Jackson Heights

first_imgWhat does the death of Michael Jackson mean to an Indian of my generation? A generation not much removed from the late pop idol in terms of age, but hugely distant nevertheless in cultural orientation. More pointedly, why should the possibly drug-induced cardiac arrest of a skinny (even anorexic) Black crooner of dubious musical depth and ambiguous sexual preference, stir up anything more than a fleeting ripple of grief among middling Indians? Indians whose idea of good looks is inseparably tied to physical heft wrapped in a fair skin, who are apt to bristle at so-called deviant proclivities, and whose range of popular-music taste began with Lata Mangeshkar and ended with Kishore Kumar? But not even the most insular of Indians — particularly those who lived, studied or worked in the United States in the 1980s — could claim to be untouched by the Jackson Phenomenon. It came roaring into the America’s collective consciousness in the early years of that decade, and sustained itself into the 1990s, with generous help from extra-musical happenings in the singer’s life — not least, his colorful lifestyle.And to those of us who landed there as graduate students at that time, the man was our introduction to a pan-American concept of cultural identity, and his work was our gateway of sorts to American acculturation and acceptance.I can never forget the sight of an Indian friend at Ohio University in Athens carrying a brand new copy of Michael Jackson’s just-released Thriller album into my dorm room. “Milinda,” I exclaimed. “You too!” (His real name was Milind, elongated by friends to rhyme mischievously with “Melinda.”)Milind hailed from Dhule, a small dusty town in northern Maharashtra and, although as smart as the next doctoral student, he was as alien to the world of pop music as rustic Dhule is to the razzmatazz of Los Angeles. A sheepish grin attesting to his plight of being caught with a hand in the sinful cookie jar, Milind explained, “Just wanted to find out what all the noise is about…”He sure did. I suspect it got him so clued in to the conversational reference points of American campus life that he soon put on a slurry Yankee accent, began dating American girls, and finally ended up marrying his Filipino classmate. (Remember that Filipinos, colonized once by the United States, often turn out to be more American than the Americans.) Milind, a former comrade-in-the-making who spouted Marxist jargon after a couple of stiff drinks, is today the epitome of capitalist success. As a senior executive in a U.S.-based multinational company, he counts his financial assets in the millions.Not all of us took that route. I can speak best for myself. I first landed in the U.S. in September 1982, weeks before the Thriller album release. Although familiar with Western cultural mores, thanks to the typical Indian city-bred youth’s diet of Time, Newsweek and Hollywood films, my favorites in non-Indian music were restricted to the Beatles whose tunes often echoed international influences and whose lyrics sometimes nudged the frontiers of poetry, and to the foot-tapping rhythms and the occasionally insightful themes from Boney M and Abba numbers.When I reached the country, America was done with condoling the senseless 1980 killing of Beatle John Lennon, and Abba too had somehow become passé. Boney M, strangely, was nowhere on the scene or in the music stores, thanks — I was told — to a rift between the Caribbean pop group’s business manager and the American recording industry honchos.The stage, I guess, was all set for a relatively new entrant on the American — and international — music landscape. Michael Jackson, with his smartly crafted Thriller, stormed into it: the album created unprecedented tremors. As an eye-witness in the U.S. — that is, at the very epicentre of the quake — I have never seen a music album grab a nation’s attention and its affection in such measure. It played in homes, in dormitories, in cafeterias, in malls, in cars, in airports, and in the boom boxes carried on shoulders by youths wearing turned-back baseball caps. With fans gobbling up nearly 60 million copies, Thriller remains the world’s largest-selling music album. Soon Jackson was seen grabbing something else — his own crotch, if you please. Was it because his later albums did not fare as well, that he resorted to cheap street-corner tapori-like pelvic thrusts, not to mention those bizarre get-ups and outfits? Was he — with an emphasis on his nimble-footed dancing skills and hi-tech videos — heralding an age of the “star-performer” to replace the bygone era of a mere “singer”? Did that emphasis effectively cover up — and later, come back to expose — the vacuity of his music and lyrics? And did that vacuity in fact reflect the state of his personal life?Genuine fans of the pop star — who fondly remembered an outrageously talented kid of five leading his older brothers in the old Jackson Five concerts — were aghast at the decline. The rumored drug-related excesses, the whispered fondness for young boys, the façade of media-showcased marital happiness to counter allegations of child-molestation, the flirtations with Islam and Jehovah’s Witness, the multiple medical procedures which resulted in his pale and bloodless plasticene look and a horrific distortion of his facial features. The final straw, I believe, came when Jackson dangled his little child head-down outside the upper-floor hotel window in Berlin when his fans clamored for a look. No amount of publicity thereafter about Michael’s physical and mental trauma at the hands of an abusive father during his childhood years could convince people that the pop star