FEEN ON THE SCENE
By Diane Feen
It’s March in Florida, but it feels like October in New York. With the cool breeze comes some hot stuff.
The Southern migration is in full swing. Even Doris Kearns Goodwin, the prolific author and sociological pundit, was spotted at Mizner Park.
There are new restaurants opening up around town and spiritual royalty – The Dalai Lama - graced our presence at FAU. He told us to have compassion for our enemies (not so easy if you’re a mere mortal) and that world peace is attainable one person at a time.
His loving pep talk was enough to make one go out and want to conquer the world.
So, that’s what I plan to do starting March 6th at Mizner Park, when the 2010 Festival of the Arts Boca comes to town. The season starts with The Russian National Orchestra and Renee Fleming, and treks to the intellectual prowess of New York Times columnist David Brooks and writer in residence, Doris Kearns Goodwin.
If you’ve been to the Festival of the Arts then you know it’s a breeding ground for intellectual stimulation and musical ecstasy. There’s jazz on Thursday night (March 11th) and Conrad Tao with the Russian National Orchestra on March 12th. If you like music and dance check out stars of the American Ballet Theatre with The Russian National Orchestra on March 13th.
There are group discounts and student discounts, so make sure you head over to the tents in Mizner Park. We all need to support the Arts; it’s where our soul meets the symphony of our lives. Call 866-571-ARTS or www.festivaloftheartsboca.org. Enter Coupon Code “BITES” to receive a 20% discount.
If you’re going to make the scene, you should do it on a full stomach. That’s why we headed to an old favorite, Dominic’s of Boynton Beach. This rather large Italian restaurant in Renaissance Commons has homemade fare that is terrific. Our favorite dish was an appetizer (that was huge) called the “Eggplant Stacker.” You don’t want to miss this layered eggplant dish with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, arugula, balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese.
The owner, Dominic is a great guy who watches over his Italian culinary fortress with tender care. That’s why each dish is prepared with fresh ingredients in the old family style way. Great dishes include chicken parmigiana (with homemade tomato sauce), chicken Marsala and pasta dishes that are wonderful. One luscious dish, Capellini Caprese is prepared with chicken, spinach, garlic, olive oil and Romano cheese in a wine marinara sauce.
For traditional Italian fare there is baked ziti, homemade lasagna, manicotti and a whole page of pizzas (use your imagination – from the obvious to the sublime). Dominic’s has become so popular they have restaurants in West Glades Plaza, near the turnpike and another one near Home Depot on West Glades Rd. Check out this prolific chef and gracious host at any of their locations. Call 561-734-3033 for Boynton, 561-487-3186 or 561-487-6325 in Boca.
There is one other special treat each called Mizner Grand Tasting in Mizner Park. There’s food from 25 restaurants, 140 wines and three hours of culinary consumption that is heavenly (most while standing). The event benefits the Boca Raton Historical Society Historic Preservation. The only downside is – you may have to let out the waist band of your trousers!
Enjoy today because tomorrow just might be raining.
BITING THE WOOD
By Diane Feen
If only I was a blond. Being a short brunette with curly hair has had its disadvantages since birth.
The girls with long blond hair got all the boys and were popular. They didn’t have to sleep with rollers made out of juice cans and always looked country club ready.
I, on the other hand, always looked like I just got off a hot air balloon. No matter how much conditioner and creams I put on my hair, I still looked like a distant relative of Aunt Jemima.
And now I really feel left out - Tiger Woods never asked me to have sex with him.
After all, he asked everyone else. He had sex with a cocktail waitress, a nightclub promoter, a model, a waitress (from a pancake house no less) a porn star and anyone who worked in Vegas with large breasts and long cascading hair (usually blond).
But, he did not call me. And I know why – I don’t have blond hair, large perky breasts or big lips. I also have a college degree and short legs (and ethics).
As a matter of fact, it seems brain power had nothing to do with his choice of women. Rachel Uchitel is obviously someone with a breach of contract between her brain and her ear lopes. She has maintained her innocence and wants people to like her. “I am not a whore, I am a nice person.”
Well, you can forget about people believing that, unless you are a porn star. She knew Tiger was married (hence the whore part is debatable) and she was carrying on with a married man, which makes her far from Junior League material.
Years ago she would have to have walk around town with a Big A on her chest. But now these girls are getting modeling contracts, jobs on TV and lots of perks for their perky body parts. Tiger seems to be an equal opportunity employer. He may be a bad husband, but he is helping the unemployment figures (excuse the pun). A few of his alleged gal pals are now getting movie scripts and modeling offers.
And that’s a good thing.
The same goes for Ashley Dupre. This young woman took down the former governor of New York with a few romps under the sheets (for a hefty sum of cash) and now she has a cushy job writing a relationship column for The New York Post.
Wow, I wanted a job like that for years but thought the only thing standing in my way was a Masters Degree from Columbia School of Journalism. But after working hard as a journalist for 35 years I realize I had it all wrong. Experience in the boardroom is so passé, its experience in the bedroom (and long legs) that gets you to the top.
As a mater of fact, Tiger has been MIA for over a month now, yet his gal pals are still media attractions. They are routinely asked what type of lover Tiger was and what he said to them in the heat of passion (it always comes down to the final score).
No one calls me for relationship advice (and I’ve had my share of experience and a master’s degree in psychology), and no one follows me around with a TV camera. I also haven’t been asked to write a column for a big city newspaper or appear on Entertainment Tonight.
