Monday, December 7, 2009

Spotlight On... Living Liberally

By Nicole Caldwell

I’m balancing a pitcher of beer and making my way to the backyard of Rudy’s Bar & Grill on Ninth Avenue in Midtown. It’s Thursday. People around me scarf down free hot dogs and pontificate on the state of politics today as I spot my group: a handful of Drinking Liberally members positioned across from four 20-somethings who’ve challenged us to a round of flip-cup. You can tell who’s who by the pins—Drinking Liberally’s master of services Justin Krebs has dutifully made sure everyone of his ilk wears a pin saying so.

Born of Necessity
Drinking Liberally was formed in 2003 by Krebs and Matthew O’Neill, a Harvard grad and Emmy-award-winning journalist and filmmaker, respectively. “After the start of the war,” Krebs says, “it felt like the Left had no voice, no leadership. But we realized even our friends weren't talking politics. So we decided to create an avenue to draw our friends into political conversation in their natural habitat.”

A year later, Cosmopolity, a social network Krebs and fellow Harvard grad David Alpert created, incorporated Drinking Liberally thereby offering online calendars and social events as a way to encourage political engagement. The next step was to establish the umbrella organization Living Liberally, which strives to incorporate a person’s political identity into his or her daily life. The program’s intimidating success lies in its brilliant simplicity. Through all of Living Liberally’s groups—Drinking, Laughing, Screening, Eating, Reading, and, more recently, Shooting, Crafting, and Singing—politics are brought to the forefront of what would otherwise be natural social interactions we take part in every day.

[Read the rest of this article here]

[Originally published in The Leaflet, December 2009, V1.7]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Former Editor: Playgirl's "A Relevant Brand Name Once Again," Thanks In Part To Levi

Levi Johnston is standing naked in a 13th-floor studio in midtown Manhattan holding a hockey stick.


He swivels his head and looks into the camera as -- click -- the photo is taken. This is the money shot: the one Daniel Nardicio is tweeting about right now; the one Levi's manager Tank Jones will gush about to Us Weekly; and the one Gawker and Life & Style and a cajillion other gossip outlets will mention as proof positive that, in the words of Tank Jones, "You'll see what you need to see in these photos."


But the truth is, for all the public frenzy over rumors that Levi would go full frontal for Playgirl, the outdoorsy Alaskan-kid-turned-sex-symbol was never actually interested in going "full monty." It was hard enough reassuring him his fake-tan lines weren't too extreme; and that he didn't look fat while seated with his shirt off (actually, he's gorgeous). We're settling for ass shots, torso pictures, sultry portraits, and Austin Powers-like draping of props over what usually comprise key ingredients of Playgirl photo shoots.

It's not a new concept. Most celebrities who "take it off" for Playgirl limit their exposure. David Duchovny wouldn't go past tighty whities and carefully placed tea cups, of all things; Scott Bakula went topless but revealed little; and country music singer Darryl Worley showed everything but. This is why Playgirl clings to a stable of extremely talented photographers who can make a sheltered kid from Alaska comfortable enough to stand naked in front of a camera crew from "Entertainment Tonight," several stylists, a photographer, and a half-dozen people from Playgirl's staff. It's a bummer the world won't get to see Levi's johnson; but the images you will see should satiate several primal urges.

[Read the rest of this post here.]
[Originally published on FishbowlNY.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Media Buzz: Levi Johnston tells Playgirl's E-in-C Thanksgiving with the Palins is a no-go

Gawker.com:
By Brian Moylan
... In an interview he just finished with Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell, Levi says of the invite, "You could tell by her laugh she was full of it." [See link here.]

AccessHollywood.com:
Levi told Playgirl Editor-In –Chief, Nicole Caldwell, in an upcoming interview in Playgirl that she was “full of it… you could tell by her laugh she was full of it.” He said the invite she made during her Oprah interview was “a nice gesture, but she didn’t mean it.” Levi said his presence at the Palin family Thanksgiving would be “awkward.” [See link here.]

MSNBC.com:
By Michelle Perry
According to a spokesman for "Playgirl" magazine, Levi Johnston said Sarah Palin was "full of it" to "Playgirl" editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell in an interview in the upcoming magazine. [See link here.]

Zap2It.com:
By Andrea Reiher
The back and forth between Levi Johnston and Sarah Palin just won't stop -- Johnston tells Playgirl that Palin is 'full of it.' In previews for Sarah Palin's upcoming appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Palin says that Levi Johnston is loved and is welcome at their Thanksgiving dinner table. MSNBC is reporting that a spokesperson for Playgirl says Levi has a different idea about that. Reportedly, in Levi Johnston's interview with Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell he says, "You could tell by her laugh she was full of it," in regards to Palin's interview with Oprah. [See link here.]

SoSoJuicy.com:
In an interview he just finished with Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell, Levi says of the invite, "You could tell by her laugh she was full of it." [See link here.]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blood Surges Back to Playgirl With Johnston Shoot: Former Editor Dishes On Pub's Future


By Amanda Ernst on Nov 12, 2009 03:30 PM

The Internet has been abuzz about Palin-impregnator Levi Johnston's plans to pose for Playgirl, so let's just assume you know all about the photo shoot that's going down right now here in New York. It seems the magazine, which went online only after its January/February 2009 issue went to press last year -- with little success -- is planning a comeback of sorts.

