BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Julia Haltigan’s Retro-Cool Single ‘Debris of Love’



With her seemingly endless superhero antics, its easily forgotten that Scarlett Johansson occasionally exchanged the tights for rocker togs to perform with her band The Singles. One of her co-conspirators in said musical venture was guitarist Julia Haltigan, who has been lately busy making her own way, with the recent single “Wool” – and rapturous press from the likes of Interview and the New York Times.

In between straddling her vintage Triumph motorcycles and making cameo appearances in HBO’s The Deuce, she’s managed to record an album, the W. Andrew Raposo produced Trouble, slated for release October 25. In the meantime, BlackBook premieres here the advance single “Debris of Love,” which, with its twangy guitars, retro organ blasts, and Haltigan’s dreamy, Nancy Sinatra-esque vocals, sounds something like The Strokes as produced by David Lynch.

“This song is about falling in love while knowing it won’t last long,” she explains. “It’s also about the energy New York City has during the summer, those nights when it feels like anything could happen.”

A perfect excuse, then, to hang on to summer just a little bit longer.

N.B. –  Ms. Haltigan will play seven West Coast live dates this fall, kicking off at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles September 22.


If Cosmetic Dentistry Is An Art Form, Celeb Dentist Dr. Marc Lowenberg Made It So



If you look at pictures of Keith Richards’s less-than-stellar teeth during the early years of The Rolling Stones, you’d probably just chalk it up to a British thing. But all legends aside about the effects of the rocker lifestyle on his chompers, if you look at him now, he’s got a smile that can pretty much light up a room – albeit in a very Keith Richards sort of way.

He’s not gone on record about it, but it is entirely possible that his 180 on dental salubriousness was due to a serendipitous crossing of the paths with a young New York dentist named Marc Lowenberg. The latter was still in dental school when he was called down to the capital for a large protest of the Vietnam War that was scheduled to take place there.

“There were these marches on Washington [D.C.] called Moratoriums,” he recalls. “I was sent down to act as a medic, and I met the Rolling Stones’ personal physician there. He told me that when I open my practice, I should call him, and he would send them to me.”



He didn’t take it all too seriously. That is, until he soon after found them actually sitting in his dental chair – and the rest is history. Of course, since rock stars tend to talk to other rock stars, word got around; he was soon counting the likes of Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Roberta Flack, even Iggy Pop amongst his patients.

“I became a ‘celebrity dentist,’ he jokes. “Because all those musicians knew photographers and hairstylists and makeup artists, and they also sent the actors and the models – I think we were treating every supermodel at the time.”



Fast forward to 2019, and Lowenberg’s success rests on not just the company he keeps, but on the chances he’s taken. He had been roundly castigated by colleagues and the “industry” for being one of the first to make a real practice of cosmetic dentistry. At the time, most considered it a betrayal of the principles taught and learned in dentistry school – and viewed it as little more than a “cash-in” by those willing to offer it.

“Oh, it was terrible,” he remembers. “In New York City I was criticized by every traditional sort of dentist, they called me a quack. Then all those guys that were criticizing it started doing it, because it was very lucrative.”

Indeed, by 2001, a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) revealed that dollars spent on cosmetic surgery had more than doubled in the five years previous. And Reuters reported recently that 96% of cosmetic dentistry patients were female – meaning that as more men become openly concerned with their physical appearance, growth could skyrocket anew. Porcelain veneers, which came on the market in the ’80s, have led the way, with techniques improving all the time. But nothing has come along to decisively replace them.



What one has to overcome, as with any cosmetic procedure, is the impression that it is all merely being done in the name of vanity. Yet an entire field of study has grown up around the subject of how physical appearance directly affects self-esteem. Lowenberg, who states that he has “definitely changed people’s lives,” even tells the story of a patient in her 40s, whose low sense of self was partly influenced by her unhappiness with her teeth.

