Canada Turns 150 – Fairmont Hotels + Air Canada Throw a Fabulous Winter Party

Canada Tremblant Apres in the Air
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Image by Stephanie Starjovski

With its hotsy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and its enviable, progressive society, Canada doesn’t look a day over 21. But in truth, she turns a gorgeous 150 this year – and we were recently invited up to celebrate that special birthday with her.

Our hosts? Toronto based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts have actually teamed up with Air Canada Jetz to offer up one of the most fabulous promotions we’ve ever had the pleasure to make acquaintance with: Après in the Air allows you and fifty-odd of your most fun-loving friends / hangers-on to charter a swish private jet – whose interior is sexily done up like a very stylish ski chalet party, complete with plush pillows and blankets, a cheese trolley and copious champagne.

The trip then takes you to the capital, Ottawa, and the dazzling Quebec resorts of Montebello and Tremblant.

Of course, you don’t need four-dozen friends to enjoy an ethereal winter getaway up North – though we highly recommend accumulating them beforehand. Either way, here’s how to do it all in very Canadian style.

Ottawa, Fairmont Chateau Laurier

The country’s capital, it has a homey, rustic feel (think Portland), but with awesomely grandiose architecture perched dramatically above its eponymous river. Check in to the spectacular Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which is, stylistically, an 18th Century French castle right in the middle of downtown.
Hipster sorts will love the city’s Canada Agriculture And Food Museum, or the Canadian Museum of Nature; But the National Gallery, which houses contemporary, Asian, sculpture and photography collections, is perhaps very much on topic with its exhibition, The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923.
Make time to walk the Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River (it takes you all the way to Quebec) for jaw-droppingly awesome views of the city skyline.
If you want to hit Ottawa’s food scene, Riviera, Back Lane Cafe, Navarra by Rene Rodriguez, Play Food & Wine, Pressed, Fraser Cafe and The Urban Pear are amongst the best.
But back at the Chateau Laurier, a must do is the Great Canadian Winter Tea in the hotel’s Zoe’s Lounge – with duck confit sandwiches, maple eclairs and Saskatoon berry tarts. Later, order up a few rounds of their exclusive 150 Canadantini – made with Iceberg Canadian Vodka and Cave Spring Canadian IceWine.

Quebec, Fairmont Le Château Montebello

Simply put, one of the most romantic destinations anywhere. The Chateau itself, built by a Swiss millionaire in the 1920s, is the largest log structure in the world, actually – as if someone had constructed a charming wood cabin and it was subsequently puffed up into a luxurious resort. We took a rather thrilling ride through the woods and over the grounds by means of a husky-propelled sled. But sporting types can also take to one of a pair of curling courts on site (it’s really just as exciting as it looks in The Olympics), enjoy a bit of cross-country skiing, or do some high-speed snowmobiling on an ethereally frozen Ottawa River.
But perhaps the best winter sport of all is cocktails or brandies at the Chateau’s Bar le Foyer, which surrounds a striking six-sided fireplace. Afterwards, dine on locally-sourced dishes (tartare of Quebec smoked duck, Boileau red deer, vegan squash & chickpea cake) at the hotel’s rustic-luxe Aux Chantignoles restaurant.

 

Quebec, Fairmont Tremblant

This is the grooviest ski resort in Quebec Province, hands down. Hit the slopes above a buzzing brightly-painted village of shops, restaurants and cafes, which is part Canadian charm, part Swiss chic.
In between swishes, take a dip in the Chateau’s heated outdoor pool (or if you’ve had a particularly vigorous day of skiing, try the outdoor therapeutic whirlpool bath). Set aside an afternoon for the Spa de Tremblant – indulge in a warm & cold basalt stone massage, a Valmont signature facial treatment or an elixir ice cider body wrap (Seriously, how could you not want an ice cider wrap?). Rooms have a plush, living room vibe – ask for one with views up the slopes.
Even if you don’t ski, take the gondola up to the top of Mont Tremblant, and just stand around in awe for awhile.
End it all with Après–ski at its finest: champagne cocktails on the Chateau’s terrace around a crackling a fire, with a striking nighttime view of the village below.
Happy Birthday, Canada!

NYFW Wrap: Fashion Got Political

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New York Fashion Week is a wrap – and, motivated by divisive Trump policies, political statements were a major trend. From newcomers to the well-established designers, the shows provided a platform for designers to express their opinions on hot-button topics such as women’s rights and the immigration ban.

