Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Return

After quite a busy and interesting week of work in Paris it's weird to be leaving all of that gorgeousness behind. Not only Paris is one of the prettiest cities in the world, but it is also filled with culture and constant opportunities to discover new things.

This time, as always, i left something behind, i wish i could explain what it is, but it's more than something i can touch, it's a feeling. I am sure this is in part due to the sensation of having the clash of the modern world with ancient history, having current history happening on such strong historical foundations. It's also about the fact that even in such a big and famous city, they still manage to maintain unharmed some aspects of life that are really unapreciated or forgotten in big capitals like New York, São Paulo or Beijing.

From a meal - all organic, no questions asked - that can be appreciated with time, where each flavor of every ingredient is enjoyed with real passion, to the ritual of actually leaving your office behind during lunch time and sitting quietly at a small restaurant or square to appreciate your baguette sandwich. There is a better sense of time management in Paris, because so many things that we New Yorkers take for granted, like 24 hour drugstores, restaurants and even supermarkets, in Paris people plan their time, and by some magical twist of fate, everything gets done. Not only everything gets done, but surprisingly everything and more: more than anywhere else in the world, people go to museums, concerts, art galleries, take time to sit and talk to friends in cafés, go to church - if it's their thing - or simply take a stroll with the dog without obsessing over conference calls or the Dow Jones. In a city where getting a taxi is a mission, you make the extra effort to use public transportation, or even take a walk in the rain, when permitted. in Paris, you don't have to rush through dinner to get to the night club, why would you? They stay open until the early morning, which in consequence allows you to meet a friend at the end of the day for the happy hour, or like they say, the aperitif, which will then lead to dinner, that will lead to drinks which will only then take you to a loud night club. Also on their side, and of all Europe is the easy and cheap access to so much culture from all those other countries that surround them, or the simplest act of driving down to the beach for weekend getaways at the Cote D'Azur or Provence.

In Europe, people make time for having a good and well enjoyed life, the carpe diem is taken seriously, and it's that very feeling that lacks in America.Our constant obsession for achieving more, and buying things only drives us mad, not to mention advancing in our careers and trying to become an icon of our trade.The key should be to maintain a healthy rythm at work, but not get overly stressed, not care too much about the sillyness of a job that at the end of the day could end up taking from our lives instead of giving us a life. Learning to become more mindful about my life is a big goal that i am sure to reach. Time is of essence in a city like New York, where people are hungry for success and never happy with what they have achieved, in New York, no matter how healthy you eat or how much you exercise, life is still not plenty, because there is always a need that's unnatended.

I am sure i am preaching to the choir here, but regardless of that and of all the cons about living in New York City, i still always find a reason to come back. I feel that eventually i may end up in Europe, with a house on the beach or by the lake, living my life like a king, a king who runs his own kingdom and still manages to enjoy all the perks of being the guy who runs the show; but right now, well, right now it's time to work, start building my empire, whatever that may be, and get ready to move on, because the day the ship to europe sails off the american coast, it will probably be for good.

For now,  i leave my friends and some of my favorite spots behind, knowing that whenever i find some time i can just hop in an airplane and fly straight back to the city of lights, after all, isn't that one of the blessings of living in the century XXI?

-- Originally written in october 2010 and recently found in a dusty notepad. --

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Transgender Opinion

LookBooks wrote an article about transgender models invading the fashion world and asked me for my opinion on it, and i was glad to give it. Check it out HERE.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eye of the Beholder

I just finished watching the glorious documentary "Bill Cunningham New York", and it brought me to my knees. This 84 minute movie contained such a powerful and touching story that it took me to a place - which is how I like to call a certain type of feeling - where I very rarely go to, and it is my dearest and most special place to be. Only two times before had I been this moved, and when that happened I also wrote about it.

One of them, and probably the most mind-blowing one, was in early 2010 when Patti Smith delivered the book "Just Kids", one of the most beautiful books I ever read. The minute I learned this book was coming out I had a strong feeling, I didn't read the review, I didn't know exactly what it was about, but I literally, got up from my chair and went to Barnes and Noble; only to find that the release date would be in another two weeks. Well, eventually I got it, and I cried copiously as I saw my love for the arts was coming alive through those pages.

