I ♥ Warren

Oh, how I love Warren Buffett…let me count the ways

If I were a billionaire, I would totally sign up for this.  And while I can’t quite afford to give away half my net worth to charity yet, it’s certainly inspiring to see others commit to doing it.  It’s nice to know not all rich people are evil douches.

Flavor Thesaurus

This book by Niki Segnit is already out in the UK and is available for pre-order on Amazon here in the US.  This Guardian review makes it sound pretty awesome.  They should have kept the British cover — the American one looks so blah.  Why do they always do that to book covers here?  And Flavour with a u looks better too…but I digress…

Cute Bacteria

My manga-illustrator friend June told me very casually today over dinner, as though it was the most normal thing in the world, about a manga-turned-animated series involving agriculture students, one of whom has the special ability to see microbes with the naked eye.  I swear I am not making this stuff up.  Many a grad student has pondered the peculiar Japanese drive to make everything kawaii and their love of anthropomorphizing just about everything, but this Moyashimon series that turns everything from the bacteria strains used to make natto (fermented soybeans) and yogurt to staph and salmonella into cute little talking creatures really blows my mind!  I guess they’ve started airing a new live-action version of the series now on late night Fuji Television, which looks way worse than the manga or the anime.  Floating computer-generated talking bacteria combined with laughably bad acting just doesn’t do the cute little illustrations justice!  Anyway, I’ll certainly never look at E. Coli the same way ever again.

Simple Vessels

Came across very nice tea packaging design for Jamie Oliver while browsing the Williams Sonoma website for hot chocolate mixes.  I randomly bought a hot chocolate pot today for $15 at Housing Works Thrift Store thinking it was a weird tea pot.  The wooden stick is to mix the chocolate around.  Sweet.  I don’t even drink hot chocolate very much, but now that I have this awesome contraption, I have an incentive to drink more of it.  As for the Jamie Oliver tea…at $29 a container, I think I’ll stick to my PG Tips.  It would make a nice gift for someone, no?

Jamie Oliver's Very Special Mango Passion Fruit Tea
BIA Cordon Bleu Hot Chocolate Pot

Illegal Wedding Fair in NYC

I haven’t had a spare moment to blog for the last couple of months since planning for the Illegal Wedding Fair went into high gear!  This is my better-late-than-never post about the upcoming event that we’ve been feverishly working on, with an additional note to say I probably won’t be posting anything until after June 6 when all of this is over and I have time to do normal things again like pick up the dry cleaning and wash the dishes.

So here’s everything you need to know about the IWF.  It’s NYC’s premier same-sex wedding fair event taking place on Sunday, June 6 at the stunning townhouse venue, 632 on Hudson.  It’s a 4 hour event from noon-4pm with over 25 local vendors showcasing their work, all of whom unanimously support marriage equality.  There will be gorgeous wedding cakes by Cake Alchemy and Nine Cakes, a fabulous dinner-party vignette by floral designers Poppies & Posies in collaboration with the incredibly talented calligrapher Bryn Chernoff of Paperfinger, utilizing furniture and tableware provided by Broadway Party Rentals.  You’ll be able to nibble on delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by eco-chic caterers Stuart & Welch, as well as Brooklyn’s own DISH Food & Events.  There will be an explosion of gorgeous flowers everywhere, designed by our participating gay-friendly florists, including Saipua, Worship Luxury, and the elusive/exclusive private florist Shaun Carson.  Luxury event designer Zak Kunish of ZAK Events will be showcasing his talents, as well as Marie Danielle Vil-Young, event coordinator of À Votre Service Events.

E&V Weddings, the featured photographers of the Illegal Wedding Fair will be taking over an entire room in the upper triplex that I like to call “the Chuck Bass Opium Den,” offering retro-vintage portraiture and all sorts of photographic goodness.  Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Kelly Guenther will also be on hand to showcase what she calls her “wedding photojournalism,” as will luxury events photographer Robert DiScalfani‘s crew.  You’ll find some gorgeous wedding gowns by Lovely bridal shop in a room that looks like Marie Antoinette’s boudoir, sample beautiful favors by Amy’s Cookies and Bespoke Chocolates, and even get to talk to speech consultants at The Oratory Laboratory about how not to embarrass yourself when giving that semi-drunk and tearful speech at your next wedding.  Face Time Beauty Concierge will be doing touch-ups and offering advice on how to look your best, and wellness guru Tory Marsh will be giving advice on health and nutrition.  You can find same-sex wedding bands designed by Rony Tennenbaum, who recently opened a boutique in Nolita, and check out the beautiful stationery of both Lion in the Sun Park Slope and Atelier Isabey.  Am I leaving anything out?  All this while enjoying cocktails expertly mixed by Payman Bahmani of Life’s a Cocktail and Mayur Subbarao of Evoe to the sounds of some great performers provided by Elan Artists!  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, right?

