Friday, October 22, 2010
A small flat in the middle of town.
I saw a real estate ad for an 825 sq ft NYC flat in the west 50s off the park and thought about how our tiny dog flat in Hong Kong had made me young again.
(A Manhattan flat will not hurt either!!)
I spent a few weeks in our completed dog flat in Hong Kong and perhaps because of the location and size, it has made me feel like a kid out of university. We really bought this place for the dogs and maids to live in while we spend time in Japan. Of course they had to give me a room!
I used to live in a flat three times its size in Repluse Bay where we faced the ocean and were surrounded by mountains and greenery. Had to take a taxi everywhere which is not bad considering a 20 minute taxi ride in HK is 'long."
I now take the bus to Central, which takes about 10 mins, because ít stops in front of our building. There are so many shops and restaurants on my street that I don't really need to leave my 'hood except to go to yoga, shop at Dries, Roger Vivier and Rick Owens. (More reasons to overfill my already tiny, cramped closets in the dog flat)
The great thing about 'playing house and pretending to be young" (take note PRETEND) is that I can still come home to dogs that have been walked, fed and brushed plus have home cooked meals that I don't have to prepare myself because I hate cooking.
Of course the cost of a flat will drain your bank account so not only will you feel young, you'll be broke which is just like it was when you were young!!
When I start feeling old in Tokyo and there is the tendency feel that way because everyone IS OLD and so polite, I can always decamp to Hong Kong. And when I feel Hong Kong is too uncivilised and dirty, I can always come back to Tokyo where garbage trucks are so clean they can be pale blue and garbage collectors wear matching jumpsuits (yes!! pale blue---amidst all that garbage!!)
Perhaps when we leave Tokyo a small flat in town would continue to keep me young...
The Japanese lesson that has left me speechless:
It is not enough for Chinese and Japanese to have articles like 'the'' ,'"a"or ""an"". They have to make learning their language so difficult there are modifiers/measure words for everything from dogs, sheep, shoes, houses, cars, trees, people, etc...
RO-PON(G)-GI simply translates as 6 trees. PON is the measure word for anything long (trees, pens, ties, sticks, bottles) which does not exist in Anglo-Saxon and Romance languages (if you think un, une, den, der, dem is bad enough...)
The thing with Japanese, is the answer has nothing to do with the question. This is where Lost in Translation plays a bigger part than Suntory did in the movie.
Q: Nan (how many)----biki (measure word for 'smore animars)? (dogs and cats)
A: Everything from piki to hiki but only one ends in biki.
Q: Nan--bon (the ófficial' measure word for long things--see Roponggi example above)
A: Everything from PON to HON but only one bon.
Q: Nan ---ba (measure word for 'smore birlds"")
A: Wa, Pa but not Ba.
So I asked my tutor if there was an easier way to learn this system.
"Äh..that is Japanese counting. So answer is no."
The money is also so difficult to phrase (aside from count!) that the Bank of Japan is probably still counting money from the 80s. I'm afraid that they will find out that there will not be enough for everyone to buy a Chanel bag.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
(I think I enjoy mine too much to look for something better)
Do you really have to go to India and not stay at the Imperial?
I also hate anything having to do with cheap travel, dirt and ugly clothes, all of which Eat,Pray, Gag and Cemetery Junction have. A Single Man this is not. But I LOVED Cemetery Junction because of the dialogue and how an otherwise bourgeois idea usually for sappy rom-coms turned into something funny and honest.
The film is directed by Ricky Gervais and written with Stephen Merchant--great British music from the 70s and because it is a 'period' film, it makes a great opportunity to be politically incorrect-- smoking, drinking, racial, social and sexual prejudice ---which makes great dialogue.
"....think about pulling all the foreign birds. They won't understand a word you're saying..."
"Why would I want to go to Africa? It's full of black people...""
"French eat snails, horses, etc.The only thing they won't put in their mouths is a toothbrush."
It is far from the Mad Men screenplay which is not accurate to the times and (I am convinced)was created only for booze and cigarette sponsorship and for retail advertising catering to fat-ish, anti-fashion figures who need Spanx. In other words, the moderate missy market who think that the size 12-16-girls Dove commercials are aspirational.
If you don't aspire to a size zero, what future do you have with Alaia? OMG!! Life without Alaia?? Bury me in Lanvin!
If you want accurate dialogue and costumes, watch Julian Fellowes'' Downton Abbey, Cranford or Lark Rise to Candleford. If you want stupidity, watch Gervais' and Merchant's new TV series Än Idiot Goes Abroad." Hilarious even to those not well-travelled.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
There is also talk that being very tech-savvy, he manipulates the number of hits on his website. But what do I know? I'm merely a messenger.
