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CONFESSIONS OF A WANNABE NEW YORKER

I used dream about visiting New York.

I envisioned myself seeing skyscrapers and signature New York landmarks as my plane landed at LaGuardia or John F. Kennedy International Airport. A town car would pick me up and whisk me off to the upper east or west sides of the city to shop, eat, or drink at the hippest restaurants and hotspots. I saw myself being friends with socialites and other prominent members of New York society…

I recently visited New York and it didn’t quite play out like that.

First, there was a storm that kept the plane I was on from landing. The pilot kept circling John F. Kennedy International Airport until we were alerted that landings there were being halted until the weather got better. Our pilot then informed us that we were running out of fuel and needed to stop in Pennsylvania for a refill. That was slightly terrifying, but we finally made a safe landing in New York, three hours later than scheduled. I didn’t see any skyscrapers or signature New York landmarks as the plane was landing because there was too much fog. I also missed my town car due to the landing delay and was forced to rely on a taxicab. I was sad but remained optimistic. I was in New York after all.

Having been invited to the city for an event hosted by the Lifetime Television Network, I arrived on Tuesday and the event was on Wednesday. Knowing that I’d have an open night of free time, I thought it would be cool to make plans with one of my New York friends that I had formed a professional friendship with online over the years. His name was Paul Johnson Calderon and he is known in New York as a socialite. He owns a couture bow-tie company, has been gossiped about numerous times in Page Six, and was briefly on a CW Network reality show named High Society that got cancelled after one season. I approached him about meeting up and he seemed extremely excited, telling me he would take me to his bow-tie studio and out for dinner at “some place cool.” Because of his enthusiasm, I became equally excited. But once I arrived to New York and approached him about actually fulfilling our plans, he cancelled on me for some bullshit reason (via text) and I never heard from him again. The second thing I realized is that some New Yorkers tend to be flakey and rude.

Feeling slightly defeated about my late arrival, changed method of transportation and the fact that I had been stood up, I solemnly made it to my hotel room. That’s when I truly fell in love with New York.

The room of my hotel was on the 23rd floor and had breathtaking views. Hotel Beacon is way nicer than their website lets on. I legitimately want a New York apartment modeled after the room I stayed in. It was small, but nicely decorated, quaint and sufficient. It was on the upper west side and seemed close to everything. I was so taken with the view (top picture) that I would’ve been perfectly okay with staring out the window and never leaving my room. There’s something truly magical about having the ability to look down upon the New York City landscape. For being a concrete jungle, it’s a beautiful one. I settled into my room before deciding to venture out for dinner.

The concierge at the hotel had given me a list of places to eat at that were close by, so I picked an American/French fusion restaurant named Josie’s. Feeling awkward about dining alone, I requested a table in a corner away from other people. The host acknowledged my request and sat me at (what I thought was) the perfect table. I took in my surroundings and casually observed the room. I immediately noticed that I was the only person dining alone. Nearby, I overheard a table of young women talking about their PR dealings and the drama that they recently experienced at the Coachella music festival. I casually observed other tables of people engulfed in conversation. New Yorkers definitely seem like they have a lot to say. Waiting (forever) for service, I upsettingly watched as the host sat a table of two women directly in front of me. I was disappointed. I’m the only person at this restaurant dining alone. I request a table away from others and now have two people so close to me that I can touch them? I know that this blog reads like the worst case of first world problems that you’ve probably ever heard, but I was already starting to become a jaded New Yorker and had only been in the city for a few hours. It got even worse when I was forced to listen to the entire conversation of this nearby table, with my meal. I don’t remember ordering that!

Everyone in New York City seems to have a regular job and an entertainment job. I learned so many things about this obnoxious woman at the table that was less than a foot away from me.

She owns a dog-walking business and is a professional photographer. Her clients get jealous of how much the dogs prefer her company to theirs. She recently started doing yoga at the recommendation of her therapist, but is having a hard time finding a class she wants to attend because of her prerequisite for an attractive yoga instructor. Her mother (who’m she hates) is a cat lady and she had a really hard time with her recent adoption of a cat because of this. Lastly, she just finished dating a married man who produced an Oscar award winning movie.

I couldn’t stand this woman. She was not only loud, but incredibly rude. I don’t think I ever heard her ask about the woman she was dining with. I definitely didn’t hear the women that was with her say much. I ate as fast as I could and quickly hightailed it out of that restaurant. I went back to my hotel, took in more of the city view from my room, and went to sleep.