So we asked Nicole Caldwell, who formerly served as editor-in-chief at Playgirl before its print edition was shuttered, to let us in on the behind the scenes workings at Playgirl today. Caldwell has been brought back on board to help put together one "special" issue of the magazine for this year and four more for 2010. She will be interviewing Johnston during his shoot today and tomorrow, and the whole package (ahem) will run online only -- and may be up on Playgirl.com by next week. She spoke to us about the relationship between Johnston and the struggling Playgirl brand, shooting down the idea that the magazine faltered because of a disconnect between the staff and the magazine's audience.

"What matters is Playgirl being back in the public eye if for no other reason than the one I joined the magazine in the first place for: Women should have every available sexual outlet men do," Caldwell told FishbowlNY. "Levi is symbolic: He's become a public figure, he holds allure for a wide cross-section of the American public, he knocked up the VP contender's daughter, and he's willing to pose nude at a time when most people stubbornly continue to consider male nudity more extreme than female nudity. He's young, he's hot, he's virile, and he goes against every stereotype out-of-touch people have for a magazine they've never read: that Fabio-type guy with locks down his chest who I've only seen in 1980s Playgirls."

[Read the rest of this article here.]
[Originally published at FishbowlNY.com]

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Community Profile: Fort Greene/Clinton Hill

By Nicole Caldwell

(Note: These segments were written for a wonderful new, hyper-local Web site called My Little O.)

History of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill

The land on which Brooklyn’s Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods sit was created more than 12,000 years ago by dirt and rock washed south by icebergs during the last ice age. Since that time, the area has withstood war, disease, and racial tension; all the while leading the way in diversifying New York City’s neighborhoods, urban park development, and the arts.

Vanderbilt Avenue is the dividing line between Fort Greene and Clinton Hill (east and west, respectively). The neighborhoods fall south of Wallabout Bay, north of Prospect Heights; west of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and east of Brooklyn Heights. Walt Whitman, Mos Def, The Notorious B.I.G., and Rosie Perez—among others!—have called Fort Greene and Clinton Hill home.

(Read the rest of this history here)

Playing in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill
Museums, parks, community gardens, and neighborhood events make Fort Greene and Clinton Hill great destinations for daylong adventures, and help explain the influx of families choosing in recent years to make their homes in these historic neighborhoods.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) alone offers movies, plays, recitals, and concerts almost every night of the week. This neighborhood fixture, America's oldest continuously operating performing arts center since 1861, also has an in-house restaurant and bar. The Rubelle and Norman Schafler Gallery on Willoughby Avenue at Grand Street has rotating art exhibits. The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) on Hanson Place offers exhibitions, public programs, community outreach initiatives, and educational interactive tours. Then there’s UrbanGlass, the first artist-access glass center in the United States and now the largest. The space educates 900 students from around the world per year, and offers tours, classes, and studio space.

(Read the rest of this piece here.)


Eating in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill
Behind their sleepy residential exteriors, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill boast one of the widest assortments of food you can find anywhere in New York City. From South African to Indian to Italian or French , this brownstone-flecked area presents a selection rivaling most Manhattan neighborhoods. And the best part is that you can find any genre of food to fit any budget.

(Read the rest of this piece here.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Local Woman Answers Religious Call to Help Overseas


[Originally published in the Thousand Islands Sun, Oct. 21 2009]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PRNewser Party Appearance

L-R Lara Drasin, Nicole Caldwell, Corinne Weiner

PRNewser Party Recap: How Many Flacks Can You Fit Into a Bar?
By Joe Ciarallo on Oct 15, 2009 12:48 PM

SideBAR was packed last night for PRNewser's latest happy hour party. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and enjoying the drink specials, complimentary appetizers, and of course, the good company.

[sic]

There were also a few journalists that snuck in, and some racy ones at that. Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell told us that she is consulting with the magazine on some projects including the Levi Johnston photo shoot. That's about as far as we got on that one.

[Read the rest of this story here.]

Friday, October 9, 2009

PR Newser: Playgirl and Playboy make matching 'celebrity' PR moves

by Joe Ciarallo

Both Playgirl and Playboy are getting aggressive with "celebrity" PR maneuvers this week. Marge Simpson will appear nude in Playboy's November issue to celebrate The Simpson's 20th Anniversary.

Meanwhile, Levi Johnston, ex-boyfriend of Bristol Palin and father of Sarah Palin's granddaughter will appear nude in Playgirl. Will the PR push around these covers lead to increased sales? Time will tell. It's certainly already leading to increased buzz.

Former Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell, who is still working with the publication on some special projects, tells PRNewser, "Levi Johnston is the best and brightest thing to come out of the Palin campaign. It's a pleasure to go from the straight-talk express to the hot jock undressed. The shoot is tentatively scheduled for the first week of November, and I'm just sorry I won't be there to see this beautiful man in person."

Johnston, who is training six days a week to prep for the shoot, is also looking into reality shows (of course), his publicist Tank Jones told the AP.