had not come unhinged.I must thank Mr. Jackson though for a sudden spurt in my popularity as a teaching assistant in the mid-1980s. After a class, students flocked around me with an unusual interest in the subject I was assigned to teach. Later, a student blurted out the explanation: “Oh, we think you’re really trendy,” she said. The class was apparently taken in by the fact that I had, like Michael Jackson, worn white socks with black shoes. Little did those undergrad teenyboppers know the real reason for the “trendy” choice: my dark-coloured socks were awaiting a tumble in the dryer!Let my wife’s elderly aunt from Karnataka have the last word on Michael Jackson’s sexiness. She sat through one of his videos where he chases a girl and, in the process, repeatedly gets in and out of a car. “What’s so sexy about a man who follows a girl into a car, then crawls out of it behind her, and does nothing in between?” she asked, with a wry shrug.  Related Itemslast_img read more

NEW YORK NY Reported by Elite Traveler the priv

first_imgNEW YORK, NY- Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazineYour wedding day should be as memorable and distinctive as your love. And what could be better than having an entire Leading Hotel completely to yourselves for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion? Here are just a few outstanding properties that can be engaged for the exclusive use of your wedding party and guests, assuring that this most special event will be exceptional, unique and unforgettable.Tuscany is one of the most beloved regions in Italy for weddings, with its stunning rolling countryside and the vineyards of Chianti. Set in the heart of this romantic region, Castel Monastero – with its 74 rooms and suites housed in an ancient stone building – offers the unique setting of a medieval village, which has remained unchanged through the centuries. With an exclusive buy-out, you will have the whole resort at your disposal with a variety of venues for all the special events surrounding your wedding: the rehearsal dinner, welcome reception, after-hours party, and so on. The restaurants, banqueting spaces – even the 1,000-square-meter spa – are all yours. For intimate ceremonies, the hotel even has its own parish church on property, or the staff can organize access to the nearby Badia Monastero for larger wedding parties. Through its various partnerships, the hotel can provide assistance with all the relevant documentation needed for civil and religious ceremonies. Depending on the season, rates for a full buy-out start at EUR 30,000 per night, including accommodation, buffet breakfast and service charge. Tax, food and beverage items, flower decorations, music, entertainment, etc. are extra.Even if your eyes aren’t Irish, they will surely be smiling if you plan your wedding at Adare Manor in County Limerick. The former home of the Earl of Dunraven, the hotel was built in the 1830s, and incorporates a number of endearing works of whimsy: a turreted entrance tower at one corner of the building rather than in the center, 52 chimneys (one to commemorate each week of the year), 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows (one for each day of the year). The scenario for your nuptials might well begin in Lady Caroline’s Room where you and your bridesmaids put on the final touches as the photographer snaps away, while at the far end of the house, the groom and his attendants get ready to leave for the church. The hour approaches and you pass beneath the vaults of the Great Hall and out to your horse-drawn carriage for the ride to Trinity Abbey. On your return to the Manor, butlers receive your guests with flutes of champagne, as they gather in the drawing room and library before a dinner served in the historic Minstrels’ Gallery, followed by dancing. As the evening winds down, small groups of guests filter downstairs to the Tackroom for a bit more dancing, a few favorite songs around the piano, and a final toast before you and your husband take your leave. The cost to hire out Adare Manor begins at approximately EUR 17,000 per night, depending on the season. Food, beverage and entertainment are extra. Nestled in the Berkshires area of Massachusetts, Wheatleigh was built in 1893 by Henry H. Cook as a gift to his daughter Georgie on her marriage to Carlos de Heredia. It is an idyllic setting for any wedding, from a weekend celebration to a midweek getaway or a Sunday afternoon gathering. A Florentine palazzo atop a Berkshire knoll overlooking the mountains and lake, Wheatleigh offers exquisite cuisine and 19 individually designed guest accommodations, along with 22 private acres and terraced lawns. A staircase lit by brilliant Tiffany windows leads to the Great Hall, porticos face rolling hills, and century old trees overhang the sculpture garden. All conspire to create an atmosphere that is at once intimate and grand. Enjoy Wheatleigh as your own private estate for a weekend of festivities, from the prenuptial party, to the wedding dinner, to the farewell brunch. Chef Jeffrey Thompson will craft unique menus for every event. With attention to each detail and incomparable service from the first tasting through the departure of the last guest, Wheatleigh’s European-trained staff will create the extraordinary wedding you envision. Just 2 1/2 hours from New York or Boston, the hotel is easily accessible, yet charmingly removed from urban hustle and bustle. Nightly rates for a buy-out start at approximately USD 14,000. Food and beverage, entertainment and other incidentals are extra.Set amongst an eight-acre vineyard, surrounded by a rose garden and fountains, Northern California’s 57-room