Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Holds Barred

Mark Hotel "Door Boyz."
In Treatment
by Blair Sabol

I called it my "In Treatment" trip. I knew this visit to NYC had to be different. I was in desperate need of a certain level of depth and perception along with the typical injection of NYC high voltage.

I didn't want to see anyone or go anywhere that couldn't deliver a sense of honest and personal enlightenment. Preferably one on one — no group or party situations.

In other words I wasn't up for just another "dinner and a show" escape experience. Vegas can now do that. And I certainly didn't want to hear anyone spinning about their latest reality TV gig, lawsuits, or their thoughts on Kim Kardashian's "charisma." I had high intent.
Me and "Samurai Shopper Susin Fair.
I started with pal Susin Fair ("Samurai Shopper" New York Times columnist) who offered to sherpa my body and soul about for a highly edited round of "shopping therapy."

We discussed the current horrific style trends, our aging vs. Cher's "morphing" into oddness, and constantly criticized each other's taste levels. The act of shopping allows us to reveal how we REALLY feel about each other and life. And imagine: we still remain friends.

She got me to Roberta Freyman's Ro market for a jolt of color and fabric and then ended up at The Pier for the terrific Antique Show. We concentrated on jewelry (since neither of us shop clothes that much anymore) and Susin introduced me to Miriam Haskell pearls (vintage designer) and the current craze of Chanel Cuffs.
Roberta Freyman's Ro Market.
Roberta Freyman bracelets.
Pier antique show baubles, bangles and beads. Miriam Haskell pearls.
Chanel vintage.
The original Chanel Cuff from Verdura.
Though we honored all this we also agreed that Forever 21 is hard to beat. At one point she handed me a personalized makeup list of three crucial items that I had to get at Bergdorf’'s and before she sped off she blessed me with a tiny bottle of Tata Harper's "Irribility Treatment" oil. Everyone in New York City should have this remedy in their pocket. It smelled terrific on my temples and I "settled down."
The next day I hijacked Liz Cassandra (one of the many "beauty specialists" at Bergdorf's beauty basement) and we scored "the ultimate liquid eyeliner” from Le Métier de Beauté, ordered a Sensai lipstick (all the tops according the Samurai Shopper), and she ended her spree at the "Kilian perfume as art" counter.
Kilian's Bukurije Navon and Bergdorf's Liz Cassandra, beauty product sherpas.
Apparently Kilian is the new hot bad boy of scent. With titles like "Love and It's Prohibitions,” "Cruel Intentions" and "Artificial Paradise," we were a long way from Liz Taylor's "White Diamonds." But I needed a guide in this strange land. Bukurije Navon (Kilian "business manager") navigates this world.

She worked long and hard with me and we ended up agreeing on "Surrender: Love and Tears." This line is complicated and extraordinary. But they promise it can change "your frequency" if you buy the right "aura."
Sasha and Manubo at Garren.
That night my date said he could smell me from his Brooklyn apartment. "Aura" or asphyxiation? I finalized my personal beauty exploration across the street at Garren's salon for a pricey blowout with the ingenious Manubo. The surprise here was his shampoo assistant Sasha who managed to give me a 30 minute cranial sacral treatment at bowlside in lieu of a typical sloppy soap'n rinse. Mind expanding to say the least.
Some people look at shopping and beauty as escapist diversion and not therapy. I disagree. After all WHATEVER gives you a new POV and an experience is worth it.

Speaking of which ... when I arrived everyone was talking about the new Ralph Lauren store at 72nd and Madison. It's official — Ralph now owns that entire cross town intersection. It's Ralph's world and we are "just looking" (or buying) in it. That's fine ... since nobody does it better.
Ralph Lauren's new shopping Disneyland.
Clockwise from top: "Model" doorman at Ralph Lauren ... Inside Ralph Lauren ... RL windows.
I visited his new monument, and it's obviously Disneyland for serious shoppers. Ralph has the team who know how to create interiors of "class" and quality even though nobody today has any. The day I was there the Japanese had invaded and were spending and packing their five SUVs full.

The sales help tried to get my camera away from me so no interior pictures. The Doorman looked and acted like the perfect model and there was much activity over the creation of the secretly ensconced holiday windows.
Across the street to Graham Arader, located in the only street corner NOT owned and operated by Ralph Lauren.
I went across the street to visit Graham Arader, an old family friend and the largest, most significant dealer of rare paintings, maps and books. He is located in the only street corner NOT owned and operated by Ralph Lauren. I wanted to know what he thought of his neighbor Ralph's new store: "Ralph has guts opening this palace in the middle of a recession.”