I'm still trying to figure out whether or not and how to break Part 4 to ya because I have some images and screen shots that I can't use due to copyright laws.
I'm not looking for anyone to believe me but no one believed Harry Markopolos, either.
To those who wonder if I am jealous, I suggest you find out more about me. While I don't like to discuss my lifestyle (and parade my closet and travels) publicly, you can always call me and I'll tell you what my life (as a bitch) is like. I MIGHT tell you what skeletons I have in my closet/s. Very likely clothes from the days when I was as thin as a skeleton.
You can also ask my friends. Or my enemies.
I'm not saying every blogger is into scamming, okay. Just some. Okay, maybe ONE.
IN THE BEGINNING....
Knowing what you know now about The Boy's living conditions (and by no means do I look down on him for this), let me take you back several years (circa 2003-2008?) before Dolce and Marc came calling.
He set up an online travel agency which has since been de-listed by IATA. At around this time he did single trips to New York (where he stayed with a criminally not sexually handcuffed Marc Jacobs staffer), China (Great Wall), France (LV, Eiffel), Russia, wherever!
(Not very much travel in my opinion. I know people who travel long haul and/or 6-8 hour trips every other week)
He could have done this with his travel agency or he could have done this at the expense of clients of his then-agency. (There was a time when online and phone sales at Saks and Amazon were flagged because customer cards were compromised. It happens to the best of us)
According to www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/creditcard.asp, credit fraud is very easy to do. All you need is a phone (to harrass people with) and a computer with internet connection (the better to 'harvest' emails and credit and identity info with, my dear..). I can't tell you more but you can go on snopes.com then give me the one-page executive summary.
And everyone knows hackers are based in third world countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe but cards scammed are from developed countries where credit lines are larger.
A style spy said that after the taping of Philippine Project Runway, he invited a designer and two models to an upmarket local restaurant and proceeded to order several bottles of wine which the Philippine production company was not prepared to pay for since they ain't NBC. The Boy stuck them with a bill of close to USD 1,000 which was a fierce bill to swallow even for the wealthy and especially bitter if you were planing on buying fierce Givenchy heels. It must have been a slow day for credit scamming.
The network sent him marching in Crocs after that.
When he was a little known blogger, he flew three members of the Philippine media to HK in exchange for a spread in the country's biggest paper. They were put up in a boutique hotel and he went on a major shopping spree which included a new Birkin.
He used a credit card to pay for it.
It didn't bear his name.
Thank Gawd it didn't bear mine, either.
YOU'VE GOT MAIL!!!...from India.
Then there was, as one source said, "..all that mail from India..."
They certainly weren't invites to the Taj Mahal, I can tell you that.
Project Runway India, perhaps?
Despite his living conditions, he always managed to stay in the best hotels, paid for expensive meals and booze (except in the case of Project Run-Away). Meanwhile, he was extremely rude to people who were recipients of his 'largesse.' It was as if his ill-gotten generosity warranted him some kind of subservience from his then-friends.
One of my sources who travelled with him unearthed (take note, BY MISTAKE!!) a clear card book full of credit cards from various institutions issued under different names. I, meanwhile, noticed that his cards were not from first tier institutions like HSBC, American Express, etc. and what I saw were all from state-run American banks.
The source who went shopping with him noted that shopping was done as soon as boutiques opened and the whole spree would be over before noon. I have no logical reason behind this practice but I can guess. MANY GUESSES.
I do have a question which I pose to you discerning readers: How can a Philippine resident with no net worth acquire so many American credit cards?
May I introduce you to one Albert Gonzalez (please be my guest at Google and Wikipedia), a Cuban national of modest means who threw himself a USD 75,000 birthday party, had 15 credit cards and btw was the biggest fish in the ocean of credit fraud?
I'm telling you, I'm in the wrong business. There's no business like fraud business.
Later this week (if I get so frustrated because they don't have my size at Dries) ...Find out how anonymity bred animosity and how he really sweats glitter NOW.
Don't worry kids, the answer to all your questions in Part I will soon be answered!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The fashion pack is indeed a herd. Take the shearling aviator jacket this season--an 'investment buy' even if it makes you look like Quasimodo in an Elizabethan collar made of carpet remnants.
Enough ranting. Now for my story....
Before this fashion blogger from the Philippines was hosted by fashion brands and had a Marc Jacobs bag named after him, he had to position himself in cyberspace society and shop until his friends dropped him.