And that’s because I am a good girl.
And unfortunately my Dad was wrong – good girls finish last.
FEEN ON THE SCENE
By Diane Feen
The snowbirds back and there’s a flurry of activity around town. If you find yourself in traffic (for the first time since August) and you can’t find a parking spot at Publix you know its show time in Boca.
That means more people, more events and less humidity. It also means we get to feast on the cultural and social treasures of the season. One of the top events this side of the Mason Dixon line is the Festival of the Arts BOCA at Mizner Park. That’s where you get to meet, greet and listen to some of the most prolific authors and musicians on the planet.
In past years’ this cultural smorgasbord was paid for by corporations and philanthropists, but the times they are a changing (Google recession for more information on this topic). The 2010 theme is From Russia With Love and will be performed at the Mizner Park amphitheater March 5 - 13th.
Get this – the Festival is being heralded as "an important and impressive addition to the artistic landscape". To learn more visit FestivalOfTheArtsBoca.org. For tickets call 1-866-571-ARTS or go to IMGTickets.com.
If you love the arts and want to develop your inner music in tandem with the outer kind, you should know about Panache Desai. This modern day healer is determined to spread peace and contentment to all. It may sound like a tall order (especially in these trying times) but Panache has the will and the way to help us heal from the disorder known as the human condition.
I can tell you that Panache has the healing touch. If you want to know more about your life purpose (other than taking out the trash) he will answer that question. He also helps people align to their inner light (this is a good thing) and empowers them to accomplish their goals. “Life-long struggles and challenges begin to dissolve as an awareness of the divine nature comes into being,” said Panache.
Panache will be hosting a 2-night course The Best Year Of Your Life on January 12 and 13 at the Ducan Center, 15820 South Military Trail in Delray Beach, FL. Call 239.649.7373.
Other hot topics swirled intensely at the beach in Delray in December 2009. Heralded as Stop Global Warming on December 12, 2009. This environmental festival -protest - sponsored by the Palm Beach Environmental Coalition and Greenpeace - was an attempt to wake everyone up to the dangers of global warming (the ice caps are melting, remember).
There were speakers and a group chant to stop dirtying the planet. If you think your house is messy when you don’t do the dishes (or clean the floors) the environmental coalition of Palm Beach County wants you to know that your carbon footprint has a much more detrimental effect on our planet.
There was also a lecture series on timely topics by prolific (and often comedic) Rabbi Barry Silver. Silver started this lecture series in honor of his father, Rabbi Sam Silver. Called the Rabbi Samuel M. Silver Controversial Issues Forum, the lectures were enlightening and intellectually stimulating. If your brain needed a work-out and you wanted to hear a debate about issues that lie just under the surface of modernity (and the mundane) check them out. There are free and well worth the trip to Lake Worth. Call 561-968-0688 for information.
If what they say is true, then we have to keep our spirits high and our thoughts pure to have a great life. So, good luck with that and remember when you’re stuck in traffic, it’s just because we live in paradise that everyone wants to be here. To some of us that includes May through September.
FEEN ON THE SCENE
By Diane Feen
FRANKLY FASHIONABLE – I’M BANKING ON IT
The banks are so au currant these days. Take Sun Trust for instance. They just announced that they are cutting up their dividends – slashing them down to a mere penny.
Well, I can’t think of anything more stylish than slashing things up. The denim industry is slashing up jeans and charging a lot more than a penny (try $200 for a good pair), sweater designers are cutting pieces of fabric so fringe dangles from our stylish sleeves and everyone is cutting up their credit cards so they don’t spend what they don’t have (boring, but good advice during a recession or depression – take your pick).
So I applaud Sun Trust. I assume they must have gotten a call from Fern Mallis, the Director of all things fashionable in New York. Mallis, who has her hand on the pulse of fashion, must have had an inkling that Sun Trust was in desperate mode so she lent them her scissors and her fashion sanction for slashing things (even dividends). After all, a bank going out of business is so passé, but slashing things is totally de rigueur if you know what I mean.
You know what else Sun Trust is doing? They’re selling securities to raise cash. I don’t know about you, but I am lusting for some security in this insecure world. God knows you can’t depend on your financial advisor, your hairdresser (too many chemicals for someone to have sound judgment) or your mother. But now that Sun Trust is offering security I don’t even feel the need to find a boyfriend (there are easier things to do like find shoes in my size).
I hear Sun Trust is also selling some of their assets to raise an extra $300 million. I’m going to pass on this offer though, I don’t need any lamps or end tables, and besides what’s the advantage of rummaging through their assets when I have my own closets to tend to.
And besides, we have to figure out if John Edwards really is the father of that other woman’s baby. One thing I never knew (but I just learned from Edwards and his wife Elizabeth) is the power of the phrase “You are so Hot.” If I had known how easily men could be seduced out of their marriages, careers and common sense, I would have used that phrase to gain a few favors. Instead of a baby I would have opted for a car, maybe a waterfront condo or just some gold trinkets. But at my age “You are so Hot” could easily be misinterpreted as a hormonal imbalance (my luck I would get a batch of Premarin not gold and diamonds).