With Bill Cunningham's documentary it was my love for beauty that came tearing out through the screen, it was my love for all that is or can be beautiful in this world. Bill said it himself - "if you seek beauty you will find it" - and I could not agree more, it brought tears to my eyes as it did to his, and I felt the most extraordinary connection to this man who is a living legend and a visionary. Bill's story, like Patti's, is of a person who feels love through every pore of their bodies, it's intangible, you can't explain it, but its there like nobody's business.

As I watched Bill Cunningham's life, work, and passion unfolding before my eyes I couldn't stop the tears from rolling down, what I had before me was a man absolutely in love with life, fashion and beauty, a man who didn't need another person or loads of money in the bank to have happiness, he had it right there, and he lived a full and happy life, with no regrets and many accomplishments.

There is a certain calm and peacefulness that I get from staring at a certain picture sometimes, and I know, that this feeling is all I want to achieve. I know that sometimes, in order to get there i will have to go through some rough patches, and that's ok, I am not looking for an entire life of fulfillment, love, passion and happiness, but what I want is as many of those "picture staring" moments as possible, I want to feel my heart beating fast and my eyes tearing up as many times as possible, I want to be able to see in other people's lives what I aim to get for my own, it makes it all more realistic, it makes it less of a fairy tale.

I recently met some very interesting and loving people, they happened in my life like the big bang to earth, and I just accepted them, just like the universe accepted earth when it turned up. One of these marvelous people invited me to a "vision board" party, where they would build vision boards for what they wanted for their future. I could not understand the concept: cutting from magazines and gluing to a cardboard didn't seem much to me; but I went anyway. What happened to me was an epiphany, I had all these images inside my heart and they simply appeared to me in magazines, and from there they jumped into a board, and that board looks exactly like my life! So, it was just like that, I realized that I do have a full life, and that I do have plenitude and that all I need is in front of me.

I won't lie to you though: it would be lovely to achieve something really pivotal for mankind... or maybe even just my neighborhood; you know!? And for at least once have someone look at all the things I did and lived through and feel their heart fill up with joy and peacefulness and have their eyes fill up with tears and their hearts fill up with joy; nothing would make me happier than to be able to inspire someone, that would probably be my greatest accomplishment, and also a great compliment.

But you know what!? If that moment never happens, I am totally cool with that, because the tears that rolled down my cheeks today, watching Bill's life in the movie, were also of recognition of all that I have achieved in my life, and I am a lucky bastard for being able to look inside myself and recognize that, and to see that I am living a full life right now, filled with love, joy and strength; and for all my blue and trying moments I can save a pitiful laughter, for they are powerless in front of my beautifully accomplished vision board of a life.

Take a look at the trailer by clicking HERE.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Beauty in Getting Old

Do you know how i know i'm getting old? Last night i fell asleep at 11pm, with an open book over my face and the lights on. When i woke up, my arm was in a much deeper sleep than the rest of me, and i was immediately sent to the days when i was a little boy and i would walk into my mother's bedroom only to find her in the exact same situation. I remember thinking it was super funny and asking her why did she put an open book over her face to go to sleep? And why wouldn't she turn the lights off? I thought it was funny, now i understand.

So i grew up, and off i went to work at a video store, and i remember half the customers coming in and saying they couldn't finish the movie because they had fallen asleep halfway through it. I thought that was a betrayal to the art of film making and was profoundly offended that they wouldn't finish watching the movie i recommended especially for them. It was an affront to my "talents" and it made me question my "skills" at my job. Ok, give me a break, i was fourteen! Back in those days i used to spend nights watching one movie after the other, it would range from the "The Attack of the Killing Refrigerator" to "Out of Africa" or "Pulp Fiction", it didn't matter what the movie was, it could be an old cowboy movie and i would still be watching, to me, still to this day, any movie is worth watching. The difference now is that i am the one falling asleep.

In the height of my teenage years i could not fathom the idea of being so tired to the point where a person wouldn't even be able to stay awake through one of the most enjoyable things in the world, which is watching movies. I would go to movie theaters on my own and spend the entire afternoon thinking of how great it would be to work in that industry and how everything was so creative and beautiful, i mean, even "Striptease" had its good side - in fact I secretly love it, I mean, Burt Reynolds anyone!?. Every movie had a good side. Every movie, even the really crappy ones, still has a good side. Back then i could not go on a day without watching a movie and could swear on my sweet grandmother that i would not go on a day without movies for the rest of my life. Well, fast forward 10 years and here i am, a once a week movie son of a gun who will sometimes even fall asleep during "The Family Guy". I take it all back, i am getting old.

