Just How Sexy Is The Scent Of Lavender?

My wife made a breezy but interesting claim when applying a specifically-scented moisturizer the other night—I assume most women spend up to 30 percent of their waking hours on this, but maybe my data is skewed—namely, that the aroma of lavender is a potent aphrodisiac, especially for men. I’ll spare you the details of its efficacy in my case, but I did get to thinking: what scientific verification do we have for this received idea?

At first. all I could find were more vagaries, the insistence that lavender is “sensual” and has a “unique taste,” though that would seem to cover lots of flowery perfumes and the like. What about these purple flowers and their buds, which contain the oil that confers that telltale scent, makes them so prized? We might want to know the effects before executing the recipe for “lavender lemonade,” which apparently goes well with a shot of tequila.

Other claims about the so-called “herb of love” included “increased blood flow” and stress-reducing qualities, and there is one fascinating study to support this: Chicago’s Smell & TasteTreatment and Research Foundation—which hypothesizes, among other things, that the scent of green apples can assuage migraines—did study a group of men and found them more aroused by lavender than most smells. But what aroused them most of all was lavender mingled with the scent of pumpkin pie. Proof positive that dudes are still hung up on getting attractive women to bake for them.

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In Defense Of Cold Showers

Here in America, it’s hard to avoid the term “cold shower” as a euphemism for unpleasantness, disappointment, or complete sexual shutdown. Seeing a notice from the super that there’ll be no hot water tomorrow sends tenants into a rage. Indeed, you might be forgiven for thinking only psychopaths took cold showers. But ‘tis the sweltering season to embrace this very acquired taste.

I can remember vividly the first time I let myself love the cold shower: in college, I traveled to a rural spot in Bolivia. All the airline layovers and bus rides over bumpy dirt roads equated to a 36-hour trip. I can’t explain just how greasy I was when we finally arrived at the monastery in a remote village where we were staying. I was so excited to wash that I barely heeded the warning that hot water what not part of the plumbing situation there. I let the cold water shock me awake and pulverize 18 distinct layers of dried sweat, and I’d never felt better.

Now, when summer rolls around, a cold shower (or two) is the order of the day. Three seconds of initial discomfort? A small price to pay for refreshment when you live on the top floor of a building with a black tar roof. And the alternative—stepping out of a steamy shower and instantly beginning to perspire once more—leaves much to be desired. With a little practice, you’ll even start to appreciate your goosebumps. Personally, at this point, I might be ready to move onto ice baths.    

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If Only Every Soccer Game Was as Interesting as Man City v. Chelsea in Yankee Stadium

I went to my second-ever professional soccer game over the weekend. It was much different than my first, back in 1978, when I saw the New York Cosmos defeat the Washington Diplomats (the "Dips") in RFK Stadium. This game was an English Premier League exhibition match between Manchester City and Chelsea, and it was held at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night. My soccer-mad friend Namit and I were guests of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. Since I hold no allegiance to any team in that league, I decided to support "City," as Abu Dhabi is Manchester’s official destination partner, the team is owned by a member of  the ruling family, and they gave me a t-shirt. Being a Manchester United fan, Namit claimed to hate both teams equally, saying that he just wanted a competitive, entertaining match, but I found him cheering somewhat louder for Chelsea. In any case, it was indeed a competitive, entertaining match, perfect for American audiences, because things actually happened: a total of 8 goals were scored–a huge number for a "fitba" match–with Manchester City defeating Chelsea 5-3. If only every soccer game was like this, the sport might actually succeed on a professional level in America. Well, a few other tweaks might be necessary as well … 

Soccer Still Needs a Shot Clock

Like I said, I’m glad this was an aggressive, high-scoring game, but I’m afraid it was a fluke. This was an exhibition game, meaning it didn’t affect either team’s standing. As with the NBA All-Star Game, that means the focus was on offense, rather than those stultifyingly boring defensive battles that we saw during the vuvuzela-soaked 2010 World Cup. Lots of action, lots of shots on goal, lots of aggression. But if this game really counted, there’s every chance it would have been another 0-0 draw, and I simply don’t believe anybody on the planet, no matter how sophisticated they are to the nuances of the game, enjoys that outcome. Therefore, I reiterate my call to introduce a shot clock to soccer. Action: Americans have to have it, and the rest of the world might like it too. 