I guess that’s why I have stayed near the home front (Palm Beach County) of late. After all there was swine flu to contend with (now called N1H1, in due respect to pigs), obscene discounts at the mall and clothing stores (duty calls) and the need to get ready for The Jay Leno show at 10 pm. In the meantime I knew there had to be intelligent life in the universe, despite the fact that Edie got axed from Desperate Housewives and Issy just expired on Gray’s Anatomy.
So I called Ann Rotman, the celebrated singles guru, and found out that she was having a Saturday afternoon shopping soiree in Palm Beach. Instead of cranking up the music for an indoor meet and greet we met up on Worth Avenue to shop and sip (champagne). Knowing I would not meet Prince Charming at the St John shop, I opted for just hanging out with other singles who enjoyed looking at clothing that costs more than my first car. But for nurture and nature it was a great day.
There were singles (men and women) of all ages and we gathered in the town square (The Gucci Courtyard) to sip complementary wine and savor the beauty of the day. The big event that day was the WORTH THE DRIVE promotion heralded with a cocktail party in the courtyard and a grand prize drawing for a $5000 shopping spree (No, we did not win).
The sights were authentically Palm Beach. There was enough silicon to fill the cracks in the spaceship The Challenger (or an inflatable bouncy house) and there were real people like Jo Jo Harder from America’s Top Dog Model Contest (and me) taking in the sights (a full moon) and the sauce (the red wine). The singles group had dinner at Trevini Ristorante at 150 Worth Avenue (561-833-3883). The food was terrific; I high recommend this restaurant (Ann is having a singles dance there in June email@example.com
And, if you haven’t already heard (perhaps you were living in a cave in Afghanistan) there was a special opening for the Boca Raton restaurant, The Capital Grille at Town Center. We met our culinary fate (divine lamb rib chops, filet Oscar, sesame seared tuna, sword fish and seared snapper with pine nuts, capers and a butte sauce) and enjoyed the simplicity of this upscale fare. We were allowed one entrée and soup or salad to start. It was great to dine like a princess while my bank was in such dire straits (Bank United).
One last event to look for next season is The West Boca Theatre Company Jewish Short Play Competition. This year’s plays were amazingly professional and moving. The winners were The Dimple by Les Leiter (first prize), second prize went to Jack Boeko for Kaddish (sad but so good) and third prize Waiting Tables by David Jay Bernstein. The West Boca Theatre Company and the Jewish Play Competition are programs of the Levis JCC Cultural Arts Department. The program was underwritten by Barry and Florence Friedberg. Check it out next year.
Diane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
FEEN ON THE SCENE
By Diane Feen
THE BAIL-OUT BLUES
If you were expecting a bailout from the government (everyone is getting one these days) but your ship didn’t come in, don’t fret.
You know why - because suffering builds character. So if you didn’t score like John Thain of Merrill Lynch (the scoundrel walked away with $83 million) there is still hope. Just ask J. Robert Gordon.
Gordon, who is a quadriplegic, never gives up. He works to raise money for veterans and rallies to get teddy bears for children in Iraqi. Last week Gordon had a Pardi-Gras fundraiser at the home of Linda and Jay Weisberg in Woodfield Country Club. Everyone munched on food from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and sipped wine while conversing about the latest hot topics. So far Gordon and his supporters (including Veterans Jesus Pintos and Robert Hildreth) have sent 1.2 million packages to men and women in war zones.www.orphansofwarcampaign.org
. Yeah Robert and Diane Gordon!
The other hot topic of the day (other than the stimulus package) is the upcoming Festival of the Arts BOCA
. This music and literary smorgasbord is “The” cultural event of the year. Held under a majestic tent in Mizner Park, this is the best brain food for your mind and your spirit.
The Festival - which runs from March 5 till March 15 - has an impressive line-up of musical and literary genius like Itzhak Perlman (he performed at the inauguration), Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, David Ebershoff, the Russian National Orchestra and Ana Karina Alamo. If you really want to max out on good conversation and vibrant vibes sign up for the Premier ticket holder status and attend the after-concert cocktail parties.
The light hearted receptions are a great place to meet the authors and guests and schmooze till your hearts content. It is truly the best thing that Boca has to offer. And I know these things. For tickets call 1-866-571-ARTS or 561-368-8445 - www.festivalofthearts.org
Since these are difficult times (especially for bankers who are now only reaping $500,000 a year) we all need something to perk us up. If you want proof, take note of last week’s Grammy Awards commercial line-up. According to the LA Times, this is the first time that ads for products such as K-Y Jelly and Absolut Vodka ran in prime time on network-owned stations.
That brings me up to another subject – The New Vista Theatre Company
in West Boca Raton. This professional heart stomping, head swelling theatre group is one of the best in Boca Raton. Artistic Director (and award-winning artist) Avi Hoffman and Producer Peter Librach are the best around and they need supporters very badly. It would be a shame to lose these musical and theatrical geniuses in our midst.
Their next play at their regional theatre in West Boca Raton is The Shop on Main Street from April 30 to May 17 (this musical won an academy award in 1965). Avi will also be in the upcoming production called “Bimah, Broadway and Beyond with Cantor Irwin Bell and a Klezmer Quintet on March 15th at Olympic Heights High School. Watching Hoffman is like watching a twinkling star with a personality. Please support Avi and his theatre group The New Vista Theatre Company. Contact them at: 888-284-4633 or at newvistatheatre.com. For tickets to the Bimah, Broadway and Beyond, call 561-445-3575.
