Meet your friendly, neighborhood property developer: the pigeon. According to a taxi driver I met recently, the hardest working birds in New York reside in Brooklyn. They roam the street at midnight looking for food—kind of like me, roaming the streets at midnight looking for pizza.

The thing is though, bird flight is hard work, and their little hearts beat very fast which is exhausting and hungry work. My new Moroccan friend made it seem that the birds seemingly swinging nonchalantly in the streets were in reality not enjoying any of it. Another friend said that this was because they were about to be made into tagine, sensing or piecing together their impending murder. I’d say that conclusion is inconclusive. And by extension, is their twilight roam anything more than a fleeting collective hallucination? Perhaps it took an outsider such as said adventurous thinker to even suggest such a notion.

This colorful thought is still in bloom in my mind, but—horror of horrors—now it is the pigeons (not me) who are sporting lilac wigs and kinky boots. The moral panic welling in my mind made me want to get in touch with the local borough of Brooklyn. But of course, there isn’t one. Sex and violence in the movies would stand more of a chance. I guess I’ve got to keep reminding myself I live in a free-spirited experimentalist culture. Social realism? That’s more like my hometown’s cinema.

When birds fly together in a V-shape, they reduce the amount of effort they have to make. When a bird flaps its wings as it flies, little bits of air come off the ends, trailing behind it like an invisible footprint in the sky. Any birds following behind can sit in this footprint and get a free lift, which means they do not have to work as hard. Shame eh, those were their days, pre-midnight street-walking and tagine-incarceration.

Imagine if these flights-of-fancy partnerships could actually add to ‘green infrastructure’? Imagine orchards scattered around the city, highways constructed by hedgehogs and little fishy’s splashing in a multitude of urban ponds. Wildlife-rich places are a buzz that just may just highlight some of the performances that have lit up the proverbial Bird’s Nest and sky.

And somewhere in the pit of my stomach, I know that this fight has only just begun.


source: Duke Riley | Fly By Night




I admit that I’ve never been to a river to pray – but I have been to the Thames (the river on where I used to live) for a bit of a think. Same with the Hudson. Practically every day to thoughts that start so loud, so deafening, as to seem like a huge silence. Never been to Benares, the holy city on the banks of the Ganges river, but I feel like I could have conceived and given birth to a baby in the time it’s taken this fiery soul of mine to scale the possibilities. Other things remain unchanged though. A man I often see at sunset praying on the Hudson invokes a sort of: why don’t you just get in and up to your waist, in the way that tranced folk become one with a body of water that they could have been there for weeks, years even. I’ve recently thought I should start skimming the river, playing with it, maybe paddle board on its tides? But this seems somewhat rash – though if I got away with just a rash I would count myself lucky.

Although rivers often become celebrated focal points of cities around the world, many others are mistreated or underused. Someone once told me that São Paulo is the capital of unloved rivers – they are all either polluted, buried or had their natural course altered. The Spanish poet Juan Eduardo Cirlot said that river symbolism “corresponds to the creative power of nature and time. On the one hand it signifies fertility and the progressive irrigation of the soil; and on the other hand it stands for the irreversible passage of time and, in consequence, for a sense of loss and oblivion.” If ocean symbolism is based primarily around water in a relatively unmoving form, river symbolism is based around water in movement, mythological streams raging with passion to get out to sea, like “the Congo issuing straight out of the darkest centre of Africa.” Bubbling at their conjunction with the seas and oceans, rivers not only play an important part in our storytelling, but in the heart of continents and civilizations (or away from the heart of continents and civilization.)

I grew up in the ocean, unafraid of the water, and I’m almost convinced that H2O is a spiritual bloodline, oscillating between intense connection and loss. Whenever I need to stop thinking, I walk along a river. There’s something about washed-out grey and blue to counter the pretty pictures in my head, something wholesome and compelling about the splash. The greatest poem of water’s absence and our need for it is Eliot’s The Waste Land, an interplay of fertile water and arid rock, a tension that can only be resolved by the coming of rain at the poem’s end. And Ruth (exquisite) Gendler says: Or perhaps we are vertical rivers, walking watersheds, all our tissues supported by elaborate systems of irrigation and drainage. We are made of water and thirsty for more…we are salty, like seawater or bouillon, brothy…our waters take many forms, become blood and saliva, bile, lymph, sweat, semen, tears.

Let it flood in I say.


source: flickr.com




‘If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.’ Voltaire 

In 1820 the mathematician Carl Freidrich Gauss suggested communicating with other planets by creating a gigantic Pythagorean triangle in the Siberian forests; he assumed any extraterrestrial capable of building a telescope would know the theorem. Apparently the chance of making contact by sending a message in outer space is equivalent to putting a note in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean (I’ve tried this), except in this case the distance is inconceivably vaster. Scientist Carl Sagan made the first serious attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence on the 3 March 1972, when Pioneer 10 was launched by NASA to become the first man-made object to leave the Solar System. His message was etched on gold-anodized aluminum plaque and the information and artwork – drawn up by his wife – shows amongst the message, a representational male and female figure, obviously accepting that science has its limitations when it comes to describing human beings.