Slogans on shirts were all the rage! Christian Siriano strutted his models in T-shirts reading People are People, while Jade Lai of Creatures of Comfort’s message was We are all Human Beings. But it was Prabal Gurung who made the most noise,  declaring The Future is Female, I am an Immigrant, Revolution has no Borders, and Stronger than Fear.

Other designers, such as Michael Kors and The Row, opted for more subliminal messages; the former sent out models in oversized sweaters with the word Love across the chest, while one of the latter’s looks was a white shirt with the word Hope sewn at the cuff.

 

 

Statement-making accessories also proved quite popular. Rio Uribe of Gypsy Sport opened his show with a speech about the plight of refugees living on the streets. Soon after, models came out sporting hats that read Make America New York, We Need Leaders and This Land is Your Land. Meanwhile, things at LRS Studio got cheeky, literally. Models walked out wearing undies that read Fuck Your Wall and No Ban No Wall.

Amongst all this antagonistic spirit, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein reminded us to unite as one. Hilfiger started the ‘white bandana’ movement at his LA show by having models tie them on their wrists, a message in support of humankind. Calvin Klein extended the uniting spirit by handing them out to his attendees before his NYFW show.

 

New York fashion week #LRSstudio#fuckyourwall

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INTERVIEW: Detroit Electro Icons ADULT.

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When electroclash took over the scene from New York to London to everywhere else that mattered at the turn of the Millennium, confrontational Detroit duo ADULT. had already begun resuscitating the darker aesthetic and lyrical tenets of 80s Euro-electro. Yet while so many of their peers were churning out opulent kitsch-deesko, Adam Lee Miller instead conjured a sonic palette which was jittery, foreboding, and cold but sensual, as front-banshee Nicola Kuperus wailed lyrics about human corruption, psychological emptiness and, well, all manner of everyday anxieties. (Indeed, they named a 2003 album Anxiety Always.)

They went on to transcend any genre classification, and to establish a signature brand of Teutonic techno-metal-pop. No surprise, they’re really big in Germany. Nicola also became a prominent art photographer, noted for the rather gruesome humor of her “death scene” tableaux.

Now they’re back with their first new album in four years, edifyingly titled Detroit House Guests – and due for release March 17 on MuteIndeed, they invited several of their most bellicose, uncompromising musical friends – including Michael Gira of Swans, Douglas J. McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb, and Light Asylum’s awesome Shannon Funchess – out to their Motor City studio for what turned out to be some very electrifying recording sessions.

Highlights? Gira and Kuperus forcefully chant “Nonsense / No sense” over the eerie buy absorbing dissonance of “Breathe On”; McCarthy’s haunting baritone lends a portentous edge to the infectious, Depeche Mode-like synth pop of “They’re Just Words”; and Funchess unleashes her feral beast on the sinister-but-groove-heavy “We Chase the Sound.” In the overall, Detroit House Guests impressively exhibits the astonishing breadth of their creative purview, while seemingly following a clear thematic arc.

We caught up with the pair for a chat about cultural overload, public vs. private persona, and, of course, anxiety.

Tension has always been your stock in trade, huh?

NK  I think so. And anxiety.

There’s a lot of anxiety now.

ALM  It’s interesting, we’re putting together our live set – and we were shocked by how these songs written during the Bush era still sound so current.
NK  As artists, we were always there to speak for the disenfranchised.

There’s a lyric on the album, “All that we perceive might be otherwise / These words that you say might be all lies.” It’s pretty spot on for our current situation.

NK  It is, but these are things that we’re always dealing with. The day Trump came into office, we were jamming to Dead Kennedys and Crass – and it’s amazing how relevant those albums are still.
ALM  I also think that Nicola writes lyrics that are very open ended – that can shift as the state of the nation shifts.

Worringly, though, there seems to be nothing provocative happening in music right now.

NK & ALM  I agree.

There’s the theory that technology has taken over for culture.

ALM  Well, we’ve been watching this CNN program that goes through the 60s, 70s…and the first 80s episode is all about television. Plenty of people thought TV was going to kill culture and make everyone mindless. But I don’t envy the young now, because I don’t know what that must be like – for everything to be on all the time. And everything is so public. It has to be exhausting at a level that I don’t think people completely understand yet.
NK  And people now feel that everything they do is important; they feel entitled to the attention.