If you still find yourself dreaming about the good old days (2008) then you might feel better after hearing that Microsoft put $240 million into Facebook (they were told it was worth $15 billion). Well, it turns out that Facebook is really only worth $3.7 billion (I could have told them that).
So, there you have it. The news may be pretty dismal but the sages would tell us that, “we should be content with what we have.” Because, when you think about it we’re still pretty lucky – at least we don’t have 14 children under the age of seven to care for.
Diane can be reached at email@example.com
FEEN ON THE SCENE
SAVING A SEAT AT THE TABLE
By Diane Feen
I hear there are a few Senate seats up for grabs. Caroline Kennedy wants one and Roland Burris got a nod to take a seat (and a stand) at the Senate.
And then I got to thinking, I would really like a Senate seat. I am sure it beats the brown wooden chair in my bedroom with the fabric cover. And I know it comes with more benefits than the one I inherited from my friend Lata. When I sit down it is merely to gather some facts or figures to make a coherent story about a local business person. My seat does not come with health insurance or free home renovations (hello Governor Palin).
I also understand that a Senate seat comes with great privileges. There is a wonderful dining room with a healthy spread of gourmet food, lifetime health insurance and pension, and you are courted by lobbyists (who always come with pockets stuffed with cash). There are trips to exotic locales that are supposed to be educational and informational. I don’t get to take these trips from my chair; I am relegated to Google for information and my left brain (and perhaps stem cells) for innovation. I rarely (or never) have a Lobbyist or drug company begging me to board a private jumbo jet for the mere purpose of watching sea turtles or mending fences (I know you can always call in a handy man for that).
Having a Senate seat does, however come with a lot more responsibility than my little wooden chair. I understand that anyone with a Senate seat has the ability to confirm cabinet secretaries (I don’t understand the need for a secretary for my cabinet, the china does just fine on its own) and federal judges. And like some jobs where back-stabbing is common, I hear the senate is almost clubby (I figured as much with all the dark wood paneling).
They also don’t ask you to leave when your hair plugs get natty or your skin wrinkles. Unlike most professions – that want you out at the first sign of wear and tear – the Senate lets you stay until the undertaker comes for you. Strom Thurmond, who nabbed a Senate seat in 1956, didn’t relinquish his political fanny rest until January 2003 (and I am almost sure he did this without Restylane or Botox). The man also fathered a child out of wedlock and spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes against Civil Rights in 1957.
That is the beauty of a Senate seat. You get to pretty much call the shots. If I talk for more than two or three minutes my boyfriend will call me a chatter mouth. His predecessor, whom I adored, would listen to me talk a few seconds and then his face would glaze over as if I just said I was going to nuke Long Island. Just think how great it would be to have a fancy political seat and the gift of gab. It would be like meeting and marrying a heart surgeon who graduated from Harvard.
Senators also have unlimited vacation time. They have a few meetings and bingo they all shuffle out for a month or two vacation. If your colleagues don’t like you, it doesn’t matter; they are stuck with you until your twilight years (or beyond). And think of all the caucuses. Senators get to sit around and schmooze about topics of their choice. I for one think there should be a caucus about men who can’t commit, another one on the strange habit retail stores have of discounting only the merchandise I don’t want and another on why all the shoes for women have heels that could double as gardening tools (doesn’t anyone know shoes are for walking, not posing?)
That’s what so great about being a Senator, you get to make rules, hang out and talk endlessly about theory (call it a debate club for grown-ups without pimples) and be courted by corporate executives who have to be nice to you.
But there are some things about having a Senate seat that have me worried. I hear there is a resolution to lie over (sounds kinky to me), reconsideration motions and a lot of joint resolutions. I know it’s hard to agree on matters of state with 100 different people, but you don’t have to be a genius to realize that smoking a joint is not a good thing when you are cooped up with 100 people (many of whom are bored I assure you). And besides, what are they going to resolve when all they can think about it Hostess Twinkies or chocolate covered strawberries?
So I am officially rescinding my offer for a Senate seat. Caroline Kennedy can have one (I am not sure why she needs additional furniture at this stage of her life). As for Burris, all I can say is that the man already has a McMansion mausoleum to lie in for eternity, why does he need a seat with an expiration date?
As for me I am going to stick with the simple brown chair in my Lake Worth condo (far from the Senate chambers). It requires no maintenance, no joint resolution (how can people make decisions when their eyes are all glazed over) and no endless hours listening to talk about the credit market, automobile bail-outs and how to fix Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
If I did have a Senate my first order of business would be to help Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Instead of giving them money I would march them off to Dr. Phil’s office and demand they work out their differences. Everyone knows that men are from mars and women are from Venus. And you don’t have to have a Senate seat to figure that out.
Diane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
FEEN ON THE SCENE
LAME DUCK LIVING
By Diane Feen
The duck is getting a bad rap these days. Congress is in a lame duck session, the president is a lame duck leader and the government is just one quack away from being in a foul mood itself.
So how did the duck become part of our political landscape? And what’s so lame about ducks anyhow?
If you ask me ducks are pretty cool cats (oops). They travel in pairs (hence the reason they don’t need therapy), they mate for life (no divorce court either) and are clean and quite pleasant. And have you seen how their hair stands up straight without hair gel? I’ll bet your average teenager couldn’t get a Mohawk this symmetrical without a Hollywood barber.