To Succeed On TV, The Game Needs Time Outs

Unless it’s on some premium cable channel, soccer broadcast in America needs to conform to our capitalistic system of shoehorning in a slew of obnoxious TV advertisements every 10-12 minutes or so. No, I don’t love watching TV commercials, but I do like having an occasional break to go to the restroom or the beer stand. If the teams can’t call a time out, the game should at least be divided into quarters, rather than two 45-minute halves. That’s a long time to sit still and watch nothing happen. And maybe if the players got more rest, they’d be more explosive in their drives to the goal. 

America Needs to Develop a Real Soccer Fan Base, Not a Bunch of Pseudo-English Wankers

Yankee Stadium wasn’t at capacity, but it was quite crowded for a cold spring evening featuring two foreign sports teams. For whatever reason, most of the fans in attendance were wearing the dark blue of Chelsea, but there were a fair amount of City fans as well, and they wasted no time in going after each other. When the taunts, jeers, and fight songs come with an English accent, they sound somewhat authentic and sincere. But when rival groups of American fans call each other cunts, as I witnessed in the concourse on our way to the exits, they sound like British wannabees. Even Madonna is coming to realize that she sounds silly when she tries to talk like the queen. Do English fans of the Yankees try to sound like they were brought up in the South Bronx? (I don’t know, do they?) In any case, this problem will fix itself if MSL really gets established stateside, but in the meantime some of the more vocal fans are veering deeply into hipster territory with their cultural appropriations.

Enough With the Flopping Already 

We Americans don’t have a leg to stand on in this debate (see the NBA), but good god it’s frustrating to see soccer players take dive after dive, clutching their legs and ankles in mock agony, begging the officials to penalize the other player for whatever egregious violation of sports rules and general morality he perpetrated. Even from the lofty perches of the upper decks, it’s pretty clear when a player’s faking it, and it doesn’t make them look very tough at all. In American football, which I’ll just refer to as football here, players pretend not to be injured even when their limbs are all but ripped from their bodies. There’s a lesson here for the soccer world. Quit trying to draw penalties and just get up and fight. 

We’ll Need to Build Some Dedicated Soccer Stadiums

Because, as nice as the new Yankee Stadium is, it’s not designed for soccer. The angles are just a little bit off, and the turf they had to move around to cover the base lines (see photo) just doesn’t look right. Still, for an exhibition game, it was fine. 

We Definitely Need to Call It Soccer, Not Football

First of all, soccer is the historically-accurate term for the game. It’s a derivitave of the term "assocation football," just like rugby is somtimes called rugger. I’ll admit that soccer has a lot more foot-to-ball contact than American football, but soccer’s such a cool word, it would be a shame not to use it. But really, I don’t care, I just like how Euros get so riled up over the so-called debate over what to call the "World’s Sport." 

But Still, Nice Game You Have There

It’s funny how Americans are perceived to be ignorant about soccer, when in fact every kid in the country plays soccer in school. What we’re ignorant of is professional soccer, because it’s not (yet) a major TV sport. But I love soccer, and have nothing but fond memories of sweaty summer nights as a kid, playing until we were devoured by mosquitoes and couldn’t see the ball in the dark. Hardly any equipment is required: all you need is a ball and a friend. Two backpacks will function as a goal just fine. And pretty soon we’re going to figure out how that offsides rule works, and then we’ll be just as knowledgeable about the game as your average punter down the pub.

But if pro soccer’s to succeed over here, we’re going to make a few changes. And when that happens, will the world welcome the game’s increased popularity, or will it regret trotting out two of the planet’s best teams in Yankee Stadium to get us hooked? 

