Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Celine Dion: Juno Awards 3/30, Muppets, 'Incredible'

Given the ghastly results of the 2014 Grammy Awards (one word: Lordes), it's inspiring to see Canada get it right. The 2014 Juno Awards
nominees include four nods for Celine Dion—including the big guys, Album & Artist of the Year for "Loved Me Back To Life."

In all, Celine garnered nods for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Fan Favorite and AC Album of the Year. Unfortunately, she was not nominated in the Aboriginal Album of the Year category. Sigh...

Leading the nominees are Arcade Fire (6), Serena Ryder (5), Michael BublĂ© (5), Drake (4), Celine (4), Hedley (4) and Tegan & Sara (4). The awards show will stream live via, beginning at 7 p.m., with the show airing in Canada at 9 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 30—which happens to be Celine's birthday.

Meanwhile, “Incredible,” Celine's phenomenal duet with Ne-Yo—chosen as the second single from LMBTL in North America and Italy—was nominated as "World’s Best Song" at the World Music Awards, and chosen by NBC as an official anthem of Sochi 2014 Winter games. Meanwhile, we are still awaiting the release of the music video, which was lensed two months ago. I must say, Sony has not only dropped the ball on this project, but lost it...

And of course, there's Celine's inclusion in the just-released "Muppets Most Wanted," in which she duets with Miss Piggy. That looks awfully hilarious, indeed. *

Sunday, March 16, 2014


"Luck in life is an engineered effort."

And now the final chapter in this trilogy regarding my mid-January exit from NYC to VA amid a most egregious effort to get the hell out of New York City. See previous posts HERE and HERE.

So here we are, in the midst of the heinous, blustery, truly unpleasant two-and-a-half-hour closing for my Brooklyn Heights apartment… as buyers’ attorney deemed Dick (by my attorney) is interrogating me—in condescending fashion—about electrical non-issues that the buyers' Corcoran agent “discovered” during walk-through.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the attorney representing my coop announces: She has received an “addendum” from my Montague Street building’s Managing Agent. Huh?? In the midst of closing?

It states that the Board is not convinced that the four days I spent rebuilding my kitchen after it flooded—uh, utilizing the contractor THEY HIRED to do the work—is up to par. They're apparently concerned there may be moisture remaining in the ceiling and so… despite repairs for which I laid out major ca$h (which succeeded 100% in drying all moisture and properly sealing & repairing damage caused by my neighbor above's burst radiator pipe)... hey, you know what… We might tear it all apart!! And guess who pays for the “pre-existing damage”? Yep. Of course. Me.

No one at the table saw this one coming. After I had frantically and successfully rebuilt my kitchen after a waterfall decimated the drywall four days before closing, here we are with a last-minute notice from my coop saying, “No deal unless Chuckie understands that it might be fun to tear it all apart—on his dime."

Buyers’ attorney Dick eventually negotiated with my attorney Z to place a shitload of my money in an escrow account so we could all just get the hell out of there and close the deal—allowing the poor blindsided couple buying my apartment to take possession of their new home, while allowing me to just get out of town. (I can imagine how happy my buyers—with a 1-month-old infant—were really looking forward to the coop coming in & tearing apart their brand new kitchen...)

So ultimately, I was forced to leave $5,000 in escrow for 1) the previously described bogus electrical repairs and 2) potential demo of all the kitchen work I had just completed.

And then, at long (long) last, I was able to sign the last of 873,892,759,847 documents, and close on my apartment. Outside, as it poured rain, I had a sweet moment with the new owners of my home, wishing them happiness there.

At 5:30p, once I arrived home to spend my last moments in the apartment that I had nurtured for some 13 years, you might imagine that I might like to spend an hour reflecting, reminiscing and bidding a sweet farewell.

Honestly, after such a sullied closing, I pulled my new Ford Focus in front of the building and decided that despite it was the midst of rush hour, I’d rather sit still in traffic than wait for a single overhead light bulb to potentially burn out in the apartment—because, for sure, the buyers’ Corcoran agent would pound on the door, swearing the entire apartment was miswired.