And the colors - have you seen how lovely their hair color is without a hint of gray. No Clairol needed here. You know why? Ducks don’t fight with their spouses or relatives and are always taking vacations together. As a matter of fact, when they fly together they travel in formation to cut down on the wind pressure coming from the front. They even take turns traveling in first class (where it is the windiest).
There’s also no such thing as boys nights out (no strip clubs for sure), they stick together like a family should. And if a duck loses a spouse it continues to mourn throughout its lifetime. Not like the human male who can be seen out with a blonde bimbo just as the last rugalah is finished off the Shiva platter.
Ducks, despite their bad reputation, have emotions just like we do. They also have proper upbringings (two parent families) and don’t need anger management classes or twelve-step programs. You know why? They don’t get divorced and don’t stay at work all hours of the day and night.
And the best part is that ducks are as versatile as futons. When tired or sleepy they just fold down their necks and become a fluffy pillow (Bed Bath and Beyond eat your heart out). Hence the reason they don’t need large condos or split level homes. And you don’t see them complaining about it either. To a duck the perfect day is spent lounging around the lake with friends and family (of course they winter in Florida).
As far as parenting skills go, ducks are pretty advanced (Dr. Joyce Brothers would approve for sure). They don’t run to the mall and leave the kids with a sitter. That could be one reason that baby ducklings rarely have ADD or other emotional problems. Mother ducks also don’t run (or fly off) to Saks or Bergdorf Goodman for a day of shopping and leave the ducklings to watch mindless video games.
That’s what’s so great about ducks. They are far from being lame and are so self-sufficient you rarely see them lined up at soup kitchens or waiting for government assistance. And you never hear them complaining about the negative connotation of their namesake (hmm…the ugly duckling).
And you know what else - ducks are pretty good sports. After all, their reputation has been squandered by lame presidents and congressional leaders and you don’t hear a peep from them. You also don’t see them filing any class action lawsuits for defamation of character (like a lot of quacks do these days).
And if you ask me, that’s just ducky.
Diane can be reached at email@example.com
FEEN ON THE SCENE
TIME TRAVEL - THE STATE OF DENIAL
By Diane Feen
Now that the holidays are nearing – and the world is melting in front of our eyes – I thought it an appropriate time for a simple getaway. So I started thinking, should I go to Aruba, Jamaica, London or Paris…and then I realized the place I most wanted to be was in the State of Denial.
In this state I can forget about the weak housing market, the stock market meltdown and the fact that Linen and Things, Mervyns and Circuit City are going bye-bye. And besides, travel plans are so easy to make to this location, all you need is a good imagination and some frothy brain cells.
My first stop on this ethereal freeway was the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. It was in this majestic space that I witnessed the brilliance of Ravi Shankar. This legendary sitar player, teacher and composer represents the best of music from the Far East. Late Beatle George Harrison called Shankar “The Godfather of World Music,” and for good reason. Shankar uses the sitar like a shaman uses holy water – with dexterity and harmonic resonance. As a matter of fact, the sounds of this 88-year-old master wafted though the enigmatic crowd like fairy dust, putting most of us into a meditative state (another good destination for trying economic times).
The Kravis Center was aglow in time and space that night. The crowd was a mixture of new age hippies (think Woodstock aristocracy), Dali Lama spiritualists and young musical hipsters. East met West in the most auspicious musical context imaginable. Shankar’s daughter (and protégé) Anoushka played with her father as well as musician Ranmoy Bose.
While taking a dip in the mire of illusion I thought it would be nice to visit New York City, a place where hedonism trumps the ordinary. In Manhattan eating is more a religion than a fact of life. That’s why I headed over to the newest restaurant by Nino, appropriately called Nino’s 208 (on East 58 Street).
Dapper restaurateur Nino owns six restaurants with his namesake and all are elegant with homemade Italian cooking that surpasses the greatness of its legacy. Homemade Pappardelle (pasta with short rib Bolognese) is enough to make one give up other vices to indulge in this one. The sea bass Carpaccio with potato blini, asparagus and horseradish sour cream was heavenly, and the Grilled Filet Mignon with red wine reduction (I say seduction) with butter nut risotto was a dive into the depth of greatness. Check out this new hot spot when you’re in NYC - NINO'S 208--750-7766.
Our next stop was midtown steak house Benjamin. This relative newcomer is a testament that eating meat is not a sacrilege, but a joy. Chef Arturo Mcleod was at Peter Luger’s (a legendary steak house) for 30 years and Benjamin was also an alumnus of the same
landmark steakhouse. Benjamin worked at some hot spots in NYC and has honed his craft like an Olympian. This sexy cavernous space is so vast that a mezzanine offers seating above it all for those who enjoy licking their chops (literally and figuratively) in a bit more solitude (tinnitus will do that to you). There’s a fireplace, oak wood paneling (that attracts the male species like a blond in a miniskirt) vaulted ceiling and enough testosterone to make this midtown steakhouse a must stop for women of all ages.
When the waiter told us to order the T-bone steak I scoffed at the idea in favor or a more delicate dish – surf and turf. Although my dish was very good, the T-bone steak was outstanding (you might need a twelve-step program to overcome this habit). Armand was right on – the best steak on the planet is at Benjamin’s. The seafood platter was another winner (go for the omega 3 and 6’s here) and would you believe they serve it with sizzling Canadian bacon by the slice (when in Rome do what the Roman’s do). The Caesar salad was superb and the desserts made me wonder what I ever saw in men.