[Originally posted on PRNewser Oct. 8, 2009]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spotlight On... Gowanus Canal Conservancy

By Nicole Caldwell

The Gowanus Canal has a logic-defying reputation for being as repulsive as it is enchanting. Tagged with nicknames such as Lavender Lake and Perfume Creek (neither due to lovely hues or pleasant smells), you wouldn’t think much could live in or near this dirty little estuary, which stretches from Gowanus Bay on the New York Harbor to Gowanus, an industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn a mile and a half east.

Yet against all odds, this purple-hued water—Gowanus Canal Conservancyused as a virtual toxic dumping ground for industry along it well into the 1960s and beyond—has stolen the hearts and imaginations of people intent on saving it. New developments and shopping centers seem to spring up overnight along the canal. Property values climb despite debates over whether the pollution in this Brooklyn waterway causes asthma. There are documented accounts of fishermen catching striped bass and Atlantic silversides in the murky, badly polluted canal.

Read the rest of this article here.

[Originally published in the September 2009 issue of The Leaflet]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting There

“Everything you are against weakens you.

Everything you are for empowers you.”—fortune cookie


A few months ago, I read The Bell Jar and felt relieved that, at least, I was in better shape than Sylvia Plath’s character. A crazed electro-shock patient: This was my litmus test for sanity and coping.


Then, the veils began to lift (they really do always lift, as annoying as that adage about “giving it time” is). Drives in convertibles. Beach-sitting. Boardwalk-strolling. A sunburn that makes your flesh tingle. Writing again. The feeling that some part of you is waking up from a very long slumber. Expansion, expansion, expansion. Kayaks on lakes that look like mirrors. Carnivals. Parades. The Better Theory. Bonfires.


The biggest challenge I faced: learning to extricate myself from these attachments I form. It is so hard to let go—to grieve as you would over a death. Why usher that in?


Because, silly girl. If you get yourself healthy, health will follow.


But it’s a bear to figure out. It’s thinking with your heart and then trying to apply logic to it. It’s no longer making excuses ("Change! Outlined goals! The problem’s been recognized!”) and seeing your subtext when you speak (“Come back! Come back!”). It’s learning all of that, and seeing where there is disease, and figuring out a way to move forward without anger or hostility or resentment. Everything—and everyone—I am for, empowers me. So, I decide to root for those who would hurt me. I wish them the best, I blow them kisses, I throw them flowers and smile and say, simply, “I love you. And I have done all I can.”


True empathy—true love—is knowing when someone is better off without you.


The sense of being strong and doing what is right felt good; even as it became increasingly difficult. That knot in my belly! My growing disconnect. A burdensome sense that I’m too far ahead now; these last months reconnected me to the woman I always wanted to be: independent, unafraid, giggly, excited all the time. I’d been so worried; made timid by the possibility of sliding backward. Unhinged by all these dreams.


I did all this for you, and you still __________.

I made these changes like you asked, and you turned around and __________.

The scorecard perpetuated itself (most behaviors are quite easy to predict). And then, silence (but not always).


Travel opened up. Nigerian headpieces in church vestibules with empty wine bottles and giggling girls. Hotel bars shaped like living rooms with fishing bait available behind the counter. Speed boats down creeks. A Chevy truck on the open highway. The north, the south, the sensation of seeing something completely new.


I stop sometimes and whisper to myself, “Thank goodness it’s you. I really missed you a whole lot.”


I may actually be realizing the life I have always longed for.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Daring to Bare: Your Big Apple guide to naked New York

By Nicole Caldwell

The New York Post last July covered a recent surge in New York City's nudist culture. It seems that beyond the city's vast repertoire of adult novelty stores, gentlemen's clubs, and mature entertainment, there's an increasingly mainstream undercurrent of people who just assume less really is more—at least, when it comes to clothing.

Whether you've perfected the art of changing in public without a speck of skin showing; or drop trow anytime you're in a sauna or locker room, you may want to turn your adventurous side over to the nude events happening in and around New York City every day.

For as long as summer lasts, head over to Geocities for a comprehensive list of nude beaches in the area. Or, if you're into meditation and relaxation, pay a visit to Naked Yoga NYC in Midtown. You can also get a listing of non-sexual naked yoga classes throughout the week from Yahoo Groups.

If you’re more into being the voyeur, check out Naked Comedy Showcase on the first Saturday of every month at The People's Improv Theatre in New York (click here for tickets).

Those of you who will spring on any opportunity to let it all hang out with relish a Clothing-Optional Dinner. And if you don't mind sweating without any, ahem, support, have a go at naked hiking. Just promise to pack some bugspray.

[Originally published at Examiner.com]

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to Give Yourself a Massage

Nothing beats a great massage with a reputable therapist. But there’s also nothing saying you can’t give yourself a little pick-me-up anytime you’re stressed or sore.

The next time worldly stresses, exercise, or an uncomfortable night’s sleep catch up with you, here are some basic ways you can unwind on your own.

*First, set up your room for your massage. Turn the lights down, light a candle, and make sure distractions are kept to a minimum.