Ralph has guts? Doesn't Graham have guts? And if not Ralph, who? From what I could see ... the recession hasn’t hit New York at all. Everyone seems loaded here.

Perhaps the city is in denial and that is why we all come here. To soak up that dream and spend what we dont have. Some locations are meant to keep money alive ... why not New York City.
Mark Matousek, writing coach. "Reader" John  Marchesella.
On the other side of mind, body and spirit I took a "serious session" with terrific author/memoirist Mark Matousek (his Ethical Wisdom/ What Makes Us Good is arriving in spring) who is currently helping writers "sharpen and deepen.” (www.markmatousek.com)

He is called a "book whisperer" and a writing coach, not so much an editor. He is all that and much more. He helps writers score their core.

Father and daughter  morning walk to school.
He left me with much to think about but mostly his warning of "Our country is hooked too much on joy and happiness as a resting goal ... Just get comfortable with being sane. And stop trying to get it 'right' all the time ... You might not, and that is the good news."

Along with Mark I was gifted with an astro/card reading from John Marchesella (astrojohn@earthlink.net) and in his cozy Chelsea living room he voiced the same as Mark with charts and cards.

In this city everyone seems to need a "reader,” personalized shopper, shrink, plastic surgeon/skin doctor, food and drug detox coach and trainer ... and now a good vetenarian.

Every morning I walked the glorious "autumnal cathedral" of Central Park. It was the highlight of my trip. I preferred nature's interaction to museum crowded lineups and packed galleries.

On my way to the park every morning I watched more cell phone screaming Dad's walking their kids to school (along with all those baby carriage gridlocked street corners). But maybe more than the kid explosion is the dog extravaganza. NYC has become a serious "dog town." Dogs Rule!!!!

A friend explained that "human relationships are currently more challenging in this city. Loneliness is everywhere. Everyone is turning to the unconditional love from canine companionship." New York is just catching up to the rest of the world.

And in a town of professional "walkers" and NARCISSISM, this is a good thing.
Dogs rule!
Because of my Central Park addiction I chose the new Mark Hotel as my base camp.

The hotel had its glitches:

The striped tile lobby floor could send you into an LSD flashback or a migraine — but I got used to it. My room was large but so "teched up" (with bedside iPads for "room control") I couldn't even flush the toilet because it was so complicatedly computerized — but I got used to it. The bathroom floor was a dizzy repeat of the lobby — but I got used to it.
Mark Hotel concerige/"therapists" Isabelle and Robert.
Mark Hotel "LSD "lobby floor. Mark Hotel Migraine provoking bathroom floor.
The doormen were a new breed. Gone are the wonderful Irish gents who always knew your name and made your entrance and exit "an occasion." Now they are a younger and an edgier group.

At The Mark the front doors are also computerized and the "door boyz" (NOT men) couldn't calibrate the openings and closings correctly so I got hit in the ass EVERY time (what was the metaphor for that?). BUT I got used to it!

Mark Hotel bedside teched up controls.
What WAS exceptional was the staff (trying hard ... what more could I ask) and in particular the concierges Olga, Isabelle and Robert. Without the typical "It's-my-pleasure" unctuousness, they made sure my "issues" were handled with perfection. The Mark became my "halfway house." Good hotels can become that. But I learned that luxury doesn’t come easy even in a city that thrives on it.

As for dining ... I tried to cover all bases and started with "the downtown experience" (which I may be too old for) at Il Buco on Bond street. It was typically small and noisy and "hot" and hot. Luckily the food was great and I was with creative director extraordinaire Brian Leitch, who not only spoke loud enough for me, but had more interesting material to share than I ever could make up.

HE made the trip downtown worth it and patiently introduced me to the "happening" Bond street. I never knew New York City even had a Bond street.
But my last night turned into a religious experience when my wonderful aunt and uncle (Jeanne and Herb Siegel) took me to La Grenouille. As soon as we passed the threshold it was Shangri-La. I was transported to another time and era. The miraculous peachy lighting and tons of fresh flowers made everyone look 30 years younger. And people DRESSED to eat. The food was naturally incredible and we had a vintage headwaiter (Jean Pierre) who only wanted to do this job his whole life. He manned the room like General Patton and it was glorious just to watch HIM perform "his craft."

The place was packed with high end "names" but who cared. It all looked like a Toulouse Lautrec painting. Everywhere you looked was beautiful. And I could actually hear my aunt and uncle.
My last morning I went for one more soul enhancing Central Park walk (I wanted to get the visual memory of the autumn leaves locked into my DNA) and after I did my final check out ... I walked through The Mark doors and they DIDN'T hit me in the ass!!!! I think I got what I came for!
One last soul enhancing Central Park walk ...
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