Like Bernie Madoff and Ken Starr, he used other people's money. Maybe he still does!!!
Like many of us, the Boy doesn't carry cash and always uses credit cards but the cards are not (quite) his. They could be yours, though.
He manages to use numerous credit cards under different names and has even blackmailed someone into paying for his first trip to Australian Fashion Week because the organizers weren't willing to fork over the cost for him to go down under.
He is a member of creditboards.com, a site for people with bad credit or those who want to acquire credit without collateral or a job. Or rich parents. He was active in one forum on "Getting a Sears credit card..." Last time I checked, there ain't no Lanvin at Sears. Maybe HnM.
Like Bernie Madoff and Ken Starr at the height of their popularity and wealth, he is sought after.
BBbbut things didn't start off that way...
He anonymously started a local Philippine gossip site called chikatime.com, got caught and had to close it down due to insistent public demand, insults and lawsuits that were hurled at him. Also "due to insistent public demand," Nokia pulled out of an advertising campaign. He was removed from the Philippine edition of Project Runway before its first season was ovah!
If that's not last season enough....
Unlike Bernie Madoff and Ken Starr, he is not smart enough to manipulate funds to finance multiple homes, yachts, art, jewels and dodgy investments. He merely spends on bags, shoes and incidental travel. Okay, small time. (If you steal, wouldn't you have to steal big 'because you're worth it?" How you gonna "sweat glitter?")
You would think he would want a lot more because of where he came from. I guess his Momma didn't teach him that you have to reach for the moon because if you miss it, at least you'll end up with stars.
(Mind you, I admire people who have no education and manage to go from rags to riches through hard work and not credit card scamming. After all, it is the success story of many immigrant familes)
He may have Globe Trotter luggage but a globe trotter and fashion connoisseur he is not.
His family is so far from rich that they not only live in the outskirts of Manila but in one of the poorest outskirts of the Philippine capital--think close to homeless, probably without a proper address. The Philippines is 80% poor and he falls into that category. And this is not 'a good look.'
The Boy is so poor that he lives in a shack made of aluminum siding (if it has not been washed away by recent floods) near the national maximum security prison.
His sister was so happy when she got an internship at a local radio station because they had a food allowance. Apparently, in their household, they have no money for food.
But they have LOTS of handbags. So how does he finance la vida nada?
Wait for my next post.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
On her crocodile Birkin, Giambattista Valli dress and Fendi shoes:
She said, "Binili ko 'yan...Pinaghirapan ko talaga" (I bought them...I worked hard for them)
(Pinaghirapan dahil sa "Pag-Ibig"---I worked hard for 'love'--ironically, the name of the fund her company shafted)
And how does she maintain her svelte figure?
"I started running, so I might join a marathon soon...."
(The only running I can see her doing is running from the law)
"It's confidence, she would say in her magazine interviews."
(No kidding! You need a lot of it to slurp USD 150 million and you're going to need as much as you can muster in court. But I think she'll need more of a sense of humor)
Okay that's it kids because I, too, have to go on my European vacation not Greece but grease because I have to face a newly remodelled kitchen and closet. (Honest to God, we already paid for the work in full!)
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Cosmo: Where did you get your business savvy?
(this is really good....)
I started working when I was really young...I was too shy to ask for money...I liked a lot of things...I was so shy to ask for money from my dad because I knew he worked so hard.
(It REALLY is hard to steal 150 million USD from poor people. I can't imagine doing such a difficult job myself)
So I decided to make a little money on the side so I could buy the things that I want. It just started from there.
( You mean the embezzling?)
Cosmo: You're really close to your father (Delfin Lee of Global Asiatique) (there goes that unchic spelling again!) What are the most important lessons you've learned from him?
Divine Lee: Well, number one is we're all here for a reason. And the reason I think, for me and what I do is I'm here to improve the lives of people.....
(Ya think? So they now have to work harder to get their money back?)
So at least I'm giving them livelihood, I'm giving them something they can feed their family (sic)....(you mean bullshit?)
(Can you still say that now? The only feeding that's gonna happen is the feeding of evidence at court is all I can say!)
....That's my main focus now, education.
(Where do I sign up for the Lee, Madoff and Starr Advanced Business Accounting Method?)
Cosmo: What makes you fun and what makes you fearless?
Divine Lee:.....But one thing with me is I always have this positivity. I don't take myself too seriously. I laugh at myself.