*Sit on the floor with your legs crossed on a carpet, rug, or mat for padding.
As with any stretching or yoga position, breathe deeply. Start out by taking 10 very slow, long breaths. In through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then out slowly through your mouth. As you do this, take mental inventory of where you feel tense or sore.

*Your feet, which together have a whopping 14,000 nerve endings, are a great place to start. Apply pressure to the soles with your thumbs, then rub hard with your palms. After the bottoms of your feet feel looser, go back to applying pressure along the arch of your foot and at the tips of each of your toes.

Read the rest of this blog here.

[Originally published on Massage Williamsburg's blog.]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spotlight On... Bank of America Tower

One Bryant Park at 42nd Street

Projected completion date: 2010

By Nicole Caldwell

Skyscrapers have been called many things; but for the first time, Manhattan’s second-tallest will also be known as the country’s greenest.

The soon-to-be-completed Bank of America Tower, located at One Bryant Park in Midtown, boasts 2.1 million square feet and 52 stories of the greenest architecture in the United States—and possibly, the world. As the first skyscraper to strive for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED “Platinum” designation, the space was designed to reduce potable water and energy consumption by 50 percent; utilize 50 percent recycled material in the construction phase; and to acquire half of all building materials from within 500 miles of the site.

It’s not an easy undertaking, or cheap. The building in 2004 was estimated to cost $1 billion; this June, The Durst Organization developers secured a $1.3 billion loan to allow the construction to be completed. The building is co-owned by Durst and Bank of America, representatives of whom declined to comment for this piece.

Read the rest of this article here.

[Originally published by Clean Edison]

Friday, July 24, 2009

One-Minute Fairy Tale

The battle was over. The princess stood in front of her castle far, far away and smiled an exhausted smile. She brushed her knotty hair away from sunburned cheeks and licked at her wounds. "I'm free," she whispered to no one in particular. "I am finally free."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Walking in a Techie Wonderland

Newly renovated Sony Wonder Technology Lab is a geek's paradise
By Nicole Caldwell

They say New York City has the most of everything; but there still aren’t a whole lot of places where you can practice open-heart surgery, program a robot, research nanotechnology, and animate cartoons under the same roof.

Or, there wasn’t—until the Sony Wonder Technology Lab (SWTL) parked its headquarters at 550 Madison Ave. in 1994. Since then, the interactive, totally free learning center has continued to grow and change to appeal to an ever-shifting market of 8- to 14-year-olds (literally and at heart) with a soft spot for technology.

“Our most popular new exhibits are our Robot Zone, where visitors can learn the basic elements of programming a robot,” said Lisa Davis, senior director of communications and public affairs with Sony Corporation of America, “and our Dance Motion Capture experience, where visitors can see their very own dance moves performed by a Sony-animated character in real-time through the use of markerless, motion-capture technology.”

The lab underwent a year-long renovation, completed this summer, which brought 14 additional interactive exhibits to the facility’s already-daunting repertoire. The construction added two floors, 6,200 square feet, and a host of new experiments and exhibits to tinker with. All renovations were made with green technology in mind; as Sony is now pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for its building.

“The multi-million dollar investment we’ve made in this facility reflects Sony’s ongoing commitment to education and the communities we serve,” Sony’s CEO, president, and chairman Sir Howard Stringer said in a prepared statement. “The Sony Wonder Technology Lab is a manifestation of ‘Sony United’ in every sense. Bringing our content and technology together in this educational environment has enabled us to create a compelling and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.”

More than 200,000 people pay a visit to SWTL annually. With no price tag to stop in, the lab is a perfect destination for a few minutes before or after the musical you’re in Times Square to see; or a several-hour exploratory adventure for you and your kids.

“My personal favorite installation is our Animation Studio,” Davis said, “which allows visitors to explore basic animation techniques, create and animate a character, or design a computer-generated environment. I think the best part about the lab is that it’s free! It is Sony’s way of giving back to the City of New York.”

The Sony Wonder Technology Lab, located at 550 Madison Ave. at 56th Street, is free and open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 12-5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit www.sonywondertechlab.com.

[Originally published in Times Square Chronicle]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Office Yoga: De-stress at your desk

Sitting—whether at work, home, a ballgame, the park, subway, or car—is wreaking havoc on your body.

Sitting still slows your circulatory system by pooling blood in your legs and feet; increases pressure on the springy part of your spine that absorbs shock; and slows your metabolism. That, along with ergonomic problems associated with staring at a computer screen for long hours and typing on a keyboard all day, and it becomes clear: A sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health.

A regular massage schedule can help ward off short- and long-term effects of cubicle life. But to give you an extra edge, we tracked down two yoga experts for some easy moves you can do while sitting in your chair.

Read the rest of this article here.

[Originally published on Massage Williamsburg's blog.]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1000 Islands Area Hot Spot for Paddlers

Apps, Anyone?

By Nicole Caldwell

iPhone-apps

iPhone applications offer everything from restaurant reviews to walking directions. But what if there was a Times Square app that offered great ideas for plays, movies, or drinks that were off the beaten path right in this neighborhood?