“She finally had her teeth fixed with porcelain veneers,” he says. “And the day that I put them in, she was so proud of her new smile, she met a guy in a bar that night, who she ended up marrying. It gave her the confidence to flirt with this guy, which she normally never would have done.”

He does point to Invisalign as an example of how technology is also influencing cosmetic dentistry, by allowing doctors to scan patients’ teeth into a computer. The result is that, rather than wearing wire braces, you’re given a tray that fits onto your teeth, slowly aligning them over a period of up to about 40 weeks.

He enthuses, “That process, which is all technology, is amazing.”


These days, now teamed with partners Dr. Gregg Lituchy and Dr. Brian Kantor as Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor, he continues to look after the teeth of the A-list, those whose public presentation is often essential to their continued success. Just a few? Julianna Margulies, Amanda Peet, Renee Zellweger, Heidi Klum…even Chris Rock, whose mischievous smile is arguably an essential element of his comedic persona.

But perhaps Dr. Lowenberg‘s greatest achievement has been to at last take the dread out of a visit to the dentist. For something that was born under a cloud of suspicion, cosmetic dentistry has gone on to change so many lives for the better – and not just rock stars and movie stars.

“I credit myself with having the temerity to go out on a limb and do something that was not accepted in the dental arena,” he considers. “And because of that, I have been able to perfect the art of cosmetic dentistry – because it is genuinely is an art form.”


‘Untouchable’ Trailer: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Speak Out



Let’s be honest, only the most naive were shocked to learn that the Hollywood “casting couch” was still a thing. But in October 2017, the floodgates opened wide on a scandal that even by entertainment biz standards seemed particularly shameful.

Indeed, dozens of women at last came forward with stories of sexual predation by Miramax founder and industry overlord Harvey Weinstein. From it was birthed the epochal, era-defining #MeToo movement, a chance for women to proclaim very publicly that this was a situation that would categorically no longer be tolerated. Weinstein was rightly dethroned, and a conversation was initiated that to this day remains ambivalent – reminding once again of the considerable depths of patriarchal entrenchment.



Turning his own medium against him, Hulu will release Untouchable this September, a documentary assembling myriad accusations by women including such high-profile actresses as Rosanna Arquette and Paz del le Huerta. In it, Weinstein’s supposed intimidation tactics are compared to those of a “gangster.”

Justice, one hopes, will play out in a courtroom this fall; but in the meantime, these exceedingly wronged women will also have their day and their say on the small screen. Heartbreaking as it promises to be, Untouchable will surely be the season’s most essential viewing.


NYC Exhibit ‘Robust American Love’ Poignantly Celebrates Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday



If anyone doubted Walt Whitman’s continuing hallowed place in the American cultural pantheon, they’d need only take in the sheer scope of the tributes being paid in honor of his 200th birthday this year. In New York City alone, the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library, and the Grolier Club have each examined the exalted 19th Century American poet’s work from a uniquely different, but equally engaging point of view.

The latter exhibition, Poet of the Body: New York’s Walt Whitman, closed in July. But its energetic curator, Karen Karbiener – a premier Whitman scholar and professor at NYU – is still admirably hard at work preserving the considerable legacy of the man whom she not at all hyperbolically calls “America’s greatest poet.” But for her, one project in particular is possessed of a foremost sense of urgency.




“I am the President of a 501(c)(3) called the Walt Whitman Initiative,” she enthusiastically relates, “and it’s our focus to keep people celebrating him and to keep protecting his cultural legacy. That’s where the campaign to landmark his house comes in. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time.”

Whitman, she enlightens, lived in more than 30 different places in New York City, the consequence of his membership in a lamentably dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic father at its head. The only one of those homes still standing is the Whitmans’ simple, working class house at 99 Ryerson Street in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. Lacking distinguishing architectural features, however, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee has been reluctant to step in.