(The only laughing you're going to be doing is all the way to the bank. If not you'll need all the sense of humor you can get in jail)
As for fearless, I'm not afraid to try new things. I believe I'll never know if I don't try.
(Such as new accounting methods?)
COSMO: What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
(I think we really don't want to get into that this week)
Don't worry, kids, The Lees are not the first to give glowing interviews while sweeping cash under the ABC (123) carpet. Think: Conrad Black, Bernie Madoff, Ken Starr....One HK private equity head supposedly siphoned off about (maybe over) USD 100 million,too! But that was over 10 years. He does the major charity, business and society circuits then moves his family to London, works as director of an old folks home in Cheshire and gives an interview to the Guardian where he says, (I paraphrase and hold on to your Zimmer frames...) "The most important thing about leadership is transparency..."
These people are smart. Like I always say, "Make sure you steal enough so you wouldn't need any friends."
At USD 100 million, who needs friends?
Up next, someone not so Divine but also with all the qualities of a thief.
The last two weeks saw:
A) ---a bungled (how do I screw up, let me count the ways...) hostage rescue operation of Hong Kong tourists by poorly trained and equipped local policemen headed by an unqualifed chief of police whose armed forces chief (yes, that's you Mr. Philippine President Noy Noy Aquino) did not even pick-up a phone call from Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang. Rumour has it he was really busy being either a) asleep, b) playing X-box, c) in a real meeting, d) in a so-called closed door meeting (which can be anything, really) or e) any and/or all of the above;
B) ---a scandal involving a local government fund, ironically called Pag-Ibig (meaning 'love' in Filipino) where Delfin Lee, a local Chinese self-proclaimed tycoon (of course this term is relative compared to HK, NY, London, Riyadh..wherevah!) has siphoned 7 billion PhPesos (about 150 million USD). No love lost there, I can tell you that.
It wouldn't be SO BAD ---
a) if his family did not throw themselves at the media beginning with a 3-day birthday society coming-out-of-sorts event for his daughter. Then she proceeds to come out on national television showing off her expensive shoes and bags (multiple Birkins, anyone?) and discussing prices, etc. (To put this into persective: this show was broadcast in a country where the average annual salary is WAY less than 1000 USD A YEAR! An assistant to a magazine publisher would probably make 300 USD a month, a bank branch manager about 1000 USD a month)
b) and no one would have cared if she bought flats for her Brazilian boy toys or treated her friends out to an evening at the theatre where she would take out the whole place and MAYBE no one would even care if.....
the Pag-Ibig fund was just some government utility fund or some general investment fund but NHHHOOO----it is a fund specifically set up for financial services and loans to POOR PEOPLE!!!
c) if the company, Globe Asiatique did not use the unchic spelling Q-U-E for Asia-tique which they probably thought sounded classy but will merely be pronounced as Asia-'tick' as in 'flea and tick' spray.
I KNEW something was UP!! But I guess now they are DOWN because they've been UP to NO GOOD!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
How can you give this up?
HONG KONG---- I saw I AM LOVE on the plane from Tokyo (Just as well since my husband wasn't planning on buying the DVD because it's a 'pouf's film') The people and the main house are SOO CHIIC....that is, until Tilda Swinton falls in love with the cook and goes to his shack in such a God-forsaken location that even the cook's father knows that opening a restaurant there is a bad business idea.
(The film itself was a bad idea not only because she became unchic when she started the affair but because there was a whole sepia-toned scene on a field straight from 70s porn that was so long that when I came back from the loo and stealing chocolate, it was STILL going on. I would be happier if they replaced that scene with something in a cafe or anywhere as long as Marissa Berenson and Tilda Swinton are in CHIC CLOTHING---even if they are pulling each other's hair out.)
Waddap with the grey sweats and bandana? As she falls deeper in love with the cook (her son's friend) she starts dressing worse and worse until you get to the final outfit----some kind of tracksuit not even a Chinese construction worker would be caught wearing on top of a bamboo scaffolding!
The opening frame shows Swinton in her beautiful, traditional Italian kitchen in a camel coloured V-neck sweater (might be Jil Sander or Loro Piana). You could tell she was wearing clothes of excellent quality. In walks her good looking son in an equally well-cut suit, greeting the staff, the major doma passes thru wearing a twin set, etc. The first scene already established that this movie is beyond chic, chic, chic--wealth (in their case, losing it), close knit family, beautiful surroundings....You know the look---think: Ralph Lauren but Italian, therefore 1000x chicer. Tod's campaign but older family.