If you start to feel overwhelmed you can take a breather in the gorgeous lounge space on the ground-floor created by the furniture and props rental outfit, Taylor Creative.  From there you can look across to the Speaker’s Corner and catch some amazing talks by David Toussaint, author of Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony, Annie Lee, principal planner and founder of Daughter of Design, and Dr. Anne Klaeysen & Law’nence Miller, officiants from the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

Meet Kirsten & Maria Palladino, the Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of Equally Wed, the nation’s premier same-sex wedding magazine and our national media sponsor for this event.  They’re coming all the way from Hotlanta so come say hi!  We’re also crossing our fingers that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn might be able to drop in to give an address so this is serious stuff!  We’ve got a ton of great products to raffle off for charity from our amazing sponsors, including a few of those famous Marriage is So Gay T-shirts.  Everyone will go home with a sweet swag bag and enjoy products from sponsors illy issimo and popchips among many others.  Our hearts are full with love and gratitude for all the awesome people participating in realizing this one-of-a-kind event.  Come on out and share the love on June 6!  Say NO to marriage discrimination in our state (and everywhere else, for that matter), and let’s hope that next year this will be the LEGAL Wedding Fair!

Tickets are $35 per person / $60 per couple – available here via Brown Paper Tickets, the first and only fair trade ticketing company.  See you at the party!

Tokyo in Bloom

Back from Tokyo where the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and everyone was in a particularly good mood.  Grateful to have got the timing just right, as if we’d arrived a week later it would probably have been too late to see this:

Or the sight of this poor dude whose sole responsibility for the day must have been to secure a good location under the blossoms, hours in advance of the drinking and debauchery scheduled for later in the evening:

But as this blog is not supposed to read like the travelogue of some JET, I will refrain from indulging myself further in posting pictures of the Nat Geo variety.  I didn’t have too much time this time around to “braille the culture” as we used to say back when I worked at Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, but I did manage to sneak in my usual tour of the design floor in the Matsuya department store in Ginza, where they had their usual selection of stunning housewares by Yanagi Sori and ±0 with a smattering of neat new things I hadn’t seen before like these memo sheets from D-BROS designed to look like wedges of apples and pears.

Also got to check out the much buzzed-about store  called Pass the Baton that just opened a few months ago in the new Marunouchi Brick Square complex.  Started up by the same entrepreneur behind Soup Stock Tokyo, Pass the Baton takes the concept of recycling to a whole new level by combining the trend towards all things vintage with the public yearning for storytelling and community.  The way it works is that customers can submit “formerly loved” items that they want to sell at Pass the Baton, alongside a requisite introductory description of who they are, what they are selling, why they want to sell it and what the item meant to them, etc.  Once accepted as resale-worthy, the merchandise gets posted online alongside the owner’s profiles, and select items get chosen to be displayed in-store.

So instead of the experience of merely coming across old knickknacks at a flea market, you get a much more comprehensive sense of the “life” each object on sale had before ending up in Pass the Baton’s exquisitely curated shelves.  The prices are relatively high, but the sense of specialness that the stories of prior ownership imbue each item makes the experience worth the premium.  Pure genius!

Pass the Baton in Marunouchi Brick Square
A new type of recycle shop.

Bottling Innovation

Dude, this Japanese packaging re-do for Gatorade is so much better than those fat, squat things we have in the US! I guess the argument goes that Americans need to drink a lot more electrolytes or whatever than the little Japanese who take sips out of these skinny PET bottles.  But come on, we deserve some visually pleasing design too!  The Gatorade bolt on the black background is so simple and yet it totally pops on the shelf.  Beverage-maker Suntory distributes Gatorade in Japan so I suppose it’s just a completely different sensibility from what’s marketed here.

And while we’re on the topic of Suntory, can I just pose the question for the ten billionth time why we don’t have crystal-cut design capabilities for PET bottle packaging like they’ve had in Asia for like, oh, I dunno, 5 years now?  I’ve asked many package designers about this and the answer always has to do with the cost of changing factory production molds and the scale of distribution in the US, blah blah.  All important considerations, I agree, but it just blows my mind how slow we are to innovate beverage packaging for mass brands in this country.  You get superficial changes and the odd tweaks here and there, but in general the pace of innovation is incredibly slow.  Like think about the cans and bottles of soda you drank as a kid and ask yourself if they’ve really changed in any substantial way.  Yeah, didn’t think so.

Pigging Out!

The pig-related phrases are endless — go “hog wild” this Sunday at Pier 60 in NYC as Cochon 555 returns for a second season of porcine madness. 5 chefs will be “going whole hog” as they transform every last bit of 5 heritage pigs from local farms into delicious little porcine masterpieces paired with 5 select wines.  The nation-wide tour is meant to raise awareness around sustainable local agriculture and promote diverse heritage and heirloom pig breeds.  For pork-lovers, it’s a unique opportunity to learn more about pig breeds and the butchering process while pigging out on basically every part of this heavenly creature.  May sound cruel, but it’s meant to increase appreciation for everything the pig offers and make you think twice about where the meat you put in your mouth is coming from.  It’s all about feeling more connected to your food!  Oink.