I am not saying I Am old, but i am definitely moving towards my own extinction, it's what happens to everyone. As i grew the more responsibilities i acquired, the level of stress increased and the pressure to maintain a well-oiled machine of a life became bigger than myself. That happens to pretty much everyone, it's just life, sometimes it's overwhelming, sometimes it's like a walk in the park. Looking back i see all the things that my parents used to do and I thought were tedious and that they were wasting their time (and mine) with bills and a calculator, i mean, couldn't you just go to the ATM and get money? I have been supporting myself and living far from home since i was seventeen, I always had a very responsible outlook on things and a bill overdue freaked the hell outta me. Nowadays i live in New York, a place i dreamed of when growing up, I went to Hollywood, and attended Oscar parties, traveled to Australia, another city I dreamed and planned on living when i was in high school, traveled through Europe on my own and saw everything I learned in art school and history class. I was only able to do all these things and become this person I Am because of all the work I put on my goals and ideas, and because of all the stress i had to go through and responsibilities i had to acquire, and also because of all the movies i had to fall asleep in and miss. Life will not hand you all you want in a silver platter, you have to work for it.

It's beautiful nowadays to realize that i am growing old and to be able to look back and see all the great things i lived through, the people i met and the experiences that made me learn and understand so many other things. So, i guess the rule doesn't only apply to the movies, but to everything in life. There is beauty in everything, even in getting old.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Times they are a-changing

So, as i sit to write on my computer my text message alert rings on one of my two blackberry smart phones, a conversation is initiated, then a second conversation is initiated with another person, and next thing i know i am having five conversations at the same time. I hate texting, bbm'ing, chatting and all of its similar evolutions, i believe it has made us handicapped, it created a distance even bigger than the one we allowed ourselves when we only had a phone call to count on. I remeber the times when it wasn't polite to call after a certain time in the evening, and also that you would only let the phone ring a few times and had to wait several minutes until you tried again, i mean, it was part of the telephone etiquette my grandmother taught me.

Nowadays people text and bbm, constantly, and things that could be said in less than 60 seconds are scattered through endless text messages that can go on forever. Nowadays it almost feels like calling someone is a gigantic bother, like you are invading someone's space. I will constantly hear: "why didn't you text me?" or: "i can't talk, i am in a meeting, send me a text". Well, you can't talk but you can text? How is that any less disrespectful to the other people in that meeting? How does that not take from what you should actually be doing? What happened that made us so afraid of talking on the phone? Does that mean that one day if they creat holograms we won't ever need to actually meet people for dinners or conversations? Will we only want to talk to the hologram of a friend? I mean, looking at the way things are shifting, it seems like it could definitely happen. This is the tip of the iceberg.

I once considered myself a very well informed and skillful person when it came to technologies, i was always upgrading my equipment and myself, but then life happened and i acquired more responsibilities and little by little Facebook, Google and finally Twitter started creeping in, and i had no idea what that meant. I remember thinking - what's the use of this dumb website? Why would anyone care for what i am doing, where i am going or any of that crap? Well, i wasn't alone, but very rapidly people realized all the money that could be made and all the business that could be generated with little to no money and the social network craze was let lose.

I currently have a blog, facebook and twitter accounts, i probably have other similar stuff around too but i rather not even think of those as these three are already a lot of work to maintain. I have updated myself, i am very much aware of the new medias and i find all of it truly fascinating. I have however seen and lived the decline of several industries, even more so after the financial crisis in 2008, when everything fell to pieces.

When i heard about the documentary "Page One - Inside The New York Times" i was very intrigued and happy to see that finally someone took the time to put the message out there, that there has been an ongoing revolution for several years and still, to this day, many people and corporations do not pay enough attention or understand what is going on. And what a greater way to show the revolution than from inside one of the largest, if not THE largest media outlet in the world: The New York Times. I have watched the documentary and i connected to it in so many levels, of course there were many things left unsaid, but the main message was out there: we have these medias, now how do we handle this revolution? Are we prepared for the consequences?