The rest of the family arrives and her mother-in-law, played by Marissa Berenson ups the chic-o-meter even more when she removes a full length (maybe sable) fur which the maid takes away. She is wearing a silk shirt and well-cut trousers, which is the current trend this autumn.
The ground floor of the house has an entry hall that leads into a library, that leads into a sitting room that leads into a grand dining room. Her bathroom is carrerra marble. She has a gorgeous and chic family (they seem nice, too!), a beautiful garden, a good looking husband who may or may not be loyal (but hey, he's Italian), chic clothes, beautiful jewellery, loyal and efficient staff (you should see how the family dinner is served and conducted from the kitchen. Valentino would be proud).
And she leaves all that for a young COOK!!! A cook who lived in a SHACK and didn't have even have a hotdog stand. Jamie or chef Gordon would not even hire the guy for a reality show. Plus, the cook might not even be that good looking because I don't remember what he looks like now.
(If I were her, I would have just paid a rent boy for a week or so)
This is similar to the way Eat, Pray, Love left her husband for an adventure of heat, food, camping and hippie clothes---the things I hate most---(if she didn't cough up a bestseller out of that experience she will merely be a statistic of the unemployed in America today)
If this is love then I don't want any part of it. In fact, I want to run really far away from it!! FAST!
Maybe I haven't fallen in love deeply enough (or maybe I am not chic enough to become noticeably unchic overnight) but I wonder...
Why is this 'running away from your husband' theme so popular?
Am I the only happy person in this world? (Happy but not content, okay? I could use another flat, more Verdura baubles, more dogs, new china sets, new Italian sheets, etc.)
Maybe I'M THE ONE who is CRAZY!!???
On that note, I have two reasons why I LOVE HK, why I can't possibly bring myself to leave completely:
1) Dries Van Noten
2) Rick Owens
Each one with a boutique. Side by side. At the Landmark. Opening mid-August! About the same time I move into my dogs' new flat!
Monday, August 2, 2010
Today's quote: A city is not a city without sleaze. (a favourite line from my textile production teacher in --where else?--New York City)
TOKYO--Before I leave for the sleaze, heat and discord of Hong Kong this week, I would like to mention a few observations I have on the civility of Japanese government and society.
Only in Japan---
1)...are emergency services polite. Ambulance sirens produce a 'tune' (similar to that of France) instead of a jarring noise. Everyone in cars, being polite, gives way. No exceptions. But the Japanese win the grand prize for politeness using a louspeaker, ". (I guess the Japanese for move over)..kudasai....Arrigato gozaimas..." In other countries which shall remain nameless, that would be translated as, "Get da fuck ow dof da way!"
Of course, the ambulance was probably rushing over to save someone who couldn't take politeness anymore and decided to kill himself. That or he was too polite to bother the postman...
2)...speaking of Japan Post, where else do they offer you free candy when you enter the post office, ATM service and pick-up service for oversized parcels. (I think this is why they are broke)
3)....does City Hall have a toy repair service every month. So THAT'S where our tax money goes!!
4) ...did someone ask me, "Do your Toto toilets at home have a 'tune?" What tune did you pick?""
Let me explain this exciting loo concept to those inexperienced in the ways of Japanese elimination. Japan is a country populated by Larry Davids in complete denial of toilet habits; therefore not only do they not touch each other (they bow), they do not touch anything remotely connected to using the toilet --a) they pioneered the no-touch flush (no news there) and b) when they use the loo, they get so embarrassed that you can press a musical button and it plays a tune or produces a flushing sound. That's so the person in the next stall will not know if you're having a pee (which he can hear) or a poo (which will either be silent or a Nagasaki bomb).
There are also washlets and dryers but that's another story.
To answer that question, it is, unfortunately 'No" because you will be 100% alone in that toilet behind a soundproof door with sandalwood scented toilet paper within easy reach. Of course, if I had a choice of a tune, perhaps I would choose, "When the going gets tough...." Ugh!!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
My favourite, which I have lunch at twice a week before I go to the supermarket is GINZA DAISHIN (in fact, I'm going there later), a restaurant (if you can call it that) the size of my bathroom in Tokyo which seats SEVEN--as in seven people, not seven tables--along a sushi counter. They are open for lunch everyday during the week. For dinner and weekends, you have to call a day ahead. Tempura is cooked one at a time for freshness. Sometimes I feel bad when I'm sitting there reading the paper and the guy has to wait until I find out how the British NHS is going to survive.
