Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No-Kids-Zone Movement: Momentum Builds To Silence Crybabies

So while you have every right to be annoyed by (the overblown hazards of) second-hand smoke, I am just as irritated by screaming, crying, cranky babies and manic out-of-control toddlers. Fact of life.

No doubt, there are times when infants are just going to cry—nothing that a little Jack Daniels on the gums can't cure, if you ask me—but there are as many instances where bad parents let their darling precious ones gambol screaming through subway cars, stores and zig-zag all over the sidewalk.

No, you silly geese, just because you decided to spawn and spurn the population, you do not have the right to ignore common courtesy for those of us who don't share the belief that kids rule the world.

Apparently, I am hardly alone, as a growing force field is mounting around the world to get a grip on annoying brats that hijack the very air we breathe. In June, Malaysia Airlines announced a "baby ban" in first class on its A380 super-jumbo and 747 flights. The long-haul carrier said it received too many complaints from passengers that screaming babies made it impossible to sleep. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are considering similar policies.

Consumers are all for it, too: Fare comparison webbie Skyscanner found that 60% of travelers would love it if airlines dedicated a families-with-children section on planes.

Earlier this year, I reported Pittsburgh-area restaurant McDain's banning of kids under 6—which became a heralded national symbol for the no-kids-zone movement. After owner Mike Vuick received countless complaints about crying kids, he reasoned "McDain's is not a place for young children. Their volume can't be controlled and they disturb customers. (It is the) height of being impolite and selfish."

Likewise, the Olde Salty restaurant in Carolina Beach, N.C., posted signage that states "Screaming Children Will Not Be Tolerated!" Restaurant owner Brenda Arms told NBC that the message has been great for business: "It has brought in more customers than it has ever kept away."

Now the brat alert is spreading to movie theaters, grocery stores, vacation spots and more. The U.K.'s Vue Cinemas instituted over-18 screenings for the latest Harry Potter flick, while in Texas, a movie chain banned kids under 6 except on specified "baby days." This summer, Whole Foods in Missouri offered child-free shopping hours, where childcare service is available for parents who want to shop without their bombastic tykes. 

Here in Brooklyn, Union Hall bar attempted to ban strollers—a daily horror for any urban dweller trying no navigate this already crowded city. Even better, Double Windsor bar in BK forbids babies after 5 p.m. Frankly, I don't believe anyone under 18 should be allowed in pubs: It is the one destination grown-ups have been able to call their own, at least in the U.S.

Adweek's Robert Klara wrote, "Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing," pointing to, a travel site for kid-free vacations, with a massive list of yoga retreats, luxury resorts and bargain hotels around the world that ban kids.

On Travel & Leisure's blog, Charlotte Savino added, "Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids) or the anti-cute-police, but I hate ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants."

Bottom line: Dr. Susan Bartell, a psychologist specializing in parenting issues, notes that parents need to realize that when they take their children in public, it's their responsibility to make sure the kids' behavior doesn't adversely affect other people. Amen to that.

Herman Cain's Serial Lies At Last Cook The Pizza-Flipping Homophobe

I can think of few folks that deserve to implode in a heap of hypocrisy more than social conservative Republican prez hopeful Herman Cain.

It appears his serial lies finally caught up to him after allegations Tuesday that he cheated on his wife for 13 years with a single woman—buying her gifts, taking her on trips and plenty of sexual impropriety—demonstrating that he's lower on the moral compass than the gays he persistently condemns.

In the past, the pizza-making owner of Godfather's has said that homosexuality is a sin and a choice, flip-flopping his stance under pressure from religious groups in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. His views are a textbook connect-the-dots read from the Jerry Falwell book of fear and loathing.

Since he began gaining momentum during the endless series of G.O.P. debates, Cain has proved time and again that he has little knowledge of national policies or international affairs, with no solutions in mind for the nation's ongoing Second Great Depression. It's hard to guess what he truly believes in, other than a steady spew of Bible thumping and proclaiming the holy word of Jesus.

I cannot wait for this haughty blowhard to step off the platform and retreat in shame. And if his wife has any pride, she'll be filing for a big fat divorce settlement just in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Come Out, Come Out! Justin Bieber Recognizes His Inner Lesbian

What the hell? Below left is castrada Justin Bieber with his bankroll daddy Usher a couple years ago... and on right, this week.  Good god almighty!