Everyone just says what they’re thinking without actually…thinking.

ALM  If you would have told me that our President would be tweeting at five in the morning…how did it get to that level of pervasiveness?

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Shannon Funchess is incredible, isn’t she?

NK  She is a powerhouse. Just to have her in the studio and to listen to that voice, that power coming out of her…it’s really inspiring.

Despite all the guests, though, the album feels remarkably cohesive. 

NK  It is a real journey in sound and in narrative, yes.

It’s especially great to hear Douglas McCarthy on a couple of songs. Nitzer Ebb arguably got ghettoized by the “industrial” tag. But they’re much more important and influential than they’re given credit for.

NK  Absolutely. They always challenged their audience, and that’s what we are always trying to do.

There’s the lyric, “This is the way the body works.” And both bands have always explored the mind/body divide – the battle between the physical and the psychological.

NK  The past couple of years I’ve been interested in the concept of the “front stage” and “back stage.” The author Erving Goffman wrote a book called The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, about how we all have a front stage physicality, and a back stage that’s more psychological.

With all the cultural clatter of these modern times, how hard is it to stay important and relevant?

NK  That’s a complicated question. You always have to promote yourself as an artist – it’s just different now. Ultimately you have to keep working and just do good work.

Does this record still represent ADULT. being an oppositional force? Do you hope that you can still rouse people?

ALM  Certainly we do. We still put absolutely everything into what we do.

Finally, how did depressed Detroit suddently become the new cool place?

NK  I’m not sure how cool it actually is. But being in Detroit we never have to compromise anything we do – because we live insanely cheaply. So artists can support themselves here. But even Detroit, like so many other places now, is on the verge of that, “Will it keep its integrity?” moment.

 

Your Alternative Guide to the Oscars, With the Awards You Really Care About

21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals
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Film’s biggest night will take place this Sunday, of course, and Oscar prediction lists are popping up everywhere. But what about the awards that won’t be announced at the main event? The ones you really care about?

And so it is that we’ve put together a celebration of moments in cinema this year sadly overlooked by the Academy – The Alternative Oscars 2016-2017.. Feel free to bust out your ball gown and grab yourself a date before reading.

Best Snot goes to… Viola Davis, Fences!

Let’s face it, if Viola doesn’t take home Best Supporting Actress this year we’re done watching the Oscars. But, let’s not forget about Fences’ other big supporting star: Viola’s iconic snot.

Best Eyeballs goes to…. Emma Stone, La La Land!

We’re big fans of Emma and all she did this year, and we sincerely think she’s deserving of a Best Actress golden statue. But that’s mostly because her eyes pierced our souls throughout Damien Chazelle’s film – they were so big, so controlled, and so breathtakingly bulbous.

Best Scene goes to… J.J. Totah, Other People!

Chris Kelly’s Other People flew somewhat under the radar this Oscar season, but it was a truly fantastic film, and J.J. Totah’s dance scene halfway through was the funniest, most powerful, inspired performance of the year in our opinion.

Best Style Onscreen goes to… Tilda Swinton, A Bigger Splash!

While we thought the film was self-indulgent and, frankly, boring, Tilda’s fashion in every scene was legendary, architectural, and, in true Swinton form, weirdly angular.

Best Hero goes to… Felicity Jones, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

Star Wars is really impressing us with its production of a super successful spinoff film – and that’s in large part thanks to the funny, complex, troubled, and valiant Felicity Jones.

Best Character goes to… Alex Hibbert/ Ashton Sanders/ Trevante Rhodes as Little/ Chiron/ Black, Moonlight!

Moonlight absolutely needs to win Best Picture this year, and that’s thanks to the incredibly thoughtful, complex, and daring writing of the film’s main character, portrayed over three time periods by three incredible actors.

Best Tween Heartthrobs in a Life or Death Situation goes to… Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, Nerve!

Don’t judge – Nerve was honestly kind of fun to watch. And both its leads were silly and sensational.

Best Cast goes to… Zootopia!

Zootopia was really good. No further questions at this time.

Best Appearance of Natalie Portman goes to… Natalie Portman, Jackie!

Natalie really wows us every time, and so here is her annual award.

Best Person Not in a Film This Year goes to… Rihanna!

She’s just so cool. And ANTI deserved way more Grammys love.