The next day was nothing like the first. I woke up and prepared the day’s outfit. I ordered room-service and made coffee with the Keurig in my room, while watching Good Morning America, realizing that it was probably being taped only a couple of blocks away from where I was. The city looks absolutely stunning during sunrise. I walked to a nearby Starbucks and was flattered when the barista confused me for a legitimate New Yorker. That was one thing that kept happening to me. I fit right in. Don’t get me wrong, I dressed the part. Most of my clothes were black and designer. I had even brought a Cole Haan winter coat with me in preparation for the shitty east coast weather I was accustomed to growing up. To be honest, I was waiting for someone to outdo me. New York isn’t as fancy as Sex and the City made it out to be. I realized that being a New Yorker is as simple as having an air of confidence and the right look. I felt like I belonged there and people treated me like it. That’s really all you have to do when you’re there. I’m not even joking. Try it.

The rest of the day was magical. I saw Times Square through a chauffeured Mercedes Sprinter van and made some new friends (bottom two pictures) at the Lifetime Network event I attended. You can read about that here.

New York is definitely full of adventure and I truly can’t wait to go back! Even if I was just a wannabe for the very brief 26 hours that I was there.

A DEVIOUS SCREENING 

If you’ve been following me on twitter, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of the Lifetime Network television show Devious Maids. The second season is debuting soon (4/20/2014 at 10 PM, don’t miss it!) and the Lifetime Network hosted an exclusive event for fans (otherwise known as the #DeviousArmy) of the show, an event I was lucky enough to be invited to.

This event not only included an advance screening of the (amazingly juicy) upcoming season two premiere, but attendees also got to have lunch with two of the show’s stars, Ana Ortiz and (the legendary) Susan Lucci.

First, let’s talk about the premiere. It’s amazing! The first season left me with so many questions…

What’s going to happen to Marisol now that her mystery has been solved? Will the Powell’s actually be united by their hatred? How will Genevieve recover from her fiance’s death? Will Valentina and Remi make it work in Africa? Will Carmen actually commit to being Alejandro’s beard? Will Rosie find a way out of her impending deportation?

I’m gonna be devious and not spoil anything for you, but I’m happy to tell you that most of your questions will be answered. Only partially though, as this new season will leave you asking many more. (I already can’t wait to see the next episode. Getting through this next week and a half is going to be torture!) I was very pleased to witness the direction creator Marc Cherry is taking this new season. It’s really good and I truly think fellow #DeviousArmy members will be as excited about it as I am.

Now let’s talk about that lunch. Dining and chatting up Susan Lucci and Ana Ortiz was a dream come true! There’s honestly nothing devious about these two beautiful women. In fact, they’re nothing but charming and extremely talented. Susan Lucci and I briefly chatted about how much fun she has doing the show. I love how her character, Genevieve Delatour, always seems to deliver hilarious one-liners and Susan personally told me that she spends most of her time laughing at the witty script, when she’s not acting it out for all of us to see. Having been a huge fan of Ana Ortiz’s work on the ABC Network show Ugly Betty, I had to ask her if Marc Cherry intended on her Devious Maids character, Marisol Suarez, having the same last name as her Ugly Betty character, Hilda Suarez. She admitted to me that she had originally wondered the same thing. Asking Marc about it herself during the first season’s production, he told her there was no Ugly Betty inspired intent behind it, though she admitted to me that she loves that both characters share the same last name. So do I! It’s a delightful little throwback to a character Ana told me will always be near and dear to her heart. Both of these women were delightful and extremely down to earth. Don’t let their Beverly Hills personas from the show confuse you!

This screening and luncheon ended up being devious, only because it left me wanting to see more of the new season. To celebrate and share my love of Devious Maids, I’ve decided to do a giveaway. I had Susan and Ana sign a copy of the season one DVD collection of Devious Maids (pictured) and will be giving it away to one lucky member of the #DeviousArmy. All you have to do is watch the Devious Maids season two premiere, live on 4/20 at 10 PM on the Lifetime Network, and tweet my twitter account (@RAMrants) a picture of yourself watching the new episode, with the hashtag’s #DeviousArmy, #DeviousMaids AND #DDay included. I will be picking one lucky contestant to recieve the DVD set, signed by Susan Lucci and Ana Ortiz. Good luck and make sure you check out the latest season of Devious Maids, Sunday nights at 10 PM, on the Lifetime Television Network Channel.