My exit from the HOME that I bought in 2000 and transformed from a dump into a palace was, in that moment, so very bittersweet. I made a final hasty walk through each room that I had lovingly renovated over the course of 13 years and then said out loud, “G’bye.” And I closed the door.

The next turn of our story doesn’t get much better, I’m afraid. As I motored down Brooklyn’s BQE, traffic moved at a clip. Hurrah! Abby & Spencer were relaxed and dozing in the front seat next to me. But as I passed one annoying toll road after another (Verrazano Bridge, Goethals Bridge, New Jersey Turnpike, Delaware Memorial Bridge), I drove
past the rain… and right into dense, impenetrable, thick-set FOG!! Seriously?

For five hours I pretty much could not see 20 feet in front of me… roaring forward every time there was a vehicle in front of me on what turned out to be deserted coastal roads... just to follow in their taillights, until they ultimately turned off the road, leaving me anxiously slowing down at some points to 30 mph. All the while, I'm pondering my epitaph: “Poor guy. He moved out of New York City and drove off a bridge on the way to his new house…” Honest to god, it’s as if I were driving through cotton candy for 5 of the 7-hour journey.

And that’s where this long-winded tale reaches its blissful end. As I crossed the
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel just after midnight on January 15, 2014, I exhaled that I had survived one of the cruelest days of my life. And I inhaled with gusto for all possibilities of this brand new chapter.

As I write this, it is now my two-month anniversary as a resident of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

An NYC pal asked me on the phone last week, “What do you miss most about New York?” I paused and responded: “Except for the people… not much of anything. Actually, nothing."

I was ready. It was the right move at the right time. And here we are. The page has turned and the colors on this side are as bright as could be.

Hey, and Spring is allegedly coming (following the cruelest winter the East Coast has seen in 30 years), so I will have an entirely new & colorful world to discover beyond the doors of this wowsah property in Norfolk, Va., that I have been fortunate enough to make my home. I am blessed, I am a lucky man and I wake up every morning recognizing the bounty before my eyes.

P.S. Thankfully, I got the ENTIRE $5,000 returned from the escrow account (cool cats, that's why it took me 2 months to post this: get it?). Obviously, those electrical issues turned out to be bogus. And thankfully, either the coop decided not to decimate the new kitchen—or the new owners refused to let them tear apart my beautiful work.

P.S.S. Har, har, har... And yet it's not over yet. The coop decided in February that the building is not responsible for the damage that occurred between walls (they are, via the bylaws) and are now leaving it up to me to have my homeowner's insurance company duke it out with the coop—which, mind you, I, of course, CANCELED at the end of January. Guess who is going to end up ponying up more cash months after getting the hell out of BK?!

And herein is my great lesson learned: Enduring luck in life is an engineered effort. I am a fortunate man, feeling lucky once again. *

Friday, March 14, 2014

Zillow: As Usual, As Accurate As A Ouija Board

Har, har, har... I was always amused watching Zillow's "Guesstimate" value of my former Brooklyn Heights apartment skyrocket... and then plummet, for no reason. Just got an update on the current value of my beloved home, after selling it for $816,000 in January.

Not only is its "estimated sales value" now posted at a laughable $513,000, but it is also reported as sinking $24,446 over the last month—uh, just as it sold for more than $15,000 over asking price.

In a neighborhood like Brooklyn Heights, there are hardly standard "comparables," with so much variety in terms of space, views, condition, building amenities and the like. So what does base its zig-zag figures on?

I stand by the fact that the buyers of my apartment—who purchased in a time when there were all of four comparable properties in the entire 11201 zip code—did just fine.

God forbid that anyone actually takes Zillow seriously... Not only is its information inaccurate, but imagine if I was in the process of selling the apartment now, and someone considered this data credible. This is actually harmful to the real estate market and a disservice to both sellers and buyers. FAIL! *

Thursday, March 13, 2014

As 'American Idol' Launches 159th Season... Remember The Good Ones?

"American Idol" jumped the shark a good five years ago... no need to belabor what a self-conscious drab show it's become. Long gone are the days of launching such true talents as Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Diana Degarmo, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, Ace Young, Katharine McPhee and Kellie Pickler.