[Related: How to Make Soccer More Interesting to Americans, Everyone Else; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

How Exactly Will Citi Bike Go Wrong?

There’s a lot to like about the notion of a bike-share program, enough to maybe help you overlook the rider’s inevitable status as rolling billboard. And while certain Brooklynites are aggrieved about the placement of Citi Bike racks in and around the neighborhoods where people live, there’s no reason we can’t make this thing work. After all, it worked everywhere else! Except to equate New York with everywhere else—particularly Boston—is to insult the very core of its being. Therefore we seem committed to sabotaging Citi Bike at all costs. Yesterday marked the first theft of one of the $825 rental bikes as workers began loading a rack of them at Second Ave and 25th Street.

And last night an interesting conversation cropped up at the bar: do these bikes have GPS trackers? Could you throw one in the back of your truck and cross state lines to elude penalty? As the daring first bicycle thief is still at large, maybe so. The snag is in the membership key card system, which would presumably leave a digital trail (a few hundred would-be members had their key cards lost in the mail, incidentally). How’s this for a mugging, though: someone sticks you up for your wallet, sees you have a Citi Bike membership, and then for a getaway makes off with a bike under your name, to be repainted and re-sold at reasonable profit! A crime that perfect doesn’t come along every day.

[Related: First Citi Bike Racks in NYC Already Vandalized; More by Miles Klee; Follow Miles on Twitter]

Atheists Can Go To Heaven, New Pope Says

We’re still a little flabbergasted by this—we did just dispense with the Nazi Pope, after all—but apparently it’s not a mistranslation: Pope Francis (first of his name!) just told the world that even atheists are redeemed by Jesus Christ if they do good in this life. So you’re saying I had to wear a white Colonel Sanders suit to get first communion for nothing?

All your prayers were moot! There’s actually no reason to sing hymns! Pope Francis even cited the Gospel of Mark to make his point—take that, fundamentalists. Between this comment and his earlier remarks condemning a global culture of money that precludes compassion for the poor, he is really angling to make some conservative heads explode. For that, we must salute him.

But I’m also really enjoying this idea that people can be redeemed almost against their will. Take someone like Ricky Gervais, who’s completely obnoxious in his atheism but gives millions to charity—how mad would he be to find out that heaven exists and he has to hang out there with the devoutly religious for eternity? Jesus saves whether you like it or not, I guess. And if you don’t, better cook up some evil deeds.   

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Photo: The Independent

Human Embryo Cloned, Immortality To Follow

As you may already have heard, scientists have, for the first time, “cloned human embryos capable of producing embryonic stem cells," and you know what that means! No, you do not get the rest of the afternoon off. What I’m saying is that we can quit worrying about death now, as we’re almost done conquering it.

Phew, that’s a load off your mind, am I right? Knowing that if I can just hang on for a few more years while accumulating unspeakable wealth, I’ll be able to afford stem cell therapy to artificially, indefinitely extend my life—that’s a game-changer, let me tell you. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise: dying is so lame, but it feels like everyone succumbs to it in time. Kind of like each new James Bond movie.

Well, no more of that. Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, all of it will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to this wonderful, controversial research—so eat as much cake as you want, and feel free to melt your brain with amphetamines. Even spinal cord injuries might be treated with this technology, so go ahead and try to do that skateboard trick. It’s the first day of the rest of your life, which will go on forever.  

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Beauty Junkie: Make a Splash Poolside

Stay flawless with this summer’s hottest water-resistant products. 

Model Sanja Miletic creates the perfect palette as she takes to the water with ease.

SKIN: Keep your flaws hidden with Dermablend Cover Cream, Quick Fix Concealer and Leg and Body Cover.

EYES: Line the entire lash line with Chanels Stylo Yeux Waterproof liner in 70 Black Shimmer. Complete the intensity of the eye by filling in the water line with black as well.