 

There you have it! The real winners this year. Tune in to the Oscars this Sunday at 7 PM EST for less prestigious categories.

 

Culture Weekend Getaway: Logan Philadelphia Hotel

Assembly - Cathedral View
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Admittedly, when we stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphia a few years back, we loved the space and the location – but found the vibe to be a little, well…stiff. So we returned intrigued after the property had been rebranded as The Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by Hilton.

The slightly complicated moniker has to do with it being a part of the newish Hilton boutique brand, meant to allow each hotel to express its particular individuality. Indeed, nothing about it suggests following any sort of corporate-issued blueprint. Immediately upon entering, one is greeted by the chic, fireplace-adorned Commons Lounge & Library, with its cooly mismatched furnishings and wall of windows overlooking the comely courtyard – making it feel like a sort of home-away-from-home for those with impeccable stylistic proclivities.

 

 

Notably, the hotel’s commissioned art collection makes clever reference to the city itself. A spectacular chandelier/installation, for instance, holds images of famous Philadelphians, and dangles dramatically above the lobby entrance. And a set of intriguing wire sculptures guards the elevator bank, a striking tribute to Philly’s storied Schuykill Regatta rowing team.

The rooms are still plush, but now sleeker and brighter – request one with a view of Logan Circle and its monumental historic architecture. But our favorite feature? The swish Library & Billiards Room just off the lobby lounge, where we sank a few (yes, you can take that as a double entendre) before our evening activities. It must be said, that far too few hotels have one.

Philly itself has always been one of our fave weekend getaways for food, culture and especially live music. It’s also a particularly poignant time, for obvious reasons, to revisit the Birthplace of American Democracy. Here’s how to do it best, with The Logan as your HQ.

The Barnes Foundation

Now moved to its architecturally spectacular new home quite nearby to the hotel, it’s a life-altering collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modern works – as well as African sculpture and Native American textiles. It also has a film screening series, and “mixer” nights for budding art aficionados.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Recently ranked as the third most important museum in America, its staggering collection of more than 240,000 works has just been augmented by the addition of the New South Asian Galleries. A current exhibition not to be missed is Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage.

The Independent Gallery Scene

Philly creative types have the advantage of operating a bit outside the pressures of major market trends – so one can expect art of a less self-conscious, more provocative sort. The best galleries in which to immerse oneself in the scene are Pentimenti, Wexler and Paradigm Gallery + Studio, pictured below.

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Love Park 

Nearby to the Logan, the park renowned for its beloved Robert Indiana “LOVE” sculpture is getting a $16 makeover. It will become a great springtime hang, with more green space, fountains and, as it goes these days, zeitgeisty food trucks.

Sunday Brunch at Urban Farmer

The Logan’s trendily monikered restaurant actually manages to avoid all the farmy, Portlandia cliches. Dinner means some of the best steaks in the city (i.e. Kansas Creekstone Prime); but brunch is the real scene, with veggie frittatas, blue crab omelets, popcorn grits and a groovy, energetic crowd.

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La Colombe Coffee Roasters

Yes, they’re now in New York, Boston, D.C., Chicago…but this is where it all started. And don’t let some persnickety hipster barista tell you otherwise – La Colombe still serves the best coffee, period. Hit the Rittenhouse Square location, which retains a cool Boho vibe; and while you’re there, go all connoisseur and take home something from their rare Workshop collection…like the Lycello Blue Geisha or the Kenya – Karogoto.

The S. 18th Street Restaurant Scene

Just a short walk from the hotel, you can satisfy virtually every culinary craving imaginable within a four block stretch. There’s Stephen Starr’s The Dandelion for modern pub food in a cool, Anglophilic setting; Bar Bombon for buffalo cauliflower tacos and a serious mezcal list; a.kitchen + bar (pictured below) for bourgeois-chic style, killer martinis and mod bistro eats; Tria for Euro-y cheese-charcuterie-wine pairings; and Starr’s perpetually hip Parc, for a Europhile crowd sating on brasserie classics like steak tartare and trout amandine.

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Assembly Rooftop at The Logan 

If you can hold out until spring, the Logan’s rooftop bar is the chicest in the city, offering a striking overview of Philly’s most storied architecture and a notable selection of champers by the glass.

