Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Holds Barred

by Blair Sabol

Originally I came for just four nights to visit my wonderful 88-year-old mother in Philadelphia. The second night she accidentally fell and shattered her femur. I ended up staying for four weeks. I arrived as Maria was leaving Ahnold. I am departing as Weiner dumps Huma for rehab.

Forget world wars, sex scandals have become the new bookmarks of our time. I read in a Philly paper that one of Weiner's "twit heads" was a local Philly suburbia girl. She is now auditioning for her own reality show (or was it Dancing with the Stars?).

Or may be it was Weiner himself that was auditioning. I am only dismayed that so many "Twit chicks" found Weiner such a "Hot pick." How did that happen? What is going on with young women's taste in men? Are they all THAT "desperately seeking?" I understand the other "scandal skunks" weren't that much better but Arnold was a movie star; Elliot Spitzer at least paid for for his, and Charlie Sheen is Charlie Sheen (whatever happened to him?).

However since when is geeky waxed chests and semi full "packaged" briefs a supreme turn-on? Speaking of trash ... I came to Philly with a small weekend suitcase loaded with two worn-out outfits. My intent was to leave the contents in my mother's garbage and return to Arizona clean and empty. Instead while my Mother was brilliantly recuperating (in record time she went from hospital to rehab to walker to cane and is now longing for the car keys ... resiliency is everything) my original outfits disintegrated so I decided to shop.

As the age old saying goes "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping." In fact, shopping is what will get my mother back in her car in no time. It's no secret that in times of stress, diversion is everything. Obviously some people go to hookers, others to drugs, booze, food or movies. I SHOP. Not to BUY, rather to cruise the aisles. It takes my mind off Medicare calls and home care scheduling. Recently I read that not as many people are really consuming in malls anymore. Online has become the way to go. Face it, Amazon and "one click shopping" beats schlepping through any Walmart any day.
A tiny sampling of The King of Prussia mall.
But I did manage to take one field trip to Philadelphia's King of Prussia mall, the second largest shopping mall in the USA. Acres and acres of the typical merchandising sprawl. Over 400 stores from Gucci to Penney's to Neimans to Forever 21 to Cheesecake Factory. Somehow within 20 minutes I felt like I was in "the belly of the monster."

By the time I hit the third food court I was into a full blown panic attack and had to flee. This much of a shopaholic I am NOT!!!! It is bad enough that our airports have become merchandising emporiums. A human being can only take so much.

New York view from Carlyle Hotel room.
My cozy corner room at the Carlyle.
After the third week I was generously "gifted" by a family member a magical one night stay at the infamous Carlyle Hotel. Naturally the day I went was the hottest June 8th on record. Yes, I live in 110 degrees five months out of the year in Arizona but that is actually more manageable microwaveable heat. Plants and animals explode and fires dominate in the west but eastern humidity is water on the brain and too much laundry.

Plus Arizona has AC down to an art form. New York City is lost in bad cooling management and horrific mold. The city stores were either too steamy or freezing. Only The Carlyle had it beat.

But it would. It is a hotel religious experience. The rooms are still understated elegance and not teched up with iPad screens for room controls. Also there was a purity about my particular modest room (was it the ever present aroma of their lemon soap?). I didn't get the feeling that IMF head Strauss Kahn had just checked out of my bathroom.

And though the entire hotel seemed perfection I had heard that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had just arrived before me and had five hotel technicians sent to her suite to make sure icicles were hanging from her ceiling. My only hotel disappointment was that I didn't get to spot THE Carlyle Couple, Bernard Levy and Daphne Guinness, making out anywhere.

When I tried walking down Madison Avenue that day I saw nothing enticing other than a place to get in outta the heat. Only Zitomer's Drugstore managed to seduce me with its array of clothes, drugs, candles, bags, rare deodorants, "natural" suppositories, and headbands. Talk about a high end "general store."

Jackie Rogers's
window of great big chiffon-like shirts with giant bows in sorbet colors stopped me "cold." But not enough to swing through the door. Then again nothing of late makes me want to open my wallet.
Coolest window on hottest day: Jackie Rogers.
I did make it in one piece to my glorious NYSD editor David Patrick Columbia's lunch table at Michael's. Thank God that the AC was working. Then again Michael lives in California and knows about deluxe "cool" in every way. Even the "look" of his fresh baby pea green soup was a rescue remedy. Now that I am considered a "westerner," I couldn't help but notice how awkwardly New York women dress in the heat. Granted, in the west we show too much, but what the hell is going on in NYC?