LIPS:  Hydrate lips with Clinique Super Balm Lip Treatment.

Products can be purchased at: Chanel Clinique Dermablend






Poolside Beauty

Music: "The Captain" by The Knife




EYES/ CHEEKS: Use Hourglass Superficial Waterproof Bronzer in Mirage on the entire lid, blending the color up into the brow and temples. Use the same product to contour the cheeks. This will give you a beautifully bronzed complexion.

LIPS: Line and fill in the entire lip with Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner in #8C (red). For a more bold and long lasting lip Use Aqua Rouge Waterproof Liquid Lip Color in #8 (red). Complete this look by using Make Up For Ever glitter #7 (red) by patting the glitter into the lip color for a brilliant sheen.  

Products can be purchased at: Hourglass Make Up For Ever



EYES: Line the entire lash line with Clinique Quickliner For Eyes Intense.

LIPS: Use Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic Lip Tar in Hoochie- extreme magenta for a bold strong lip.

NAILS: Dior Vernis Nail Laquer in Massai Red  

All products can be purchased at: Clinique Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Dior



Photographer Claudio Doenitz

Makeup Walter Obal  

Apocalypse Watch: Interdimensional Wormhole Spotted In U.K.

According to The Argus, a resident of Brighton, England, has discovered “a vortex to another dimension, complete with a giant snake.” This could be something to worry about.

The strange anomaly was reported using a website called Fix My Street, “which is more typically used to report potholes” and the like. This time, however, a far more serious hole had appeared, just above Montreal Road: a wormhole. The citizen expressed concerns about such a vortex and questioned whether it was part of the Brighton Festival, an annual art event. The next day, they noted the wormhole had gotten worse, “emitting an unsettling yellow light” as a large snake from some other universe poked its head through into ours.

Oh sure, this probably sounds like a big practical joke to you, but this is the kind of warning we ignore at our peril. And the city council has said they will not be following up the claim! This is how horror movies start – with skepticism. Even more pressing is the question of who found the vortex, because Brighton is full of celebrities and it’s definitely one of them, right? Could be the work of Sir Paul McCartney or Steve Coogan. But this type of quiet heroism is a little bit more Cate Blanchett’s style. 

 Follow Miles on Twitter here

First Citi Bike Racks in NYC Already Vandalized

The zippy new Citi Bike bike-sharing program is set to launch in New York on May 27, immediately solving all of the city’s transit, pollution, and energy problems. It’s a neat system. Anybody of any age can just grab a bike and ride wherever they like, returning the bikes whenever they like, or not at all, and it’s absolutely free, or something like that. I haven’t actually read the fine print on the website. Bike racks are going up all over Manhattan right now, and everybody loves them, especially one group: vandals. A quick scan of the newly-installed row of bike racks on 16th Street just off Union Square–there are 47 spaces in all, plus a big Citi Bike sign–reveals that one excited early-adopter couldn’t help but add a pithy message to space #2: "Nite Moves." Bob Seger was unavailable for comment at press time.

Yes, these racks appear to be an entirely new canvas for graffiti artists, street taggers, and Sharpie-wielders of all stripes, raising the question that I asked myself the moment I heard about this global eco-phenomenom: Can we actually have nice things in New York? The answer: kind of. The system may actually work, since at its heart it’s a fine idea, but it’s going to get the city treatment. I’m envisioning beaten-up, spray-painted, tattooed bikes crisscrossing the city, taking on the wisened attitudes of its snarling riders. No Amsterdam-style tulip rides for us, I’m anticipating even more bike-taxi flare-ups and a spike in RWI arrests (drunk biking in New York is insane, don’t do it). 

But, as with all new ideas, New York with either embrace it, or chew it up and spit it into the East River. Either way, we’ll know by mid-June whether it’s a success. Here’s hoping these two-wheelers are built like a ’79 Caprice Classic. They’ll need the armor. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow Me on Twitter]