"LOUIS VUITTON CITY BAGS: A NATURAL HISTORY" BOOK = LEGITIMATE FASHION PORN

After receiving this wonderful book as a gift for myself and my coffee table, I had to share its existence with my fellow fashion lovers. Louis Vuitton City Bags: A Natural History” by Rizzoli NY is filled with information (and beautiful glossy pictures!) about the rich and lengthy history of one of the worlds most coveted luxury handbag designers. Did you know that Louis Vuitton was selling women handbags in the late 1800’s? I also had no idea that the super-recognizable classic Louis Vuitton monogram didn’t even come into existence until the 1950’s! Now I can’t even imagine their brand without it…

Filled with tons of information on the evolution of your favorite handbag styles and fun pictures of various Louis Vuitton ad campaigns over its history, this book is inspiring and a must-own for any fan of one of the best handbags money can buy.

THE LSD YOU NEED TO GET ON

Lauren Santo Domingo has impeccable street-style, pretty much the best I’ve ever seen. Being a contributing editor at Vogue magazine and co-founder of online couture retailer ModaOperandi.com, access to amazing fashion resources is sure to come with the territory. But the classy style Lauren brings to her own image is self-produced and it inspires. Harper’s Bazaar magazine editor-at-large, Derek Blasberg, even threw numerous endearing shout-out’s to LSD in his "Classy" and "Very Classy" books.

She’s been an understandable muse to numerous fashion designers and is a personal one to me. LSD is someone you should pay attention to, if you don’t already.

WOMEN AND WINE

My group of friends and I recently chartered a party-limo to celebrate the 22nd birthday of our good friend (second to bottom picture) Mychelle. It was our second time annually orchestrating a similar event and we had way too much fun, so much so that I can’t actually recall most of what happened after we left the second winery. Regardless, great memories were made that day. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the event.

RAM REVIEWS: BEATS BY DRE WIRELESS HEADPHONES

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I’ve always wanted a pair of Beats By Dre headphones. I’m sure it was the good ole (subliminal) marketing of Dr. Dre's team or the fact that I'm always seeing them on football players, even on game-day fields. For me personally, they truly seemed more appealing than any other popular headband-style earphones on the market. Recently ending its partnership with the Monster Products company, Beats By Dre has recently split into its own entity.

Being a huge tech consumer, I did some research and read some other reviews before deciding that these were the headphones I wanted to have. To be honest, the price seems insane for what I was reading in the reviews at respectable shopping websites like Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. Regardless, no other headphone had the LOOK, FEATURES AND COLOR OPTIONS that Beats By Dre offered. That’s what sold me.

I took the plunge and decided on Beats By Dre Wireless Headphones in silver.

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I was always told that the look and sound of Beats By Dre was the selling point. I had high expectations…

I must note, my expectations lay more with build-quality over sonic-quality. As long as it sounds reasonably good, with clear vocals and no choppy bass or blares, I’m happy. I’m a rapper, not a sound engineer. There are higher quality versions of the wireless Beats By Dre headphones (with noise cancellation technology) and better headphone brands for audiophiles.

I am pleased to say that I like these headphones a lot.

In my opinion, a lot of the reviews I read were wrong. The wireless feature is amazing and the blue-tooth pairing (with my iPhone) is effortless. The charging process is fast, easy and the battery life is great. The sound quality is wonderful and impressive for a blue-tooth headset. With the cord in, it’s even better. It gets reasonably loud and has a slew of easy to (remember and) use buttons on one side, for easy access to music selection, pausing and phone call answering.

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My only gripe would be the headband strength. Everything about my headphones seems worth the price, except the build-quality. I originally had a white pair and exchanged for a silver pair because the polished, almost metal-like effect of the silver pair’s build-quality seems cleaner, stronger and more lasting than the other pairs.

With these Beat By Dre Wireless headphones having a retail price of $279.99, they should feel like they wouldn’t break easily if dropped. They unfortunately would, if they did.

That’s honestly my only gripe, which I personally solved with the purchase of a solid protection plan from Best Buy. I’ve had them for about two weeks and use the included carrying case and attachments to no problems. I would definitely recommend checking them out. Just be smart, consider your options and do your research. I use them for jogging, walking my dogs and random traveling. They happen to fit my needs perfectly but may not fit yours. Again, always do your research.

As my first tech review for RAMrants.com, I hope this helps some of you who are deciding on buying Beats By Dre headphones.

MY 2014 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

2013 was a crazy and unpredictable year. So much so that it made it extra difficult for me to decide on a resolution to take into 2014. But upon looking back and reflecting over the past year, I’ve decided that what is really needed for me to have a great 2014 are two things: (more) Thoughtfulness and patience

There are so many times when people do nice things for us and we so easily take it for granted. We respond with “thank you” because it’s easy to say those words but we rarely show our appreciation for the kindness of others by returning the favor in some physical way, shape or form.