‘Language is a virus from outer space.’ William Burroughs

Do the limits of our language mean the limits of our world? Paradoxically, what is not said (allusion and implication) is as relevant as that which is. Someone once told me this joke: Two psychoanalysts meet on the street. When one says. ‘Good morning,’ the other immediately thinks, ‘I wonder what he means by that?’

Did you know that more than a thousand languages are spoken in Africa alone and a quarter of those in the Cameroon? Me either. Words, phrases, sentences…we move in a sea of sound.

‘A bird does not sing because it has an answer – it sings because it has a song.’ Maya Angelou


source: istilllovecalligraphy.com



I used to think black lipstick required a certain amount of chutzpah on the part of the wearer. How do you pull off an uncompromising, unmissable shade of onyx? Turns out it doesn’t have to be gothic or matte. At least for me.

I’m crazy for formulations akin to my magical green mood lipstick from Barry M that reacts to your body chemistry, and turns a pinkish-reddish hue depending on how hot you are. Just kidding. MAC has something similar; a true-black Lipmix that you can blend with any color you love for a customized, darkly romantic vibe. Try it under a shimmering scarlet or eggplant like Obsessive Compulsive Lip Tar in Black Metal Dahlia. Black shot through with metallic is epic. Truly.

If as dark as you got was with that perennial classic, Clinique Black Honey, then you should definitely try Lipstick Queen’s Black Tie Optional as a layering piece under any shade, but with red, oh my. Think of it like a pair of the best black lace stockings you ever got.


source: zsazsabellagioblogspot/Sung Hee Kim by Lee Kyung Ryul for Harper’s Bazaar Korea 2013





There’s something about September in New York; the magical fall foliage, the wind, the crispy air (I live by The Hudson). Just as we crave specific food as the seasons change, our senses have different needs too. Maybe it’s the thought of the impending winter, but I want to be outside. Fresh air. Not an indoor gym in sight. Inspired by an epic match at Yankee Stadium in July, I decided to find batting cages in Gotham. My favourite is at The Baseball Center on W 74th Street, where Iron Mike, the automatic baseball pitching machine fires baseballs from 40 to 100 miles per hour. FYI, take lots of arnica with you. Then there’s Tai Chi in Bryant Park on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and The Five Borough Bicycle Club for avid cyclists, or those like me, just seeking an urban adventure and looking for red maples.


image: wearesodroee



I’m experimenting with silver-streaked hair which definitely possesses a surreally romantic quality and silver products. The Ancient Egyptians believed it gave super-human powers to those who wore it. While that may have been a bit of a stretch, it does hold promise for the multi-tasking prize: maintaining healthy skin and rebalancing energy. Julisis Silver Elixir Night, a cult product in Germany has a certain je ne sais quoi: rare ingredients and a founder who studied Paracelsus, a Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist and astrologer as a basis for his intriguing concoctions. Silver products are sold in abundance in Africa too; there’s an almost vampire-esque attitude to colloidal silver (electro-magnetically charged minute silver particles suspended in de-ionised water) which has long been recognised as one of the most potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory ingredients. The most interesting brand is Phuza Health which makes Electro Colloidal Silver nasal sprays, great for colds or on planes to protect against cabin germs. The company also manufactures a silver-based gel for insect bites, burns and razor nicks. Gaia Organics have a pigment regulating day lotion with silver, copper, zinc and manganese, a veritable mineral fest for the skin.


image: betweenpeaceandhappiness



I was chatting to a lady today whose waist-grazing braids were hypnotic. She told me they were in homage to Janet Jackson’s character in the John Singleton classic “Poetic Justice”. The long, thick box braids she debuted, became the signature look of 1993 and have had many incarnations ever since – remember Beyonce’s rapunzel-esque ombre twirls? Be it meticulously sculptured, thin, messy or twisted, who doesn’t love strands of hair that, once set, don’t require a second consideration all day. Now that I’m living in New York and experiencing my first summer in the city, there’s probably no better time to put what I deem as ‘the romantic plait’ to use.

image: natural belle



On the Pacific Coast in Santa Barbara, California, El Capitan Canyon pitches safari tents near the beach furnished with handwoven willow-branch beds, in-tent herbal spa treatments, burning campfires and s’mores. Closer to home, Fforestcamp offers a modern twist on the camping holiday in the depths of the Welsh countryside. The ultimate antithesis to the soggy reality? Ralph Lauren’s teepees set up for guests every summer at his ranch in Telluride, Colardo. Instead of fire pit’s there’s chandeliers, antique leather chairs and glorious beds. If living outdoors was this cool everyone would be camping.