And then there's my beloved Kimberley Locke. She posted on Facebook Thursday that it's been a decade since the release of her Curb Records' smash hit "8th World Wonder." I watched the video and 12 hours later, it remains lodged in my little pea brain, with the chorus playing over & again. The good ones stay withcha, right?
That was the first of many No. 1 songs for Kim, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Chart (No. 19 at top 40 & No. 6 at AC), followed by top 10 AC "Change" and three chart-topping Christmas songs: "Up On the Rooftop," "Jingle Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman."

Last year, heavenly dance track "Feel the Love" (with Cahill) reached No. 1 on the U.K. Pop & Dance charts... while Kimberley continues to address groups globally & spread her positive message. I met Kim through dear pal Fred Bronson... and have connected numerous time in NYC and LA since... as well as the pleasure of reviewing her music numerous times as Billboard's Single Reviews Editor. As you might imagine, Kim is all positive energy, funny (with an infectious laugh) and smart as shit, ever moving forward in her well-entrenched career. Eighth world wonder, indeed. *   

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Celine Dion Posts Two Best-Selling All-Time Female Songs In U.K. Top 10

Happy International Women's Day, whatever the hell that is (deemed an annual celebration of the
economic, political and social achievements of women's rights across the globe)... The U.K.'s has shared the 40 best-selling singles from female singers—and Celine Dion is the only artist to have two songs among the top 10. Well-done, Brits!

The chart reveals that Cher's "Believe" tops them all, selling 1.79 million copies and spending seven weeks at No. 1 in 1998. Next in line is Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" from 1992. Below the video are the top 10:

 1. "Believe," Cher (1998)
 2. "I Will Always Love You," Whitney Houston (1992)
 3. "...Baby One More Time," Britney Spears (1999)
 4. "My Heart Will Go On," Celine Dion (1998)
 5. "Someone Like You," Adele (2011)
 6. "The Power of Love," Jennifer Rush (1985)
 7. "Wannabe," Spice Girls (1996)
 8. "Think Twice," Celine Dion (1994)
 9. "We Found Love," Rihanna f/Calvin Harris
10. "Never Ever," All Saints (1997)
11. "Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepson (2012)
12. "Hallelujah," Alexandra Burke (2008)
13. "Price Tag," Jessie J (2011)
14. "Can't Get You Out of My Head," Kylie Minogue (2001)
15. "Saturday Night," Whigfield (1994)
16. "Torn," Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
17. "Poker Face," Lady Gaga (2009)
18. "2 Become 1," Spice Girls (1996)
19. "Only Girl In the World," Rihanna (2010)
20. "I Feel Love," Donna Summer (1977)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Hello Cool Cats! When last we spoke, I had just endured holy hell as I was preparing to exit my apartment in Brooklyn Heights... Four days before closing, a radiator pipe in the apartment above mine burst and poured down into my kitchen for nearly 4 hours, pretty much turning the drywall into Play-Doh.

As previously reported, I hustled like a madman—tossing money into the air—to rebuild the walls and ceiling of my kitchen in three days, fearing that my buyers might come in during Tuesday’s walk-through, balk and say “So long, no thanks!” Thankfully, the work done by my contractor was 100% solid and by the time he finished Monday, my kitchen truly looked better than new.

But of course when one lives in a New York City coop, you can pretty much count on drama (which is among my Top 5 reasons for making a new start and exiting NYC). For 13 years, I had to ask permission from my building's Board (and often pay a shitload of money for the privilege of taking their time) if I so much as wanted to paint my door.
A houseplant on the fire escape: NO, it's a fire hazard! Host a party: We need to know when and how many! Scratch my butt: Not after 11 p.m.! My coop President was a doll, but the building’s Managing Agent... Hmm, let's put it this way... I am quite fond of her personally—and worked with her amiably when I was a member of the Board for 8 years—but there were times when she could be relentlessly "by the book"… and apparently it's one she has written herself. Yeah, that's good...

More than once I was treated like a Catholic School kid being whacked on the hand with a ruler… only with FINES added to my smackdown. 