My advice, when in New York head over to Benjamin Steak House and indulge in the good life. And, if you hit a rough patch listen to the wisdom of this self-made restaurateur, Benjamin Prelvukaj. “There are a couple factors that made my establishment successful. First and foremost: optimism. I always had faith that my project would succeed. If something wasn’t working, I would fix it or change it and make it better. You have to be an optimist to succeed in this business. Failing was never an option.”
So there you have it - failing is never an option. Not even in this strangely unfamiliar time we live in. Just remember that what you hear and see is not always a fair assessment of reality. And you can bank on that!
Benjamin Steakhouse - 52 East 41 Street, 212-297-9177
FEEN ON THE SCENE
THE GREAT BAIL OUT
By Diane Feen
I am worried about the economy. Not for myself, mind you, but for all those poor souls on Wall Street. Who is going to pay for their Park Avenue apartments and East Hampton mansions? How will they pay for their $650 cotton shirts and private jets?
And then I got to thinking – why don’t I kick in some cash to help the cause. After all, we’re in this together (Mr. Paulson assured me that). And besides, I know Mother Teresa and Gandhi would approve of my selflessness and philanthropy.
So in an attempt to shore up the economy (and help Wall Street stay solvent) I attended the Mentor with the Millionaires Conference put on by Women That Win at the Marriot Hotel. And I wasn’t the only millionaire-in-training at the conference. There were lots of women from all over Florida basking in the idea of making mad money.
Kellie Kuecha, founder of Women that Win, spoke about her struggles to start a business after leaving a corporate job. Although everyone told her she was crazy, Kuecha followed her dream of self-employment, “The first thing you need to do is find people who are smarter and wiser than you, and then you have to maintain a positive attitude,” said the vibrant cheerleader of Women that Win.
Kuecha told us to look for mentors to help us soar to the summit of success. She added, “Obstacles are messages to look for another way to fulfill your goals…when one door closes, two more open.” (Good advice, but I wish someone would tell me how to find those other doors).
Kandee G, author and inspirational speaker, told us to check our attitudes as often as our fuel tanks. “You can engineer what you want, if you have positive thoughts. Find out what you want and know there are ways to get there.”
Debi Davis, nutritional guru, told us to focus on the positive and make sure we have a strategic plan with solid objectives (I would like to buy Lehman Brothers). Davis also told us not to listen to negative people (that eliminates most Jewish mothers) and to think BIG thoughts. Sound advice.
Our favorite restaurateur, Burt Rappaport bestowed some business brilliance as well. “You have to have passion as well as vision and determination. Don’t be afraid to fail (easy for him to say), if you haven’t failed then you haven’t tried hard enough,” said Rappaport.
In case you don’t know it, our buddy Burt is opening a new restaurant in West Palm Beach soon (he is really psyched about it).
My favorite speaker was shopping bag lady (and author of “Bags to Riches”) Linda Hollander. Hollander scaled the financial heights selling shopping bags and is now a marketing expert and business consultant. “Marketing is a noble profession…the best promotions are the ones that are weird and unique. You have to do weird to get past the clutter; we’re all on information overload.”
Hollander also told us to offer free reports and free classes on our websites. “You need to thank people who refer business to you. Everyone feels under appreciated, that’s why it’s important to send e-greetings.”
John Di Lemme, motivational speaker and author, blew the roof of with his fiery banter. “Champions are born, losers are made…You better stand for something or you’ll fall for everything,” he said. Di Lemme is living proof that perseverance and desire are key to achieving success.
This fellow spends four hours a day on self-improvement (don’t you wish they did that in Washington?) and has his eye on the prize 24/7. He told us we should be like eagles because they have laser focus (eagle’s soar and pigeons flop he said). That sounds reasonable, but who has four hours a day for self-improvement, I ask? But, the answer finally comes from deep within my soul. I could shop three hours a day and repeat affirmations the last hour (if someone would pay me to do it to music).
I am so glad that Di Lemme told me that every word is a seed. Because at this very moment I am planting seeds to sow a better future for people like James Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and James Cayne, CEO of Bear Stearns. Both men saw their fortunes dwindle from $1 billion to a measly $62 million.
With Losses like that I feel their pain. That’s why I am going to work right now to find a solution to help out these Wall Street tycoons. Its one thing to be sad, but another to have to face rising costs with anything less than a billion dollars. Even I know that.
FEEN ON THE SCENE
By Diane Feen
I’ve been called an air head in my day. But, I never took it as an insult, just thought it was an unreasonable assessment of my bubbly personality.
But now, as middle age surrounds me like a moat, I have become a real honest to goodness air head – specializing in the procurement of cool air.
But it didn’t come easy. I searched, sweated, asked questions, listened and scratched my head quite often. I took phone numbers, called air conditioning companies and opened the door for strange men (there are no female air conditioning techs or salespeople) to enter my house (often in a nightgown).
After a while it seemed like dating. We met, I watched to see what they would say (it was irrelevant if they loved their mothers in this scenario), I listened to their diagnosis and waited for them to make a recommendation (luckily the surgery was for my air handler, not me).
Since I was naïve in the ways of wires that cool, I was an easy mark. One day Rheem was good, other days I was advised that the coils would leak. Some days I was told it would cost $5,800 for an air handler and compressor, other days the price would go down to $3,000. Like oil in the open market the price for cool air fluctuated like GM stock.