Which brings it around to painter John Ransom Phillips, whose  breathtaking artistic tribute to Whitman will be on exhibit at the BlackBook Presents gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn, under the title Robust American Love, from August 22 to September 5. It is a poignant, and very fitting title, considering its subject was one of the first out homosexual public figures in America. And, more directly explanatory, it was also a line from the provocative “Calamus” cluster of Leaves of Grass.

The artworks themselves are vivid, evocative illustrations, each based on a particularly affective or illuminating Whitman quote. The words become recontextualized, and vividly emboldened – as if Phillips has opened up little windows onto the poet’s artistic and personal essences.



Karbiener makes the specific point about Whitman being a genuine revolutionary, “both in his style and subject matter. He wrote honestly and openly of love and a range of sexual expression before the body was considered a fit subject for poetry – even before the word ‘homosexual’ was in common parlance.” His is also a very American story, although she emphasizes that he had in a sense astutely reclaimed patriotism as a passionate, open-armed embrace, demonstrated with the body as much as mind and heart. Considering how dubiously patriotism is defined in America in 2019, those are indeed still quite revolutionary notions.

“If you asked Whitman what it meant to be American,” she ponders, “to define what he thought America was…[he would have said] it was the greatest lover in the world.”

The exhibition has an equally transcendent subtitle – Avid Visions by Walt Whitman and John Ransom Phillips – and is divided into three groupings. The first is simply called Robust American Love, and with its bold red frames, pronounces love in all its forms as an act of national and personal pride.

The second, In Paths Untrodden, is framed in blue and explores much more intimate spaces, including the poet’s thoughts on desire, shame, and loss. Whitman was finding his way via his words, and Phillips poignantly illustrates that journey.

“The third section, Fluid as Nature, has purple frames,” Karbiener explains, “presents love that defies definitions and transcends boundaries – within ourselves, between people or beyond traditional human relationships.”

“So taken together,” she concludes, “it’s love being illuminated from three very different angles.”



The individual artworks themselves are like illustrated quotations, Phillips apparently possessing of a particular gift for finding the most inspirational quotes among so many of Whitman’s. Once discovered, he set about abstractly, or semi-representationally amplifying their meaning – and, of course, giving them a wholly new chronological context.

“The most rewarding experience I have ever received,” Phillips enthuses, “was when in the poem The Sleepers, Walt invites us to go from bedside to bedside and to sleep with other sleepers each in turn. Then to dream in our dreams all the dreams of these dreamers. So if I want someone to take away something from the show, take Walt with them. Take me.”

It’s more than felicitous that these two talents have been joined for the purpose of further honoring the legacy of the one who is no longer here to speak for himself – and that the tireless Karbiener should be the one championing them both. She has already had one great success: the street corner Whitman’s Brooklyn home is on was just renamed Walt Whitman Way. But the fight to preserve the house itself carries on.

“Whitman completed the first edition of Leaves of Grass within walking distance of BlackBook, at 99 Ryerson Street,” she asserts. “John is dedicated to ensuring that Whitman remains a living presence in his beloved Brooklyn.”

Robust American Love will be at BlackBook Presents, 20 John Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, August 22 – September 5. At the exhibition opening event on August 27 (6-8pm), Phillips will announce his full support of the Whitman Initiative’s efforts to landmark 99 Ryerson; part of the proceeds of sales will be contributed to this campaign.



Chuck D Lawsuit Alleges He Was Cheated Out of $1 Million by Label

Image courtesy of Chuck D



If you were Chuck D in 2019, you might think life couldn’t get better. The Gods of Rap Tour – Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan and De La Soul – is just off three sold out nights in London, Manchester and Glasgow in May…with apparently more to come. And his killer 2018 solo album Celebration of Ignorance – with its Trump-slamming track “TiredOf45”- won raves from critics and fans.