It appears that Justin has finally identified his inner lesbian. From his pretty woven blouse to the super-manicured coiff, plucked brows, sweet earring and girly jeans, I can't decide if he looks more like Hilary Swank—who's anything but feminine—or the gayest pop star this side of Liberace. In either case, ewwww.

Who Can Eat Just One: William Levy In Sabritas Chips Commercial

Our beloved Sexiest Man Alive William Levy recently shot a pair of commercials for Sabritas potato chips for Spanish-language TV. Translation: Mmm mmm good! The video for the first, in which a female cop gently taps him on the behind, appears below. Think it's too late for me to enroll in the Police Academy?

Meanwhile, Levy began a run in the play "Perfume de Gardenias" in October at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. It appears his ambitions to conquer Hollywood—particularly after turning down a role in hottie stripper flick Magic Mike—have fallen flat. Following his role in "Triumph of Love," which wrapped last summer, he reported to webbie Que Telenovelas that he does intend to return to the genre in the future.

In 2012, Will will also star in and produce a new TV series, whose pilot will be taped in January. He's also slated for a leading role in a remake of "Cuna de lobos," a new series scheduled for the first half of the year on Channel of the Stars.

Below the video, check out a flood of newish photos.

Celine Dion Covers Sheena Easton... Which Reminds Me Of A Story

Whenever there's crossover between my fave two artists, Sheena Easton and Celine Dion, I get a giddy little tickle throughout my body.

A Smoking Nun reader alerted me that a teen Celine recorded a French adaptation of Sheena's 1981 U.K.-only B-side "Please Don't Sympathise," called "Ne me plaignez pas," the second single from her 1984 album Les chemins de ma maison, with a new lyric from the famed Eddy Marnay. That was news to me. The $2.50 music video, which aired on the Sur les chemins de ma maison TV special, can be viewed here.

Of course, as any Sheena aficionado knows, Sheena's "The Last To Know," which appeared on her unreleased 1987 LP No Sound But A Heart, was also recorded by Celine on her first English-language disc Unison in 1990... and I must admit, the tepid production from Nick Martinelli on Easton's version was trumped by Dion's power ballad, produced by Christopher Neil... Add to that the irony that Chris produced the majority of Sheena's earliest hits—and with David Foster, he produced Unison.

Ah, and that reminds me of a story, cool cats. My singer/songwriter pal Tinatin has collaborated with Chris for nearly a decade and arranged for the three of us to have dinner in New York a few years back. I announced to Chris as we began, "Okay, I have a lot of questions for you and I suspect I'm going to frighten you with some of the freaky details... So if you'll indulge me for just a little while, I promise I'll then become perfectly normal."

The dinner was an amazing flood of anecdotes about both Sheena and Celine. For example, he explained that when Sheena was recording "For Your Eyes Only," James Bond producer Albert Broccoli brought by a gaggle of comrades during the session. Young Sheena was apparently so terrified that she simply couldn't sing in his presence and Neil found himself in the position of telling the powerful producer to get lost: a nervy stance, indeed.

I also asked Chris—and he pretty much stared at me in disbelief over the minutia of this—about a lyric in Sheena's song "Voice on the Radio" from her debut album. There's a spoken part from a DJ with a voiceover that I could never understand: "What's that line about 'and of course don't forget to kick the dog,'" I questioned.

It turns out that not only is it Chris filling the DJ role, but the line was a joke about a friend's dog—which was named Kick... Thus the line, "...With love from hubby Charles and all the children and of course, don't forget Kick the dog." And there you have it.

Urban Cityscape: Momo Caffe, NYC's West Village

I'm absolutely tickled with this photo... taken Monday night in New York's West Village with my Nikon D5000. The lighting, the quaint cafe, the urban dwellers with their dogs, the dim light around the corner... Below is my digital enhancement as an "oil painting." The whole scene reminds me a bit of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks," sans the despair. This is a joyous NYC moment...

Ex Connects

Is it just me or is there something bemusing about connecting with the two great ex-loves of my life on consecutive evenings? I'm either mighty brave... or awfully stupid. No, really, it didn't hurt a bit.