The Music Scene

Want to see a band, minus all the bored/boring, arms-folded hipsterati cluttering up venues in WBurg and Silver Lake? Make the rounds of Philly’s legendary venues like Electric Factory, The Trocadero and The TLA…or the newer Union Transfer – which in the coming weeks will feature the likes of Austra, Parquet Courts and The Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque. Other shows coming up in the city include Kings of Leon, Devandra Banhart and Talib Kweli.

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Romantic Winter Getaways: From Madrid to Mexico

Only You Boutique Madrid
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Only You Boutique Hotel, Madrid 

Love hasn’t exactly been in the air in 2017, has it?  But winter is still the absolutely best time to pitch some serious woo in someplace terribly romantic. And whether it’s the beach or the snow or just a hotel suite with really fabulous views that gets your heart racing, we know just where to send you.

 

Only You Boutique Hotel, Madrid

Barcelona has the party people, but Madrid has the food, the wine and fiery spirit. Chueca is one of the capital’s hippest neighborhoods, home to a thriving gay community, sexy nightlife, and also one of the most strikingly designed hotels on the entire Continent. Exalted designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has decked the breakfast room walls with plates, the elevator with books, and the corridors of this 18th Century mansion with untold surprises. The two cocktail bars and the YOUnique restaurant are each more stylish than the last – the latter even has a patio with a kind of surreal hanging garden. Splurge for one of the stunning terrace suites, overlooking the surrounding rooftops.

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Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Quebec

Canada turns 150 this year, and with hotsy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the helm, she’s never looked better. And who needs the beach when you can take your true love dog-sledding? The chateau here is actually the largest log structure in the known world, built in the 1920s. Spend the day skating or cross-country skiing before a L’amour De Ma Vie couples massage in the spa. Finish the evening making googly-eyes over hot toddies around the six-sided fireplace in the rustic-gorgeous lobby lounge. Let it snow…

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The Langham Huntington, Pasadena

It’s been a rough few months for Hollywood and its, shall we say, “value system.” But we still say “let love rule.” And thankfully, just up the freeway from La La Land is a place of beautiful sanctuary for sensitive, creative sorts. Indeed, Pasadena’s Langham Huntington has everything you could possibly need to stir up a little soul-soothing romance: rooms overlooking ethereal gardens; long walks on acres of lawns; signature couples treatments at the on-site Chuan Spa; and something called Pink Chocolate Afternoon Tea (which involves, yes, a pink chocolate fountain). After dinner at The Terrace, snuggle up with live jazz and specialty cocktails in the bar.

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Hilton Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas

All talk of Mexico these days seems to involve that…wall. But for those with love in their hearts, our neighbor to the south has plenty of amor to give in return. One of its splashiest beach resorts, Hilton Los Cabos, offers scuba diving, swimming with dolphins…and it’s also whale watching season. Or just kick back by the sprawling pool, book one of the spa’s four couples rooms, and find your “center” together with aerial yoga, Zumba and Transformational Breathing. Sunset dinner at one of the five restaurants (Vela is best for setting the mood) can be followed by tequila and mezcal tastings in the Azul lobby lounge. La vida romántica!

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‘555’ Director Andrew DeYoung Talks Working With John Early and Kate Berlant, and Comedy in the Age of Trump

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By now, it’s a crime if you haven’t sat down and watched the absurd, touching, and hilarious Vimeo series 555, starring John Early and Kate Berlant. While most of the scenes were improvised, the two comedians worked with the show’s director, Andrew DeYoung, to implement a vision of emotional, visually artistic comedy unlike really any other content being made right now. Check out the trailer below:

DeYoung, who’s also worked on shows like Man Seeking Woman and John Glaser Loves Gear, sat down with us to talk about the process of making 555 and the challenges and perks of filming improvisation. We also chatted about comedy does (or doesn’t) lead to active political change.

John and Kate said you guys met over Twitter. What attracted you to working with them?

Someone posted a video of Kate on Facebook. And I was enamored by who she was, and I did a deep dive and found her Twitter and liked a bunch of Tweets in a row. That kind of set her off and she messaged me and said, “Who are you?” Every time I tell this story I’m like, “Why did she do that?” But then she came to LA, and we got a drink, and became friends, and then John came to town, and they had this idea for a video about a couple with face tattoos. And we made it, and it did well, and that sparked our creative teamwork. And it’s going strong.

Do you feel that you all have a similar style?

