Getaway: Nevis


Photo from Four Seasons Nevis West Indies.

Tucked away in the northern part of the West Indies, Nevis (pronounced “nay-vis”), is a quick water-taxi ride from St. Kitts. At just thirty six square miles in size, it’s quite a small island, but perhaps the best place to disappear for a few days.

The ferry from St. Kitts will drop you in Nevis’ tiny capital, Charlestown. Part of the appeal for travelers is that the Nevisians have been able to keep the island off the radar. The beautiful, quiet beaches are one of the main attractions: a favorite is Pinney’s Beach. There’s horseback riding at the Equestrian Centre, climbing Nevis Peak (the volcano at the center of the island) or wandering around the Botanical Gardens.

Nevis also has a unique tie to U.S. history, as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. Lin Miranda Manuel spent time in Nevis to get inspiration for the Broadway hit Hamilton. To get your own fix of history, visit the Alexander Hamilton House.

Weather-wise, temps hover around 80 degrees year-round, but keep in mind that July to November is the island’s rainiest season.

For those headed to Nevis this summer, the Culturama Festival begins on July 21 and runs through August 2. Culturama celebrates the local Nevisian traditional customs and hopes to spread awareness of the island’s cultural heritage. Carnival is the biggest yearly event on the neighboring island of St. Kitts, starting in mid-December.

The favored hotels to stay, according to TripAdvisor, include the Nisbet Plantation Club, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Montpelier Plantation. If it so happens you’re looking to buy, a billionaire car magnate also recently put his home, the Seagrape, up for sale for a cool $7.2 million. Perks? Automatic citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Abscond away!


The Cartoonists of The New Yorker


“Being a single panel cartoonist is like being a poet,” said Bruce Eric Kaplan. “If you think, oh this is my career, I’m going to have health insurance, I’m going to have a great house, that’s just not the reality of it.”

I’m a big fan of documentaries that go behind the scenes at workplaces like a magazine. It’s fascinating to see how the work gets done, and learn about the people who make it all come together. I’m a more recent subscriber to The New Yorker, so I was excited to see HBO’s new special, Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists.

Similar to the documentary The September Issue, which looked at how a Vogue issue is produced, Very Semi-Serious follows the inner workings of The New Yorker’s cartoon department.

So how do the cartoons make it into the pages of The New Yorker? In the film we meet Bob Mankoff, the magazine’s cartoon editor, who sheds some light on the process. Each week about a thousand cartoons are submitted to the magazine, some by mail, others delivered in person by the hopeful cartoonists themselves, giving Mankoff the tremendous undertaking of sorting through, and ultimately choosing about 15 cartoons.

And there is a method to this madness.There is something in particular that makes a good cartoon.

“In each instance, our expectations are defied,” Mankoff said in a 2013 Ted Talk, “In each instance the narrative gets switched. There’s an incongruity and a contrast.”

In interviews with some of the published cartoonists, you see different backgrounds, ages and points of view. Each cartoonist has a different perspective on the world and has their own quirks and eccentricities that help to inspire their work. And maybe unsurprisingly, most of these cartoonists have day jobs and are submitting work to The New Yorker on the side.

Mankoff started off in their shoes — he was first published in The New Yorker in the 1970s, and had a contract by the 1980s. He then created the Cartoon Bank, a website that acts as a visual vault of thousands of New Yorker creations, as well as a secondary source of revenue for the artists.” In 1997, he stepped into the role of cartoon editor, ushering in a new era for the magazine.

“I had to change the approach and get new talent,” he told The Washington Post, “…It’s the humor of today — it’s more absurd, more meta. When they use a cliche, they almost destroy it.”

Here’s a look at The New Yorker’s favorite cartoons from 2015.

Fort Tilden: The Longest Journey to the Beach

As the summer winds down, and we head out on our final beach trips, this movie feels all the more poignant at the end of the season. Fort Tilden is the epic struggle to get to the beach, one last time.

Found on iTunes, Fort Tilden appealed to me because it was one part Girls, one part Romy and Michele. Harper (Bridey Elliot) and Allie (Clare McNulty) are two adrift millennials, who somehow live in Brooklyn with no jobs. Both talk more than do. Harper is an artist who visualizes more than creates. Allie plans to join the Peace Corps, but it never quite feels like this will materialize. And this is the story of their needlessly difficult trip to the Rockaways.

While there are countless over-the-top moments — buying a barrel that was left on the street as junk for $200 comes to mind — the movie also rings true in some ways.