Bernardus Lodge is backed by the stately Santa Lucia mountain range. This serene inland location is just 15 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, so you get the best of both worlds, with the additional advantage of guaranteed sunshine in the mini micro-climate of Carmel Valley. At once rustic and refined, the Lodge is the ideal embodiment of sophisticated California living. Your exclusive use of the property opens a variety of public areas for different activities, without your having to be concerned with the wedding party disturbing other guests. For example, the croquet/bocce area is typically used for a cocktail reception for the first hour and half, however with a buy-out, the area can be strung with festive lighting and the revelry can last until midnight. To soothe pre-wedding jitters, The Spa at Bernardus Lodge offers an array of distinctive services from vinotherapy to marine-inspired treatments to international traditions, elevating relaxation to an art form. Buy-out rates start from approximately USD 22,000 per night in low season. Food and beverage, entertainment, flowers and other incidentals are extra.Carlisle Bay is set on one of the most stunning beaches on the unspoiled south coast of Antigua with 82 beautiful contemporary luxury suites, and the perfect backdrop for weddings. Whether you are planning an intimate ceremony, or wish to share the occasion with family and friends, Carlisle Bay offers a spectacular setting for your special day. The resort will happily create an unforgettable experience for you to treasure – from exchanging vows on the jetty to barefoot banquets on the beach for up to 90 people. With its exceptional restaurants, outstanding collection of original art and photography, Carlisle Bay is especially adept at creating bespoke menus, theming, entertainment, private boat excursions and picnics. A bit overwhelmed with all the pre-nuptial activity? Relax and let your nerves be soothed in the 17,000-square-foot Blue Spa. A three-night exclusive buy-out in low season begins at USD 141,450, double occupancy. Tax, service charge, food and beverage and incidentals are extra.The island of Mustique is the very definition of a tropical escape, and it has served as the beach-chic playground for royals, celebrities and discerning sophisticated travelers since the 1960s. A former warehouse and sugar mill, the Cotton House features interiors inspired by theatrical designer Oliver Messel, and – with just 17 rooms – it artfully sets the stage for exceptional, intimate weddings. The ceremony can be held almost anywhere on the island, in the famous Bamboo Church, under the 200-year-old Baobab tree, on any of eight beaches with Atlantic and Caribbean views, in the hotel gardens, on the hotel jetty, even aboard a boat on a sunset cruise… the choice is yours. A three-night minimum stay is recommended, since wedding couples must be in the country for 48 hours to obtain the marriage license, and the hotel will arrange a day for you to take the short trip to the island of St. Vincent to meet with the officiating minister and to obtain your marriage license. Assistance will be provided in St. Vincent for all legal details. Rates start at approximately USD 23,000 per night on a bed-and-breakfast basis, including service and government taxes.What place on earth could be more romantic for exchanging vows than French Polynesia? With its 80 bungalows – 50 of which are over the water – the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort is located on its own islet or “motu” in a crystal clear turquoise lagoon facing Otemanu Mountain – taking privacy to a new level. Whether you choose to have the celebration on the resort’s Forever beach or in the intimate chapel, a wedding at Bora Bora Pearl Beach promises to be a magical event to cherish always in your heart. When the island is all yours, the possibilities are endless – and the resort can organize a range of Polynesian-themed activities for you and your guests: snorkeling, diving, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, catamaran cruises, relaxing with a soothing treatment at Manea Spa in the couples’ Royal Suite, or simply lying back in a hammock on the beach. In the midst of such idyllic surroundings, you might just believe you have found yourself on the mythical South Pacific island of Bali Hai! There is a three-night minimum for exclusive use of the resort, and rates start at USD 30,000 per night.Zulucamp at Shambala Private Game Reserve is situated in the picturesque central region of the Waterberg mountain range, where the climate is sub-tropical and temperate for most of the year. Covering almost 12,000 hectares of natural landscape in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, Shambala is home to the Big Five, the leopard, lion, elephant, black and white rhino, and buffalo, as well as numerous antelope species. Zulu Camp itself offers an unforgettable experience in the most breathtaking bushveld setting with the river running through the camp. Designed along the lines of a traditional African village, it welcomes guests in its honeycomb-shaped thatched chalets, built with natural materials and separated from each other by streams from the nearby river. Wedding parties of up to 16 people will enjoy destination-specific activities, including game drives, bush walks and picnics, an elephant-back safari, and a sundowner cruise on Dow Steyn Dam, as well as all meals including selected beverages. The cost for a complete buyout is ZAR 124,000 per night. Supplementary décor, entertainment, premium spirits and wines, spa treatments and other incidentals are additional.www.lhw.comlast_img read more