On Madison Avenue it was sweet to see one wealthy Upper East Side dowager all dressed up in her low vintage Arpel heels, her cotton summer suit, KJL bangles and a barrette in her perfect bob, making it slowly down the shady side. She was "crisp" in 98/98 degrees and humidity.

Sampling of "hot chic" (?) down Madison Avenue on the hottest day of June.
As for everyone else ... it was all those awful cargo/crop pants, bad tight t shirts with double decker midriff bulge and exploding muffin top waistbands and too many terrible flip flops. And this goes for the guys as well. Unfortunately too many young girls think micro mini skirts and high gladiator stilettos are hot.

As James Galanos (not to drop THE name) told me last Fall "currently the young girls today don't know how to dress. The scale of super shirt skirts with high high heels is off completely."

Everyone's bare legs look terrible. Forget the gym and Pilates. Doesn't anyone in NYC own a full length mirror? And in place of all the fake lips and boobs of the West and New York City we now have the extended eyelash mania (this goes along with the frenzy of full body orange colored spray tans).

I guess Oprah started it with her "must have" triple layered mink "sets." Or how about the Latisse ("botox of eyelids") prescription medication to make eyelashes thicker and longer. Recently I heard the FDA is getting a warning on the stuff. It seemed like every woman I saw in NYC looked like Jackie Curtis (Warhol's drag queen extraordinaire) with those obvious fake fringes. Unless you are one of the Fox News Network Blonde anchors, what's the point?

None of it makes you look younger or "more rested." You just looked "fixed." I did run into one dear old friend at Michael's ... Betsy Perry. She is now a Huffington Post contributor and a "merchandising consultant." At least she dressed sharp (always has) in her "age appropriate" white scoop neck blouse. As I took her picture she assured me her chest was "still real and still the same old same old. Nothing fixed." She had her real lashes as well. A rarity.
Betsey Perry at Michael's looking "naturally "elegant" and "age appropriate" in her low cut blouse. Cristiana Andrade at Michael's in vintage Diane Von Furstenberg.
The other "looker" at Michael's was Cristiana Andrade. I know nothing about her other than her dress was stunning. She was in a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg "sample" of emerald jersey and a built in black corset. The dress was mid-knee length and she wore regular pumps. Her boobs were gorgeously displayed and the waiters were deeply appreciative. She was a show stopper in her late 20s ... maybe. I hear that most young girls in NYC want to become "a brand." Not "a star."

What does that mean? To become the head of an empire of crappy stuff from sun glasses to thongs to bed linen to margarita mix.

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian dueling it out for the "number one" brand position.
Not to mention having a sex tape of yourself all over the internet. Recently I watched Paris Hilton and her mother being interviewed for her new reality show. Sad to watch her desperately fight for her once "number one" brand position. She is now losing to the current queen Kim Kardashian.

Now, remind me again what their talent is? Who cares this is what young girls WANT TO BE!!! I guess it is no different than watching Madonna go up against Lady Gaga. In pop culture "life comes at you fast" (Nationwide Insurance logo). First you are hot then not only are you cold but dead and over. And frankly no amount of boob, dental, cheek, hair or eyelash enhancement can save you.

At the end of my "Accidental Tour" I noticed two significant shopping stories. Debbie Reynolds sold off her vintage Hollywood costume collection for $22 million. Now she won't have to perform in all those Assisted Living lobbies ever again. I wonder if Marilyn Monroe's notorious white halter dress actually got bought by the Chinese for $5 million. Then there was dear Liza Minnelli's own garage sale in The Hamptons two weeks ago. The selection displayed on lawn tables included her used dance shoes, lampshades from her house in Tahoe, wineglasses and epaulets from a Michael Jackson military jacket. Naturally she sold out and was there to sign every piece.

One item I would have snapped up in a heartbeat was a book written by her surgeon called Total Hip Replacement. It was reported she signed it "Keep on trucking ... just keep on trucking." After this trip ... it has become my mantra!!!
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