What millennial (well millennial girl) hasn’t embarked on an infuriating road trip with her girlfriends? The late start to the day, when we were going to get up “really early,” the impromptu stops to shop, and increasingly getting annoyed with each other, as we get lost in the process. I can (maybe embarrassingly so) relate to Allie whining, “I JUST NEED AN ICED COFFEE!!” as she and Harper find themselves still stuck in Brooklyn. Like all of us, Harper and Allie are just in search of a perfect moment, in a glaringly imperfect world.

I’m not sure the main characters learn a single thing on their journey to the beach — but it’s certainly an entertaining ride. And maybe enough of an experience to make us ready for the fall.

Intellect in Advertising: ‘We Were Never Born’

I’m always a fan of good advertising. Especially when the brand makes an effort to create something beautiful and thought provoking. I recently stumbled across this 2013 ad from Dosnoventa, a Barcelona-based bicycle company, via Brain Pickings, that I love for its combination of filmmaking, music and literature.

Created by director Sergi Castella and filmmaker Hector Ferreño, the short film has a dreamy quality, set to a soundtrack of Johnny Cash and Pink Floyd. The voiceover, provided by James Phillips, takes an excerpt from a Jack Kerouac letter, written to his ex-wife Edie Parker in January 1957. (The letter can be found in The Portable Jack Kerouac.) Kerouac, at the time, was interested in Zen Buddhism, which is reflected exquisitely in his letter. He writes, “Close your eyes… listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot… It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect.”

Kerouac’s words are matched with sweeping mountains views, friends exploring nature, and some great custom motorcycles, in addition to the Dosnoventa bikes. You can’t help but be wowed and transfixed.

Misfit Right In — Cosmopolitan Las Vegas’ Edgy Advertising Campaign

Most of today’s television commercials blend together, from humorous, to obnoxious, to slick, or just plain forgettable. It’s rare when I actually stop to really watch a commercial, and rarer where my interest is peaked enough to look up who made it.

While the “Misfit Right In” campaign came out in 2013, it has had a resurgence during this year’s Winter Olympics coverage. It’s a risky, loud, flickering 30 seconds with provocative images interspersed with phrases, such as “Mutation is progress” and “Wrong has more fun,” set to a jarring (and surprisingly catchy) mashup of “Original Don,” by Major Lazer.

This type of commercial makes an impact because there’s nothing like it on the market, and it’s shocking enough to wonder, what brand has the guts to do this?

The Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas, which opened in 2010, has been known to take risks with its advertising choices. The hotel created two campaigns prior — first in 2010 with “Just the Right Amount of Wrong” (which uses a great Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song). The second campaign came in 2012, with a poolside spoken-word version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

The ad agency behind all three of these campaigns is the Minneapolis-based Fallon. The agency’s website says “Misfit Right In” was meant to “tickle the senses of the Curious Class and showcase the brand’s unique blend of attitude, wit and sophistication.”

Cosmopolitan’s Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Marchese told ADWEEK in July 2013 that the hotel, “wanted to create a spot that was radically different in form—the mix of typography to imagery, the way the imagery was shot. The tone is radically different. We wanted it to look like nothing else out there.”

Frances Ha — It’s Messy Being in Your Twenties, Isn’t It?

If a movie could capture the uncertainty and messiness of being in your twenties, Frances Ha is it. Beautifully shot in black and white, Frances Ha is the story of 27-year-old girl who hasn’t figured it all out yet.

Frances, played by the wonderful Greta Gerwig, leads a happy existence, spending all of her time with her best friend and waiting hopefully to be picked up as a dancer at her dance company. Her life is turned upside down when her best friend decides to move to Tribeca, forcing her to realize that her life cannot continue in the way it has.

The move is a charming look at the struggle to find yourself in your twenties. Here are some of my favorites quotes:

“I’m so embarrassed — I’m not a real person yet”

After offering to pay for dinner, Frances discovers she must have a credit card, underscoring  that her intentions are there, but that she’s not quite bridged the gap to adulthood yet.

“I think it’s a great day. I ate an egg bagel…
I Internet-acquired 
three pairs of very rare Ray Bans.
I’m doing awesome.”

While Frances feels like she’s wasted the day already, her roommate Benji, who is just as lost as she is, feels much better about his existence. Sometimes the most simple things feel like grand accomplishments, especially when you haven’t quite found where you’re going yet.

“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do,
when you’re supposed to do it.”

While insightful, it’s used in the wrong context here. Frances has decided at the spur of the moment to go to Paris. It’s not the right time, she doesn’t have the money. But who hasn’t decided a rash decision was the right one?

“Do I look old?
“No. Yes.”
“Older than 27?”
“No — 27 is old though.”

A running theme through the movie is aging out of the period in your life when it’s okay to not have your life together. As the director, Noah Baumbach, put it for The New York Times, “That period in your 20s where you’re necessarily having to separate yourself from a kind of romantic idea of yourself.”