Michael Quintos, president and CEO of Media-Fuse and a social media expert, has worked on projects with Disney, Warner Brothers, and The Motley Fool, to name a few. We tracked Quintos down to hear about a new idea he has for an iPhone app that could change the face of Times Square tourism.

How has social media affected the way we see things?
Brands used to come up with an ad featuring a catchy jingle. But as technology evolved, individuals shaped the conversation. Facebook, MySpace, and other social media sites allow participants to share their favorite content with friends.

What is a widget? How are widgets relevant to Times Square?
A widget can best be described as a mini Web site. Widgets are especially useful for the launch of albums; or, in the case of Times Square, the opening of a Broadway show. A widget can help show all content—reviews, show times, trailers, ring tones, or songs—in a self-contained box posted on the site. Fans of the show can “grab” the widget and share it with friends by posting it on their Facebook pages.

How do I Phone Applications work?
iPhone apps allow anything that is done in front of your computer to be done via your mobile phone. When you look at what people use their iPhone apps for, it’s mostly for getting relevant content. So if someone misses an important flight out of New York and has several hours to kill in Times Square, they might like to know what there is to do.

Which is where you come in.
What I think is missing is something called a tastemaker. If I’m going to New York, I might call up my friend and ask for the name of a good play. Or if I want to go to one of these trendy places off the beaten path, I might ask about that. You could create an app so that if you’re in that kind of scenario you’re able to look at your phone and immediately find three or four really
great restaurants.

What might a Times Square app feature?
The app would give the community showcasing power. Creating widgets for shows, plays, comedy acts, restaurants, and musicals would be a tremendous opportunity. You would have an app filled with premier theater companies, entertainment, cozy restaurants, and great club ideas. It could also allow you to search for available tickets to shows. This (Times Square) is the most visited zip code; so why not give those visitors a streamlined way to navigate it?

[Originally published in The Times Square Chronicle, July 7, 2009]

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Massage A Day: The benefits of scheduling regular rub-downs

You can stop thinking of that once-a-year trip to the spa as a luxury—experts agree getting massages as often as once a week can be beneficial to your health.

The Touch Research Institute in Miami, the first facility to scientifically study the effects of massage, definitively found massage reduces the stress-associated hormone cortisol in the body; increases serotonin, heals pain (including that from childbirth, chronic fatigue, and burns), and improves flexibility and circulation.

Keep up that sort of treatment on a weekly, monthly, or even a several-times-a-year basis, and you’re looking at improved overall mental and physical health.

Read the rest of this blog here.

[Originally published on Massage Williamsburg's blog.]

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wonderful Water: Are you getting enough?

Drinking water after a massage is a great way to increase the benefits of your treatment after you’ve left the table. You may be thinking: What’s so important about having extra water on a day you’ve done little more than lay still and relax?

You may be surprised to know that a massage has a similar physiological effect on our circulatory system as exercise. The act of kneading a person’s musculature releases water, metabolic toxins, lactic acids, and electrolytes—all of which can be dehydrating. Keeping hydrated on a daily basis, as well as before a massage will make your muscles more pliable, allowing your therapist to give you greater results. And drinking a glass or 2 of water after a massage will help your body sweep out the metabolic toxins you’ve released. Both Deep Tissue Massage and Swedish Massage increase circulation, which helps send nutrients as well as toxins out of your muscles and into your bloodstream.

A simple rule of thumb is to hydrate yourself in the hours leading up to and following a massage, even if you don’t feel thirsty. You’ll get more mileage out of the massage itself, and feel deeper, longer-lasting results. Your body will thank you!

[Originally published on Massage Williamsburg's blog]

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Best Sex Shops in New York City

By Nicole Caldwell

Babeland

This bicoastal chain has made masturbation and prop-aided sex mainstream, with workshops, classes and even a monthly “Babeland Brunch,” featuring free coffee, muffins and sex talk. Babeland’s brightly lit Brooklyn location includes a diaper-changing table and aisles wide enough for strollers. For prudes still shy in spite of the store’s ├╝berfriendly staff and mid- to upper-class clientele, it offers private shopping by appointment—or delivery within three hours for $30. 94 Rivington St at Ludlow St (212-375-1701, babeland.com) • 43 Mercer St between Broome and Grand Sts (212-966-2120) • 462 Bergen St between Flatbush and Fifth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-638-3820)

DeMask
This boutique caters to rubber fetishists, dominatrices and anyone who loves to get all tied up. Headquartered in Amsterdam, The 1,300-square-foot Manhattan branch of this Amsterdam-based company is a cornucopia of impeccably constructed rubber lingerie, bodysuits, pants, collars, whips, masks—even leather-suspension body bags. Such high quality doesn’t come cheap, though: A standard rubber harness with external dildo starts at $185. Expect an intimidating atmosphere if you’re uninitiated, and heaven on earth if you are. 144 Orchard St at Rivington St (212-466-0814, demask.com)

Read the rest of this article here.

(Originally published in Time Out New York, June 29, 2009)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New iPhone Exceeds Expectations

by Nicole Caldwell

Apple’s June 19 release of the newest iPhone exceeded sales forecasts of 500,000 in its first weekend, with numbers matching those of the phone’s previous incarnation last year, according to the company.