But TMZ has just obtained paperwork bringing to light a startling lawsuit, filed by the legendary rapper, claiming his label and publishing company had been ripping him off to an astonishing degree. It alleges that he was duped into signing a contract in 2001 with Global Music and Terrordome Music Publishing, which would essentially strip him of his songwriting royalties. Documents surfaced in February that led the Public Enemy frontman to realize that he had seemingly been hoodwinked for years, causing him to lose a 42% stake in his own music catalog.

The suit is demanding $1 million in damages, and the restoration of ownership of his songs. All involved parties are not commenting on the record – though it is likely to blow up into a very public case.

The reason that it matters even beyond Chuck D and this lawsuit is that, at a time when the value of creating music is being persistently diminished, artists more than ever have to do whatever they can to fight to protect and control ownership over their own work. Expect to hear much more about the case in the coming weeks.




Just Like Grandma’s Cherry Pie Recipe from Cherry at the W DC Hotel


Just Like Grandma’s Cherry Pie

Yield: 3 individual pies
To make the dough:
Yield: 1 full sheet pan
  1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream six pounds of softened butter and three
pounds of sugar until light and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes, making sure you scrape down
the bowl.
  1. Add six whole eggs and six additional egg yolks, 2-3 at a time, making sure you scrape
down the bowl between each addition. Add a splash of vanilla extract.
  1. Once eggs are incorporated, add nine pounds of flour and one ounce of salt and mix
until just combined.
  1. Store in thinly wrapped packages until needed.
To make the filling:
Yield: 1 quart
  1. Place about five pounds of fresh cherries in a medium pot. Set aside.
  2. Combine one pound of sugar and two ounces of cornstarch in a small bowl making sure
there are no lumps in the mixture.
  1. Add sugar/cornstarch mixture to the cherries and whisk to combine. Place the pot on the
stove over medium heat and allow the mixture to cook until cherry mixture thickens. This
will take 10-15 minutes. If mixture is not thick after 10-15 minutes, it may take more time
(check every 5 minutes until mixture has thickened).
  1. Add 1.5 ounces of butter and one teaspoon of almond extract to the cherry mixture and
  1. Allow to cool until use.
To assemble:
Grab three individual cast iron pans and fill each with cherry filling. Set aside. Roll out the dough
and cut into 1⁄2” strips. Brush with egg wash and make a lattice top over the cherry filling, and add a border around the outside edge. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve with ice cream.

First Images: The Stylishly Revamped W Washington DC Hotel




When the W Washington DC opened in 2009, the capital was abuzz with the excitement of a thrilling new President, one who endlessly extolled, “Yes, we can.” Ten years on, and DC is awash in dreadful ideological divisiveness, the likes of which have never surely been seen.

But the W has nothing but love to give. And a $50 million makeover has left her looking as shiny and new as the day she first threw open her doors.

Fittingly, with the American press now under perpetual attack, guests are greeted at the new welcome desk by artist Amit Greenberg’s ‘freedom of speech’ referencing cartoons, an immediate reminder of what all those surrounding monuments really do stand for. For added gravitas, there’s a replica of the Capital Dome’s ceiling fresco – an impressive show of grandiosity.



That carries on upstairs, with neo-classical design elements in the rooms, which contrast smartly with sexy, mod red, white and grey color schemes. But there’s also plenty of fun to be had, with Greenberg’s presidential pillow caricatures presenting the perfect irreverent selfie opportunity. In the Extreme Wow Suite (which easily lives up to its name), mirrored ceilings dramatically capture reflected views of the National Mall below.

For mealtime power schmoozing, the new Cherry restaurant does epicurean woodfire grilling in elegantly stylish, candlelit surrounds – including dramatic archways framing majestic views of the capital just outside. And after the those epoch-shaping treaties have been signed, there’s gourmet pizza, craft beers and bocce ball to celebrate with at yet another new eatery, the cheekily named Corner Office.

But up on the rooftop, POV is where the gossip-worthy rendezvous will surely be taking place. Or you can simply take a moment to glance solemnly down upon 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while sipping cocktails named for once great presidents, and recall those times when hope actually did prevail.


