. Others simply stretch out to become even more tan and lovely than they already are.
Suffice it to say that in Rio you can find the best of everything — from fun in the sun, to gastronomic delights, to music and entertainment. And the approach of Christmas is no exception. The only difference between Christmas celebrations in Rio and the United States is that it is summer in Rio during the month of December because the seasons are reversed.
The following week, as the palm trees sway in the warm wind, millions of people from around the world come to Rio to bring in the New Year, one of the best places in the world to visit during New Year’s Eve. Most Brazilians dress in all-white clothing on New Year’s Eve to bring them good luck and peace for the upcoming year. After the clock strikes midnight, the Brazilian people run into the water at the beaches to jump over the waves and then make a wish while throwing flowers into the sea. The holiday season in Rio is a spectacular that you will forever hold in your heart — as will this beautiful city.
And soon after Christmas and the New Year comes one of Rio’s most memorable holidays — Carnival, a world-famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people per day on the streets.
It s said that once you’ve seen Rio you will never forget it, and it will top your list of places to which you must return. I will admit, it’s left its mark on me. Rio is a city I surely will never forget and, if I’m very, very lucky, will soon go back to.
It’s been said that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. It is without question that a mythical history of the role “American Bandstand” played during the early Civil Rights Movement has seared itself onto the national psyche. One of the most popular television shows ever, “American Bandstand” broadcast from Philadelphia in the late 1950s, a time when the city had become a battleground for civil rights. Although host Dick Clark’s claims that he integrated the dance show, “The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia” (University of California Press, $27.95) reveals how the first national television program directed at teens discriminated against African-American youths during its early years and how Black teens and civil rights advocates protested this discrimination.
Author Matt Delmont, assistant professor of American studies at Scripps College, never questioned Clark’s claim that “American Bandstand” was racially integrated in the 1950s until his research turned up new evidence. He chose to write a book about the popular TV show because it was one of his mother’s favorites, and he grew up listening to her memories of “American Bandstand.” While Clark, now 88, has described himself as a brave individual who broke down racial barriers, in reality there were immense economic and social pressures that made segregation the safe course of action.
“My research reveals how ‘American Bandstand’ discriminated against Black youth during its early years and how Black teens and civil rights advocates protested this discrimination,” said Delmont. “My book explains how ‘American Bandstand’ shaped the image of American teenagers while also becoming a battleground for segregation and civil rights.”
Delmont’s exhaustive research includes speech transcripts, government reports, census data, editorial cartoons, high school yearbooks, photographs, songs, popular histories of “American Bandstand” and other original sources. He also interviewed 21 individuals who grew up in Philadelphia and attended, watched, or protested the TV show.
“Through these sources I explore the choices ‘American Bandstand’s’ producers made in their specific contexts, the choices other Philadelphians made under similar circumstances, and the ongoing struggle over how this history of racial discrimination and anti-discrimination activism is remembered,” explains Delmont. “All of the people who make up this history understood the daily lives of teenagers and the representations of these lives as important sites in the struggle for racial equality in postwar Philadelphia. Thanks to ‘American Bandstand,’ images of Philadelphia teenagers became meaningful for young people across the country. This project reveals how ‘American Bandstand’ reinforced, rather than challenged, segregationist attitudes, and how this discrimination has been repeatedly disavowed over the past half-century.”
For more book information and to view early clips of “American Bandstand,” visit Matt Delmont’s website: http://mattdelmont.com.
NEW YORK — From her ultra-blond hair to her super-high heels, Donatella Versace uses every inch of her being to embrace glamour, and she wasn’t going to put the Versace name on anything — and certainly not a collection for global fast-fashion retailer H&M — that didn’t do the same.
The clothes that debuted Tuesday night on the catwalk lived up to the hype surrounding the limited-edition collection as well as Versace’s own glitzy standards: There was a metallic disco dress, a studded leather bomber jacket and an animal-print-meets-tropical-sunset tank dress for women; and a hot-pink suit, studded tuxedo-style shorts and a palm-tree, second-skirt T-shirt for men.
The runway at the huge and historic Pier 57 in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District attracted a crowd that included Blake Lively, Uma Thurman and Jessica Alba. Nicki Minaj and Prince took their front row seats just before the show started, and then emerged on stage at the after-party that recreated a Miami nightclub. Minaj did swap the green feather fascinator she wore to the show for a crystal-covered trucker hat when it came time to perform.
“She’s a legend. She’s amazing,” Minaj said of Versace on the red carpet.
She added: “I said in an interview recently I remember Biggie Smalls rap about Versace and wanting to know what that was. So I told Donatella today, you don’t understand how many little girls are jumping for joy now that you’re introducing a more affordable line. So I’m just happy to be here.”
Swedish fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz AB has partnered with big names before, including Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, and Target Corp.’s joint line with the Italian knitwear brand Missoni earlier this fall caused a frenzy, causing its website to crash the first day items were offered. None had a launch quite like this, though.
Versace said in a backstage interview that she thinks it’s this sort of production, coupled with clothes embellished with sequins, studs, leather and lace, will serve as the antidote for the struggling economy. “It was done totally wrong the last time the economy failed,” she said. “Everyone said, ‘Let’s do safe clothes of a good quality that people will invest in and wear year after year.’ That couldn’t be more wrong. The companies that survived the most were the ones that were recognizable, that stuck to their DNA, and our DNA is glamour.”
She added: “This is a very joyful collection.”
Tropical floral patterns were splashed on tight leggings and tunic tops, and heart-print dresses were covered with beaded fringe. Many models wore hot-pink strappy sandals and carried printed handbags with the South Beach motif and Versace’s Medusa logo.
Many of the styles were updated (and, with top prices of $299, less expensive) interpretations of signature looks of the house as it was first designed by the late Gianni Versace and for the last 14 years by his sister Donatella. “I really wanted iconic moments of Versace,” she said. There even was a black dress with gold hardware reminiscent of the label’s safety-pin gown made famous by Elizabeth Hurley.
“I’ve always been such a fan. The dresses that she makes, all the things she makes, they’re always such amazing shapes for women,” said Lively. “And she always has such unexpected things between the colors and the patterns, the detail, the beading, it’s always shocking — and I love that.”
Versace said she thinks head-turning styles are the right introduction to the next-generation shoppers — the ones who know how to mix top-tier designer labels with inexpensive trendy pieces.
“Young people like to dress up and look cool.” Versace said.
With 20-somethings as children, Versace said she has done her fair share of shopping with them at stores such as H&M. “I know this customer. I know what they want. They follow music, fashion. For the new generation, it’s all pop culture.”
She pays attention to it, too, she said, and she mines it for inspiration. “Creativity comes from quantity and quality of information. I want to know everything: politics, music, movies. Only this way can you come up with each new collection.”— (AP)