“We sold over a million of our Apple 3GS model over the weekend,” Natalie Kerris, a public relations representative from Apple, told the Times Square Chronicle. “Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, added in a June 22 press release. “With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.”

Expectations for popularity of the 3GS were likely diminished due to a smaller international release, fewer technological advances, and increasing competition in the smartphone market.

The 3GS was released in eight countries on its first day, as compared to its predecessor, which was released in 21. The 3GS also comes equipped with fewer advances, notably the capability to capture and edit video, the implementation of voice commands, and double the speed of last year’s iPhone 3G. The phone is, however, still unable to run multiple programs at once.
The 3GS is the third version of Apple’s smartphone. The company has lately been under pressure to add new features to its iPhone in the face of major smartphone advances from companies such as Palm Inc.'s Pre phone and Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry Tour.

At least 500 people lined up before Apple’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue opened on the 19th, and a steady stream of customers visited Apple stores internationally. The 3GS costs $199 for a 16GB model; the new 32GB model costs $299 with a mandatory two-year contract. The iPhone 3G is has dropped in price to $99 for the 8GB model; perhaps an attempt to stay competitive with other brands’ less expensive versions of smartphones.

Delays faced while trying to activate the new phones were met with Apple offering $30 iTunes gift cards to those customers. The offer was made in an e-mail by Apple alerting its customers to the delays, and explaining these were caused by high traffic and system problems.

[Originally published in The Times Square Chronicle, June 24, 2009]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spotlight On... Solar One

By Nicole Caldwell

Stuyvesant Cove Park is a green space resting atop 1.9 acres of Manhattan waterfront that once held a concrete factory. The native plants and grasses stretching lazily along the East River at 23rd Street attract and sustain native bird species and butterflies; and offer a fitting backdrop to New York City’s most cutting-edge green space: Solar One.

The building—and park—is maintained by a nonprofit of the same name striving simply to “empower people of all ages with the vision, knowledge, and resources to attain a more environmentally sound and sustainable future.” It’s a microcosm for what Solar One’s next big project, Solar Two, could be for all of New York City when it’s constructed on the same space and becomes the first self-standing, carbon-neutral, net-zero energy structure in the five boroughs.

Read the rest of this post here.

[Originally published in Green Edge NYC's The Leaflet, July 2009 issue]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cross-Blogging Phenomenon: ""

About six months ago, I submitted a photo I snapped in Tijuana to an amazing blog devoted solely to documenting extraneous quotation mark usage. Got an e-mail this morning saying my photo would be featured! Lo and behold :

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Bang For Your Bike


Photo/Nicole Caldwell

Take full advantage of these sweet summer months by tuning up that old, rusty bike of yours and hitting the streets of New York City. If you've never repaired a bike before and have anxiety over sticking your fingers in those chains and spokes, sign up for classes from Time’s Up!, where you can learn basic skills so you never have to -gasp!- carry all that bent metal on your back.

You can get biking directions anywhere in the five boroughs at Ride the City, a Web site devoted to providing cyclists with safe, safer, or just plain fast ways to get around on two wheels. NYC Bike Maps is a great guide for planning a fun bike route, and Transportation Alternatives will set you up with cheap bike shops, bicycling laws, and—when you break all of those—even cycling lawyers.

Read the rest of this article here.

[Originally published at Examiner.com]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Airborne

Just because Coney Island’s Parachute Jump has been “under construction” for years, and it’s illegal to bungee jump off New York City’s bridges, doesn’t mean you can’t get airborne in and around the five boroughs. Oh no, no no. If a hot air balloon ride isn’t enough to get your heart pumping, maybe it’s time to go a little more extreme.

Air traffic laws (and common sense) prevent you from hang-gliding through Midtown; but there are plenty of other thrilling options. Within one hour of Manhattan in most directions you can find tons of great adventures (some of which provide excellent New York City views).

Read the rest of this article here.
[Originally published on Examiner.com]

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Five Boroughs: a paddler's paradise

It’s easy to forget that Manhattan is an island.

Strolling through Times Square doesn’t invoke too much beach-community sensibility, but with spring comes an onslaught of waterway activity rivaling that of any vacation town. And one of the best offerings of the five boroughs comes cheap and accessible: paddling.

Manhattan is situated amidst one of the most complicated, intricate series of waterways of any international city. Canoes and kayaks are great modes of transport for seeing the city in a whole new light and exploring nooks and crannies you never knew this place had. Start with a lesson, and end with the 31-mile route around Manhattan: Everything you need is right here. So take your pick: The Atlantic Ocean, Hudson, East and Harlem rivers, Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek, Long Island Sound, and Hells Gate narrows each has something special to offer.

Read the rest of this article here.
[Originally posted at Examiner.com]

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flipping Out: Unleash your inner carny all over the Big Apple

Spring was made for clowning around. And for you adventurous New York City souls, that activity doesn’t have to be limited to late nights slumped over the bar of your local watering hole. Follow this simple guide for some adventurous pursuits guaranteed to flip you out.

Aerial Open Workout: The House of Yes’ Sky Box in Williamsburg opens it doors every Monday night for an Aerial Open Workout, billed as “29 feet of vertical fun.” For $15, you can use their silks, lyras, and trapezes, or rig your own. They’ve also got classes on hula-hooping, ballet, and yoga.