That’s why I reached out to Kate. She was this person doing something so exciting, that I’d never seen before. She’s so smart and funny, and then when I did a deep dive on some of John’s videos, I was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe they’re friends. Their comedy is so energizing, and absurd, and human…” it just felt so exciting. I felt very lucky. We all have the same kind of point of view. And it’s rare to find someone like that.

How do you deal with improv – do you enjoy filming improv mostly?

I prefer shooting structured improv – knowing what we’re after, but being in a moment of discovery. That’s the most rewarding type of filmmaking to me. And most of my work tends to go in that direction. They’re so brilliant at being in the moment and improvising. I mean, Kate’s show – her standup is insane. She’ll do hours and have no plan. She’s so in the moment, and she has this free jazz style of comedy that’s so filled with energy, because she’s discovering it and you’re watching her discover it. I also did improv for seven years at iO West here in LA, so that was a helpful base to figure out how to do this correctly.

So they had a story in mind, and shared it with you, and you all went and improvised some scenes, and then did you go away and edit it all into a final product yourself?

They sparked these first ideas, and then we all sat down and figured it out – beats we wanted to get, and directions we wanted to go. And then editing – I did the majority of it, but John flew to LA twice to sit down with me in the final stages of it, and him and Kate are so good with performance, and figuring out what the best performance is, and they notice things I don’t notice. So John helped finalize the edit, and his input was essential in pushing me further than I was comfortable with.

Did you ever want to be in front of the camera?

I never wanted to be a performer, and still don’t. I got into improv because I heard it helps with writing. But then I just fell in love with it – I’ve never pursued actual performance, but the world of improv is just intoxicating. I’ve stopped doing it, but it was essential for me, that world. I’m so lucky to have it. But I’ve always just wanted to make films.

Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to make films?

I always loved movies, but I remember when I was a sophomore, I had to talk to my guidance counselor, and one of the questions I knew was going to be asked was, “What do you want to be?” And I thought, “I’ll tell her I want to be a filmmaker.” And I’ve never swayed from that.

John and Kate said you have a very cinematic style. I want to know more about that.

I really gravitate towards authorship in filmmaking – auteurs. Filmmakers with a very strong voice. Terrence Malick is one of my favorites. I’ve noticed in comedy there’s almost no authorship. There’s a few – David Gordon Green movies blend a certain amount of artistry with comedy. I want to pursue that style: blending comedy with considered aesthetics, because I saw there wasn’t much of that. So my early work was my attempt to make interesting, bizarre, funny videos that I didn’t really see on my Facebook page. My style is basically the opposite of what my friends are posting on Facebook. That’s my goal, I think.

What would be your dream film to make?

Honestly, doing these 555s were a dream. This year I did a bunch of TV work, and 555, and I’m excited to do more of this kind of stuff now that I know how to work with bigger budgets and crews. But my goal is to do really funny movies that have some sort of artistic edge to them. I hate saying that out loud, I sound like a fucking moron. Even though it feels like comedy has no purpose right now. To me, at least.

Donald Trump is president. Everything is insane. Do you feel like comedy can do anything to help? Do you feel like there’s a political message you’re trying to convey in your art?

Do I think comedy can help? No. I don’t think so. I don’t think we should consider our careers and our brands and our artistic work as something that matters right now. Charlie Chaplin tried to defeat Fascism with comedy 70 years ago, and it didn’t really work for him. Ultimately I think if you’re making stuff that’s honest and that will communicate with an audience in some way, it’s still not going to stop Trump. Certainly jokes don’t stop Trump. I think Moonlight isn’t going to stop Trump, but it’s deeply important to be made and to be seen. I think Manchester By The Sea is very funny, and also deeply sad, but something like that, that promotes such deep empathy, is so important. It’s something I think about all the time, and John and Kate and I discuss at length. But it’s very weird.

I was at this rally the other day, and Michael Moore said that the one thing getting to Trump is comedy, with how sensitive he is to SNL. I think it is getting to him, but John and Kate had said that might not be a good thing, because what if he freaks out and blows up a country?

I think all these dudes should be roasted to completion, in comedic ways and any other way possible. But if we want to be actually effective we have to put our bodies in the streets and do something that’s going to hurt these people economically, maybe? When Richard Spencer got punched – on the Inauguration Day, someone suckerpunched him and it became this insane meme – that brings me such joy. I wish SNL went harder. The podcast “Chapo Trap House” is really funny, and they were talking about how Trump is going to watch SNL all the time. And they were saying SNL’s comedy is just too soft – if they really want to hit Trump, Alec Baldwin should be in a diaper eating his own shit and babbling. And I think that feels kind of right. If we’re going to do comedy, let’s go even harder.