I saw it happening in front of me, i am a manager at a modeling agency and also work very closely with tv, film and music, which puts me in the middle of a whole other sector of this revolution. For the music industry it started ages ago with illegal file sharing, Napster and so on and so forth. The music industry was probably the first one to bring attention to the new medias. Around that time people started questioning wether newspapers would fall through the cracks given the amount of bloggers making news on their own terms; however i also remember that most people dismissed that idea by saying that all of it was a mere copy of yesterday's newspaper or information coming from sources that could not be trusted. As the new medias kept evolving and gowing the film and tv industries also started facing piracy and there was another huge propaganda against these medias. Little by little fashion started following the trend too, and utilizing these medias to promote itself, and even though you can't download a pair of pants, you can certainly buy it online, instead of a catalog, and maybe you can even see a fashion show in real time instead of attending it in Paris or Milan. You can also see a video editorial on a magazine's website instead of buying the actual magazine, and that is how, little by little the fashion industry silently began to collapse.

When the economic crisis hit in 2008 i moved to New York, i was lucky enough to get a great job at an amaing position in the middle of a sea of uncertainty and lay offs; every company, including mine, was firing almost on a daily basis, i saw huge fashion conglomerates filing for bankruptcy - as i still do - and everyday as i walked around in New York i would see those awful boxes walking around from one place to another, years of work and dedication compartmented into boxes. It was one of the most terrifying and sad moments of my life, i saw people getting fired daily. I had a failed relationship because my partner had been laid off and for the past four months could not find any job anywhere, so finally the pain and disappointment of seeing a lifetime of work and dedication fall to pieces became so unmanageable that the relationship disintegrated.

What happened in the fashion industry is still not very much talked about, the modeling agencies still don't pay enough attention to the new medias and allow themselves to fall into these traps made by their clients, who take full advantage of these medias, and the models, by consequence take the worst end of the deal. The rates for models dropped dramatically, several models that had been working for many years all of a sudden became obsolete and huge department stores like Sak's Fifth Avenue, Macy's or Bloomingdales simply started cutting back on their bookings for catalogs and advertising and established there own rules, making it either their way or the highway. The modeling agencies, in the midst of a crisis did nothing but nod their heads and move forward, trying to hang on to whatever was left. Because of a lack of unity in this market, we still face a very sad future, no one stands by the agencies, there is no union and the agencies won't stand by each other. Nowadays work has been reduced to 36 hour image use for online stores, catalogs are outdated, no one needs art directors, the models don't need to be anyone special, sometimes they won't even have the models heads in the shot, and because of that they feel entitled to pay close to nothing.

The agencies that sat foot and demand respect for their models lose those clients, but then again, do they rally need them? Isn't it time new standards are established, new rules are made and people become more aware that there is a bigger picture in stake with this entire evolution and revolution process? This also works for the publishing industry, every day you hear about bookstores closing, publishing houses firing employees and the numbers of book sales dropping by the second. Of course people can now read their books on kindle or ipad, but is that under control? Maybe it is, and maybe that industry is the only one that has their future figured out, but where do we go from here?

The New York Times is not only an American institution, it is a global institution, it is point of reference for the entire world, it's a newspaper that generates news for several other news outlets accross the world. The New York Times cannot perish. We fight to save education, yet we complain when a newspaper starts charging for viewing its content online. The newspaper is also education, did we all forget about that? Why should that content be free if before this revolution you had to pay to have access to it from the news stand? Why do we feel like we are entitled to have that information for free? Why do we feel we can just declare all newspapers dead and move along to the digital era? What happens with all those people who will lose their jobs? Who will be generating the news? Are those sources trustworthy? Who is going to the battle front to make sure the right story is being told? And where will the money for all of that come from if no one wants to pay for the news? The only reason why some blogs and websites have "free" news is because of press agencies and reliable entities like The New York Times, and i believe people seem to forget that. So, what would happen if all of a sudden the penal system decided to shut down operation to operate on line? What would happen if we could no longer rely on going to appointments with doctors but only on reading about symptoms on Wikipedia? The world would collapse, and the world is collapsing as i type this. This is what Nostradamus and the Mayans predicted as the end of the world, our planet will not be hit by the Armageddon, but it will wear itself out until it becomes unmanageable to keep on living and existing. The same way we disrespected nature, we are now disrespecting each other and ourselves. It's easy to say you don't want to pay for a song, or to have access to an article, but try and think of the bigger picture, try to think about the chain reaction caused by those U$2,50 that you are "saving". A tremor in america today may cause a tidal wave in Japan tomorrow, the same applies to this technological revolution.