8-10 p.m. Mondays; $15. Sky Box: 342 Maujer St., Brooklyn NY. Directions: L train to Grand Street. Contact: skybox.info@gmail.com or (585) 507-1770

Read the rest of this article here.
[Originally posted at Examiner.com]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Fire Swamp

According to the psychology community, part of getting through the fog of a terrible loss involves understanding that it won’t hurt in this way forever; and to allow the current, searing pain in for a good old-fashioned pow-wow. So, ever the dutiful student, I invited mine inside. I washed its feet. I put on some water for tea. Then I gave my pain a house tour.

My pain was impressed with what I’d done with the place.

All the death and curled leaves and hard ground of winter are (very) slowly giving way to possibility: new directions, trees in bloom, and a soft earth ripe for planting and tilling. But the persisting murk is real; the fog tangible. It’s a metaphorical fire swamp over here (am on 24-hour R.O.U.S. watch). I’m waiting for spring to throw me a Hail Mary pass. I promise to catch it.

[There is so much more that is needed besides a rendezvous scheduled under a pretense of sworn springlike improvements.]

When the teapot began its whistling, my pain and I ditched the house tour and pulled up some chairs. Sipping tea from cracked clay mugs, I dug in.

“We—all of us—pick and choose the traits to emphasize in those around us,” I said, “and reject the parts too difficult to handle. ‘He’s not usually like that,’ we say by way of excuse; ‘hers is the curse of Jekyll and Hyde.’ But it’s the duality that actually defines us. We are all all of our parts.”

My pain looked up over the mug at me.

“It’s important not to overlook that compartmentalization when you’re thinking of redefining, regrouping, reconnecting, reconnoitering, rejecting, or replenishing,” I continued. "We don't get to pick and choose which traits in a person are more 'real.'"

“What about memorializing someone after death?” Pain asked.
"It's especially true then!" I answered. "There, we bask the ones we miss in an angelic glow. We see no wrong. But that too is a disservice—we take away one's humanness by ignoring all the parts that make him or her whole."

Worn out by all these ideas, Pain stood and walked from the room. Seems I'm left with just me to heal.

And so I decided, as Pain curled up in my brain's guest room for a nice long mid-afternoon nap, that I am going to take all these ghosts of mine and figure out some way to make them dance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Seized Diamonds Raise $750K in Auction for U.S. Treasury's Crime Unit

Seized Diamonds Raise $750K in Auction for U.S. Treasury's Crime Unit

By Nicole Caldwell

[Click on article for larger viewing size]
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[Originally published in April 2009 issue of Diamond District News]

Trying to Court Renters, Business Owners Look Outside Diamond Business

Trying to Court Renters, Business Owners Look Outside Diamond Business By Nicole Caldwell

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[Originally published in April 2009 issue of Diamond District News]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Better


“The deeds were done and done again as my life is done in Watermelon Sugar.”
—Richard Brautigan

The Better Theory maintains that every experience presents one with an opportunity for personal growth. Crisis teaches you cool; pain teaches you pleasure; love teaches you loss. Every large and small and good and bad thing that comes at you, then, has the potential to propel you forward into, well, something better. All we have is now, and nothing else exists except that, so anything right now is always better than even one second before now. And now. And now. Get it?

All you’ve got to do is climb aboard, hang on tight, and push yourself forward into the abyss.

It’s a tricky theory to keep up with—try having “better” be the first thing out of your mouth next time you stub your toe or hear terrible news. But the truth is, Better works.

The Better Theory, the story goes, is your ticket out of all the things that bind you. It’s a reminder that you can turn even your worst misery into your most enlightened teacher. Heed the Better Theory, and those things entering your life of which you are most afraid become your free pass to your next level of understanding and calm. Watch how Better makes you kinder, more patient, more peaceful. Try saying “Better” the next time you feel yourself slipping. Test drive it as your safe word or code.

The man who taught me Better isn’t here anymore—at least, not in the way he always was. I’m heartbroken. But more than heartbreak, frustration, anger, longing, and fear, there’s something else. There’s a word I remember; one I climb inside of and wrap around me and suddenly everything slows down enough for my knees to stop their incessant shaking.

Better.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vulcan Principles of Thought

A diminutive woman in a pixie ’do stands in an old saloon next to a red wall littered with antique signs and strings of Christmas lights. She opens a shaky mouth and out comes a voice channeling Edith Piaf exactly. The trombone, clarinet, and violin join in; followed by the upright bass, steel guitar, dusty piano, and drums. Time stops. We could be anywhere, at anytime, but we’re most likely ghosts right now; haunting a strange place in Manhattan while caught between worlds.

The woman hums and sucks air through her teeth so it sounds like a whisper before returning to the lyrics: “And then there suddenly appeared before me the only one my arms will hold,” she warbles. “I heard somebody whisper ‘Please adore me’—and when I looked to the moon, it turned to gold.” Her eyes cloud and she wipes at them quickly, smiling shyly.