There is no 'sizzling'sound when the tempura is frying because get this---'sizzling'tempura, except for scallops, means there is a lot of water in the produce which is not a good thing.
phone: +81(3)3443-0314, (03)3473-3280
address: 5-16-11 minami azabu next to post office, near 100 yen store, fruit market and spa/beauty shop
Two restaurants that debunk the vegetarian reputation of rabbit food are EAT MORE GREENS in Azabujuban and J Restaurant and Bar which has a French-trained Japanese chef who specializes in preparing vegetables.
Eat More Greens has a seasonally-based menu and believes, in true Japanese hippy manner, áll you need is love and vegetables.' (Did Yoko Ono say that?) I has a great Indian red curry with black (not red) rice and chocolate cake. But going to Eat More Greens does not limit you to healthy living. You can always sit on the terrace, drink and smoke like the two Japanese salarymen I saw who smoked an ashtray-ful of cigarettes in the hour that I was there.
J is in my 'hood and surprise, surprise...is down the street from the tempura place (above wine store Enoteca)! With a fish marinade with green tomato gazpacho at 2400 yen (close to 30USD) to Gastroback Duckling in Orange sauce at 4600 yen, this is not exactly where you would bring 'the kids'or eat at everyday (but they have lunch plates for 1500 yen which is cheaper than the tempura place at 2200 yen). But it's a great gastronomical experience especially for the vegetarian simply because of they way veggies are prepared and presented (Like the way they do meat and seafood at what-we-think-is-naff-but-what-our-parents-thought-was-classy ''old people' restaurants with wood and green chairs. You know the ones).
I love how the Japanese are the Frenchy-iest of Asians in that they 'know how to live." ENOTECA has a very charming terrace and patio where they have 'Happy Hour' during the week from 2-4Pm when you can sample their wines and champagnes. It's an excellent marketing scheme and for the customer, a chance to engage with the staff and try new wines. Unfortunately I have not tried it yet because grocery shopping and their speedy delivery always get in the way. The way they present, market (and of course price) wines is certainly worth a look--"on tap", in cold storage by year and by price, 'samplers'' on jumble sale, etc..
Meanwhile, at the Tokyo American Club, there is a "wine buffet'' every week where they offer wines by theme or terroir such as Öld World", New World, Western Australia, etc..You get to drink as much as you want (or can) for 2 hours for 3000 yen and and extra 1500 yen for every additional hour.
J : phone +81 (3)5798-9070; www.msinter.co.jp/j/
HOMEWORK'S (with an apostrophe S no less) is my go-to restaurant after yoga and after I get my hair done (at the place that uses cold water and mint shampoo) or if I am just lazy and want food delivered. It is known for its burgers and sandwiches. I order either the vegetarian or falafel burger. They also do great fries and yummy onion rings. Forget the coleslaw. They also have a branch in Azabujuban and they own The Pantry (I'm told same menu) in Marunouchi and Roppongi Hills (I hate going there but we usually take the airport bus from Grand Hyatt...prefer Midtown).
DO NOT go to Priya, the Indian place near Homework's. It was not only the worst Indian meal I've ever had, the most expensive if 'pro-rated' (980 yen including 4 beers) but the worst meal evah!! (but there were LOTS of Indians--maybe they don't have a choice in Tokyo) ANY Indian joint in London would have done better, hands down, at half the price. Plus the dryer in their Toto toilet didn't work and we didn't get any change (no tipping in Japan, remember?). A bad sign for me amidst Tokyo's perfection.
Being 100% vegetarian is very difficult in Japan because a) they have such great produce and b) it's a pain to go thru watashi wa vegetarian-u and only order tamago (egg) and takwan (yellow radish) and cucumber. The only place that I did not feel bad about ordering quail was at LACHERIR, a tiny French restaurant that seats at most 20 people. It is secreted on a residential street in Shirogane. Menus are only in French and Japanese yet the couple who run the place don't speak French. Husband is the chef and wife the hostess. The French menu (since I don't read Japanese) seemed pretty correct except for the use of selon for seleccion (?? selection?) but what do I know since my French ain't great either.
There is hardly any info on this place in English. The only review I read was written by someone who found it while ''jogging' which is exactly how my husbanmd found it.
The amuse-bouche of mint and carrot "soup"" and ávant dessert of something like an affogato were very pleasant surprises but we are certainly going to be back for the food---quail and leeks for me. I forgot what my husband had but I remember he paid the bill which was---95000++ yen (okay, 10x more than the Indian place but look!!!)---ncluding fizzy water and Chateau Gloria 2002. Obviously not a 'family restaurant.''