"Page One" is one of the most compelling and relevant documentaries made in the last fifteen years, it shows and proves something that has been quietly going on for too long. This, like the "Social Network" registers decisive and revolutionary times in our history, these movies are masterpieces and must be seen by all, must be shown in schools and must be advertised and pushed forward as much as possible. It is our responsibility as fellow human beings to be aware and take action. You can't turn your face away from the reality, we live in 2011, we may not have flying cars or be ruled by apes, but we are definitely facing something that was beyond anyone's imagination, and it is wild.

Click HERE for the trailer of "Page One -Inside The New York Times"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

He had HIV. Now he does not.

Timothy Brown had HIV. Timothy Brown also had leukemia, twice. Timothy Brown is no longer sick, Mr. Brown is a healthy 45 year old translator who lives in San Francisco and is currently quite possibly the most studied human being in the planet.

When Dr. Gero Hütter, a specialist in blood cancers in Berlin came across Timothy's very unique case of HIV and Leukemia, he chose to think outside the box, he brought an option to the table that was revolutionary, even though "revolutionary" was not what they saw, that was the option for a man who needed help, it was a long stretch but a possibility none the less. For a man who had been fighting two diseases at once had gone through all the procedures in the book, anything was valid as long as it meant getting his life back. Well here was an option that could literally give him his life back. With a very bold concept in his hands, Dr. Hütter took the plunge and so did Mr. Brown, they chose to go for a brand new procedure, where they would transplant stem-cells with a Delta-32 mutation into Timothy's sick body. These very rare mutated cells are found mostly in people in northern Europe, and they are basically 99.9% resistant to the HIV virus, so by doing this very unconventional transplant, Dr. Hütter reprogrammed Timothy's immune system, and not only got rid of his Leukemia, but also his HIV.

Now ask yourself, had you heard about this before you read my blog? And if so, how many more people you know, heard about it too? Because Mr. Brown has been HIV and Leukemia-free for more than four years, and only now this has come to my attention. New York Magazine has published a six-page article on this case, they have even given it headline on their cover, however they haven't given it the actual cover. The New York Times has written a couple of pieces on this story too, but they were buried in some section that you would never read unless you are one of those people who read the entire newspaper back to back or are particularly interested in medicine. This is truly preposterous!

Why the world doesn't know that a man has been cured from HIV, i don't understand. I do understand that this man's cure is not the cure for the disease, it is a very complicated and expensive procedure, it caused Mr. Brown to have complications, and it could lead to death. But it hasn't. This particular case is revolutionary, even if it isn't a vaccine or a medication that ends HIV, it could certainly lead to one. The concept here is fresh and refreshing and was only possible because Dr. Hütter wasn't a skeptical, he allowed himself to try and seek new possibilities, while every other HIV researcher had very little to no belief in the cure.

These aren't the times to fool around, HIV research has reached amazing levels and advanced so fast that people now have access to this revolutionary treatment that allows them to live almost as if they didn't carry the virus, and the littlest advance in this field is like a giant step forward. What i also did not know, was that there was little to no money being sent to the research for the cure of HIV. Now pay attention because this is where it gets tricky: the money was being put into research for medication, ways to improve the quality of life and immunodeficiency, but not necessarily to kill the virus. Researchers from around the globe have grown skeptical after one of the most publicly discussed attempts to cure HIV failed, and that was also when millions of dollars were pulled from the "cure" research and that word became practically a blasphemy in the medical community.

When it was scientifically proven that Timothy Brown was cured, there were still people who

could not believe it, and to this day, even though everyone agrees that Timothy is the first person to be cured from HIV, this subject is the big white elephant in the room. So why should we allow it to be? Why can't we bring it to the table and turn it into a topic for discussion? Why can't we put it on facebook and twitter, why can't we write about it in news papers and magazines? Well, we can. This subject needs to be addressed, it is our job to make this a public as possible, because if we were able to cause so many changes via the social network and the media, i am sure we could also get people's attention to the research for the cure of HIV.

Let's all speak up about this subject, let's show the people who have money in their pockets where they should be sending their money to. Let's send money ourselves, let's speak up ourselves, who better to start a movement than you and me? This is the time when everyone and anyone has a voice, this is one of the best things the internet has made for us, it has given us a voice, so let's use it wisely, let's spread the word and make this world a better place.