During 2014, I want to make sure that I take time to give back to the people who’ve given to me. When you’re good to people, they will (most likely, unless they suck) be good back to you. And how can showing (deserving) people that you care not be life enhancing?

I also want to be more patient. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop working hard on my dreams and settle, it just means I want to make sure I take the necessary time to think certain things through before making decisions I might later regret. Forcing things always seems to bring on undesired results for me and I find that a preventative mentality is (essential and) smart in this day and age.

I’m not about to do anything that I would consider a waste of my time, anymore. I plan for my 2014 to be about quality, not quantity, when it comes to family, love, friends, business AND fun. I ended my year on an extremely high note and refuse to slow down, anytime soon.

2014, you’re officially my new bitch.

Sincerely,

Richard Armande Mills (aka RAMrants)

'YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH' BY BLOOD ORANGE IS MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOUR EARS

I can’t get enough of this song, the sound and its lyrics. Funky, smooth and meaningful, who can’t deny that they haven’t felt this way about someone in their life who just wasn’t good enough to be held onto?

'BEYONCE' IS BRILLIANT!
The music industry has a model it’s been following for far too long. Hype is put on a lead first single from an artist and a lot of marketing goes into that single, the readying of a second (or third, depending on album sales) strong single, mixed with the whole album’s promotion. Beyonce hadn’t released an album or solid (album supporting) single in two years. She’s a visionary artist and likes to experiment in the name of growing and maturing her craft and brand. People were clearly not ready for her 'Grown Woman' song at the time of sample-release and I honestly think Beyonce was tired of the quick judgements people make when they’re only given a single, a snippet. Only a piece of her whole body of work…
The new “visual album” named "Beyonce" by Beyonce was secretly released early this morning with zero promotion, just suddenly appearing on iTunes as an exclusive. With all of the expectations fans, music critics and haters held for two years, I honestly think that this sneak-release was Beyonce's way of giving the public a full, unadulterated body of her artwork to critique.
This new unannounced album, being Beyonce's fifth studio release, has come as a delightful shock and welcome surprise to all popular music lovers and r&b/hip-hop fans alike. Called a “visual album,” "Beyonce" boasts 14 music tracks and (a whopping) 17 music videos.
After taking a long look and listen, all I can say is… BEYONCE IS BACK, with a vengeance. All of the fans (or haters) that I saw sassing her delayed album release on twitter have been officially silenced. "Beyonce" is one of Beyonce's best, most personal, sexual and fun albums to date. Almost all of the songs have single potential and already have music videos, so I can only see a recipe for success with this sneak attack on the music industry.
This grown woman knows what she’s doing and I now have even more respect for her as an artist, visionary and game changer.
Check out "Beyonce" by Beyonce and you’ll instantly hear and see what I’m talking about.

'BEYONCE' IS BRILLIANT!

The music industry has a model it’s been following for far too long. Hype is put on a lead first single from an artist and a lot of marketing goes into that single, the readying of a second (or third, depending on album sales) strong single, mixed with the whole album’s promotion. Beyonce hadn’t released an album or solid (album supporting) single in two years. She’s a visionary artist and likes to experiment in the name of growing and maturing her craft and brand. People were clearly not ready for her 'Grown Woman' song at the time of sample-release and I honestly think Beyonce was tired of the quick judgements people make when they’re only given a single, a snippet. Only a piece of her whole body of work…

The new “visual album” named "Beyonce" by Beyonce was secretly released early this morning with zero promotion, just suddenly appearing on iTunes as an exclusive. With all of the expectations fans, music critics and haters held for two years, I honestly think that this sneak-release was Beyonce's way of giving the public a full, unadulterated body of her artwork to critique.

This new unannounced album, being Beyonce's fifth studio release, has come as a delightful shock and welcome surprise to all popular music lovers and r&b/hip-hop fans alike. Called a “visual album,” "Beyonce" boasts 14 music tracks and (a whopping) 17 music videos.

After taking a long look and listen, all I can say is… BEYONCE IS BACK, with a vengeance. All of the fans (or haters) that I saw sassing her delayed album release on twitter have been officially silenced. "Beyonce" is one of Beyonce's best, most personal, sexual and fun albums to date. Almost all of the songs have single potential and already have music videos, so I can only see a recipe for success with this sneak attack on the music industry.

This grown woman knows what she’s doing and I now have even more respect for her as an artist, visionary and game changer.

Check out "Beyonce" by Beyonce and you’ll instantly hear and see what I’m talking about.