I sit at a high table in the front row sipping my fifth PBR of the evening and racking my brain for answers. I lament: We are always sabotaging that which we believe on an intellectual level with these pesky hearts of ours. There’s a lot to be said for this condition in moments of extreme empathy, compassion, falling (hard) for someone, tender interactions. But in other instances, it is a service to oneself to maintain a Vulcan attitude, a Vulcan philosophical posture, and a Vulcan way of holding normative judgment next to godliness.

The major difference between Vulcans and humans (besides the ears) is the Vulcan principle of applying logic to the same scenarios humans apply emotion to. Spock was so valuable as a captain and commander because he could look at a problem without getting “muddled,” for lack of a better term.

Silly, silly humans.

The phone rings with an unlisted number for the sixth time. I take another swallow of beer, and put the phone face-down on the tabletop. It buzzes and vibrates across the table. I am trying to reject the compulsory impulse I have to take the call, whatever it may do to me. Now I look at the singer. Now I close my eyes. Now I exhale. Now the phone is ringing again. Now I am Vulcan. Paging Mr. Spock.

But I’m wrong. I’ve applied the principles incorrectly and missed the call from a desert hospital, and now I’m outside, and now I’m upset (sorry Spock), and now I’m saying “I love you’s” into the ear of a sleeping, maybe dying, man who will wake up and ask for me. Now I’m asking how I got here. Now I’m wishing for something unrealistic.

I sleep and I don’t dream. And today I wonder what a Vulcan might say from his or her outsider’s perspective about this particular human condition of mine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

De Beers Begins Bow-Out From Generic Diamond Ads

De Beers Begins Bow-Out from Generic Diamond Ads
By Nicole Caldwell
[Click on article for larger viewing size]

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[Originally published in March 2009 issue of Diamond District News]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hovering Awe


We are in an existential freefall.

He lay in murky half-sleep as I stood by his bedside, rubbing lotion into his twisted, sleeping feet. My eyes kept vigil on the readouts of the ventilator, the heart monitor, the oxygen levels of lungs. Maintaining the appearance of someone but drifting through a number of strong realities, I find I am quite a few someones lost in one body. The day before I was a worker bee. Subways, winter chills, the darkness that fell so early every day, the daily grind, the forever feeling of being tired. I was a friend and a lover, a daughter and sister, and a million other things in between.

Today I was simpler. Quieter. Just a girl, keeping watch over a stubborn man stuck painfully inside a broken body. He and I were joined somewhere between each other, outside of ourselves.

His eyes snapped open. He looked around frantically, searching, the touch of my hands on his feet unfelt. I walked around the bed and took hold of his right hand, kneading the dry skin there that barely covered brittle bones beneath.

We locked eyes. He smiled his familiar smile, awkwardly stretching that goofy grin over tubes rising up out of his throat. He closed his eyes and squeezed my hand. His nails dug into me: the urgency of a frightened man. It was impossible to tell if he was falling down, flying up, or floating.

“We’re all dying,” he wrote a few minutes later.

“But not right now,” I answered out loud.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Road to NowHere


“Everything is blooming most recklessly.”—Rilke

Creative destruction: the act of dismantling a symbol representing what one will no longer settle for; getting rid of something incapable of driving one to where he or she needs to go. Sort of like a cicada crawling out of that weird tan shell and fluttering away without it. They say in order to live free and happily, you have to give up boredom [and clutter, and safety nets]; and that can be the most difficult sacrifice of all. I’m not sure what heaps of old-car parts and random gears and gadgets in my brain are causing the clutter and crying out for dismantling and removal. But one thing’s for sure: It’s pre-spring-cleaning time. Static fuzz, take a walk.

“You live in a place between the sound and the fury,” he told her. “It bears no resemblance to anything else and yet feels like home.” And this: "I was struck when I caught a glimpse of our reflection in the window while we rode the subway. We look good together. And I worried that you're going to break my heart."

The essayist Logan Perssall Smith said: “There are two things to aim at in life. First to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.” His words loop through my head as seasonably sunny, cold winds kiss my cheeks. There’s a lot to feel hopeful for; one need only trust herself enough to find a creative way through the bog.

“Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be…Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go.” – Mark Helpin

I had a dream recently without vision. It was only my voice, trying to determine whether when people die they stop being able to answer our questions; or if we stop being able to ask them. I waked. I smiled.

Today's another day, and we're all still here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Alleged Robbery Scam Belies Industry Crime Drop

Alleged Robbery Scam Belies Industry Crime Drop
By Nicole Caldwell
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[Originally published in Diamond District News, February 2009]

Friday, January 2, 2009

How Will Obama Affect the Diamond District?

How Will Obama Affect the Diamond District?
By Nicole Caldwell
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[Originally published in January 2009 issue of Diamond District News]

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Al Gloria Guadalajara!

Al Gloria Guadalajara!
If the Tequila Don't Get You, the Mariachi Will


[Click on image for larger viewing size]




[Originally published in Playgirl's January/February 2008 issue]

News & Culture

Reviews of "Star Trek: Season Two The Original Series", Donna the Buffalo's Silverlined, and Pale Young Gentlemen's Black Forest (Tra La La)

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[Originally published in Playgirl, January/February 2008 issue]