Five Perfect Wines for Summer, From Bar Fiori Sommelier Mariarosa Targtaglione

Image by Liz Clayman



Okay, we get it – frosé is all cute and refreshing, especially when paired with a lazy summer weekend afternoon. But you wouldn’t want to wake up one day in September to find your too-long-neglected oenophilic acumen has been dulled, would you? And in fact, the escalating, climate-changed temps these days often find us ducking indoors for more urbane but still season-appropriate sips in, well, an actual air-conditioned room.

And few know their wines better than Mariarosa Tartaglione, Sommelier at Michael White’s Ai Fiori, the sophisticated but laid back Italian eatery at the The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue. Its elegant namesake bar’s plush leather banquettes, marble bar and dramatically mirrored ceiling give it style to spare.



And every Friday this summer, starting at 5pm (after aperitivo hour), Bar Fiori‘s expert sommeliers will be opening their select favorite bottles, to pour by the glass at special prices – which will carry on until those wines run out. Each week’s selections will be posted on the restaurant’s Instagram page, as is the habit in these times.

In that spirit, we asked Mariarosa to enlighten us as to some of her favorite Mediterranean wines to drink for summer, and what (besides air conditioning) is best to pair them with.


Sardus Pater, Vermentino “Lugore” 2017  

From the very south of Sardegna, “Lugore” remembers the quiet nights when the full moon reflects on the vines. A truly salty wine made from the Vermentino grape, well structured and with sapid nuances of fresh citrus and aromatic herbs. A must with oysters and spaghetti with clams.




Cecilia, Elba Ansonica 2017

Fresh, bright, floral white from the Elba island, in the Tuscan Archipelago. It is made by Ansonica, a truly island grape, very popular in Sicily as well. Its delicate citrus and stone fruit notes pair best with crudo and seafood salads.

Domaine Zuria, Corsica 2017

From the most southern part of Corsica, made by Sciacarellu and a little part of Moresconu. Refreshing yet very complex rose’, with particular orange blossom and mineral notes. My favorite pairing is risotto with prawns and bottarga.




Manenti, Frappato 2016 

From the south-oriental coast of Sicily, made by Frappato, a very traditional grape of this area. It is a light body wine, with bright acidity, it shows strawberry and pomegranate notes, spiced up by cloves and white pepper. A great wine to drink slightly chilled. I love it with a classic swordfish steak “alla siciliana” with cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, and oregano.

Casa d’Ambra, “Mario d’Ambra Rosso” 2015 

Ideal wine for a summer barbecue, this is a full bodied, structured and persistent red, made by 50% Guarnaccia – 50% Per’e’ Palummo, that this family-owned estate has been farming on the volcanic Ischia Island since 1888. Tasting notes of dark fruits, chocolate and licorice.


Image by Liz Clayman

Pride Month: PBS’ ‘The Lavender Scare’ Poignantly Documents the Struggle For LGBT Rights



During this Pride Month, it is important, nay imperative, to remember how much, just 60 years ago, the gay community had to fear for its very existence.

Indeed, the gripping new documentary The Lavender Scare looks chillingly back at how, at the height of Cold War paranoia, President Eisenhower declared all homosexuals to be “security risks,” promising to rid the federal government of all gay and lesbian employees. It was the start of a decades long witch-hunt, in which thousands were put out of jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation.



The doc, based on the award-winning book by historian David K. Johnson, also enlightens as to how this action ignited protest rallies, that then served as the inspiration for what would become the greater struggle for LGBT equal rights – a fight, of course, which carries on to this day. It’s poignantly directed by Josh Howard, who boasts 24 Emmys, primarily for his work with 60 Minutes, and narrated by seven-time Oscar nominated actress Glenn Close.

At a time when the rights of LGBTQ persons are again very much under attack, the timing, certainly, could not be better.

The Lavender Scare airs throughout the month of June on PBS.