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Cheap is such a bad word in certain places like mobile phone provider, SoftBank who hired Cameron Diaz as a local image model.
This was what happened last week at SoftBank:
Me: (who is a techno-phobe and would rather spend on clothes) I would like a cheap phone, please. The CHEAPEST. No roaming, only call and text. No internet.
SoftBank salesgirl: Ah, hmm. Soh des, unfortunately we have no cheap phone.
Me: WHAT!!?? You can't make me buy an i=phone or any of those that can do tricks, walk the dog, call Saturn and internet. I don't know how to use those things. What is your CHEAPEST. Most yasui.
SS: We don't have cheap phone. Only free. Only call, text only to other Softbank.
Me: That's better. I'll take that.
SS: Do you need charger?
Me: (thinking: I know Japan is high-tech but....What do you think I'm going to charge this phone with? Brainwaves?) YES!
SS: Charger not free. It is 1500 yen.
(So I guess the phone ain't 100% free)
Meanwhile, hair salons don't come cheap (or free). My husband said that a gauge of how wealthy a neighborurhood is, is by the number of hair salons. And Hiro-O has tons! (So do many expensive neighbourhoods around the world if you will only notice)
I tried a hair salon on top of a supermarket, not exactly the most glamorous of locations. No one in there was under 65. No service in there was under 65 USD, either! A shampoo and blow dry was about 60, the cheapest service. Half leg wax was----get this Hotel Crillon of the 200 USD manicure--100 USD. But the shampoo was great!! They covered my eyes (all Japanese salons do) maybe so I don't see the prices and they gave me such a good head massage, I fell asleep.
I found another place that charges about 10 USD less, luckily next to the 100 yen shop so I can spend money on my hair and save on kitchen supplies. Aside from the usual shampoo and blow dry, the guy gives you a little trim just to keep your hair in shape.
The place I went to yesterday (conveniently located on the same street as my yoga studio and neighbourhood bath house) was yet another 10 USD less and they washed my hair in cold water with a minty shampoo then put a hot towel on my head. Before the blow dry using both dryer and curling iron, I had a head and back massage. (Plus in the land of service, they put my jewelery on a tray)
Now you know what I've been up to in Tokyo all week.
Tomorrow we will be back in the uncivilized world of Hong Kong for a few days. Thank God for a life of contrasts. Too much perfection can kill you.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Perfection in Japan is not an art form. It is a lifestyle. It starts with grocery delivery within one hour of purchase. (ONE HOUR! I better get home before the truck arrives. Or maybe..I can hitch a ride with my groceries) Fish and meat wrapping is already impressive but they top it with delivery packed so well ou don't even know all perishables are packed with dry ice when suddenly, your hand is glued to a plastic bag that is steaming.
In HK, which was always good enough for me, you choose a delivery time for later in the day or the next day if you shop late in the afternoon. Then the delivery boys bang on your door then dump everything inside your doorstep if you are lucky. In Tokyo, they ring the bell POLITELY then bring everything in. Of course, I don't have to tell them to remove their shoes because that happens everywhere including in some toilets.
Where else but Tokyo do you get a USD 300 bottle of wine as a 'gift'with purchase of a wine cave ? Or where a plumber takes photos of a leak that is NOT causing a flood. In any other city, esp. New York or London, no one will show up. Maybe the police when you start flooding your downstairs neighbor.
It is funny that a city so keen on recycling, still doesn't 'get it'' in some ways. I went to Tomod's for toothpaste (but as usual ended up with over 200 USD worth of useless but extremely kawai merchandise such as key/phone chain lipgloss from Bourjois) and said , 'No bag.'
They wrapped everything in a small bag and said, "For your security..." (From what? In a country where people at McDonald's return your i-phone?)
It was for my security that the stuff doesn't fall out into the rest of my handbag.
Their idea of "No bag' is 'no bag with handles."
Thursday, July 1, 2010
"....You think you cannot go on: you find that you have no alternative but to do so. You have to live. Caring about what you wear is one small but not entirely insignificant dimension of existence."
-from "The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasure of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter" by Linda Grant (this is a great book!)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
HONG KONG--Next week, my husband and I will be moving to Japan. Yes kids, the land of Hello Kitty and Hara-kiri that has gone through 4 prime ministers in four years. If Zsa Zsa Gabor's and Liz Taylor's married lives were countries, they could not beat Japan.
One of my dear friends so thoughtfully sent a practical and lovely gift from Amazon of ---a bi-lingual Tokyo map (very use-foor), a 2010 Michellin Guide (4 restaurants are walking distance from our future beautiful flat) and a Moleskine Tokyo notebook (da best!!).