And similar to dating, I had to intersperse my gentlemen callers so they would not come face to face with each other. I did not want to get caught cheating. If I was going to get a proposal (and a truthful answer from them) I had to make sure each one felt special. Luckily, there was no preliminary primping involved. There was also no dinners, no long walks on the beach (no mascara involved) and no first impression rose to vie for.
If my cool suitors were to win the affection of my checkbook they had to impress me with their cool factor. Did they think I should get a two or three ton unit, would I best be served by 13 or 14 SEERS, and did they know that my copper tubing was 5/8 inches and just short of the required ¾ inches?
I wasn’t always this technically savvy. I would not have known a copper tube from an inner tube and always thought a seer was someone who was watched the world from afar. But in the world of home repair in South Florida, I learned it’s a dog eat dog world (no show of emotion or home cooked lasagna will repair a broken pipe without a hefty fee).
I also knew our barter was purely an economic one. I would be paying (quite a role reversal for a single gal) and he would be providing services (ditto). He wanted the cash (not my body) and I wanted a new air conditioner, not a second date or life partner. Although dinner – or roses – would have been nice, this more utilitarian relationship required no messy primal emotional involvement (thank goodness).
But I had to keep cool (in more ways than one). I had to keep asking the same questions in the hope they might utter a semblance of truth and duplicity. Unfortunately, I discovered that my techno suitors were as conflicting in their advice and assessments as hopeful presidential candidates.
One suggested Frigidaire, another favored Goodman. A few others said that the Goodman product was “garbage” and that Trane was superior to them all. Of course the name Rheem came up quite often over the course of my intensive interrogations (there is no Gitmo for AC techs who lie, unfortunately). But the best part was that I held the purse strings. Like a man (asking a woman out for a second date) I made the ultimate decision as to which of my savvy suitors would win my heart (and my credit card imprint).
I do know that like a lover, my air conditioner may fall short of my expectations. I also found out that not every perspective suitor wanted to take on my plenum (trust me it’s not kinky, just the insulation above the air handler) and I discovered after weeks of research (and listening to15 airy suitors), that ultimately I should buy a 410-A Freon unit not a 210.
I also know that once I make a decision, there is no turning back. Counseling would do nothing to remedy a defective air handler, and my health insurer would surely suggest high dosages of Thorazene if I even hinted that a future meeting to air our differences would yield a sound solution for a faulty Freon hose.
That’s why I was so picky in my final choice of air conditioner contractors. I knew that I would not get a written certificate that my AC unit (or salesperson) will love, honor and cherish me until death do us part. I also know that he will not be stopping by for tea or vying for joint custody of my RN3487 Rheem 410-A unit.
But I do have some faith in my new cool contract and commitment. That’s because it comes with a one year warranty on all parts and labor. And one thing I know for sure, not even a good marriage comes with that solid a guarantee.
FEEN ON THE SCENE
SINGLE IN THE CITY
By Diane Feen
This was a good week to be single (or a bad one depending on which side of the fence you’re on).
Our favorite gals from Manhattan returned via the big screen, and as luck would have it, I was invited to the premiere at CitiPlace. For those who just returned to earth from another galaxy you should know that the movie “Sex and the City” just came out. The characters were the same, the clothing was spectacular and everyone pretty much stuck to the script. That was the bad news.
The good news is that we got to see what happened to our favorite TV girlfriends. We got to see Mr. Big turn into a mushy (and even less realistic) playboy who had been domesticated or perhaps jolted with electro-shock treatments. I am all for the proliferation of nice guys, but Mr. Big turned into Mr. So Nice I can’t believe this guy is real (shocker, he’s not). Miranda was her up-tight self minus the self-deprecating jokes and the intelligent banter (perhaps she doesn’t like men – oops) and Samantha had the guy, the $10,000 handbags and the oceanfront condo, but she still wasn’t happy (perhaps no one told her happiness is an inside job).
As most of you know (or will find out) Carrie gets the man, the penthouse, the book contract, the Vivien Westwood wedding dress and as many cosmo’s as she can drink, but she’s still pretty miserable. The good news is that Charlotte is her same old perky pretty self. If you like looking at beautiful dresses (that cost more than your father’s first Oldsmobile) then it’s a great piece of film work. But, if you’re like me and wanted the fabulous foursome to morph into something even greater than they already were, then be prepared to weep a bit.
Speaking of weeping, there was a Singles Lifestyle Expo on Sunday at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. For those of us who were hoping to meet our match it was pretty disconcerting. The speed dating sessions were filled in the over 35 category (Prozac please) the mélange of exhibitors were sprinkled over this fertile territory like cactus in Arizona (everywhere but nowhere).
For those of us lucky enough not to have suffered the consequences of divorce (we’re either afraid of intimacy or just too darn picky) there weren’t many courses to take. There were seminars with names like, Powerfully Managing the Transition of Divorce and Beyond, Family Mediation Matters: Keeping Out of Court!, College Funding Options For Separated & Divorced, Parents Divorce360.com: Panel of Experts and Divorce Trivia: Test Your Divorce IQ - and win!