Ethereal Winter Getaway: Swedish Lapland

Dog sledding, Torne River, Icehotel
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Even for the well-travelled Swedes, a winter weekend in Swedish Lapland is an exotic adventure. Set amongst the majestically snowcapped mountains, it is all ethereally lit by sunlight that straddles twilight and dusk.

But it is also home to Europe’s last remaining indigenous people: The Sami.

Here’s how to do it right.

Aurora Hunting in Abisko Park

The most storied attraction is The Northern Lights, aka the Aurora Borealis, nature’s dancing lightshow caused by solar wind showers hitting the Earth’s magnetic field. Since its first otherworldly observation, dating back to 2,600 B.C., it has captivated humanity, generating untold folklore and myths. According to one Swedish legend, frequent displays of Northern Lights is a sign of good crop yields in the coming year.
The best place to view them is in Abisko Park, which is home to a cozy hotel and the Aurora Sky Station, perched atop a mountain peak that offers unobstructed views of the heavenly skies. When you’re done with your heavenward gazing, there’s gourmet restaurant serving local Arctic cuisine.

STF Abisko fjällhotell :Abisko Mountain Station, Swedish Lapland

Staying at the ICEHOTEL

Located 200 km above the Arctic Circle in (the barely pronounceable) Jukkasjärvi is the design focused ICEHOTEL. What started as an experiment 27 years ago by founder Yngvt Bergvist to attract visitors to the region has grown into a year-round, full-service hideaway that is, yes, actually crafted from blocks of ice…by different artists from around the world. This year marks the launch of ICEHOTEL 365, with ‘permanent’ ice rooms sustainably maintained by solar powered refrigeration technology, which keeps the hotel at a steady 20 degrees Farenheit (-5 degrees Celsius) year round. Traditionally, the ICEHOTEL would melt back into its source – the adjacent Torne River – by May; but now all the 365 rooms (including 35 Art Suites) will remain open during spring and summer. Though ice ‘glamping’ doesn’t come cheap: rooms start at $600, and up to $1000 for the luxury suites.
No surprise, it is also home to the original ICEBAR, launched in 1994, where guests can sit on ice stools lined with reindeer skins and sip cocktails in ice-crafted “glasses.” Every year the ICEBAR is redesigned by artists who take inspiration from a central theme.
At the on-site restaurant, indulge in Chef Alexander Meier’s delicious Nordic tasting menu, featuring local provisions like moose, reindeer and arctic char, all served on plates and bowls fashioned from ice from the Torne River.

Entrance ICEHOTEL 365

 

Spa Ritual at Aurora Spa in Camp Ripan

Nordic spa traditions are of the serious sort, especially at the Aurora Spa in Camp Ripan, Kiruna. Indulge in treatments based on Swedish and Sami heritages, experience various sauna therapies, Torne Valley medicinal scrubs, and hydrotherapy pools, including an outdoor one illuminated by the night sky – and with the possibility of a Northern Lights show.

Dogsledding in Bjorkliden

Characterized by its beautiful snowy mountain range and vast landscapes is Bjorkliden, easily accessible by train from Kiruna. It’s also home to the region’s most popular winter sports, including skiing and dogsledding. Take a huskies-propelled ride through the peaceful wilderness and experience a few moments of absolute zen.
Stay at the nearby Bjorkliden Fjallet hotel, designed as a traditional ski lodge with panoramic views of the snowcapped mountain range and lakes.

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Taste of the Arctic

Nordic and Arctic cuisine has become a “next big thing” amongst the food cognoscenti. Experience the best of the region with the exclusive and intimate Taste of the Arctic dinner, led by an emergency rescue team leader and guide, Anders Bergwall. He shares tales of his Nordic adventures (such as battling a polar bear or sleeping in -50 degree extremes on a rescue mission) while preparing a glorious meal of local provisions like smoked reindeer and arctic char.

The How To

With unpredictability of the weather, such as gusty, 100mph wind storms, avalanches, and heavy snow, getting around on your own isn’t the best idea for this region. A 4-day adventure from Kiruna to Bjorkliden, can be booked with Off the Map Travel, whose seasoned guides can provide an enriching, safe, fun and memorable experience.