With her gift, she enclosed a card that said ".......for civilized living in Japan...."
(Un)Fortunately Japan is already the most civilized place I know. That is, not counting the South Pole where there are no people. Residents say people are so civilized that unlike NRA-card and gun-toting Americans who just take out the object of their ire with a single gunshot, the Japanese are SO POLITE that
a) you end up walking away and wanting to kill yourself (thus committing hara-kiri in its country of origin)
b) THEY end up walking away and REALLY killing themselves or
c) they simply poison an entire subway system
Nice! Having said that, it is STILL THE SAFEST place on earth.
Unlike Jakarta where people are even afraid to leave their expensive shoes outside homes or in Japanese restaurants, in Japan, I can leave my Manolos anywhere any time.
No one will steal my shoes. Or even my clothes.
That's because they are too big. (As Yukiko-san at the Yohji store always says to me "Ah, no large. Medium is largest size..." or two doors down at Commes des Garcons, "You tried that last week and it was too small. Today still small....."
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
While the fashion world was twittering with the death of designer Alexander McQueen, I was attempting a black piste with moguls, which I did very well, thank you very much.
The problem with being in the mountains, aside from fresh air and allergies, is that I feel very disconnected from reality---WHAT!!?? Was fashion ever a reality???
I am of course, very sad that one one my favourite designers has hanged himself and that I have one less reason to stay fit.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Quote of the day:
Husband: 'Who is this Yohji that you are so bent on visiting today?'
Me: 'You'll know when you see the bill.'
I was in Tokyo last week as part of a personal fact (ay--flat!) finding mission and in between searches I stopped at Minamo-Aoyama, the only street I shop in because they have Commes des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake within miso-throwing distance of each other.
Plus, they always have my size but they will say, 'This is rash one...MEDIUM!' (but I'm sure they laugh behind my back because it's really a LARGE to THEM!)
Anyway, I went to Yohji and to Commes and now I know why Yohji is in administration. (For Americans: Chapter 11)
Because he has customers like me. People my age have already aged beyond the school run and the power suits that they probably have no use for Yohji in their lives. Even I had to turn down the beautiful cotton blouses with oversized cuffs and bows because my husband will say I look like a clown.
There is no need for 'drama' or to 'make a statement' at my age. I did that in the Eighties at the height of Yohji when I couldn't afford it.
I used to get 'Are you a Sicilian widow?' from him when I wore Yohji at his purest. This time I bought 2 lightweight jackets for the summer which I am sure will not get such comments. But we'll see.
I'm sure he'll think of something like, 'Do you know your jacket is uneven?'
Meanwhile, Commes was hopping with younger customers more intent on buying tee shirts (and there were so many I thought I walked into the Gap) than her jackets. Commes also wins in the price to production value war. Jackets are 10,000 yen cheaper in thicker (I'm not sure about better) fabric with a lot more labour put into them. I paid more at Yohji for plain black (what else?) unlined jackets.
I stayed away from the beautiful crinkled polyester double-layered jackets because I can hear, 'You're going out in THAT? We have maids to do ironing, you know.'
I was going to buy a gabardine casual tailcoat with a red lining but I decided against it because there was something wrong with the way the shoulder line (there was none and that was the point) sat on my shoulders and I could hear, 'Are you an orchestra conductor?'
I didn't go into Issey because I had to get back to the hotel to go swimming and cook myself in the steam room in time for dinner.
But I'll be back in March. There are two cotton-linen jackets I want to get at where else...Yohji.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Just in time for this month's controversial bonus distribution in the banking industry:
"I will support you in everything you do except in buying overpriced Chinese IPO-s"
-part of wedding vows made by a fund manager to her husband, a broker
- "The Omen with ringlets..." Metro (America)
This is a movie that came out in July 2009 but since I hardly ever go to the cinema, I usually have to wait for the DVD or watch movies on the plane. (But I am planning on seeing the Richard Gere dog movie, 'Hachiko.' Hopefully, the little furry mammal doesn't end up in his butt and doesn't come out a Shit-zu)
MY REVIEW of Orphan:
Am I glad I chose not to have children. After seeing this film, you'll never look at children the same way again.
In fact, you will be terrified to be alone with them in the same room!
At least with dogs (and I have a lot of violent and insane experiences with them) you know what you are up against.
With kids like this, you'll never know if you'll live another day...or who gets to the kitchen knife first!
AND this is not Chuckie and Redrum. It's WORSE!!!