If you were single by choice (or simply forgot to get married), it was a bit like being lost at sea. But to make up for this lack of intellectual social patterning there were exhibitors with products to sell (I always say when in doubt shop). There was a group called Women Moving On (I’m not sure where I am supposed to be going), a ChemDry sales person (rug cleaning is not one of my pre-dating rituals– mascara is as labor intensive as I’ll go for), Works Marketing was hawking body wraps guaranteed to tighten and tone my abs, chin, legs and back (I’m so glad I learned that beauty comes from within), Reiki Dating and Wake-up Makeup (its appeal is that the make-up would outlast the man).
The best part of this night for the non-attached was LifeWorks matchmaker Ann Robbins.
Robbins suggested we read “Intellectual Foreplay” by Eve Hogan and “Getting to ‘I Do’” by Pat Allen and Sandra Harmon. She also gave us a Relationship Readiness Quiz and informed us that we need to be the closer, not the pleaser (hmmm). We also learned that we have to be ready and available for love, but if we have baggage it should be perfectly packed (if they tried to neatly package my last boyfriend’s emotional baggage it would take up a steamer trunk). We were also told not to fall in love with a man’s potential - if he’s not Mr. Right, Robbins said, “make a timely exit” (just make sure you wear your glasses so you can find it).
All this mixing and mingling made me long for something more stable and attractive –like a pint of rum raisin Häagen Daz ice cream. I also had another reason to flee this flea market of leftover lovers – I wanted to check on my good friend Tatum O’Neal. It turns out that O’Neal was so upset over the death of her Scottish terrier that she purchased cocaine from a neighborhood drug dealer and got busted. I figure if I can survive a singles expo, then perhaps I can offer O’Neal some support. Besides, if she gets a stain on her rug I can save her from a bout of despair, since I now have the perfect contact for a vat of ChemWash.
As for me, I’m resuming my single life inconspicuously co-mingling with the population at large.
FEEN ON THE SCENE
What I Wore To The Recession
By Diane Feen
It’s here, the recession has arrived. Unlike Santa Claus the recession does not bear gifts, it does not invite you inside, and there is no need to pull out the good linens for its arrival.
But if one is to be appropriately dressed for all occasions (Jewish holiday’s included) then I am wondering how I should dress to greet this inflatable guest of honor. I suppose with all the belt tightening that will go on, I should have an attractive belt with enough holes to pull tighter than I would have in 2007 (when there was not a recession).
Since job losses are a big part of a recession, I suppose I should not flaunt clothes with obvious frivolity. But with my clothing budget being paired down like an ice sculpture after a wedding I have no fear of ostentation. My one dollar blazers and 24 cents scarves make me feel like a trailblazer in the area of recession fashion fare.
There were days when my frugality would have alarmed my inner child. But now that a recession is on its way (I have no idea its estimated time of arrival, but if it is flying into La Guardia it will definitely be late) I know a new fashion paradigm is in order. I also know that flaunting a $600 white blouse (a staple on Madison Ave.) would be in bad taste. Recession time is one that should be spent in reflection, which means lots of patent leather (you can use it as a mirror) for contemplating the future of the species - or the housing market.
As for color I’m thinking of basic black. It will withstand mascara stains that may roll down my cheek after I’ve filled my car up with gasoline. But with the economy on the skids like a wino in a flop house, I am thinking that black is too mournful a color. Perhaps red is more appropriate – or pink – or purple. After all color is the new Prozac when you’re fashion budget has been slashed to the Beal’s Outlet mark-down rack.
I do have recession experience though. In the last one there were gas lines (no need for dresses then), high interest rates (perfect for the shoe budget) and some sad times for home owners (Lexipro dispensers will do fine this time around).
But this recession is different. It came in like a bus load of illegals, a little at a time. Without a definite arrival date (perhaps this one lost its boarding pass). At first it seemed the recession was lost in Cleveland - that’s when I was reaching for the good china to celebrate. But now a more somber mood is in order, because like a late dinner guest, the recession is banging at my front door.
As for me, I can handle this insidious economic guest of honor. We’ll have some tea, get to know each other and share stories of former lovers (Alan Greenspan verses my old flame Peter). Since the obvious signs of wealth have eluding me for years (be a writer and you will know what I mean) I am sure we’ll have some common ground.
But I am worried a bit. Will the recession demand that I meet its parents? Should I wear a hat to shade me from its unbecoming double digit price increases? Or should I just pretend we are friends and invite the recession inside my home as if it were a relative I never liked to begin with?
I do have another eco-fashion theory - when home prices go down, our hemlines should go up (there has to be a silver lining). Because I do want to make a good impression on my guest of honor (recessions don’t come around that often) I want to be appropriately attired.
As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to greet this recession with my favorite high heels, party dress and golden trimmed handbag. Because if there’s anything I learned from my shallow upbringing - it’s that it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you’re dressed when it arrives.
About Diane Feen
Diane Feen is a writer, columnist and fashion editor living in South Florida. Her articles have appeared in the New York Post, New York Daily News, Woman's Wear Daily, Boca Raton News, The Sun Sentinel, Boca Raton Observer, Atlantic Avenue Magazine, Hat Life, eDiets.com, etc.
Diane taught Journalism at the college level and was a fashion editor and retail consultant in NYC. Her background also includes: marketing and public relations writer, copy editor and proofreader, speech writer and radio commentator. She is happy to announce that she recently received glowing endorsements from Donald Trump and Frank Brogan, and won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her humor column.
Although Diane loves journalism and fashion, if she had to do it over she would probably become a master plumber or a radiologist!