Getting There

The best way to arrive in Kiruna from anywhere in the world is with SAS airlines, who recently celebrated 70 years as the region’s preferred carrier. Daily nonstop flights are available from the US to Stockholm, with regular connections to the North.

 

Northern Lights Chad Blakley

Image by Chad Blakely 

Silversmith: A Jewelry Themed Hotel in Chicago

Silversmith Hotel Lobby
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New York City has a terrible habit of unsentimentally tearing down its history. But Chicago shows it off every chance it can get – it’s historical context being actually very much a part of its inimitable allure.

Perfect example: we recently laid our heads at the exceedingly attractive Silversmith Hotel – so named for its elegant position along the city’s historic Jeweler’s Row. For a 2014 makeover, designer Carla Niemann of Remington Hotels decided to run with the theme – creating a hotel that sparkles like nothing less than a white fire opal.

Gorgeous rooms have plush, silver-grey headboards, dramatic drapery and easily some of the most luxurious bathrooms in the city. But the public spaces truly dazzle – indeed, everywhere you look, there are eye-popping, mod-opulent chandeliers (some of which surely Philippe Starck wishes he’d dreamed up), which imbue the Silversmith with a sort of playful glamour. Clever splashes of color and little surreal touches give it a sense of stylistic recherche.

Just off the glittering marble lobby is the Adamus Restaurant & Lounge, perfect for a lunchtime burger in snazzy surrounds, or evening cocktails with a dramatic view of the passing L Trains.

We chatted with lead designer Niemann about how it all came together.

 

 

How did you approach such a lofty theme for the hotel?

We knew from the first moment what we wanted to do with the interiors; the hotel’s location on Jeweler’s Row, combined with the name and age, gave us the inspiration and framework to build the theme. Inspiration and details came from the Art Deco architecture in the neighborhood, as well as the color palette taken from the silver and yellow gold metals of jewelry. Design motifs and details were inspired by the cut of a diamond and jewelry settings.
We started with the key architectural  elements: floor, walls, ceiling and lighting. Once the striking marble floor design, the color palette and the decorative lighting was conceived, the rest came together easily for us.

The various chandeliers are particularly striking – can you elaborate on them?

We spent a lot of time on these custom fixtures refining details to create such stunning light fixtures. We wanted every item and detail in the hotel to tie back to and reflect either Art Deco and/or jewelry settings. For the custom decorative lighting, we used actual pieces of jewelry for the shapes of the links on the chains, which look like they could be a necklace. We incorporated lines and shapes of broach and ring settings into the fixtures. Crystals create interesting shadows and provide sparkle; silver and crystal led lights look like bracelets.

 

 

How did you decide on the mix of new and historic?

Rather than creating a completely modern interior within the historic building, we felt that incorporating a nod to the era in which the hotel was built was necessary. It’s less trendy and will stand the test of time.

Do you feel like hotels are peddling so much “fake authenticity” these days? Whereas the design of the Silversmith actually authentically references its neighborhood?

I think the trend in the hotel industry in general is to try to create a sense of authenticity – to incorporate or create a story for the hotel that ties back to the neighborhood. As a designer, sometimes it’s a stretch to come up with an authentic story that reflects the neighborhood if you have a “non-descript” location. We were fortunate that the Silversmith’s neighborhood is so rich with history and inspiration; the history of Jewelers Row provided us a great story on which to build our design.

 

What To Do

The Art Institute of Chicago

One one of the nation’s most important museums, its collections span from Ancient & Byzantine to Renaissance to Duchamp and Man Ray to Koons and Richard Prince. Current exihbitions include Design Episodes, and Ink on Paper: Japanese Monchromatic Works.

Jewelry Shopping

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day – plan to check in and take each other shopping along Jeweler’s Row for a spectacular piece of jewelry at surprising prices.

West Randolph Street Restaurant Scene

Just a few blocks over from the Silversmith, W. Randolph Street remains one of the hottest culinary corridors in the country. You know the icons: Blackbird, avec, and the triple-Michelin-starred Grace. But BellyQ (Asian barbecue), Maude’s Liquor Bar (nouveau bistro), Au Cheval (luxurious burgers) and the glamorous Stones/South-of-France themed Nellcote are not to be missed. Pop in to CH Distillery (pictured below) for a fascinating tour and exquisite, site-sourced cocktails.

 

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