Here's a timely and relevant example: When she got a copy of my typical sales contract to sell my apartment, it stated that I had 10 days upon closing to move out of my apartment. (Unlike most areas of the country where you move and then close, things are more complicated in NYC.)

Nope: She mandated that the contract be amended so that I had to move out all belongings before closing and get out pronto. 

That meant that the night before I left the Heights, hey, I slept on the bare floor! In fact, at closing, everyone at the table—brokers, attorneys and mortgage lenders—said they had never heard of such a thing in New York. At the least, it was unorthodox. At the most... As one stated, “That’s just MEAN.”

On to the real drama of the day… The Tuesday I am CLOSING on my Brooklyn apartment, my buyers are scheduled for walk-through with their Corcoran realtor and my beloved Douglas Elliman brokers (Marty Ellman & Myrel Glick, true pro goddesses). They told me this is a mere formality: 15 minutes. Obviously, I was nervous as hell after the kitchen flood (all were informed from the moment it happened).

So it’s raining that day. Pouring rain. I take my doggies Abby & Spencer out, figuring on an uncomfortable 20 minutes standing under the scaffolding next door to my building.

Should have known better with the way things were going, huh?

Turns out that the Corcoran agent representing my buyers came in with some sort of electrical outlet tester—thinking that she is a professional electrician? (Read: We’re sniffing for money back, baby!)

After TWO HOURS in the rain, I am informed there are “major concerns about the electrical in your living room,” because of something who the hell has ever heard of: reverse polarity.

To streamline the tale, that afternoon, the Corcoran agent insisted on sending an electrician to my apartment to inspect this horror!! And here’s the electrician's take: “Reverse polarity basically means that there’s potential for certain electrical appliances to run in reverse… like a blender.”

Got it! Because everybody knows we all tend to use a blender… every day… in the living room. Mind you, I had the room renovated in Fall 2012 by a licensed contractor, and I can state for the record that nothing I ever plugged in operated in reverse. Now I must admit, I did not make daiquiris in the living room during that time…

By this point Tuesday afternoon, the cloud was hanging so heavy over my hopes for closing that I took a meeting with my (kickass) attorney “Z”. Her advice: Let me talk, don’t get angry at closing… because they’re looking for money…"

After the electrician completed his inspection, I high tale it to closing in Manhattan, 45+ minutes late. And it just gets worse…

The attorney representing the buyers (who, BTW, were a sweet young couple with no agenda) is smarmy, arrogant, way too talkative, and personifies everything that gives the profession its deserved reputation. Let’s call him “Dick.”

Over the course of a two-and-a-half hour closing—populated by my attorney, buyers’ attorney, the buyers, their mortage broker, the coop’s attorney, my agent and their agent (the would-be electrician)—I have been informed that I need to put money in a pot because of the “serious” electrical issues. 

Dick had the audacity to ask me, “Did you do the electrical work yourself?” With steam rolling out of my ears—trying to keep in mind what Z had told me—I responded as calmly as I could that he was a fucking asshole… No, wait, that’s not what I said… That’s what I was THINKING. Um, I believe I said "No."

And there’s MORE!!!! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more frustrating, my building's Managing Agent blindsides everyone at the table by sending an addendum to closing... STAND BY FOR PART 3...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Best New Song Of 1Q 2014: Roxanna's 'Close Your Eyes'

Over the past couple years, I've had the opportunity to write two bios for Canadian vocalist Roxanna, including several phoners. Not only is her heart as big as the sky, but her favorite
entertainers are Olivia Newton-John and Celine Dion. How could I resist such perfect taste?

Rox has just released single "Close Your Eyes," the kind of cloud-bursting power ballad I live for. It takes all of one listen to recognize that this is a wholly hit-worthy song... and what mainstream radio is sorely lacking anymore. At least we're past so much angry hip-hop, only to be supplanted by screechy generic dance beats. Sigh... Nice to know there are still lush, velvet-lined female vocals with messages of hope & inspiration.

And it's right here! To absorb, embrace... and SEE. Wait until you have a look at Roxanna. Beautiful inside and out. Bravo!