Monday, November 28, 2011

'A Very Gaga Thanksgiving': Now Even My 87-Year-Old Dad Is A Fan

And now even my 87-year-old dad is now a Lady Gaga fan... While in Virginia for the T'giving holiday, I watched "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving" with my octogenarian parents—half grimacing in anticipation of Ga's potentially shocking antics... and yet, the show was sincere, sweet and ultimately wholly endearing.

Lady Gaga proved once more what a knockout talent she is in the intimate 90-minute ABC Nov. 24 special. Opening with Tony Bennett on "The Lady is a Tramp" immediately proved her a champion of cross-demographics. As my papa actually began paying attention, I began to ease up in my chair...

The following segment with Ga hosting an arts & crafts session with a bunch of kids from her alma mater, New York's Sacred Heart Catholic School, was probably the least captivating segment (next to cooking turkey and waffles with chef Art Smith), but again, she came across sans pretense, instead warm and inclusive—and a worthy role model.

Next up was full-length production number "Born This Way" followed by stripped-down performances of hits "You And I," "The Edge of Glory" and—the consummate highlight—a dressed-to-the-nines dramatic dance toss-up of Grammy-winning "Bad Romance"—sizzling hot, albeit still restrained and again, a damn effective showcase for Gaga's vocal wares.

My dad was further seduced by a lovely cover of “White Christmas” and most of all, a snappy, crisp jazz reading of "Orange Colored Sky," which Gaga explained she used to sing at New York's Oak Room. Another highlight: "Hair," a track from current "Born This Way," which I had always regarded as somewhat of a throwaway—until she explained its meaning as an anthem about feeling like an outsider in her teenage years.

An interview segment with Katie Couric was less effective, as the vet journalist played off the canned segment with all the sincerity of Ryan Seacrest. When she asked Gaga about her love life and Ga told her she'd prefer not to discuss it, "Couric said, "Even with me?" Eye roller.

Clips from the making of upcoming video for next single "Marry the Night" were briefly highlighted in the closing credits... and what a fine, fun single that is going to be.

I never thought it was possible to be all the more gaga for Gaga. And I sure as hell never figured my dad would be singing her praises. Her fan base is truly remarkable: from 9 to 19 to 49 to nearly 89! Ultimately, "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving," which she conceived and directed, was a ratings smash: It posted ABC's best Thanksgiving ratings since 2007, 23% higher than last year's dreadful Beyonce special, drawing a total of 5.5 million viewers.

Lessons In Headline Writing... Want To Think That One Over Again?

Um, sure that's the best choice of words? For some reason, it makes me think of the image below.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Model Perfect: NYC Boxers Bartender Josh Monrad

It's not often that one of our Model Perfect candidates is a man that we've actually seen first-hand. Josh Monrad, who moved from Texas to New York in 2010, happens to be a bartender at popular gay haunt Boxers in New York's Chelsea.

Of course, it's obvious that he's straight, like so many of the consummate bods that serve the gays in the city... but I'm willing to forgive that shortcoming, given his ambition to become "one of the top fitness models in this industry," according to his profile on

There, he reveals he is studying for a degree in Kinesiology, which I had to look up for an idea of what the hell it means. It still doesn't make a lot of sense: the scientific study of human movement, addressing physiological, mechanical and psychological mechanisms. Alas, I have a feeling it has nothing to do with serving drinks with a bonus kiss.

Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister Turn Black Friday Red Hot

Abercrombie and Hollister stores sure proved they know how to make Black Friday a red-hot event. From midnight to noon Nov. 25, hundreds of bare-chested models welcomed customers at the A&F and Hollister New York flagship stores on Fifth Avenue.

Nationwide, all 817 of the brother-branded men's fashion retailers were stocked with strapping hotties in dark skinny jeans at A&F and lifeguards in trunks at Hollister.

According to Racked, the guys prepped themselves with thousands of push ups. Indeed, there's nothing like a good workout to get pumped for the holiday season... By Friday morning, "There were 101 hot guys at Abercrombie and 101 lifeguards at Hollister, riling up the crowds and whipping the tourists into a frenzy," Racked reported. Now that is retail therapy at its best.